Jonathan Evans

Review Rogue One by Jonathan Evans

 

(3 / 5)

 

With the release of The Force Awakens Star Wars is currently experiencing one of it’s greatest resurgences in popularity. Now as we wait for episode eight we are given Rogue One which serves as the bridge between the prequels and the originals.

This movies main goal is to finally establish who it was that got the Death Star plans to Princess Leia and how. In many different video games and other mediums there have been multiple people that have done this so this whole movies purpose is to set it in stone.

I feel the same way about this movie as I do about Jurassic World and that is that on the asthetic level of being apart of a previously established franchise it succeeds greatly and it never really clicks except in the last ten minutes. The last ten minutes of this movie is where you really feel the impact and has it’s best moments. However this raises the question, does this make it worth it? As a simple piece of information to the franchise as a whole not really, did we need to know all these details, no we can live without them. As a movie, to have to sit through something that is just OK but never really resonating until the finale?

Everything about this production says that the people working on the visuals know their material and are passionate to be here. Star Wars is a world of technology far beyond what we have now but is worn and dusty from it’s time being used and environment. Very few things are clean or at least have a few scratches on them and there are details that tie it in with the original film, like when a giant screen changes there’s a half second of static, remember static?

Our characters to perform this task are Jyn (Felicity Jones) the daughter of a scientist, the one that designed the Death Star, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen). Also they have Orson Kennrick (Ben Mendelson) as their position that hunts them and opposes everything they stand for. They also have a converted Imperialist droid named K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk). My favourite character, wise cracking but in the way that is believable a robot would be, displeased with illogical course of action the humans are taking.

The writing for this movie is way too on-the-nose. The dialog is all about “hope” and “rebellion” and “fight” and “chance.” This is obvious writing that is easy to see through and too corny to get invested in. There are times when it settles down and has the characters talk more human-like but it’s these moments you’ll remember.

Being that the plot is set before A New Hope there are two faces that come back, literally! I wont spoil the second one but Peter Cushing is facially recreated and voiced by another actor. This is, frankly, creepy. I know that what I am seeing is a real person that is long since dead and has been facially re-created to deliver another performance. Recreating a young Jeff Bridges in Tron Legacy is one thing, but this feels very disrespectful. There is an episode of The Critic where they have a millionaire say that using C.G.I. he can have old, long dead actors do what he wants. This was intended as a joke, now it’s a disturbing reality.

There are moments of fan-service in this movie that is the most detrimental to any movie. They are the types that come, non-subtly state themselves and then moves on. These are moments for the fans, others will just be slightly detoured by characters moving by or a lot of emphasis on a certain name. It’s not the worst I’ve seen but that doesn’t make this any better.

Star Wars fans are some of the most dedicated and obsessive fans ever (this can be either a good or bad thing). I imagine the hardcore fans will take this movie and really focus in on its prose and not care about its problems. For others, it will be a serviceable science fiction movie that has an ending that makes it all worth it

Review Moana by Jonathan Evans

dwayne-johnson-debuts-first-poster-for-disneys-moana

(4 / 5)

Disney movies have been for the family since the companies beginning. But they have mostly been for a Caucasian audience. In recent years companies have realised that there are other types of people and have striven to represent more of the many different types of people inhabiting the world.

We get told that there is the god of islands Te Fiti that created the islands of the world, when one day the demi-god Maui steals her heart, this starts the spreading of a great evil that will devour all life on the planet eventually. Years later and the events have become legend and on an island a tribe lives in perfect happiness. However despite this the chiefs daughter, Moana, feels the ocean calling to her, for her whole life despite the fact that the island has everything anyone could want she is beckoned to leave for something else.

Eventually the corruption reaches her island, so she must leave and restore the goddess heart with the help of Maui. And so out hero’s quest begins.

Mona is our latest instalment for female Disney leads. Whether she is technically a princess or not is debatable (even in the film), but she will indefinitely join the brand in future. But she is like many of her predecessors, an energetic, spirited girl that has what would seem like a perfectly acceptable status quo but there is something about her nature where she yearns for more. The great technical achievement with her is her face, whatever inner emotion she is going through her expressions convey them perfectly clearly, so much so that her dialog is rather throw-away. However the person doing her voice is also a great treat. Auli’i Cravalho infuses Moana with the authentic energy we need to like this young woman, she is a genuine teenager so she has that unique quality to her voice that is nearly impossible to replicate by older actors and she is able to handle any emotional scenes she has to from distressed, the comedic to emotional.

