Promare Review

Promare movie posterSynopsis
30 years ago, people across the world began combusting. In the aftermath, those who could control the fires were called Burnish. In present day, Galo Thymos (Kenishi Matsuyama / Bill Kametz) the newest firefighter of Burning Rescue, works to stop the Burnish and protect the people of Promepolis from fires.

Review
Promare is the first animated feature from Studio Trigger, the Japanese animation studio whose animators and creators are behind such animes as Gurren Lagenn, Kill la Kill, and Little Witch Academia. While I haven’t seen most of their work, my friends I saw this movie with have and noted influences from and similarities to several of Studio Trigger’s previous works. For me, who is not as familiar, it was a new experience, but one I greatly enjoyed. As an animation fan, whenever I see a film that has a unique animation style, that’s a win in my book. The animation style of Promare is unlike anything I have seen before. It is vibrant, which in and of itself is not unique, but the way it uses the colors to accentuate the action is. It appears flat but is dynamic at the same time, particularly the way it portrays fire, smoke, and water. Lately it has felt like each new animated film I’ve seen has found its own design, allowing it to stand apart from other animated films.

This anime is very much an action film and it was edited like one. Tight camera angles and quick cut-aways, some of my action movie pet peeves, make the action difficult to follow at times, which was irritating because the action is extremely over-the-top but so exciting and it would have better to have seen it in all its glory. Knowing the history of the type of material this studio puts out, it’s no surprise that the best way to describe the action of this movie is β€œballs to the wall.” The first scene is a giant action set piece, then it slows down slightly for some exposition (not a lot of exposition but just enough to give you a hint of world building), followed by what feels like an hour long fight scene. Seriously, once it hits about the halfway mark, it never lets up.

I thought Promare was GOOD πŸ™‚ Once it puts its foot on the gas, it never takes it off. At times it can feel like a bit much but the ridiculousness of it all makes it humorous and entertaining. Studio Trigger has show that they can successfully translate what makes their different anime series popular onto the big screen.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Hiroyuki Imaishi – Director
Kazuki Nakashima – Writer
Hiroyuki Sawano – Composer

Kenishi Matsuyama / Bill Kametz – Galo Thymos (voice)
Taichi Saotome / Johnny Yong Bosch – Lio Fotia (voice)
Masato Sakai / Crispin Freeman – Kray Foresight (voice)
Ayane Sakura / Alyson Leigh Rosenfield – Aina Ardebit (voice)
Hiroyuki Yoshino / Billy Bob Thompson – Remi Puguna (voice)
Tetsu Inada / John Eric Bently – Varys Truss (voice)
Mayumi Shintani / Kari Wahigren – Lucia Fex (voice)
Rikiya Koyama / Steve Blum – Ignis Ex (voice)
Kendo Kobayashi / Michael Sinternikiaas – Vinny (voice)
Ami Koshimizu / Erica Lindbeck – Heris Ardebit (voice)
Taiten Kusunoki / Neil Kaplan – Vulcan Haestus
Nobuyuki Hiyama / Mathew Mercer – Gueira (voice)
Katsuyuki Konishi / Yuri Lowenthal – Meis (voice)
Arata Furuta / Mike Pollock – Deus Prometh (voice)
Ryoka Yuzuki / Melissa Fahn – Biar Colossus (voice)

Ready or Not Review

Ready or Not movie posterSynopsis
Grace (Samara Weaving) just married Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien), the love of her life. In the Le Domas family, it is tradition to to play a game whenever someone new joins the family. For Grace, The game takes a sinister turn when she must hide for her life.

Review
When I saw the trailer for Ready or Not, I was hooked. Lately I have been trying to watch more horror-y movies ever since I was a guest on an episode of Damien’s podcast and this film looked to be right up my alley. The trailer was humorous but still seeped in horror elements. Leaving the theater, Ready or Not was everything I could have hoped for and more.

