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Transformers 5 Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Reviews, Movies Jun 24 2017 · 71 views
Transformers 5, Michael Bay and 3 more...


:kaukau: I've decided to do something different. Here's my video review.




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Cars 3 Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Movies, Reviews Jun 17 2017 · 29 views
Cars, Cars 3, Disney, Pixar
Cars 3 Review :kaukau: This is going to be pretty short and to the point: If you saw the poster, you know what this film is about. Unlike Cars 2, which had just about nothing to do with the first one, Cars 3 is as natural of a continuation of the first movie as you can get. It's all about Lightning McQueen learning to be more like Doc Hudson. I think one of the great things about this movie is that Lightning is actually far more mature than he was when we first met him in 2006, and you can see how he applies a lot of that humility and loyalty and team-player spirit throughout his daily life. Yet, there is one more lesson left for him to learn.

And boy, in learning that lesson, they call back Doc Hudson. The people at Pixar really held Paul Newman in high reverence.

Other than that, I have nothing to say that's suited for review. You know how it's going to look, how it's going to be directed, and that it will have a classic Randy Newman score (Yay! I love it when Pixar uses their OG composer!). All I have to left to talk about is the story, which is hard to discuss in a review. I think that it's pretty good, and pretty fitting. Of course, it's a bit predictable, but so was the first film. The point is that throughout the journey, and all the way to the very end, there's this very fulfilling emotion in your stomach.

This is a pretty good sequel, and a good sports movie. What's more, it makes me love the original even more, and now I want to go back and watch Paul Newman's last major role one more time.

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Cars 3 Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Movies, Reviews Jun 17 2017 · 45 views
Cars, Cars 3, Disney, Pixar
Cars 3 Review :kaukau: This is going to be pretty short and to the point: If you saw the poster, you know what this film is about. Unlike Cars 2, which had just about nothing to do with the first one, Cars 3 is as natural of a continuation of the first movie as you can get. It's all about Lightning McQueen learning to be more like Doc Hudson. I think one of the great things about this movie is that Lightning is actually far more mature than he was when we first met him in 2006, and you can see how he applies a lot of that humility and loyalty and team-player spirit throughout his daily life. Yet, there is one more lesson left for him to learn.

And boy, in learning that lesson, they call back Doc Hudson. The people at Pixar really held Paul Newman in high reverence.

Other than that, I have nothing to say that's suited for review. You know how it's going to look, how it's going to be directed, and that it will have a classic Randy Newman score (Yay! I love it when Pixar uses their OG composer!). All I have to left to talk about is the story, which is hard to discuss in a review. I think that it's pretty good, and pretty fitting. Of course, it's a bit predictable, but so was the first film. The point is that throughout the journey, and all the way to the very end, there's this very fulfilling emotion in your stomach.

This is a pretty good sequel, and a good sports movie. What's more, it makes me love the original even more, and now I want to go back and watch Paul Newman's last major role one more time.

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Wonder Woman Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Reviews, Movies, Superman Jun 09 2017 · 36 views
Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, DC and 2 more...
Wonder Woman Review :kaukau: When Superman starred in his first tent-pole production, it became a beloved classic. As the first major superhero film, it set the tone for all future superhero films. It became the gold standard against which all other superhero films are measured, either by how well they capture the classic comic book atmosphere, or by how they break from comic book movie lore. Superman: The Movie wasn't only a classic because it was the first, though. Director Richard Donner knew exactly what tone to give to this previously unexplored genre, crystallizing the concept. John Williams bestowed the film with one of the most iconic scores in film history. Mario Puzo scripted a story that told a modern myth. Christopher Reeve played the character as uplifting. Everything about the movie had an optimistic, wish-fulfilling personality that also longed for simpler times filled with old-fashioned American citizenship and Norman Rockwellian values.

Batman, likewise, nailed his first outing. It continued to define the feel of the superhero genre. It established an atmosphere quite unlike anything felt in any other movie. To this day, there are people who prefer the original Batman to the Christopher Nolan films, which went out of their way to make comic book movies feel no different from any other film.

Spiderman managed to nail the comic book genre perfectly on his first major swing at the big screen as well. It's optimistic, exciting, colorful, and feels exactly like a comic book movie. It entirely nailed the feel of an origin story. It captured many of the dramas inherent to the myth of the superhero, such as the relationship between power and responsibility, and the moral conflict of being able to pursue one's romantic interest but finding that all of the responsibility that comes with the wish-fulfilling power carries the realistic burden of putting those that you love in danger.

These are some of the greatest comic book heroes of all time. Their names are synonymous with the genre.

So is the name of Wonder Woman.

She is a giant. A titan. Kids buy t-shirts with her symbol on it. Nerds dress up like her at comic con. In any standard lineup of iconic superheroes, she will be included. Everybody knows her costume, and whenever anyone makes changes to it, expect controversy. People know her powers, that she has a magical lasso of truth, and gauntlets that deflect bullets. She is one of those foundational characters who was there as the beginning of comics. Wonder Woman is so important to the superhero genre that her, Superman, and Batman are called the Holy Trinity in comics.

And now, after every other superhero film under the sun has been made, she finally gets her own film. This is a huge event in comic-book history. On those merits, it will be remembered.

There are two ways in which I will be judging this film. First, I want to know if this is a good representation of Wonder Woman. Does this correctly represent the character? Second, is this film worthy of Wonder Woman's grace? Is she not only in a good Wonder Woman film, but specifically a great film? Is it a good enough example of film making to be considered a classic? It is important for this film to fulfill both functions. As the first Wonder Woman movie, all future Wonder Woman movies will be compared to it. It will set the tone for all future Wonder Woman films.

First of all, I think that I should get this out of the way for anyone who's a fan of movie-making, I don't think that it lives up to the standards that will make it a classic. It is breaking records as the first high-grossing and positively reviewed comic book movie with a female lead, and it will be go down in history for that. But that's not necessarily because of the film itself, so much as it is because of what it achieved.

I'm a little disappointed, because I was told that Patty Jenkins was brought on board not because she was a woman, but because she was the best person for directing this movie, and that she had a vision. While she certainly did have enough vision for it to not suck and for it to live up to the standards that have been set for superhero movies lately, I don't really look at it as a visionary film, and as a matter of fact there were better directors who could have done this film better. Unfortunately, those directors were male, such as Spielberg and Peter Jackson. I'm not saying that I disagree with hiring Patty Jenkins as a director, since she's talented and it was fitting to hire a woman to direct this film, but because Gal Gadot built her up to be this amazing director, I was expecting something that a cinemaphile could really look at and appreciate on the same level that people appreciate the Christopher Nolan, Tim Burton, Sam Raimi, and Joss Whedon forays into the genre and say, "Only they could have pulled that off the way they did."

