0 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Isle of Dogs Review

It’s time to look at the Isle of Dogs. This film looked worrisome from the get go for a plethora of reasons, but the main 2 were the stop motion animation (The worst form of animation) and the fact that it revolves around dogs. Unfortunately the film goes above and beyond what I had thought it would do and turns out to be one of the worst films out there. Brace yourself because this film is brutal!

So, the film takes place in the future and dogs have all been found to be dangerous since they are contaminated with a disease. The government banishes the dogs to a lonely island where they will all end up dying. One kid heads there to find his lost dog, but this will be a difficult quest. There are robot dogs after him to ensure there are no survivors and we also have an election going on in the background. Can the kid find his dog?

The film was doomed early on as there is a ton of animal violence. I can’t think of the last time I saw this amount of dog violence in one film. It’s almost constant as they get bit, die, and undergo a lot of injuries. While the bulk of them are on screen the film also makes sure to remind you on many occasions that they’ve also already had many more injuries. The film tries to be very dark and gritty throughout its run. The movie succeeds on this, but of course that isn’t a good thing.

Not only do we get all of this happening, but the stop motion intentionally makes all of the characters look disfigured and bruised as much as possible. It’s to the point where it’ll be hard to look at the screen for most of the characters since they just look so messed up. This is the case for about 90% of the film so it’s not like it was just a quick scene or two. The injuries stay on the characters continuously in part thanks to the fact that the stop motion is keeping the same character models for so long. You’ll be cringing for the entire movie, just not in the usual cringe like when a character says something painful. It’s just because you can’t bear to see what’s happening.

Usually stop motion films can be fun for the very rapid fire styled dialogue where the characters go on and on with burns and comebacks. There is less of a chance for that here because of how seriously the film tries to present itself. There is never a chance for happy conversations like that. The cast of characters is also pretty bad. The main kid is just a nuisance the whole time as he tries to assume command of Duke when he should be worrying about getting off the island alive. He wastes time going on rides and playing fetch and generally acting like he doesn’t have a clue. The kid’s a terrible character and just not very smart to the extreme.

I don’t need to go into much detail on the animation since I already expressed that it wasn’t very good, but the main reason behind that is that it’s always very choppy. The scenes quickly jump around and there’s no time for any real detail. The film just makes everything look grotesque, but as a result there naturally aren’t any good visuals to be enjoyed. The soundtrack was all right I suppose. I can’t really fault the film in this area since it wasn’t bad. The music would work well in a better film since some of the tunes had potential. It’s nothing to write home about, but it worked well enough.

Aside from all of the dogs running around we had the political subplot as I mentioned. That plot is dreadfully slow and most of the scenes are just about the American transfer student trying to show everyone that the mayor is corrupt. The problem is that nobody really seems to care and her plans don’t go anywhere until the kid and the dogs actually appear. Otherwise all of her efforts would have been futile so her plot really didn’t end up amounting to anything.

I also have to say that keeping the languages untranslated was a terrible decision as well. You could have characters talking for whole minutes and you can’t understand any of it. It’s pretty obvious what they’re saying but it ends up being a waste of run time if you ask me. The film could have used that extra time to do anything else. It’s just a design choice that I think really didn’t work and just added to the list of woes for the film.

If I had to choose a best character it would be the Chief since he was pretty tough. It’s a shame that by the end he was forced to be more tame though and ends up going through a rather predictable character arc. The other dogs were good enough even if their resolve wasn’t quite as good. The villains are fairly generic and just evil for kicks. The last minute change of heart wasn’t all that believable so you were still ready for them to go to prison.

Finally, the film is also too long. It’s a little over an hour and a half with very slow pacing. It feels like nothing much really happens in this film. Most of it is the kid traveling with the dogs until they ultimately arrive at their destination. Any time you may try to get invested in the film you will be knocked back out by a dog scene. It’s impressive that the film got so many big names into it, but that’s not enough to actually earn the movie any consolation points. I’m afraid that it’s all over for this film.

Overall, Isle of Dogs is definitely a film that you will want to give a hard pass. Whatever message is was going for ends up getting completely lost among all of the senseless violence and cringe character injuries. I don’t think the film ever had much potential with its general plot though and if it wanted to be good it would have needed an entirely different story. I can say with confidence that this is always a really bad sign. Perhaps better animation could have helped as well, but not enough to really matter. I’d highly recommend watching a film like Air Bud instead.

