Ready Player One

When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I wanted to see it, but I didn’t have a lot of hopes for it being good. Then I saw it, and it turned out much better than I thought. The trailer shows a lot of crazy things with characters from everywhere. Ignore that. It’s a small part of the movie, and it’s not really the characters, just player avatars. So you don’t need to know who is who and where they come from since they won’t act like the characters they’re based on. However, it is still great to see what a world would be like if video game enthusiasts ran it.

The movie is about the online game known as the Oasis. It is like a second world, and most people prefer to be in there since the real world sucks. There keys in the game that are like easter eggs, and the first player to find all three of them will get ownership over the Oasis. Our main character, Parzival, is a regular guy in real life. But in game, he becomes famous for finding the first key. He is joined by others do find the 3 keys before a greedy corporation does so they can keep the game free.

The story really feels like a throwback to old times. There is a simple boy meets girl romance, they want to fight a big, evil corporation. And, for some reason, the references are mostly from the 80’s to 90’s despite being set in 2045. Guess nothing great came out after that time until the Oasis.

The world of the Oasis is all CG, and it works really well. The real world is pretty interesting, too. I’m glad the real world is more than just our current world. You get to see a lot of technologies and how people live. Though some things are still pretty familiar. I’ll just chalk it up to most people we see being too poor to afford the cool stuff.

The movie gets some pretty flashy and intricate scenes, but it doesn’t become difficult to follow. It strikes a real good balance between having something interesting all over the place without overloading the audience. The visuals are great all over and the actions scenes are fun and different each time. I so want the Oasis to be real as soon as possible. I would be one of those types in there.

The story is really old-fashioned. A small group fights against a large corporation and wins the heart of the common people. But it’s still a fine story that brings back some fun memories. The characters are pretty cool. Most of them have some hidden depth, but not much. Mostly, come for the great world and scenes. It is a treat all the way through.

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How I Look at a Movie’s Reception

Alright, that was a long title. But it’s most accurate to what I want to say. And this is specifically for movies. I tend not to look into critical receptions of TV shows. They’re easier to watch and tend to be an hour or less, so I don’t have any real reason not to check out something that might be interesting. Other than lack of time, of course.

But for movies, I find myself using Rotten Tomatoes now to decide what movies to watch. I do know what their meter means. It just shows the percentage of people that said, “Yes,” to the movie versus those that said, “No.” It is not indicative of quality. But I find that I am a commoner, and I will like what most people likes.

Does that mean I won’t enjoy movies that score low on the meter? Not at all. Before I used Rotten Tomatoes, I would just go to movies. I checked out some of them on the site and there were a few rotten ones, but I still enjoyed them.

So why am I using them now? Mostly as an easy way to filter out things I possibly want to see but turn out that it might not be worth it. There are just so many movies coming out. Now, I haven’t measured or anything, but I think each progressive year, more and more movies are coming out. So I want a simple way to decide see in in theaters or watch it later on TV. I’m still seeing them, just not paying movie theater prices. And I’m pretty certain I’ll still enjoy them.

Now I usually don’t read the reviews. Ironic for a guy that writes reviews, isn’t it? I just stick to an overall score. It works for me. I get to hone in on stuff that will most likely be really enjoyable, and for the stuff that might not be, I’ll catch it later. I’m in no rush.

For a recent example, I wanted to see A Wrinkle In Time. But based on the overall reception to it, I think I’ll catch it on-demand or on TV later. It says nothing about how much I’ll enjoy the film, but just how much I think it’s worth traveling to the theater and paying ticket prices to see it.

For some films, I’ll see it anyway, regardless of overall reception. Those are films that are in the genre I really enjoy. For now, it’s mostly superhero films. Went to see the DC universe films and those tend to have less than warm things said about them. But I liked the films. Another film I’ll probably see is Ocean’s 8 regardless of what’s said about it because I want to.

That’s how I use the critical reception. Not to tell me what to see and what not to see, because I already know what I like, but to  tell me what I would prefer to see in theaters versus watching them at home.

Home

Huh, where should I begin with this film? I enjoyed it, overall, especially the atmosphere and feeling of the movie. It does feel really odd in pacing, though. Home is about aliens invading Earth, the Boovs. But they’re nice and benevolent aliens that are just full of themselves. They’re constantly on the run from the Gorg, a race of alience that follow and destroy all of the Boov’s homes.

