The Good Dinosaur: Not Good Enough

It’s easy to see while watching the Good Dinosaur just how much the animation has improved from Pixar’s first movie. And it’s not like Pixar ever had poor animation quality, it’s just that visually speaking the Good Dinosaur is absolutely stunning and features some of the most breathtaking background animation I’ve ever seen. Despite the great visuals I still walked away from the film feeling a little unsatisfied.

The Good Dinosaur is a movie made for kids and for that reason alone it’s not worth going to see in theaters for anyone without kids. There will be at least one crying baby when you watch it. When I saw the film there was more noise generated by the audience than at an opened mouth chewing contest and fireworks convention combined. For that reason alone I would wait for it to come out on DVD before viewing it, if at all.
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Book vs Movie: The Martian

martian book cover vs book cover
They changed the book cover of The Martian to Matt Damon’s face and his eyes stare into your soul as you read the book, it’s a little unnerving. I never pictured Damon as main character Mark Watney during my read, despite having his face shoved down my throat by the cover, but I enjoyed his performance in the movie. I usually don’t read books like this, but I enjoyed the fiction and sort of non fiction fusion that the story tells. The book was an easy read as most of story is told through Watney self narrating his thought process on how to survive on Mars. The Martian is basically a mix between survivor tv shows, with Mars being the tough terrain, and some Myth Buster explosive science thrown in. I felt like I learned something reading this book.

Matt Damon handled the character well, but too often I was watching Matt Damon trapped on Mars instead of the Mark Watney in The Martian. An actor of his caliber made me grow attached and feel his raw emotion as he tries to survive on Mars. His performance put me on the verge of tears even though I read the book prior to the movie and knew he would survive. The humor of the character felt a little forced at times in the book, but Damon made it feel more natural. Humor was a huge reason the audience grew attached to Watney, so that was a key trait to the character. Damon’s character appeared to lose a ton of weight through the course of the movie, but apparently that was just CGI. It’s okay Matt, I’ll give you a slide, you did a good job. Just stay off the book cover next time.
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Pan: Panful to Sit Through

pan movie cast

Pan is a live action prequel to a Disney classic. I’m not sure why this movie needed to be made, but after the “success” of other films with similar premises like Maleficent and Snow White and the Huntsman I can understand why movie execs would give this movie the green light. They’re making a 2nd installment of Snow White and the Huntsman?! Didn’t realize the movie was that successful. Hook was the last Peter Pan inspired movie that was relatively successful, but even that movie had it’s flaws. This movie is worse than Hook. An ancient prophecy foretelling Blackbeard’s downfall to a boy who can fly? Who could it possibly be talking about?!

Pan grossed 15.5 million domestically in it’s opening weekend, and with a 155 million budget it’s likely to lose money. It’s easy to understand why the movie bombed having lukewarm reviews and a trailer that revealed too much of the “plot.” It’s not quite a kids movie, but it also has no aspects that would really appeal to an older audience either. The plot is aimless and doesn’t really connect to the Disney classic, I admit I haven’t seen that movie in over a decade, but I’m pretty sure Captain Hook and Peter Pan aren’t best friends. This movie uses character names from Peter Pan, but then the director takes them in a totally different direction, and unfortunately for the viewers it’s pretty cliche and boring. I know I’m being pretty harsh on a PG rated family movie, so let me put my kid goggles on and judge the movie if I were a kid…and I’m still not a fan of the movie. Pirates steal children in the middle of the night, that would give me nightmares.
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Mad Max Fury Road: Mad Good

ma max fury road poster
I haven’t seen any of the past Mad Max films and I don’t particularly like action movies, but Mad Max Fury Road was bizarre and different, but also amazingly entertaining. It’s the best action movie I’ve ever seen, throws you right into the action and never lets off the throttle.

Why can’t more action movies be like this? It treats it’s audience like adults, the plot isn’t spoon fed to the audience and this movie could easily be watched as a stand alone film. It’s understood Max has a tragic past, everyone has a tragic past in this dystopian wasteland!, but it doesn’t waste our time detailing what happened to him. In a movie where people worship steering wheels and battle in decked out vehicles, it felt realistic. I walked in not knowing what I was getting into, I didn’t even see the trailer, but knew it garnered favorable reviews. I walked away so impressed it compelled me to write one myself.
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Book vs Movie: Lord of the Rings

Screen shot 2015-02-24 at 4.41.02 PM

Tolkien spends pages upon pages describing scenery that filming in New Zealand can accomplish in one frame. The narrative is tedious and exhaustingly descriptive while the dialogue feels pretty cheesy and annoying at times, something I never noticed during the movies. I breezed through the A Song of Ice and Fire series, but this book took me longer than I care to admit. I first fell in love with the movies and I wanted to love the books so badly, but the books were awfully boring by comparison. I wanted to learn more about the Tolkien universe but watching these videos answered a lot more questions than reading the trilogy and it only took 10 minutes.