I think what I enjoyed most in this movie was how darkly hilarious it was. It actually reminded me a lot of Game Night. Where Game Night is a dark comedy with thriller elements, Ready or Not is a thriller/horror with dark comedy elements. Also like Game Night, Ready or Not never takes itself too seriously. It is also very absurd at times and it revels in that absurdity, making it all the better. If Ready or Not had tried to be a serious film despite its ludicrous and somewhat supernatural concept, I don’t think it would not have been nearly as entertaining.

Even though I was constantly laughing, this film kept me on the edge of my seat. It is mostly a thriller but it also employs many techniques used by traditional horror movies to build anticipation and make you hold your breath. This is actually more of a horror/thriller but with more of the latter with some of the former sprinkled in. Because of this mix of humor, horror, and thriller, Ready or Not never feels like it drags on, keeping at a brisk pace and never letting go. Even with this movie’s pace, it feels like it’s just the right length at around 100 minutes or so. Some things could have been explained a little better with a few extra minutes but that’s pretty trivial and doesn’t detract too much from the film.

With such a focused cast, it fell on Samara Weaving to carry much of this movie. Luckily, she is more than up for the task! Weaving is fantastic. She has some of the funniest lines and moments in the film and pulls them off with ease. Weaving has a few action moments as well that she handles like a pro. Her performance is filled with both energy and vulnerability. Basically, she’s the perfect fit. I’m unfamiliar with most of her work but she is definitely on my radar now as an actress to look out for.

The entire story takes place in or around the Le Domas family mansion. As such, it needed to be as much of a character as the actors. The set designers managed to do just that. Everything is absolutely gorgeous and brimming with personality. Despite only spending 100 minutes in the Le Domas residence, it feels like there is a tangible history to the mansion. Truly an excellent set design.

I thought Ready or Not was GREAT πŸ˜€ Circumventing many horror tropes and expectations, this darkly twisted comedy will keep you on the edge of your seat with thrills while at the same time will have you rolling with laughter.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin – Director
Tyler Gillett – Director
Guy Busick – Writor
Ryan Murphy – Writer
Brian Tyler – Composer

Samara Weaving – Grace
Mark O’Brien – Alex Le Domas
Adam Brody – Daniel Le Domas
Henry Czerny – Tony Le Domas
Andie MacDowell – Becky Le Domas
Elyse Levesque – Charity Le Domas
Nicky Guadagni – Aunt Helene
Kristian Bruun – Fitch Bradley
Melanie Scrofano – Emilie
John Ralston – Stevens
Liam MacDonald – Georgie
Ethan Tavares – Gabe
Hanneke Talbot – Clara
Celine Tsai – Tina
Daniela Barbosa – Dora
Chase Chruchill – Young Alex
Etienne Kellici – Young Daniel

Good Boys Review

Good Boys movie posterSynopsis
Max (Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L. Williams), and Thor (Brady Noon) are going to a party hosted by the most popular kid in the sixth grade. When Max loses his dad’s drone, the three friends go on an epic adventure to get it back.

Review
When the trailers dropped for Good Boys, comparisons were made instantly to Superbad. The analogy is not too far off. Where Superbad dealt with high schoolers trying to hook up with girls, Good Boys deals with sixth graders trying to hook up with girls. And since these are elementary aged kids, β€œhook up” means kissing. That doesn’t mean the film is approached any differently. What made this film so enjoyable for me is that the plot of the film is exactly what you would expect to see in a sexcapade like Superbad, Eurotrip or Sex Drive except starring β€œtweens” instead of teenagers or young adults. Despite the language and vulgarity, they are still naive children who have no experience in the adult world of sex and sex toys and their innocence makes everything ten times better. The casting was great, especially Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, and Brady Noon, the three leads. They had me laughing non-stop throughout the entire film. If they are this outstanding as kids, I can’t wait to see them as they grow up.

