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DHKR - Aladdin (2019)
This is a hard review for me to write. Half of me really wants to love it like for Beauty and the Beast (which, looking back, may have been over-praised but still had it's moments), while the other wants to tear it down piece by piece like for Cinderella's Remake in 2015.
Pros + The setting really brings you back to Agrobah. Even if some spots look spotty design-wise, you do feel like you are transported back in time. It's undeniable that without it, the rather simplistic story would've dragged. (Which, admittedly, holds true for the original) + The songs from the original are still as good as they were all those years ago. some spots and additions make a few dragged down, but for the most part they still retain their energy and bounciness. + Jafar, while a far cry from the original, was surprisingly remade. This is not the deliciously evil snake from the original, yes, but somehow you can feel it. This Jafar is thief turned vizier, essentially corrupt by ambition. it's practically venomous.
- The movie has an issue with what to leave in and what to leave out. Being a crushing 2 hours and 8 minutes, as opposed to the original's hour-and-a-half. It may not seem like a lot, but it's how the time is used, not adding to the story, but rather just adding filler in the form of extra characters and songs. 'Why was one scene lost so another lesser new could be added?' It makes one think what could've been to bring the movie above.
- The genie, sadly, disappoints. Not to say he wasn't funny or energetic, because in many points who actually promises a lot. Even if he wasn't Robin Williams, which is a hard role to fill, there was promise....for the first half. After that, its heavily toned down save for a few scant flicks of magic, just to remind you 'oh yes, this is the genie, remember?' It almost makes sad sense as a comparison to the movie itself.
- The new songs, specifically Speechless, leaves a lot to be desired. It's more of a mini-point relating to 'what must go, what must be added', and these songs clearly feel just patched in just to lengthen scenes that don't need to be. It'd be like remaking Toy Story, and giving Sid a villain song about how he's going to burn the toys for four minutes, when he could use four seconds to give you what you need. It's pace-breaking.
- Why wasn't that ending crazier? One thing Aladdin is known for, along with the Genie, obviously, was how Sorcerer Jafar really goes all out with his magic. the palace really corrupts, the princess is trapped in that hourglass, there's fire breathing and the guy turns into a massive snake(which was actually one of my brother's favorite parts in the original), all culminating with him becoming an all-powerful genie. All of this is sadly gone in the remake. The worst of Jafar's magic does is force-choke the Sultan, and maybe turn Iago into a large Roc. When you have the money that Disney has, you have money to burn, so don't bring up "it wouldn't work because the budget." The whole "Friend Like Me" scene from early on was a spectacle, so why not make this a grand finale? It would've went off with a bang, rather then a fizzle.
Final Thoughts: This movie is no Diamond in the Rough...its more like a Geode. It's got rough portions within and without, but you see sparkling crystals that promise magic. But, as Aladdin says, "Would you see that if you looked closer?" Sadly, while it was dazzling all around...it had little of worth all things considered.
The Equalizer 2 (2018)
DHKR - The Equalizer 2
TL;DR Version: While yes, there's a lot of action scenes that, for a most part, feel satisfying for an action movie of this caliber, Equalizer 2 unfortunately fails to recreate the magic of the original. What's left is, at best, a generic action movie, and at worst, a boring mess that only shares the title character and the name of the series.
Long Version: I was weirdly apprehensive about seeing a sequel to the Equalizer, the ultra violent fun time that came out in 2014. Yes, I would be excited to see a movie that shared a similar scale of vigilante justice and uber violence, made fresh thanks to it's concept of the character's super OCD. But something just rubs you the wrong way when you see the trailer and feel...indifferent.
How could a sequel live up to the delicious blend of good triumphing over a devilish evil in the form of a showdown in a hardware store with one man going against not only a bloodthirsty Russian assassin crime boss, but his gang of morals killer gangsters? It wouldn't be impossible, but it would be quite an ordeal.
Unfortunately, we never get that. In fact, we don't get much in terms of the Equalizer 2, a very disappointing sequel, in which the best we get is the same trope of 'conspiracy' and too many side plots that feel sort of forcibly stitched together.
Now, the original Equalizer did episodic style side plots, and they felt cohesive to the movie, since they were still somehow connected to the main plot. And, since the plot took place in a nice, compressed stage, with only one detour near the very end. This was to be an homage to the British TV show it's based off of, to my knowledge.
But here, all these plots felt like they were part of separate drafts, or even scripts to other movies, but the director just had no idea what to do, and ambitiously, for better or worse, lump them all together.
And that's not even getting to the main A-Plot, which feels generic at best, where the obvious traitor lures a character to get killed off in Brussels for a mission, and it all culminates with the obvious bad guys being revealed to be the obvious bad guys. You know they're the bad guys since they're Private Military Contractors that sell their skills to the highest bidder, wear olive-drab military uniforms and kevlar armour, and all have the similar white skin tones as all bad guys in these minority led action movies. They also spend their time kicking puppies, torturing orphans, and burning down retirement homes.
Ok, not so much the last part, but they are unfortunately lacking in any other character besides the whole 'bad guy' thing, which the original also did, but far better.
Speaking of what the original did better, remember those parts where Denzel seemed to know what could be turned into a killing tool, how to kill all the bad guys with skill, precision, and speed? Well, they do have this...twice. One at the very beginning on a train to Turkey, and a second time in some penthouse with the most obvious scummy douchebags cinema could spit up. The rest of the film does the Action Film Tango, killing guys a la Tom Cruise or what not. Which, even then, its far tamer than it's older brother.
That is, when the action even starts at all. For whatever the reason, the movie focuses on it's many subplots, which aren't even that interesting. We have a holocaust survivor trying to get back a painting of his sister, a vaguely middle eastern woman's mural getting defaced, a sort of 'father son' dynamic with an art school drop out in an attempt to feel a bit like the original...which takes a good chunk of the run time. at these moments, it feels less like the Equalizer, and more like a modern-version of Fences, which was also a Denzel movie.
On their own, they could've been just fine, but together, it feels a little half-assed. Like these two things needed more of their strengths on their own, but they just spliced it together. It just makes the movie feel, what I would never expect to call an Equalizer movie, boring.
It's bad when, during the bookend of the movie, you're rooting for the bad guys to just take the shot and end the film via a Bad Ending. but really, how things go in the movie's normal good ending, four to five contractors die, one of which is confirmed to be a family man with two daughters. Yes, they're depicted as being cruel and evil, but what are we gonna take from this? Killing for justice and retribution is ok, but doing the same for making a living is inherently bad? I thought killing was supposed to be bad all around? How would the family react? what about the others that may have families too? would they at least feel concerned at the sudden disappearance of a loved one? Or do they matter as little as one guy that was kidnapped and an informant who was murdered because of their connection to the main character? It's a big part of the Morality question, even with a character with a keen sense of justice like the Equalizer.
Yes, Denzel's a great actor in this, and yes the suspense is phenomenal. I'm just personally disappointed by how sloppy and bumpy the finished product is, along with the looming feeling of the 'Morality Question'. Is it a movie i'd recommend? probably not. Maybe if more time was there to really iron the flaws out, it could've been really good and maybe surpass the original. Unfortunately, this isn't what we get at all. and that's the saddest part of this tragedy.
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
DHKR: Beauty and the Beast (2017)
TL;DR version: This is probably going to be one of my most conflicted reviews I've ever written. On the one hand, I get to talk trash about another live action remake from Disney. On the other hand, it also has a lot of things going for it that I could even consider it to be a huge improvement to the disaster that was Cinderella (2015). Please keep in mind this is also after some time of recollecting the film and comparisons to the 1991 animated version, so take this review with a grain of salt.
With that in mind, let's get on with it.
This movie does not exactly do the original justice by any stretch of the word. Many parts of it unfortunately felt as if it was more of a hollow shell of what it could've potentially been, and that's probably the worst thing going for it. Well, there a three parts to why it does not stand to the original, and one of which might not affect your viewing pleasure, or displeasure.
One major problem was mostly in regards of how it tries to lengthen the story and how it also somehow drains it of what made it so good in the first place. It's pretty much a word for word, copy-pasted version of the animated movie, just with extra bits and songs added in to lengthen it's runtime. In many cases, it didn't really work out, and it gave me some flashbacks of Cinderella (2015). Songs that were added in this case were executed poorly to the point where it felt as if they were added in mere days before release. There was, however, a good use of added time where it did seem to work in a shocking emotional gut punch, but it's small compared to the unfortunately lacking remainder of the story it leads to.
Another problem, which was actually a variable, was the use of 3D. Seeing this in an IMAX theatre, 3D glasses and all with everything going on, it is enough to make you nauseas. Whether it was the scene involving a snowball(which, spoiler alert, was the only reason it was probably released for 3D, no joke), or just how most of the film was just moving all over the place in speed, that might make give you a small migraine at best, and close to getting you sick Worst Case Scenario. this is only with the 3D version, so if you were to go to the movie, I would probably recommend seeing it in 2D.
The third and probably the worst problem going for it was the look of it. It's a beautiful looking movie, don't get me wrong, but it's still chuck full of some of the worst looking, uncanny kinds of CGI I had seen. It tries to make these figures as realistic as possible and have them look somewhat human as well. In some cases, it looks OK, like with Lumierre, and maybe Cogsworth. In others, it was downright scary to the point where i wouldn't recommend this to young children.(Chip STILL creeps me the heck out!) Outside of CGI, the Beast's look was pretty underwhelming as well. Rather than a menacing monster, it looks more like a guy in a furry body suit. It's impressive, and props to the designers for making him look as real as he could, but all I see is more of a thin, brown version of Asgore Dreemurr from Undertale rather than the Beast as most would probably recognize.
