Movie Reviews

Coco – Movie Review

Coco is about Miguel, a young boy, who loves playing guitar, he wants to be like his idol, the famous Ernesto de la Cruz. The only problem is his family is the only one in Mexico that hates music. They don’t play music, listen to it, or allow it anywhere near them. One day, Miguel decides to steal Ernesto’s guitar, and in doing that he finds himself in the Land of the Dead. There he finds his ancestors to find out why his family hates music.

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Image via MUSE

Pixar is undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best, animation studios working today. Although, their last few movies (The Good Dinosaur, Finding Dory, and Cars 3) have been disappointing. Coco is different than any of the other Pixar movies because of its setting in Mexico. They give a lot of attention to the Mexican culture and their focus on family. You get to see how their family operates and how they celebrate Dia de los Muertos, better known as Day of the Dead. This holiday is the focal point of the movie because Miguel has to learn about the importance of remembering the dead and not letting them be forgotten.

The animation in this movie is by far the best Pixar’s has ever been. They use extensive details to animate the world, if you look closely you’ll even see the individual grains on the wood. It’s getting to the point where some of the sets and people almost look real. There’s a short featurette before the movie that shows how they animated a particular scene, and it’s interesting to see how much work went into it.

The story is extremely entertaining, you’re never bored watching the movie because they keep the story moving and don’t let it drag at any moments. It’s really funny, many comedic moments come from Dante, a dog who goes to the Land of the Dead with Miguel. His family is a lot of fun to watch on screen, both living and dead families, although the specific relationships they have can get confusing. Despite how enjoyable it is though, the story is very predictable. For example, there’s a big reveal that happens in the third act that I saw coming about 30 minutes into the movie.

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Image via ABC News

They manage to make the story appealing to people of all ages while including some mature themes. Some of the themes include death, loss, sacrifice, and even dementia, but the entire story is told through the Pixar charm we’re all used to which makes it accessible to all audiences. Even though the main plot of the movie revolves around the idea of death, they use it to create a message about not forgetting those we’ve lost.

Coco is both visually and emotionally beautiful. Under its harmless, fun exterior, the film handles some dark themes in a way that makes it understandable to kids, yet relatable to people of older demographics. The Mexican culture aspect sets it apart from the rest of Pixar’s films and adds diversity to their lineup. Pixar has made one of their best in this movie, and it’s definitely the best animated movie of the year.

Rating: A-

Have you seen Coco? If so, what did you think about it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Movie Reviews

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Movie Review (No Spoilers)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the eighth episode of the Star Wars saga. It takes place right after The Force Awakens and has been highly anticipated for the past two years. That’s literally all I can say without spoiling it.

This installment is directed by Rian Johnson, and he brings a unique voice to the Star Wars universe. He manages to make it feel like it belongs in the universe while giving us something we haven’t seen before. There are numerous gorgeous shots in the movie that will stick with you for days. He also sets a slightly darker tone in comparison to the last film. There’s a sense of hopelessness that elevates the stakes, and ultimately makes the film more emotional.

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Image via Maxim

The title of the film is The Last Jedi, so many fans are wondering how it handles Luke. Mark Hamill gives his best performance ever as Luke Skywalker without a doubt. The trailers have hinted at a more reluctant and weary Luke, who might not be the hero that people remember him as. Thankfully, the film goes for this and it really works. The storyline between Luke and Rey was, personally, the best part of the movie. Daisy Ridley gives another fantastic performance as Rey in the film. She has some great scenes in the movie with some of the other characters in the movie. As she explained in The Force Awakens, Luke has become so infamous throughout the galaxy that he has become a myth, so she has dreamed of meeting him her entire life, and when it’s not what she expects, we get an interesting dynamic between the two characters.

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Image via Making Star Wars

Adam Driver reprises his role as Kylo Ren, and his story arc was also very compelling. It’s hard to talk about him without spoiling anything, so I’ll say he has to deal with certain things, and it creates a conflict that brought about a great character arc. Adam Driver definitely has much more to work with as an actor than in Force Awakens, and his character has more of a role to play as well. Overall, I still love his character just as much, if not more, as I did previously. Supreme Leader Snoke also plays a bigger role, and the performance capture is unbelievable in this film. It’s hard to believe that he’s not played by a live-action actor because it looks that good. Andy Serkis proves that he is the king of performance capture as he gives a dark, menacing performance as Snoke.

Everybody involved with the Resistance does a great job as well. Oscar Issac is great as Poe Dameron and is given a bigger and stronger storyline, making him one of my favorite characters in the movie. He also has a great relationship with General Leia in the film. This will sadly be Carrie Fisher’s last performance as Leia, and she does a wonderful job with it. If you’re like me, it’ll be tough to get through some of the scenes, but she played a great leader in the Resistance. She still feels like the same character from the original trilogy, but a little bit older… in a good way. The film reminds us why we love Leia as a character and serves as a great remembrance to Carrie Fisher.

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Image via Entertainment Weekly

There’s one thing people every fan wants to know about, and that’s the porgs. I’m happy to say that the porgs really work They don’t over do it to the point where they feel like Jar Jar Binks, but they do add some humorous moments to the film. There are surprisingly a lot of funny scenes in the movie. The vast majority of the jokes land really well, even though some feel a little out of place. For example, there’s a gag near the beginning of the movie that was funny but took away some of the weight to the scene for me.