None of this is to say that she did a bad job. As many people have noted, the movie is actually good. It does its job, and it entertains. It even has an awareness for the genre that the other DC movies haven't had. There are some callbacks to older tropes in superhero movies that have dropped out of mainstream superhero movies. My favorite moment is when Wonder Woman acts like a hero for the first time, saves the day, and has an audience of witnesses to applaud her for her general awesomeness. There's also smaller moments, like the costume reveal, which actually felt a little special and that I didn't expect to show up in a film like this. She also managed to make this more fun and superhero-y than other DC movies. DC is rediscovering the genre and realizing that no, they don't have to give all of their heroes the Christopher Nolan treatment. Patty Jenkins finds her own way with Wonder Woman. Of course, I wish that her own way was even more distinct than this, but it's she has her own feel nonetheless. I especially like that it's an adventure film and that there are daring uses of color and contrast.

What are some things that I would have liked from this movie that would have made it, in my opinion, a classic? There were certain things on my wish-list that went unchecked, and so I'll list them in the order in which I think they are the easiest for the Patty Jenkins to implement.

1. Have the Germans speak German. This is the easiest creative decision to change. There is a little bit of foreign language use in this film, since it's one of Wonder Woman's cool superpowers. Having there regularly be German dialogue would have really driven that point home. In addition, it would have sold the atmosphere and setting. My guess is that the creative powers that be decided that it would have taken away from the comic book feel, which if that's the case I respect the reasoning behind their decision, but overall I think that it would have done better to have actual foreign languages in it, for the two reasons I mentioned earlier, enhancing the atmosphere and making Wonder Woman more sophisticated and enviable. On a personal note, I simply love foreign languages, German in particular.

2. The cinematography could have been better. I mentioned its colors as a positive, but on the flip side, sometimes things look slightly over-saturated. There are times when I'm definitely aware that the production consists of a green screen as well, which might actually be more of a production design critique than a cinematography critique, but in this particular instance they're related because of of the issue of lighting. Nighttime scenes in particular look a little off, and don't have that same magic that other classic night-time scenes from the 70's and 80's and 90's had. Many times it's obvious that the great colors are due to special effects and filters. I'm aware that many of the battles have to be computer generated, but I would have liked it if the lighting itself could have been more practical. One movie that really got this right was La La Land, and also the original Batman and Superman, which had amazing image quality that didn't have to rely on filters to get a rich feel to them. All of those examples bring to mind very classic film-making, the type that's a little self-aware, the type that really wants you to revel in the production. I think that Patty could have also looked to Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg, and especially James Cameron when it came to dictating the look and lighting of nighttime scenes.

3. The directing style could have evoked a lot of nostalgia for older styles of film-making and storytelling, especially with respect to this genre. It did a little of that, but I think that it could have got away with more. I like it when movies show a deeper awareness of film history. Again, I must bring up examples like La La Land, and how it managed to capture the feel of older examples of its genre while simultaneously being updated for modern audiences and carrying a deep story. Am I saying that Patty Jenkins needs to direct something as artistically particular as La La Land? No, but I definitely think that she could have stylized the film more and borrowed from some older styles in order to make the film feel timeless, and therefore stand out from the crowd enough to become a classic on the merits of its directing.

4. While its music was good and dared to be expressive, as a comic book movie ought to, I do wish that there were three or four additional memorable themes on top of Hans Zimmer's screetching thirty-second theme, which really only works for action scenes. It would have nice is some basic story pieces had their own themes to really make the story of the film memorable. A theme for Themyscira, a love theme, a theme for Diana's gentility and not just her warrior training, and maybe a memorable theme with the lasso. There could have also been a theme for the villain and the basic ideas that she's struggling against, which would have really driven the story home, and which feeds into my next point. Overall, this is all very hard to do, and to do it memorably and magically in the same way that movies like Forrest Gump, Home Alone, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban do it, so I don't hold that as an expectation for this film, but I know that such a score is possible, but I do hold that as a standard, especially since John Williams made that standard a very real one when he composed for Superman: The Movie.

5. I mentioned that the themes of the movie could have been represented through music, which takes me to the next point: the themes of the film were actually pretty good and rather fitting for the character, but not everyone has been talking about them. I know enough about audiences that the themes are going to go over their heads or that they'll entirely forget about them. How many times does a critic write a review where they miss the entire point of a movie's story? One of the things that Patty Jenkins, and also the writers, could have done was to get the audience emotionally invested in the themes of the story before they're even aware of what the themes are. That's actually pretty hard to do. The people who are able to do that are masters. Robert Zemeckis, Chris Columbus, and Alfonso Cuaron come to mind, but the folks who do this better than anyone else are the creative minds behind Pixar, the masters of storytelling. Somehow they get people eager to care about the themes of their stories every single time, and their stories leave a lasting, memorable mark. They do this in part simply from good stories, but also through very good storytelling. I didn't expect Wonder Woman to feel like a Pixar film, but I'm just giving examples of what really good emotional investment in a theme looks like in order for people to understand the point. I would have liked a movie where people couldn't help but care about the theme of the story and discuss it afterword. Some of the best Superhero films have done this, in particular Superman: The Movie and Spiderman.

