Jonathan Evans

Review Ghostbusters by Jonathan Evans

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(3 / 5)

Ghostbusters is one of those names that has become crystallized through the love and nostalgia the original garnered in the eighties. Now it’s the time where a movie must be made of the same title again because studios will bet (and probably be right) in thinking that remakes are a more financially worthy pursuit than originality.

This is a pill every regular movie goer must swallow. Hollywood operates as a business so they will make the easy cash grab choices. However this does not, instantly mean that the movie itself will be bad. There’s still an opportunity for the filmmakers and actors to bring something new to the property and make it feel like the original.

So first lets establish what Ghostbusters is. Well its a diverse team of four funny people that take down the ghouls and goblins in a modern world and the peoples fate lies in their hands even though they have no business being heroes. Lets begin.

Our motley gang this time is composed of Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) a scientist of the paranormal but seeks a normal, respectable life. Abby Yates (Melisa McCarthy) also a scientist but one that more actively seeks the paranormal and doesn’t care what the public thinks of her. Then there is the tech genius and my favorite, Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon) and fizzy mad scientist with a shock head of hair and large round yellow goggles to emphasize her crazy eyes and speaking whatever loopy thing comes into her head because she is simply enjoying the madness of her own world. This is the most original character in the movie, not something we’ve seen before. Then there’s Patty Tolan the most sane or at least, street level one of them that adds the audience perspective to the group. She doesn’t know about the tech or the science but knows about the history of the city. Then there’s Chris Hemsworth again putting a twist on the previous movie but being a good looking hunk but also being as dumb as rubber, who’s probably got by with his looks this whole time. But he means well so there’s that.

So now with all that established the question still lies, is this funny? Yes, yes it is. There are indeed a good handful of funny moments within the movie that made me laugh. The jokes range from dialog to visual (most of the best ones coming from Holtzman). However there are others that are simply not funny or loose their way as they go on. This is a case of a little rewriting and/or some editing needed to make them flow more easier.

However the weakest part of the movie are when cast members from he original movie make cameos. They are really distracting, few of them add anything and can probably be cut out entirely. Cameos have to be weaved in so that you can see them and if your in-the-know you can appreciate them, but if the movie stops and you don’t know who’s on-screen then it just takes you out. The weakest one is Bill Murray and what they do with him is really tasteless.

In terms of continuity it would seem like this is a whole new separate entity. There seems to have never been any other group that called themselves Ghostbusters before this. Ow well, that just makes this a reboot/remake (whichever category it falls under), it doesn’t really hurt it.

With years since the original eighties movie comes upgrades, as there always must. We see the PKE meter but it looks different but we get the traditional Proton-Packs only we get other models with variations. There’s a suction pack, grenades and even one where you hold in your hand and is activated by motion so you can punch ghosts in the face. These are creative variations on the classic designs, we still have the originals in the movie but we also get the new.

Is this a good movie? Yes there’s plenty of good that outweighs the bad and I’d gladly see it again. Is this Ghostbusters, yes, because what are the Ghostbusters if not colorful blue collar comedians with guns.

Review The Neon Demon by Jonathan Evans

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(4 / 5)

The Neon Demon is a movie that is entirely contrasted by its light and dark segments. Sometimes there are scenes that are perfectly illuminated, others that are pure black, save for those little shapes that emerge from said darkness before they are enveloped by them. Then there are the crossroad scenes where there is equal light and darkness on both sides and eventually, one must be taken.

Elle Fanning is an up-and-coming model that seems to have what it takes. She is slim, blonde and beautiful. Everyone seems to gravitate towards her, she gets signed with an agency easily, the top photographers desperately want to photograph her and the other models have their plastic surgeons cut and stretch their faces to make them more desirable while she simply is. So she becomes desired by some, while for others the source of hate and both to others still. That really is the grand total of the plot. The rest of the experience consists of mood and images that we are given to experience.

We’ve seen this story before, plenty of times the story has been told of the bright lights of Hollywood that cast dark shadows and the pressure and ugly side of fame. Movies like Black Swan, Hollywoodland, The Informers, Perfect Blue, Birdman are examples off the top of my head. Having a similar theme or message is fine in a movie, but what it needs is to distinguish itself from the others so that it’s original. This movie operates on the level of a music video. Having more emphasis on the mood and the image with minimal dialog sequences with such distance that look like they’re out of a Kubrick movie. Director Nichols Winding Refn works best when creating inspired new images and environments.