Of course, Earth is already inhabited, so the Boovs relocate all of the locals, all except for one girl, Tip. She’s on a mission to find her mother. Along the way, she runs into Oh, the different Boov. Oh is not like the others, and he messes up a lot. The movie follows their adventures, as Tip tries to find her mother and Oh tries to avoid being captured after one too many mistakes.

Both main characters are pretty fun to follow. Oh is charming in his mannerisms. The other Boov sort of act like he does, but Oh just does it in a nice way. And Rihanna as Tip does a great job of being a young girl that’s going through a whole world of emotions.

The plot is interesting and one I really enjoyed. The Boov, while the enemy of humanity, is shown to be well-meaning overall. They just don’t consider things outside of their own point of view. The Gorg feels much more menacing, and they come into the story late after being mostly alluded to.

The pacing is the thing that feels strange about this film. The Tip and Oh bond slowly over the course of the film, and there’s a montage that comes after the first major victory. But the main threat of the movie doesn’t show up until later, and Tip really doesn’t care about them much at all. The other antagonist, the Boov captain doing all of the poor decisions, just sort of gets pushed aside and that’s that.

The story is fun and different, though. I’ll talk about it more in the spoiler section. And the visuals of the movie are fun with all sorts of alien shenanigans going on. There’s a lot of songs in the film, and I think they fit the scenes well. The relationship between Tip and Oh works as they fight, come together, fight again, come back together. It’s a great movie with perhaps an obvious twist at the end, but it’s a fun watch.

Alright, spoilers for the plot.

What I enjoy a lot is how really, the Captain of the Boovs is the only bad guy. He causes everything due to his inept cowardness. The Gorg, while they look really menacing, is also sympathetic, perhaps more so than most of the Boovs. But the Boov change for the better by the end of the story.

The Croods

A prehistoric adventure with a cave family and the apparent end of the world! It’s like a more serious version of Ice Age: Continental Drift. But the movie isn’t that serious. It does treat everything smarter and tells a good story with its cast. The movie follows the Crood family, especially the adventureous daughter: Eep, and the overprotective father: Ugg.

Ugg wants to do everything the same as always and hide in the cave. Eep wants to see what else is out there and runs into another cave man, Guy. Guy happens to be slightly more evolved. He brings out ideas while being not as great physically. Oh, and the continents are breaking apart.

Hilarity ensues as Guy trys to escape the coming disaster with the Croods following along. What I really like about the film is the fantasy element of it. I don’t know much about prehistoric animals, but I’m pretty certain there were no land whales or tigers with giant heads. But it adds a fun and wonder-filled element to the movie that doesn’t feel out of place at all. The visuals are great in this.

Ugg is actually the person that changes most while Eep and Guy mostly just matures over the course of their adventure. But Ugg is done really well.

One thing I like about the movie is how there’s no bad guy. Too many disaster movies feel the need to throw in some jerk or other for some reason. Not here. Alright, maybe Ugg, but he’s not that bad at all. You can feel everyone’s point, even though Ugg’s is pretty obviously in the wrong for their situation.

The finale is a pretty great spectacle that brings together a lot over the course of the movie.

If there’s one thing I’ll complain about, it would be Guy’s backstory. Now I did watch the TV version, so it might have been cut out, but the part where Guy explains what happened to his family sort of came out of nowhere. It’s just really lucky Guy and Ugg landed in the exact situation for Guy to explain his tale.

Other than that, the film is great fun all around with a great cast, cool animals, and a fanciful locale.

300: Rise of an Empire

I saw a TV version, so I will blame TV edits for most of the fight scenes being worse than the original 300. And I’m pretty certain that’s accurate since they cut out most of the direct hits. But there is something worse about the fights that can’t be excused by TV edits, and that’s the overuse of slow motion. I know it was awesome in the first film, but this time, they use it so much more.

300: Rise of an Empire, is the sequel to 300. Perhaps it came too late for people to still be interested, though. I liked seeing more of the war, how some other parts of Greece was doing, but the film doesn’t execute as well as the first one on most things.

This time, we follow Themistocles, an Athenian general and his defense of the coast. Now him, I liked. He’s great and works as a counterpart to Leonidas. Themistocles is the tactician. He has sly strategies that helps his group claim victory against an overwhelming Persian navy.

