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Justice League Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Reviews, Movies, Superman Nov 22 2017 · 176 views
Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and 2 more...

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:kaukau: Justice League stays true, for the most part, to what it advertised: a movie about five iconic superheroes who need little-to-no introduction getting together (right now, over me) in order to stop a villain who wasn't noteworthy enough to show up in the trailers, that may or may not have anything to do with Superman. There has been several different marketing tools employed domestically across the world that both imply that he is in the film, and things that imply that he isn't, and a lot of it is fake and deliberately misleading in order to get people speculating. So, out of respect to Warner Bros., I won't reveal whether or not Superman comes back or if they were gutsy enough to keep him dead.

With that in mind, what do you have?

Batman. Everyone knows who this is. The only difference to this Batman that I think needs introduction is that his main schtick this time around doesn't seem to be his batty obsession with his dead parents, but a sense of guilt over Superman's death. This is the first time that I've ever seen Batman depicted on film with friendship being a major part of his identity.

Wonder Woman. Everyone's favorite character at this point. The movie acknowledges some important parts from her origins movie earlier this year.

These two decide that they're going to start a team based off of cameos from previous films, consisting of the following three:

Aquaman: A bigger outsider than Batman ever was, and with a complicated backstory with Shakespearean family drama that's complicated enough that he's naturally the next one to get his own film. He reminds me a bit of the brooding Superman from Man of Steel, but it does fit the character a little better. However, he's the character who will probably endear people the least.

Cyborg: The most obscure of these characters, but at the same time can be summed up in one sentence. His father tried fusing him with alien technology to save his life, and now he's afraid of the technology that's taking over his body and possibly his mind.

The Flash: Barry Allen, everyone. Probably the most famous superhero outside of the Big Three. He says it as briefly as possible, that be got struck by lightning. Now he's fast, can go into some alternate dimension, and has the Speed Force. He doesn't have any friends, and it the most eager to join the Justice League. It should be noted that he is responsible for all of the movie's best moments.

They must fight Steppenwolf, a cool-looking villain played by a Shakespearean actor who delivers his few lines very well. He's of the Marvel variety, a forgettable villain; however, I personally really enjoyed him, if only because I really enjoyed the actor's performance. Steppenwolf's plan is to gather the Mother Boxes, an all-powerful force, and transform Earth into that red place that you saw in the trailers, which he would get away with if it wasn't for the Justice League.

That's it. That's the film in a nutshell. I think that it does a fairly decent job, and will keep people entertained. It doesn't have the gravitas and level of excitement and payoff that The Avengers did five years ago, but I think that people will be more satisfied if they go in thinking of it as a pilot episode for a DC animated show, since it has about a similar feel. There were certain moments that took me back to these kind of shows. Even Steppenwolf, as underdeveloped as he was, reminded me of villains who show up in a pilot episode to get introduced as a larger series villain who will get more development later.

I would also recommend this movie especially to people who haven't seen Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, on account of this film deciding to ignore major issues from them. It's very clear that DC wants to do a course-correct and wishes that they never made the first two films the way that they did, meaning that they're not only changing tone, but they're changing characters to fit their beloved comic-book counterparts with no in-universe reason.


Other pros and cons:

Great cinematography. Everything directed by Zack Snyder looks gorgeous. In fact, I don't say this too often, but it looks even richer in 3D.

Poor sound editing. There were times when sound played an important part in storytelling, and it really should have been edited to make the film far more immersive.

The editing! This is where most people complain. It's very obvious that there are quite a few deleted scenes, because the scenes that remain, especially in the beginning, don't directly flow into each other and interrupt the momentum that the film is trying to build up. However, each scene on its own is pretty cool. The other editing problem is in Warner Bros.'s mandate to keep the film under two hours, including the credits. So the film feels like it's about an hour and a half long (hence why I compare it to their animated pilots), and that just wasn't long enough to build up some important conflicts and play off of character chemistry. I feel that the second act in particular could have had several extra scenes to help build up to several key character choices. The inevitable extended cut of this movie will probably drastically improve on this. However, it would have been nice to see all of these extra story on the big screen.