Overall 0/10

7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Scrooged Review

There have been a whole lot of Christmas Carol adaptations over the years. I’ve seen a lot of them and likely have yet to see several others. I can definitely say that this is the most memorable one of the bunch and probably handles Scrooge the best. I feel like he put up more resistance than his other incarnations and knowing about the iconic story does put this Scrooge at an advantage as well.

The film naturally starts off by showing how mean Scrooge is. He is corporate to the core and won’t even let his people have Christmas off. That’s because he wants to have a live show on Christmas for the extra ratings. His boss is definitely excited about this and is low-key the real boss of the company. He insists that animals should be added to the broadcast since they watch TV now. Scrooge sarcastically agrees. Unfortunately, his life begins to turn upside down when he is visited by a ghost. He will have to survive 3 more encounters with his personality intact or he will lose to the very story that he has made it his mission to mock! Meanwhile, there’s a new director in town who is called to help with the movie but he may just be there in order to replace Scrooge once and for all.

The first act of the film is definitely the best part. There are two kinds of mean leads. The ones who are subtly glorified by the end and make it personal and the ones who are just generally mean to everyone but it’s not all that malicious. The latter is the right kind of mean lead and fortunately that is the one we get here. This is a comedy film that is actually funny which seems to be a rare feat at times. Pretty much any scene with the old Scrooge is solid.

He’s very confident in himself and has made it pretty high up in his career by stepping on all those who would oppose him. That’s why he isn’t too worried when the ghosts come knocking. While you can’t help but applaud his proactive approach to finding the ghosts, it does start to hurt his reputation since nobody else can see them and that makes it easy to frame Scrooge. One of the ghosts in particular is quite aggressive as she spends a lot of her screentime beating Scrooge up. This is around where he lost a lot of his fiery spirit and it’s easy to see why. He was effectively humbled here. The final ghost of Christmas Future is also intense as expected. He has always had a really cool design and the movie goes all the way here. The spirit looks rather disturbing and even houses demons inside of the cloak. Scrooge definitely didn’t have a chance against this one.

Naturally, it’s inevitable that Scrooge has to turn good since that is the whole moral of the film. Fortunately the scenes of him being good only last for a few minutes but his speech on the TV did drag on quite a bit. That’s probably the only scene that I thought went on for too long but it’s probably because the scene in question was definitely on the cheesy side. There’s two ways you can take his 180 character switch. One is that he has genuinely changed and I’m pretty sure that this is what the film is telling us.

The other one is that he is simply playing along in order to keep his life. The spirits basically told Scrooge that they’ll murder him if he doesn’t have a change of heart and while they may have just been trying to scare him, it’s hard to take that risk. He could just be trying to save his own life which is certainly in line with his usual motivation of looking out for himself. The story is also a little tragic since Scrooge initially started out as an earnest worker. When everyone else were having a party he kept on working. He had no time to fool around with the others and just wanted to climb the corporate ladder. As with many though, he eventually forgot why he climbed it in the first place and now takes delight in making everyone else’s life harder.

The film does go a little far with some of the costumes though. Scrooge wants to make an edgy Christmas Carol filled with scantily clad characters which is a bit much and the same goes for the female ghost. It’s certainly not a huge deal in the film but since the ghost at least gets a lot of screentime they probably could have given her a nicer design. As long as they keep in the punches (Yes, she goes for full punches and even some combos against Scrooge) she would still appear to be rather scary.

One of the main reasons why this film was able to succeed is because the writing was pretty solid. You need a good script in order to make Scrooge witty and mean without going too far. Then the rest of the characters are written pretty well too. I guess the only subplot that feels rather tacked on is the romance with the main heroine. I’m guessing the film wanted this plot because in most of the Christmas Carols, Scrooge’s biggest regret is not getting together with someone. The heroine just never gets much of a role though and seems to have done a very good job of leading her own life without Scrooge. I think just showing Scrooge a glimpse at how happy she is would have sufficed for that plot. It’s one opportunity that he completely lost and he won’t get another shot, but at least he would learn from it. The film doesn’t give it a really big focus anyway so it’s rather minor when you think about it.