It's sad. At first, I really thought this was going to be a good film, which it still can be at many times. Characters are pretty much the same from the original, and it dosen't bastardize Belle like the other Live Action movie did so with Cinderella, and it actually made her a bit more dynamic here. Gaston is still the braggart, womanizing hunter, if a little toned down, and the Beast is also still the kind of broken-hearted monster that learns to love. All of it is still there. However, when stacked up to the original, I honestly can't see any real contest. It has good moments, and it has terrible ones, but overall it's more of a sad, underwhelming film that had great potential.
C-Ranking, 2.5/5 Stars.
DHKR: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
The best way to describe this movie is a strange combination with childish creativity and whimsy mixed in with a healthy dose of dark, adult, and even scary moments. Obviously, this being a Tim Burton film, that's to be expected. Although, it does has moments where it actually is quite brilliant and breaks through the mold that the previous, more uninspired recent films done by the same director. Alice Through the Looking Glass, while not really a terrible film, fits that category. It had creative ideas in it, but it barely utilized them to the fullest potential.
Miss Peregrine's HPC, however, is everything that Through the Looking Glass had going for it, expanded more in depth, and had a much better story holding it together. The children all have their weird powers and oddities, most of which have been seen from the trailer, but others show a great deal creativity. One child can project his dreams in a prophetic style and broadcast them like a movie projector. Another, not exactly seen from the trailer, had the ability to use hearts and make puppets out of otherwise nonliving beings. The twins, heavily advertised in the trailer but kept as secret as possible, quite possibly have the scariest looking powers you will see.
Another shining greatness in the movie are the villains, a group of Hollowghasts and evil Peculiars lead by Mr. Barron(played by none other than the great Sam Jackson). Originally, they were a group of scientists that wanted to gain immortality by extracting the energy from certain Peculiars, but instead they ended up as the disturbing, invisible Hollows(Which look kind of like Slenderman, but have long tentacles in their mouths). Some Hollows actually regained humanity by devouring the eyes of the Peculiar children.
If there's a single fault in the movie, it would have to be the main character. Asa Butterfield is just annoying in this one. His character has no real problem, honestly, I just disliked his voice in this one. It was that strange mix between adolescence and maturity that was grating to hear, and clashed with the many British accents that makes it seem like he doesn't belong. However, seeing that he's supposedly from a different time and country in the story, so I guess I can't really complain. besides, its one tiny fault in an otherwise great movie.
Go out and watch it if you're a fan of Tim Burton or just like dark children's movies in general.
Don't Breathe (2016)
DHKR: Don't Breathe
Don't Breathe is actually a really unique kind of horror movie that delivers what it advertises, and then some. Even if some of the extra stuff is kinda...out there for most viewers.
No Spoilers here, just recovered from a bad head cold, and I'm just getting back to writing reviews on here. All you need to know is the movie works well as a scary movie, much like last year's The Witch. And for those who have not seen that particular film, The Witch was a scary movie that was more aligned on the darker themes rather than the terrifying being itself. It felt less like a modern scary movie, and more like a very dark drama that just so happened to be about a witch.
Don't Breathe is pretty much like that; a very dark movie with themes of revenge, that just so happens to have a presence that's scary. In this movie's case, a psychopathic, blind Gulf War veteran simply known as "The Blind Man".
The plot is pretty simple for most horror fare. Three teenagers who expertly rob the houses in their dying neighborhood learn of the Blind Man's fortune, about 30,000 USDs, and presume to break in at night, believing it to be easy. However, they soon find out that this supposedly "easy" target is anything but, and one of the kids gets shot and killed off by the Blind Man. Soon, the movie turns into a game of cat and mice, as the remaining two thieves have to find the money and get out, before getting killed themselves by the psychotic war vet.
The movie goes out of its way to be as dark and original as it can with it's premise, and it well succeeds in that regard. The victim characters are set up as punish rogues with good hearts(at least two of the three are), which at least make them more sympathetic than the usual kind of idiots. The Blind Man is also set up as a sympathetic villain from the start, but that gets turned up on it's head after an actually well kept twist that I dare not spoil to those interested. The claustrophobic feel of each scene, combined with the super-senses that the villain has makes for some extremely tense moments that will leave you in a cold sweat.
I wish I could continue on, but I can't without spoiling some good twists. Go and watch the movie, and experience the horror yourselves.
DHKR: Cinderella Re-Review
Before I begin, I must give the movie's biggest message, that of "Having Courage and Being Kind", a word of apology. Having a courage and being kind, even in the face of the great hardship, is a good message, especially to those who have fallen on harsh times. Being someone who went through a parental divorce and having a hardening heart have jaded things for me personally, making it hard to have such courage or even being kind. Also, I feel as if I need to redo this review because my original one did not really delve deep into the film itself but rather became a personal soap box of my un-backed opinion.
However, even with all that said, Cinderella (2015) is still a very bad movie, and I think my burning hatred at the message was misguided. I don't hate the message at all. I just explained how it was actually a good one.
I hate the message because the movie does not even follow it to heart.
Yes, Cinderella is guilty of being exactly what many people perceive her to be; Feeble, Weak, and Passive. Sure, she says the message like it's gospel, but she strangely doesn't practice what she preached throughout the movie. Everything she does that should be like how any person with half a brain could understand seem to be dumbed down to an almost infantile way. Cinderella, who should be at least frustrated with each break down her, instead acts like a woman in an abusive relationship. She just smiles and just lets it all happen like it's supposed to happen.
The movie seems to confuse "Having Courage" and "Being Kind" with simply "Being Passive and Have Good Luck".
Being kind is not the same as being passive, in fact it's the complete opposite. Just as having courage is clearly not the same as having luck. Kindness is sometimes hurtful to one, but it's for the better in the end. Instead, Cinderella here has no such feeling, no rationale. Instead of being courageous, she clearly hides all her emotion and never actually rises up by her own merit, but rather only through the magic of luck. As well as sickeningly sweet and clearly "chick-flick" clichés that makes The Proposal look like a romantic classic
Obviously, it's not of the same quality as the 1950's Animated Classic, which was actually a pretty good film dealing with such themes better, if only bogged down with that classic Disney schlock(and those annoying bloody rats kinda ruin it for me, too). However, at least Cinderella there was actually more complex and someone you sympathized with. Here, the remake beats you over the head, not just with the message, but with how it makes you forced to sympathize with a flat, clichéd character played by a remarkably uninspired performance by Lily James.
By contrast, in what the movie actually got right here, the evil Stepmother is actually where most of my sympathy went. While that does break some of the dark characteristics from the 50's version, I think it makes for more character development, if only very briefly in the beginning and in the very end. However, the movie ruins that too, by having her pretty much axed off in the end along with the duke because....well, because it needed that sickeningly sweet ending for a happily ever after.
I still hate this movie, even if I believe that the message was a lot better than I thought. However, with how they portray Cinderella, along with a very super-saturated design choice that tries way too hard to be whimsical, the 2015 remake does not even pass the original Disney classic. Heck, I'm willing to bet that a Cinderella movie that has little to do with Cinderella would be better than this. When you make the evil Stepmother more sympathetic than the main character of your story, then you really screwed up as a movie.
Short Cuts: "Deadpool"
Short Version: Deadpool is a fun little gift to the fans, a strong comedy on its own, and just an all around blast to those who love things reminiscent of a live action cartoon. If you want to see something like this, even if you aren't a big fan of Deadpool or his humor, you'll still be quite satisfied.
I don't really want to make this a full on "Review", since doing so would spoil chunks of the movie. However, I will say that the movie is a very abnormal enigma. It's pretty much a live action cartoon with gracious violence, and yet also plays with other genres(Usually taking huge shifts in tone, like at the Weapon X building. You'll know when you see it)
I wouldn't recommend taking your young children to see this, because the adult stuff in here is reeeeaaaaly out there. However it does shift to a long cut of scenes involving such explicit content. However, if you want to see a comic book movie with a lot more of an edge, then I couldn't find a better film that came out as of late.
The Revenant (2015)
DHKR: The Revenant
Leonardo DiCaprio WILL do whatever it takes to win an Oscar. He'll get mauled by a grizzly bear, get buried alive, limp and crawl his way out of being buried, gut and sleep inside a horse a la Empire Strikes Back, and even do hand to hand combat with Mad Max himself. Guys, give the man his Oscar, or else he'll probably crucify himself with hot steel bars and barbed wires, before getting stabbed in the side with a harpoon by the Antichrist in the bowels of hell (or Indiana in June) to the irritating sounds of Pentatonix!
Not to any disservice to The Revenant itself, as it is a really damn good movie, and I really want to give special mention to the makeup department. Every gash, cut, scrape, splatter of blood, and wounds seeping with puss look terrifyingly realistic. You see the freshest of cuts slowly heal up and look as if they're getting infected. Combine this with how great DiCaprio's acting is in this, and you get a scarier feel of tension then in any horror film of recent memory. You see him slowly transform into a survivalist savage who's in constant pain. You never see Leonardo DiCaprio, but rather Hugh Glass, the character he plays.