Mawi the demigod is played by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. The Rock is an extremely charismatic actor that is the perfect fit for this very larger than life character. He comes with a unique visual gimmick that whenever he accomplishes a great feat he gets a new tattoo on his body and one of the tattoos of him can move and express (possibly his subconscious, I don’t know).

Also along for the quest is Heihei, a rooster that is as intelligent as any other rooster. He serves as the animal comedic relief, because this is an animated Disney movie, there must be one.

Ron Clements and John Musker once again take the reigns as directors on a Disney movie. They kicked off the Disney renaissance with The Little Mermaid and went on to make Aladdin, Hercules, Princess & The Frog and now they’re back with their first C.G.I. movie. They understand how to handle a Disney property, they must be entertaining for the whole family so there needs to be something that all the age-groups will like and then must be tied together as the finished product. Something that’s taken over from when they did Hercules is the use of flat graphic animation.

For this project Disney recruited Lin-Manuel Miranda as one of the songwriters. For those of you (I am one) that are enjoying the phenomenon that is Hamilton this will be very exciting for you. Every song in the movie serves to either broadly convey emotion or compress story information at an extremely efficient level. There are no songs that are simply the character making breakfast, the songs mean something. He is a natural words-man, able to craft intricate lyrics that stay on point, rhyme and are funny. My two favourites are “You’re Welcome” Maui’s self-indulgent song about all his great feats, and “Shiny” also a self indulgent song by the villain (a giant treasure covered crab named Tamatoa) about how it only matters whats on the inside, plays like a 70’s pop song by Jermaine Clements.

This is Disney, I feel its pointless to sing its praise of how well this is animated, it has the best people in the world working for them and have a more than capable budget. It is beautiful, with lush colors and textures. But what I want to bring up is the delicate balance they strike in representing the ethnicity and culture of Hawaiians while not being offensive. This is a cartoon so they have to exaggerate but not so much that it becomes a warped and disrespectful.

Much like The Little Mermaid this marks Disney studio doing what they do best while at the same time trying something new with its asthetic. Songs, characters and brilliant animation for the whole family, this is a Disney movie.

Review ‘Arrival’ by Jonathan Evans

Amy Adams (right) as Louise Banks in ARRIVAL by Paramount Pictures

 

(4 / 5)

 

Arrival is a movie that asks the question “What is the first thing we ask an alien race?” It is actually an incredibly simple set-up, spaceships land and a linguist (Amy Adams) must now develop a dialog between them. Simple but also not so much when you think about all that goes into communicating, also with a completely different species.

During the first half an hour of the film the score is terribly obnoxious, every big thing that happens is accompanied with the orchestra going nuts on a single note as loud as they can. There’s musical effect to heighten the mood of a scene and put us in the shoes of our character but this was just blunt un-subtlety.

The ship itself is like a giant floating black pill, cut down the middle. From the bottom a rectangular tunnel opens, within it they provide gravity so the walls can be easily walked on, then that leads to a age rectangular room, where a glass (or whatever the alien equivalent of glass is) separates the two species.

Their exact details are obscured in the smoke but from what we can see they look like obsidian Octopus or hands. When we learn how they function reader of Slaughterhouse 5 will notice a channeling of ideas.

Eventually a back and forth is developed through writings. Louise writes things down in English and the aliens eventually respond with their own form of writings. They look like black coffee rings, always taking a circle form but with spikes, or plashes or thicker lines or gaps within them.

Amy Adams as Dr. Louise Banks gives an incredibly grounded performance as this truly human but also admirable character. She is driven in her believes and is clearly an expert in her field but she is also very shaken with her world being turned upside-down because of an alien arrival. She shakes and is intimidated by the momentous task she has to achieve but proceeds to do her very best.

Throughout this entire movie there are no action scenes, no moments when gunfire accrues on-screen.This is a good thing. So many science fiction movies either are just action movies but with crazy gun designs and flashier colours or don’t trust their audience enough to stick with them through their message. Arrival has something to say and keeps saying it, without having the throw-in some loud noises to make sure your awake.