The mastery that Refn has on placing of the lighting and sets makes him a category of his own. No one else has such images and scenarios running through their mind. He always paints such striking, and quietly disturbing setups to put the characters in or physiologically experience.

The other prominent presence in the movie is the musical score by Cliff Martinez. At times it is a twinkling fairy-tale tune and others a fever dream, and it always fits with the pacing and colors on-screen.
People have said that a re-make of Susperia will happen one day. Well while a true re-make would be foolish this film is like a spiritual successor. Both are horrors in terms of their frightening moments, mostly Fe-male cast and have their sets and musical scores speak more than their dialog ever could.

Something you will walk away from this movie remembering are some of the darkest, most disturbing scenes in movie history. Moments that are born from the most depraved part of the human Psyche and desires warped by evil intent. But darkness can be forgiven if there is genuine intent and reason for it. Having something unsettling on-screen is one thing but whether its because the filmmakers want you to think about the why rather than hoping to get a reaction from you and then leave you with nothing.

The Neon Demon will leave you with something. It is a dark look into the pursuit of fame and beauty. But also the knowledge that if that is someones soul goal then it will lead them out of the bright lights, then they’ll be the darkness and nothing will be left.

Review World of Warcraft by Jonathan Evans

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(2 / 5)

When you are given a movie like Warcraft, that’s based on an online computer game that has over eight million people playing it daily, over a dozen different races on both sides and has the most dense lore of nearly any franchise you will ever find, you have to wonder. Could this be any good at all? Or can it even be coherent?

We are told the tale of a world named Azeroth, a magical world where there has been a conflict between the humans and the Orcs for as long as anyone can remember. How it all began is the purpose of the story. We are taken back to the beginning where one world was thriving and one was dying, so in order to survive the Orcs used dark magic to open a portal so they could travel to a world where they could live. I like this setup, there are evil characters and forces at work but this is a case of two races seeking the most basic thing, survival, none can really be blamed for that, so there isn’t really a bad guy.

I found that when it came to writing this review I could not for the life of me remember any of the characters names. In-fact even while the movie was going on I couldn’t hold their names in my head. They were just too complicated and and got lost amidst all the others names and exposition.

I did play World of Warcraft for three years so I know things that the average person would not and that in-itself is dangerous. Putting references in are fine but too much emphasis or not enough explanation can leave the viewer feeling like they are at a table where they don’t know anybody, awkward and unwelcome. But this movie is constructed so that a non-fan can understand the world just fine, there’s magic, barbarians, monsters, kings the regular cast and characters you’d expect to see in any fantasy story.

In order to bring a fully fictional world to life special effects are required. Whether that be through computers or through built sets to create environments that have never existed in our world. As well as that makeup or again computers must be utilized to create other races and creatures into existence. This movie uses both. On a purely aesthetic level, this is such a mixed bag. The Orcs and their world are the best part of it, they look and move convincingly (though I question how they can enunciate so well with those tusks) and their environments are rendered as well as the graphic art of the video game itself. While in the other areas they look very cheap. Some effects are like painting come to life while others are like impressive internet videos, which at a movies standard are not very good.

Again the acting is either hit or miss. The Orcs, having to act using their imagination and then the animators putting the finishing touches over it looks very impressive, magnificently well rendered with all kinds of details in their costume and texture to their skin. It’s when its all live action when you have a hard time believing anything. It’s too extravagant and doesn’t look realistic, too polished

In order to keep the conflict going they implant a tragedy of both inevitability and irony. Or at least that’s what they want to do. It is clearly something so this movie can be the stepping stone for more movies. But this ain’t Shakespeare, what happens in this movie is OK in ideas and pretty clunky in execution.

Can a movie be judged for how bad it could have been? I do not envy the screenwriters for being dealt this library of source information and having to channel it all down into a one-hundred and twenty page screenplay while having to make it all coherent. This could have been our generations Dune. This not that, it’s just a very mixed bag of a movie. There’s clearly ideas here and the hordes (pun intended) of Warcraft player will undoubtedly make the movie successful which will lead to more movies in the future. Previous experience is not required, so really all you’ll see is a movie that is at times good and others times surprisingly bad but still with a competent plot.

