Sunday, June 3, 2018

Adrift (2018): Review

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Adrift is a visually stunning movie, where I was drawn into the story from the moment it started and engrossed in the story and lives of the characters. I was uncertain about it when I first went into the theatre as I associate Shailene Woodley, who plays main character Tami Oldham, with YA characters and to be honest she isn't one of my favorite actresses right now. I wasn't sure if I wanted to see this movie but I tend to really enjoy survival of the elements movies and the trailers won me over.  I am glad to say that I was drawn in by the storytelling, visual, and acting, and very much enjoyed the whole movie.

Adrift is loosely based on the survival story of Tami Oldham, played by Shialene Woodley, and Richard Sharp, played by Sam Clafin.  It is told in two parts, the main story of being adrift and surviving after the boat, these two are sailing, gets damaged in a hurricane and lost at sea, as well as the story of how Tami and Richard met and the beginning of their relationship.  Both parts are told chronologically but are jumped back and forth between.  To me it feels like the survival story is the main plot with the flashbacks of the beginning of their relationship.

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The production team of Adrift did an absolutely fantastic job of telling this story and whoever was in charge of deciding the pace, the jumps between the two storylines, and how everything came together was spot on.  I was caught up from the first moment of Tami waking up in the aftermath of the storm to the conclusion of if she is able to pull it together and survive. There were not any moments when I drifted away from the story, although there were a few things that were distracting.

I was extremely impressed with the cinematography and visuals of Adrift. A lot of the shots are artistic as well as though out and meaningful.  This was done in a way that was not pretentious or gave it a feeling of being over produced. It just worked and added to the who experience of seeing this movie. I have gotten used to and disappointed in lots of movies that try to hard to seem like they are doing something to make a great movie and lose the naturalness needed to pull it off. Adrift was able to capture how it should be done and didn't feel forced or take away from the emotional journey of watching this story.

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As I mentioned above, Shailene Woodley is not one of my favorite actresses and I genuinely don't find myself seeing her as the character. As I think about it, I don't think she is very good at emoting on screen and tends to not connect with those around her, but in this I didn't find her to be that bad. Maybe it is because a lot of it is just focused on her as the primary character and the interactions between her and Sam Clafin are good enough.

The main things that I didn't like about this movie are the what's the point PG-13 nudity (which had me thinking "wait is this a rated R Movie, but it cant be" during a moment that should have been more emotionally poignant. I mean later on she is doing something similar but is clothed), and at the beginning where Shailene Woodleys nipples where very prominent through her shirt. Neither of these choices were needed and I just found them distracting in an otherwise amazing film, where I could tell a lot of effort and thought was out into everything and how it came together. The other distracting moment was the obvious CGI towards the end, but if this was the only issue I would have easily forgiven the movie as this wasn't an action movie but a well done drama.

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Overall, I really enjoyed Adrift and think it could easily be one of the movies I watch regularly.  I was drawn into the story and emotionally cared about what they were going through (and if you know me you will know that the ending could have really set me against the whole movie- comment below if you know why). However it wasn't too much where I ended up being too emotional exhausted by what happened.

I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who likes a good drama or survival story.  There were moments of suspense that I got dragged into, even thought it was during  flash back scenes and I knew what eventually would happen.  This in and of itself shows what a great job this movie is at storytelling. It was just a fantastic movie to watch.

My Rating: 3

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Deadpoll 2: Review (2018)

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Overall Deadpool 2 was very good and I enjoyed the majority of the movie. If you liked the original Dealpool (2016), you will definitely enjoy this one. It continues on in the same vane as the original, with a rated R comedy that breaks the forth wall; uses juvenile-adult humor, and hyped up moments which get pulled together with a bit of a plot.

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Deadpool 2 follows the events of Deadpool (2016) with Ryan Reynolds playing Wade Wilson a.k.a Deadpool, a.k.a the Merc with the Mouth.  He has been continuing to work as a mercenary and killing people he is hired to do.  He gets pulled into a scenario where he get connected with a mutant kid Russell a.k.a Firefist, played by Julian Dennison, and has to get together a team of others to protect him from Cabel, played by Josh Brolin, a man who has come back in time from the future to kill Firefist.  Returning from the first movie are Wade's girl Vanessa, played by Morena Baccarin; his friend Weasel, played by T.J. Miller; fellow Mutants, Colossus, voiced by Stefan Kapicic; and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, played by Brianna Hildebrand; and taxi driver Dopinder, played by Karin Soni.  Also introduced is Domino, played by Zazie Beetz, a mutant who signs on to help Wade.

