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Saturday
Jul292017

Detroit (2017)Movie Review

When I heard that this movie was being made I was conflicted on whether or not to see it.  While a ton of films have been shot in Detroit only a handful off the top of my head have actual been about Detroit(“Robocop”, “8 Mile” and now “DETROIT”) and those haven’t portrayed Detroit in a positive light.  This film is about an event that still affects the city today (on a subconscious and to a degree conscious level)even though most people here don’t want to talk or think about it anymore.  Still it’s a movie about the city I’ve lived in most of my life so I probably should see it just to see if the film-makers do the people and the event justice.  They did, to a degree.

 

Directed by Katherine Bigelow “DETROIT” (2017) follows a a group of people who all diverge at the Aljiries hotel during the 1967 Detroit riot.  It’s important to point out that the film isn’t about the riot, what lead up to it or the aftermath of it.  It’s main focus is what happened at the hotel.  The riot itself it’s more used as the background of the film. A good way to think about it is how Dunkirk is about one event of WW2 and not about the totality of the war itself.

 

 

PRO:

 

Acting across the board was great.  I know people will say that most of the cops in the film were one note and evil but that’s how it was then.  Corruption was from the bottom up(you could argue now the corruption is from the top down, it’s just that people hide their true feelings better, anyway).  The cast wasn’t too large so we did get to know each character.  Even the ones that at first seemed they were going to have just small roles.  Each actor made the most of their time onscreen.  For the most part the environment and era were recreated faithfully.  The music and fashion were on point. (A side note none of the actors sound like actual Detroit’s or rather don’t have the Detroit accent.  A minor quibble)  That said only a few shot were actually shot in Detroit…for reasons.  Gee thanks Governor Snyder & Michigan state government I guess we just can’t have nice things.  Anyway most of the film was shot in Boston. 

 

The period era costuming were excellent as well.  It didn’t come off like the actors were playing dress up. 

 

For the first half of the film it was pace very well.

 

However -

 

CON:

 

The film was shot on hand held cameras so there was a shakiness to almost every scene.  This worked well during the high tension scenes unfortunately it got off putting for the rest of the film.

 

The 1960’s music was good but the score seemed non-existent.  It was completely unremarkable, which is odd since it’s by James Newton Howard. 

 

PACE.  While the pace for the first half was good the second half seemed to have a stop start quality to it.  Part of the reason I think was the inclusion of the music group and it’s lead singer.  It makes sense for him to be in the story but whenever we go back to him the film feels off during those moments. 

 

Also since most of the film wasn’t filmed in Detroit not all of the set recreations felt authentic.  An example would be the Fox Theater.  Since I wasn’t born at the time I can’t be 100% sure but from some pics I’ve seen in the past the FOX had a grand majestic interior before it was renovated.

 

*SIDE-NOTE* Based on what some people have said over the years there were business owners who torched their own business for the insurance money and used the riot’s as a convient excuse.  In some cases people saw the owners do it.

 

The opening is done in an animated montage.  I liked that but after watching the entire film I just wished Bigelow would have spent more time and actually show what lead up to the riot.  Show the growing racial and cultural tensions and right before the breaking point.  It doesn’t have to take up half the film it could just be the first 15 - 20 minutes.  Well that’s not the type of story she was going for so I have to just judge what she produced. 

 

RECOMMEND?:  Yes.

 

This is a good film.  It’s well acted, directed has a ton of tension but it’s also really brutal.  EVERYONE should see it.  Most won’t probably for…reasons.  Looking back at Katherine Bigelow’s previous 2 films (“The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty”) I preferred this film over those two.  It’s not perfect but it’s better realized than those were. My main issue with the film though is that I feel more needed to be explored about the riots.  I think most of the people that go to the film that aren’t from Detroit or an “urban” city might feel a bit unfulfilled and want to know more about the before and after(even though they most likely won’t go online to find out or ask someone that know’s more about it).  I don’t want another film about the 1967 riots made though.  As I noted earlier the only films I can think of set in Detroit don’t show it in a good way.  Next time I want more variety.  Heck a few years ago there was a “MOTOWN” musical play made.  Adapt that or how about a film about the founders of “Focus Hope”(Eleanor Josaitis & Father William T. Cunningham)?  It was an organization founded after the riots to help the people of Detroit.  It’s still around today making a difference.  Or hey how about ESPN’s Dick Vitale?  He was the former University of Detroit and Detroit Piston’s head coach.  He has an interesting story and an bombastic personality that would work on the big screen.