Twenty years of Kingdom Come and what have we learned? by Jonathan Evans

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The best pieces of work are born  from a reaction of the time they’re created on but have themes and morals that transcend and will always be relevant. Though Dr. Strangelove was created through nuclear terror it will always be watchable because of the laughs and the way it paints a portrait of the craziness of life. 1984 was written at a time where totalitarianism was seemingly taking over, yet we continue to adsorb the material because we still have those fears and worries.

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Kingdom Come is an Elsewhere miniseries from DC comics. It tells the story of years later from the regular status quo where the age of the heroes that we all know has passed and a new breed of heroes have taken their place. Heroes that kill their enemies and care nothing for collateral damage on the city they’re fighting in nor the civilians caught in-between. But eventually Superman Batman and Wonder Woman can stand back no longer and must return, but they face the question, does their brand of justice still work?

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In 1992 the comic company Image was formed. It’s founding members were Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarland, Jim Lee, Erik Larsen, Jim Valentino and Marc Silvestri. It’s main policy was that creators could create properties without censoring restrictions or having to give-up their copyrights to their characters. This allowed the artists to create without any of the usual restrictions they would face from the “Big Two” (DC and MARVEL) but with that freedom came flatulent indulgence in their more base instinct and lack of inhibition. The characters were barely original, plots were thin and this was clearly a case of artist being given the heavy task of writing without possessing that talent. What we had were books where the heroes are heroes in name only. Because they killed willy-nilly and are just plain unpleasant people that you wouldn’t want to be around in real life, let alone pay money to read about them. But yet people did. The early Image titles sold well and changed the coarse of comics forever. They clearly tapped into the pulse of the youths at that time. Five splash pages every issue protagonist that drink, are sloppy and the stories were as thin as the paper they’re printed on. They picked them up, some people got rich, nobody got smarter and they were dropped and never picked up again.

But Alex Ross, now one of the biggest names in comics saw what was happening and needed an answer to it. He came up with the base concept of the book but it was only pieces, he was given Mark Waid a living comic encyclopaedia and equal lover of the true blue heroes and it was with their combination that  it really took form.  Kingdom Come was conceived in the wake of this terrible age but it came out when they were actually getting back on track, 1996. Titles like Grant Morrison’s Justice League, James Robinson’s Starman were things that reignited the feel of what the superhero ere should be. Riveting, imagination filled stories with a sense of hope.

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In the year 2013 we got the new cinematic Superman for this generation, Man of Steel. The image of the technology was sharper and denser, the costume was more elaborate and the color was absent. It ended in a battle which the writer of Kingdom Come himself described as “destruction porn.” A battle between two super-beings that results in dozens of square miles of property damage, definitely over a thousand people dead and no attempt on our “heroes” part to move the fight to a less populated area, finally ending with him killing his enemy.

That part alone was the start of so much debate. Should he? Should he not? Is not killing outdated? Beyond the fact that I don’t believe that Superman would ever do this, it goes against his ideals, both him as a character and his point. To always find a better way. That and there were at least a half doze ways he could have not killed him in that moment.

But lets address the question as to why shouldn’t he kill. Well at the base of everything Superman is an ideal, a fully fleshed-out character yes, but that is the point of him. He is meant to embody the hope and optimism that we should strive for. And he is meant for children first and foremost, yes adults can enjoy him too and can be used for more sophisticated stories but you must never loose that child demographic. If he kills then he is saying that life is worthless, if he takes a life then where does it end? He does not kill because all life is sacred and no one is lesser than him. In the sequel Batman v Superman the Man of Steel meets with The Dark Knight. The colours continue to get darker, Batman is a hypocrite because he himself is a mass murderer and we have no contrast between the two characters because they’re both dark, brooding men that have forgotten how to smile. It’s been twenty years and DC has forgotten the lessons that should never have been forgotten. Ironically though MARVEL keeps the lessons true to form.

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However in the MARVEL movies they do seem to understand the morals and lesson of the book. In Age of Ultron, a fight ensues between Iron Man and the Hulk. While it’s going on Iron Man tries to take Hulk out of the city but fails. At least there was an effort. Later in the movie, right before the big action climax, they use Scarlett Witch to evacuate all he people they can out so they can fight with no civilian casualties. They don’t evacuate everyone, and there was civilian life lost. But they tried and succeeded in taking out the villain and the death toll was as low as it could possible be.