One tricky element to this movie that might end-up being a detriment. That is the fact that it is in English and language is so key to the form of the movie. Usually I wouldn’t think about this but because the movie is so keenly focused on the words it chooses and how they can be interpreted, how well will this work with other countries? The translating process is more complicated than just writing-up a direct translation and putting it into subtitles that appear on-screen. Different languages come with different sensibilities so how well can this be translated? This may turn-out to be nothing but it was a question the movie raised within me.

Arrival is a movie that will make you truly think about, is nothing else, your choice of words. How you make decisions and the options you give to an outsider. Thinking is what a science fiction movie should do. This accomplishes its mission.

Review Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them

fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them-movie-poster

(2 / 5)

Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them is based on a fictional textbook about all the different creatures that inhabit the Harry Potter world. If you have seen the movie Adaptation you will know that taking a non-fiction book without a plot is very difficult. There’s not a lot to help shape the narrative.

I must confess that I am not a Harry Potter fan. I don’t hate the world but I have found that there are other, even more richer fantasy worlds to get involved in rather than this one. So this movie has a lot of work to do to appeal to me.

We open with a colourfully dressed character with a frizzy head-of-hair named Newt. He is getting off the boat and entering New York City in the Roaring Twenties. He carries a suitcase with him that (like Doctor Who’s TARDIS) is bigger on the inside. And inside this case is an entire zoo of Beasts, fantastical creatures. While walking the streets one of the Beasts, a money grabbing mole, gets out and enters a bank, while in pursuit his path crosses with Jacob Kowalski, a local New Yorker that’s trying to get a loan for his bakery. And from there-on we have our movies duo.

Eddie Redmayne as Newt (just like he was in The Theory of Everything) is the best part of the movie. He is a shy and awkward around people, but not the typical portrayal of these types of characters we usually see. He is a sensitive soul that is clearly most happy and truly at home interacting with all the beasts.

He and Dan Fogler as Kowalski are the only actors on the side of our protagonists that seem to be invested in the material. The others seem out-of-place and uninterested. But Newt and Kowalski make a good pair, Newt is inexperienced in New York and the non-magical world and is charmed by Kowalski’s simple mentality, while Kowalski knows nothing about the magical world and is fascinated by everything Newt has to offer. Each of them can provide exposition to the other so the audience is also well informed and the actors work together beautifully.

The other obvious really strong element to the movie is the Beasts themselves. We get a whole bunch of different Beasts that range from the the handheld to the size of a house, all are different shapes and need to be handled differently.

There are some clues that an audience member begins to pick-up on through general experience. You learn that one character may be saying one thing but means another etc. But as soon as we see Colin Ferrell as Percival Graves you will instantly think “Villain!” and you’ll be right.

Also included in the movie is a group of orphans that are abused and also know about the wizarding world. Among them is Ezra Miller as Credense Barebone, just as creepy as We Need to talk about Kevin but in different ways. More like a oily, sad creep, lurking in the darkness.

It is these elements, with Ferrel and Miller where the movie makes it’s biggest mistakes. They are so dark and unpleasant, when we just had some good colourful fun with Newt and Kowalski that they really seem like they are part of another movie.

The final climax comes in the form of a threat that is literally just a shapeless blob on-screen that destroys all in its way. It is almost as un-engaging as the final villain fight in Green Lantern.

This could have been a simple tale of a stranger in a strange land with a case full of trouble and they get loose, so now he and his newly acquired friends have to retrieve them. That’s all that was needed, but having a villain included as well as this political stuff is just unnecessary and muddies a simple tale.

The movies biggest fault comes in it’s ending. I wont spoil it but there is a reveal. And it makes absolutely no sense and comes out of nowhere. I had no idea what was going on until I had a brief talk with one of my friends that is a much greater lover of the Harry Potter lore than I am. This relies so heavily on the audience being fluent in the lore to make any sense, maybe for those people it will be a jaw-dropping moment but I was just bewildered.

There is an audience for this movie. Its not me. The people that will like it are obviously the Harry Potter fans that will take more of the world in any form. Others will simply be taken by the special effects that are happening on-screen and be happy with that. Others, like me, will be smiling at the great duo of Newt and Koalski. So I would recommend this to the Potter fans, but if my best friend asked if they should see it and they were not. They can probably live without it.

