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

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Independence Day Review


Technically I went back and rewatched this film before the sequel came out, but then the review found itself on the backburner for quite a while. Needless to say, this film is certainly a lot better than the original. It still had a little issue with adding in too many plots which result in some being less interesting than the others, but ends up being a rather complete picture. The special effects still hold up really well and the characters are mostly likable. It’s the classic alien invasion story that you would expect and will always be remembered as an iconic film.

The main plot here is that aliens have arrived and they want to take over the Earth. They naturally go after America first since this country is super strong, but the world is their endgame. Not to fear, America has a plan and we’ve got a lot of natural defenses on our side of the field as well. Can our team of handpicked experts stop this alien menace or is the whole world doomed? Time to find out!

The film develops around a half dozen subplots so you get used to the characters before the Aliens actually show up. In one corner, we’ve got Thomas, the President of the United States! He seems like a charismatic guy and takes the situation in stride, but naturally there aren’t a whole lot of standard procedures to keep in mind when you are under attack from aliens. Considering the situation. Thomas keeps a steady command of the situation despite this and doesn’t let go of the reigns. He is easily the best character in the film as far as I’m concerned and his plot was also the most interesting. If you’ve been following my reviews a lot then you’ll remember that I always love to see the government’s point of view. As a result, the round table meeting with all of the higher ups was definitely a blast. One of the generals is ultimately portrayed as a bit of a worrywart by the end who talks back to the President and is quickly fired, but I actually liked him a lot when he first appeared. Before things went south for the character, he had some good points. For example, Thomas states that maybe they should consider going to Deafcon 4. The general immediately answers “Absolutely!” right after sighing as if he had been waiting for the President to finally make the obvious call. The general then went on to immediately dish out some orders before being put back in his place. Maybe he was a little too enthusiastic, but I liked how he immediately went to action and how he had his own ideas on how this should all go down.

Another one of the better plots involved David. He’s a genius who works with computers and detects a hidden frequency within the alien transmissions. Nobody else has noticed this yet so it could be crucial, but he has to find a way to infiltrate the White House first and that is going to be an issue. Especially considering that he actually punched out the President a while back. Something like that is a little hard to forget. Luckily, he has connections within the building, but is he in over his head? David plays a large role in stopping the alien menace and gets into the front lines. The actor’s always done a good job in the movies that I’ve seen him in and pulls off the character quite well. Finally, we’ve got the third main plot which featured Captain Hiller. He’s the ace pilot on the group and is the only character in the film to actually defeat one of the aliens mano a mano. He provides the gusto and natural leadership that gives the team confidence when it is time for the final attack. David’s the brains of the operations, but you need to have some brawn in a firefight and that’s where Hiller comes in. His natural charisma is something that the leads from the sequel really lacked.

Unfortunately, this is where we start to get to the plots that weren’t quite as interesting. For starters, there is Russell. He claims to have been abducted by aliens a while back and gets teased about it whenever he goes to the local bar to drink. He’s typically drunk throughout the day so that makes it tough for him to defend himself. He makes it onto TV, but not in a graceful light. He drives cross country with two teens, I believe they were his nephews, and they get to give us a grounded look at the situation. It was a very boring view though and this subplot was even longer in the extended cut. There was really no point to it though and naturally Russell got his big moment in the end, but I could have done without him. The plot could have certainly been more obnoxious and a lesser film would have really gone crazy wit it, but it still didn’t help the film out in the long run.

I also wasn’t crazy about the plot involving the First Lady, who survived the crash and meets up with Jasmine, Hiller’s wife. (Girlfriend at the time) It was there for the emotional impact I suppose and to give us inspiration speeches, but it slowed the pacing down a little. That being said, I do have to give the plot some credit though because it provided us with a cool CGI scene where the fire starts to engulf the streets. We then see the main dog turn into Air Bud as he leaps across cars and outruns the fire all the way to the service entrance where the characters were. Many films have a make or break moment and this was it. If the characters had shut the door to save themselves and the dog had died, this film would have gone right into the trash. I would have churned out a 0-1 star review for this film and would have spent the duration bashing and bashing it. Luckily, this film had class and good writing so the dog lived and we got a plot with a nice ending. So, the dog scene is what saved the side plot.