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In the most recent movie Civil War the point that separates out heroes is that the Sacovia Accord. It was created because of the collateral damage that has arisen from these battles of super-people. Early on in the movie a bomb is about to go off and Scarlett Witch shoots it into the air. Yes, they have not saved everyone, because there’s no such thing as a perfect victory with these things. But they know that they need to save as many people as they can. Later in the movie Black Panther confronts that man responsible for his fathers, as well as numerous other peoples deaths. He lost his wife and child in the battle with Ultron, but in his quest to tear the Avengers apart he has found no happiness and others have been dragged into his misery. Black Panther then sees that vengeance will not grant him self satisfaction and it will corrupt everyone around him. So he takes him in alive saying such true words “The living are not done with you yet.”

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We were in a time where juvenile, popular creators were given free reign to craft stories where heroes were only heroes because their names were on the titles of the book. Kingdom Come taught us that even though there may no be perfect victories our heroes should still strive to do what they can for the people that they have taken a vow to protect the people.

Review Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows by Jonathan Evans

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(2 / 5)

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have always worked best as a genre where it welcomes the weird and the insane on a whim. A world where our four main characters are the most unlikely culmination of things that have ever been conceived in pop-culture and now face creations of equal or greater feats of insane genius. Perhaps this is why they have had a hard time in the world of live action movies and the medium of animation and comics just seems to suit them better.

The first movie got no love from me as a lifelong fan of movies and the Turtles. This one, from the first few trailers, you could tell that they were leaning to a different direction. This is a course correction of a sequel. I would argue that if the first movie wasn’t even that good then that shouldn’t even justify a sequel. But we live in a world of franchises, so sometimes we must roll with the punches.

As soon as they appear we instantly see an improvement. Their feature have been refined and improved. They look less ghoulish, the colours are more vibrant, less accessories that make their overall designs less cluttered and their facial features have been smoothed out. They look less terrifying.

Shredder returns as an antagonist in this movie. He is still a very undefined villain in this movie franchise. Although this time he was thwarted by the Turtles so he wants revenge. That’s at least a motivation. However dropped in our laps is Kraang a villain that every fan knows but has never made a live-action appearance until now. His design is out of the old 50’s alien designs. A big talking brain with a face on it.

Even with all the previously mentioned improvements this movie has some of the most forced, amateur examples of exposition you will ever see. These are moments that they put in-front of you to show how not to write conversations. How they were able to get away with it in this movie I have no idea. Silly and nonsensical is on thing. But this is just bad writing, in-excusable.

We then get even more characters in the form of two thugs named Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Sheamus). They are the two block-headed thugs to enforce the big-bad’s will. But they go through a mutation that will give them the edge against the Turtles. Again adding to the ever-expanding-cast is Casey Jones. Stephen Amell is given some tough scenes to act-through. I mean tough in the terms that the comedy and mentality is terribly forced. He gets moments to be charming and to say a few quips, which he does very well.

As well as all the characters that are added (some I haven’t even mentioned) we are shown further development with the Turtles themselves as a family. They are becoming frustrated with having to hide themselves away from society that they love so much and want to join it. However they are still ninjas, which means they must operate stealthily (how they been able to remain hidden considering their huge, hulking physic is beyond me).

Is this an improvement over the last movie? Yes. At least it is closer to the appeal of the Turtles. The gruesome edges have been sanded down and is a much smoother experience. The moments of exploitation are still here but no more real moments of creepiness. Still there is a wrapped and forced sense of comedy and not much heart.

This is not a good movie, but all ratings are meant to be relevant not absolute. So I consider how weak the first movie was and how much better this one is.

Review Captain America Civil War by Jonathan Evans

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When an irresistible force such as you, meets an old immovable object like me, you can bet just as sure as you live. Something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give.
Frank Sinatra, Something’s Gotta Give

Captain America Civil War

(5 / 5)

The reason Superheroes have been able to endure for so long is because they have always told the next story. Sure Superman will always wear a big red cape and fly, Batman will always don the cowl and punch muggers but there is still a long lasting continuity to these characters and in order to keep them going the villains need to find new ways of fighting them and the consequences of their action have to catch up to them. Civil War is a movie about two paths laying before superheroes, one must be taken, the problem is that the heroes are also people, ergo flawed. So they differ on which is the right path and truly believe they are right, so they will stand by their beliefs to the end.