The other characters on the Greeks side, though, feel mostly forgettable. Like knockoffs of what they had in the first 300.

I do like what they did to the Persians in this film, though. It gave a lot more context to the war. It’s not historically accurate, but I appreciate how the Persians are no longer some monstrous army. And the main antagonist of the film, Atermisia, is done really well. She’s an intense character that commands the screen whenever she shows up and works really well as someone to fight Themistocles. Atermisia has a intense backstory, and it shows through her modern actions. Her intensity is just always turned way up.

Overall, I do want to see more of the war between Greeks and Persians told through an over the top style, but they need to make things better than the original 300.

Star Wars Rebels, Series Finale

Aw, it’s over. It was quite a wonderful journey. Star Wars Rebels is an animated show set in the Star Wars universe. When it first started, the exact timeframe was a bit ambiguous. All we knew was that it was some time before Episode 4 and after Episode 3, closer to 4. It started off as a bunch of individual episodes on the crew of the Ghost, including Jedi Kanan and his new apprentice, Ezra Bridger. Together, they get a lot of growth throughout the series with Ezra becoming pretty formidable in his own right.

But wait, doesn’t that mean there are other Jedi out there in the Universe when Luke should be the only one around? Well, the series does explain that.

The other members of the Ghost are all great, as well. And as always, Star Wars really knows how to make a cool and engaging droid character, even if Chopper only speaks in beeps. All of the droids are legimate characters with their own stories at times.

As the show goes on, it gets more and more settled into the galaxy of Star Wars. I was really glad to find out it only takes place a few years at most before Episode 4. And towards the end of the series, it was probably right before the start of Rogue One.

The last season of Star Wars Rebels starts several long storylines instead of a few shorter ones. They really put the characters through a lot of stuff, but they come out better and stronger than before. It’s a bit of a change, but it really makes the last season feel grand.

The final conflict goes back to Lothal, Ezra’s home planet. The show started there, and it ends there with the Rebels trying to get the Empire off and retaking the planet. To do that, they call in all the allies they accumulated over the course of the series. None from the Rebellion, though, since the Rebellion is busy dealing with the Empire in other locations. So it’s just their little rebel band.

It brings the show back to a more initimate setting, where everyone is important and has a stake in what’s going on.

The show also doesn’t forget about mystical Force stuff. There was a lot of wonder in the previous seasons, and there is a lot of it in this season. The Force feels so wonderful and amazing here. There are quite a bit of amazing pieces going on.

Star Wars Rebels is a great addition to the Star Wars story. It might feel a bit kiddy at times, but then at other times they go and do some serious stuff that shows a lot of heart from everyone. And as the show gets more settled into the galaxy, it just gets better. I so want more from the animated side of Star Wars. Perhaps a sequel series, eh? The ending left much to be explored.

Cloud Atlas

I fee like I need to read something to process what I watched. Alright, I’m exaggerating a bit. This movie tells six (I think) stories about the same characters that get reborn in different times. That means the same actors are playing multiple people. Individually, I understood all of the stories aside from the future of Neo Seoul. Combined, I’m not sure if it was worth the effort.

Does the premise of the movie work? Having the same actors in their different lives throughout time? For the most part, yes, I enjoyed that. It added some extra emotion to scenes. For other characters, it was pointless to have same actors playing them.

The makeup was done pretty well, though. There were times I didn’t even realize characters were played by the same actor. However, I could always tell when characters were wearing a mask.

The stories are cool pretty cool and cover a wide range of styles and tone. And while the movie jumps around a lot, I was never confused by what was happening. I could keep track of what story I was in and at what point of the story, so good on the editing.

But taken as a whole, it doesn’t feel as grand as it wants to be. I already mentioned that above, I know. the stories all chain together, but it’s not hugely important to figure out how they link. Out of the plots, I enjoyed the After Fall one the best. I think it’s cool and shows off a interesting world.

Hmm, this sort of feels like the movie where I would pick up on new information on a rewatch, but this movie is almost 3 hours long. Once is enough for me. It was a fun ride, though, that I enjoyed. All six stories were pretty fun to watch, and they stayed coherent through a lot of jumping around. If you have time to spare, its a fun story with many different tones going on.

Also, the ending credits was cool seeing which actors played which characters. That was fun.