The music pleased me. Greatly. They distanced themselves from everything having to do with Hans Zimmer and embraced a lot of their more classical music that I hear from their television shows and their video games, and it took me to a nostalgic place. You hear hints of the original Batman theme, and the original Superman theme, and Wonder Woman's theme gets a makeover so that instead of playing on an electric cello, she makes her entrance to trumpets, which I think takes her good theme and makes it great. The best new piece of music easily belongs to the Flash. It plays whenever he goes into speed mode, and I truly loved it.

The costumes were great. The Flash once again gets my praise, because his costume is almost exactly what I always imagined that it would look like.

I will defend this film against comparisons to The Avengers, since most of the comparisons being made stem from similarities in the comics. Steppenwolf is compared to Loki on the basis of them both having horned helmets, but they both had those in the comics. The Parademons have been compared to the Chitauri, but the Parademons have been in the comics longer. The Mother Boxes as a generic source of power has been compared to the Tesseract, but again, this is ancient comics stuff. Most other comparisons after that come off as stretches, for me. Like, the fact that Wonder Woman knows who Steppenwolf is, and Thor knows who Loki is. Ahem, that's lame.



Upcoming Justice League Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Reviews, Movies, Superman Nov 17 2017 · 106 views
Justice League, DC, superheroes and 2 more...
:kaukau: I'm working on it right now. The spoiler-free review should be up tomorrow. Due to the nature of this one, I think that I will write up a spoilers review as well shortly thereafter. The trailers left a lot up to speculation, and there are certain specific details in what they did stylistically and tonally that fundamentally affect how I want to review this film that can't be addressed in a completely spoiler-free review.

Before I write up my post here, I'm working on a video review of the film. I haven't done one of those since May, but I figured that this one is worth it. I'm definitely going to do a video review of STAR WARS in a month.



Thor: Ragnarok Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Reviews, Movies Nov 07 2017 · 111 views
Thor 3, Thor Ragnarok and 3 more...
:kaukau: At this point, Marvel movies hardly need reviews.

1. Tons of humor as usual, except with slightly more humor.
2. Forgettable villain, as usual, except slightly more forgettable.
3. Loki is the best part, as usual, except slightly better...wait, actually, he's exactly as good as he's been in every single installment. You simply can't improve upon this guy.

So yeah, if you like what Marvel does, then this is going to be a great film. If you don't, then it will suck. Then there's people like me who don't love the formula but can easily tolerate it most of the time, except in movies like this, when the formula for humor really pushes my limits. In particular, I was frustrated that this movie got more caught up in the humor than in actual creativity, which I think the Guardians of the Galaxy films did better, and also that there were some scenes that could have been epic spectacles but were watered down in order to keep things lighthearted. As in, I was kind of excited to see a giant apocalypic battle for Asgard that was going to get my heart racing and playing with imaginary swords for days to come, but this film didn't give me that particular fantasy. It was primarily a comedy.

Other things that are probably worth mentioning:

4. Doctor Strange doesn't really appear in this movie much. I expected more, because of the scene at the end of his movie, but ultimately his involvement in this movie is just an extended version of that after-credits scene. He could have very easily been cut without changing anything in this film. His inclusion will also be a little confusing to people who haven't seen his film. Also, is it me, or is his depiction here all-powerful?
5. Natalie Portman contracted breakup-by-sequel-itis. What a time honored trope. Actually, I hate this trope. And while I get that a lot of people didn't quite like the character, I found that she was the one person who made Thor interesting as a character; otherwise, Thor exists to make Loki more interesting. And they spent more time on their romance than any other romance in the DCU, so I kind of wanted that investment to pay off. Curses!
6. Nope. Valkyrie isn't depict
7. The fight with the Hulk is the best part of the whole movie. Best fight scene, best humor, everything.
8. This movie actually does change the status-quo by quite a bit. I actually think that due to events in this film, there will be permanent consequences that change the landscape of the MCU. Perhaps not Black Panther, but definitely everything from Infinity War onward. Civil War was a pretty gutsy film on its own, but in context it's pretty easy how it only momentarily changes the status quo, whereas I personally think that this has much more permanent fallout.