Early on we get one of those sharply worded, briskly shot action scenes, we see a bad guy with a cool name and an equally cool outfit steal a biological weapon, he is stopped but at a cost of a hospital exploding. This is the event that gets the nations of the world to sit the superheros down and talk. All the events in recent years, The Avengers, Age of Ultron, Winter Solider and now this have had far reaching devastation with a lot of collateral damage.

The “Sokovia Accords” will be a special jury lead by multiple people from the United Nations that will determine what situation requires the superheroes attention. Tony. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is for it and understands that with such power as they wield there must be safeguards to keep them in check. But Steve, Captain America (Chris Evans) argues that such boards usually act with a vested interest, also what if they don’t get together and give them permission in time? He stands by the belief that “the best hands are still our own.” So it becomes a case of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object, Tony wants to go forward with this new system but Steve is unconvinced and does not budge in his beliefs.

Before this review goes any further I feel it’s important for my own feelings be known. Captain America has always been my favourite character in the MARVEL movies and I was on his team before the movie came out and was still on his side during it. But there still remains a valid argument for either side. This could have been a simple case of one are the idiots the others are smart, these are obviously the good guys and this is who we’re meant to root for. But no, they go the more adult and interesting route where each member on each side is there for their own reasons. Neither is the villain, just a clash of ideologies that either is willing to fight for. There is a villain that lurks in the shadows who sets-up all the pieces to fight, but I do question if we really needed it.

The writing team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely know how to write with clarity and engaging characters. This is a movie that’s over two hours long so there’s enough time for everything, but they operate on a method where every scene is necessary and we know everything, or at least enough going into each action scene. In the dialogue scenes there are no wasted words or moments so you understand the characters very quickly, then we are able to get invested in the action. It is on-par with Mad Max: Fury Road.

The cast of characters in this movie is immense. It has most of the per-established characters from the previous movies and introduces new players that will most likely get their own movie and other moments in later films. But it works on the level of the actual comics now. We see Ant-Man, understand him and then will probably want to go back and checkout his movie. Also in the short time they have with everything else going on we get characters like Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spiderman (Tom Holland) and are able to engage with them through very efficient directing and screenwriting.

As said we need to know the people fighting so we are invested, but good action is still essential. For a good action scene we need to know the layout of the environment and understand who did what when, if we loose track of the basics of what is happening on-screen then it simply becomes lights and noise. However if we keep seeing the same set-up it will become stagnant regardless, the Russo brothers know this so they don’t make the action tedious, they add unique twists or perspectives on their action set-pieces so that its something more engaging. For example a stairway fight, two combatants have enhanced body power so they can do more extreme movements, also one is willing to kill while the other isn’t.

And still, even with all these stakes and dark moments in the movie, we are still treated to comedy and moments of levity. Even here they understand that superheroes are meant to be characters where we can feel good and have fun. There are more than a few examples of movies that cram too much stuff in it just leaves the audience confused and frustrated. Batman v Superman and Jupiter Ascending come to mind. But Civil War is able to so efficiently explain and deliver the characters for the conflict, without necessarily needing to see the previous movies (though you will want to after seeing it) and keep you engaged at all time and with everyone.

Civil War takes out the villain aspect of these movies and puts hero against hero, not in a battle of good verses evil, but a fight for how to serve the greater good. And the drama of these two characters coming to blows isn’t from that mere fact it is happening, but that it was always meant to happen.

Review The Jungle Book (2016) by Jonathan Evans

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The Jungle Book was always a story structured around set-piece moments. We have a little boy as out fish-out-of-water protagonist that comes across creatures that he doesn’t know about and must overcome. What matters is that the world is defined and that characters that inhabit itare memorable as well as likeable and we must have a few moments of awe within the run-time.

This is still the classic set-up a small child being found in the jungle and, for whatever reason, a panther named Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) finds him and instead of eating him, takes him to a pack of wolves, that also decide to not eat him and raise him as one of their own.

Mowgli in terms of his design with his messy black hair and red pants is right out of the original Disney movie. The little boy playing him is Neel Sethi, who unfortunately just isn’t that good. He somehow is able to speak clear English with an American accent but also speaks it with that hammy way that you’d expect from a minor. How bad is it? Possibly in the range of Jake Lloyd from The Phantom Menace, however we should all keep-in-mind that acting requires concentration and intelligence at a level that we wouldn’t expect from youth. But he can traverse the jungle sets well and interact with the C.G.I. character convincingly.