 

Oh well.

Saturday
Jul292017

The EMOJI Movie Express Yourself Movie Review

15 mins into the film I felt a small piece of my soul dying.  Half-way thru my heart shrunk by 3 sizes.  

Sigh…

Let’s begin

 

THE SETUP

 

The “Meh” emoji has a malfunction on his first day on the job so he tries to find to way to get fixed so he won’t stand out and also won’t get deleted(killed).  Meanwhile in the real world the kid that owns the phone is looking to delete everything on his phone because he got embarrassed in front of a girl he couldn’t talk too. 

 

Let’s start with a the pro’s since the con’s will last awhile.  

 

PRO: 

 

It was bright and colorful.  Then again any 3D animated film costing over 40 million not named “Strange Magic” is going to be colorful.  

 

See it in 3D.  I didn’t see this in 3D but the way it was animated I think this would play better in 3D.  An example is the “INSTAGRAM” city was well thought out.  There are also other times when certain creatures where flying around. 

 

The Villain Smiler.  Her smile is nightmare fuel and I understood her motivation.  I was actually rooting for her until about near the halfway point of the film when “deleting”(killing) him became pointless since they were all in danger.

 

That’s basically it for the good now the bad.

 

CON:

 

THE ACTING 

 

While not bad most of the performances weren’t really memorable.  Also some of the actors seemed to just be playing themselves(James Corbin, Christina Aguilera).  They didn’t add anything to there roles.  I know the point of having star voices is to lure in the audience but in most cases I don’t think they really work.  Also the actors in this film don’t do much(Patrick Stewart) and in others you don’t know who it is(Christina Aguilera).  On a side note during the credits I saw Tara Strong and Phil Lamar.  This film would’ve been a great chance to use actually trained professional voice actors.  They would be able to add more to the roles than what’s on the page.

 

CHARACTERS

 

The human character’s weren’t real characters.  They were only a plot point.  They didn’t have any personality.  This reminded me of Inside/Out in that way.  Except with Inside/Out more time was spent with the human characters so you could understand them a bit more.  As far as the emoji’s?  “Meh” what you see is what you get.  Pretty one note.

 

THE ANIMATION  

Character design wise it wasn’t good.  Since most of the characters are based on emoji’s there’s not much you can really add to their design to make them look interesting.  The humans didn’t look interesting.  They just look like the standard cartooning CGI character model almost EVERY animation studio uses(even yes PIXAR). However some effort was done with some of the action scenes.  They worked in 2D and I imagine they would work better in 3D.  The problem is this was few and far between.

 

THE STORY, WRITING, PRODUCT PLACEMENT & SUCH & SUCH!

The story felt generic and at times was beat for beat both “Wreck it Ralph” and “Inside/Out”.  The resolution also doesn’t make sense.  I don’t think phones work like that.  The product placement wasn’t as clever as I believe the film-makers thought it was.  Incorporating it in the film makes sense considering this all takes place in a phone but  I think more could’ve been done with it.  If your going to copy wreck it ralph then why not do what they did and satirize them(like with what ralph did with “Call of Duty, Donky Kong and Mario Kart).  My guess is because the budget of the film was covered by said product placement. 

 

I’m sure the idea for this film was to start a franchise but it doesn’t have anywhere to go by the end of the film.  What are they going to do have a new app installed that goes bonkers and wants to take over everything?  Are they going to go to another phone, tablet, computer or mp3 player next?

 

The writing wasn’t good as well none of the jokes were funny.  The only time I laughed was during one second of the Hotel Transylvania short that aired BEFORE the film.  After the first 15-20 mins of the film I don’t think any of the kids in the theater laughed and before that they didn’t laugh they just giggled occasionally.  The jokes didn’t work the film also used a ton of puns which all fell flat.  There were a few times in the film where they tried to be a little profound but since the story and characters are blah it just didn’t ring true.

 

I can’t recommend this film.  It’s not good or so bad it’s good. It’s really middle of the road, nondescript.  It just seemed to be a cynical attempt to make a 3D animated franchise with little effort.  Going in I had a bad feeling about this film.  So why did I go see it?  Because I wanted to know what on earth was SONY thinking?  What possessed them to okay this.  I’m sure people will say that “It could’ve been good, just look at the LEGO MOVIE”.  

