Onward – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Onward.

Story

I had heard reviews about this movie that said it was the herald that Pixar had lost it’s magic and just become another copy of Disney. (Which I think is unfair since modern Disney owes a lot to Pixar.) This movie didn’t disappoint me. Like the vast majority, it left me crying.

I think the story itself is fairly simple but the world and buildup are fantastic. There’s very little in the movie that isn’t used or exploited again.

That all being said… It was a little predictable. The structure of a Quest or road trip movie, dictates that no matter what they choose, it’ll be wrong but end up pushing the character development. I guessed every twist in advance, which is uncommon for a Pixar.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The story is the characters. That’s really what Pixar is best at, engaging, flawed, lovable, characters that grow because of the story.

From the awkward Mom’s boyfriend to the retired adventurer, they all have depths. I mean, they somehow managed to make a character who was just a bottom half, have a loving and endearing personality.

Score: 1

Dialogue

“You’ll never be ready. Now Merge!” is probably one of the most inspiring things I’ve heard. As someone without his license, it’s also terrifying.

The dialogue is true and it’s certainly authentic; but it’s not extremely memorable after a first watch.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie’s description call it a Suburban Fantasy and the visuals never let you forget it. Anytime you see a lush, beautiful, fantasy moment, the visuals will throw in a plane or road sign or manhole cover.

It’s a great balancing act that makes the entire movie visually coherent. I love the look and feel of this world. It’s beautiful and ugly in all the right ways.

The music is mostly variations on fantasy themes with a bunch of classic rock inspired music thrown in. The combination gives a quirky feel but is definitely authentic its Dungeons & Dragons influence.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie had everything I wanted and didn’t try to jam in an awkward romance.

It was exciting, pretty, and a lot of fun.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie feels like it was made to entertain me and pull at my heartstrings. It won’t hit everyone the same way but it is an extremely fun road trip movie set in a suburban fantasy. Plus there’s a gelatinous cube.

Score: 4 stars

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 movie Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

This is supposed to be a sequel to the 2016 Suicide Squad. I reviewed that at the time and was extremely generous in my rating.

Story

The story was overly simple which was a good thing but also telegraphed what was going to happen. This wasn’t a movie that left me guessing, it told you early on what was going to happen and then those things happened.

As with any anti-hero story, there were a few morally awkward moments and a lot of humour.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The movie truly shines through its characters, all written and acted superbly. It was nice that they remembered that Harley is smart. I hate smart characters doing dumb things, but Harley did dumb things because she was hurt, broken, sad, and disturbed.

All that other characters were fantastic and left you feeling like they were well rounded (Although definitely in need of a hug and a paid vacation).

Score: 1

Dialogue

Some of the dialogue was brilliant, the narration was awesome, but not everything was great. All the actors had moments were their natural accents slipped, some of the turns of phrase felt like they were meant for someone else to say, and when Harley wasn’t there or narrating, the movie took a dive towards bad cop drama.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The action pieces, aesthetic, and music were fantabulous. The simplicity of the story led to those big action set pieces. I don’t think I’ve seen better action than that scene in the evidence locker. I also desperately want this soundtrack.

Score: 1

Fun

Other than a few moments were it started dragging (usually non-narrated story parts for the BOP) this was a thoroughly fun movie. Action, humour, drama, and great music.

Score: 1

Conclusion

This movie was fantastic and if you can handle brutal action, I highly recommend it. I definitely look forward to re-watching it.

Much better than Suicide Squad, which I’ll have to re-watch and re-review.

Final Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Spies in Disguise – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2019 movie Spies in Disguise.

Story

The movie starts as a standard spy thriller reminiscent of older James Bond. It even has a Bond-style intro sequence. There’s a car chase, stakeout, and they add a great twist by inserting an awkward and slightly out there scientist and gadget maker.

The movie exploits the tropes of Spy Thrillers, Accidental Spy, and buddy comedy in a way that could have easily been cringe worthy but wasn’t.

The themes of the movie seem to be a combination of violence begets violence and to challenge tradition. Which is pretty subtle and backed up with some spectacular action sequences.

That being said, it was a little predictable.

Score: .5

Characters

The tough guy scared by loss who’s a super spy is a tired cliché and is used to make you dislike the character to start with and redeem him in the long run. Will Smith does a great job with a character that could have been less likeable than Daniel Craig’s Bond. Unfortunately the character spends far too much of the movie on bravado and complaining. It gets annoying.

The geeky scientist who is driven by a sad backstory is normally the villain. He has every earmark of turning bad, but the writers never even let you think it a possibility. He’s a stalwart believer in a non-fatal form of justice. (Spider-Man, is that you?)

The secondary characters are entertaining but the villain is utterly forgettable.

Score: .5

Dialogue

Quipy, intelligent, and delightful. The movie shines in it’s dialogue and visuals.

A nice bonus for both an animated movie and a spy story was that the techno-babble was coherent and based in real science.

Score: 1

Visuals

It was a beautiful movie. Using visuals to move the story forward and add humour. It’s a beautiful movie that would be hilarious even without sound.

Score: 1

Fun

Other than a few times I wanted to slap the Spy character or the spy agency people, I really enjoyed this movie. There’s action, adventure, humour, and a feeling that everything will work out.

Score: 1

Conclusion

This is one of the better spy spoofs that I’ve seen. It avoids a lot of the pratfalls of awkwardness and really delivers some clever laughs. Dragon laughed a lot and sat the entire time.

Final Score: 4 Stars

2019 Book Rankings

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

This year I read 21 books, one of which was mine.

If you like Fantasy and Adventure, try Everdome By Éric Desmarais

5 Stars

  1. That Ain’t Witchcraft (InCryptid, #8) By McGuire, Seanan
  2. Star-Crossed By Dee, Barbara
  3. Skylark By Carrière, S.M.
  4. The Measure of a Monster By McGuire, Seanan
  5. Justice Calling (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress, #1) By Bellet, Annie
  6. My Teacher Glows in the Dark (My Teacher Is an Alien, #3) By Coville, Bruce
  7. My Teacher Fried My Brains (My Teacher Is an Alien, #2) By Coville, Bruce

4 Stars

  1. The Unkindest Tide (October Daye, #13) By McGuire, Seanan
  2. The Red Trailer Mystery (Trixie Belden, #2) By Campbell, Julie
  3. The Secret of the Mansion By Campbell, Julie
  4. Midnight at Madame Leota’s (Tales from the Haunted Mansion #2) By Arcane, Amicus
  5. Voltron: Legendary Defender #3 (of 5) By Hedrick, Tim
  6. Hope is Swift By McGuire, Seanan
  7. An Adventurer’s Guide to Eberron By Bonner, Logan
  8. The Gatehouse Mystery (Trixie Belden #3) By Campbell, Julie
  9. Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider, Vol. 1: Spider-Geddon By McGuire, Seanan

3 Stars

  1. Pack of Lies (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress #3) By Bellet, Annie
  2. Murder of Crows (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress, #2) By Bellet, Annie

2 Stars

  1. Disney After Dark By Pearson, Ridley
  2. Strawberry Cream Cupcake & Murder (Dana Sweet #1) By Marie, Ann S.

What was your favourite book?

Éric

2018 Book Ranking

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

This year I read 28 books, one of which was mine.

I challenged myself this year to only read books from people I’d met or interacted with. It was a great experiment, but I look forward to reading anything I feel like in 2019.

If you enjoy wish fulfillment, mystery, or urban fantasy, check out The Sign of Faust by  Éric Desmarais

5 Stars

4 Stars

3 Stars

What was your favourite book of 2018?

Éric