Eventually there comes a very harsh drought, and a truce is declared among the animals and they gather at a watering hole. Both predator and prey drink, knowing that none can hurt the other. But one sits uneasy, the dreaded tiger Shere Kahn. He has his intense distaste for man and cannot abide having a man in the jungle, he abides by the law but vows that when the water returns, he shall take Mowgli’s life.

Shere Kahn as a villain is probably the most effective element of the movie. He is convincingly rendered through the computer technology and is of course a tiger, which are naturally threatening. He actually has to do very little, most of his impact comes from what is implied, he has a few moments to establish he’s a physical threat and the rest is him being close and knowing that he can rip you apart at any second. And it’s all brought to life with Idris Elba’s vocals, both calming and manipulative and then moving to raging wrath.

So with a tiger that will no doubt carry out his threat Mowgli must leave and be taken the mans village. And of course the journey does not go smoothly, there are obstacles and distractions. The most prominent is the big lazy bear Baloo, played rather well by Bill Murray. Murray injects his classic dry sarcastic, layedback wit in this sloth bear and it is a match.

When we get to King Louie the movie honestly just stops. He is played by Christopher Walken who has such a distinguished voice that it is impossible to think of anything or anyone else. He has long fur that drapes down from his body like a fur coat and sits in his crumbled castle in the jungle surrounded by fruit, treasure and dark shadows giving him a feel of Colonel Kurt from Apocalypse Now. You really do stop thinking about this boy and the tiger that after him and ts all about this giant orange ape being voiced by one of the most unique actors ever to grace the screen.

There are moments in the writing where it just seemed weird and unnecessary. Most of it works as an adaptation, or at least to give us the same moments but in different ways. But others where it seeks to flesh-out the backstory of these character and the choices seem so odd. There were moments of exposition where they forgo and it seemed like a good idea, but they explain them later for some reason, as well as plot-hole I noticed immediately regarding how Baloo and Mowgli meet.

This is a much more dark, threatening interpretation of this story than we have seen before (I do also admit to having not read the book). These animals may talk but they most certainly do still have their teeth and claws. There is even a transition scene with the giant snake Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) which I genuinely think is inspired!

This is not a movie for the younger children that would have enjoyed the original 2D animated movie. This is a much harsher world with more obvious consequences. Is is too tough for any children? I would say that for children twelve or above. The story is still the story but told in a different way and with some very strong elements and others that don’t necessarily let the rest down but do noticeably weaken it. But either way, we still have a movie that has a classic story at it’s center with classic cinematography, good C.G.I. and strong performances from nearly everyone.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars

Review Zootropolis by Jonathan Evans

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A movie needs many things to work. Mainly it needs story, characters and theme, it then needs to take the said elements and put them in an environment so they can cook together. Zootropolis is a movie that has all of these elements and may have a lot of cooks in the kitchen, but they all need to be there because they add to one element or another.

The world our story plays out in is one where animals existed as we know them but simply evolved to become sophisticated. There just simply didn’t seem to be any humans. They can now speak, wear clothes and have all the technology we have now. We are simultaneously introduced to Judy Hopes (Ginnifer Goodwin) a rabbit whose a bouncy fluff-ball of enthusiasm and smarts that grew-up on a farm but has big dreams of moving to the big city of Zootropolis where she will be a cop, make the world better etc. She enrolls in the academy where it seems like the cop life is not suited for a small rabbit, but she is indentured and does graduate. Now the big city awaits her.

The city of Zootropoilis is an architectural marvel. It is one of those locations that allows for many possibilities , serves as a great back drop for the characters and will inhabit your memories for years to come. It is on league with cities from Rintaro’s Metropolis, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil or Gotham City in Batman. We see all of the city, from the highs to the slums. Another neat part is that some of the skyscrapers are shaped like horns. Usually movies with anthropomorphic animals are all the same size, giving a little to let other animals be appropriately bigger or smaller. But here they remain the same size and it is the city that has adapted to accommodate all the different shapes and sizes. Pools for the hippos as well as dryers for them, little suction tubes to speedily transport the hamsters, different neighbourhoods with different weather simulators to create to right climate for the inhabitants natural environment.

And within the city area all the huge beasts and little critters that inhabit it. Every different species is given its own walk and body pose because naturally they have their own proportions. The wide range of furs, lighting, textures, clothing, environments that area all within this one film is so impressive. This is something that has ideas, skill and effort to bring it to life.