Another mention goes to the director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, for how well he shows us such breathtaking and beautiful views of the frozen points of Canada to visually tell a story. Many points that lack dialogue are well done, especially when combined with DiCaprio's physical acting ability and the musical composition. It's a real match made in heaven
The Story, however, is the weakest part of the film. "The Revenant" is loosely based off the Michael Punke novel of the same name. I never read it, but I'm sure there were many deviations from it, as this is solely a survival film that has some generic revenge plot against a racist villain jumbled in, almost like a delicious bacon and chicken sandwich with melted Hagen Daz on top. It just feels forced and out of place, and it really dumbs down Tom Hardy's character to just another Clayton from Tarzan, only now he has a son that's that annoying ginger from "We're The Millers" and "The Maze Runner"
It doesn't really matter, since the visuals, acting, and composition save the film from being a mess. It's an easy recommendation for those who love a good survival film, and to everyone else should at least give it a look. It's a really good one.
Daddy's Home (2015)
DHKR: Daddy's Home
(Apologies, the lateness of the review was thanks to knee surgery over the holidays, so prepare to see a couple I the near future)
Daddy's Home is a pretty fun movie. It's a bit raunchy, oversteps its boundaries at times, and doesn't have the greatest story. However, it makes up for it with its humor, which you will either enjoy or loathe depending on your taste.
Me personally, the film was already on my list based on the premise alone, since I come from a divorced family(and that's as far as I'll go on that, since this is a review and not Doctor Phil). The story is about a stepfather, played by Will Ferrell, who tries gaining the love of his step-children. He's a very sickeningly sweet, by the parenting book figure, very typical of stepfathers. Before he can get his step-children's affection, the father calls unexpectedly and decides to pop in to reclaim his flock.
I was expecting the film to be bad but rather enjoyable, and for the most part that's what I got. However, there were plenty of surprise laughs that hit hard, mostly at the expense of Ferrell's well being. Not that it matters, since his character is very insufferable at some points that it makes it all the more satisfying.
The story's as predictable as you'd expect for a 'feel good family' movie. You know what happens at each point that it could probably make a good Mad Libs book. If you don't figure out that the two male leads become friends at least half way through, then you need to see more movies. However, it does take a few turns in the form of jabbing at it's clichéd narrative, in the form of a surprisingly funny joke...and that's where the film falls flat.
I guess the best way to describe it would be like a plain éclair; it's got a noticeably flat, flaky, dry taste in its story, but it's stuffed to the brim with so much cream inside that you don't really mind. That is if you like the cream they use.
The big thing I wish was more expanded on is with the children. Hear me out, a lot of children of divorced parents loathe their step parents with a fiery passion, myself included. The film does it well at the start, but then after a segway through pictures, they kinda drop it and say that he's loved now. It would've given the film a bit more internal conflict if they still hated him, had Ferrell work hard while trying to compete with Wahlberg to get their love, and then have a funny ending and resolution. Or at the very least, show segway in a better way to show it.
This isn't a perfect movie at all, it's not even that good. But it's one of the funnier movies I've seen in 2015. In the depressing world of Hollywood that include Leonardo DiCaprio getting mauled by a bear and Quentin Tarantino's bloody wild western version of Clue, isn't it fine to just watch a funny movie again?
The Good Dinosaur (2015)
DHKR: The Good Dinosaur
The Good Dinosaur isn't a masterpiece by any means. It's got plenty of flaws that really hold it back from being as Spectacular as it could've been, but you can't help but see the glimmer of Pixar magic that's inside. Is it Inside Out good? No, but it's better than what people give it credit for. It's certainly better than Tomorrowland ever wish it could be, anyway.
The Film's biggest strength is in it's visuals. This has to be one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen, and you'll be chewing up at the scenery for most of the running time, especially at those night time scenes. I'm giving props to those animators, who probably went through a hell of a cycle just to come out with a product. The visuals here, like in most good Pixar films, also help tell the story when their's a quiet moment. I can safely say that this was one of the few times I've ever teared up at any moment that I can call cliché. Even if it was done in so many other movies and some arguably better than this, those visuals sell it. I'm not gonna spoil it, but you might find out instantly if you've seen most Disney movies.
The storytelling, however, was hit-or-miss. Like I said before, those moments where it's just the visuals telling the story are just fried gold. There, you see the effort put in. However, there are moments in the film that either feel like either a misstep or a moment where it falls flat on it's face, the latter of which involved halucinahenic berries that feel terrifying. Most of the bad moments unintentionally falling on Arlo himself, even if I don't really want to beat up the actor too much as it wasn't his fault.
Another turn off this movie has is something you probably wouldn't hear from a Pixar movie; it's got really graphic moments that some children might find unsuitable at best and scary at worst. There's a moment of decapitation, tearing into limbs, and even a hefty amount of scars are prevalent. Now, I'm not a censor-buff thinking kids shouldn't see violence or scars, and there are moments with said scars are justifiable, but there are too many other parts that I felt was pushing it too far.
If there's any other saving grace the movie has, it's in its humor. There's enough humor in this film to help ease you out of the last violent scene. It isn't much, but it's something.
The latest Pixar movie isn't going to be remembered at this moment, but it's still worth watching with your kids if you think they can handle those dark moments. Give it a watch, and make your own mark.
Hell and Back (2015)
DHKR: Hell and Back- "Lives up to it's name"
Hell and Back might just be the best Stoner Comedy-Adult Claymation that takes place in Hell...only because it's the ONLY one.
Okay, now to be fair with this, I will say that the voice work of this film is...alright. The jokes vary from hit-and-miss (mostly though, they miss). The adult content has been amped up so much that it feels they just broke it off to see if it can go higher. Yes, this one of the raunchiest movies I've ever seen. Not just this year, period.
The story is about 3 'Bros' who work at a piece of crap of a ghetto carnival. While trying to figure out how to save it from being foreclosed, one of the main characters named Remy(Nick Swardon) locates a book of Beelzebub within the fortune teller's shack, and starts to get interested in it. Soon, his friends Augie(T.J. Miller) and Curt(Rob Riggle) show up, and Remy forces them in to some kind of satanic ritual over a mint. I wish I was kidding. Soon, Curt breaks his oath for not having a mint, and so he ends up going to Hell, and it's up to our two bro-tagonists to come and save the poor man from the Devil(Bob Odenkirk)
Now, the biggest problem with the film is dealing with the likability of our main characters, especially Remy. Remy is one of the worst written character's I've seen in a movie to date. He isn't funny in his jerkiness, he's just a bloody douche. Not only is he bad, but another character named Orpheus(played by Danny McBride) is just as badly written, if not worse then Remy. And these two BOND in their overblown, flanderized nature. Also, the Devil, for being the whole 'Prince of Darkness' and all, is very underwhelming. His jokes aren't funny in the slightest, and he has this other form where he's dressed like a hipster and it's stupid as hell. or in this case, stupid as there.
Jokes are a big part of comedy, and they need to be quick as so the audience can't think to hard on them, otherwise you risk having the audience unravel it and finding a sort of fridge horror behind it. Jokes in this movie drag out for too long, even the legitimately funny ones, and they feel rushed as a result. A noteworthy series of the good ones involve a suffering spirit trying to take punishments from a demon, but the punishments are really subpar and no big deal, and the demon ends it with "Heh heh, Welcome to Hell." However, those jokes are vastly outnumbered by toilet humor that feels like it belongs in a bad kid's movie, and stoner comedy that feels like the throwaway gags ripped from that movie American Ultra.
However, I can't help but see some light in the dark of this film. The animation looks OK, the music is good(and that includes the songs Orpheus sings), and the design of Hell is pretty good for what they got. I also found that the implied romance between Augie and the half-succubus Deema to feel nice and a good mold breaker towards the rest of the film's mediocrity. It's surprisingly traditional given that the demon herself is literally a female sex-crazed monstrosity. But, she and Augie are the closet we get to likable characters.
This is a big disappointment for me and for those who want to see a smartly written comedy. "Hell and Back", however, lived up to it's name. I wish it were better, but it's still an underwhelming, mediocre stoner film that just so happens to be claymation and in hell.
The Transporter Refueled (2015)
Darkhorse Unsaddled: Why "Refueled" is a Failure
There's a scene in the Transporter Refueled, where the "good guys" poison the hero's father with what looks like a vial of colorless chemicals that his beer was spiked with. An hour passes in the movie, and it turns out that it was unsurprisingly just tap water. Why unsurprisingly? Well, it's because Frank's dad never shows any sort of sign of dying. He doesn't even grunt in any discomfort. It's all just so the "good guys" can get money from an evil Russian syndicate that specializes in pimping women out.
There, I just saved you 90 minutes of your life from one of the most unbearably boring action movies of 2015. It's also one of the most pretentious pieces of cinematic trash I've ever seen, too. The movie only takes the bare bones of the franchise, strips it of its meat and puts a disgustingly healthy glob of colored Tofu on it, not realizing that most people just prefer the meat.
Now, this concept could've worked. I've said before that you can make a good movie with just the skeleton of a story. Hell, "Run All Night" is exactly that kind of movie done right. Not perfectly, not expertly, but right. (I even did a review of it explaining why, go read it! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2199571/reviews-61) However, this film is just too weak and boring that it feels cliché in the worst possible way. The Transporter here, no longer the bad ass, emotionless, and apolitical driver, is reduced to side character played by someone who was obviously a fill in because Jason "Bloody"'Stathem knew how bad the script was.
"Refueled", in its essence, is a sortof remake and a sortof sequel to a movie trilogy once helmed by a famous actor now lead by a different actor, and apparently happens to deal with a quote-on-quote "Patriarchal Tyrant" who makes his bread by using women for their bodies. A small group of women team up with the hero, and they topple over the tyrant. Also, it's also directed by the same director of previous installments of the series.(Camile Delamarre worked on Transporter 3) it also has s seemingly feminist undertone. Now why does that sound familiar?
