Moana

Disney’s Moana, their latest effort. I mean, it’s Disney. Like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they have down a formula that works wonderfully well. And I know¬†the MCU is also owned by Disney. But Moana has heart, fun, great visuals, and memorable characters all wrapped up.

Oh, and the songs. The songs are fantastic. While none of them are as memorable to me as Let it Go (I know, I know) but all of them are great. I would definitely listen to the movie soundtrack again. The songs all have their own style and tune, also. It helps highlight the differences between the characters that sing them.

I do feel that the movie starts off a bit slow. It’s great to get a sense of Moana’s life and the views of her people, but the adventure portion doesn’t really get started for a bit. I didn’t look at my watch or anything, so I have no idea how long the beginning part actually was, but I think it could be shortened by a smidge.

Once Moana gets out on the ocean, that’s when all of the zaniness starts. You get underwater adventures, pirates, all that good stuff. The visuals are great, especially the ocean shots. And Disney always knows when to dial it back for the serious, emotional parts.

This movie is everything I expected out from the trailers. A sailing adventure facing off against angry monsters while adding in great songs. It doesn’t disappoint at all.

That said, I don’t think I actually have any spoiler thoughts for you. Maybe I could talk about some individual scenes, but I think experiencing them for yourself is fine. There’s nothing really I feel the need to go deeper about.

It’s a great watch of a movie that’s also about growing up and learning how one fits into the world. Not the most original of plots anymore. But the movie is done in that same, Disney masterful wonder. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Oh, wait, spoilers.

Moana’s parents don’t die! Hooray!

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Woo, new film set in the Harry Potter universe. Heh, it feels a bit weird calling it the Harry Potter universe since the world is much bigger than just him, even if he is the boy who lived. Anyway, this film takes place in the 1920’s and is about Newt Scamander, author of the book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them.

I will have quite a few spoiler thoughts about the movie later on. It’s a Harry Potter universe film. There’s bound to be a lot of little hints and easter eggs everywhere.

After watching this movie, I would not mind en entire series on magical zoology. Not at all. There are fantastical beasts abound, and even though they are mostly CGI, it’s done really well. I got a sense of wonder whenever the magical creatures popped up on screen. All of them have their own behaviors and mannerisms.

Newt is a fun character, though out of the four main protagonists, I found him to be third on my list in terms of enjoyment. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy him, it just shows how well the other characters are written. I liked how he acts a lot. Newt’s awkward around humans, but when around his fantastic beasts, he opens up entirely.

My favorite character would have to be the no-maj, Jacob Kowalski. He’s the guy dragged into all of this, but never in a way that drags down the story. He elevates it, in fact. It’s really great to see a guy without magic and no idea of magic interact with a world full of wonders.

The other characters are the sisters Tina and Queenie. Tina would be the lowest-key of the characters. She has her moments, but in general, I didn’t find her as interesting. Queenie is just a ball of fun, though, and she has a lot of fun interactions with the various characters through the movie.

The part where they’re finding fantastical beasts is great and fun. But then there’s a second plot woven into the film, the plot that’s supposed to hook people into a larger series. This plot is dark, and I think it gets in the way at times.

The movie works well due to the fantastic beasts plot, and just manages to keep interest in the secondary, larger plot. Barely. I’ll say that part got tiring for me. I’ll go more into the secondary plot in the spoilers section. But come to the movie for the Harry Potter universe. Stay for the fantastic beasts. It’s charming and enjoyable.

Now for some spoilers on the seconday plot.

I mean, I say secondary plot but it’ll be more important overall to the world of Harry Potter rather than Newt finding his magical creatures. It just doesn’t have any immediate point in this movie.

So, the character of Graves, whom I didn’t talk much about. He looks super shady, and he’s doing shady things, but throughout the movie I wasn’t really sure of his motivation. There’s this thing called the obscurai, which is a dangerous magical creature, but they never really said anything about how to control it. And by all accounts, it’s not possible. Yet that’s what Graves wants to do.

It sort of feels like his entire thing was simply to have a big, awesome battle at the end. And then, bam, Graves is gone. I actually thought he was an interesting character before the reveal. Afterwards, its a bit more what and why is this happening? It really feels like just adding in for the sake of connecting this movie to the further ones.

Althought I’ll say that his movie is worth a second watch. I’m sure you’ll pick up on all sorts of new things with the information you have from the end of the movie. I’ll probably do it, though not in theaters.

Maze Runners: Scorch Trial

I dunno. I’ll be honest and say that this has been sitting around for a while before I finally decided to watch it. The first one was alright, though really vague. But I just wasn’t in the mood for more apocalyptic future young adult novels. This movie did nothing to change my mind about that.

So, Maze Runners: Scorch Trials takes place right after the first movie. The children have escaped the maze and have been taken to a compound. But, oh no, the compound guys are evil, too! The plot mostly moves along in a predictable manner.

I will say I thought the ruined cities we got to see look really good. Also, those zombie monsters were really creepy. This is a pretty brutal movie, as follows since so many people already died in the first movie.