Along with it being great to look at there are even undertones. In this society that has descendants from a more beastly past (pun intended) there are remnants of that, some species typically don’t get along together because of their nature and others come with expectations based on their, literal, race. Yes, in this children’s Disney animated movie with anthropomorphic animals.

When Judy arrives there is a case of multiple predators going missing, her superior Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) assigns everyone a lead while she gets parking duty. While working she notices a fox in an elephant Ice-Cream store trying to buy a large lollipop for his son, the clerk refuses service but after some smart intervention from Judy he gets his pop. But it turns out this fox is a hustler named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) that uses the really big pop to turn into smaller ones and sell off to make a profit. Eventually events unfold and him and Judy are forced together as an unlikely partnership.

Any movie partnership needs them to be opposites. If they were the same then there would be no dynamic rendering it pointless. But also this brings out great character moments, Judy’s smarts but also naive optimism contrasts brilliantly with Nicks cynicism and dry wit. But none of them is ever truly the fool and they each bring something special to the situation that makes the whole greater than the sum of it’s parts.

There are constant jokes, as you’d expect from an animated children’s movie from Disney, but there is a much more heavy adult edge to their approach here. Nothing that is too edgy or inappropriate for children but will have the adults in the audience laughing just as hard as the children. One scene in particular that takes place at the DMV had the cinema I was in laughing very hard.

This movie is at the standard of The LEGO Movie. Because it being good would probably be no surprise. But it being this well thought-out with jokes that only make you laugh, but laugh hard and a deftly crafted script that throws in funny but seemingly pointless jokes that come back and play a part in the greater work.

Zootropolis works. It is many things and they all work together. It is a comedy with cute animals in it, you will be laughing throughout the movie. It’s also a social commentary, you’ll be moved by it’s poignancy. There’s also a mystery to solve, all the moments serve and lead and interweave together to a conclusion that is the right level of smart as well as clear enough to understand. The movie is simply a wonderful creation of feelings, smarts told with great characters within one of the great movie locations.

(4 / 5)

Review The Huntsman: Winter’s War by Jonathan Evans

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If you know the previous movie, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a little of a prequel and a sequel to a movie that was also retelling a classic Grimm’s Fairy Tale. But when you simply look at it with non-subjective eyes it’s just another fantasy movie with all that entails.

We are told the story by an unnamed narrator (Liam Neeson) he tells of how there were two sisters. One was the evil queen we know (Charlize Theron) that would manipulate her way to power and the other her younger sister (Emily Blunt) that falls in love with one of the Kings and has a child with him. But when tragedy strikes the child her heart grows cold both figuratively and literally. This gives her the power of ice (because this is a magical world!), she then creates a kingdom up in frozen mountains where children are taken from their families and groomed to become her huntsmen. Of these children two of the best are Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain), over the years they fall in love and get married, but love is not tolerated in this Ice queens heart and she separates them.

Time passes and we now move forwards to the events after Snow White and the Huntsman. Eric is recruited by the king (Sam Claflin) to find and destroy the magic mirror that has slowly been driving Snow White mad. On his quest he eventually gains traveling companions, as one must when on any kind of quest! They exist to for exposition and have some witty repartee. There are four dwarfs. There is Nion (Nick Frost) returning from the last movie, Gryff (Rob Brydon) who’s really more interested in profit, Bromwyn (Sheridan Smith) a Fe-male rough and tumble kind of dwarf and Doreena (Alexandra Roach) a well meaning although also air-headed individual that serves to balance out the groups personalities and dynamic.

Chris Hemsworth returns to play the role of Eric the Huntsman. He is a devil-may-care, swashbuckling hero, with a Scottish accent that should probably think-out his plans more but has a smile you just can’t resist. For a variety of reasons, Snow White is physically absent from the movie. She is mentioned at numerous times and seen briefly from the back in one scene. But the character and Kristen Stewart is absent from the film.

Though this film serves as a prequel/sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman it is still its own movie. We can gather from the storytelling exposition earlier on what the characters situations are and the kind of world this is.

While on their quest there is banter and conversations among the members, ranging from fun and sharply tongued to rather stupid. A shame because its a case of the weaker moments of poor writing letting the other moments down when we know there could be better material. But the actors are able to remain dynamic throughout and are clearly having fun with it.