Duh. It's because it's "Mad Max: Fury Road", a much BETTER action movie that came out this year. The biggest difference Refueled had compared to that though is the setting(not being in a post-apocalyptic Australia, obviously) and how the definition of Feminism is expressed. While you can say that Fury Road isn't "feminist" in how you view the word, at least women in that film are respected more there than here. Yes, even in Immortan Joe's Citadel.
The women here are just skanks, pardon my French, and they are hypocrites in their own right. They're stock, characterless and oddly...overly sexual. They claim to hate being whores in most the film, but then just go out and whore themselves in another scene. If you're going to be feminist, fine, but try to be a bit more damn consistent.
Not that most of it matters anyway, since the film is just an hour long heist between our "good guys" going against an evil Russian pimp(who seems oddly faithful to his black wife, weirdly enough for a man of his position.), a Bostonian for some reason, and a man who sounds an awful lot like Vladmir Makarov from Call of Duty. It's not engaging in the slightest, and it fails on both sides of the spectrum, as both a dumb action movie, a pretentious film on feminism that you could find on YouTube, and as a remake of a popular franchise. Don't give this movie any time of day
Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015)
DHKR: Hotel Transylvania 2
Short version: if you enjoyed the first one, you'll enjoy this one just as much, if not more so.
Long version: Since you asked nicely
I had virtually no opinion on the original Hotel Transylvania. For what it was, it was a cute little movie about monsters that kids could enjoy and adults could at least tolerate. Nothing about it really grinded my gears, nor did it make me see the light of non-Pixar-Dreamworks animated films. It was just a cute movie, through and through. However, when the trailers for the sequel came out, I felt like this one would go the same route as most animated sequels, and the modern tech jargon didn't raise any expectations either.
However, after watching the film in its entirety, I was quite surprised that movie not only stood on its own quite well as a fun, cartoonish adventure in the world of monsters, but actually managed to be better then the first one, despite being a rehash.
Being a rehash isn't always a bad thing, any fan of Marvel should keep that as creed now a days. Sometimes, a retelling is all you need to make a tolerable sequel. Sure, there is that sort of pillow of comfort of not being any different, but it can explore many different possibilities in the world without the need of lengthy world building. The original Hotel Transylvania had us restrained into, well, Hotel Transylvania. We might've seen one scene near the end where we got to see an airport near Budapest. In HT2, we see more, if only a little bit, for more time. And what we see is affected by the first movie, boasting a little bit of continuity.
It's not all just for the adults though. Kids will love the energetic, cartoonish movements of each of the monsters. In one of the biggest strengths the film has, the animation is of pretty good quality and fluid in motion, not to mention creatively designed. These monsters are a blend of that classic style, with a bit of Tiny Toons mixed up, with voice work to match(yes, even the usually annoying child voice of Adam Sandler.). For the fault of its cast, I can at least see that effort was put in, which the earlier Sandler film "Pixels" had an unfortunate lack of.
If I have any real gripes, it's with the story. As well executed as it is, along with sprinkling a pretty good message, it's still just a rehash of the first movie. Basically, the first movie had Dracula try to keep his daughter from falling in love so she wouldn't leave the hotel, and a message about letting go is implemented. Here, in the sequel, Dracula is trying to awaken his grandson's inner monster...so his daughter won't leave the hotel. Oh, and Mel Brooks is some kind of elder vampire here who has a horde of terrifying looking bat monsters. It's not as cool as it sounds, but it makes one hell of a final act.
If you have young kids, or if you were just a fan of the first movie, chances are you will enjoy this for what it is and more so. It's a surprisingly good early Halloween film that's a good time for kids and adults. See it, and probably won't be disappointed.
The Visit (2015)
DHKR: The Visit- "A Parody of Shyamalan's Other Films"
Guys, you won't believe this, cause hell knows I didn't when I saw this. The Visit is out, and I urge anyone who hates Shyamalan's films to go see it, because you will have a F-yay-ing good time with it. Probably because almost every red flag is held up in the first five minutes of the movie. It's a found footage-format, with child actors and elderly people going crazy, and it just bloody works! The film even graciously starts off with a black screen with the title in red bold letters, as if it's saying 'We don't care anymore!'
This film starts off very generically, with the children and their movie-making hardware that seem to have unlimited battery life. They record their mom, a train attendant who used to be an actor, all before going off to meet with the grandparents. The girl is a stuck-up and the boy is Alexander from Alexander and the Who F-yay-ing Cares Anymore. Well, here he's kinda like that, but I hoped for the best. Maybe he would have an endearing performance that'll be timeless. But then I heard him rapping and then I said "Well Never Bloody Mind".
For the first three quarters of the film, each of the clichés start to fester up and it seems like the best bad movie of all time. Some scenes at night show Granny puking on the floor and another where she's stark naked and scratching at the door like a house cat that's been trapped outside in Christmas time. Oddly, those "Scary" scenes from then are strikingly limited compared to the other scenes out in the day, where what you can assume are creepy scenes or scenes that forward the creepy plot, are straight up bloody laughable. Every cliché, and I mean EVERY cliché Shyamalan has used in his recent films, are played for laughs. Some classy, most not so much(There's a scene where Ed Oxenbould's character enters a creepy shed after seeing the creepy grandpa exiting it to find something creepy, only to find a bunch of plastic bags filled with used adult diapers.)
Most of the child actors have good acting skills, at least from what I saw from Oxenbould's character. I can't stay mad at him for one bad movie, and he's showing off to be a pretty good comic relief that knows when to be serious. The first lead child actress, Olivia DeJonge, also seems to be growing into a good foil for second lead Oxenbould. Both work off each other and they seem to have good chemistry, which is why I think the film doesn't implode on itself right from the get go. The other main characters, the titular creepy stock elderly couple that serve as the antagonists, also work well as a team. They have good chemistry as much as the children, and they seem like nice outdoorsy farming people. Well, until the sundowning sets in.
Most of the time, when Nana(She's usually the only one who's affected) is sundowning, she shows off the stereotypical crazy senile lady type, but she's usually a nice, down to earth and kind woman. even in the daytime scenes, where she 'acts' scary, it's usually playful and never horribly inappropriate. Pop Pop on the other hand is always creepy. not the kind of creepy where he acts strange, but rather, he's creepy in the way that he's always distant and cold around other people. I wish I could tell you more, but all I can say is that between the two, Pop Pop is the sane man to Nana's crazy monster lady.
Then, the film holds up it's hand and it has this unusual shift in tone. in the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th Quarter, the film turns into a really suspenseful, dark, and yes, scary movie. Plot points are raveling together and things go absolutely insane. And yes, it ties in with the big shocking twist. Shyamalan is known for his quite predictable twists, but here, I was actually shocked and surprised, even when much stupider things popped up for potential twists(Some I won't spoil, but I'll say one has to do with aliens)
And no, I'm not gonna spoil the twist. I really do think you should see this movie and watch it first before you find out. You....you guys seriously will be shocked to see.
Guys, The Visit was just a fun blast of a movie. I urge everyone to see what's in store.
Final Result: 3 and a Half Stars- B-Ranking
Fantastic Four (2015)
DHKR: Fantastic Four(2015)- "None Should Have to Endure Such Pain"
I thought I knew bad movies. I thought I had been through such a hell before, and things could go up. I thought, in my mind, there was no possible way to top such films in a way of badness. I thought things could only go up from here, and that Hollywood was starting to care for the license of their products, putting time and effort within their movies.
That all changed after Fantastic Four.
I feel violated. I do feel like I'm violated as a person, a critic, and a fan of the Fantastic Four. NOTHING about this film is at all redeemable! NOTHING! And I swear, if one of these idiots try and defend this film and say it's a better movie then the original two FF Movies, I'M GONNA BLOODY SCREAM!
The film, for some reason, wanted to go and take the DC route and make the film all dark and gritty and mature. However, the execution that is seen here makes all of the truly 'Dark' and 'Mature' moments seem more generically and laughably childish. The Fantastic Four, whoever you look at it, can't all be 100% dark and gritty. It's what gave the comic and, to some extent, the original FF movie from 2005 it's charm.
The characters within the film are now complete bastardizations of every other incarnation, with a huge lack of chemistry. Johnny and Sue Storm from the 2005 film, while not really that engaging, was at the very least believable, and no, not for the obvious reason seen here. The film wants us to believe that these two are dynamic brother and sister, and it dose not work. Johnny couldn't be any less charming unless they just end up making him a big villain. Instead of being a reckless, but good-hearted, the 2015 Johnny is now just reckless and stubborn. Oh, and you can tell he almost turns into a bad guy, because he supports the Militry and we all know that the Militry is always evil.
Sue, by contrast to her 2005 counterpart, has devolved exponentially from a sort of love interest that had some good qualities to her into just another boring love interest that seems even MORE irritating here than before. Every scene she's in just sucks the life out of the audience, like she's just bored to be in this movie. She even takes the fun out of music, saying it's just a way to find out all the blooming patterns and....oh for hell's sake it's bloody music! Enjoy the bloody music like a bloody human being!
