After his success film animating the comic book series “Tintin”, Spielberg used the knowledge he acquired to tackle a bigger challenge in adapting Roald Dahl’s The Big Friendly Giant. The world is as engrossing as always, mixing digital and live action in an unobtrusive way that adds to the general ambience. In a way, he manages to tell a fairytale story that feels just right, neither too real nor too fictitious, and 3D viewing is a must, as the movie breathes and deepens with every puddle of water, street corner, alley and house. The added profundity from 3D means that viewers can almost peer inside the little intricacies of Spielberg’s universe in what can almost be considered a microcosm. Unfortunately, the child actor isn’t up to the task of transmitting or expressing emotions that feel authentic, and the plot becomes dull after the second half of the film. Sadly, this isn’t because of the movie per-se, but only because the BFG has a plot that doesn’t bode well in its transition from printed media to theatre.
Director Matt Ross has created a film that will be loved and hated, critiqued for its direct use of social commentary yet praised for trying something “out of the mold:”. His selection of mostly unknown yet promising up and coming actors means that Viggo Mortensen’s role highlights his acting prowess, and he does one of his best roles yet. The rest of the cast doesn’t disappoint, with child and teen actors that might’ve been helped with such a daunting role for their career futures. The setting, endearing and captivating, expresses the direct connection between nature and peace, tranquility; yet ultimately tells audiences of an imaginary and impossible dream that the main character lives in and in which he refuses to recognize the society around him. For the most part, the film has great composition and camerawork, exemplifying the dissonance between a family that behaves almost like a cult, awkwardly confronting the established norm. It is an interesting experiment on what would happen if someone decided to live a life like the one represented in the movie, and questions what is “normal” and what path should be taken by every individual, commenting on consumerism, society, obesity, and education. Even so, Ross decides to end his film on a less idealistic note, bringing his character to the stark realization that human beings cannot forgo the civilization they have forged through the years, symbolically represented by Mortensen’s beard and the moment he decides he must shave it.
It’s hard to keep track of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the vast array of films that have been released in recent years. Coupled with this, the intertwining nature of said universe means that for everyone except die-hard fans, each story is separate from the rest. In Dr.Strange, this separation seems ever so present as Benedict Cumberbatch embraces the main character with a very entertaining act that manages to keep viewers invested in the movie. Alas, the same story has already been told in the past, where the millionaire playboy wants to save the planet and acquires a new persona in order to do so (Iron Man, Batman, etc.). But the incorporation of mystical elements makes the story feel somewhat fresh, and incredible visual effects bring said story to life. Unfortunately, little character progression for the Dr. means that in the end, the film feels repetitive of other Marvel titles and never manages to release from its mold.
The year of 2016 has seen the rise of “buddy comedies” with several big budget lists entering the fray. Amongst them, Shane Black’s “Nice Guys” starring Ryan Gosling and Russel Crowe in opposite yet complementary roles. The film itself isn’t particularly memorable, apart from its definitive 70’s vibe and color palette, and the very weak plot leaves much to be desired – with a ridiculous premise that doesn’t quite catch viewers attentions. Even so, it manages to become a momentarily funny film that takes advantage of good performances by its main cast: a plus point given to very good dialogue moments throughout. In the end, it might be worth a watch, albeit in a halfhearted way.
War Dogs is an American comedy drama film made by the same director of the three Hangover films. Starring Miles Teller and Jonah Hill as two arms dealers, it subtracts the same “feel-good” sentiment of his previous trilogy, also found in other titles such as “21” or “Ocean’s Eleven”; where an illicit activity is hyped and placed under a stylish spotlight where the protagonists are considered heroes – even though the actual people are horrid (the film fails to show this in any way). Funny and entertaining, War Dogs manages to lure viewers through the buddy-like performances of Hill and Teller, who portray the search for friendship, money, power and fame which can only be achieved through arms dealing (or so the movie says). Sadly, it epitomizes the Hollywood value of amusing an audience above anything else, and while audiences laugh away, millions of damaged individuals are left forgotten amidst the ongoing arms trade.
Stylized after a Van Halen song of the same name, “Everybody Wants Some!!” is a love letter to everything in the 1980’s summarized and constricted into three days of cultural trends, stereotypes, fashion, ideology, music, and dialogue. The college vibe lasts throughout the film, and although there isn’t much substance nor plot to hang onto, it establishes a memorable setting and group of characters. And like in Catcher in the Rye, the three days of partying, alcohol and sex are only exemplifying the lost state of identities in which many of the characters are: between a memorable past and an exciting yet uncertain future. Even so, when the credits roll you kind of wish you could stay a little while longer with the group, as one of them states boldly “it’s going to be a good year”. Linklater’s film is very hard to decode, and its mastery is mostly intangible, and you as the audience can feel this even though you can’t quite grasp exactly what makes the film good (or bad).
After the unexpected success of Now You See Me in 2013, director Jonathan Chu was asked to supervise a second installment in the hopes of garnering even more profits than its first version. With a stellar cast that includes the likes of Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, and Jesse Eisenberg it was up to Chu to ensure that each actor fulfilled its potential with meaningful roles, scripts and scenes. Sadly, the film only goes downwards from beginning to end, with an overused plot and main theme that even manages to confuse viewers through a stunted progression. Additionally, poor cinematography and camera direction go side by side with mediocre dialogue to create a painstakingly boring film, albeit with some very few quirky moments. Furthermore, the director assumes that viewers know and remember everything that happened in the first installment, bringing names, places and events to the present with little to no detail; and concludes everything with an implausible and unrelatable roundup that gives audiences little motivation to see a continuation.