WALL-E Review

WALL-E is a 2008 animated movie directed by Andrew Stanton, and starring Ben Burt and Elissa Knight. It follows two robots who must save the human race by bringing them back to Earth. This movie is personally my favorite Pixar movie, and arguably one of the best films ever made.

This movie takes place in the far future, when pollution has made the Earth uninhabitable. To combat this, humans create robots to clean up the trash while they temporarily move to space, originally for only 5 years. WALL-E follows WALL-E, the last of these robots still functioning almost 700 years later. Something went wrong, and, the cleanup process took much longer than intended. However, WALL-E’s life is soon changed when he meets EVE, a droid sent by the humans to discover if Earth is inhabitable. Together, WALL-E and EVE journey to the human spaceship in order to bring them home, and eventually fall in love with each other.

This film really is quite amazing. Despite having the main characters literally only saying two words during the whole movie, it has a better and sweeter romance plot than many live action films. There’s a scene where WALL-E and EVE are “dancing” out in space by flying around each other. It’s simply beautiful. Also, the main character, WALL-E, is incredibly lovable. The name Wally actually means naive, and that’s appropriate for the main character, as he’s incredibly curious and naive. He’s similar to R2D2, in that although neither of them talk, both have very distinct and likable personalities.

Another aspect about this film that I loved is the music. WALL-E carries around a tape deck with songs from the musical Hello, Dolly! He uses these to show his emotions and what he’s feeling. Additionally, there’s also scenes set to the classic song, La Vie En Rose. And the ending scene with the song It only takes a moment, is simply gorgeous. I’m not ashamed to admit I was crying a little bit when the credits rolled.

The only small problem WALL-E has is that the second half doesn’t really compare to the first half. The first half of this film consists of WALL-E meeting EVE and trying to swoon her. It’s very sweet and also hilarious. The second half has them running around the human spaceship trying to find a plant in order to bring the humans home. It feels a little too similar to Monster’s Inc in a way, and it honestly doesn’t even feel like it’s in the same film as the first half. Granted, the aforementioned “Dancing Scene” also occurs during this half, so it really isn’t terribly bad.

Overall, WALL-E is arguably Pixar’s masterpiece. It’s an incredible film, and it can be watched by all ages. If you haven’t seen this film yet, you’re absolutely missing out.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World Review

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a 2010 film directed by Edgar Wright, and starring Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The movie is based off the acclaimed comic book series of the same name, and it follows a young bass guitarist who must battle his girlfriend’s seven evil exes in order to date her. Overall, although it’s a style over substance, Scott Pilgrim is surprisingly great, and easily one of the best comic book movies ever made.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World follows Scott, a 22 year old punk bass guitarist living in Toronto. After meeting an American girl named Ramona Flowers at a party, he becomes instantly smitten and the two start dating. However, it’s soon revealed that in order to continue dating Ramona, Scott must battle the league of evil exes, a group of super-powered weirdos who all dated Ramona at one point in her life. It’s important to note that this movie makes zero sense. Characters have powers such as telekinesis from being a vegan, or even teleportation from being goth. This is based off the comic books, as both draw elements from classic video games.