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I enjoyed Deadpool 2 and it definitely met my expectations and wants, which for a sequel of an enjoyable, wildcard movie is a very good and not so easy thing.  Although it is not as good as the original Deadpool (2016) it brings back the same energy and overall mood of the original.  It is not as natural in some of the delivery, seems a bit more lazy with the story and "twists," at times seems a bit forced (they thought it was funny/clever and continued to go with it, instead of looking at how it could be better or tweaking different moments). Although it was not as good as the first, it is still very good and fun and will satisfy those who have been anticipating this sequel.

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The big complaint I have with the movie is that there is no real development of any of the side characters or build up of their motivation.  Cable's motivation is told to us as the audience but there isn't a chance to feel or connect to it.  They use Colossus and Negasonic but these two seem more just there to be there and to go "hey, I remember them from the first movie."  I didn't really care for this rendition of Colossus in either Deadpool movie and Negasonic was overshadowed by Yukio, played by Shiolo Kusuna. Domino was brought in and she was fantastic, I really liked this character and thought she was fantastically cast.  I just wanted more of her.  Basically the supporting cast could have been used much better. I do not know anything from the comics or background of these characters so cannot already bring in knowledge or connection about these characters. They are a clean slate for me and I only know what the movie shows me.

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Although some of the characters are more flat than I liked. They all were well casts and overall played well together and off of each other. The few things I didn't like were script/ direction/ production choices and in no way stop me from wanting to see more of all of them playing off each other. I saw all the potential and the little glimmers and wanted more.

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The plot of the movie is enough to keep the story going but there were some issues with putting things in that were thought of as being needed for one reason or another but just gummed up the works or were very predictable. There was only one thing that I didn't see coming but it was one of those unnecessarily added items. Unfortunately for the flow of this movie, I liked the middle part the best. The beginning was a bit much for me with trying to force its meta angle and being a bit feeling like the production thought they were being clever with what they were doing but that smugness came across in the movie. This is excluding the opening credit sequences as this was done really well.  And the ending was just predictable and seemed a bit like a cop out. When the middle of the movie outshines the beginning and end it ruins the flow.  Also I would have liked more jumping around with the order of events like in the first Deadpool.

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I knew going into Deadpool 2 that there was going to be the gross and rated R type juvenile-adult humor, but I could have done without the butt stuff. It was too much for me and seemed more lazy than anything else. It could have still had the gross out and "really, they did that" feel without it being that.  This of course is my personal opinion and is how I tend to feel about any type of joke like this in any movie (see any of my reviews about modern OTT gag comedies).

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While watching Deadpool 2 I could see that the they were having fun with it and that the production team, and actors, specifically Ryan Reynolds were continuing to have fun with these character and glad to be making a second film.  There was high production value and I could see the care and effort that was put into everything in the movie.  At times this resulted in the unnaturalness/forcedness of some moments but overall resulted in a well make and put together movie.

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I will continue to complain about up close and too tight in action sequences and this movie upped the anti with just regular closed up shots as well.  This movie didn't need it and could have used with wider shots and seeing more of what was occurring then just the focused focus. The CGI was alright but still obviously CGI.  I don't like fully CGI characters and this along with thinking it unnecessary added to the noticeable CGI at the end oft he movie.

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I would really like to see where Deadpool fit in with Marvel overall but as it is not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe I don't see this happening. After the movie I realized that something about all the other Marvel movies was missing (comment below what you think that is)

Overall, I enjoyed this movie and will most likely see it again but it is not the gem which the original was, but I would definitely recommend this to anyone who liked or even just enjoyed the first movie. Don't expect it to be what the first one was, as emotionally we cannot experience without comparing it to the original. 

My Rating = 3

P.S. There are extra scenes so make sure to watch these. I don't really like them but can anything compare to the extra scene from Deadpool (2016)?

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Ready Player One (2018): Review **Spoiler Free**

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I have been very excited to see Ready Player One and it has been difficult for me to keep my excitement in check because I am a big fan of the book.  I discovered the book, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline earlier last year when it was recommended to me by a librarian when I was looking for something new to read. I feel in like with it immediately and read through it in one day. It had been a while since I found a book that I immediately loved so much and I have read it several times in the last year.  Because I am a big fan of the book, I tried to not expect too much because movie adaptations of books tend to change a lot and this can be really frustrating.  Overall Ready Player One was a great movie, visually stunning, with a good pace, and amazing production value.  The majority of my critiques about it are the changes and deviations it made from the book. I will go into this in more detail in a later review that I will link here once completed (this will include spoilers).  Anyone who hasn't read the book will probably really enjoy this movie and I think that those who really like the book or are fanboy/girls of it, will get frustrated with the changes.