Although greatly decreased from the last movie Winters War still comes with it’s own share of unique visuals to the fantasy genre. There are a few moments of unique visuals in the movie (you’ve never seen Goblins like these) and also a few clever moments. But to compare it with the original, it is much less bountiful to the eye.

This is director Cedric Nicolas- Troyan’s first film but he served on the second unit on the first Snow White movie and Maleficent so he knows how to make this movie feel like the others. It’s fine as a first full-length feature goes. Plenty of knowledgeable camerawork, able to get the hammy but controlled performances from his actors.

Parts of it are refined from the last movie, like the performances while other moments are lacking like the visuals. But this really is another fantasy movie with a few neat ideas and at times clever visuals and characterization along with a few performances that are at least memorable. It’s a good-looking movie that has fun with what it is.

Review Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice by Jonathan Evans

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Could this movie ever live up to its hype? Did it ever stand a chance against all the expectation that the fanboys have built up in their own minds and have fantasized about for years? No it did not. But it did stand a chance of still being good. Any movie has that chance.

At numerous times during this movie you will either be confused or have to hold yourself back from laughing at the imagery that I can only attest to Zack Snyder believing he has artistic ability (which he does not).

The big deal that everyone has been talking about in anticipation, and will no doubt be thinking about while watching and shall discuss after viewing is that this is the first live action, cinematic depiction of a movie with both Superman and Batman on-screen at the same time. Most of the movie is build up to this and when they do interact (if you can call it that) they are just seeing who can be more macho, so we have two immature insecure males placed together. Ben Affleck was a unique choice to say the least, he does bring a dark stoic nature and presence to the character. You see how the years of brutal crime fight have worn away sympathy and the raw anger that bubbles under the surface. This is also the first time we are shown the grey and black Batman suit. Something we’ve seen plenty of times in the comics and animated universe but a first for live action so it helps to distinguish itself.

It is a staple for superheroes not to kill. It’s expected because they are made for children. I expect optimism while watching or reading anything superhero related. They can still be mature and deal with tougher subject matter, but they should always maintain their wholesomeness. At least with the established, long lasting ones. In Man of Steel Superman broke his most sacred of vows and killed his enemy. Now in this movie Batman is directly responsible for killing many of his enemies. Flat-out murder, without any regret or having to deal with any conflict that makes him a mass murderer. Those wholesome, optimistic days really seem to be long gone.

All the characterization has faults; some are more competent than others. But the greatest failure goes to Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Luthor is one of the most brilliant, controlling as well as enduring villains from superhero comics a character with a dark warped but also brilliant mind. This is a weirdo that only has people around him because he pays them and/or is important.

Ever since the MARVEL have been gaining all kinds of success with their line of movies DC has been trying desperately to replicate it. They want to have a series of movies that build-up to Avengers (i.e. Justice League). But they lack the patience and careful planning that made that work. MARVEL gave each member of the team their own movie to establish themselves and built to the story that would call for them to be united. This is a forced hodgepodge of references, characters and story elements that shouldn’t be in the same movie resulting in a deformed cluttered mess.

Included in the cast is the first big screen, live action representation of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). She has things to prove but I believe her as a competent warrior that knows how to navigate her way around a dance floor and a conversation with anyone. There is groundwork set-up and room for further development (within her own film)

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The action scenes lack all forms of investment, we haven’t grown to care about the characters that are bashing together like plastic toys so no outcome matters. There were clearly to moments Zack Snyder cared the most about, he obviously didn’t care about making them sympathetic or even believable. What we have is a juvenile boy that has been given hundreds of millions of dollars to enact his overblown playtime sessions that he would come up with while playing with his action figure on the carpet. With all the depth and nuance that comes with this i.e. none. They are loud, flashy and with no care for anything grounded or with emotion behind them. Just noise.

When the climactic scene comes and the two icons engage in battle you will have already abandoned any sense of caring. It isn’t even the last battle in the movie, when that finally rears its ugly head you might as well order take-out or message your friends. Hell, read what the person next or behind you is ordering for take-out, it will be more interesting than the barrage of lights and loud noises abusing your senses from the screen.

The hype was impossible to live up to. But there was always a chance for this movie to be competent and be well executed. The acting is fine, from some, the scale is grand. And from there on I fail to think of anything else redeeming about the movie. It is simply a juvenile, waste of time and resources. These characters are capable and should be used for much better entertainment.

Rating: 1/2 star out of 4