6. This last point may sound simple to some, but it's actually incredibly difficult. Basically, the film could have been a tearjerker. There was one moment that I think was meant to be sad, but it didn't necessarily break my heart or make me even that emotional. Patty Jenkins isn't talentless because of that. That just means that she's in the top 1% of directors, but not the top 0.001% of directors. I think that very few directors can make true tearjerkers. That talent is so rare that people who can make movies well enough to succeed in that department are freaks. True tearjerkers are fairly rare, and they're the types of masterpieces that, when you look at them, you have a lot of respect for them and understand that it's unrealistic to expect all movies to be that good. We all want movies to be perfect, but we're generally forgiving when films don't match the examples set by nearly perfect movies, such as: It's A Wonderful Life, Life Is Beautiful, Schindler's List, Dead Poets Society, E.T. The Extraterrestrial, Stand By Me, Ghost, Home Alone (oddly enough), Requiem for a Dream, Forrest Gump, The Fox and the Hound, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, Up, the Toy Story movies, Inside Out. You may be noticing that these last several have all been Pixar films; as I have said, they are the masters, the best of the best. For superhero films, there's Logan, although that required eight films of buildup to make it work, plus a leading performance in Les Miserables. That wasn't much of a superhero film like Wonder Woman and more of a drama and a Western, though. For more action-packed movies, there's T2: Judgment Day. For adventure films like this one, there's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. And if I really wanted to give an example of how a classic superhero movie is a tearjerker, I personally tear up a little when Jor-El sends baby Superman off in Superman: The Movie, although that's just me. Manipulating people's emotions of happiness and sadness on such a level takes utmost mastery. It wasn't something that I expected out of the director, especially not with the way that the film was advertised, but I can tell that there were some moments that looked like they wanted to make people emotional. If she had made those moments as emotionally real as any of those movies that I had mentioned, that would have been amazing. How could she have actually achieved that? I don't really know. I'm not one of those elite storytellers. Perhaps she could have looked at any one of those movies that I mentioned, for example The Lion King or Ghost, and used that as a specific inspiration. I don't know. I don't know how much she intended to control the emotions of audiences. If that wasn't something that she constantly thought about, I think that she definitely should have thought thought more about that with every single scene. I she was indeed trying, than I don't have any actual advice for her, although I commend her for not coming off as pretentious. She could have easily gone down that direction.

Alright, now I've talked about the reasons why this isn't a classic, and why it isn't perfect. I'm done with my nitpicking. Now it's time for me to talk about the things that I like, and particular the things that are great about Wonder Woman.

There was a lot they could have got wrong about a Wonder Woman movie, especially after they betrayed the essence of Superman's character and literary history in Man of Steel. Fortunately, Wonder Woman doesn't follow the trend that it's been setting with other DC characters. She hasn't been entirely modernized. This is actually a fairly classic Diana of Themyscira. Apparently, since the story hasn't been told to larger audiences before, there was no need to put a spin on it to add any novelty. The original, unedited idea for Wonder Woman is novel enough. So for the devoted fan, they got that right. They delivered a classic Wonder Woman. She's ENFJ, compassionate, devoted to truth and peace. She's a warrior who's willing to achieve peace through strength. She deflects bullets with her gauntlets, makes people tell truth with her glowing lasso.

Probably the only thing missing is the star-spangled swimsuit bottom, but her look still essentially sticks to the classic image, and I hardly noticed the changed. It looks Amazonian and practical for fighting in. There's also a special moment when she first gets the suit, and the film is self-aware enough that this is an important moment.

Probably one of the best things that the writers and director did with Dianas character is that she felt old-fashioned. I don't know whether to credit the writers, the director, or Gal Gadot, but there's something about Diana that makes me nostalgic for some older values from simpler times. Her morality is pretty straightforward, and I appreciate that it makes me think of Superman. You get a good idea of what she stands for, and she's pretty idealistic. Gal Gadot plays this side of her wonderfully. She captures a sense of innocence and good-naturedness that we innately want to see in our heroes in a similar way that Christopher Reeve does.

Her relationship with the men surrounding her was healthy and functional. She learns to appreciate men, and even grow to have affection for them, just as the men (her love interest in particular) learn to appreciate her in return. I love, love, love that she's a loving person who uses her strength to build up the people around her. This is Wonder Woman as I know her. I love this.

The only real area where they fail as a Wonder Woman movie is in the villain. I won't give away who the villain is, since he/she isn't shown in any of the trailers. He/she is a classic from Wonder Woman's mythology, and very important in the comics, and truly the quintessential villain to start her out with. For such a huge villain, I wish that there was more interaction between him/her and Diana. I understand that due to the nature of the plot the villain couldn't have much screen time, but there are plenty of examples of villains who have very little screen time and yet dominate their respective movies with their presence. They aren't seen, but they are felt. Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is one such villain who only appears at the end, and yet the buildup to him made his minimal screen presence all that more awesome and not disappointing at all. The Emperor from Return of the Jedi is another example. Most people wouldn't be familiar with this, but BIONICLE fans might be pleased if I brought up the Makuta, and how he had an amazing presence both on-screen and, briefly, on-screen. The villain here could have been like that, and indeed really had the potential to and rise to the level of being very, very cinematic, but I think that he/she was merely okay. There were definitely things that I liked about him/her, though, and I'd say he/she is better than the average Marvel villain.

However, this leads into perhaps my favorite thing about the movie. The defining thing about DC's storytelling is that they focus on a character's beliefs and values, and they become symbols for these things. Heroes each stand for something, have to be someone's ideal. DC gets us to ask "Why does society need Superman? Batman? Green Arrow? Captain Marvel? Wonder Woman?" Diana grows and develops in this film, at first assuming that mankind is inherently good and merely the victims of corruption. She naively believes that mankind can be cured of evil, and that she can bring mankind back to peace. I absolutely love this because it gives us a true origin story that shows us how the character develops from merely being Diana of Themyscira to being the wise Wonder Woman that we know. Starting off with these basic, Rousseau-like assumptions, she has them challenged when she meets the villain, who gives her a counter-thesis that she must disprove, and yet at the same time forces her to grow beyond her old assumptions. What she learns is that mankind is inherently evil, at which point she's forced to take on a level of wisdom and maturity that truly makes her Wonder Woman: she's going to love humanity in spite of its wickedness, and save and serve people anyway. She decides that though nobody deserves love, this won't affect her loving nature.

This is, if you pardon the expression, a wonderful moral. It sets Wonder Woman apart from Batman and Superman, and is makes her vitally important to the DC Holy Trinity. It makes her an important figure on our culture. Although not many people will be talking about it upon leaving the theatre, I encourage encourage people to do so.




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Ghost in the Shell Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Reviews, Movies May 31 2017 · 58 views
Ghost in the Shell and 2 more...

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:kaukau: The one thing that I knew about this movie going into it was that it had very good aesthetics, and that it was on the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 level of prettiness. I guess you could say that I also knew that it starred Scarlett Johansson, although that wasn't really a selling point for me. Actually, that was a point against it, because it made me think that it would be a lot like Luc Besson's dumb Lucy movie. I enjoyed Lucy, but I didn't want a retread of that.