One subplot that was excellent was Scrooge firing someone on Christmas Eve. That’s definitely one of those things that you just don’t do. It’s an unspoken rule that you wait until after Christmas to let someone go like that. Well, the guy didn’t go down quietly and does take out his shotgun. A very wise move if you’re going to go up against the full power of corporate. The film can really start to get outlandish at times, but never gets too excessive and again, the humor is on point. The film actually manages to pull this off and that’s no easy feat.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed Scrooged quite a bit. Your enjoyment of it will depend on how much you like Scrooge himself. If you find him to be too mean to the point where you can’t stand to see him on screen then this will definitely be tough. If you don’t mind him all that much then it’ll work out pretty well. The film does a good job of being humorous and has solid writing as well. What more could you ask for? Scrooge maybe cried a little too easily the first time but beyond that his character is consistent the whole time he is the antagonist. The ending of the film is a little weak, but it’s hard to avoid that ending without changing the whole meaning of the story. Scrooge is one of those villains that is actually fun to root for and is more likable than the rest of the cast despite being such a mean guy. That’s how much charisma he has.

Overall 7/10

6 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Ghostbusters Review

It’s time for a real classic in the form of Ghostbusters. This is one of those films that just about everyone has heard of and for good reason. It’s one of those 80’s films that had the right mix of intensity and comedy. It was about as good as I had hoped although some of the jokes go a little too far. If not for that, this is an easy 7 and maybe even a 8, but hey…we wouldn’t want this review to be too easy right?

There are three Ghostbusters and they make it their business to deal with all supernatural foes…for a price of course. The city of New York typically doesn’t need their help, but ghosts have been appearing more and more as the days go by. The heroes hadn’t gotten any calls at one point and now they were quickly becoming celebrities. One of the members begins to suspect that something is going to happen considering these circumstances, but the heroes don’t do anything about it. Will this be the cause of their downfall or will the Ghostbusters just vanquish whatever ends up appearing?

Ghostbusters is definitely a pretty fun film and it’s a memorable one. The main theme is iconic and it will likely still be remembered 20 years from now. It’s very catchy and while you can tell that it’s an 80’s song, that doesn’t stop it from appealing to today’s crowd. The actual theme is the main reason why I enjoy it and I could probably do with or without the lyrics. There aren’t many other themes to be found here or at least ones that I recall, but the main theme is the important one anyway.

Stay Puft, The Marshmallow Man, definitely deserves some credit here. He’s one of the most iconic villains from the 80’s and it’s easy to see why. He makes for a pretty incredible final boss. He may actually remind you of Pac Man for a while there since he’s always grinning and looking like he’s having a blast as he devastates the city. He glares at the heroes towards the end and you can tell that they’re finally feeling the fear, but they try to hold it together. I don’t see how the sequel will be able to top such a villain, but it’ll be interesting to see them try.

The CGI for the effects definitely looks dated, but it works in a comedy like this one. It’s mostly evident in the scenes with the Gargoyle running around the hotel and outside. If that happened in real life, you could definitely imagine everyone having a similar reaction to seeing such a stiff monster as in the film. These guys made business and they may not have looked realistic, but that may have made them even cooler. You weren’t about to mix them up with a real monster here, they were definitely here from the ghost world.

The weak point of the film is definitely that some of the jokes can be suggestive and unnecessary. An example of this is a ghost who hits on one of the main characters at one point and the fact that the two main ghosts have to make out to activate the final gate of oblivion. The rushed romance at the end is also not something that we needed since falling for someone just doesn’t happen that quickly. None of the scenes are downright terrible (Although they are pretty bad) but they add up and keep the film from achieving its ultimate potential to be one of the best 80’s films of all time. When you think of how the plot wrecked so many parts of the movie, it can be pretty sad. As it stands, I don’t know where it ranks, but still pretty high I’d presume.

Egon is definitely the best member from the Ghostbusters. He’s very smart and he’s a pretty serious figure. He never falls into the romance trap and he eats Cheese It when he feels like it. I was glad that they included the Cheese It in the film since it is still the best non sugar snack out there. There’s no reason not to like Egon and he’s the heart of the team.

Ray gets the least amount of character development from the main three and he’s a good character for the most part. He does have the dicey ghost scene though and he just doesn’t contribute all that much to the big battle against the ghosts. The team gets a new recruit at one point to help out and he seems like a decent character, although he’s not incredibly loyal. Winston is his name and he’s new at the game. Since he doesn’t know a whole lot about what goes on in the organization, he gets the nickel tour which is useful for the viewers. He seems like a nice guy and I guess we’ll see if he’s able to keep up with the others or not as the films go on.