Stranger Things 2 review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Reviews Oct 31 2017 · 123 views
Stranger Things and 4 more...
Stranger Things 2 review :kaukau: This is the reason why I've been singing Christmas carols early, in spite of people telling me that it's too early, because Halloween gave me a premature Christmas present.

Last year, the world witnessed the rise of a wonderful, rewatchable gem called Stranger Things, and because sometimes we can have nice things, we've been blessed with a sequel. Is it as good as the original? Heck yes.

My only real complaint is that it isn't quite as self-contained as the first, but otherwise, the show has not yet lost that freshness and special magic that makes it epic. I can immediately tell you, this is just as rewatchable as the first, and I think that this will go down as a classic.

On the note of self-containment: this has one more episode than the previous miniseries, and honestly, you can tell which episode is "the extra." It doesn't necessarily feel shoe-horned in, because it does contribute to the plot of this season's story arc in relevant ways, but it's obvious that its main purpose is to set up for Stranger Things 3.

Otherwise, this does an excellent job of continuing the story, making callbacks when they're necessary, tying in with last year's story, introducing new characters, doing more with its old ones, and managing to expand on the mythology of the universe in a reasonable way that both ups the steaks and leaves the audience wondering just what sort of stranger things lurk around the upside down.



Only the Brave Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Reviews, Movies Oct 21 2017 · 102 views
firefighters, Granite Mountain and 2 more...
Only the Brave Review :kaukau: There are three types of things that will get me to watch a film no matter what. Miles Teller, because he blew me away in Whiplash and made me into a loyalist. Jennifer Connelly, because shes still the most beautiful woman alive and has talent to boot. And then there's...

Well, wait a minute. I didn't watch Fantastic 4 or Winter's Tale, so scratch what I said about Teller and Connelly. But anyway, I guess that's why I save the third point for last, since it's the best one.

Movies about American working-class people who are heroes simply for doing their job. Basically, the last three films by Peter Berg. In fact, I thought that this was a Peter Berg film. For those who don't know, that's the person who directed Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day. Does that paint a pretty clear picture of what sort of genre I'm talking about?

If you're into this particular subject matter, than you're going to be interested in this movie. As a work of art, I don't think a whole lot of it. Bear in mind, I went back and rewatched Blade Runner 2049 the weekend before this movie came out, so I had just been saturated with very high standards for filmmaking. I'm also a bit disappointed now that I realize that the director for this movie, Joseph Kosinksi, directed TRON: Legacy and Oblivion, which means that he really does have exceptionally high artistic standards, and isn't quite like Spielberg, who could transfer those over from the action movies to his more serious non-fiction stories.

That's not saying that the film is poorly made or anything. I'm just surprised that this comes from a director with a major eye for aesthetics, editing, and sound, and here you have a movie that feels pretty normal. The part that probably surprises me the most is his editing, which I don't quite know how to explain, but it's just different and far more casual than in TRON: Legacy and Oblivion.

Does this film really need to be as artistic as a Spielbergian drama, though? One must bear in mind that the movie mostly takes place in a small town in Arizona. Perhaps if too much art were put into it, it would feel dramatized, and less intimately appreciative of the real-life individuals upon whom this story is based. This movie honors the common man, and does so by being quite common. I don't see this as being a major international movie, or even a major movie that brings America together, but a small community film meant for regular people who want to feel understood.