Now that I've seen it, I can say that it isn't quite as psychedelic or as shallow as Lucy. The science is a little more believable, the themes a little deeper. Its editing and mood are significantly less eccentric. It has a very different story, although like Lucy, I wouldn't say that it's a significantly innovative one in the history of Western cinema.

What I can say is that this was based off of an anime of the same name. I don't go out of my way to watch anime, or to read manga, but I'm familiar enough with the genre to say that Ghost in the Shell is very loyal to the storytelling style of Eastern anime. Its mood and atmosphere, its directing, its character types, and its story all feel like something that would specifically come from an anime. In that sense, if it wasn't for the casting, this is probably as good as any live action adaptation of an anime is going to get for a while. People who like the feel of anime will get something out of this.

By Western standards, this isn't the greatest movie. I've seen themes of humanity and robotic played out many times in anime, and that genre has a unique way of going about it, which I can't really describe in words. It's just one of those things that I know when I see it. There's usually something moody about it. In any case, Ghost in the Shell goes through some generic themes that movies have tread over many times before, namely "Humanity good, robotics insufficient," and "Corporations are all like Weyland-Yutani and will sacrifice a ton of innocent lives in order to make a profit." Nothing new here, nothing that is going to cause someone to think, and ultimately the story seems inconsequential.

The characters are also a bit generic. They are well defined in the sense that you understand immediately what archetype they belong to, but that's all they are, archetypes. I actually don't have anything against that form of storytelling. Sometimes an archetype is all that you need. I just don't want people hoping that the characters will have more depth than that. They exist to pull you into the atmosphere of the movie, not to get you invested in them themselves.

The one area where the movie succeeds it that it is indeed very well directed. Rupert Sanders, for an Englishman, has a good instinct for what feels right for Anime. His editing, pacing, and atmosphere are all solid. He makes the world seem very real, and establishes rules for the world that, like everything else, contribute to this movie functioning as a live-action anime. He has a very good grasp on what this film is. Above all, he has a sense for visuals.

I heard good things about this film, visually. Someone even said that it was the prettiest film she had ever seen. I went in with high expectations. I wasn't disappointed, but as a point of fact I have seen prettier films this year, namely La La Land and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. I can't say that every single shot in this movie is a masterpiece. Personally, I think that the movie is the most beautiful during the opening credits. The colors and the subjects were captivating and pulled me in, and I was hoping for the rest of the movie to be like that. The rest of the movie didn't quite live up to the hypnotizing concept art of the opening, but still managed to look very attractive overall. I won't say that it is one of the most beautiful films of the ages, but its cinematography is still a notch above the style of other science fiction and action movies, and while I don't think that every film can be as beautiful as, say, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 because I have realistic expectations, I do think that blockbusters can realistically aspire to be as good-looking as Ghost in the Shell.

There are two final things that must be said about how loyal this movie is to its anime roots. No review of Ghost in the Shell is complete without wagging a finger at it and tut-tutting it for casting a white actress, Scarlett Johansson, to play a Japanese character. That really isn't right. Of course, the blame doesn't land squarely on the film makers. It falls on us as well, since the movie American audiences haven't turned out in droves to make any specific Japanese or Japanese-American actress marketable. The only way that this was going to get a budget and make money was if it had a famous actress at the helm, and if there were any popular Japanese actresses in America, I think that the creative team would have gladly cast her. Tao Okamoto would have been a good fit for the role, for example, but American audiences don't know who she is, and just because she wasn't in it, that suddenly makes me a fan of her, because now I want to see her in more things. I swear, I'm going to start bringing her up more often, just to bring about awareness of her so that she just might become popular one day in America, and then we won't have to cast white actresses for Japanese roles anymore. Outside of the main character, though, the movie had no excuse. There movie was populated with white actors, none of which were played by people who would have made any difference in the box office, and there was really only one Japanese actor in the entire main cast. It was a travesty.

But that leads me to something amazing which this will will forever impress me. "Beat" Takeshi Kitano is famous in Japan, and he played Daisuke Aramaki. I mentioned that all of the characters were basic archetypes, but some of them legitimately did charm me. If you're going to have basic character "types" in place of fully developed characters, they might as well be likable. And so was Daisuke Aramaki. Beat played him well, and what truly blew me away was that this old businessman had flamboyant live-action anime hair...and actually pulled it off. I never thought that it could be done, but my hat is off to this film. Of all of the movie's beautiful visuals, none blow me away quite as much as this guy's hair. It's magnificent. I love it.

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Alien: Covenant Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Movies, Reviews May 20 2017 · 82 views
Alien, Alien:Covenant, Prometheus and 2 more...

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:kaukau: Advertisements have a tricky job to carry out. First, the advertisements must sell a movie, and get people excited. Second, it is a good idea for an advertisement to be aesthetically pleasing and a work of art unto itself. Third, very few people want an advertisement to give away too much. And finally, an advertisement should set audience expectations so that they know what to look for in order to get the most out of its film. Advertisements don't always carry through on that last function, in which case it is the job of the reviewer to give a more exact pitch for the movie and inform people on what desires they should have before going in in order to be as satisfied as possible.


So before I break down the film, allow me to first address the perception of the film that has been built up through its marketing department. There have been some mixed messages. The studio clearly wants people to believe that this is a return to form, and did a lot of marketing with the Alien, knowing that it would make the movie sell. Whoever designed the poster for the movie managed to create a true work of art, one of the greatest posters of the year, indicating that the film had a heavy focus on the eerie proto-religion that the Engineers had with the aliens.


Personally, the trailers for the movie didn't excite me much. It was just another Alien movie, which had been done to death. The only thing that looked different was that people would get gory in the back instead of in the front. That didn't seem particularly inspired to me. Fortunately, I can say that those advertisements did not give away much of the story of the film, and that it wasn't a mere rehashing of the various Alien movies.


As for the poster, I loved it. That got me excited. It hinted at a continuation of the themes of Prometheus, and to take me into the disturbing, occult realm of the Engineer's religion. I really liked the religious aspect of Prometheus and wanted to see a full series dedicated to it, because it was good science fiction. There was something very primal about it that made it so unnerving.