 

Review Trolls by Jonathan Evans

trolls_poster2

(3 / 5)

Trolls is like a sugar rush. Giving you loads of candy. There are so many colors, jokes and popular music but even though there are moments to enjoy you will realise that too much sweetness can make you sickly. No matter the intentions or effort.

In a far off land there is a kingdom where creatures called Bergens (that look a lot more like typical portrayals of Trolls), they are unhappy creatures by nature and can only experience happiness by eating Trolls (looking like their toy counterparts). One day they escape and are able to live in happiness and not fear being eaten.

Years later the Trolls have made their home deep in the forest and now enjoy singing and hug-time with Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick). They have a special ability to manipulate their hair as they wish and others have some other abilities that go by without explanation. However there is one Troll that doesn’t join in on the dancing and singing Branch (Justin Timberlake) who dedicates his life to preparing for the day the Bergens come after them. Which surprise surprise one day they do. So now Poppy and Branch must go on a quest to rescue their friends.

Poppy and Branch serve as a good duo. They are opposites that due to inconvenience have to work together. They have the same goal to work to but have different ideals and morals so they debate which leads to character dynamic.

Dreamworks, typically, is known to cater to the larger demographic, it takes on material that is popular in the public mind now and cast celebrities for their voice cast. This is the prime example of Dreamworks trying too hard to connect with the children and be popular. The premise itself is cute but they feel the need to add all these other pop-culture references and sayings for the children to connect to when what they really do is cheapen and distract.

This is one of the most colourful children’s movie, or maybe just any movie you will find. It really looks like a children’s toy-box come to life. With all the different shades of the rainbow moving on the screen. It’s like Cloud Cuckoo Land from The Lego Movie, but throughout the movie.

As a unique visual gag it gives Poppy the characteristic of doing scrap-booking which lends itself to visually engaging to audience with a mix-up of style. It serves to give the children something to connect with as well as serving as an excuse to have exposition with something interesting happening on-screen.

The soundtrack is composed of covers (mostly) they are the hit pop songs that everyone knows. But also some of them have rapping verses inserted within. They are just so clearly forced and in bad taste. Also there are a few times when a song plays and it doesn’t seem like its the right pick. Just a popular song that doesn’t work for the scene.

The movie is at its best when it is cynical and picking apart the cutesy things that the other Trolls hold so dear. Its a case of everything being too adorable that it becomes sickly so some bitterness is welcome.

Trolls will have the children happy, smiling and probably singing along to the music. A few adults may also smile or even get a chuckle out of the moments that make fun of the cutesier moments.

Review Ethel and Ernest by Jonathan Evans

maxresdefault

(5 / 5)

Ethel and Ernest tells the story of a boy meeting a girl, they fall in love, get married and then share their life together. That is the story and through watching it I realized that it was enough. There doesn’t need to be anything more, a life is filled with so many moments and challenges that that’s all you need.

It is based on the graphic novel by Raymond Briggs, who is a household name because of his extremely popular The Snowman (which was also adapted into animation). He based it on his own parents, he himself is introduced into the story but the material seems oddly uninterested in him. More on these two people.

They first met in 1928 in London so that is where our story starts. Ethal is a young woman working as a maid in a wealthy house. Ernest is living his life by riding his bike down the street when they gazes meet, Ernest takes it on himself to ask her for a night in the cinema. Soon after they get married, move into a nice house and from then on they witness history. From the rise of Nazis, surviving World War two and having a son its all about what comes and how they deal with it, but no matter what, their love endures.

Brenda Blethyn plays Ethel, Jim Broadbent plays Ernest. They are able to recreate the quick, higher tones of their youth effectively though if you are looking to find the elderly tones in their voices you’ll find them. But they own their dialog as simple people but filled with personality. Ethel is a woman that was one of eleven children so is very restrained and enjoys things neat, clean and proper. Ernest was an only child and raised in the slum area of London and knows a lot of cockney songs. He is more spirited and more likely to play pranks.

The drawing style is based off and very effectively emulates Briggs. The characters have realistic proportions but their features are stylized, the eyes are where they’re meant to be, but just dots with a line above and below. Other interesting touches like noses and fingers being shades redder than the usual skin color makes the whole thing feel more textures and organic.