Finally, we also have some annoying characters when we head to the underground bunker. It starts off okay as the President takes charge and infiltrates Area 51. Unfortunately, the scientists there was too zany for their own good. They try to go for a very Johnny Depp kind of quirky, but it’s very forced and not appreciated. They don’t get a big role here so that’s good, but prepare yourself for the sequel. The main positive about this part was when the alien decided to fight back and attacked from his glass cage. The alien put up a good fight and the action scene really came out of nowhere. It was unexpected and that helped to make it a very effective moment. The film may have not been super heavy with action, but had its moments. There was a big aerial fight in the climax after all of the alien ships take on the U.S. Airforce. That was fun and the effects really hold up well. Between that and the famous scene where the White House blows up, you can tell that this film got a pretty high budget.

A lot of people like to poke fun at the ending though, where we use a Mac to send a virus to the villains. I do agree to an extent that this is a little hard to believe and viruses shouldn’t work on villains in the first place, but I’m pretty okay with this. You have to keep in mind that we will never defeat an alien race without some kind of plot hax. Just look at how Captain Hiller takes down one of these superhumanly strong aliens with a single punch. It’s hard to swallow, but it’s still a pretty humorous scene to watch. At the very least, I thought it was pretty fun.

The soundtrack was fairly good. It’s not going to be winning any awards from this blog anytime soon, but I thought that the tunes were placed rather well and that’s what counts. The President’s big speech was certainly good as well and one of the cooler moments of the film. It was so good that the sequel decides to reuse it instead of coming up with a big one of its own.

Overall, Independence Day really set the bar for future alien invasion films. It definitely deserves to be known as a fun classic. It’s not completely amazing as some of the lesser subplots drag the film down a little, but it’s still a fun film in the end. The pacing is good and you should be kept well entertained the whole time. It’s essentially the definition of a solid film and considering that the aliens didn’t get to show up much, the set up was still really good. I’d argue that this is one of those films where the set up is better than the actual resolution as I like to see everyone getting worked up over the aliens. The fight was still good of course, but the prelude was just better. I certainly recommend checking this film out. It may not be July 4th right now, but it’s always the right time for an alien invasion film.

Overall 7/10

Independence Day 2 Resurgence Review

independence-day-2-resurgence-movie-poster
It certainly took a while for this sequel to come out. In preparation I recently rewatched the first title and a review for that one will be coming fairly soon. Unfortunately, Resurgence isn’t quite as epic as the original and has more wince-worthy scenes….not to mention a lot more plot hax. This is always going to be the result when you make the villains absurdly powerful though. It’s good to keep them within reasonable striking distance. Still, Resurgence is still a good film, but it certainly can’t be called a great one. I think that the third film could reasonably beat this film if it gets made, but the series is certainly not going to feel like Independence Day anymore. The first film really captured the heart and depth of what this franchise was all about.

It has been 20 years since America defeated the Mothership and the rest of the countries allied together to stop the aliens. Now, they have finally returned and everyone who was connected to the aliens at one point in time can hear their telepathic presence. This wakes up one of the scientists from his 20 year coma and gets the old President back into action. The only problem is that nobody believes the former President until it’s too late and the aliens have returned. They quickly destroy a city and cause some massive damage. The heroes will have to do what they did last time and destroy the Alien Queen. If they can do that, then order will be restored to the universe. It’ll be significantly more difficult this time though since humanity has realized that sending a virus through a Mac is very tricky and won’t work a second time. We’ll need a more physical approach.