I really liked this movie. First off, it’s absolutely hilarious. It’s very self aware with it’s humor, and breaks the fourth wall a couple of times. It almost feels like Deadpool in a sense, although Scott never talks to the audience, and it’s a lot less vulgar than that movie. Still, the humor here is excellent. At one point, Scott questions why one of his friends is able to “bleep” out her curse words when speaking. At another point, upon realizing he’s not fighting for Ramona, but rather fighting for himself, Scott suddenly hears, “Scott gained the power of self-respect,” and pulls a katana out of nowhere. This movie is full of things like that, and they’re much funnier than I can describe here. Additionally, this movie has a lot of punk rock in it. Just like the comics, Scott is part of a band called “Sex bob-omb,” and for most of the movie they’re competing in a Toronto Battle of the Bands. And the punk songs that the band plays, while not genius, are still a nice touch, and make the movie feel unique when compared to other similar comic book movies. The acting in this movie is nothing particularly special. Scott is supposed to be a sort of wimpy loser, and understandably they cast Michael Cera for the part. He’s basically just doing an adult version of his character on arrested development, but still, he works. The rest of the cast is fine, but everybody’s playing weirdo exaggerated characters, just like the comics. Ironically, Ramona’s the only person who feels “normal” in this movie, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is fine in the role, although she really isn’t given many scenes to show any incredible acting talent. But let’s be real, this is a comic book movie, you don’t watch a film like this expecting the acting to rival Citizen Kane.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, just like the comic book, also has a surprising message underneath it all that isn’t cliche or usually seen. The movie is about Ramona’s baggage following her into the future with her relationships, and as such, the movie is trying to tell the audience that past relationships shouldn’t determine future ones. I quite liked this message, and it felt unique among all the “you can change the world” message tropes.

There are a couple of complaints I have with this film. For one, the fights can be a little disorienting at times. It’s sort of 50/50. Some of the fights are actually very good, such as between Scott and Lucas or Scott and Todd. However, the final battle with Gideon uses a lot of close up shots, and the main Gideon has a pixelated Katana that sort of has a weird afterimage effect. This felt really disorienting, at least to me, but it really wasn’t too much of a draw from the movie as a whole. The other problem has is that they hired the worst script editor ever. There are a lot of jarring little continuity errors in this film. For example, Scott will walk into a cafe wanting to talk to his sister, only to order a coffee when she leaves. Why did he want to talk to his sister, why didn’t he pursue her to talk, and what’s the point of this scene? Another example is how Scott never drinks, yet during his fight with Lucas Lee, he tried to take him up on an offer to “get a beer,” only to get sucker punched. The editor did a terrible job with correcting the script. Thankfully however, the humor of this movie allows the audience to overlook little errors like that.

Overall, despite not being the cleanest movie by any sense of the word, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is nonetheless a well intentioned and well adapted comic book movie. It’s a lot of fun, it’s unique, and watching this movie with friends is hilarious. It’s worth checking out and it deserves more attention.

Breaking Bad Review

Breaking Bad was a show created by Vince Gilligan that ran from 2008-2013. It starred Brian Cranston and Aaron Paul. This show follows a chemistry teacher who decides to cook crystal meth to provide for his family after finding he has cancer. This show is regarded as being one of the greatest tv shows ever made, and won 16 Emmys, and rightfully so, as Breaking Bad is simply amazing.

Breaking Bad follows Walter White, a very timid and mild mannered chemistry teacher. He can barely provide for his family as it is, and he gets diagnosed with cancer. In order to provide for both his cancer treatments and his family, Walter decides to start cooking Crystal Meth with his ex-student Jesse Pinkman. Over time however, Walt morphs into a sort of Scarface-esque kingpin monster, who’s completely different than the chemistry teacher at the start of the show. This transformation is actually at the center of Breaking a Bad.

Bryan Cranston is utterly incredible as Walter White. His transformation from a shy chemistry teacher to a mob boss feels very realistic and well done, in big part due to Cranston. There are moments where he is crying while threatening someone. He’s excellent and undoubtedly deserved all the Emmys he received. Walter White is very interesting because of him, and the audience can’t tell wether he’s supposed to be a hero or a villain. In addition, characters like Gustavo Fring, and Jesse Pinkman are also stellar with their acting. Gustavo Fring’s death, and Jesse Pinkman after Jane’s death being especially memorable.

The plots in Breaking Bad are also complicated and intricate. Often times characters will be at odds one episode yet best friends the next. This is especially true with the main characters Walter and Jesse. Jesse often tries to leave only for Walter to manipulate him into coming back. This strange almost father and son relationship is one of the main driving forces in the show. Thankfully, they stopped the show before it gets annoying.

