Best and Worst Films of 2016 (Video 74)


0074 Snapshot

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The Best and Worst Films of 2015 – Video 0069


0069 Snapshot 2

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0047 – Films of 2014


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0045 – Five Second Rule Gameplay


0045 - Five Second Rule

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Frozen (2013)


I Don’t Have a Skull.  …Or Bones.

Frozen (2013)I finally found time to get back into the theaters … but we’ll get to that later.  I told Facebook to pick what I would be reviewing next, and Facebook picked Frozen, based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, written and co-directed by Jennifer Lee, co-directed by Chris Buck, and including the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Ciarán Hinds, and Alan Tudyk.

Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) are two princesses of Arendelle, but they have special magical powers.  Elsa can create ice at will and Anna falls in love with anything with a penis.  While playing as children, Elsa’s mutant power smashes Anna right in the face nearly killing her.  She is saved by the troll king (Ciarán Hinds), who removes any memories she has of Elsa’s powers.  Elsa isolates herself from Anna to keep from hurting her again, but Anna doesn’t understand why.  Then their parents die because Up was such a popular movie that Disney learned that depressing kids was the way to win their hearts.  When Elsa comes of age, the doors of the castle are opened up for Elsa’s coronation, which activates Anna’s mutant power when the first man says words to her.  Elsa objects to their hour long engagement because you shouldn’t fall in love while waiting for your quality eyeglasses to be made and the ensuing argument reveals Elsa’s powers to the kingdom.  Elsa retreats from the castle, but leaves behind an unseasonable winter to remember her by.  Then Anna goes after her.

There were things that I appreciated about this movie and things I didn’t like, but overall I enjoyed the movie.  They did some unexpected things with the story that I thought were interesting, but I’ll get to those later.  One of the things I liked about the movie may not even have been true.  I like it when Disney movies put in references to other Disney movies, like how this movie had Flynn and Rapunzel in one scene.  I also heard someone speculate that the boat sinking in the beginning was the wreck from the Little Mermaid.  I even noticed some of my own.  Did you know that the reindeer was in the Lion King?  And that the snowman was the same one from Aladdin?  You gotta think about these things, people.  But since this is a movie and I’m just nit-picky, I noticed a few things in the story that didn’t make sense.  For instance, they talk in this movie multiple times about how it’s much better that Anna got hit in the head by Elsa’s ice powers than it would have been if she’d been hit in the heart.  I kind of understand the metaphor you were going for, but just think of what you’re doing to the future doctors that are watching this!  I would argue that it is at least equally as bad to have a frozen heart as it is a frozen brain.  Also, what was the deal with that guy at Elsa’s coronation?  Would it REALLY be that big of a deal for Elsa to grab that Diablo 3 mace and the Apple of Eden from Assassin’s Creed with her gloves on?  Is it because, by the laws of Arendelle, that would make Elsa’s gloves Queen of the land?  Another problem was just a continuity error.  Elsa created her dress out of her ice powers, so why did her dress remain when she removed the ice from the land at the end of the movie?  Technically speaking, she should’ve been naked.  That’s just good science.

A lot of the problems I had with this movie were because of the message of female empowerment that saturated the movie.  First of all, I’m a chauvinist, so I don’t like any lying ass movie that says women are strong.  But also, it just wasn’t really consistent.  Sure, they didn’t need the man to save her at the end of the movie because the act of true love was her saving her sister.  That’s nice and novel for a Disney movie, but it’s not like Anna didn’t need a man through most of the movie.  She saved Kristoff a few times, but she wouldn’t even have gotten close to the castle without him.  And she did fall in love with him, so that’s not really that novel for a Disney movie.  You might think it was because the original love interest turned out to be the bad guy, but that’s more of a “Men are dicks” message than about how women are strong.  I’ll tell you a few things I DID learn about women from this movie: women LOVE chocolate and can’t control their emotions, even when it involves magical powers and leads to killing your sister … twice.  So I liked the breaks in tradition like not having an evil queen and not solving every problem by making out with some dude, but I’m not going to pat them on the back too hard for it.

I think the biggest problem I had with this movie was the same I have with any musical: that it was one.  I don’t mind music and singing in a movie, but not all of these songs needed to exist.  I don’t get why the music at the beginning of the movie sounds like a rejected song from the Lion King.  I also didn’t think I needed a song that was probably called “We Collect Ice for a Living.”  Nor did I need to know that about that group of random people at all.  Nor did that group of people need to be in the movie.  Let’s just jump right into “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”  That was a good and cute song that actually told a bit of story in a helpful way.  And, of course, there’s “Let It Go.”  This one is a tricky one because it doesn’t really need to exist either as it’s basically just Elsa saying she’s cool living in a castle made of ice – a story that I would’ve put together when I saw her living in it – but the song is so strong that I wouldn’t have the movie without it.  The song between Sven and Kristoff was pointless, and the song with the trolls seemed to intentionally waste my time.  It was all about the trolls thinking Anna and Kristoff were in love, then they said they weren’t, then the trolls basically said, “Oh, then we just wasted a lot of your time.  Shall we try to save Anna’s life now?”