As you would expect, the special effects are quite good. As it is, the first film looked great for its time and this film shows how much our graphics have improved. The aliens can actually be seen without the smoke covering them all the time. We don’t get any visuals that are quite as powerful as seeing the White House get obliterated by a giant laser, but there are some homages to that moment. There are a lot of homages in general although they don’t work too well for the most part. The new version of “There will be no peace” comes off rather badly as the character who is saying this doesn’t say it in a commanding voice. Not to mention the fact that it probably wasn’t a great situation in which to say the line.

There are some retcons here as well. The scientist character was definitely dead in the first film. In this film they retconned the neck choke a little to say that it is purely just to talk to humans through the vessel rather than destroying someone and creepily saying stuff. The film pushes this point by having the alien do this against another opponent as well. It’s too bad because the scientist is a pretty bad character. In the first film his role was rather small so he didn’t get to grate on your nerves quite as much, but his role is definitely bigger this time around. He’s also completely used for comedy this time and results in most of the unfortunate humor moments that I had hoped to avoid.

Another weakness in this film is naturally the romance. The film justifies a “classic” love at first fight plot which is really terrible. On one hand we have the typical flirt who tries to go with everyone, but they all reject him. This time will be different he thinks as he likes an ace pilot who also loses someone rather close to her so he quickly takes this opportunity to show off and win her over. It’s sadly very successful as everyone in the theater probably predicted the instant that she first appeared. It really undermines her character to go with him so easily. We also have the romance with the main lead, which has no real point to being here.

Resurgence also takes itself a little too seriously at times with quite a few tearful goodbyes and characters barely holding it together as they give out a speech. Given that the film is constantly throwing comedy moments at you, these scenes don’t work well. Not to mention that so many characters die during the film in very sudden scenes that there is no real time to feel sad. The heroes just go back to joking right away anyway so the film doesn’t even take its own serious moments all that seriously.

My final complaint lies with the writing. The previous complaint is more or less related to this as well. Most of the characters are just written very badly. The main character is a good example of this. He’s supposed to be the tough and charismatic leader that everyone loves during the film. He breaks the rules and always ends up saving the day. Being grounded for saving dozens of lives after a tech malfunction was laughable so I don’t blame him there. Still, his “big” moment where he insulted the aliens was very bad. There are a lot of ways to have a cool moment without just being vulgar. Unfortunately, the crowd did laugh and cheer a bit during this moment. I got a very active crowd, but they help to remind me why these bad moments won’t end. Everyone always cheers at the moments where they are supposed too. Directors and Producers love this kind of crowd because they go along with just about everything. Crowd mentality is strong so a lot of people naturally just get taken in by it, but it also means that these kind of scenes will be sticking around for the long haul. It’s regrettable.

Back to the writing though. Towards the end of the film, a big point of emphasis is that all of the dozens/hundreds of alien ships are protecting the Alien Queen. That’s their whole purpose and yet, they sit by and just watch as the heroes attack her for minutes upon minutes. That was just terrible writing. The writers put themselves into a hole that they couldn’t get out of so they had to just throw logic out the window. It’s a shame. Still, the Alien Queen was cool and the armor that the aliens used was pretty neat. I’m not sure about them losing to a guy with two swords and a comic relief assistant with a blaster though. That seemed like a bit of a stretch.

All right, let’s look at the positives. The soundtrack was pretty solid. We had some pretty nice themes and it helped to carry across the film’s epic vibe. It was mitigated by the futuristic Earth that no longer looked like ours and the fact that you can never top the original Alien incursion. Still, it was cool to see the alien fleet arrive. I also think that it was good to finally see Earth shoot first when the aliens appeared. It was rigged this time, but I’d say that we made the right move. The film started out quite rapidly even if it slowed down quite a lot after that.