The one complaint I have with Breaking Bad is that a lot of plot lines don’t really go anywhere. Walt’s brother, Hank, has a couple strange scenes where it’s implied he’s going crazy or has ptsd, yet nothing ever comes of it. It feels pointless and it detracts from the main story. There are a couple of other plot lines like that, such as Marie’s Kleptomania. Thankfully, the show mostly does away with them in the later seasons, but still I found it annoying early on.

All in all, Breaking Bad is funny, well written, and well acted. This is arguably one of if not the greatest show ever made, and it’s undoubtedly worth watching.

The Shining Review

The Shining is a 1980 film directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. It follows a writer and his family going insane while stuck in a winter lodge by themselves. Although this movie is revered by most people, I personally didn’t particularly like it.

The Shining centers around Jack, a writer who is hired to look over a hotel lodge during the winter when all the guests are away. However, it is soon revealed that all is not well at the Overlook hotel, as both ghosts and insanity grip the family.

Jack Nicholson, is simply incredible in this movie, he’s charming and scary at the same time. He’s very subtle as well with his acting. Even at the start of the movie, he seems slightly off, even prior to him going to the hotel. It makes his transition to madness more believable. He’s easily the best part of this film, and he makes it.\

However, in spite of Jack Nicholson and his incredible acting, this movie is very confusing. I don’t think I get overly confused at films too often, but this one really didn’t make any sense. Is the problem at the Overlook hotel ghosts? Does it drive people insane? How is Jack’s son telepathic? The movie raises many questions but answers none of them. Granted, I haven’t read the novel, but still. I should be able to watch the movie without reading the book.

Overall, the Shining, at least to me, is only alright. It’s very badly paced, it’s confusing, and it has a very unsatisfying ending. I’m probably in the minority with these opinions, as usually I don’t like Kubrick’s works while the rest of the world adores him. Nonetheless, I really didn’t like The Shining all that much.

Avatar Review

Avatar is a 2009 movie directed by James Cameron, and starring Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana. It follows a soldiers on a future planet trying to communicate with the planets natives. This movie has amazing cgi and setpieces, however it falls into typical white savior tropes, and it’s very predictable.

Avatar follows Jake, a crippled marine who goes on assignment to Pandora, a planet where humans are mining a valuable resource desperately needed for Earth. The human’s efforts to mine the resource however, are hindered by the Na’vi, pandora’s Native people. In order to communicate and eventually drive out the native people, Jake is given an Avatar to pilot, or a Na’vi body controlled by his mind. Over time however, he falls in love with the Na’vi as a people, and eventually chooses to lead a resistance against the humans.

Avatar is most famous for it’s stellar cgi. Despite coming out almost 12 years ago, this movie could’ve been released yesterday and I would’ve believed it. The native life on Pandora, both flora and fauna, looks incredible. A lot of it is bioluminescent as well, so the nighttime scenes are absolutely beautiful. The human technology also looks realistic and gritty, and contrasts nicely with the more natural life on pandora. Additionally, the final battle in the movie, which is almost entirely cgi, looks better than some movies coming out this year. The cgi in this movie is easily the best and most unique part about it, and it still holds up today.

The acting and characters in this movie are fine overall, with few standouts. Jake himself feels a little boring, although his playful nature when interacting with many aspects of Pandora for the first time is funny, and feels realistic. Sigourney Weaver was surprisingly great as Grace, a scientist in charge of the avatar project. Her character is very gruff and sarcastic, but later opens up with her past to Jake. She’s very charismatic, and Sigourney Weaver in a sci-if movie, is always a win.