I thought Good Boys was GREAT πŸ˜€ The raunchy comedy in this film is what you would expect to see from an older cast. The age-appropriate innocence of the characters mixed with the maturity of the subject matter makes for a unique and hilarious blend that had me in stitches throughout the entire movie.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Gene Stupnitsky – Director / Writer
Lee Eisenberg – Writer
Lyle Workman – Composer

Jacob Tremblay – Max
Keith L. Williams – Lucas
Brady Noon – Thor
Molly Gordon – Hannah
Midori Francis – Lily
Izaac Wang – Soren
Millie Davis – Brixlee
Josh Caras – Benji
Will Forte – Max’s Dad
Mariessa Portelance – Max’s Mom
Lil Rel Howery – Lucas’ Dad
Retta – Lucas’ Mom
Enid-Raye Adams – Thor’s Mom
Sam Richardson – Officer Sacks

The Lion King (2019) Review

The Lion King (2019) movie posterSynopsis
Simba (JD McCrary/Donald Glover) is the prince of the Pride Lands. When his father, Mufasa (James Earl Jones) dies in a tragic accident, Simba flees until his responsibilities to his pride draw him back.

Review
As a kid, I watched a lot of the animated The Lion King, not nearly as much as Aladdin or Toy Story, but still quite a bit. Of the three live-action remakes Disney released this year, this was the one I was most worried about. How can you add to an already amazing story? The answer is apparently you can’t. I mentioned in my review of the live-action Aladdin that the remakes of the more recent films remain largely the same as the animated versions and this film is the biggest culprit of that. While the film itself runs an extra half hour longer than the 1994 version, the story and characters are exact mirrors of their animated counterparts. One of my criteria for a remake being worthwhile is if it brings something new. Usually I’m referring to the story or characters but this movie does bring something new: showcasing the realism possible with animation today.

I hesitate to call this film β€œlive-action” because it is all computer generated. If a movie tries to use a lot of CGI and it’s not great CGI, it can take the audience out of it. However, despite every character being CGI, it never once took me out of the experience. Everything seemed so real and life-like I’m very impressed. This film will have you questioning whether or not you are watching live animals and not computer generated ones. While this being seeped in this level of realism is breathtaking, it unfortunately comes with some downsides. For one, it is really difficult to tell the lion characters apart. Like the animated version, the characters have different shades of fur but this time, they are so similar, it can be hard to discern them apart, particularly during any kind of fast movement. Another downside is the CGI animals are also less expressive than what 2D animation provided their predecessors. Animal faces naturally don’t have the same range of displaying emotions as human faces. Cartoon can circumvent this pitfall but such a realistic looking movie such as this cannot get around this shortcoming so easily.

I thought The Lion King was GOOD πŸ™‚ Much like the Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin live-action remakes, this remake follows the story of the animated version very closely, even more so than the others. That being said, it is a good story and this film does show off beautiful life-like animation. But the lack of individuality prevents it from receiving my same rating as the original.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Jon Favreau – Director
Jeff Nathanson – Screenplay
Hans Zimmer – Composer

Donald Glover – Simba (voice)
Beyonce – Nala (voice)
James Earl Jones – Mufasa (voice)
Chiwetel Ejiofor – Scar (voice)
John Kani – Rafiki (voice)
John Oliver – Zazu (voice)
Billy Eichner – Timon (voice)
Seth Rogen – Pumbaa (voice)
Alfre Woodard – Sarabi (voice)
Florence Kasumba – Shenzi (voice)
Keegan-Michael Key – Kamari (voice)
Eric Andre – Azizi (voice)
JD McCrary – Young Simba (voice)
Shahadi Wright Joseph – Young Nala (voice)

Spider-Man: Far From Home Review

Spider-Man: Far From Home movie posterSynopsis
While on a vacation to Europe, Peter (Tom Holland) is recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to help combat β€œelementals” alongside the mysterious new hero Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal).

Review
This review contains spoilers for the end of Avenger: Endgame.

Spider-Man: Far From Home closes out the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU’s) Infinity Saga, the large, overarching narrative Marvel Studios has been telling since Iron Man. In a way, Spider-Man was the perfect character to close out Phase 3. For years, he was (and probably still is) Marvel comic’s flagship character, much like Iron Man was for the MCU. Spider-Man is also now the only character beside Iron Man to have two solo movies in the same phase. But most importantly, Peter Parker became an adoptive son to Tony Stark. No other character is more suited to reflect on what it means to not have Tony around than Peter.