The movie is so generous with its film-making. What I mean by that is that there are moments that could have gone by with less effort but they decide to put in the extra effort for the simple reason that they want to film be be good. Take for example a moment where Ernest goes to light a cigarette, he strikes his lighter a few times and no flame, he inspects it, tries again then the flame comes. In live-action you would have gotten that moment for free, with animation, every new pose cost money and requires planning. So they had no other reason to put it in the film other than it serves as a little extra charm.

This movie falls under that same category of The Long Grey Line, Bambi, Tokyo Story and Boyhood, just the tale of life. A simple story with simple people at the center but filled with great moments. By the end I was so moved by the feeling that I had really experienced these peoples lives with them, things had changed and I was nostalgic for the good old times. A sign of a truly great movie.

Review The Accountant by Jonathan Evans

the-accountant-poster

(5 / 5)

If history is any clue The Accountant shouldn’t work. This should just be an insultingly bland movie which serves to get the males excited which really dumb’s them down to a perverted sense of masculinity. However, this movie works, because of that simple little extra effort which has infused this stale premise into a gripping action movie.

We see a boy putting a puzzle together, is intensely focused on his task and keeps reciting Solomon Grundy, his parents are at a clinic for different children, this is Christian Wolff, he has autism and the doctor tells them that he needs to be handled with care and avoid intense scenery bombardment. But his father, a decorated war veteran, does not accept this, he knows the world is nothing but intense sensory bombardment, so instead in adapting the environment to Christian he adapted Christian to his environment. So begins his years of training with all the resources to become one of the most deadly men on the planet.

The boy grows into a man and he is (as the title suggests) an accountant. He is very good at what he does, deducing what is needed for his clients and working the rules to accommodate them. He gets hired by a big robotics company to go through everything to make sure their finances are secure before they go public. It’s fifteen years of intense complex finances so they doubt anyone is up to the task. In the company office clerk Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) offers him help but he is most comfortable in solitude. He gets to work processing all the years of intense data and writing it on his whiteboard and when that runs out uses the glass walls of the office.

Affleck is actually rather understated in terms of other performances. Usually there is an overemphasis on the quirks and behaviors that come with autism (Dustin Hoffman in Rainman for example), to be sure you can tell he is abnormal but not enough to be an obvious red flag. He can move about in society. He is very blunt an minimal with his dialog and clearly is repressing great frustration when people talk more than they need to. He’s also given his typical behavioral quirk of blowing on his fingers before starting any task.

Kendrick has typically been cast in comedy roles as the cute, spirited one in comedies. She could be out-of-place here in this movie about numbers and bullets. But she serves as a contrast to Wolff’s dry attitude and still plays to her strengths though she’s used as the fish-out-of-water.

J.K. Simmons plays Raymond King, one of the heads at an intelligent agency who seeks to know the facts about Wolff. Simmons is solid throughout this movie, but within it he gets a moments which he genuinely moved me, a scene alone which sums up everything about this character in one moment and could earn him an Oscar on that alone.

We also get our villain, played by Jon Bernthal, some kind of hired gun that is wiping out all the witnesses. He is the opposite of Wolff, very expressive and an energetic talker. So you know the two will meat eventually and because they each have their moments it’s a confrontation your actually anticipating it with excitement.

This movie, or these kinds of movies, for example Taken, The Equalizer and The Gunman I have always found very boring. They are the case of some character that is actually very poorly defined and can mow down roomful after roomful of opponents with little hesitation and the same stern expression. Furthermore all those previous movie I just mentioned have middle aged leads so it just seems like we have to sit through these actors working through they’re midlife-crisis. But this movie comes with so much more. Firstly we get into his past so we know why he’s like he is and how he got to be the best at his work, he is most happy when he solves number problems, wear a pocket protector. This isn’t interested in typical portrayals of a macho-man.

Typically with these types of movies there’s a big action scene at the end and what this usually means is that the movie has run out of story, but this one, even though it does indeed have and action scene in the last act, there is still plot. So many movies last an hour and thirty minutes and only have an hour worth of things to say then give up and resort to gunfire, this movie is two hours long and has a whole movies worth of plot. Such a shame that I have to emphasise how good that is.