The cast was all great.  Good singin’ pipes and good character performances as well.  Kristen Bell played Anna really cute and funny, and made her very easy to engage with … which is something that Hans took advantage of.  GET IT?!?!  I would’ve been much different in Anna’s position.  First of all, I’d have a vagina.  That’s a big change.  Then I would’ve hated Elsa.  Not because she hit me in the face with ice and nearly killed me, but because she got mutant powers and I got jack shit!  I would be so pissed at my sister if that happened!  She doesn’t even read comic books!!  And Anna picked a really shitty time to air out her emotional baggage with Elsa.  Did you have to do it in the middle of her coronation in a crowded room full of strangers?  Just imagine how much better that would’ve gone if you went to her room and hashed it out in private like a decent person.  No one would’ve even witnessed it when she stabbed you in the heart with an icicle. Idina Menzel did great, but I kept wondering if Adele Tazlim wouldn’t have done better.  Josh Gad did a great job with Olaf as well.  He had his moments where it seemed like he was trying too hard, but most of the time he was funny and relentlessly adorable.  There were two characters that I had real problems with in this movie.  First was Hans.  Not his motivation though, I completely agree with him on his “Bang either one of the sisters or kill them both.  Either way, you’re King” philosophy.  But why did you have to be the idiot that jumps the gun and lets the hero survive?  Are you a Bond villain?!  Anna was SO close to dying when you decided to go announce it to everyone.  What if they had gone into the room as you might expect someone to do when the princess of your kingdom dies two doors down from the room you’re standing in?  The very least they would’ve found out was that she wasn’t dead, and then the next part of that is that they find out you’re an asshole.  Speaking of assholes: the King and Queen!  “We’ll protect Elsa from the world!  We’ll lock her in her room and give her no emotional issues and really teach her to value her life!”  You might have at least tried to get someone to train her on how to control her powers.  Those troll assholes seemed like they might’ve known a thing or two about magic.

Frozen was a fine Disney movie, but it didn’t blow me away.  It broke from a few conventions of Disney movies, allowing for stronger female protagonists, but kept enough of them in to properly represent women as Cathy from the comic strips, being over emotional and loving chocolate.  I felt that some of the songs were a waste of time, but “Let It Go” was my jams.  I would say I probably recommend you watch this movie, but in the very least you should set “Let It Go” on a loop on YouTube.  Frozen gets “Foot size doesn’t matter” out of “I love it! It’s so cute!  It’s like a little baby unicorn!”

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Wreck-It Ralph (2012)


It’s “Make Your Mommas Proud” Time!

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)The sad realization I’ve had about doing my reviews is that I occasionally don’t seem to find the time to see the movies I actually want to watch because I’m too preoccupied reviewing movies that have been requested or that I just want to watch to make fun of.  Today’s movie is the former.  I really wanted to see this movie for a number of reasons.  It included the voices of many people I like, it is about something I revolve my life around, and it just looked good.  But I never managed to get to the theaters to see it.  When it came out on DVD later, I still didn’t get around to it.  My roommate even purchased it and I still put it off until he finally had to slap me in the face a number of times with his BluRay until I agreed to watch it.  And then I left it on my desk without watching it for a few times until I felt like my life was in danger if I didn’t get around to it.  What I’m saying is that I’m terrified of my roommate.  He’s mentally unstable and I need help.  And since none of you are rushing to my aid because you’re bad people, I’ll instead review Wreck-It Ralph, the new movie from Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures, written by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee, directed by Rich Moore, and starring the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Ed O’Neill, Mindy Kaling, Joe Lo Truglio, Rachael Harris, Edie McClurg, Adam Carolla, Horatio Sanz, Dennis Haysbert, Maurice LaMarche, and John DiMaggio.

When Litwak’s Arcade closes, the video game characters come to life.  …I KNEW IT!!  One of the older games in the arcade is a game called Fix-It Felix, Jr., which is a Rampage rip-off where a giant monkey or lizard creature is replaced by a bad guy named Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly), who wrecks a building, and the gamer must take control of Fix-It Felix, Jr. (Jack McBrayer) to fix it.  But 30 years of being the bad guy is taking its toll on Ralph, who just wants to be the good guy and get a shiny hero badge every once and a while.  Ralph sets off into the other game worlds to earn a medal, going to the new first-person shooter called Hero’s Duty and jumping into the team of Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun (Jane Lynch), where he is able to earn a badge.  He escapes in a pod, but accidentally takes a Cy-Bug creature with him, which causes him to crash in the saccharine sweet kart-racing game and lose his medal to a little, glitchy girl named Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), who wants it to join the race and become a playable character.  But Ralph’s absence does not go unnoticed.  Having no villain in the game is viewed as a malfunction by the owner of the arcade, and if Ralph doesn’t return, the plug will be pulled on the game.  Felix teams up with his new love interest, Sergeant Calhoun, to find Ralph before it’s too late.