Ben Grimm at the very least starts off as one of the lesser bastardized characters. That is until after the Four get their powers, where he then becomes a complete CGI monstrosity with rocks all over his body. Then he becomes the Militry's brutish muscle, and once again if movie teaches you anything it's that Militry is bad and irredeemable in everything. It's almost as if both Ben Grimm, the quirky and smart Junkyard Jew, and The Thing, the big rock covered brute are two completely different characters now. Unlike the 2005 version, love it or hate it, where the character is constant, if one could call it that.
If there is one part of the film I feel really divided over, it's on Doctor Doom. Now, Victor Von Doom wasn't represented to his full extent in the 2005 version. However, at the very least he LOOKED and ACTED like Doctor Doom! Here, he's a chubby, video game playing Left Winger against the Militry and Government instead of the all powerful, definitive symbol of Fascism and the powers of evil like he was in the comics. However, it is pretty refreshing to see a Left Wing villain, so I'll give the film that. And he even has a lot of cool scenes devoted to him, showing off all that power he has, and by GOD is this great potential for a recurring villain!
That is until they kill him off five minutes later.
Yeah, I'm not kidding about that, they LITERALLY kill off Doctor Doom, no less then five minutes after he becomes Doctor Doom. Not only that, but it was done in the most clichéd way possible, with having the four simply combine their unique powers to stop the villain. They axed off one of Marvel's most powerful, most cunning, and most diabolical super villain in the most disrespectful, and most novice way possible.
I can't believe I hate a movie like this...well, THIS much. I think the only other movie I hated just as much was Alexander and The Needlessly Long Title. But now, I think that crown has been taken by this horrible excuse for a comic book movie. I hate this film. I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate it! Hate it! I hate that anyone can be dumb enough to find salvageable things and nicer things to say about it. And guess what, the idiots behind this film still want sequels, spin offs even! From THIS! You just axed off one of the Four's well known recurring menace and you want to milk this sickly cow!? I don't usually like cursing on film reviews to an extreme but...F-yay Fantastic Four 2015!
The Final Result for this film is an E-RANKING! AN E! A ONE-HALF STAR!
This has got to be, compared to the 2005 film and Rise of The Silver Surfer, the WORST Fantastic Four movie I've had the displeasure of seeing! Don't you even THINK about wasting your money on this, Don't you DARE give 20th Century Fox and Josh Trank your hard earned money! Cause if you do, then more CRAP like this can come out both their asses and onto our favorite superhero team!
Sunset Overdrive (2014)
Luxicon's Game Reviews: Sunset Overdrive
Sunset Overdrive, by far, is one of the most chaotic and intensely fun video games on the Xbox One. What other game do you have this much fun just moving around the city through these insane, almost ludicrous ways? Some can say Prototype or the Infamous Series can give you the same feel, but it's nothing like you get with this.
The story is like that of most Post-Apocolyptic games, I.E. Something is released and jumpstarts the Awesome-Pocolypse(Yes, that is what they call it.), Mainly the soft drink Overdrive, the newest product by the Fizzco Corporation. Fizzco is basically Coca-Cola if they sunk all of their marketing in Fanta Orange while also merging with the bloody IMC from Titanfall.
You play as a lone, vaguely late-teenaged, early twenties employee at Fizzco, where Overcharge is being released to the public of insanely idiotic and stereotypically teenaged......teenagers. You're job sucks and you're stuck picking up the trash. Soon, one of the teenagers who drank the new beverage starts acting sick, before becoming an OD, which are this game's version of either mutants or zombies that other games would have. Thus, Horror Night begins, and soon, everything goes straight to hell as the Apocalypse is kickstarted in Sunset City.
But it's an Awesome-Pocolypse, and everything is out to kill you. Whether it's the OD, the Scabs which are basically this game's version of Raiders or Gang Members, and even a bunch of Fizzco Security robots that are programmed to kill all survivors in an effort to cover their tracks. Sunset City is now a constant war zone between each of the three enemy factions. In many cases, it's you versus the whole world, as you use your arsenal of almost limitless possible ways to smash the hordes of enemies.
Along with just you and some ex-Fizzco employees , you also team up with other factions of friendlies, which include a Boy Scouts troop that have adopted a Samurai way of honor, a bunch of Oxford students held up in what I can assume is Freddy Fazbear's Pizzaria, and a heavily delusional bunch of LARPers at war with some Scabs. (Being a LARPer myself, I was personally cracking up at everything they did in their little society.) Each have their own headquarters, complete with other characters who give away their own personal side quests. quests you can complete in order to get exclusive faction gear to add to your collection of outfits and melee weapons.
And, along with all the memorable factions, some enemies that are either Scab or Fizzco are actually kind of complex. Well, complex for a game that's littered with clichés and flat character archetypes. Villains like Fizzie, Fizzco Mole, Emperor Norton, and King Scab are some of the most despicably evil kinds of villain seen in a video game so far. Some may find this kind of corny and cliché, but dealing with the subject and joke of the game, I found it as a perfect level of ham. But then again, what kind of villain were you expecting from a game that literally starts with the word "APOCALYPSE" written entirely in fire and explosions?
However, while the villains are well casted in their factions, I can't have any nicer things to say about the other, main faction you have to defeat most of the game, which is the OD themselves. Not only do they look generic compared to most of the surprisingly original look of both the Scabs and the Fizzco Robots, many look so uncreatively similar to one another. I'm not talking about a horde of OD that you fight, I mean the 'Alternative' kinds of enemy types, like Blowers, Gunkers, and Spawners. All of them look so much like the original OD, and it's not like the original OD were really original in the first place. Hell, the poppers are just OD with bulging, glowing puss bags that explode on contact. Even Emperor Norton, who becomes a giant dragon, looks like any other kind of OD you fight in the game. It's a very big missed opportunity, and it broke what could've been some awesome looking monster designs.
Not only that, many of the wackier guns you use in the game lack any real punch. The only guns worth using and leveling up are guns that either are practical like the Dirty Harry(A Magnum), the AK-FU(An assault rifle), the Fizzbot Rifle(Another rifle), The Hand Dragon Cannon(A miniature grenade launcher), The Flaming Compensator(A Shotgun with fire), and the Excalamune(A pretty badass sword you get near the end of the game). The rest of them, have almost zero punch when dealing with a massive horde of enemies like the OD and the Scab. Hell, The Fizzbot Rifle is required if you want to beat some of the Fizzco enemies. The Vinyl Gun doesn't even have any real other then for bragging rights.
These two things, followed by a relatively short play time for the main game(It's only about 5 hours to beat) bring this almost legendary game down. Which is why, I'm giving this game
A B-Ranking. It's a great game and an absolute blast to play, but it's still crippled with ineffective weapons, uncreative enemies, and a short actual main game. If the game were a bit longer, the OD were more creative, and if more of those weapons were effective and useful, then this could've been one of the greats. However, as it is now, it's very average and only a B.
Gone Girl (2014)
DHKR: Gone Girl- "An Amazing Movie that I Can't Help but Hate"
Gone Girl is perhaps one of the darkest, most suspenseful and shocking movies I've ever seen. It's well directed with a creative, unique style. The actors, while some I personally despise, are working on all cylinders to give us engaging characters that feel real and flawed. The story is one of the best I've seen, so much of starts off one way, but near the first hour mark it's quickly turned on it's head. It's one of the best films of it's breed, always coming up with a new way to surprise and shock you, the audience, in ways once thought unimaginable or impossible.
But, at it's heart, I have to say that this is one of the few movies I have a bright, burning hatred for. I'll get into it soon, but bottom line is that the movie is great. I wouldn't have thought it came from a book, but the only difference is that the book had more moments then the movie, so all different connections end there.
So, if I'm giving this movie all of this praise, why do I hate it? Well, most of it resides in the character of Amy Dunce. Heaven above do I hate this character! She's a mentally broken, brutally manipulative, horrible waste of human scum. I know, that sounds really harsh, but if you saw the film already, and you WILL see this film, trust me on that, you can see where I've drawn such a passion to despise. Amy is one of the few characters, from any kind of outlet of media, that I personally Loathe. And after watching the film, I'm sure you will too.
Another big problem with the film happens after the big twist that Amy's "Diary" is actually forged and all lies. However, even after the hour mark where that twist takes place, she still goes out and tells everyone these lies. And guess what? Everyone still believes it. It's almost as if the entire town is run by idiots and treaded upon by such. I don't know, it just undermines the audience in my opinion. I swear, there were moments where I just wanted to yell out "She's Lying You Stupid Bloody Idiots" for the entire land of suburbia to hear.
There are other minor things here and there that I can only call 'Minor Gripes', like some of the promiscuous sex scenes look rather tame and laughably fake(The sex scene in James Cameron's 'Avatar' looked less fake.) and some characters felt rather useless or just there to make a kind of conflict, like FemiNazi Ellen Abbot, who's obviously a parody of Nancy Grace. Interesting additions, but not exactly used to it's fullest potential like how every other actor is.
After the hour mark, it also seems like the film wants to make this shift in genre from a pure, psychological thriller, into a sort of drama with thriller themes thrown in there. It feels like two different movies are playing now, and that the whole twist was going to be the ending of the first film and they hoped to make a sequel out of it. But then the director was scarred to make that kind of leap of faith, so he just stitched the two drafts together while the second was halfway done, and the rest was just filled in by a guy who wanted to throw in as many shocking moments as possible.
Near the 2nd hour mark, the film takes a far more gruesome turn, as Amy's full psychotic nature is unleashed. You could probably put the soundtrack to Silent Hill 2 to this scene and you couldn't make it any less fitting. We see Amy trying to frame Neil Patrick Harris for attempted rape (COUGH*BULLCRAP*COUGH), Slit his throat with a box cutter while they try to have sexual intercourse, Even a scene where she sodomizes her self with a wine bottle. Yeah, let all those colorful images sit in your brain.