 

No.  Lego has been part of out cultural landscape for DECADES.  It’s had toy sets, video games, books, podcasts, tv series as well as made of tv and straight to video movies.  LEGO has strong nostalgia with it that emoji’s just has never had.  The main reason for me seeing this film was to see what about it that SONY felt work more than POPEYE, or the 2D Medusa film they cancelled(yeah I know sites like wiki say it’s still happening but the release dates have been removed for months now) and other films they pushed to a later date…allegedly.  Sony gambled on this film and after a crap trailer they stopped their promotion of the film for months(only showing a few clips on it’s website)the first full trailer was only released about a month ago.  SONY also placed a review embargo that only let up hours before the film’s wide release.  So they seemed to know they had a bad film.

 

You know what though? It doesn’t matter.

 

Box office estimates have it making 10 million on Friday.  At this rate it could make between 30 - 40 million domestically and when you count in abroad this will be a financial hit.  Which is sad because they will be rewarded for a bad product.   Hopefully with the sequel(because of course there will be one) they will ACTUALLY TRY.

 

Wednesday
Jul262017

DETROIT 2017 I don't even know

WARNING!!! RAMBLING INCOMING!!!

 

I’m conflicted about the new film “DETROIT”(2017).  In the past there’s been ton of films shot in Detroit but not many actually about the city.  When they are (Robocop & 8 Mile) Detroit’s not seen in a positive light.  So when I heard that there was going to be a film called “DETROIT” coming out this year I was interested.  What’s it going to be about?  The beginning of the U.S. auto industry?  No.  Music or the beginning of the Motown music revolution?  No.  About a group of people or family and a look at their everyday life?  No.  It’s about the 1967 riot. 

 

Oh boy. 

 

Because of course that’s what it’s going to be about.  New York and L.A. has had tons of films made about them so when there is a film that doesn’t look favorably on them it’s okay because a ton of them do.  Detroit isn’t so lucky.  If you were to play a word association game and ask someone not from Detroit to bout the first thing comes to there mind when you say Detroit what’s going to pop up?  Blight, crime, murder capital of the world(it’s not anymore if it ever was when you consider the rest of the world) bankrupt(it’s not Detroit’s been out of bankruptcy for over a year now).  Don’t get me wrong Detroit has a lot of work to do but there is a lot of positive things coming out from it.  

 

I probably wouldn’t have a problem with this film being made if there other films about the city already created.  That said this film did get me thinking…

 

The point of the film is to show the riot yes but also so what incited it.  Depending on who you ask in the city when it started or who caused it can very.   One thing I hope this film does show is how the police view the citizens of the city and how the city view them.  Because before the incident both sides where on very shaky ground and since then everyones opinions of the opposing side has only gotten worse.  

 

There should be a compromise but unfortunately as recent national news events have showed the police even if their in the wrong and it’s proved they’ve done something illegal nothing will happen to them.  The public is told to respect the police’s authority but on the whole the police doesn’t seem to mutual respect for the public it’s supposed to serve.  It may be too much to ask for but hopefully the film will be unbiased.  Mistakes were made on both sides in 1967.  I hope the film will show that the riot didn’t happen because of a one time incident.  The tensions in the community were growing way before then.  

 

It would be nice if this film is successful that the Detroit community, the police department heck the state of Michigan and the state government would change their way of thinking and make positive changes and compromise in it’s thinking.  I guess that might be asking too much. 

 

On a side note the world premiere of the film wasn’t held in New York or L.A. but at the Fox Theater in Downtown Detroit.  So that’s cool.  Also while the film open’s nation wide next week it actually opens in Detroit this Thursday.  I think I’m going to see it.  Still not sure if I’m going to review it though.  Last thing I really hope that this film won’t overly fictionalize event’s.  Maybe it’s because I live here but I think doing that would marginilze the actually event and would be an insult to everyone who lives here or was there at that time. 

 

Friday
Jul212017

Valerian And The City of a Thousand Planets (movie review)

Valerian and Laureline ran in the anthology Pilote co-created by Pierre Christin & Jean Claude Mezieres.  It ran from Nov. 1967 - Jan. 2010.  It’s a French Science Fiction story that takes place in the 28th(2713) century follows Valerian who works with the Spatio-Temporal Service.