I thought Spider-Man: Homecoming did a good job of integrating Tony Stark into the story; he was present but didn’t take over the story. However, his presence could still be felt in the peripheral, just out of sight. Even in his own movie, Peter still felt like he was in Tony’s shadow. Peter didn’t make his suit or all of the gadgets it contained, Tony did. Even when Peter messed up on the ferry, endangering civilian lives, Tony was there to fix it. Now with Tony gone, Peter has the opportunity to step out on his own. Tony’s presence is still felt in this film but a different way than in Spider-Man: Homecoming: Peter is shadowed by Tony’s legacy.

This movie focuses on Spider-Man’s interference with Peter’s personal life more than Spider-Man: Homecoming did. Peter trying to find this balance between the two was one of the strength’s of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and has been lacking in the Spider-Man films since. Constantly throughout the film, Peter is put in situations that forces him to choose between pursuing a relationship with MJ (Zendaya) or his responsibility as Spider-Man. These moments along with his reflections of living up to Tony’s legacy grow Peter’s character in leaps and bounds, creating some of the best emotional character moments since Spider-Man 2. For the sequel Spider-Man: Back Home (100% guess on that title), Peter can finally step into his own role instead of working under Tony’s shadow.

I’ve said in other reviews and in podcasts that in a market saturated with superhero films, superhero films cannot be traditional superhero films. They have to do something different or be something different and Spider-Man: Far From Home does just that. Given that Peter is still in high school, this movie is a superhero film wrapped in a teen drama, which is perfect. Peter is a teenager trying to find his way through courting MJ. He’s awkward, not perfect, and trying to find his place in the world. You know, typical teen stuff. Peter just happens to be a superhero. This is the kind of film the superhero genre needs to stay fresh.

One of the best things about Spider-Man: Homecoming was the cast. Tom Holland, Jacob Batalon, Zendaya, and Michael Keaton were all wonderful in their parts. We can add another well-cast member to that list: Jake Gyllenhaal. Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio was everything I could have hoped for from the character. His Quentin Beck was much more charismatic than his comic book counterpart but just as petty and resourceful. Gyllenhaal also had fantastic chemistry with Tom Holland, making their scenes together entertaining.

I thought Spider-Man: Far From Home was GREAT πŸ˜€ Peter has taken the steps to get out of Tony’s shadow and is set up for a Spider-Man movie properly about Spider-Man in the inevitable sequel. This series continues its outstanding casting choices adding Jake Gyllenhaal to the list. I am extremely excited for the future of my favorite wall-crawler.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Jon Watts – Director
Chris McKenna – Writer
Michael Giacchino – Composer

Tom Holland – Peter Parker / Spider-Man
Zendaya – MJ
Jacob Batalon – Ned Leeds
Samuel L. Jackson – Nick Fury
Cobie Smulders – Maria Hill
Marisa Tomei – May Parker
Jon Favreau – Happy Hogan
Jake Gyllenhaal – Quentin Beck / Mysterio
Tony Revolori – Flash Thompson
Angourie Rice – Betty Brant
Remy Hii – Brad Davis
Martin Starr – Mr. Harrington
JB Smoove – Mr. Dell
Numan Acar – Dimitri
Dawn Michelle King – EDITH (voice)


There’s still time to join this year’s Christmas in July Blogathon! Entries are due at the end of this week. To find out more, check out the post here.

Toy Story 4 Review

Toy Story 4 movie posterSynopsis
At her first day of school, Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) creates a new toy named Forky (Tony Hale). It’s up to Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and the rest of Bonnie’s toys to keep Forky safe while on a road trip.