However, that poster, with all the beauty of its themes and its aesthetic design, had nothing to do with the film. Let me repeat: the poster has nothing to do with the film. Nothing in any way whatsoever. Perhaps it gives us an idea of what the director wished it could have been about, and what it might have been in its first drafts, so it may reveal that much about Covenant, but otherwise it might as well be the poster for another film, one that I truly would love to see someday, if Ridley Scott is given a chance to make it.


If you want a proper set of expectations for Covenant, go in expecting something that carries on the tradition of being a genre shift. The first movie was a claustrophobic horror movie about an unexplainable menace. The second was an action movie. The third was an emo film. The fourth was a bad movie (oh, and I think it was trying to be a Western or something). AVP was PG-13 fan fiction. Prometheus was a classic sci-fi commentary on religion, higher powers, and man's place in the universe. Alien: Covenant introduces some very new elements into the mythology, and a new kind of conflict. What that conflict is, I won't say, but I'm telling you to expect a new kind of story.


Covenant does continue some of the deep thinking of Prometheus, but they aren't as relevant thematically because most of the characters aren't out in space seeking answers. These thoughts don't lead to a quest, and they don't strike me emotionally as much as Prometheus did. After seeing Prometheus, I definitely had a lot of thinking to do. What if we were to travel a great distance to seek God, only to find out that not only did God not exist, but His nearest equivalent was the most terrible thing that we could imagine, so frightening that it made us sick, and wish that we had rather not known? I am a huge fan of Prometheus for prompting such a strong emotional and spiritual reaction in me, and discovering a new primal fear that the other films hadn't touched upon. While Covenant carries over some of those themes, it does not exploit them as its main theme, and doesn't use them as a means of accentuating the primal horror.


Instead of being driven by spiritual questions and unknowns, Covenant's main theme has to do with character development. At the end of the day, I actually think that this is what the film is all about. This does involve some discussions on faith and belief, as with Prometheus, but in the case of this movie those questions aren't asked to the audience, but rather to the characters so that we become invested in them. Character development in this movie is important enough that I'd say that you should be more interested in that than the aliens. In my opinion, the aliens are almost incidental. Almost. They're still obviously very important, but if I were to go watch the film again, they would not be the main draw.


That's not to say that past Alien movies didn't have an important human element. All of them did, especially the ones that we all universally like. However, this does approach the humanity of its characters in a new way, and it creates a new kind of conflict. I won't tell you which characters to look out for, because I don't want to give anything away. I went into the movie having no idea how relevant each character was, or who the main characters would be, and I would like people to go in the same as me.


With all that talk about what the advertisements didn't give away, I should admit that they did give away some fairly important things. Some neanderthal in marketing decided to give away many of the death scenes, so right off the bat I knew that certain characters were doomed from the start. That did ruin some of the experience for me. The other advertisement, a web featurette called Crossing, gave away a major plot detail that I would have considered a spoiler, although in fairness is does give people a much more honest portrait of their future viewing experience. I would personally discourage people from watching any of the featurettes, and only watch them later as deleted scenes.


Due the the genre shift, I didn't really consider it a horror film. It is certainly the bloodiest of the Alien films by a slight margin, but I don't consider it as creepy. It will creep some people out, but it didn't scare me even a tenth as much as the original Alien did. So don't go in with the expectation of being scared. If by chance you are, then consider that an added bonus. The advertisements suggested that it might be a horror film, especially when they show death scenes, but it's definitely more sci-fi, and furthermore, because of those scenes in the trailers, it makes it impossible to be scared when characters die.


Even the deaths that didn't occur in the trailers were a bit predictable, because people still walk off on their own. It's excusable at first, before they realize that they're in danger, but after the action gets started, it becomes kind of dumb. It only bothered me at certain points, and overall I would say that the people are smarter in Covenant than they are in Prometheus (perhaps that's because they're have a less obnoxious demeanor and actually act like they're taking their mission seriously), but a lot of people who hated Prometheus for this reason will probably still hate this movie for that reason, so if you're one of those people, just accept it as a fact of life that horror victims will be stupid before going in to this movie. If you don't think you can accept it, then there's no reason for seeing it, and you'd better pass this time around.


My biggest criticism for the movie has to do with Ridley Scott. I liked the job that the writers did, and the actors, and for the most part I really liked the job that Ridley did. After all, the film is beautiful. It has very good cinematography, and he does an excellent job of directing darkly-lit scenes. I always appreciate it when directors can do that. However, it is not tonally as distinct as his previous to films in this franchise. It doesn't have the same sense of cinematic atmosphere. At times, if it wasn't for the cinematography, I thought that you might have changed Ridley Scott with another blockbuster director and found a similar result. Perhaps it isn't Ridley's fault, but the result of executive meddling. I'm not really sure. But in some ways, this definitely feels like a blockbuster film released in 2017 and isn't as distinctly a member of the Alien franchise. That isn't to say that it doesn't have plenty of atmosphere! It's just that it doesn't have as much as Prometheus and Alien. It also saddens me to say that it doesn't have any distinct, memorable music queues, as with Prometheus and Alien, although it does acknowledge those two by using both of their themes throughout the movie, indicating that this film is where the two films begin to meet. As a lover of film scores, though, I wish that this film had its own fully developed theme to go with it, especially one that would emphasize the thematic differences between this and past films.


Speaking of atmosphere, there's a flashback in this film. I don't like flashbacks in general, but since they have never been used in this franchise before, I especially didn't like it here. It's not that the flashback was done terribly, but I do think that it made this movie a little bit more like the average blockbuster and not quite as distinct as the other Alien films.


Overall, I'd say that it has a lot of the atmosphere of Prometheus, and we're getting the Ridley Scott from that film, but people are going to be debating whether or not we are to think of this as a Prometheus sequel or an Alien prequel. It picks up more immediately from Prometheus, and its characters are more closely tied to the Prometheus timeline. It feels like a Prometheus sequel in a lot of ways, but as many fans of Prometheus have pointed out, it answers almost no questions from Prometheus, and reveals more about the movie Alien.


Regarding the answers that it does give us, I would say that the questions are more related to characters and details of the plot of the series, and not so much metaphysical questions that play into the horror. Alien, for example, gave us questions about what we would be better off not knowing as we explored deep enough into space, and Prometheus gave us questions about what we would rather not know as we began to explore ourselves and our origins. Both are a bit disturbing. Covenant's questions aren't quite as mysterious and are things that we can expect more concrete answers on, questions on where the story and the characters are going. Some people might dislike it, but it works for this particular film, since I do think that Ridley Scott understands how this one is different.