 

Valerian City of A Thousand Planets is an adaptation of the long running French comic book series “Valerian & Laureline”(Nov. 1967 -Jan 2010).  It takes place in the 28th century where we now possess the capability to go thru time and space.  The story follows Valerian who’s employed by the Spatio-Temporal Service(2713) whose job it is to stop and capture rogue elements across space and time.  He get’s the job done(usually) but appears unreliable at times. Ex. being drunk, knucklehead and late for work(because he’s a time traveler ha, Ha, HA!).  

 

Then there’s Laureline who Valerian ran across during a mission.  She’s a former redheaded peasant girl from 11th century France.  Due to unforeseen circumstances she winds up on Valerian’s ship when he goes back to the future.  With nothing else to do she’s later trained to be a Spatio-Temporal agent and becomes his partner.  

 

*End of prologue*

 

So far I’ve had a great movie going year.  “John Wick(Chapter 2)”, “Get Out” and “Logan” where great(even though I do still have 1 major issue with that film).  “Ghost In The Shell 2017” was a disappointment but I enjoyed “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2” as much as the first one.  “Wonder Woman” and “Spider-Man:Homecoming” were both a blast(even though once again I have 1 major issue with them).  7 films and only one dud?  Not bad.  So where does Valerian fall.  Right beside “Ghost in the Shell (2017)” unfortunately.

 

The Plot:

In the film they are already both established and are agents but no time travel.  Huh?  At the start of the film a planets inhabitants  have several ships fall on them destroying their planet.  Later on “Alpha”(an uber space station that has about 1000 different civilizations on it)a “radiation” incident occurs and…….. 

zzzzzzz…. Oh, sorry!  I was just remembering the film!  Okay I’ll start with the positive because well you’ll see. I really liked the visuals.  The creature an design of this universe looked great and well thought out.  Plus there were great splashes of color all thru the film even during dark scenes.   I really appreciated it when the camera would focus on a particular scene like the one at the beginning on the doomed world.  It had a unreal realness to it if that makes any sense. 

 

I also enjoyed how well thought out this universe was.   The aliens and tech.  This film was more successful with this than Jupiter Ascending was.  In JA they would try to cram a ton of exposition to explain EVERYTHING!  It looked like they were trying to put 3 films worth of continuity into one film.  Valerian didn’t do that.  The film started with a montage of the future history of space exploration with humans meeting and greeting new races and as that happens our technology advances along the way.  It was also nice that I believe “spaceship oddessy” was being played.

 

NEGATIVES: 

The acting.  The supporting characters were okay but the main leads were horrible.  I’ve only seen Dane Dehaun in 2 films: Chronicle and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.  I didn’t enjoy his acting in the former and his acting in the latter was…interesting.  For some reason it sounded as if he was trying to sound rough and rugged.  Perhaps like how the Valerian character from the comics could be.  The problem is their not built anything alike and he didn’t believable come off as a cocky, arrogant womanizer.

 

Cara Delivine isn’t a good actress.  I only know here from 2 other films Paper Towns and Suicide Squad.  In Paper Towns she was okay but she really only appeared I believe at the beginning of the film and the end.  In Suicide Squad (a film I like despite what the internet says.  $745 million.  People don’t keep going to the same movie paying for it if they hate it.) she barely says anything and when she does it’s under a paragraph(maybe 1 or 2 sentences).  It was as if the directors of those films were trying to hide her away from the movie.  She had line readings that just fell flat and when she was supposed to show some emotion I felt nothing.  Also the Cara in the film doesn’t have red hair.  Not a nitpick since this is part of the design of the character.  I assume the film-makers only cared about casting this particular actress.  I mean they could’ve have her wear a wig or dye it.  Or Heck use cgi.

 

Why is this called Valerian and not Valerian and Lauren.  That’s what the comic(and animated series) was named because both characters are equally as important.  Even though from what I’ve read Laureline is more dependable.  Is the reason because the laureline sounds too weird.  What more than Valerian?  It possibly has to do because Hollywood feels that there can’t be a major hollywood film based on a new property that 2 names or ones that a woman.  The public won’t see a sci/fi film co-headed by a woman.  Or if you have the name of 2 characters that head the film(men or women) the public will want to know who is the lead character.  A film can’t have 2 leads!  THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!