Now, after all of this, all of those painful, disgusting moments, everything you went through just watching Ben Affleck's character go through hell and back, what happens at the end? Does Nick reveal the insane wife to being...well, insane? Does he let her go so she can go to a mental institute? Do they even try and file a divorce?
HELL NO! You want to know what happens? Amy and Nick go take a shower, while she's covered in blood mind you, and then she reveals that she used his iced sperm to impregnate herself, forcing him to stay with her. Fade to the intro scene, Fade to black, End Scene, Roll Credits.
Gone Girl is a very good movie, and I really can't stress it enough. Everything it get's right it get's very right. The story is very engaging, and you can't ever look away, in case you'll miss a good piece of evidence in the character's story. It's writing is impeccable, it's characters are well rounded, even the ones I hate, and the whole film's atmosphere is incredible. However, everything about Amy's character is mentally scarring, some characters feel underutilized, and by GOD that ending was horrible. I never felt more angry and hateful towards a movie like this, and still applaud it for it's amazing merits.
Final Results: 4 Stars- A-Ranking
DHKR: Max- "A Good Story, Trapped in The Wrong Movie"
Max is a film that feels like a first draft movie that Stephen Spielberg wrote in the 80s, before keeping it hidden at a garage sale for other production companies to pick up and claim as their own. However, this one must've been bought late, and therefore updated for us modern folk.
Sorry to those people wished for the movie to be about a shell-shocked, veteran dog who bonds with his Marine holder and has to face harsh times readjusting to the new world, being constantly haunted by the experience and carnage that scarred such an animal. A sort of respectful, but realistic look at the war going on in Afghanistan, taken only from the eyes of something that many would find insignificant but in reality a very vital part of the military. What we see through the dog's eyes, i.e. the very reactions that lead to an eventual shell shock, could connect civilians to the harsh realities that service members face. Such a premise feels like it could be a great movie, and a timeless one at that.
Instead, Max feels like a throw-away, rejected Spielberg story, meant for Dog-lovers and children between the ages of 13 and 16. A Slice of Life story that only focuses on underdeveloped stereotypes and a generic story you'd think Melissa McCarthy was originally going to parody for her movie Spy before realizing how stupid and disrespectful that idea would have been. Bummer.
While we see Max and his work with his master Kyle, that's only in the first six minutes. Yes, the film that claims to be about a Marine dog and his bond with his handler, such a bond mind you that it causes the poor thing to go shell-shocked, AND is in the bulk of the commercials, the only time it shows it like that is about six to seven minutes. In that time, we see Max search a small Afghan village for a cache of weapons, we see the dog sleep with Kyle, then Kyle dies in a firefight with ISIS.
Fast-forward to a couple days later, we see the dog suffering PTSD after the death of his handler, making him irritable and almost violent, simulating a realistic reaction an animal so attached may feel when in the Military. However, this is nearly solved as soon as it begins by the dog having this new bond with our human lead, Justin. Justin is a sort of Teenaged "Video Game Pirate" who takes non published games, downloads them and sells them for a hefty price. However, I found his character generic even by family movie standards. He makes Lucas from the movie Lucas look like Ellie from the game The Last of Us.
The movie starts off on the right foot by having the Protagonist bond with the dog slowly, and I admit that it tries to show us these moments to remember who and what this film can connect to. However, it tries to fit these moments in a movie that seems to be more interested in being both a Slice of Life and a kind of thriller with a generic bad guy.
And when I found out that there was a bad guy, all sympathies for this film went straight to hell. And here's the kicker; He's also a Marine Sergeant that, you guessed it, had worked with Kyle.
What makes this idiotic and disrespectful is that this "Movie appreciating the military for all it's done for us as a country" is ironing in the fact that "Military Bad Now, They Be War-Pigs Oink Oink." at the same time. I'm sure there are bad, even evil people abusing the power of the Dress Blue to some kind of extent. HOWEVER, that doesn't give the movie a right to have a generic bad guy when you don't need one. It's a movie about a kid and a dog, why have a bad guy and just be wishy washy with him? Seriously, they attempt to humanize him in the first half, but then he just goes full on rogue and psycho with zero redeeming values what so ever.
Max could've been a great movie, if it had just stuck to keeping us with the dog and not try to forcibly cram in these Family-Togetherness clichés with it, along with just scrapping the bad guy plot altogether. If they had extended the time with Max and Kyle in their war-trail in Afghanistan, where the bond between them and the squadron could be shown and even tested at times, and THEN try putting the dog in a scenario where he had to readjust to life back in the states, then I honestly assure you that it could have been something remarkable. Instead, it focuses it's time on a scumbag teenager and his two Latino stereotype friends and their adventure against the EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEvil Marine Sergeant Reyes and his buddies from the Mexican Cartel.
I can not, with my power, really recommend this movie for the general crowd. If you're a dog owner, and maybe a service member who's used to being painted as the bad guy by those who worship peace, then I'd say you could watch it. Just think about how much better it could've been if it weren't too generic and cliché. It's a good story, trapped in the wrong movie.
2 Stars, D-Ranking
DHKR: Spy- "McCarthy Magnum Opus"
It's pretty difficult to perfect the art of Parody. The glorious comedies of the era crafted by Mel Brooks are long gone and I doubt that any kind of renaissance is ever going to come back any time soon. Clichés already have destroyed any shred of originality it probably has left. Pair that with one of the most despised actresses in the cinema game so far, and you may have a recipe for quite the disaster.
What was given instead was a well rounded, fun romp of a spy adventure that has just enough Melissa McCarthy that doesn't causes a great deal of stress for those who only like her in little treats like this. Also, Jason Bloody Stathem steals this film by becoming the best parody of himself since his role in the Expendables series.
Really, the film is not only a good Parody, but it's just a good movie in general. I may not have enjoyed Tammy, but I am certain that McCarthy's star quality that many actors these days don't muster up. This here is McCarthy's best movie, and I'd be happy if this was the last movie she does for a while, and others will probably agree.
The clichés that plague the film are far too easy to spot. You know the super-spy is gonna betray our heroine. Spoiler Alert. You know the hero and the villain try to make up and be friends like in The Interview. Spoiler Alert. You know that Jason 'Bloody' Stathem is going to screw this up despite all of his badass boasts. Spoiler Alert. Honestly, if you're surprised about any of these spoilers then you really need to see more movies, because it gets really bad with it here.
That is, however, up until the 3rd act, when Spy becomes a truly fantastic film. The plot starts to straighten and a couple plot twists are thrown in to give the movie a kind of unique spice. The final twist being a pleasant surprise, and the ending was making me laugh like a Hyena. Mostly involving McCarthy's character, Jason Bloody Stathem. Also, 50 Cent Piece is in this film and he's actually far more tolerable than his real life counterpart
Yes, Curtis "50 Cent Piece" Jackson is actually a surprisingly funny asset to the movie. At first, it feels like a one-time joke, but it's soon revealed that he ends up aiding the good guys in the most 50 Cent way imaginable. Solidifying, to us all, that the rap genre is now the most parodied thing in our culture's recent memory.
It's a fun movie that has a lot of bumps at the start, but that road smooths out near the end and ends up with a bang. a big, bloody, bald British bang. See it if you haven't yet
4 Stars- A-Ranking
Inside Out (2015)
DHKR: Inside Out- A Film for The Aspiring Cynic
I personally had a lot to worry about what was to come from this movie. Most of which came from the recent trailers that show off what looked like a whimsical adventure of the most generic kind. You know how those would end up, start to finish; The two would butt heads and eventually they would make up and learn to accept one's differences, the usual Disney schlock. Coming from DAS(Disney's Animated Studios), that wouldn't be a surprise, but this here is Pixar. Pixar is known for quality, as well as it's ability to touch audiences both young and old. This couldn't be, no, it shouldn't be just another bloated, clichéd filled ball of puss from the House of Mouse's dumpster, part of the likes of Tomorrowland and the Live Action 'remake' of Cinderella, or worse, the majority of the DAS films.
However, when the film shown actually came out, all such fear had begun to wash away. It may be small for the average movie goer, but to me, this film was the equivalent to baptism. This is truly is worthy of being called a Pixar movie and then some. The whole film itself, the way it deals with emotions, the emotional state of a child at a young age, how the emotions can react and fully create a schism between both life and reason, it all just works perfectly. I could praise the film day and night by it's premise alone, and we haven't scratched the surface.
Oddly enough, the whole story, i.e. what actually causes the the whole "Adventure" in the deep subconscious of Riley revolves around the utter control, almost stubbornness of Joy. Joy is exactly who you'd expect her to be; She's a hyper, spunky, super optimist that has created the most of the "Core Memories" that created the personality of Riley. It's such a big deal, utmost, to a point that the opposite emotion(most notably, Sadness) cannot come close to such memories in the case that it may "poison" or "corrupt" such a joyous thought to a dark, crushing reality that it may have another side to the exact same coin.
Soon, a "Blue" Core Memory crafted by Sadness appears, and Joy does everything to stop it from being uploaded to what I can only call Riley's "Personality Matrix". In trying to stop this "Sabotage" Joy has released the other five Core Memories out and a vacuum sucks them out of the central command. Irony can be a cold hearted woman, can't she. Especially during this, quite possibly the most emotional part of young Riley's life. All that's in charge now are the three most Primal emotions; Fear, Disgust, and Anger. The trinity of every cynic.