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Ready Player One is based on the 2011 book by Ernest Cline, it is set in a future would where basically everyone in the world spends the majority of their time in a computer game called the Oasis.  This is a simulated multiplayer world that has become the escape for people and most lives are centered around their time in the Oasis.  It was created by James Halliday, played by Mark Rylance, who upon realizing that he is dying and doesn't have any heirs, creates a quest within the Oasis which is hunt to find a hidden "Easter Egg" where the person who first finds it will become the owner of the Oasis and inherit all of Halliday's money.  Wade Watts/ Parzival, played by Tye Sheridan is one of the "gunters" or egg hunters who have dedicated their lives to understanding Halliday, all of his interests (which is basically anything 80's), and finding the egg. Parzival must work out Halliday's puzzles, find the three hidden keys and open the three secret gates.  Also hunting for the easter eggs are fellow gunter's Ache, played by Lena Waithe, who is Parzival's best friend; Art3mis, played by Olivia Cooke; Sho, played by Phillip Zhoa; and Daito, played by Win Morisaki. The stakes for finding the egg are high because IOI a corporation run by Nolan Sorrento, played by Ben Mendelsohn, has created a division of the company where all the "Sixers" are working together and will do anything to win the hunt to take over the Oasis. Also starting Simon Pegg as Og, Halliday;s old partner; and T.J. Miller as I-R0k another gunter who is helping Sorrento.

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This movie starts with quite a lot of explanation and exposition, but this is required to understand the world of the movie and set up what is going on.  I think it would be very confusion to understand what was going on or how the bits fit together. if this time wasn't spent on set up.  Although the movie makes lots of changes with some of the components of the movie the basic structure of the plot carries on over into the movie and because of this the movie makes sense and moves from one thing to another in a streamlined way.  The first key must be found before the second, and that one before the third.  What is happening makes sense and there isn't a whole lot of other things focused on.  There is a bit more added, as the book follows the point of view of Wade so anything not with him in it is added to drive the movie forward.  The movie didn't follow a Wade point of view so it makes sense that some of the things he has to deal with are shown from the other side, as well as needing to bring into the story items/ plot points that are needed later on. It seems like enough information is given that even if you don't know anything about the book or the basis of what is going on beforehand you will be able to follow and understand the movie.

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I am finding it very hard to separate my complaints about the changes to the book (which I think many were pointless: come on why change the name Shoto to Sho) but from my sister and friends who attending the movie with me, none of whom have read the book, all of them said they really liked the movie and therefore it is my conclusion that the frustrations are just it being different from the book.  Trying to take away this frustrations, I liked what they did and enjoyed the movie.  It was good and fun, and the spectacle was great to watch.

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There were moments that I felt like they kept small details the same but changes big details, and there where moments where they kept bigger things and changes pointless little things.  I know I said I would keep the ranting to a minimum, but I would settle in for a few minuets where the movie was doing good with the changes and them "wham" change.  Oaky I think I'm done now.

The CGI was amazing in this movie, if you have read any of my other reviews, you will know that I am very critical and quick to judge CGI.  It was done and used fantastically in this movie. I went and saw it in 3D and I thought it added to the movie going experience.  This is definitely a movie worth watching on the big screen and I believe one of just a few I would recommend to see in 3D.  Although the CGI when it is one is mainly CGI on CGI and it is obviously CGI, this works well with this movie because everything is happening in the Oasis, which is a computer game.  Everything came together and I really, really liked the shot where Wade first logs into the Oasis and you go through the tunnel. I was thinking, YES they are going to do this right, and I continued to think that through the entire movie.  It was easy to enjoy those moments that looked fake because I knew they were suppose to look fake.  The only thing that I found a bit distracting with the CGI were the drones in the "real world" of the movie, and this could have been made better with changing the color of their lights.

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There wasn't much character development in this movie or growth, and the connection between Parzival and Art3mis felt rushes as the time frame of the movie happens over what feels like just a few days.  With trying to put so much into the story and spending time on each individual action sequence this went out the way.  There were some nice points thought-out the movie, I especially enjoyed Aech and Sho.  Except for at the very end I liked Sorrento and how he was used in the movie. I liked the casting of the movie although some of the people where not how I would picture them.  Wade could have been a bit less dopey feeling but I liked him when he was Parzival.

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Overall this was a pretty good big budget, family friendly, big budget movie and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys these types of movies. If you are a fan of the book and will be disappointed about significant changes (that feel pointless as the original world have worked) you are warned to check this at the door as there are changes to almost every single location and task.

My Rating = 2+

My Production Rating = 3

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Black Panther (2018): Review

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I am super excited to say that I really enjoyed the most recent Marvel Cinematic Universe movie Black Panther.  I have been looking forward to seeing this movie and was intrigued to see what they would do with this character Black Panther after introducing him in Captain America: Civil War (2016). Although the MCU character Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, was introduced previously I do not believe that it is necessary to have watched Civil War prior to seeing Black Panther. For the most part it stands on its own within the MCU. It was very good and besides a few things I really liked it and thought it was worth the hype.  At times, it became a bit preachy with its message, which isn't what I am seeing a big budget action/ superhero movie for, but it wasn't too much to take away from my enjoyment of the movie.