Avatars fatal flaw is that, ironically although it does a lot to make itself unique action and cgi-wise, it does very little to differentiate itself plot-wise. This movie is basically a cross between Dances with Wolves, and Ferngully the Last Rainforest. The plot is extremely predictable, and it really never strays too much off of the “white savior” formula. In fact, Jake’s conversion to the Na’vi feels almost too easy, since the only reason he joins them is to be with Neytiri. He betrays his entire race just so he can sleep with an alien he’s known for three months. It feels weird and unnatural. Besides that con however, the plot does little to differentiate itself from any other similar movie, and it really hinders Avatar.

Overall, Avatar can be summed up like this; it’s a cinematic achievement, but not a cinematic masterpiece. This movie nonetheless is a fun action movie despite it’s predictability, and it’s worth watching. After all, it is cinematic history.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Review

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a 2008 film directed by David Fincher, and starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. It follows a man who is born as an old man, and ages in reverse, meaning he gets younger. This film had a lot of potential, and it succeeds in some accounts, however, it actively shoots itself in the foot by having a monologue about how all things are temporary in every other scene.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button follows Benjamin, a baby born in 1918 right after the first World War ends. However, unlike other people, Benjamin ages in reverse. He starts off as an old man who can barely walk, and dies as a baby. The story mostly focuses around his relationship with Daisy, a childhood friend who ages normally.

As stated previously, this movie had a lot of potential. A man who ages in reverse, while not a terribly ground-breaking idea, nonetheless lends itself to some interesting scenarios in a movie. The film capitalizes on some of them, such as Benjamin’s teenage years aboard a ship where he first gets drunk, or how he falls in love with an older woman in his early twenties. Additionally, the side character’s are very interesting in this movie, Captain Mike and Benjamin’s adopted mother Queenie in particular. Captain Mike is a drunkard boat captain who gives Benjamin his first job, and introduces him to the more wild side of humanity, while Queenie adopts Benjamin after his father leaves him, and raises him coincidentally in a nursing home she works at. Both these characters are very likable, and had sufficient screen time. Benjamin himself is also a good character, although he does feel a bit like just another cliche protagonist, since he really doesn’t have a terribly new personality, with his only real defining trait being that he’s implied to be a bit of a playboy. Still, Brad Pitt does a good job in the role, and he works as a protagonist. Benjamin’s love interest Daisy on the other hand, really doesn’t captivate the audience until the end, when she raises Benjamin as he’s a baby. When she’s younger, she’s very unfair to Benjamin, and then inexplicably changes and falls in love with him. It feels a little abrupt, as in the previous scene she literally told him she wanted him out of her life.

The main problem with this film is that it has a lot of blatant, inescapable, in-your-face dialogue about the temporary nature of people in our lives. “Subtlety,” is evidently not a word known to this movie when it comes to imparting a theme on the audience. There are so many scenes of characters talking about how they never got to do their dreams, or how they’ll die soon. Because of this, the theme is so obvious with this film it gets annoying. This makes the movie seem pretentious, when in reality it really isn’t. Donnie Darko is pretentious. Benjamin Button, is simply incompetent with it’s dialogue.

However, in spite of the dialogue, towards the end of the film, it mellows out and they stop with the annoying scenes about life being temporary. (Ironically it’s because most of the side characters those scenes included have died.) I found myself crying a bit at the end of this movie, mainly because Benjamin has a death that is sad and unique. This movie is far from perfect, and it feels a bit like a first year film student was given a blank check. However, it is nonetheless a film worth watching, if for nothing else then the emotional ending.

The Witch Review

The Witch is a 2015 film directed by Roger Eggers and starring Ana-Taylor Joy. This film follows a Puritan family who is troubled by a witch during the 17th century. It tried to be as realistic as possible, and this is both the movie’s greatest strength, and weakness.

The Witch follows Thomasin, a young girl in an isolated Puritan family living in 1630s Massachusetts. After her brother disappears while she is supposed to be watching him, she becomes blamed for a string of bad luck that happens to the family. Her mother and father believe she’s a witch, when in reality, there’s a real witch that is cursing the family.