Alien: Covenant might not answer all of our questions, and in fact it has sabotaged some of our such hopes, but it does leave a big footprint in the Alien universe, because its story has some far-reaching ramifications. Although I wouldn't say that its themes are as deep as its predecessor's, the actual story is a little more ambitious. In the previous films, the immediate consequences in their stories was the safety of the crew members. Ultimately, once one takes away the deeper themes, they boil down to survival stories. Covenant branches out a little more than that, and it absolutely affects the way that we are to see any films set after it, which is one reason why I think that fans of the series probably ought to see it.


There are a final couple of things for me to say:


First, Michael Fassbender was the best part of Prometheus and Ridley Scott, the writers, and the studios all knew it. That man deserved an Oscar for his role in that film, where he was last seen with his android head ripped from his body, but otherwise still functioning. His role as David is what first brought him to my attention. Yes, he has been excellent as Magneto, and he has received Oscar nomminations for other roles in 12 Years A Slave and Steve Jobs, but I believe that David was truly his best role to date. This is the one role that he takes the most complete ownership of. He wasn't featured much in Alien: Covenant's advertising, but everyone behind the making of this movie knew that fans loved David and made sure to do him complete justice. The last time we saw an amazing character brought back after having his head ripped off, it was in Alien 3 and it was a bit of a disappointment. However, I can assure people that David is a pure pleasure to watch, and that Michael Fassbender is given a chance to shine. Like a god.


The other performance that I must call out is Billy Crudup's. From what I saw in the advertisements, I thought that this actor was going to be completely wasted in this movie, but I was pleasantly surprised. I had seen Billy in some other things, but never bothered remembering his face. However, I fell in love with the movie Rudderless, in which he stars and gives a performance that many actors would kill for. It is also possibly my favorite indie film in the last five or so years. Since then, I've paid attention to all of his upcoming films. He also had the most fortunate opportunity to star in The Stanford Prison Experiment, another great indie film. If there's anyone like me who would have watched Covenant just because of Billy Crudup, but was afraid that his character would be insignificant and forgettable, I think that the writers gave him a decent amount of character, and that this role helps his career. It won't be iconic like David or Ripley, but there's plenty of scenes where I found myself appreciating the character.


Overall, I liked it. The people who want to get the most out of seeing this movie are the ones who will be okay with changes to the formula. There were some changes to what I thought an Alien film should be that, a decade ago, was once adamantly against, and thought that Alien films should never go in such a direction, but surprisingly it did embraced these changes with enough deftness of acting, writing, and directing to pull it off. I'm excited to see where the Alien franchise goes from here. I am also excited to someday see a deeper exploration of the proto-religion seen in Prometheus, because the poster for this movie makes me realize just how cool that would be.


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Homeward Bound Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Movies, Reviews May 18 2017 · 61 views
Disney, dog, Golden Retriever and 1 more...

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1993 was a good year. Steven Spielberg released two of the best films ever, Jurassic Park and, especially, Schindler's List. Harrison Ford starred in one of his best movies, The Fugitive. Tim Burton directed presented The Nightmare Before Christmas. Child friendly films like The Sandlot became classics.


And there's also this one, Homeward Bound, a Disney remake of their 1963 film The Incredible Journey. I just watched it today, and nearly cried. It's been...a long time. What was I? Five? Four?? To my surprise, I remembered quite a bit.


It's very simple, and so it won't take me too long to review it. It's a simple, feel-good film with a lot of heart. It didn't take a lot of imagination to create, but it did require a personal sense of goodness. I'd say that the film is filled with humanity, but that would be an ironic statement, because in many ways the film is about something that humanity is not.


Shadow, Chance, and Sassy (A Golden Retriever, an American Bulldog, and a Himalayan Cat, respectively), are left behind with a caretaker when their owners go on vacation. The owners take much longer than expected, and after a couple of weeks Shadow gets worried.


You see, Shadow is a slightly older dog, older than the recently adopted Chance. He's had time to develop a bond with his kid. He understands the importance of the relationship between dogs and humans. He is defined by his loyalty for his boy.


Chance, recognizably voiced by Michael J. Fox, is much less mature. He's eager for fun, and impulsive. He's definitely a dog, enjoying life moment by moment, and delighting in gross things like eating smelly old shoes, but he hasn't figured out his relationship with humans yet. He liked it when they take him in, but the relationship has no deeper meaning to him like it does with Shadow.


Then there's Sassy, who lives up to her name. She doesn't like getting dirty, and thinks that cats rule and dogs drool. She's definitely family with the dogs, but her relationship dynamic with them is almost exactly what little kids would expect.


Following Shadow's lead, the three pets leave the farm where they're being kept to travel across the wilderness to find their family. Chance and Sassy can get distracted, but they keep on going because of Shadow's simple love for his boy. At one point, in the middle of a forest of pines, sitting before a river with a sunset reflecting off of it, Chance observes that "Looking at him that night, he seemed so wise, and ancient, like the first dog who ever walked the earth. I just hope that one day I can be like him."


Shadow was always my favorite character. I'm not sure if, when I was a kid, I was aware that he was older. Watching this again in my twenties, that detail doesn't seem familiar to me. When I was a kid, I'm sure that my reason for loving Shadow was that he was of that most beautiful breed, the Golden Retriever. I still absolutely love him for that reason. Rewatching the film, though, I admire his deep appreciation of the purpose of being a dog, and how he made found a home in this purpose.


On the way, they see many great beauties of nature, from river rapids, to waterfalls, to rocky cliffs, to mountains and valleys, panthers, bears, and so on. The film takes no shame in being beautiful. That sums up most of the film: authentic shots of nature at its best, and of dogs at their best. And a cat. Can't forget the cat.


That sums up the movie. You know exactly what you're going to get. It's one of those films that captures the old-fashioned Disney spirit quite well, and has a Normal Rockwellian quality. It's Norman Rockwell for dogs.


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Logan Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Reviews, Movies May 17 2017 · 80 views
Logan, Hugh Jackman, Wolverine and 2 more...

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This is probably the first time that the main draw for a superhero film (if you can call Logan such) has been its cinematography. For those of you who saw the one-time-only black-and-white showing of Logan, congratulations; you saw something truly beautiful. For the rest of you who missed out, too bad, but at least it will be available on blue ray.