Peter is the main character and he’s definitely all over the place. He’s typically a great character as he takes nothing serious and does whatever he wants whenever he wants to do it. He’s direct and brimming with confidence as he takes shots at all of the politicians who are around. That being said, he suffers from the romance angle as he lets the possessed heroine mess with him a little before he stops her and he’s constantly flirting with her right from the start. He never acts professionally, but it’s typically in a humorous way. I couldn’t approve of the romance and that hurts his character. Still, he does have the best acting here and his character as a whole is good. He’s just flawed like Gourry.

Dana doesn’t look great for many of the same reasons as Peter. She decides to accept Peter’s proposal for a date even though she didn’t seem interested at first. I don’t see how he could wear her down so quickly. She also got possessed pretty quickly which suggests a lack of willpower. At least she was polite enough to say that she would stop by the party on her floor when she got back. That’s good since the party actually looked like it would be a lot of fun. Considering that she noticed the supernatural occurrences in her apartment at the beginning, she didn’t seem too convinced in the possibility that supernatural forces were at work. The heroes definitely didn’t seem professional, but she should have given them more of a chance. She’s not a bad heroine, but she could have been better.

I do have to admit that Dana had one of the only jump moments in the film. It didn’t literally make anyone jump, but it was still something to think about. She was sitting in the chair when some hands suddenly reached out and pulled her into a portal. I did not see that coming and it was surprisingly serious for such a comedy. The ghosts also mean business so there are a few fight scenes. The main characters are mostly on the losing end as the fight goes on, but they get their second wind by the end. The big villain seems to be an all powerful being yet a quick blast was enough to take her down. That seems accurate as far as I am concerned.

The main characters’ weapons appear to be pretty useful. They’re like the laser weapons in Star Trek as you can set them to full power or to capture. When they’re in full power mode they are able to destroy overwhelmingly powerful ghosts and on capture mode they’re pretty harmless. It’s all in how you use it and I’m glad that it does have a full power mode. Its initial showing against the green ghost was not impressive to say the least.

The film is very long, but it never feels drawn out. From the scenic backgrounds to the good dialogue, this is really a complete film. It’s the kind of film that just wouldn’t work nowadays. There are good comedies now of course, but you can never perfectly recreate a film from these days. You can always yell that a good 80’s film is an 80’s film and a 2000’s homage to it will still feel more modern. It can be just as good, but in a 2000’s way. Times have changed and so have media. Each decade has its own greats and the Ghost Busters will always be an icon of the 80’s.

Overall, Ghostbusters is a pretty fun film to check out. The dialogue is pretty witty and the main characters are pretty likable. Peter definitely has his moments where he stops being likable so he’s a mixed bag, but the cast is definitely a good one. There are definitely more suggestive material included than is necessary, which drags it down a few notches. I recommend this to anyone who’s looking for a good time as it’s just a lot of fun. It’ll remind you of the happier days of Hollywood and who doesn’t like a good ghost fight right? I haven’t seen the sequel yet, but it’s going to have a tough time beating this one.

Overall 6/10

4 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Groundhog Day Review

I probably should have heard of this film before, but I only have a vague notion that I may have heard it prior to the week before I actually watched this movie. I liked Christmas Do Over and the concept is pretty similar except that it’s not taking place on Christmas. Groundhog Day is significantly funnier than the last few films that I’ve seen, but it also manages to fall into more film holes than the others.

The plot involves a man named Phil Connors and he’s (not) excited about the big Groundhog Day celebration. He covers it every year for the news, but he doesn’t enjoy it. Two other characters by the names of Rita and Larry are coming to assist him. Phil avoids them and get through most of the day, but then he finds out that the blizzard (Which he predicted would not happen in this area) has blocked his only way out of town. Phil goes to bed with a heavy start and begins his infinite loop inside of the day. He doesn’t have any reality superpowers so getting out of this loop will take every bit of skill that Phil has. Will his best be enough to end this crisis? That’s what the film asks the audience as it unfolds.

“Phil……Phil Connors!” is the main character and I love the way that Ned yells his name. Phil is definitely someone who you can root for at first. He’s very sarcastic and he spends most of his time mocking the other characters and being a bad sport about everything. He doesn’t like the hotel and he doesn’t like the coffee. Phil can barely hold in his contempt for the actual Groundhog Day Celebration and he lowers his comrades’ spirit whenever he can. After that, his true character bubbles to the surface and I can safely say that it ruined his character.