The movies probably feature the best soundtrack I’ve ever heard and it multiplies breathtaking cinematography. The books aren’t devoid of music as there are songs and poems every other page, but it’s not the same. It’s not the same! Seriously though the book is half songs and poems…
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Groundhog Day

groundhog bay

Perhaps the worst holiday we “celebrate” is Groundhog Day, a large squirrel may or may not see his shadow telling us that it’s still cold outside. It’s less impressive to warn us winter is coming when it’s already winter, thanks Punxsutawney Phil Stark. But Groundhog Day gave the world the best holiday movie ever made, and perhaps my favorite movie ever, in it’s aptly named Groundhog Day. Besides some gracious full frontal nudity this movie has all I could ever ask for- humor, a great story, and Bill Murray. He’s cast perfectly as Phil Conners, an arrogant weatherman trapped in a time loop. For a movie filmed in a boring small town it’s endlessly entertaining and I personally can’t watch the film without a smile on my face. I may be indifferent to the actual holiday, but the movie lights me up like a kid on Christmas morning, it’s just so much fun to watch.
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The Interview Review

kim walk

Netflix released The Interview for free this weekend, so naturally I watched. I didn’t pay 6 bucks to rent it before because I’m lazy, looks like my laziness is finally starting to pay off…in the form of $6. Its something. Snow Dogs had a direct to DVD release, but this isn’t the same thing, direct to digital release feels like the future. The Interview didn’t get great reviews, but it did get weeks of media attention. The controversy of its release generated more hype and discussion than the actual movie itself. North Korea can’t win! Terrorists are attacking our free speech! This movie never felt like a risk to me, until it was, and it’s kind of sad that some people are crazy enough to kill others over a movie. The film got over hyped, but it was only meant to be a stupid comedy.

Grantland gave it a negative review because of a poor plot and some crude jokes, but I’m not judging this movie on the plot. Why would I judge this movie on the plot?! That’s like judging a strip club on the buffet. Yeah it’s a nice perk, but that’s not what I went there for. I came into the movie expecting nothing and I came away surprisingly amused.
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Book vs Movie: The Maze Runner

Usually for me the books are better than the movies, they just take longer to get through. The movie can’t include all the little details that make the book shine, it’s also tough to accurately portray character motivations onscreen without inner monologues, making it tougher to relate to characters. Sometimes there can be problems with casting and the actor doesn’t stay true with the character in the books. Movie soundtracks can really improve the story telling and it’s something that the books will never have. Surprisingly The Maze Runner movie adaption is a decent film, especially considering I was let down by the book.

The Maze Runner, well, it’s a teen dystopian story and the first of a trilogy, sound familiar? Hunger Games may have been the most successful of the genre, but it’s spawned countless other movie adaptions. If reading the book has taught me anything it’s that anyone can write a teen novel, they just have to sludge through their own garbage writing. Throw in a fantasy setting and some romance, boom, a best selling teen fiction novel. Also I swear every teen fiction protagonist believes they aren’t special but they totally are.
Teen fiction writers – “I can connect with teens, the world doesn’t understand me either!”
Maybe I should just stop reading teen fiction books, but then they should stop making movie adaptions of them.


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Mulan: A Classic

mulan 4

I remember when I first saw Mulan in theaters, it was a pretty big deal for a 7 year old. I went with my entire family and I distinctly remember my aunt telling me “this movie is very important for China and all Chinese people.” She may have been exaggerating a bit, but it sure was exciting to see the movie. I enjoyed the movie immensely as a kid and still enjoy viewing it as an adult.
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Snowpiercer Review

Snowpiercer is a fantasy drama that received many positive reviews – Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 95%, IMDB gave it a 7/10, and I read a glowing review on Grantland. I thought the movie was ridiculous, it was entertaining and felt played out in a unique way, but it wasn’t great. The story was interesting, but apart from location, nothing new. The movie takes place entirely on a train because the world has frozen over and the only survivors live on a super train. I wouldn’t think too much about it, just accept that they’re on a train. The people in the caboose, they only call it the tail end in the movie… missed opportunity if you ask me, are treated like shit and the rich live in luxury in the front. As far as I noticed there was no reason for the people in the caboose to be treated horribly other than to give them motivation to rebel. The train is symbolic of the disparity between the rich and the poor in the real world and the moral of the movie is to ride trains.

wet penceAfter 17 years of oppression hunky Chris Evans leads a rebellion, who would have thought?!, to take down the engineer and inventor of the train Wilford and the others that live in the front. There were other rebellions before this one, but for some reason Chris Evans wasn’t part of those. On a super powered train circling a frozen earth dystopia this is somehow the biggest plot fall. The star filled cast is joined by 2 Korean actors I didn’t recognize and someone who I thought for sure was hunter pence/the wet bandit. The next part of the review is just me commenting about scenes during the movie and contain huge spoilers.
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