Coco

Now, of course there will be multiple movies on similar subjects, but I still can’t help but compare this movie to The Book of Life, another animated film about the Day of the Dead. The Book of Life was great, and I think it made Coco less wondrous for it. Oh well. Coco is still really good.

This movie is about family, following dreams and all that. I would say the story isn’t all that surprising. But it’s told in a great backdrop of the Day of the Dead. Things are colorful, imaginative and fantastic all around. The regular world is alright. It’s normal.

The story is about Miguel, a young boy that wants to become a musician. Unfortunately, his family hates music because their great, great grandfather ran away to become a musician and never returned, forcing the great, great grandmother to handle the family all on her own. Oh, Coco? Coco is the name of his great grandmother. There is a good reason why her name is in the title, though.

Since he goes to the land of the dead, of course we’ll be seeing Miguel’s ancestors. He gets drawn into the land of the dead, a wonderfully realized place that is full of life and fun. The characters there are fantastic. I had fun watching everyone Miguel meets, especially his great, great grandmother and great, great grandfather.

The plot is pretty normal, though. Nothing really surprising going on there, which I think is unfortunate. I’ll go a bit more into it in the spoiler area. But Coco is a fine movie with a more normal plot. It is brought to life by some great characters and a great world.

Now for spoilers! Do not read beyond here.

So, the guy that you think is Miguel’s great great grandfather turns to to be a murderer! I wanted him to really be Miguel’s great great grandfather. But no, the movie takes the normal way out by having the lovable rascal that’s been helping Miguel through the land of the dead be his real great, great grandfather all along. I wanted to see what would have happened if his great, great grandfather had been a despicable guy.

But it is a movie that’s well worth seeing. It has music, heart and fun abound.

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Avengers: Infinity War

Wowee. The final battle for the Infinity Stones begins. Thanos is now on the warpath, and he wants all sixe of them. I will try not to have too much spoiler information here. From the outset, Thanas is set up to be a huge threat. The main focus of the film is on him. We already know and love the heroes, now it is time to get to know the one that has been causing the bad events for much of the previous films.

Thanos has his group of super-powerful minions, each one considered a match for an Avenger. But the movie makes it clear that Thanos doesn’t really need them. He has them do some legwork, but he can handle everything by himself. After waiting so long, Thanos does not disappoint on strength, backstory, impact and presence. There’s no messing around with him.

Almost all of the heroes are around, from the space side to the Earth side. They’re divided into two teams for easier handling, with a smaller side team of Thor and a couple of others. It makes the large group feel manageable. With as many characters as is in the film, it doesn’t feel too crowded, and everyone gets a chance to shine. The movie knows who should play off one another for great effect. There are some interactions that I want to see, but what they showed was fun for all.

The pacing is done well, and there’s not much need to introduce anyone. They just hope you’ll remember everything that happened previously. I do, so it’s fine. Some people might not, though.

This movie takes a huge dark turn in tone. There is still humor, but it becomes apparent that its the characters trying to cope with all that’s going on. The heroes struggle and get beat down. How will they stand up again?

Infinity Wars is a such an awesome ride with great action scenes. The fights Thanos participates in are spectacular. There are some grand action scenes with his minions and the forces of Earth, too. They have several emotional scenes, not just between the heroes, but with Thanos as well.

I’m not going to have any spoiler thoughts. Infinity Wars is the start of what was set up all the way back in Captain America: The First Avenger. For fans of superhero movies, it has all the action and heroes you can handle. But it knows how to throw in the slower scenes that build up everything.

On to the next Avengers movie. I can’t wait.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

The initial premise felt pretty different from the first Jumanji movie. Instead of things coming out of the game, the players go into the game? Everything is flipped! Of course, this was also the case with the Jumanji cartoon, which I watched and enjoyed. This film is a update on the film. The board game is now a video game, though one that still uses cartridges.

The movie is fun. I laughed a lot through it, and it had over the top jungle rampages. Despite the change in setting. It still feels like Jumanji, though a nicer one. The game, while still kind of a jerk, doesn’t seem to be as mean as in the original movie. The movie did feel like it lacked surprise. I was waiting for some kind of twist or something, but nope, none ever came. But it was solid all around.

The characters are four teenagers, all with their problems that they overcome while going through the game. There is the coward learning to be brave. The jock learning to do things through more than just muscle. The self-absorbed girl learning to care for others. And the shy girl becoming more confident. Not hugely imaginative, but it works well in the film.

They get sucked into the game and become their avatars, which is hilarious. Now we have Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan acting like jerkish and insecure teenagers. Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black and Karen Gillan does really well in their roles. Especially Jack Black, who is playing the self-absorbed girl. Kevin Hart feels sort of like he does in every other role, which would be fine, but the teenager that turns into him did not act like that at all in the real world.

The main human villain of the movie felt pretty lackluster, though. I’ll go into it more in the spoiler section, but he really feels like a non-factor throughout. Probably because he’s a preprogrammed NPC.

The movie is fun and works really well. It still captures the feel of Jumanji, a jungle game that is trying to mess with the players and (maybe?) make them better people. I enjoyed the original more, but this one is great, too.

Some spoiler thoughts.

There is a fifth member of the team, something that is easy to pick up on in the film. Still, he’s a spoiler. I enjoyed him, too, but I wanted more of his life before he became trapped in Jumanji, like how we saw a lot of Alan in the first film. I know that would cause problems with pacing, because this time, the game can’t even start until they’re inside, which would leave a lot of time with no Jumanji at all. Still, we don’t know if the fifth member had any problems he needed to grow from or anything. He’s just there.

And onto the villain. He is pretty non-important despite having magical powers to control animals and a pretty neat look. The problem is, like everything else in the game, he’s only an NPC. He doesn’t have any personal connection to the main characters or that many cool scenes. He’s just there to move the plot along.

From the original movie, Van Pelt felt personal for Alan, was threatening to all the players and generally interesting. The villain here, is not and is the weakest part of the movie. The interaction between the main characters is really where this film is at, and that is done well.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, is a surprising and fun sequel to a movie I liked a lot.

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.

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.