I liked Phil at first, but then he used his time travel as a way to make false relationships and add unnecessary romance to the story. That really makes him no better than guys like James Bond and Captain James T. Kirk. Phil couldn’t really redeem himself after that because he simply went way too far. Phil is one of those characters who has some good traits, but it destined to remain in my “awful characters” section along with Kamina. They have the potential to be likable characters and then throw it out of the window for their own personal desires. It’s not worth it and they realized this too late. At least I can always smile at the memory of Phil punching out Ned….Ned Ryerson!

Ned…..Ned Ryerson is the best character in the film and he’s someone that you don’t mess with. He always laughs at the misfortune of others and he’s very good at being an insurance employee. He put the pressure on Phil and he didn’t back down as things got tough. At the same time, he knew when it was time to get out of there and make a new plan. I won’t be forgetting Ned anytime soon and his name is just plain epic. It’s why I loved the banter between him and Phil. Both of them would use each other’s full name in fake surprise during greetings.

Rita is the main heroine and she’s a decent character at best. It’s probably rough to have to work with someone like Phil. She doesn’t do extremely well because Phil has the time advantage, but she still could have looked better. She shouldn’t be doing anything with Phil since it’s only been a day and they got too buddy buddy in other times. She should at least be suspicious for a few more days after Phil’s big change in personality. As a supporting character she is okay, but the romance between her and Phil is unnecessary at best and cringe worthy at worst. I almost wanted Larry to get more screen time…almost.

Larry actually doesn’t look that bad at first, but they his character quickly starts to fizzle out. He suddenly becomes the comic relief character and he just wants to make some new friends. That was a pretty unnecessary addition to the film and I don’t know why they bothered to add it. I liked him when Larry was snacking on desserts and insulting the main character behind his back. He should have stuck to that role.

There are certainly more characters in the film, but this is essentially the main cast. The lady in the hotel who always offered Phil coffee was cool. She went straight to the point and she was always polite despite Phil’s unfriendly approach to everything. The actual groundhog was pretty fun and he’s a solid driver. There were many other characters sprinkled throughout the film, but their roles were not very monumental and I’m sure that they will fade over time.

One of the major flaws with the film is the abundance of unnecessary romance. Why did one of the citizens be so eager to have a one night stand with an old (fake) classmate? How could the no nonsense Rite quickly get tricked into romance? It was all very forced and it certainly didn’t do any wonders for the film. The romance wasn’t ridiculously long, but there were more scenes of it than I’ve seen in a film for a long time. Each scene gradually lowered the enjoyment value of the film until I cheered as the real plot took over (temporarily) and got rid of the romance. Those romance scenes are the different between a great comedy film and one that forgot its place.

There isn’t much of a soundtrack for this film, but the songs are there. It can just be tough to notice them, but the radio song is another matter. We heard it quite a few times and the song is definitely catchy. I never really expect a big soundtrack for any live action movies, much less a comedy one. That being said, it’s always a pleasant surprise to have any that I can remember after it is over.

Phil ended up living through the cycle for over 6 months and possibly a whole year or longer. That’s pretty intense and it would have been pretty scary to keep going on forever. I do think that the movie ends a little too happily and there aren’t really any big twists. I believe that the film could have used a few of those and it would have been that much better. Just ending on a twist would have been a nice change of pace for me.

We do get treated to a pair of car chase scenes when Phil is having one of his episodes. The drive with the Groundhog started off in a great way, but then things went sour quickly. This film did not need a mild case of animal violence on its shoulders as well. It’s very mild because the death is quick and we don’t see it, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Groundhog didn’t make it. That was unnecessary.

Overall, Groundhog Day was one of the funniest films that I’ve seen in a long time. The humor was pretty solid and Phil really stole the show with his facial expressions and one liners. If Phil and Rita had not been such unlikable characters by the end, then the film could have done better. Taking away their romance and the other romance scenes would have made the film be a lot closer to a masterpiece. This is a good film if you’re looking for a solid comedy, but the romance really does drag it down. Instead, I recommend watching Christmas Do Over at the plot is very similar, but it takes place on Christmas. A nice twist if I do say so myself. One thing that I give the film credit for is the fact that Phil decides to eat as much as he can because the food won’t hurt him the next day. Brilliant.

Overall 4/10