Aside from those times, the movie mostly consists of scenes of action and not that much else. I can’t remember one important thing Newt did. At least Minho got an awesome knee in. It’s like everyone not Thomas and the newly introduced characters are just there because they were there at the end of the last movie.

No one really changed or grew. We just finally got more answers compared to before. I think the problem with these films are that they are made intending to be part of a series, that’s why nothing’s resolved within one film and everything is so dragged out. At least we got more answers in this film.

Nice stylings on the post-apocalyptic city, everything else proceeded as expected. No character really stands out, especially with so many of them being plain unimportant to the story in this installment.

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange is the latest film in the Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, and it is an awesomely trippy movie with some of the best effects I’ve seen. Doctor Strange follows how Stephen Strange becomes one of the most powerful sorcerers in the world. There will be some spoiler thoughts about the film in the second half, but I’ll be sure to say when.

So, to start with, I saw the movie in IMAX because I heard the effects in this were out of this world. And they were. The movie has some of the most awesome background scenes I’ve seen. Everything is in motion and totally weird. The effects are so fun and trippy.

Of course, a movie can’t survive on the effects alone, no matter how good they are. But Marvel knows what they’re doing. They have the Marvel formula of making things fun with some jokes, not taking themsevles too seriously. But then they also know how to hit the serious parts.

Perhaps the early parts of the movie goes a bit too fast, but I also think if they lingered on the training aspect of magic too long, things would start to get boring. Later on, once the action starts to get going, everything plays out really well.

The entire climax part was amazing. I’ll go in more about it later, but it was an awesome series of scenes all around.

The characters, too, were all done well. Doctor Stephen Strange showed a lot of pain all while keeping his attempts at humor intact. Christine Palmer was pretty good. She didn’t appear much, but she was important every time she did so. The Ancient One is good all around. Mordo’s cool. Wong’s great. Yeah, everyone does their role well. Marvel knows how to cast and characterize.

The main antagonist of the film (not even going to bother trying to spell his name) was cool. I’m not one of those people that thinks Marvel needs to make their villains more complex. If they’re going to be around for more than one movie, sure, but movies are different than comics. Movies can’t have a super long run time, and this movie needs to set up Doctor Strange first. While they could have given more time to the main antagonist, I understood his motivations enough that it wasn’t overly necessary. I like him the way he is.

Really fun movie with great visuals all over. Yeah, it’s an origin story, but not one we’ve seen before. And I’m fine with the main antagonist.

Now for some spoilers.

For all those complaining that Marvel villains needs more depth, you’re getting it. For readers of the comics, you probably already know Mordo will be the bad guy. This movie shows why he’s becoming the bad guy. And come on, the guy’s name is one letter away from Mordor.

I just want to point out the effects of the movie again. That hands growing out of hands thing was wack.

And the final battle was amazing. Instead of destroying the city, the city’s already destroyed and it’s getting built back up! And that has a lot of dangers too as stone is flying back into place. It still looks great and is really inventing.

The final showdown with Dormammu is really dark if you think about it. I mean, whoa. It works, but Doctor Strange really went all out there. And it also shows just how powerful Dormammu is while still letting Doctor Strange save the day.

Ocean’s Eleven, My Favorites

This is the first installment of a new blog series entitled, My Favorites. This is, simply enough, some of my favorite pieces of media from all ranges. Though likely there will not be many art media here or comic books. So this will focus on regular books, movies, TVs and video games.

Remember, these are just my tastes, and my taste skews towards fun and quirky rather than deep explorations of humanity and stuff like that. Ew, biopics.

I just recently rewatched Ocean’s Thirteen so I thought that Ocean’s Eleven would be a good first entry. And this would be the George Clooney-starring remake, not the original one. I also enjoy the entire Ocean’s trilogy, so there will be a bit about each movie. Speaking of which, I am rather excited for the sequel to the Ocean’s trilogy with a female cast.

There will be some spoilers here and there.

Ocean’s Eleven is a heist movie. Of course having more people in the team means less money per individual, but more people is also more fun. And each member of the team is likeable and a decent person. Sure, they’re thieves, but they’re gentlemen about it, most of them anyway.

Ocean’s Eleven, and the movie trilogy as a whole, is just fast and loose fun. You never know when the characters are just putzing around and when they are doing something important. Things just fly by with little to no explanation, and it’s pretty great. You see professionals work in a capacity that they don’t even need to fully communicate.

That gives the films quite some fun rewatch possiblities. On first viewing, I missed a lot of stuff that became important later on. Even on the second viewing I still missed some things. But the movies are fun enough that I enjoyed watching them more than once, each time knowing more than the previous time.

The main fun of Ocean’s Eleven, for me anyway, is seeing so many characters working together. It does feel crowded at times, but a team of eleven works really well. The main characters are Danny, Rusty and Linus. At times, the other characters are there just for fun and to get thing done, but they are each given enough personality to be memorable.

I really like how Terry Benedict stay’s relevant throughout the movie, though he does become less threatening as the movies go on.

The movies never feel too crowded. Everyone does their part will and the smooth-talking goes on at a fast pace. These movies are fun the first time through and even better on rewatching since you’ll now when Ocean and his team are doing something important. The best part is the movie doesn’t point out anything.

I just like how slick the movie is.