Before I go into Logan itself, the subject of quality black and white cinematography demands some address of color photography. They require two completely different mindsets. It isn't simply a matter of one having color and one not having color. They completely alter the way that a film is made. They each require unique talents from a cinematographer. When you compare amazing color cinematography to black and white cinematography, it's comparing apples to oranges. To me, they are two distinct art forms.

Invidentally, only a week and a half before Logan Noir was released, Marverl released Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. This movie had many strong points that I must praise it on, and when I began writing a review on it, the very first thing that I had to mention was its cinematography. I have nothing but praise for its cinematography. It's a miracle, because this was not something to be expected from an MCU movie. The MCU is notorious among cinematography nerds for being an ugly franchise. The colors are bland and uninteresting, and there are rarely ever any solid black values onscreen. It's still a step up from DC's Man of Steel, which went out of its way to put a lifeless filter on it, but it's still uninspired. Basically, the MCU embodies every bad stereotype of digital cinematography. While they take great care in their special effects department, they severely overlook their regular effects department, that is, making sure that every shot looks special regardless of whether or not there's an effect in it. That doesn't really come naturally, because you have to carefully light the scenes, and then adjust your cameras accordingly. You also have to make sure that all of the colors in the scene are just right.

And you have to have those black values. The camera must pick up actual contrast, and this must include shaded areas that are nearly completely black. Especially if you're creating a comic book movie. The DCU, for all its faults, figured this out after Man of Steel and didn't make that mistake again. Batman v Superman looked like an actual comic-book movies, with actual shadows and contrasts that looked hand-crafted. It was also shot on film, which helped. Marvel, meanwhile, continued to shoot on Red cameras, which have some absolutely amazing capabilities, but they didn't seem to know what to do with them, and they basically used the Red series like they were any other digital camera, only with a higher pixel count. Fans of cinematography had reason to be disappointed, because they know the potential that a superhero gives cinematographers.

Then Marvel finally released Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and something changed. The first Guardians film indicated what it could be, but its sequel took it to the extreme. Vol. 2 is an example of a film that understands color photography down to its core. Every single shot felt vibrant. It used color to its fullest advantage, and without feeling like there was a filter. Yes, there probably was a filter, but the beauty is that I didn't notice it. It felt to me that the world simply was more colorful, and was alive. It also balanced colors with great black values to guide your attention to the form of the colorful things. Director James Gunn not only made sure that the cinematographer did his job right, but ensured that the production value matched this cinematographic vision, and that there was plenty of on-set color to work with. It was everything that I wanted in a Marvel film, in glorious 8K.

I have a great deal more to say on Vol. 2's cinematography that goes beyond just the color, but the point I wish to emphasize is that it had the best cinematography I had ever seen of any superhero film.

Which means that I've been having a really good couple of weeks with cinematography. A great year if you count all those times I watched La La Land in January and February, which is another amazing example of what can be accomplished with color photography, but that's a tangent. I've been having a good week because right after watching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the comic book film with the greatest cinematography thus far, I drove down to the only Alamo Drafthouse theatre in the Midwest to watch an exclusive showing of Logan Noir, which then immediately replaced Vol. 2's spot at the top. I have never seen cinematography this beautiful in a comic book movie.


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First, I should say that you will not get the same experience that I did merely by turning down the color balance on your television set. Director James Mangold publicly explained why that didn't work, because all that does is turn the film gray. That's okay if you want a gray film, but if you want a black and white film, you need to see the version that Mangold and his crew carefully crafted. They had to edit it frame by frame to ensure that they had the contrast in the scene exactly where they wanted it, to give it as classy of a look as possible, and to ensure the maximum emotional impact. Every single frame of this film is a work of art. When watching this movie, I wished I was capable of pausing after every third shot and taking a screenshot so that I could make what I saw onscreen my desktop background. Logan looks that good in black and white.

In order for you to understand my appreciation of this, I'm familiar with what the film looks like in color. The shapes and the features of the characters' faces didn't stand out at much, or carry as much weight. I can easily imagine how bland that would have looked if one had merely converted this film to black and white by removing the color. It would have been just as bland, just blander. On many occasions, I have taken a color photograph and dropped it into basic photo editing software, where I proceeded to take out the color, add some contrast, and then sometimes apply a filter. The results usually aren't as amazing and as striking as I'd like. In order to get what I want, I literally recreate the photograph in a lifelike charcoal drawing. I used to use graphite, but have since found charcoal ten times superior. Only after all that messy charcoaling, which takes hours and hours of labor over the course of a month, do I finally get a black-and-white picture that really does the subject matter justice. No filter can match the results of that kind of work.

That's how I feel looking at this film. I'm reminded of those times that I've created charcoal drawings. It's amazing. No filter, no formula, was used in order to get these results. The visual editors had to labor in love to create a custom-made frame each time that would deliver the maximum effect. They do all of this while hardly being recognized, because in the end it all looks quite naturally like it was the image picked up by the camera, and that the scenes were originally lit this way.


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There are many moments in the film's original release that don't look particularly visually stimulating, but after their Noir conversion, captivate the eyes. One of them is of Daphne Keene looking out the window while its drizzling. Other times, people are simply indoors, but the light hits their faces in such a way that you completely see their character. Just about every shot of Patrick Stewart's aging countenance, and the deep lines running across it, speaks volumes. When tears well up in his eyes, it looks so surreal. In so many instances, Logan sits alone in the darkness, and you feel that you know what the character is all about. Sometimes light will hit them in ways that give them a halo. Sometimes the characters verge on becoming silhouettes. Daphne Keene's simple features stand out the least of anyone's, but her smooth dark hair takes on a whole new texture when in black and white.

Again, as the film went on, there were so many moments that made me think "I wish I could take a screenshot and do a charcoal drawing of this!"


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One thing that I noticed right away about Logan Noir, is that there's almost always somewhere in the shot that is nearly all-black. In many indoor scenes, a lot of areas in the background are black, drawing your attention to the character. It doesn't feel unnatural in the slightest, or that any visual tricks are being performed, but the trained eye notices it and appreciates it. Good black values do something that many people usually try to accomplish through film editing. Filmmakers often use editing to draw the audience's attention to something, to help set up a narrative. I think that good black values often do that, but in an even subtler way, and often in an even more emotional way.