There are a whole bunch of movies that are similar to these movie as it could have rather easily been anther one to fall by the wayside. But it has a story that requires the run-time to tell it, engaging performances, a character that has a back-story. The fact that it’s a good movie is enough but knowing that it could have been so stupid makes it a marvel.

Review Batman 66 by Jonathan Evans

maxresdefault

(4 / 5)

There was nothing quite like TV’s Batman in 1966 staring Adam West and Burt Ward. With its bold bright colours, dutch angles, lapse in logic, dedication to camp and ability to simultaneously produce silly and iconic images. It was something both of its time and enduring.

Now that the show has reached its 50th birthday and has more than stood the test of time it is being honoured with a full length animated feature film reuniting as many of the original cast as they can.

Our plot, well we actually get about three major plot points that lead to another, this is like four connected twenty minute episodes in one movie. Our opening is that The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler and Catwoman have taken over a television show and are holding the place ransom. That’s all it takes for the caped crusaders, Batman and Robin, to leap into action.

One of the big promotional point’s of this movie is that they got three of the original cast back to play their roles that they did all those years ago. Even though its been fifty years, they all still sound good. Adam West has never really stopped being Batman, never being too far from the world, always dipping back in for cameos. Here once again he brings his totally unique speaking voice with dry wit, but also dignity without a hint on irony to these ludicrous lines and situation. Burt Ward is the real impressive part, still being able to semi-convincingly portray a young, energetic man despite being in his seventies. Last but not least, is Julie Newmar as Catwoman, more of a soft kitten, being a playful and teasing villain. The casting is a nice touch though if the actors weren’t up to scratch it could have become awkward, but they can still, after all these years bring all the loving touches to these characters.

All the original Villain actors have passed so their roles have to be filled by others doing impressions. Jeff Bergman handles The Joker and is right for most of it, however he perfectly capture Ceaser Romero’s laugh. William Slyers doesn’t capture the same tones that Burges Meredith brought to the role of The Penguin. Wally Wingert as The Riddler is the most consistent, capturing Frank Gorshin’s delivery and energy throughout.

The script and story-boarding is filled with references, there are all the things you expect, like the red phone, the Bat-Cave looks like it should and the wall-walking but throughout are some visual gags in the background or lines they say that refer to pieces of Batman material that would come out after this is set.

This movie works because the creators behind the scenes clearly know and love the material. They came knowing what made the show so endearing and also with a love of Batman’s universe so they put those in as well. They don’t try and reshape it to fit modern audiences they stay true to the source material. Also being that this is an animated movie it is not bound like the live action show was with its budget and practical effects, I wont spoil any of them for you except just say this one word, Bat-Rocket.

Though some scoff and critique it there is no denying that Batman 66′ is one of the most recognisable television shows to ever be made. It was a channeling of the absurd that the comic books were doing at the time and gave us a world like no other. Fifty years later and that world still has some of the most vibrant colours and funnest cast and most memorable moments that have ever existed.

Review Akira by Jonathan Evans

160618085953419626

(5 / 5)

There is a name that is known to every manga and/or anime enthusiast worth their salt and that is Akira. The reason for this is probably (among its many other attributes) that it is a prime example of what Anime has to offer. Vast, elaborate backgrounds, a unique tale of science fiction, inspiring as well as grotesque images and characters that dwell into the depraved as well as the noble. American animation has primarily been for children or for the family, Disney would never attempt anything like this. We will never get anything this complex, this disturbing or well funded and executed.

As a country Japan knows the devastating impact of nuclear warfare. In the fifties it channeled that into the giant monster Godzilla which then birthed the entire Kaiju genre. Then Katsuhiro Otomo began a monster of a manga in 1982 and finished it in 1990, turning in a tale of almost five thousand pages of art. This movie came out in 1988. This is a streamlined telling of the tale that Otomo told but it is more about the visuals and the experiences that it offers than anything else.