David was one of the big characters from the first film and he’s still really solid here. His romance with another scientist is terribly written, but beyond that he is a good character. A lot of his scenes are humorous, but in a good way as opposed to the majority of the other characters. I do disagree with some of his decisions like the “wait and see” approach, but on the whole he was smart and came up with his own ideas. He wasn’t a yes man the way that some of the scientists and government workers were. His dad was also a pretty fun character like in the last film. He gets less screen time here since his plot gets the shaft much like the driving plot in the first film. That’s probably a good thing if you ask me although it was fun seeing the dog stand up to the aliens. This puppy meant business and thanks to the Dad, the kids who were along for the ride will never forget this day as they got to meet some really important figures.

Thomas, the former president, was another solid character. It’s a little unfortunate that he is seen as a crazy guy on meds now instead of the world remembering him as an awesome guy. Although, the general public may not be aware of this and only select members since he does still get a lot of attention. People should be taking him seriously considering how well he did in the first film. Also, is it just me or did he look different in the flashback to the first film? I highly doubt they would have re filmed the speech for such a short clip so it must have just been my imagination. Thomas stepped up to the plate when the chips were down and turned out to be someone that the rest of the world could count on to fight the aliens. Being attacked telepathically may have weakened him, but he’s still the same likable character that he always was and is easily the best character in the film.

Even though I recently saw the first film (5 days before watching this one) it was a little hard to keep track of all the characters. I wouldn’t call it confusing as you know who everyone is in the context of this film, but as far as the homages and wink-wink moments at the audience go, I probably missed a few. The army guy sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place him. The character who was with David as a rival also felt like she came out of nowhere, but maybe she was actually one of the characters from the first film. Ah well, I suppose that a film like this one is supposed to have a huge cast. Perhaps it should have thought about getting rid of a few excess ones though.

Two characters who didn’t go over well were Jake and Dylan. It goes without saying that I didn’t like the comic relief, flirting sidekick, the two scientists who crossed the bridge of being quirky to over the top so those are already in the pile. The “tough” heroine who was the grand daughter of the army general was also destroyed the instant that she didn’t shut down the comic relief guy. Jake could have been cool since I like the tough rebel type of main character, but he goes a little too far as well. His plot of nearly destroying Dylan a while back wasn’t really handled well either. Dylan doesn’t come across as likable either for the fact that he held a grudge against Jake for so long and got a sucker punch in and then cracking when the chips were down. Sure, the two of them get along very well after a few minutes and it’s back to normal, but it was hard to recover from that so easily. I don’t blame Jake for saving lives after a mechanical malfunction since I didn’t think it was his fault in the first place, but that’s about all the credit I can give him.

As mentioned before, the action scenes are great though. The film also never drags on even though it’s around 2 hours. The pacing is good and I never thought that any of the plots were particularly boring. Some were fillerish, but at least things were still happening. The drunk fellows blackmailing the world for 100 million was one of those “interesting” plots that actually worked out pretty well though. They were certainly bold even if they didn’t do much. Seriously, that was probably the easiest 100 mil that they ever earned. All they had to do was keep drinking while keeping an eye on the equipment.

I won’t talk about the plot for the next film much, but the film does take a big turn. It’s hilarious for the wrong reasons though as someone talks really tough, but if you actually think about what she’s saying…then you’ll realize that they made all of the wrong decisions. I can’t say much more than that, but it’s intriguing. We could very well be going to Star Trek/Star Wars a lot sooner than we thought and I can picture other alien languages being spoken soon and intergalactic bars. Nothing is out of the question now and whether that is a good thing or not…we will find out soon enough!

Overall, Resurgence is a fun film, but one that does have quite a few problems bogging it down. For every good character there was a bad one and for every epic scene there was a wince worthy one. The topsy turvyness of the film is what keeps it from getting a really good score. Hopefully the sequel will be able to improve on this. At the very least, the action scenes and effects are quite good. I expect them to get even better with the next film. It’s definitely an ambitious plot line going forward and I can definitely see a lot of Star Trek comparisons coming out soon. The third film has the potential to be a completely different experience so I hope that the writers are ready for the challenge ahead. I’m not sure how much confidence I have in them after this though.

Overall 6/10