Speaking of which, Jeff Bridges, man. I don't feel like this film will get any Oscar nominations, but if it does, it will be in Jeff. He changes his face and expressions in such ways that change him and also make him ring completely true for me. I grew up in a small town. I live in a small town. Let me just say that he completely channeled some of the local heroes of the small town community. It was a great performance, and I truly loved it. That, to me, was the best part of the entire movie.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see that Jennifer Connelly was given more to do than just show up in a couple of scenes as Eric Marsh's wife. They actually used some of her talent as an actress, which I appreciated. Also, seeing her as a rancher wearing a cowgirl hat and denim clothes was pretty awesome. How can a guy complain?

Anyway, as to the firefighters, perhaps one of my complaints is that I didn't feel like I was in a physically real fire department, and I didn't have the greatest understanding of what was going on during the forest fires. A while back I wrote a review for Deepwater Horizon and how that film made me really convinced that I was in an industrial workplace, because I had worked in an industrial workplace before. I was hoping to really come to a deep understanding of what it's like to be a firefighter, but the movie didn't make it completely real for me. Emotionally, it made a lot of it real, but just as a person who's interested in seeing a movie that helps me understand a job really well, I didn't necessarily like I had a comprehensive education. Perhaps that's a weird thing to want, of course.

But I'm sure that many people aren't considering watching this film based off of whether or not it's a training video on fire fighting with Mel Gibson levels of artistic immersion and James Cameron levels of obsessive-compulsive detail. You're probably interested in how it depicts people. If you know the real-life story, you'll understand why it puts more focus on Brendan McDonnough. Naturally, the supervisor Eric Marsh is the deuteragonist, and overall, there's somewhat of an ensemble cast and a lot of emphasis on how firefighters sort of form a family unit. The film also explores the themes of firefighters having to spend time away from their actual families quite a bit, and overall, the story is pretty good. It's always a good thing when movies can spark discussion, and I personally hope that certain people can have fruitful conversations about family planning after watching this. Once again, I think that people with community values will really appreciate this film.

Since I didn't know the true story, I didn't foresee how the movie would end. There were certain things that made me think, "Okay, this the type of storyline that I'm going to get, where the characters will develop in this way and this is why they're emphasizing certain scenes and editing it this way," but it turns out that I was wrong. It's not like the true events were presented as a major twist, either. I just sort of had certain expectations based off of the film making language used for most of the movie and the type of story it seemed to get me invested in, so that I was preparing myself for one emotion and found myself having another.

If I were to rate this movie, I'd put it above one of those slightly cringeworthy, plotless movies like Courageous, underneath Oliver Stone's World Trade Center and Clint Eastwood's American Sniper, and right about the same level as Deepwater Horizon, just too give people an idea of where this falls quality-wise. I will say, while not quite as immersive on a technical level as Deepwater Horizon, it did do a lot more to make create portraits of the firefighters that included meaningful details, such as what drove their relationships and what some of their personal desires were.

Overall, I appreciated it. I like these kinds of films, and I do like seeing this kind of heroism and sense of community celebrated.

Miles Teller will also be appearing in another film of this genre, Thank You For Your Service, next weekend, on October 27, and I will be watching and reviewing that as well.



Blade Runner 2049 Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Reviews, Movies Oct 07 2017 · 173 views
Blade Runner 2029, Blade Runner and 3 more...
Blade Runner 2049 Review :kaukau: When did I watch the original? Was it six years ago? It's been a while. The main things that I remember were the cons of having little story or character investment, but the pro of having more atmosphere than the planet Jupiter. So atmospheric.

Its sequel (and unofficially also the sequel to La La Land, if you think about it) manages to find a decent common-ground between the two. I felt that it had more story, and most definitely more likable characters, while also having a ridiculous amount of atmosphere. Denis Villeneuve packs this film with it. While not quite as dark and as noir as the original, he still recognizes that what makes Blade Runner what it is is the emphasis on directing, and he makes sure to pack 2049 with all sorts of provocative cinematography, lighting, sets, sounds, and musical language. The movie is a work of art. Ridley Scott chose his successor well.