Here, I felt worried that the movie would slip into a single sided argument. Each of these three emotions are associated with cynicism, and therefore are evil and shouldn't be chased. films like Tomorrowland, while it isn't a 'bad' film, unfortunately slip into said territory. However, that doesn't happen here in Inside Out, as everything done by them is only because Joy had taught them to "take control with positivity". Fear, Disgust, and Anger try to do only what Joy would do, and they do it wrong because it goes against what they are programed to do. Fear is to fearful, Disgust is too picky, and Anger is far too short-sided and tempered.
Throughout the adventure, we see that Riley's world, thanks to the lack of core memories, is deteriorating and falling into darkness. It's an awful sight to behold, and its to be noted that all of this could've been avoided if Joy didn't try to interfere with the Core Memories and their formation. It feels good and refreshing to see a children's film take something as big and as easily screwable as positive and negative emotions, and see them all come take it with the utmost maturity. If this was DAS, I'm sure it would've gone in a completely different direction.
The climax comes near the end. In an effort to not spoil the ending, I'll just say it's one of Pixar's darkest turns, one of it's well intended endings, and one of it's most touching moments, all Tic-Tac-Toe'd in something I can only say could ever come once in any film company's lifetime. Don't be surprised if you find out earlier, but it's a good one.
Inside Out is one of Pixar's greatest achievements in cinematic history. With it's bright and colorful atmosphere that blends both moments of pure happiness and heartbreaking sorrow, it's mature subject matter that is told and expressed maturely, and it's amazing storytelling, it's setting the standards of all other great movies to come out in the near future. Animated or not.
It's the Crown Jewel of the Summer's movie surge. Go and give it a look, and you won't be disappointed.
Final Result: 5-Stars. S-Ranking
Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)
DHKR: Pitch Perfect 2- "A Great Film to Those Who Love Music and Who Hate Pentatonix"
Pitch Perfect, the first film, was hashed by critics but slowly grew a cult following. For most, it's a big "Don't Judge a Book by it's Cover" film, and many people find a soft spot in their heart to enjoy it.
So, with that in mind, I entered Pitch Perfect 2 with that mindset. It's a sequel to a cult classic, so I secretly knew it wouldn't hold up to the original. However, in a twist of fate, the sequel itself manages to have that star power and imagination that made the original what it was, and also gives itself it's own kind of uniqueness.
Story wise, Pitch Perfect 2 is pretty much the Iron Man 2 of the Pitch Perfect Series, in that it's story is a little less tangible and riddled with subplots a plenty, many of which actually are pretty funny and dramatic in their own ways, even managing to pull off a successful romance subplot. No prizes for those who guessed it was about Fat Amy.
What really gives this film and the one before it a lot of its spontaneity was by the A Capella moments where each singer has to emote and build a beat only by using their vocal chords, and since this is Generation Y it has to be modern "Pop" songs. For those terrified if the film would just be a two and a half hour Pentatonix album, you can rejoice in hearing that the songs and ways they are sung are not only good, but also memorable in execution. Especially in the fact that the music actually SOUNDS like music and not a bunch of beat boxing cry babies whining out lyrical-like moans as if each of the singers just stubbed their toes after they came out of a screening of an American Sniper/Lone Survivor Double Feature Matinée.
Comedy, Music, and Drama go hand in hand in a Trinity in the storytelling, and it was a smart move in having the music to be a heavy part of the film. However, I would have seen a slight bit of development from our protagonists other than just "Legacy", Beca, and I guess Fat Amy. However, what little character Fat Amy has always felt just right in my opinion. The rest of the cast are just as flat and stereotypical as they were in Pitch Perfect, the worst being Ester Dean's Cynthia, but perhaps that's just me being too damn Hoosier about that kind of thing.
The film trips up a bit when the Bella's all go to what I can assume is "Bella Boot Camp". It's long, unfunny, and serves only for each character to try and tie up any kind of loose ends. A full Eighth of the film takes place here, and while that doesn't sound long, in a movie like this, it eats a good chunk of screen time that could be enjoyed on the singing. The only funny part in that whole scene was with a bear trap for obvious reasons.
The two best parts in the film involve both an A Capella music battle that has the Green Bay Packers, seriously, and the final A Capella competition in Copenhagen. Both involve Das Sound Machine, the obligatory all German villains who couldn't look anymore evil unless they were wearing Stahlhelms and driving around Panzers on the stage before singing. Well, both prove to be formidable by their stage presence and vocal superiority. Most of the songs by DSM are big. They sound big, and they make it look big as well. Granted, both couldn't be more stereotypically evil, but they do have a likability to those with an ear for that kind of thing.
The film ends on a positive note, and we reprise the song "Flashlight", which actually is more beautiful than it sounds. Well, kinda. OK not really. But it's still a good ending, nonetheless. If you haven't seen it yet, go give it a look.
Grown Ups 2 (2013)
DHKR: Grown Ups 2- "The Same One Trick Pony"
Grown Ups 2 is, simply put, Grown Ups with a slightly bigger budget and a slight deviation towards more of the juvenile style of humor that Sandler excels at in spades, rather than the sort of summer-nostalgia that made Grown Ups slightly better than most travesties. Besides, I already gave my thoughts on Grown Ups in my Grown Ups review of Grown Ups.
I guess the sequel isn't as connective or as conjoined as the original, but plenty of prominent tropes still exist within. The story, or lack thereof, is very much the same. The jokes are cruder and more cringeworthy than before, including one scene involving an ice cream machine( You get it!? It looks like Poo! LAUGH!).
What has changed is the mood and tone of the main cast. Sandler's character in the first film was admitably concerned with his children, but it was all of them to enjoy the vacation like normal kids would. Here, he's just mean spirited without any kind of rhyme or reason. Rock has fully devolved from a feminized man into a full on inversion of an actual man, stealing most of his charm from the first film by running the same joke into the ground from the first film. Kevin James is once again the butt monkey of the group, now taking flak for his idiot son who thinks the 80s were 70 years ago.
It isn't all degradation,for the most part. Spade's character actually grows a little bit from a slacking, sex loving, stoner sounding hick into someone who's trying desperately to connect with a son of his, who, because this is Happy Maddison, is a stone cold, hardened criminal. Because ISN'T THAT BLOODY WACKY AND SILLY!? Jokes aside, I was happy to see that at least one character from the film tries to develop a bit in a sequel that was just another paid Sandler vacation. It doesn't make the movie good, per se, but it does make it a little bit better. Not by that much though.
The first film linked to one's past summer vacations of total freedom and leaving one's jackassery on full free reign. Some of that magic is still here, but it's obviously been downgraded a bit. A guy rolling down a hill in a huge truck tire is as crazy is it gets here. However, there is something different here that is worth mentioning, and that is the big 80s Party that Sandler's character comes up with that had some of the funnier scenes and a surprisingly heartwarming moment. OK, heart-defrosting, since it takes over an hour to thaw your cold black heart from how the film treats you most of the way. The party was full of references to the 80s, with almost every black person going as Prince and everyone having a chance to show off their zaniness that the era was infamous for.
There's a big fight near the end between the 80s Guys and an obligatorily evil college fraternity. It's as stupid and insane as you'd think, and you can't help but just laugh at the absurdity. It's like if Battle of The Five Armies was between the most hated groups in Cinema; Frat Boys and Adam Sandler's Posse. Hell, even the blooming deer gets a time to shine in the fight. All with a bra on it's antlers.
Grown Ups 2, like it's predecessor, isn't as good as the original. It suffers a little from sequilitis, but it still has enough tricks different from the first to give it an identity of its own. Not a good identity, but it was a fun one. It's the same one trick pony, but that pony took a line of cocaine like a guy from the 1980s.
2 Stars- C-Ranking
Grown Ups (2010)
DHKR: Grown Ups- "A Harmless Summer Bro-Film"
Grown Ups isn't good. It's actually quite awful in critical terms. It's only saving grace is it's cast of actors, but even their potential is squandered at Sandler's obviously juvenile sense of humor, which mostly relies on the whole "Hey! Look at this, isn't it wacky and silly?" notion. It's story is nonexistent, much like Seinfeld, only going through simple settings and ideas for a clunky-linked sequence.
As you guessed, this is a Happy Maddison film, makers of a surprise hit (www.imdb.com/title/tt1114740/reviews-208) but mostly are infamous for their juvenile- humor movies that are meant only for the lowest common denominator. Don't ever expect anything from these guys, cause I'm aware of how little they care. They, in turn, should realize how little I care.
If I'm able to tip my hat to the production company for anything, it would be that HMP knows who it's general audience is, and knows them in spades,which isn't particularly a bad thing. Before, I stated that Sandler's modern filmography, when under this production company's name, can be enjoyed as films you watch with friends over the summer. And Grown Ups, silly as it is, is exactly the definitive film for that description.
Grown Ups has it's moments, but it's always pushed to the side so Kevin James can earn a ladder on a board game of Chutes and Ladders or if David Spade can take another groin-shot by Rob Schneider. It's dumb, it's full of plot holes and subplots that go nowhere, and it really is just an excuse for Sandler take a vacation at the Lake and still get him and his buddies paid.
