The Red Turtle

the_red_turtleAlthough a Studio Ghibli production, do not expect this film to be tied to the very recognizable Ghibli artistic line, with its own humble and calm style transmitted throughout. Yet this schism helps the movie overall, as no comparisons or connections are ever made to any of the other Ghibli productions, and audiences are always attentive to the film as a unique expression of creative geniality. At firsthand, it conveys the emotion of a gentle stroll through an animated art gallery, with dulcet and peaceful natural tunes lulling a sense of tranquility and escapism. And even though there are harsh segments, they are never chaotic, always having a somewhat soothing, organized, and almost philosophical transcendence. The story, brimming with metaphorical connections and different interpretations, boils down to the tale between man and nature, a tale that tasks us with understanding our place in the nature of things and with who we are. Without spoilers, we can see the fight between the inner psyche of man as well as his outer, physical being; the clash between what man doesn’t understand and wishes to attain, and though it’s an animated film, it more accurately portrays the feelings of being stranded on an island (be that island metaphorical or not) than many of its similar peers (ex: cast away).

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Baby Driver

baby_driver_posterAlthough Baby Driver did not have the numbers or hype that similar films have had in the past, its overall package delivers a very entertaining movie for all types of audiences. Even from the very beginning, as a high octane and fun chase starts going, the mood and music sets up what is to come straight away. And with a fun vibe around every corner, you can’t help but feel positive for the entirety of its almost 2-hour span. Additionally, it avoids common clichés found in the heist genre, and doesn’t give audiences a full-on view of the protagonist, Baby, but instead builds on the character in a slow and detailed manner. And talking about Baby, he’s easily the best around a cast of excellent actors, with a young naïve bravado that makes him extremely likeable without selling him as overconfident, in short, he’s vulnerable, but he’s got swag. Not to say that the other actors are bad in any way, Kevin Spacey thrives on roles where he plays powerful men, but the film gives all the right tools for Ansel Elgort to succeed. Sadly, the film’s ending doesn’t manage to glue all the pieces together, and feels as if the writers didn’t know how to bring an end to the movie itself. But apart from that, Baby Driver is worth a watch (or two), even if simply to listen to the excellent musical score, which paces the rhythm and beat of the story, and tells a story unto itself.

The Lost City of Z

the_lost_city_of_z_28film29Before jumping into The Lost City of Z, the poster and artwork made me think of an Indiana Jones adventure. It made me want to explore dangerous rainforests and dark, mysterious caves. Alas, The Lost City of Z does not, in fact, give its viewers a taste of adventure, as it rushes forward a flat story while leaving the interesting tidbits aside. And yes, this is a biographical adaptation of a novel based in real life events; but instead of trying to empower the sense of danger and exploration present in such a voyage, it simply resorts to showing quick and easy travels from point a to point b, plot a to plot b. It’s as if every scene was filmed in a carefully controlled environment (be it an uninspiring and calm river or a spread out and not-so-menacing jungle), and the hardships that the characters should be suffering are not really there. Additionally, it tries to do too much in each of its segments, jumping from jungle to war, from office to courtroom. In the end, the sum of its parts isn’t enough to make this a fine film, but nonetheless those parts can pique your interest enough so that you may be inadvertently attracted to the soul of the movie itself.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

pirates_of_the_caribbean2c_dead_men_tell_no_talesBack again to the period of piracy, sailing, ships and buccaneers with the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie! But with so many films spread out in such a long time, audiences have probably lost count of what has happened so far. And the film in itself doesn’t help them keep track of this, trying to introduce more myths, more legends, and even more characters with intertwining storylines, connecting pasts, and even more subplots and divisions. Even though moviegoers will probably be kept somewhat entertained with the tale, it is hard to keep this tale together with so many things going on. And even harder when the film tries to push everything forward using the flattest of items (such as a compass). If they could only release the Pirate franchise from its humongous backstory and show something new, the franchise could grow without hurting itself. But sadly, this is not to be the case for Dead Men Tell No tales, where characters (and clichés) are reunited, and the film start entertaining moviegoers after its first hour or so. After all, why do we want to be introduced once again to the main theme of trying to control the power of the sea, when almost every previous installment has done the same?

The Mummy

the_mummy_28201729It’s difficult to embed Tom Cruise in anything outside of Mission Impossible, where he has lead an impeccable role. And even more difficult when the film he portrays in is an action film. Thus, every take where he’s in, almost immediately harkens you back to mission impossible itself, in the process removing you from the movie you are currently watching. This is precisely one of the beginning problems of The Mummy, a film that unfortunately never quite brings back the original’s charm nor wit. A film where it’s main actors never display their full prowess, leaving audiences with a feeling of lackluster recited scripts. The sense of adventure and exploration featured in previous installments is never here, as modern day London just doesn’t fit with The Mummy’s ambience. Even so, the film’s comic relief is for the most part acceptable, visual effects are good, and the physical representation of the mummy itself is even better, a more dark, damp and visceral creature. But alas, it is a movie very much disassociated with what a “mummy” film should be, centered more around Tom Cruise than on Egypt, mythology, adventure, or exploration as a whole. In the end, its convoluted and broken story doesn’t let it live up to its intended potential.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

rogue_one2c_a_star_wars_story_posterAlthough Gareth Edward’s film has some pacing issues, particularly in the first half of the film, the movie as a complete package is dearly entertaining. For the main character, a lackluster introduction to her background and motives means that the principle “show, don’t tell” is perfectly illustrated here. Instead of letting us know her as an individual, we are merely told about what she has done and is willing to do, and thus audiences can’t quite grasp the passion she wants to convey. Meanwhile, and not befitting the role at all, Diego Luna plays the anti-hero but falls flat; like a two-dimensional monologue machine. And pertaining the rest of the cast, audiences are left wondering what’s the point of introducing us to individuals that seem to have hidden depths only to learn that that they feebly renounce to their beliefs (and even lives). Even so, and befitting to a Star Wars film, the world and its various ambiences are engulfing and immersive, thrusting us into the saga head-on; and once the pacing is established, we can fully appreciate the female heroine in her fullest potential and grasp the importance of what is to be done. Two important remarks: the comedic relief portrayed by the robot, boding well for the history of Star Wars companions; and an excellent battle that gives viewers the feeling of hope and union represented by the rebel alliance. In conclusion, would I recommend the film? Definitely. Would I state it’s a good film? Not particularly, but it is very entertaining, and for Star Wars fans and followers it delivers a slither of hope that the saga will continue, with more films and a deeper insight into the universe as a whole.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

fast_times_at_ridgemont_high_film_posterWatching Fast Times at Ridgemont High almost 40 years after its release means beckoning a timepiece of history that has been preserved in video form. In a way, although it might not be the best created film, it represents a cultural segment of American history that transcended for the individuals that lived through an epoch. The fashion, language, and other shenanigans of the 80s are conveyed through a cast of characters that, although unknown at the moment, would become extremely important for Hollywood per-se. One can ever ponder how Sean Penn transitioned from his role as Jeff Spicoli into what he has become today, or how big hitters like Mike Damone got lost against the backdrop of cinema as the years passed. In short words, Cameron Crowe crafted a stereotypical coming of age film, but one where his characters are so well scripted that audiences root for them and care for them (who wouldn’t like to have a brother like Brad?). Fast Times at Ridgemont High so symbolically represents an era, genre and place that its inclusion in the Library of Congress is no surprise, being “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant”. A downside of its duration is the fact that audiences can’t get to know the characters in a more distinct manner (in comparison to TV series), especially those secondary personas that had a substantial impact on the film (Forest Whitaker).