This movie’s most unique aspect is the historical element. Characters speak realistic 17th century dialogue, constantly saying thee instead of you, and using religious declarations literally every other sentence. The setting of New England is also very bleak and desolate, and tied with the fact that the audience never sees anyone other than the main family, it makes the whole movie feel very lonely and cut off. This movie also has some extremely disturbing scenes, even by horror movie standards. If that’s something you’re into, then this movie if for you.

Ironically, the Witch’s greatest asset is also it’s greatest weakness. The historical aspects and setting is very interesting, however it gets old after a while. This movie is very scary, but the actual horror elements are sorely lacking throughout most of the film. There’s really only three scenes that are really scary. The rest of the film is just bad Puritan parents yelling at their daughter for things she didn’t do, and it simply gets boring after a while.

The Witch, although good, really could’ve used more horror elements. The historical setting is good, but it’s not enough to carry the entire film. Despite that, although I wouldn’t recommend it over a lot of other horror films, if you really wanted to see this film it’s available online.

Samurai Champloo Review

Samurai Chmaploo is a 2005 anime created by Shinchiro Watanabe, and voiced by Steve Blum, Kari Wahlgren, and Kirk Thornton. It follows ronin wandering around in the Tokugawa period of Japan, and borrows many elements from classic Kurosawa samurai films. This show also shares many similarities with Shinchiro Watanabe’s other famous show, Cowboy Bebop, which it is often compared to.

Samurai Champloo follows Mugen and Jin, two master swordsmen who must escort a girl named Fuu to find her missing father. Along the way however there are many events that happen to the three characters, such as preventing an American incursion, robbing a shogunate ship in a plot reminiscent of the movie Goyokin, or even evading blind assassins sent to kill them. Since this show takes place in the edo period, it often uses historical facts and events to its advantage by having the three characters interact with them. This makes this show feel very unique.

Another incredibly unique thing about this show is the strange hip-hop elements within it. Champloo translates roughly to remix, and as such the soundtrack uses a lot of hip-hop tracks, and some characters even beatbox within the show. Granted, that isn’t terribly realistic, but the contras between using hip-hop in one episode and a Japanese folk song on a shamisen on another is really interesting, and it sets this show apart from any other.

The sword combat in this show, while not terribly realistic, is nonetheless extremely satisfying and entertaining. The two main characters have wildly different ways of fighting, with Mugen having a wild, animalistic style, while Jin has a more realistic, grounded, traditional way of fighting. The contrast between these two, both when fighting and when engaging in dialogue is really quite funny, as one is incredibly crass and rude, while the other reserved and polite. It leads to some very funny scenarios, and the show uses it to great effect.

One thing that needs to be mentioned about Samurai Champloo however, is that it really hasn’t aged well. Despite being only about 15 years old, there are some ideologies within the show that are frowned on nowadays. Mugen says some very sexist comments throughout the show that nowadays a main character would never say, and the cliche “damsel in distress” plot line is used a little too often with Fuu. That doesn’t mean the show is blatantly sexist, but it’s something to be aware of if you’re planning on watching it.

Despite that, Samurai Champloo is still probably one of my favorite shows. It’s hilarious to watch, it’s got great combat, and at times it even tackles some pretty tough themes like the passing of time, and letting go of loved ones. It’s absolutely worth a watch, and it’s very understandable that it’s considered to be one of the best anime ever made.

Jojo Rabbit Review

Jojo Rabbit is a 2019 film directed by Taika Watiti, and starring Roman Griffin Davis and Taika Watiti. It follows a young boy growing up in nazi Germany with his imaginary friend, Hitler.

This film follows Jojo, a 10 year old hitler youth who is obsessed with the nazi cause, to the point where his imaginary best friend is Hitler. Ironically though, everyone around him is disillusioned with the war and against it. This includes Sam Rockwell as a gay nazi officer, and Scarlet Johansson as his mother who begins to hide a Jewish girl in her house. It’s this relationship that Jojo has with the Jewish girl Elsa that begins to rock his stalwart faith in the nazi cause.