The action scenes are exceptional in this movie. Johnson uses wide and long takes, which gives you the full scope of the battles. There’s one scene that is definitely one of my favorite action sequences of all the Star Wars movies. The space battles are also extremely exciting. There are quite a few of them, and they all left me on the edge of my seat.

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Image via Entertainment Weekly

One problem I had with the film was the Finn and Rose storyline. John Boyega is great as Finn again, and Kelly Marie Tran is a great new addition to the Star Wars universe, but whenever it cut to them it took me I was taken out of the film. Even though the planet they were on was interesting, it didn’t feel like it belonged in a Star Wars movie. Benicio Del Toro plays a character they meet, and I thought he was great. I really loved his character, but just not their storyline. The movie is 2 and a half hours, making it the longest Star Wars movie to date, and the only times I felt the length of the movie was in the Finn and rose storyline.

The Last Jedi might be the best Star Wars movie since Empire. They build on a lot of ideas and characters from The Force Awakens and give us a great sequel that will make fans very happy.

Rating: A

Have you seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Movie Reviews

‘Spider-Man’ Movie Review

Welcome to my series of Spider-Man reviews! I will be discussing all three Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies  this week leading up to Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Spider-Man was released in 2002, and it was the highest grossing weekend for a movie at the time. This was probably one of my favorite movies growing up, I watched it over and over and over again. I could quote the movie in a heartbeat, and I still can. This time around, I really wanted to analyze the movie and see if it really is a good film. I am happy to say, that this movie holds up almost perfectly.

Spider-Man is a really fun comic book movie that could stand on its own, before everything has to set up a universe. Tobey Maguire is a really great Peter Parker. That first scene of the movie where the camera pans through the bus, then focuses on Peter trying to catch up is a great introduction. He really captured the lonely nerd aspect of Peter, the nerd was best portrayed in the lab scene where he’s so amazed by all this technology. You really root for Peter because he’s a good kid and he makes good grades in school, but he can’t catch a break from Flash Tompson.

Image via Amino Apps

Aunt May and Uncle Ben portrayed by Rosemary Harris and Cliff Robertson were fantastic additions to the movie. I think they were both used perfectly. Uncle Ben is almost like a cool dad in some ways, he never gets mad because he realizes he’s raising a teenager. Robertson plays the death scene to perfection. I really felt for Peter in that scene. Aunt May is the person who always knows what to do just like she should be, unlike another version of her character that constantly worries about Peter. It’s not heavy handed, but she just feels like a sweet, wise person.

I also enjoyed the relationship between Harry Osborn and his father, Norman Osborn. They have a broken relationship because Harry wants his father to be proud of him, but he doesn’t have the best grades. Norman also clearly likes Harry’s best friend, Peter, much more.  

Image via Sony Pictures

One of the common criticisms of the movie is the Peter Parker and Mary Jane relationship. I think it still works. It might be a little cheesy at some moments, but they really captured what it feels like to have a crush on someone. Kirsten Dunst does a great job in the role with seeming like the popular girl around her friends, and then being very genuine with Peter. 

As for the actual filmmaking, the movie still works. Sam Raimi is used to having a low budget and using practical effects. A lot of the movie is shot in camera, feeling very visceral and real. Especially many of the  scenes with Spider-Man. The montage with him fighting crime shows how he’s this mysterious figure. 

Willem Dafoe is perfectly cast as Green Goblin. One of my favorite scenes is the mirror scene, and they establish this almost split personality that he struggles with. Dafoe did most of the stunt work for the film because of how passionate he was. If you look at his filmography he clearly didn’t need this role, but he put all of his effort into it and it shows on screen. Some people seem to have a problem with the costume as it looks like a power ranger. I don’t have a problem with it because it seems practical. It’s designed for the military, so they would need some type of armor protection. Also, if you think that looks silly, you must not have seen the original costume from the comics with the bright green and purple. I thought that it worked and fit with the fun tone of the movie.

Image via Sony Pictures

We can’t do a review of Spider-Man without talking about J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. He has to be the most perfectly casted person of the whole series. Every scene he’s in is amazing. He just feels like he was ripped right out of the comics.

The movie does has a couple flaws despite it being great. Some of the CGI feels dated, like the scene when he climbs up the building after Uncle Ben dies. Also, while Kirsten Dunst is great, Mary Jane is a damsel in distress in most of the movie. She is really just there for Peter to have a crush on her. She does have some great scenes when she’s just talking with Peter and it feels very authentic, but she gets saved by Spider-Man a lot throughout the movie. For example, the parade scene, the alley way scene, and the final act are all scenes where she just relies on Spider-Man. Even when he asked her to climb down the rope, she just says that she can’t do it. This is one of the only ways the The Amazing Spider-Man improved from this movie with Gwen Stacy. 

All in all, this movie is great. It reminds us about the times when studios could just let the writers and directors make a good movie, and they didn’t have to put their hands in it to make the movies set up an entire universe. It’s simply an origin story about one of my favorite comic book characters.

Image via Sony Pictures

What do you think about Spider-Man? Do you like it? I really encourage you all to comment. I like to hear other people’s thoughts and I’d like to start a discussion down below.

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