2016年8月8日 星期一

Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon (2010) | by volcanolam - "The 16 yr old Casual Blogger" [Movie Reviews, Opinions, Essays & More!!]

How To Train Your Dragon (2010)


Dreamworks has made it big time with How to Train Your Dragon. The studio managed to wrap a generic plot with underdeveloped characters with a stunning mix of a "shrieking" high quality script, score, and pacing, along with an original, fresh setting about Vikings and dragons. It is like a well-known story being retold in the best possible methods. The fun. The charm. The spirit. All of these pervaded through the picture. I would highly recommend this film not only to kids but also to some young adults which for reasons that I'll explain in later paragraphs.

It is story about a young Viking discovering the true nature of dragons which is contradictory to his tribe's traditional belief. With a darker force impending, he must have to settle down conflicts with his own people, while utilizing his knowledge about dragons to fight of the evil brute.

Like its titular dragon, the film has its soft side, vulnerabilities. But what makes up for that is the cuteness and warmth that oozes out of the screen every time we see the dragon romps around playfully, and that is just like the film itself. Even for the most cynical critics the tale is too endearing and sweet to be taken seriously. The plotholes and lack of character development don't seem relevant anymore when everyone is mesmerized by the movies' endless charisma. 

The score in particular has to be lauded. This has to be the best scores ever put into animation and it stands along some other Pixar efforts. It is riveting, epic, and spot on with the settings of this movie. As the flying theme kicks off, along with the flying scenes featuring the two protagonists, we audience are given a perfectly paced, perfectly shot, and perfectly fitting to 3D sequence - a unique, gripping, absorbing set piece that is unprecedented in film history. This very sequence is certainly the best of what DreamWorks had made and can probably rival the first 10 minutes of "Up" or any other creations by its Pixar counterpart. Yes, it is really that insane. How can you not love a movie with such kinda stuff in it.

After engendering a movie so warm to the heart, DreamWorks literally has another chance to develop a flagship trilogy, just like "Kung Fu Panda" and "Shrek". But unlike "Kung Fu Panda" the producers do not want this franchise to wallow in the same formula of its first installment, just like how Panda 2 and Panda 3 stick with the fast paced action comedy aimed blatantly for kids. HTTYD 2 is a whole different experience, a coming of age tale that tells are darker, more mature story. The sequel alone is the reason why young adults should see this because the themes are actually quite fitting for such age group, and with the final installment we audience can fully experience Hiccup's growing up and find the franchise an emotionally resonant movie-going experience. Do not expect this to be something stupid. With HTTYD 3 coming up in 2018, we might look back and refer HTTYD as Dreamworks' "Toy Story". So, guys, just wait and see. I have high hopes in this one.

2016年8月7日 星期日

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

The Jungle Book (2016)

Rating: 6/10

Jungle Book is a well made remake that succeeds in delivering a slightly different story, capitalizing on state-of-the-art CGI and laudable performances to suit the whole family.

Official artwork poster of the filmWhen I first watched the trailer, I had real goosebumps when I heard Bare Necessities playing in the background. The nostalgia and euphony of the tune urged me to see the film without a pounding heart. After nearly 5 months I can finally take a close look at this remake. I am a big fan of the 1967 version, which features one of the best sets of songs ever put to the big screen. This 2016 is somehow a much darker, serious film, with more scares and ponderous themes. Throughout most of the screen time, while marveling at the breathtaking scenery and astoundingly realistic CGI (breakthrough performance on the computer's part), I was occasionally bothered by how the plot and scripts deviated from what I expected, and the lack of warmth and humor I enjoyed when rewatching the 1967 musical. The third act is well done, nevertheless, and along with the incredible CGI so as Neel Sethi's extraordinary performance as Mowgli forming the backbone of this remake. Jungle Book is a well made remake that succeeds in delivering a slightly different story, capitalizing on state-of-the-art CGI to suit well for family audience. (Too scary and dark for a kids film, too generic for higher level audiences)

Man, the CGI alone is worth the ticket price (in my case download time). Scenes could have been awkward if the technology had not reach this level, and Mowgli's performance is very worth praising because he expressed and acted naturally even though the characters were not there. 

Yet, I am somehow less satisfied with the film than I thought I should be. Supposedly comedic scenes were somehow dramatized and were given darker turns, and sometimes they feel hollow and disappointing. Elephants scenes are an example. Not only did the elephants not talk, they didn't attain the sarcastic humor that prevails in the 1967 version. Shere Khan was more violent and evil, thus losing the witty sense of humor, and so did Kaa. Another thing is that the relationship between Mowgli and Baloo was not quite as intimate as the first film. Yes, both characters might not be animated this time, but still a weird decision to have Baloo befriending the man-cub just for honey. Baloo's apparent sacrifice at the end was also omitted. As a result, "Bare Necessities" scene was not as memorable as I thought of, and that's cuz their bond was not well developed yet!

I could go on and pick out more stuff that I disliked during viewing, such as how the film ruined "I Wanna Be Like You" by having a big ape throwing fruits everywhere while monkeys squeaked at the background. The scene should be like how the end-credits depicted (King Louie dancing around in his palace). However, I won't go into that much criticism because its a good film. The CGI's amazing. I love how they gave the wolves more screentime and significance, since they are barely developed in 1967 version. Vultures are cut off, good. The third act is also something I never thought would happen in Jungle Book, providing a deeper message and a more thrilling climax than the predecessor. At the end of the day I won't say I am fully satisfied, but yet I'll say I am decently entertained by the CGI and the overall tone of the story. Besides, is there anything better than listening to "Bare Necessities", "Trust in Me" once more with a little modern mix? Priceless.