Perhaps where this conversion is at its weakest is when the characters are in the wide open, in broad daylight. In those moments, briefly, there are no solid black values. It isn't as visually expressive. When I do charcoal drawings, I almost always choose a subject matter with dark values, such as hands playing on piano keys, or an ocean reflecting the Milky Way, or a woman casting a shadow as she's walking across the desert. No matter what, I find a way to have fun with contrast. However, while the scenes that I'm alluding to don't have these shadows, there's still a beauty to them. Sometimes it's the scenery, and other times it's the context of the scene itself that makes it beautiful, without the help of black values whatsoever.

Many people went to Logan Noir for this reason, because the story enhanced the black and white images. They might not have even been connoisseurs of black and white, or have even known the amount of artistry that went into this conversion, but went anyway because they thought that the story of Logan was well-suited for black and white. The very fact that it was black and white, even if it hadn't been the best quality, seemed an appropriate and emotionally pleasing way of presenting the movie. It made it more adult. I concur. This was an amazing decision that caught be serendipitously. If there is one hero film that can pull off black and white, it's this one. And I'll say it right here, that the black and white version of Logan is definitely the preferred one. If you haven't seen the movie yet, but plan on buying it on Blu-ray, make sure to buy a version that has Noir on it, and watch that one. James Mangold said that there is a preferred version, because he shot it in color and then retroactively made a black and white version after encouragement from the fans. Perhaps due to his baises he can't come down and admit just how amazing Noir is, but I'll say it for him. I'm free from the sentimental connection of having it shot in color first: black and white is the version to watch. Not only is it beautiful, but it is truly befitting in Hugh Jackman's heartfelt and vulnerable sendoff for this beloved character.


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In spite of my love of the color in La La Land and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, this was the real treat for me. By now, the reader will have learned that I love black and white art, and almost by default choose to express reality through it. It's one of my loves. I love it so much that I'd rather have the option between seeing a movie in color and monochrome instead of seeing it in 2D and 3D. This should be a more regular thing. Perhaps, just maybe, Logan will win Best Cinematography, and directors will begin to seriously consider shooting films in both color and monochrome in the future. The chances are small, but nothing would make me happier. I can always hope that this art form which is so near to my heart will be rediscovered and resurrected.



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Home Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Reviews, Movies May 11 2017 · 109 views

Home Review :kaukau: I was going to write my Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 review the other day, but my computer has crashed at least once each day since then, which is really annoying. I don't know what's wrong with it, and it's quite unjust, because I decided to buy the most expensive, advanced computer on the market that Best Buy told me wouldn't have all of these problems. I figured that this computer would last me about six years, but now I'm no longer sure about that. Wow, what a waste of money.

Anyway, speaking of total wastes, Home was a waste of my time. Perhaps you're a fan of Jim Parsons, but when I recognized his voice, which sounded exactly like his Sheldon Cooper voice, I groaned. This was going to be an interesting ride.

Here's some context on why I watched this: I and someone else were trying to figure out a movie to show some kids. The other person really thought that this would be the perfect movie. I figured that you can't go wrong with good animation, but since the kids were high schoolers, I figured that something like Kubo and the Two Strings would be better. I could vouch personally for how good the film is. You can see my review of it elsewhere on this blog. As always, my input on what film to watch was ignored. That's what you get when you make group decisions about which movies to watch and you have a preference for genuine works of art. The B movie wins every time. In fact, I believe once we even chose to watch "Bee Movie." While supervising the kids, I just ignored the film and just kept an eye on them to make sure that everyone was behaving.

Anyway, Home is one of those movies that a studio pooped out because they knew that if they made a toy deal with McDonald's, they could get enough kids to go watch it to make a return on their investment. I remember the McDonald's toys because I worked there during my college years, and this period of my life overlapped with the release of Home.

Anyway, yes, it had to appeal to kids who haven't seen enough movies to realize that they can have higher standards. It had to be cute. It had to be silly. It had to have an inoffensive moral. You had to never truly fear for the characters or feel that anything was at stake. You just enough of that.

Otherwise, when you think about it, those cute characters don't have a lot of depth. They're all one-dimensional, and if you're high school or older, rather annoying. They're defined by a couple of quirks, and that's about it.

The story between O and the girl is done to death.

And to top it all off, all of their dramatic scenes are played to pop songs by Jennifer Lopez, making it impossible to take them seriously. The music never creates a deeper sense of atmosphere. Basically, it's all a bunch of contemporary songs that are either by Lopez or cut from the same cloth as her. Perhaps someone will look back at this and say "Ah, the 2010's. How nostalgic!" in the same way that we look back at The Legend of Billie Jean. Maybe. But I don't think too many people will be watching this in the 2020's or 2030's. It will be forgotten, and it darn well should. This was ultimately just something that some studio pushed out to make a quick buck. Entertaining, but only on a superficial level. With a moral about being brave and not betraying family and friends so that you don't feel too guilty for watching it.

By the way, I'm not even a hater of Rihanna. Yes, she played the main female protagonist. Honestly, she was the best part of Battleship, when it should have been Liam Neeson. But that doesn't change the fact that her inclusion in a movie is usually an indication of its quality. It shows that the film producers are thinking like music producers, who engineer art according to a formula and don't take any risks.


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The Interview Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Reviews, Movies Apr 15 2017 · 112 views
Kim Jong-Un
:kaukau: Truly, a great film. I remember watching online when it first came out. If only it had had a successful wide release. In an ideal world, everyone would have gone and seen it, and it would have also won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. What a wonderful story!

Also, due the the circumstances surrounding the release of this film, I think that it's destined to become a cult classic.

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Me

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Username: Jean Valjean
Real name: N/A
Age: 23
Gender: Male
Heritage: Half Dutch, 25% Hungarian, 12.5% Swedish, 6.25% German and Irish
Physical description: Looks like the eleventh Doctor
Favorite food: Chicken, turkey, and beef.
Least favorite food: Vegetables of any kind
Favorite band: Queen
Favorite singer: Billy Joel
Favorite song: American Pie
Favorite movie: Schindler's List
Favorite TV show: Smallville & Arthur the Friendly Aardvark
Favorite play: Les Miserables
Favorite color: Silver
Second favorite color: Brown
Favorite board game: Risk
Favorite athlete: Michael Phelps
Lucky Number: 53
Past-times: Writing, reading, politics, drawing
Political party: Republican
Religion: Christian
Language: Not English, but American.

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