 

The costars don’t have any chemistry.  For whatever reason the film-makers decided to have the characters have romantic interest with each other.  It didn’t work.

 

The 3D is nonexistent.  Correction the only time it looked good was during the commercials before the movie.  Other than that nothing was enhanced.  Skip the 3D it’s pointless.

 

The Writing. Was horrible.  Scenes were predictable.  Also I could predict what would happen to a character first appears.  The pacing was at times too slow while at others times certain scenes go on to long.  Ex. whenever Valerian and Laureline are arguing.  Which is a lot.  If the characters has some chemistry and the writing was good then it could work.  It doesn’t here and I can’t remember in the last decade where romantic bickering was funny. What they were saying most of the time wasn’t interesting as well. 

 

The characters don’t resemble the source material.  “Valerian” in the comic anyway is taller and masculine.  He looks like the stereotypical hero type.  That works for the story.  Here he looks kinda like a pansy.   Also Laureline visually looks nothing like here source material.  In the comic(and hell the cartoon) she was a red headed former 11th century peasant girl.  She acts reckless and will speak her mind against her superiors.  I vaguely saw this in the film.  Also what I feared for in the trailer happened here.  Both characters have a romantic relationship. In the comics they do have a close(intimate)relationship but romantic love isn’t part of it(or at least what I’ve read so far).  Why does Hollywood always do that?  I can only think of 3 times off the top of my head when a man and woman work together in a film and there isn’t any romance between them.

1. Robocop (Murphy and Lewis)

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Cap and Black Widow)

3. Mad Max: Fury Road (Max and Furisa)

 

RECOMMEND: NO

 This film reminds me of Ghost in the Shell 2017.  Both are based on comics.  Both visually and in world building are great.  However the story isn’t good and the acting of the main lead(s) is horrible.  Here’s the thing if both actors gave great performances added with the great visuals then this would’ve been a good film because then I would’ve cared about what was going on.  The music with the exception of the opening song was forgettable.  Luc Besson didn’t pay enough attention to 1. casting the right actors for the leads.  2. the script and dialogue.  

 

The said thing about this film is there is so much potential their.  What they took and adapted from the comics to create this universe was considerable and well thought out but the lack of attention to detail on other aspects of this film is just pitiful.  What’s worse just like with Ghost in the Shell I bet that people who saw this film and hated it or decided to skip this film will NEVER check out the source material.  Which is a shame because it’s really engaging and easy to get.  Each comic is about 50 pages long and has a beginning middle and end.  It’s available now in book stores, comic shops and online at Amazon at good prices.  Plus I just learned about a week ago that a animated series was made.  It’s 40 episodes long and is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.com and has been collected in dvds and is available now.  

 

So basically if you like sci/fi and want to see something new, skip this film but buy the art book of the film when it comes out and try the comics(which is also available on comixology.com(think of it as streaming for comic books)) and watch the tv series.  

 

Hmm once I finish the comics and tv series I might do a retrospective on it.  You know treat this property with the respect that the film didn’t.

Wednesday
Jul192017

THE FORGOTTEN Abar The First Black Superman

One day while watching a video by the Youtube channel Good/Bad Flicks Cecil was discussing the film “PUSH”.  During which he briefly mentioned “Abar The First Black Superman”.  This got me intrigued and since Comic Con was coming up(it probably past by the time I put this out) I figured why not watch the trailer at least.  Just based off that this has got to be the most bonkers film I’ve ever seen….in the last 2 days!  

 

The movie begins cold with someone seemingly driving in real time as a protest is going on.  (3 minutes in that’s dropped) Well that was abrupt.  A black family is moving into the neighborhood and they meet the welcoming committee.  Within 5 mins of the film starting we go from cordially mistaking the family for the help(!) to hateful racist(Well that escalated quickly - Ron Burgundy)(show the transition).  A minute later there’s a bunch of white people protesting to get the black family out.  Yeah, sure that’s how racists do things.

 

HOLD ON ONE MINUTE!!!  A black main cast, racist or evil white people, a funky soundtrack, stock images, questionable acting, cinematography, directing AND in the 1970’s?  Let me see my checklist(sound of pages turning).  Mmm-hmm, Yep it’s official.  This is a Blaxploitation film!