The movie opens on a vast city-space that is Tokyo in 1988, then pans up to show an explosion, wiping out all. This triggers World War III. Then we cut to 2019 (so close now) and we are now in the new Neo-Tokyo, a city set to host the Olympics. Within this city are the bright, colorful lights of signs, and vehicle headlights, but they are contrasted by the blacks of the sky and the buildings themselves. And within this location motorcycle gangs race, beat and kill over nothing really. This is the city of Blade Runner, that is populated with the drug taking, violent youth of A Clockwork Orange sprinkled with a little doomsday mentality of the Mad Max movies. Whether these were a part of Otomo’s influence while crafting the story or not does not matter. All those stories hit on essential prophecies and fears that mankind will find itself in.

The leader of one of the gang’s is a boy named Kaneda, who sports a bright red jacket with a powered motorcycle to match. His best friend Tetsuo wants to ride his bike, but Kaneda says he cant handle it, so he gets on his and the other members ride off to beat on another gang. While they are doing this a riot is breaking out and there is a man who has been shot and is leading a boy though the street.

During the time of conception and release Japan was going through a major problem with it youth. They were indeed running wild and the economy was on the verge of collapse. Great pieces of art reflect the problems of the world at the time of their creation, b the themes are eternal, youths running amok, an unsteady economy and the dangerous places science can lead us are problems that will always come-up again and again.

The man who was shot then dies because of the riot and the child wanders off. His path then crosses with Kaneda and Tetsuo. Tetsuo crashes his bike right into him and gets injured, the boy is unaffected and we then see him clearly. Young in body but his skin is wrinkled.Suddenly military helicopters descend taking the wrinkled child and Tetsuo.

The image of seeing children but with old wrinkled skin is a striking one. Like much of the ins and outs of the movie it goes unexplained. We know it’s linked to their abilities but that’s as far as it goes. It could be viewed as the terrible hybrid of the generations. Youth that is burdened by the centuries of traditions and expectations. Or another interpretation is that the children have been given powers and with that comes responsibilities but they are unable to deal with it because of their age. Movies don’t necessarily have to give you all the information. They are the art of show don’t tell after all. Part of the fun and what makes people want to come back to re-watch a movie are the things that go-bye unsaid, if we got the full package on the first viewing then there would be no need to return. But a truly great movie has layers that you are able to peel back after repeated viewings.

Many details of the plot go by us without ever really getting fully explained. But this works because we see it from the position of the teenagers, who are equally bewildered and only marginally grasp the immense scope of their situation. Kaneda is not a truly well defined character, he is headstrong, enjoys simple (though very illegal) things, though if he were truly complete that would be a detriment to the movie. A world this vast, with so many themes and images doesn’t need the inclusion of even more layers. We just need someone who’s defined enough and that reacts to their situation with enough believe-ability that the audience can put themselves in their shoes. For simple stories we require deep characters, for crazy complex stories we need simple characters.

Traditionally in Japanese animation, the feature is animated and then the actors are brought in to put their voices over the animation. This movie was handled differently. It was done like Disney does theirs, wear the actors record first and then the animation is matched to their performance. Something that would probably go over the heads of regular viewers but for those with know this medium a little more they’ll see more shape and form to the lip-syncing.

Before this Otomo had only been an Anime director for two segments in two other feature films. He had done plenty of manga work and it seemed like that would be his medium to stay with. But when the opportunity to adapt his manga work into a fully fleshed-out movie he took it and with that changed the industry forever. He already came with such mastery of sound design, cinematography and movement of camera. True he was not alone in making the movie and was probably given some experts to help realize his vision. But this is technically his first movie and it is such a strong debut.

Probably the most obvious great aspect about the movie is it’s magnificent animation production. This world is alive, from the characters in the foreground to the civilians in the background, the a close-up where you can read a character inner thoughts, to a building crumbling. It is an immense spectacle that has been envisioned and then drawn again, again and again to create the illusion of movement. With animation everything costs money, every piece of movement is a new frame and that means that it cost money. There are ways to get more out of little. Like having a static, but striking image that draws your eye for longer with it’s simple execution. But there are rarely anything on-screen that is still in Akira. Not every single thing in the frame is moving at the same time but there is always something moving and that cannot be faked or done cheap. The money and effort shows with each frame.

tumblr_m7fkh3fxqq1qhsqm1o1_1280-1

But beyond your eyes Akira also stirs your ears. Everything from the sound of motorcycle revving its engine, it’s tires screeching across the road, a pipe whacking someones brains out, a helicopter smashing into a building and every piece of glass shattering on the pavement. And the musical score by Tsutomu Ohashi itself, which mixes the modern techno that the youths would listen to and the ancient mantra reciting melodies that continue to blend the the two generations together. Just like Apocalypse Now this is the most cinematic experience you can find. Everything from the grand image on-screen to the sound that will fill the theater (or your living room).