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Black Panther follow the newly crowned King T'Challa of Wakanda, as he takes the thrown following his father King T'Chaka's, played by John Kani, death.  The movie explores that background of the Wakanda and how it has developed it technology and secrecy from being over a mine of Vibranium.  After becoming King, T'Challa works to keep the secrets of his county while seeking down a man who previously store some Vibranium during the reign of his father. Secrets come out and the future direction of Wakanda is uncertain. Also staring; Letita Wright as T'Challa's sister Shuri; Danai Gurira as General Okeye, the head of Wakanda warrior women; Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia; Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger; Andy Serkis as Klaue; and Martin Freeman as Agent Everett K. Ross.

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Black Panther has an amazing overall cast and I love the interplay and chemistry between the different actors and characters. There was the right amount of serious characters and those who made jokes. Those who added comedy or drama were consistent with their characterizations and all their actions felt natural  and made sense for who they were.  There was some development for the main characters and the motivation of the supporting characters was there enough to drive forward what was happening. There were a few missteps but they were minor like with W'Kabi played by Daniel Kaluuya.  I didn't liked Zuri, played by Forrest Whitaker but this probably has more to do with my not particularly caring for Forrest Whitaker as an actor and that he always seems to be these weird characters that take me out of the movie and story as it has been set up with tone and feel.  Angela Bassett as T'Challa's mother Ramonda was fine, but I don't really see what she added to the movie and nothing would have changed with her being completely removed.  The one thing that she actually does could have easily been done by someone else more integral to what was happening. 

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I really liked that there were kick ass women in this movie, that the little sister was the tech person, and that T'Challa aka Black Panther was supported by two amazing strong women; one who was basically a spy and the other the head of his secret service and band of Amazonian-esk warriors. It is always nice to see well develop, strong, stand on their own women.

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Usually with the MCU movies I complain about the opening action sequence and think it is too much, too hard, too fast, but I liked how it was done with Black Panther. There is a bit of backstory and set up so it takes a few minuets to get into the action sequences and it is on a smaller scale, with a single purpose so it doesn't become too more or feel like I want to know why this huge action sequence is happening and why cant I see that.  I actually liked all of the sequences and even later on in the movie when there are jumps between different locations within the climax it works with how it is weaved together.  I will complain that I didn't not like the close up, quick jumping editing during most of the fighting sequences. I feel like I have complained about this type of editing and filming of fight sequences and I will continue to complain about them because I  think they are distracting and lazy.  Show me the sequences and the cool choreography. The tech during the sequences was really cool and I enjoyed how technology was incorporated and not really addressed, just treated as normal and a tool.  

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The main thing that I was not impressed with in Black Panther was the CGI.  I expect more from a Marvel movie and this CGI was not up to par. It was obvious and at times distracting. CGI is suppose to make the shot better not distract me because it jumps out as computer generated.  There were quite a few CGI on CGI which to me makes it look more fake and distracting. This is where the things in the foreground and background are both CGI, it works better when it is one or the other. Also the people on the terraced cliff looked crap.  Although a lot of the CGI was obvious there was a lot a scenes and shots that were beautifully done and gorgeous, especially when it was background sky/landscape. Overall I liked the cinematography and when the focus was on drama and enhancing what was going on it was done really well. Just stop with the everything on screen is CGI, movies are not video games.

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I liked the music and how the movie used both more modern and more traditionally themes.  It added to what was happening on screen and helped me to be drawn into the story.  The story made sense and was pretty straight forward. There was nothing shocking about what was happening but there was a plot that kept a forward momentum.  I really appreciate this. There are lots of action/ superhero/ big budget movies that try to do too much and go off in too many directions that it doesn't make sense or feel like one cohesive story. Even thought the movie stands on its own it had a nice transition to how it will be incorporated into the MCU.  I also really liked that it makes sense why other superhero's or the Avengers were involved in what was occurring in this movie. 

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Overall, I really enjoyed this movie and am looking forward to seeing it again. I was focused on what was going on and didn't notice the time slipping by. This is a must see for fans of the MCU, action/ super hero movies. This is a good MCU movie to watch even if you have not been keeping up with the complicated multiple movie/different character storylines. 

My Rating: 3+

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P.S.  I liked the Stan Lee cameo and how it was worked in.

P.P.S. This is a Marvel movie so make sure to stay to the end as there are two extra scenes. One midway through the credits and the other at the very end.

What do you think?  Did you like this movie as much as I did or is it one that will fade into the middle for you?