Disney must’ve realized that Pixar was showing them up recently because they really seem to be stepping their game up.  I would put Wreck-It Ralph up against any Pixar movie as at least their equal, and that’s one hell of a compliment with some of the Pixar classics out there.  I loved Wreck-It Ralph, and there’s really no reason I should even bother acting surprised about that.  This movie was made for me, or at least born gamers like myself.  …But mostly for me specifically.  For a movie so full of hidden references as this one was, only the most dedicated of gamers will be able to get all of them, and I’m proud to say that I got them all.  And, coincidentally, I am also single.  They had the more obvious things like the Konami code in the game (Yes, I consider that to be something obvious; something everyone should know), but they also had smaller things you have to pay attention for, like graffiti saying “Aeris Lives” and a Leroy Jenkins reference.  But then they also had things that pained my nerdiness, like making Zangief a bad guy.  The only point where Zangief was a bad guy (to my recollection) was in the Street Fighter movie, and no one acknowledges that movie’s existence.  You just think he’s a bad guy because he’s Russian.  But it wasn’t all about the video game references for me.  I thought the story was very sweet, had a simple but good message, and actually made me laugh out loud multiple times.  Most of the things that made me laugh were (arguably) horrible puns, though some of them were genius.  One character claims she has “Pixlexia”, they get trapped in “Nesquicksand”, and they had a Wizard of Oz/Oreos joke that I thought was great, even though I kind of saw it coming.  But I can’t hold that against them.  I AM a comedy genius, after all.  Also, I always thought that what the guards were saying in Wizard of Oz anyway.  But, just as important to the lasting effects of this movie as the comedy, this movie was very sweet.  Mostly involving the fatherly relationship between Ralph and Vanellope.  Also, the ending was sweet as all hell.  I’ve noticed recently that some movies don’t end the way you want them to because they want to be unpredictable.  This movie’s ending was perhaps predictable, but it was exactly the ending I wanted.  I left with a warm feeling in my heart.

Not much to say about the atmosphere of the movie.  It’s fantastic.  It captures every look it goes for.  And it’s interesting to see how they changed the atmosphere and design for each of the individual games.  Keep an eye out for that.

The entire cast of this movie killed it.  And most of them were people I loved going in.  John C. Reilly did a great job, but I found myself mostly focusing on everyone else.  Sarah Silverman killed it.  She was relentlessly adorable, like a female, human Wall-E.  I also love Jack McBrayer, but he was overshadowed by Jane Lynch, who was pretty funny with a pretty hilarious, tragic backstory.  I thought it would’ve been much more progressive if her character was getting married to a lady instead, but perhaps Disney isn’t quite ready to take a stand on the gay marriage situation.  They’re no Chick-fil-a.  Also, he may not have a huge part in the move, but the Ace Man himself, Adam Carolla, is in this movie a little!  That is so exciting to me.  But he wasn’t complaining, and that’s how I like my Ace Man.  I’ll stick to his podcast to get my Carolla fix.

Wreck-It Ralph was a movie that I should not have put off for as long as I did.  I regret missing it while it was in theaters, but hopefully I can make it up to the movie by purchasing it on BluRay now.  The story is sweet and funny enough for children and adults alike, and it’s chock full of things meant to please the nerdiest of gamers (me).  All of the performances were great, but Sarah Silverman stole my heart in this movie.  I think everyone should not only see this movie, but just go buy it right away.  If you don’t like it, then you’re a bad person and I feel no remorse for causing you to spend money on things you don’t appreciate.  Wreck-It Ralph gets “You’re a winner!” out of “And you’re adorable!”

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Brave (2012)


I am Merida, and I’ll be Shooting for My Own Hand

Brave (2012)I have a very strong feeling that today’s movie was officially requested of me. I feel like my friend Christina Moscoscamosco did it. It may also have been my roommate Richurd. My interest was originally piqued in this movie because of Black Friday. Whilst working on Black Friday, this movie was playing in the break room. I only managed to catch about a half hour of it on my lunch before going back into the madness which is people for the most mediocre deals. Eventually, I borrowed it from my roommate with the intention of filling in the gaps I had from my brief viewing. It took up its perch in a pile of movies I had to watch and was promptly forgotten. At least until Richurd started pestering me to watch the damn thing already. And, since I’m terrified of his wrath, I present you my review of Brave, brought to you by the great people at Disney Pixar, written by Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman, and Irene Mecchi, directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and including the vocal talents of Kelly MacDonald, Peigi Barker, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Callum O’Neill, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Steven Cree, Sally Kinghorn, Steve Purcell, and John Ratzenberger.