Some people will wonder why Marvel is accused of making factory-produced films, and movies like this prove the point that the accusers are making. This isn't factory-produced. It relies strongly on a directorial vision to complete a picture that few directors can pull off. I applaud it for that. Part of me wants to watch it again because of that, and especially because of the cinematography and lighting. Earlier this year, I praised Logan Noir for having the best cinematography, but now various other films have come out, and now it's hard for me to say if there is any clear front-runner in the Best Cinematography category.

The movie also does a better job than the original of getting people to think about technology, and it really sells this world to me. The new types of artificial intelligence, the ways information is kept, and so forth. It feels incredibly fleshed out.

As for the characters, let's just say that Gosling is much more likable than Deckard back in the day. Deckard was simply an atrocious character who had no charm whatsoever, and his abusive romance with Rachael was cringe-worthy. I know that was the intention of Ridley Scott, but that didn't make it entertaining for me to watch. I'm glad that we had a good main character this time around, and an interesting supporting case, and that the pace of the film let us constantly feel that the characters were developing.

The story had me engaged. At times it also surprised me. It really was its own story and was pretty well put together, and it works incredibly well both as a stand-alone and as a sequel, naturally continuing the story of the original which should leave people satisfied while giving itself its own narrative language. What the story is about, I can't really give that away. Let's just say that the trailers don't give much away.

Some final thoughts: Jared Leto was awesome, but I wanted more of him. There was also a scene with an old character who got the Grand Moff Tarkin treatment, at which I cringed, but fortunately that moment was incredibly brief. Also, Edward James Olmos, whom I regard as one of the greats, makes a brief appearance, which in my mind was the best callback in the entire film, although that's not saying much since this film doesn't use too many "callback moments" that you often get in sequels.

Ultimately, if you really like artistic films, or are a fan of cinematography, or really like this genre, then you should check this out. Regarding its rating, strong language is few and far between, and the main reason that it has its rating is because of strong sexual themes and imagery, which I would argue aren't entirely out of place due to the strong themes of sexuality within the story. Don't watch this film if the nearly three-hour running time is a concern, although for me that extra hour really contributed toward it being a good film. Finally, while the visuals will probably hold up pretty well on Blu-Ray, I do recommend watching this movie in theatres specifically for the sound quality. Villeneuve makes very striking decisions with his music and sound editing that will likely be lost at home, but which reverberate in the cinemas.



It Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Reviews, Movies Sep 18 2017 · 124 views
It, Stephen King, horror
:kaukau: I watched this movie because I heard good word of mouth. Prior to the movie coming out, there wasn't much buzz. It was just some movie coming out later this year, which a date that I didn't bother remembering. And yet somehow, it grossed $123 million domestically on its opening weekend, more than any other movie this year except Beauty and the Beast and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. War for the Planet of the Apes didn't even gross half as much on its opening weekend, nor did Dunkirk, Cars 3, and other films that we couldn't stop hearing about. It even outgrossed Spider-Man: Homecoming and Wonder Woman's opening weekends.

And the hilarious thing is, it's a bad movie.

Yeah, I heard a lot of good reviews. People were saying good things about it, audiences and critics alike. But I laughed at all of the serious moments while I was in the movie.

I'm not complaining that it's bad, either. I sincerely had a good time. And ultimately, I'm actually rather happy that it made so much money on such a small budget. When you're essentially an indie film and you're out-grossing some of the biggest names in comic books, that's power to you. Stick it to the establishment!

But anyway, allow me to explain what's bad about it, and why I had such a fun time because of it, or should I say, because of It:

This is one of those movies that you could tell was based off of a Stephen King novel, even if you had never heard of It before. It contains just about every King cliche out there. There were times when this movie felt as disjointed as The Room, when people would do random things to fill up the runtime. I suppose it's supposed to have a bit of a Stand By Me feel to it, but it kind of ruins the pacing it has as a horror film. And it's awkwardly paced in general. And there's basically no plot for the first half of the film. And even when you do get to the main plot, there's some strange editing. And when I mean strange editing, some of the tense scenes will end and you will cut to the main characters in another, safer situation. I'm like, "wait, that scene resolved itself at that moment? I had no idea that they were safe yet."

