Moana – Review #60

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The directors of this movie also made The Little Mermaid and Aladdin and oh my god can you see it.

csky6rmviaenstq-jpg-large.jpgMoana, directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, is the newest animated film from Disney and stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johson, Alan Tudyk, Jermaine Clement and newcomer Auli’i Cravalho as the title character, Moana Wailaliki. Moana is the daughter and chief apparent of a small tribe in the Polynesian islands of Motunui. She wants to venture, to explore the waters, but her father forbids her from doing so, citing dangerous waters and all that. However, things become desperate when the island’s resource begin to wither, for legend says that Te Fiti, the goddess of life, had her stone heart stolen by the demigod Maui, and now death and destruction wreck the land. Now, Moana must find the demigod, return the stone back to its rightful owner, and restore peace throughout the Pacific.

I wasn’t particularly pysched for Moana, really. It looked fine, but I just didn’t had that much of an interest in it.

But hey, it was Disney, so I decided to check it out.

They had a short before the movie this time around, which surprised me. I didn’t realize they did shorts, since Zootopia didn’t had one. It’s called “Inner Workings” and it’s alright. Quite funny, looks like Despicable Me, nothing special.

But anyways, without further ado, Moana.

Moana was a fun time, as Disney films are. The animation was spectacular, the water especially looked amazing, downright photo-realistic.

Now, I live in a tropical country. Malaysia, to be exact, way west of Polynesia. And while this place has nowhere near the beauty and the green of the Polynesian islands, it had enough that I felt a strange sort of familiarity seeing so many yellow sand and coconut trees. That latter one especially, we adore coconuts here. Just wanted to say that.

Humor was top notch. Comedic timing is Disney’s bread and butter, and I had man a good laugh at this as well. Dwayne Johnson as the demigod Maui had amazing charisma, and had great chemistry with Auli’i.

But the one thing that makes this movie is the music by Lin-Manuel Miranda. This is a traditional Disney movie, with catchy songs that stay in your mind for years. Following the work of the greats like Alan Menken and Tim Rice, he is. Considering that the last few Disney animated movies had little to no singing, this actually felt very nice. Again, very old school.

Too old school, in fact.

“A young female of high authority is confined by social standings and wishes for more out there, all the while accompanied by a cute animal sidekick.” Sounds familiar to you? Well, it should be.

I have no problems with directors using tropes and cliches in their movies. What I have a problem is them using it blatantly. And in Moana, the checklist of cliche is way too poorly hid to not be noticeable. You can choreograph what’s going to happen a mile away, and sometimes the tropes happen to the detriment to the plot. That pig you’re seeing on those posters? Dude shows up for a minute or so in the beginning, completely disappears for the majority of the movie, and only comes back in one scene in the end. There was literally no reason for it to be there.

That is what ultimately drives the movies down for me, it’s very obvious abundant use of Disney tropes. It bugged me, and I didn’t like that it did that.

Also, at one point the movie turns to Mad Moana: Fury Sea. Yeah, I was confused too.

In conclusion, Moana is above average Disney, but it isn’t amazing Disney. That still goes to Zootopia. Still, if you’re looking for a fun time and know what you’re going into, it’s a fun watch. Bring the kids along. A good recommendation.


The Nice Guys – Review #58

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the-nice-guysThe Nice Guys, directed by Shane Black, is a comedy neo-noir film starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as an unlikely pair set in the backdrop of 1970’s Los Angeles. Ryan Gosling is Holland March, a down-on-his-lucking private eye living with his daughter Holly, played by Angourie Rice, and is investigating the case of a murdered porn star. Russell Crowe is Jackson Healy, a hired enforcer who hurts people for a living. Fate binds them both when a young woman named Amelia disappears. Holland had a lead that Amelia was somehow involved with the murder, and Amelia had hired Jackson to keep him away from her. They decide to band together to get to the bottom of this, and go down a road of corruption and conspiracy. Oh, and porn.

This was one of my most anticipated movies of 2016. Two very charismatic actors, set in the most drug-fueled days of America, led by Shane Black, the guy who wrote the script for Lethal Weapon? Heck yeah.

And so I went in, watched the movie, came out, and am very glad to say that yeah, this movie was fun as hell.