This movie is very funny, sweet, and heartfelt. Taika Watiti is hilarious at times as Hitler, particularly with his line “you’re 10, start acting like it.” When discussing Jojo turning in the Jewish girl. Scarlet Johansen as Jojo’s mom is surprisingly great. She and Jojo have many heartfelt moments together, and their relationship feels very real. Additionally, Sam Rockwell as Captain K was perhaps my favorite part of the movie. He’s absolutely hilarious with both his negligence of Hitler youth under his care, as well as his gay relationship with Allie Allen’s character. His death is very emotional, and an amazing scene.

Jojo Rabbit also uses very smart quotes and music. Musicians I love like Ray Orbison and David Bowie have German versions of their songs heard throughout the film. Also, Taika uses quotes by the famed German poet Rainer Maria Rilke (who I’m actually named after,) to describe the relationship between Jojo and Elsa.

Jojo Rabbit however, can feel a bit manipulative and ponderous at times. I don’t mean that it has a bunch of long arduous dumb monologues like stalker, or stupid lines about society like Swiss Army Man. What I mean is that this movie tries to be about a lot of things. Brainwashing, children saving the world, and being antifascist are just the start of the themes exhibited in this film. And because Jojo Rabbit is so ambitious and goes in a lot of directions, it consequently doesn’t really get across any theme particularly well. In essence, it’s a master of none.

Despite it’s ambition with it’s over abundance and ambiguity of themes, Jojo Rabbit is still a very good film. It’s got great characters, it’s hilarious, and at times it’s very sweet. This film however, is polarizing, and those who aren’t familiar with Taika Watiti’s style of directing will certainly find this film bizarre. That being said, it deserves a watch, as it really is a special film.

Whiplash Review

Whiplash is a 2014 film directed by Damien Chazelle, and starring J.K Simmons and Miles Teller. It follows an aspiring young drummer who’s worked to the extreme by his abusi e band conductor. This movie is incredibly intense, and also an an excellent film.

Whiplash focuses around Andrew Neiman, a freshmen drummer at the Schaffer Conservatory for music. There, he is invited into the extremely selective and prized studio band, led by the intense and famed conductor, Terrence Fletcher. Over time, Fletcher abuses Andrew so much that drumming essentially consumes his life, and it results in some dire consequences.

Overall, the best aspect about this movie is the acting. None of the characters are written to be very likable, even Andrew himself is an arrogant self-righteous idiot. But the acting by both Miles Teller and J.K Simmons makes the audience care about the characters. J.K Simmons especially is absolutely amazing. He manages to go from 0-100 in a split second, and can transition from being incredibly scary to being very likable on a dime. It’s no wonder he won an academy award for his performance in this movie. Miles Teller is good, and he works just fine for the role. But, he isn’t given as many opportunities in the script to really shine as much as Simmons does. That being said, he displays a wide range of believable emotions, and he deserves commendation not only for that, but also the fact that he apparently had to practice 4 hours a day, three times a week to play drums in this movie, and he’s been playing drums since he was 15. Additionally, he was fully committed even behind the scenes, Teller was often actually bleeding while playing drums, and in the famous “slap” scene, J.K Simmons genuinely slapped him.

However, not all things in whiplash are intense and amazing. It can feel a little half-baked at times. Particularly within the relationships between characters. No one is really given enough time on screen for them to develop a visible relationship for the audience. The only chemistry within this movie is that of Fletcher abusing Andrew, beyond that there’s really nothing. And that means that once you get over the initial shock and awe of the drums and brutality the film presents, you notice there really isn’t anything backing it up.

Overall, despite feeling a little half-baked with it’s character relationships, whiplash is absolutely a great film. It has some truly incredible, and truly scary sequences, and it undoubtedly deserves a watch.