More cliches: every one of the Stand By Me kids (they're technically called the Losers Club) has abusive parents. With some of them, it's only implied, or you only see it in one scene, but with others, there's some uncomfortable screen time to be had. How is it that every single parent in this town is inhumanly awful? The bullies are just as bad, if not worse. I've seen cliche bullies before, but these guys take the cake. They will literally carve their names into the flesh of fat people, and they bully just about everyone. They'll even shoot at people's cats. It gets to the point that they will even murder. These guys are pretty messed up. Hands down, these are the most over-the-top bullies ever. And on top of it all, the main bully has to offend me with his awful late-80's mullet. That was painful to look at.

Thank heavens that the Losers are somewhat decent people! They're so decent that they're . . . honestly, kind of annoying, too. And each person is bascially only a walking quirk. And then there's the kid played by Finn Wolfhard, from Stranger Things. I don't even know what his quirk was. As far as I can tell, he was supposed to be more obnoxious than the rest of them, but as far as I was concerned, his quirk was that he reminded people of how Stranger Things was much better and therefore the directors had to hide him behind a giant pair of glasses that never came off. So hopefully people wouldn't notice that he's basically Mike Wheeler.

Well, one character was significantly improved. Beverly. She didn't do a certain thing in this movie that she did in the book. Ahem. Stephen King has a weird mind.

So yeah, the first half of the movie is just random encounters with the clown which don't really add up to anything. And the clown, which has all the powers of shape-shifting in the world, doesn't actually use any of them to kill the main characters. He's a very lousy serial killer. These scenes hardly have any buildup that would otherwise make them eerie. They're not directed like actual horror scenes. They actually come off more as gimmicks. And then the scenes end abruptly. And the characters who nearly got killed in these scenes? They go on living as normal for the first half of the film. One of them, this Jewish kid (that's literally his only trait as far as I can tell), nearly gets eaten by It, and I assumed that he had until in a later scene when he eventually actually talked about it. It turns out that this similarly-looking person actually was the Jewish kid this whole time, only he had lost his yarmulke and I didn't recognize him. Seriously, how did he not have jitters in his next scene? And that goes for all of the other kids.

And this pattern continues. These kids are really good at going on as if nothing abnormal had happened. There's one moment like this before the climax, but my favorite scene where they got the mood all wrong was when the shapeshifter came from the drain with tentacles of hair and nearly choked the girl, and then sprayed blood all over the place. When the rest of the Losers Club visits to see this really disturbing thing, they randomly decide to have a moment where they all cheerily clean up all of the blood. Seriously, they see all of this blood and their first thought it "we need to clean up!" And it's not even depicted as ironic. It's like I was watching the wall-painting scene from Bridge to Terebithia.

Did this movie even know what tone it was going for?

I'll be the one to say it: the movie advertised itself as being loyal to the book, which is probably one of the reasons why it's successful, but I think that it would have been a lot better if it had removed half of the characters and kept the story between three individuals. Just have the Losers Club be a trio. You could develop the characters much better.

Anyway, the film is not without its merits. If you want something gimmicky, this is good. The clown can do some pretty interesting things, and with modern technology, they actually fully realize some of its more creative shapes. Its scenes don't necessarily come off as "scary" so much as "fun." Because they are fun. I think people ultimately went to the movie because they thought that the clown would have a special presence, which he does. He's well presented, and he's a solid concept, and he does leave an impression. If you think about the movie as a villain film, I'd say that it works. Actually, It is actually a better villain than most Marvel villains, come to think of it.