Alright. First off, the tone. I don’t know if this was just this movie or if this is a Shane Black thing, but the humor in this movie was blunt crass-ness mixed with the Russell’s badassery and Ryan’s whimpers. I think I should say that when I mean crass, I don’t mean like “teen comedy shit/piss/jizz/sex joke” crass, I mean “fuck/shit/Jesus-fucking-Christ exclamation” crass. This was a legit buddy comedy movie, straight outta the 1980’s. And why wouldn’t it, considering Mr. Black’s record. I genuinely had a great time in the theater. The movie was really pretty funny. There were a lot of moments where I did laugh out loud and had a great time. Seeing Ryan Gosling being this low-life jackass was hilarious. It’s Inherent Vice meets Lethal Weapon, and I couldn’t be more happy for it.

The cast is excellent. Like I said, Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling play of each other wonderfully, with Russell being the straight man and Ryan being the idiotic asshole. There’s Angourgie Rice, who’s spectacular at being the little kid whom simultaneously is both childlike and mature. I swear, hearing a kid swear never gets old. I don’t think there’s a single bad performance at all.

However, as much as the characters behind the story are likable to watch and enjoyable to be with, it’s the plot that stops this move from being something really special. At first, it basks in the culture of the 1970’s, taking jokes and making fun of the time. The smog problem, the thriving porn industry, the disco, all of that, but as the film progress, that sorta takes a backseat to the “plot twist” of the movie. I won’t spoil it for you guys, but I think that it, while plot-wise made some sense, made the movie eat more than it could chew. It became too big for itself. Perhaps if they did one more re-write of the script it would flow better.

But hey, at least we got an in-joke about Detroit.

So yeah, overall, this film was great fun. I had a blast, and I heartily recommend it to everywhere who has a fleeting interest in it. It wasn’t this perfect film I thought it would be, but I was smiling when I left the cinema, so I think it did its job well enough.

In Remembrance of Robin Williams, and Why Comedians Have Depression

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You know, it’s been a year since Robin William’s passing, and until just now, I didn’t realize how big of a loss it was.

He wasn’t that big of a childhood icon to me. Jumanji and Night at the Museum were the only things that I watched with him in it. But still, I loved the guy.

There’s a saying that almost all comedians have depression. And in retrospect, that’s probably true.

People with depression hate themselves. They think that they bring nothing but unhappiness to other people’s lives. They feel they don’t deserve to live, because who cares if they live?

And, to add more salt to the wound, there’s no cure. It isn’t a physical injury, and it’s not something that you can just turn off. Sticks and stones may break the bones, but at least they get better. With depression, you don’t get better. Oh, you might have some happy days, but most of the time, you feel like shit. No, you feel like you are shit, and that you deserve to be nothing more than shit.

With depression raining down blows upon blows of sadness and loneliness, how do you think people with it try to combat it? Why, with the exact opposite of it, humor. They try to cover it up with smiles and jokes, while in the inside they feel no joy. This probably sounds counter-intuitive. I mean, what’s the point of being funny if you don’t find yourself funny? Well, there’s this quote that I really like, which I think sums up most of why comedians with depression do what they do. It goes like this:

“If I can’t make myself happy, then I’m gonna try my damnedest to make everyone else happy. Better to spread laughter in the face of sadness than to not spread anything at all.”

I love this quote, and nothing anyone can say will change my opinion of it. To think, that people who cannot, mentally cannot be happy, put on a mask and entertain the masses, all the while with the very big possibility of them hating themselves more because of it, because they know it’s not them. It’s not who they are. But yet, they still do it, and you know why?

It’s because they don’t want anyone else to experience it. They know it’s a downward spiral, and they sacrifice silent anonymity to steer other people away from it. If that’s not one of the most noble causes a person can do, I don’t know what is.

And now, back to Robin Williams, the reason why I’m writing this in the first place. You see this man and his body of comedic work. Whether you like it or not, you have to admit, he had energy. He could fill the whole room with laughter louder and quicker than I argue anyone could. His role in the now classic Aladdin, Hook, Mrs. Doubtfire and much more caused him to be engraved in the children who watched them. And to the adults who already knew of his comedy, he proved that he had actual acting chops in movies like Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King and One Hour Photo. He had the comedic world in his fingertips, and last year, the fingers let go. It was that realization that even a man who was universally loved, a man who had everything, a candle with a light that brightened the world, could be dimmed so quickly, that pushed me to write this.

Depression isn’t a funny matter. Nor it is a invalid excuse to seek medical help. People who say that depression is just something that one can just ‘get over’ are people who never experienced depression for themselves. To the people who have despression: go see a therapist. You might feel that going to a therapist means accepting that you are sick, and while it’s true, accepting that you have a problem is the first step in fixing it. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

A note before we start.

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This is not a professional reviewing site. I heartily suggest that, if anyone actually does come here, that you don’t use my reviews as your opinion. Open up, read more reviews, watch more videos discussing the movie in question. There’s no pain in doing that, is there?