But, for all my griping, I feel a weird creeping nostalgia of my own summer vacations when watching this. I felt myself actually smile, laughing even. Take a moment to think about all the dumb things you did with your friends over that time. The time you first time you went on a massive water slide at a water park and went so fast that you almost broke a toe. The time you won 4 games of Scene-It in a row and your buddy threatened to punch you in the face if he found out you cheated. The time you first did something so profoundly stupid, resulting in any injury imaginable, but you just laughed and laughed because you were under some kind of influence. It's very cartoonish, sure, but don't you remember having any close calls like that?
That's what makes Grown Ups work as a Summer Bro-Film. It makes tons of money from teenagers that laugh at Sandler's bag of tricks, but it also makes one connect to one's personal past from the summers you spent AS a teenager, acting like a bunch of jackasses after watching TV. It's still bad, as a film, but for those who can look pass that, I think you can enjoy it.
3 and a half Stars- C-Ranking
DHKR: Tomorrowland- "A Hollow, Idealist Film with Zero Ideas"
Tomorrowland was ALMOST great. It has a director with a great track record, it has a great cast of actors like George Clooney and Hugh Laurie, and the CGI presentation is the definitive proof that it can work well enough to craft creatively made sets and worlds. It's message is nearly perfect for today's youth, preaching on using your brain to promote creativity as well as practicality, without having to bastardize anything to a pompous extreme.
So why does this film feel...less than what it should be like? Like it feels restrained or held back?
Perhaps because underneath the pretty candy coating of A-Listers, CGI, and a great filming director, the core of the film feels rather lacking in terms of story, both in inherent build and in execution. Tomorrowland feels burdened by it's supposed moral and idealism, that it ends up conflicting with the bigger message, if there even is one that is.
The film starts off with an argument between our lead and George Clooney, playing the role of Frank Walker. It's a futile attempt at comedy, and it doesn't go anywhere. Think of this as a giveaway that you just threw away a couple extra dollars than you should've. Even the most of the introduction, while visually breathtaking, is nothing more than just padding before the story begins to go in motion.
When we do finally meet Walker, a mere 35 minutes into the film, then finally does a story come to life. We see that the world is destroying itself due to modern indulgences. People who chase the rabbit simply complain on how Earth is going straight to hell, but no one is at all trying to come up with a solution. Cynics like Walker accept the evils of the world, and seclude themselves away into their homes, keeping their creativity to themselves. Other cynics wish to use their creativity to help themselves when the actual apocalypse comes, like Governor David Nix(played by the massively talented Hugh Laurie), who continues to rule Tomorrowland as a de facto tyrant and keeps a steady supply of android henchmen coming from inside and out of the future.
The film presents the world to be horribly cynical, outnumbering them so much that it seems that only our lead Cassie and the rogue AI "Athena" seem to be the only optimist and idealist, which in the world I live in ain't the bloody case. What was once a message that could be generally given to all is now narrowed into a certain group mostly composed of teen liberals who rebel against the "man" and government.
Weirdly, Nix's own plans on preventing the apocalypse with a special observatory that knows exactly when any disaster event will occur is actually quite understandable. Why risk trying to fix something that's set in stone? He can see when everything horrible is about to happen, and it can urge everyone to prepare to endure and embrace the apocalypse. And he's evil because...he's cynical?
Also, for a movie claiming "creativity", the film's storyline was actually very much generic and predictable. I actually could tell exactly what would happen, when it would, and how it would. Does the heroine magically change the mind of the cynical Walker? Check. Do they but heads with Nix while he tries to show her the apocalypse? Check. Forced romantic subplot? It does, and kinda awkwardly when it's between Walker and Athena, not only slightly pedophilloic, but cyberphilloic as well. Constantly, the story feels like it's going to put a new spin on the story, but then goes back to the normal generic story part, like Brad Bird is afraid to make that leap into creativity.
Long story short, Athena dies to destroy the supposed Doomsday Machine, Nix is crushed by it after uttering the funniest line in the film, and soon everything is all better in the end. More pins are made, and are all exclusively given to Liberal Youths. Yup. Only the most creative can't be of any other side of the spectrum, it's all exclusively to the super happy lefty-wingies. That idea that anyone can be creative? Have original ideas to help everyone? Does that still apply?
NOPE! If your a blooming cynic, you'll just hold us back! You're no better than Governor Nix, and we all know that creative politicians trying to protect the creative people are nothing but despicable tyrants! Yeah, that's the moral of the story!
Tomorrowland might be a hollow film, but it at least looks very breathtaking, and almost every A-Lister actors is phenomenal. Brad Bird is still a great director, still worthy of being "The Director of The Incredibles", as this film shouldn't go on his track record and ruin his validity as a director. However, the film is anchored down by a generic story, lead actors that sound loud and annoyingly preachy with a moral that feels nonexistent, and confusing the viewer by preaching that all should come together but then only painting one side as good and the other as bad. If you want a breathtaking, gorgeous film, then go ahead. Just try not to think about the story too much.
DHKR: The Spongebob Movie- "Yes, My Draconequus, this Movie is Great."
This the first of the two Spongebob movies, and while I couldn't agree fully with my figment of insanity on the sequel(just calling it "entertaining"), I immediately caved in and admitted a great deal of liking for the first film. Oddly enough, this was the first film that inspired me to write reviews for films and recommending them to my family and friends(of course, I also wanted to be the President of Indiana at the same time, so I guess it's a little overboard for a kid like me back then.)
Anyway, the film itself is often considered that buffer between when Spongebob Squarepants was a series enjoyed by all and when it soon got flanderized beyond recognition and became nothing but a show enjoyed only by kids and stoners.
However, after a secluded watching, I was happy to realize that the film was not only fun as I remembered, but actually a little bit better after my horizons were expanded. The humor is goofy and adorable beyond measure.
What took me off guard was how dark the actual story was for a kid's movie, which involves theft, deception, contract killing(no, that's not a joke. Plankton hires a "vicious, cold blooded predator"), drowning sorrows at an ice cream bar, and even a hero-like death. The story is not exactly an adventure of finding Neptune's crown, but instead is a film of keeping a child-like innocence as long as you can, even if all the perils seem scary and adult.
The story begins with Spongebob about to become manager at The Krusty Krab 2(which is so un-strategically located that one would wonder if they'd just put an extension of the bloody restaurant.), before getting rejected in favor of Squidward. The hero soon sulks in his depression, drowning his sadness in ice cream in a way one drowns his sorrows in booze. After coming to work punch drunk, Spongebob sabotages Mr. Krabs honesty by referring to him in a negative way, thus, freezing him in a block of ice.
The quest then begins, and already complications arrive. The Patty Wagon is stolen by a thug guarding the County Line, overseen by two rednecks that make one happy to live in Indiana where such stereotype is true. In fact, the thugs are the first big obstacle threatening the heroes' child-like innocence, beating up people for blowing bubbles. It's silly, but kind of effective in its message. That being child-like habits cannot coexist with manhood, or living in said delusion.
Soon, we meet Dennis, the Contract Killer I mentioned earlier, voiced by the amazing Alec Baldwin. Here, he is the definite antithesis to both Spongebob and Patrick, the ultimate challenge and the ultimate adult. He's humorless, ruthless, and violent as Plankton's dragon. Nothing about him is redeemable or likable, even compared to the many likable villains of the show, which is very unlike the TV series. In that sense, Dennis is everything that a child fears he or she becomes as an adult.
We return to our heroes, who are childishly mocking the thugs from before, while driving on a road made entirely of skulls and bones. They soon see an ice cream stand, before realizing it's a trap by a large fly-trap like monster fish. The message, be very wary of friendly faces, because their intentions aren't always pure. After evading the monster fish, the heroes have to cross a trench populated by monsters, which they are too paralyzed in fear to do so.
Soon, as a Deus ex Machina, Princess Mindy(Scarlett Johansson) shows how Bikini Bottom has turned into "Planktopolis", a ruined, Roman-styled bastardization of what was once a lively, colorful little town. The citizens, almost all adults, become Bucket-Heads, slave drones that act as such. This soon raises the tension, and the heroes sulk further into depression and failure. Mindy soon decides to "Turn them into men" by sticking on pieces of seaweed above their lips, giving them the placebo of manliness. Only something as far fetched as "Princess Mermaid Magic" could give the man children the strength to go on.
Coincidence after coincidence occurs and each peril is evaded because they have the power to do so, even if only because of the placebo. They even sing a song with the monsters, how they had "become our friends" like in the lyrics. Shell City is dead ahead and Dennis rips the weed-staches off the duo's face, revealing that it was all a scam. Soon, before the crushing weight of humorless adulthood can set in, the "Cyclops", a Scuba Diver, stomps him out and grabs our heroes, taking them to Shell City, a gift shop where they are put to death by dehydration.
However, they soon see the crown, proving that they can succeed, even if their quest ends with the duo dying. They cry and sing a heartbreaking rendition of "Goofy Goober" before drying out and perishing. My figment was crying, and I felt my own tears welling up a bit. Deus ex Machina strikes again, when the tear shorts out the lamp and electrical wiring, setting off a sprinkler system to revive them. Like in Joseph Campbell, the heroes die but are reborn in their innocence, to finish what they started.
The two return with the crown, have a final run in with Dennis before he's axed off for real this time, and finally stop Neptune from killing Mr. Krabs. Diablos ex Machina with a "King- Sized" Bucket Helmet, and Spongebob has a small speech. He proves that he's as good as any adult despite being "childish", and with that, he saves the town with Rock and Roll. Because Movie, that's why.
It's weird to give a review to film that's literally like 11 years old. However, I feel like this should get out to everyone who wants to watch a great family film, old and young. Yes, my Draconequus, it's a great film.