2016年12月8日 星期四

Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) | by volcanolam - "The 16 yr old Casual Blogger" [Movie Reviews, Opinions, Essays & More!!]

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Rating: 8/10

There is something weirdly cool about this movie. It connects to me deeply for some reasons I can't fully describe. Some of its weak points work for me somehow and the fortes bewitches and panders to me even more. As a once whole-heartedly devoted Harry Potter fan I consider myself liking the film more than a lot of the pro critics do, who together produce a just decent 7X% rating on RT, citing reasons ranging from the film being banal and lacking characterization. I on the other hand see this film from other perspectives. I think its awesome!

First and foremost, the most striking feature about this movie is its ingenious story. We know of course this time the producers didn't have an exact source material to adapt from, for we are presently far from the "straight adaptation from an HP book" territory we were back then. It all boiled down to how JK was going to react to the situation and concoct a brand new script that has to offer something different from the HP stuff we know but also remaining inextricable with the HP universe. It opens up to a lot of space for creation, but still there is a possibility it could flop. I believe that she pulled it off excellently. There is just that old style of JK's all over the place, from its characters, its grandiose and imaginative set pieces, to its extensive coverage of detailed elements that exists in the fictional wizarding world. Seeing this film is so much fun because it kinda captures the buoyant zest we saw from the earlier Harry Potter books, except that this time we don't get to know about the stuff happening in the movie beforehand by reading the novel. This fantasy world. It just never gets boring.

As for the other good facets, I like Eddie Redmayne very much as his performance as a nerdy eccentric protagonist with copious lore of magical beasts is pretty on point. The others are solid, and I enjoy all the characters in this movie, even that Muggle baker Jacob who does an eye popping expression for like the first half of the movie. The ending scene with him is poignant as well, a melancholy moment that capitalizes on the interesting concepts of obliviation that is unique to this backdrop. David Yates warm welcome to the franchise bolsters JK's confident writing with his signature dark take and brilliantly shot and edited action sequences, reminding the audience of the ever so memorable late installments in the franchise which he directed. And at last for the CGI, which is great, and that's all I'm gonna say because we all stepped into the theatre expecting modern technology to hold up to the film's ambitions if they decided to greenlight it.

One thing that bogs down the movie is its pacing, which is a bit off throughout the runtime. This is my main concern and that really depends on the overall style the director wanted to employ, so I can't say it's really that big of a matter but it did affect my viewing experience. The first act can drag and bore you. But all in all this is such a cool movie that strikes me right in the heart. It didn't actually bring up that much of a nostalgia in me to my surprise, interesting considering how much of an HP fan I was back like 7 years ago. Perhaps the reason behind this is that the HP world doesn't feel like waning to an extent other franchises are. It remains quite active over the years, holds up well, and with future installments imminent and awaiting I can't see this beloved fictional universe stopping at any point in the future, well as long as JK Rowling continues to live for certain. For now, allow me to toast the success of HP for the years to come.

2016年12月3日 星期六

Movie Review: Moana (2016) | by volcanolam - "The 16 yr old Casual Blogger" [Movie Reviews, Opinions, Essays & More!!]

Rating: 6/10

The fortes of Moana include some very nice songs and state of the art animation that floored me throughout the entire run time. It isn't necessary a classic or the best animation the year has seen so far either, but it is an adventure tale that delivers to its audience, particularly the younger viewers. An overall solid film that continues Disney's ostensibly endless streak of high quality production that doesn't seem like its about to end any soon.

As the film starts, we are given quite a similar opening to Beauty and the Beast, a series of moving graphics setting up the backdrop and giving out basic information. The film then leads to a montage redolent to the old Disney Renaissance film Pocahontas, which strikes an alarming bell in my mind considering I am not a fan of that movie. Indeed I knew there would be quite a lot of resemblance to older Disney flicks like Lilo & Stich, and it can't help it since that the setting of the story. It might look fresh at first glance, but think deeper you will realize that Moana starts off in a familiar note. It isn't any more original than fellow 2016 Disney animation Zootopia, but considering that Zootopia did an exceptionally good job critically and financially I don't see many people entering this one with much doubt on that aspect.

Besides, when the film progresses, it starts to shake its association with the predecessors and begin a journey of its own. It is a great adventure, nevertheless. I would say that the story does not contain much of a pop, like it pales in comparison to the enticing neo-noir crime thriller that Zootopia is. Sometimes, on that account, the film tries to add a few more elements in it, either comical or dramatic, with the intention to spice things up a little bit. The pacing suffers a tad because of that, and I can see that in parts of the second act. There is also that inexplicable, incongruous scene featuring a singing, haughty lobster-like monster that gives a musical performance that looks out of place, which I cringed upon watching. I really think that part could be treated a better way. Aside from that matter I do think the relationship between Moana and Maui changes quite too often and I would prefer a clear, smooth changing from bad to good if I could change it, which is cliched but looks better this way. For my last thing about the plot, I do think things are too predictable from start to finish. It does not do like anything very special and iconic or so, and because of that the story isn't as effective or seductive as Disney's recent efforts. Then again this is an adventure film, and the underlying tone of the film as shown in the comic relief moment sand dialogue  panders to kids, so I guess this is what they go for and the reason why they didn't make the adventure too dark. No less considering that the people behind Moana, the legendary duo John Muskers and Ron Clement, have gone some distance before into realms of darker adventure tales.

I wasn't so mad as I may sound, because there are certainly some substantial strong points. Job is well done on world building, and I think the leads are pretty solid. Dwayne The Rock Johnson brought charisma to the character of Moui and Moana is a decent strong female character which, although cliched and can be inconsistent sometimes, still is likable. But the biggest standout facets of Moana, ones which I think are what Moana is going to be remembered for, are its songs and animation. Moana is a legit musical, and the muscial numbers are admittedly catchy, like they did put some effort into engendering those. The animation is stunning as hell - its colours so vibrant and stark, the water and waves so photorealistic and sumptuous. Technology has given Moana its place today as one of the big checkpoints in animation technology advancement, and along with The Good Dinosaur, endows firm testament of how much Disney has grown from being the CGI animation neophyte it was on the onset of this century. It is a good sign that we are entering an era where CG films are getting more and more gorgeously looking and delivering better cinematic experiences.

All in all, this is a solid adventure film, which frankly speaking is not as significant as other Disney films like Frozen, Tangled, or even Wreck It Ralph. I would opine that Zootopia is a hands down better film overall, though Moana has the upper hand in the songs and animation aspects. I'd love to see it get nominated, but not to win it because I adore Zootopia. And also, give way to some dark horses like Kubo and the Two Strings and The Red Turtle.