In Scotland, the family of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) – Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) and young Princess Merida (Peigi Barker) – are out on a picnic for Merida’s birthday. After giving Merida a gift of a bow, the family is attacked by a giant bear called Mor’du. Fergus fights off the bear at the cost of his foot. Later in life, now at age 17, Merida (Kelly MacDonald) is distraught to find that she is to be betrothed to one of the sons of the kings of the other three kingdoms. Merida and Elinor fight over it, ending with Merida slicing a tapestry Elinor had been working on with a sword and running away from the castle. Merida encounters a witch (Julie Walters) who has given up witchcraft for wood-carving. Merida pleads with the witch to give her a spell that will “change her mother and her fate,” having no care for the vagueness of the way she phrased that. The witch presents Merida with a cake to give to her mother. Blah blah blah, happily ever after.

I know the abrupt ending of that paragraph may have led you to believe I didn’t care for this movie. Not the case at all. This was a really good movie (as the greater majority of things that Pixar creates), but it was not without its problems. The story is probably the only thing I took issue with, but only because it’s so typical for Disney. It’s almost exactly the same story as every other Disney princess. Princess not getting along with her parents because of her responsibilities (Ariel, Jasmine, Pocahontas) and she’s a little tomboyish and a bit of a warrior (Mulan) and then her shit gets fucked up by a magician (Snow White, Aurora, Ariel) and it gets fixed when the beast gives its life for her (Belle). Also she hangs out with little people (Snow White) and she’s black (Tiana). Okay, I didn’t see the Princess and the Frog. But I wouldn’t call this movie derivative because I liked it. Let’s just call it “classic.” It has no real surprises, but I was happy with the slight modernization that Pixar added to it by not having the movie end when the Princess met the man of her dreams. Pretty much every Disney Princess movie ends with that, regardless of how free-spirited the character is supposed to be. After that, the only thing close to an issue I had with the movie was that the greater majority of the humor was slapstick, but that’s not even a complaint I’m that resolute with because it is a kid’s movie after all.

It’s a Pixar movie. Just saying that means that it looks fantastic. And this is one of the better looking ones too. They went cartoony with the characters, but they still looked good, and going too realistic with the characters runs you close to the danger of making them weird looking. I thought there was a chance that the bear Mor’du may have been a little too scary for children, and I base that mostly on the fact that it might have been too scary for me. They make those characters perform really well too. I really liked the body language that the momma bear has. That’s what gave me the most laughs in the movie. Also, the momma bear had a little shimmy to go with her shake when she was walking. Another thing worth mentioning is the music. It was kind of pop/Celtic musical stuff, but I really liked it. I wouldn’t be opposed to getting the soundtrack to this movie.

I never really know what to say about the performances in an animated movie. Most times the vocal cast does great jobs in these movies. They continued to do so here. And I love a Scottish accent. I wanted to fuck every accent in this movie. Especially Billy Connolly. I also thought the witch character was pretty amusing, and it amused me even more when I later found out that she was voice by Molly Weasley. I had a few issues with the Merida character though. Granted, there would not be much of a conflict and resolution in this movie without the enchanted cake, but how short-sighted was she to give it to her mom in the first place? Her wish was extremely vaguely worded in the first place. All you really asked was that the cake change your fate. Hell, I could do that for you without magic by putting a razor blade in the cake. That’d change your mom up but good! And you didn’t get much brighter when the witch gave you the solution to the spell. I figured that shit out right away. I am SO much smarter than you, Merida! Then later, when she gets trapped in the room and her father goes out to kill the bear, she tries to get out briefly and then gives up and starts crying. If you would just be a proper woman and get to sewing, that bear would turn back to human and your problem would be solved!

I managed to infuse a review of a Disney Pixar movie with cursing, mild racism, and sexism. I’m actually kind of proud of myself for that. Brave was a good movie, but they didn’t really bother to try anything that new in the story. If all Disney Princesses must have vaginas and share many common plot points, Merida will make a fine addition. But, even with that as the case, the movie is beautiful and the story is still charming. Perhaps most of the charm comes from those sweet, sweet Scottish accents, but I feel like the movie did a good job of it as well. This is a movie that you should definitely watch if you have kids, and probably should watch if you don’t. Brave gets “A princess should not have weapons at all in my opinion” out of “I think I could make you understand if you would just listen.”

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