Review
Like many, I was skeptical when a fourth Toy Story movie was announced. Toy Story 3 had wrapped the story of Andy’s toys up to that point superbly. Several shorts have been made since then (which are perfectly okay with me) but another full-length feature felt like an attempted cash grab. Going into this movie I was torn. On one hand, I love the Toy Story films and welcome the chance to play with these characters. But on the other, as I said, the story of Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the crew felt complete. Even though it doesn’t quite hit the emotional highs as previous films in the franchise, Toy Story 4 offers a good conclusion for the characters many of us have grown attached to since 1996.

Firstly, if you thought the animation of Toy Story 3 was top-notch, then you’ll be blown away from the animation of Toy Story 4. As the toys go to different environments, from Bonnie’s room, to Bonnie’s family’s RV, to a playground, to an antique store, and many places in between, each place has its own aesthetic and feels unique. Toys are not made from the same material. Toys like Buzz Lightyear are completely plastic, Woody is a mix of fabric and plastic, and Bo Peep is porcelain. Buzz has a pretty matte look, you can see the pilling on Woody’s shirt, and Bo Peep has a shine to her Buzz and Woody do not, and all the other toys have similar characteristics. Look at the character posters to see examples of what I’m talking about. It’s honestly breathtaking the amount of detail that has gone into making these characters look as realistic as possible. The bar of what of animation is capable of just keeps going up and up.

For the first three films, or β€œAndy Trilogy” as I’m going to start calling it, the toys mostly shared the spotlight. There was more of a focus on Woody and Buzz but characters like Rex, the Potato Heads, Jessie, and Bullseye shared the screen pretty evenly. However, this time around the focus is on Woody, who becomes the sole heart and soul of the film, with everyone else being demoted to support duties. One of my favorite parts of the previous film was seeing all the different personalities of the toys together so it was disappointing I didn’t get to see as much of that in this film.

One of my biggest, if not my biggest, concern with creating a follow-up film to the wonderful Toy Story 3 was where the writers would take the story, as Toy Story 3 added a perfectly fitting ending to the story of Woody, Buzz, and the gang. In typical Pixar fashion, they proved that there is almost always more story to tell, and they told it well. I’m not a huge fan of how they made Woody the central character like I mentioned above, mostly because of how it shifts the narrative of the whole franchise, but I won’t get into that here. However, once again, Pixar created a story that has a lot of heart.

I thought Toy Story 4 was GOOD πŸ™‚ While I’m still not ecstatic that this movie was made in the first place, I still enjoyed it. This series serves as breadcrumbs to track how far computer animation has come, as this is one of the best looking computer animated films I’ve ever seen. Toy Story 4‘s heart is in the right place but it ultimately falls short, which isn’t too surprising given it had to follow the emotional franchise-ending of Toy Story 3.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Josh Cooley – Director / Story
Andrew Stanton – Story / Screenplay
Stephany Folsom – Story / Screenplay
John Lasseter – Story
Valerie LaPointe – Story
Rashida Jones – Story
Will McCormack – Story
Martin Hynes – Story
Randy Newman – Composer

Tom Hanks – Woody (voice)
Tim Allen – Buzz Lightyear (voice)
Annie Potts – Bo Peep (voice)
Tony Hale – Forky (voice)
Keegan-Michael Key – Ducky (voice)
Jordan Peele – Bunny (voice)
Keanu Reeves – Duke Caboom (voice)
Ally Maki – Giggle McDimples (voice)
Christina Hendricks – Gabby Gabby (voice)
Madeleine McGraw – Bonnie (voice)
Jay Hernandez – Bonnie’s Dad (voice)
Lori Alan – Bonnie’s Mom (voice)
Bonnie Hunt – Dolly (voice)
Kristen Schaal – Trixie (voice)
Jeff Garlin – Buttercup (voice)
Wallace Shawn – Rex (voice)
John Ratzenberger – Hamm (voice)
Blake Clark – Slinky Dog (voice)
Don Rickles – Mr. Potato Head (voice)
Estelle Harris – Mrs. Potato Head (voice)


Entries for the Christmas in July 2019 Blogathon are due in two weeks! To find out more, check out the post here.