‘Onward’ Review: Pixar’s Latest Isn’t Exactly a Step Forward

✯✯½

This is the second feature film directed by Dan Scanlon for Pixar Animation Studios following Monsters University, and it also strikes one as being a more personal passion project compared to the aforementioned prequel. At least on paper, the idea of a film that heavily involves fantastical creatures having lost their touch with magic could result in something more thoughtful – but oddly enough, there’s so little of that to be felt here. Onward isn’t a bad film by any stretch of the word, but when you stack it against Pixar at their best, it just falls very flat.

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’s Subtitle Best Sums up the State of the Franchise

½

If one already were to think that the previous Jurassic World film was bad enough, somehow Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom makes said film feel even less lamentable in retrospect. With the predecessor having built itself on cynically cashing in on what were the most memorable moments from the original Jurassic Park film, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom seems to go a complete 180 on its predecessor and somehow managed to leave behind something that was even worse. I was hoping that I could at least doubt that something much worse could come forth given the fact that this was directed by J. A. Bayona, and somehow I found myself deceived the moment I had come out. The idea of a director like Bayona offering his own take on the Jurassic Park franchise was one that almost seemed too good to be true and to say the least, my suspicions were only proven right.

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Jurassic World Review: An Exercise in Cynically Racking up Nostalgia by Undermining Its Roots

In the twenty five years since its release, Jurassic Park has still remained a staple for 1990’s cinema because of its innovative visual effects and to this day, it’s astonishing that it still happens to look every bit as beautiful as it does. But as the franchise had only grown to become as big as it did, the meaning behind Crichton’s original creation had slowly been fading away. Surely enough, it’s hard to deny that the original Jurassic Park still remains a spectacle for the eyes because of what it had taken in order to make you truly believe that you were seeing actual dinosaurs on the screen through the film’s innovative use of both computer-generated imagery and animatronics. But there comes a point to which one can only get too caught up by the image of the spectacle that Jurassic Park had set into place and Jurassic World only emphasizes that danger all the more, because it cynically exploits that nostalgia one would have had for the original film without ever finding its own way to carry itself through. It cynically boils down what Crichton would have wanted to say about the eventual spectacle of nature’s own ways only to what audiences would buy in as “dumb fun,” and to me, that never felt right – it just felt ugly.

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Avengers: Infinity War – Review

✯✯✯

There are many stories being told within Avengers: Infinity War and I think that happens to be the best way for something of this sort to be shown to the screens because it gives every character what’s needed in order to create an emotional resonance with its viewers. In the past ten years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been telling individual story after another but have always been dependent on one another in order to form something of a larger scope and as all stories come together to form one singular Avengers story. The ambition is clear enough from how all of these characters established by their own entries are coming together once and for all, so the question to be asked is how does the film live up to the scope it promises? It’s a step up from both the last Avengers film and the Russo brothers’ last Marvel film, but I feel hesitant to go beyond saying it pays off completely after the Marvel Cinematic Universe has only recently released their two most interesting films since the first Guardians of the Galaxy.

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Guardians of the Galaxy – Review

✯✯✯✯

I think it would be clear enough that I’m not a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This was perhaps a prime factor regarding why my own opinion of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy had turned out more favourable than my general opinion of their output and after having gone without seeing it since its theatrical run, it was nice enough to find that it still remained as strong as it did. With this and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 2014 has proven itself to be the strongest year for the MCU because their offerings then didn’t end up feeling like they were constricted by the grating formula to which Marvel has been sticking to over all the years, which was really refreshing to have found for films that have carried their name. This freedom was what the MCU had needed after all these years and James Gunn only utilizes it in the best manner.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Review

✯✯✯

For once I found myself skeptical of a Marvel Cinematic Universe film because the first Guardians of the Galaxy actually proved itself to be something that stood out amidst the rest of the crowd because it surprisingly happened to be one of only two films thus far from them that I really liked (the other being Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Naturally, the thought of a sequel would actually be met with warmth compared to the rest of their output but skepticism would also rise in regards to what it would end up turning the film into, and to some extent it’s what I got as always from the most typical MCU film. As promised from the return of James Gunn as writer and director another vibrant and colourful film would come back like the first but perhaps sticking to the same schtick that the first one carried only wore out the charm it had, at the film’s very worst moments.

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The Lego Movie – Review

✯✯✯½

On the surface it would be easy to say that The Lego Movie is a horrible concept and yet Phil Lord and Chris Miller manage to make something so much better than what would ever be expected out of it. With The Lego Movie, the duo’s second foray into animation after Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, they take the beloved toy line and somehow manage to tell a story out of it with such ease. For as broad as the limits could ever be, it’s nice to see that the duo make great awareness of such with The Lego Movie and call for greater wonders by bringing them onto the big screen. First they take the improbable with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs or 21 Jump Street but something that could have easily come off as a nearly two hour long commercial ultimately becomes even more joyful inside.

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The Magnificent Seven (2016) – Review

✯✯✯

Antoine Fuqua remakes another remake with The Magnificent Seven, his latest offering thus far. Being a remake of a remake, there’s always room to turn something into one’s own vision and that’s part of what I was hoping for in this new take on the story inspired from Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, but something about it also feels empty. What happened to the excitement of watching a group of seven fight for good? Sure, there’s fun to be had within certain moments of the film but perhaps they only work because of how the film presents itself out to be as a result of those involved rather than offering much to stand on its own. Quite surprisingly, that is actually not what bothered me most about this re-imagining of the classic tale. Continue reading →

The Five-Year Engagement – Review

I’m pretty sure the apt title can describe the experience of watching The Five-Year Engagement because every excruciating minute just left me waiting for the end. I guess me generally not being a fan of Judd Apatow-produced romantic dramedies can be one thing but even some of his weaker ones have some heart to them which I can appreciate yet in here, perhaps the lack of engagement (that joke was set to be made at least once) with how everything is flowing was sure to take me out for every bit of it grew to be nothing short of aggravating. I can admit the cast had me rather interested and it looked harmless enough from a few trailers, but seeing the final product was unbearable. Continue reading →