Tetsuo then awakes in a bedroom. As he lays in bed he sees tiny little toys move across his bed and then onto his pillow. he goes to grab them but nothing is in his hand, then the whole room shakes and every inanimate object converges on one spot forming one giant, demented, Frankenstein’esque teddy bear. Growing larger than the room and tearing it apart.

The rest of the movie consists of Tetsuo getting out of the facility and then coming to grips with his new powers. He begins to get very painful headaches which he subdues with pills. His power grows and the children and he himself keep hearing one name repeated again and again “Akira.” During this time Kaneda teams up with freedom fighters of some kind to free Tetsuo and expose the government. However Tetsuo has never been the leader before and now has the powers of a god and absolute power corrupts absolutely. He has all the power in the world and he puts on a red cape perfectly displaying his juvenile mindset.

Kaneda realizes his friend is beyond all help and reasoning and he must end him. The two meet in the place of unfulfilled ambition, the unfinished Olympic stadium, where so much was promised and so much riding on. Now the drugs have worn off and he has full access to his power but no control, and becomes a giant, monstrous amalgamation of flesh and machine. Like the little toys he saw and now amassed too much power beyond his control and is simple destruction now.

Akira is one of the pinnacles of anime because you would never get this from anywhere else. It’s pot runs on a minimal capacity, only giving you enough to get truly invested in and lets the world and characters envelop you the rest of the way. The rest is brought to life with images and sounds that paint a canvas of a country that both wants to head to a new age but is also restrained by centuries of history and tradition that leaves it’s youths confused and angry.

Review Sausage Party by Jonathan Evans

sausageparty_full_no_date

(3 / 5)

So you watched the trailer for Sausage Party and thought that it was anything more that an adult, animated movie telling jokes about the horrors of being the consumed then you would have probably made the safe bet. However you would have lost. Sausage Party actually has quite a bit of with and sophistication. Yes this movie with food products with mouths and large eyes that swear actually has a few things to say about different beings from different walks of life and consumerism.

We open in a supermarket where the food is sentient and awakes every morning to be taken to The Great Beyond. Whenever they’re picked up they rejoice for they will now be in the company of the gods. On one shelf one pack of sausages is next to a pack of buns and one sausage Frank (Seth Rogen) longs to joins his girlfriend bun Brenda (Kristen Wiig). It isn’t until one jar of Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) is returned where it would seem that the Great Beyond might not be so great. While they’re all in a cart on they’re way out Honey Mustard kills himself, which leads to other items falling out. So now begins their quest to get back to their shelf and also discover the true intentions of their gods.

Just like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs this takes its subject of food and consumer products and does just about everything it can with it. To how one type of products interact with others to having some serve and parallels for real world people. One of the reasons this is able to tell so many more jokes is its not bound by the limitations of being a children’s movie, this can address alcohol, drugs and sex and it makes use of all its resources.

It would seem that the products themselves do not require to consume. They just seem to have their existence. Perhaps they will die when they go past their expiration date? Do any of their manufacturers know that they regularly create sentient being and send them off to their deaths? Such questions are honestly superfluous.

This is not a very good looking movie. This was clearly made with a limited budget, Nearly all the food looks shiny and like plastic. Obvious really, because this is a movie with a very limited audience. Few people would want to see a movie about food swearing constantly and animated no less.

As smart as the movie is it is still overt. Really, really overt. What they have the characters talk about and have serve as their parallels are obvious and not very subtle but they are still addressing the cause and effects of their subject matter. If there’s an example to point to it would be the South Park movie (or south park in general)

Though it is by no means subtle and quite crude it is still addressing big problems in society and has fully thought-out the perspective on food products (even just consumable products). The audience for this movie will indeed be a sausage party, mostly males, but if anyone goes to this movie and gets a little more nutrition in their diet than they were expecting it will have been worth it.

https://youtu.be/9VoNgLnjzVg