I still find it hilarious that this opened higher than Spider-Man: Homecoming.



Dunkirk was a terrible movie

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Reviews, Movies Jul 29 2017 · 526 views
Christopher Nolan, sucks and 3 more...
Dunkirk was a terrible movie :kaukau: I haven't felt this strongly about a film since 2013.

Good cinematographer
Good sound technicians
Good production designer

Everything else sucked. You don't feel for a single character, not to mention that literally everyone on-screen is fictional. I remember when he released this thinking, "Ah, for once Christopher Nolan can make a traditional film in a genre that should be larger than him as a director. If nothing else, we won't have any more of this non-linear storytelling." As it happens, I was wrong. And if anyone can shoehorn non-linear storytelling into a movie where it doesn't belong, it's Christopher Nolan.

Seriously? We're going to do this with a WWII movie? And all in the space of one battle? Really, Nolan? He's beginning to remind me of M. Night Shyamalan, who makes strange directing choices that scream "Hey look! I'm directing!" and "Ask me what it means!" This is basically proof that Christopher Nolan cares more about patting himself on the back for being an auteur than actually making a good movie. He loves himself more than he does film. And he somehow has the gall to market himself as "the last remaining vestige of classical, decent and respectable film making."

No. No, Mr. Nolan. You are not. You are a hack. You are a snob. All you care about it creating this illusion that you're smarter than everyone else, and being hailed as a savior for the modern film making business by delusional fans. You want to be important. In every film, you create a ridiculously conspicuous awareness that you're directing, overshadowing everything else about it. Want to make an historical epic about World War II? Nope. There's no such thing as an actual World War II film in Christopher Nolan's mind, only a Christopher Nolan film that happens to be set in World War II. Then, just like all of your other films, include some things that sound deep, and then do non-linear storytelling to make people think that you're making a much deeper point than you really are, to convince them that "only smart people appreciate them, and I'm sorry that your unsophisticated mind can't comprehend it."

Well, I'm calling the emperor out on having no clothes. He's butt naked. He's a fraud.

And on top of that, while Hans Zimmer has put out a few good scores, his collaborations with Nolan represent everything that I hate about modern movie music, and his Dunkirk score took it to the extreme. 99% of the score for Dunkirk mimics the ticking of a clock, or a heartbeat, or panting, or whatever else goes to a high-strung tempo. It's all one-note, and it's always taught all of the time. It always sounds like it's about to crescendo. And it all sounds the same. Guys, I think I've discovered the ultimate Hans Zimmer soundtrack. It's every negative stereotype associated with Hans Zimmer taken to the utmost extreme. It doesn't even fit the setting, because it sounds so ridiculously modern.

With Dunkirk, there is so much story that you can tell. For example, how Winston Churchill organized it all. That's fascinating. You can tell a huge story about organizing this. No such story. You can tell a very interesting story on the reasons speculated as to why Adolf Hitler halted hit troops' advance. You could tell any other number of stories. You could tell any story, actually.

But Christopher Nolan literally has no story. He just randomly jumps back and forth, in a non-linear fashion, between three different casts of characters that you don't really care about. Some faceless guy on the beach. A family who runs one of the boats. A couple of pilots. You don't try to make us sympathize with any of them, because you're too obsessed with telling a non-linear "story" in order to look smart. None of these characters go through any arc's. And for your film's supposed theme that the soldiers of Dunkirk were heroic, you don't actually try to make anyone feel the same amount of fear that they do. You don't humanize them.

I'm going to go out and say it: I hate this movie just as much as Pearl Harbor. I watched it with a few elderly people, and they liked it, but they're not aware of the context of this film. The release of this film takes place within the context of a world that has Christopher Nolan fever, and a fan base that campaigns for his name to be lauded as the greatest director of all time. People speak of him as though he were infallible. It has gone to his head. Not a single one of his films comes off as sincere to me, other than his earliest movies. I know that a lot of World War II veterans won't be offended by this film. They'll think "Hey, it's about us!" No, this isn't about you. It's all about him. It has always been about him. He's only using you to get more power. He's exploiting the Greatest Generation to gain immortality.

So suffice to say, I don't like Christopher Nolan. He used to merely just not be my style, but now I intensely dislike him.

Go watch Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets instead.



The Room Review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Movies, Reviews Jul 27 2017 · 154 views
Tommy Wiseau, Greg Sestero and 3 more...
:kaukau: I just watched the most famous bad movie of all time. Various Youtube channels have completely spoiled the movie for me, so I've basically seen the entire movie already, so it was a bit of a downer. My suggestion is that you don't watch any of those videos out there about the film. Instead, take my word for it, and be one of the few who actually goes out and buys the DVD off of Tommy Wiseau's site, and watch it with minimal knowledge of the movie (save for the part where there's uncensored nudity; you might actually want to be mentally prepared for that in advance). Just take my word for it. It is gloriously bad, in every conceivable way.

In the near future, I think I plan on watching the film several more times, memorizing the scenes, in order to prepare myself for one of those cult screenings. I really look forward to watching one of those someday. Sure, it will cost me a fortune in plastic spoons, but it will be worth it.

Oh, hai SPIRIT!



War for the Planet of the Apes review

Posted by Jean Valjean , in Movies, Reviews Jul 26 2017 · 90 views

War for the Planet of the Apes review :kaukau: Instead of being named after the original Planet of the Apes, this series should have titled itself after Caesar. If you think about it, this series has very little to do with exactly how the planet of the apes setting came about. Asides from the initial accident which created the virus that wiped out humans and shot up the ape IQs, none of the actions of any of the characters ultimately did anything to determine the course of history. Nothing Caesar did had any impact on what the planet of the apes would look like a hundred years in the future, in the year 0 C.H. (Charlton Heston). In spite of title of this most recent film, nothing in the trailers suggested that the war would be a crucial turning point that would determine anything of lasting importance, other than the survival of one specific village of apes.

This isn't a bad thing. However, now that this series has supposedly wrapped up, I look back on it and realize that my initial impression that it was an origin story was wrong. The only film that really made for an origin story was the first one. All of the rest have been less about the worldwide consequences of the apes becoming the dominant species and have been more of a personal story for Caesar.

Even though Caesar does absolutely nothing to contribute to the titles of these films, he still does make a significant difference to the people in his life. His life story is amazing, and he goes through a genuinely riveting personal journey throughout these films. This is the main takeaway of these films. All of that money, all of those special effects, and it all goes to a personal drama. That basically never happens. I really have to credit these films for daring to invest so much in something that isn't as immediately flashy as, say, a superhero movie. People point to Marvel and Christopher Nolan as the most innovative forces in Hollywood, but I actually think that these films push the envelope more with what can be accomplished in a tentpole production.

Andy Serkis's motion capture performance is breathtaking. I wondered how on Earth they could improve it from the last film, but the magicians at WETA succeeded. Andy probably won't get nominated, but the effects artists will finally win for how well they bring to life this character. There are moments where the special effects and the performance come together to create something genuinely Oscar worthy, and none of these amazing moments are given away in the trailers. Serkis's voice is also incredible. Caesar has been talking for a while, and his voice has changed from previous films. He's also one of the few apes who ever speaks, so there must be a certain gravity to his speech, something that makes him special. Serkis completely sells it.

Who knows, maybe he will get nominated for an Oscar, or even receive a special achievement award. Regardless of the recognition he receives, one thing is absolutely certain: all hail Caesar.



Username: Jean Valjean
Real name: People literally don't have names in my family
Age: 24
Gender: Male
Heritage: Half Dutch, Quarter Hungarian, Eighth Swedish, Sixteenth 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: Avatar: The Last Airbender
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, drawing
Political Caucus: Iowa Republicans
Religion: Christian
Language: Iowegian

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