Three Popped Corns

I Just Watched This Movie: “Allied”

Character Depth. Every story has characters. The boring back stories and emotions of those characters make up their depth. Great movies don’t even bother giving their characters depth because let’s face it, no one want’s to know what the character had for breakfast. The new film “Allied” knows not to waste time on giving their characters depth and this payed off in one of the most incredible performances Brad Pitt has ever done. Brad Pitt plays a man who wears a uniform, stares at people, and occasionally shoots people. What else do you need to know? Is he Canadian, French, or English, I think they mentioned where he was from at some point, and he definitely lived in London, but he sounds American to me and in the long run, what should it matter? What is his job? Is he a spy? He isn’t that good at keeping his cover if that’s the case. Is he a pilot? He has some trouble with that too. But you know what we do know about him? He’s an ultra famous actor that has a lot of screen time.

Babies. The old adage about filmmaking is never work with animals or children. However sometimes the adults in the movie have a baby and you’ve got to deal with it. On this movie, though, the filmmakers totally miscast the part of the baby. She was always a drag on any scene she was in. It felt like whatever the director told her to do, she completely ignored. She couldn’t even walk right in the picnic scene. I mean, seriously? It was obvious that the writers had to make changes on set. Either they had her sleeping or with the babysitter so that she didn’t spoil any more of the film. This should be a lesson to all filmmakers, follow the Eastwood method and just get a prop baby. They’re so much easier to work with and no one will notice.

Spy thrillers. A crowd favorite, spy thrillers are cool films about people who wear fancy suits and kill people really quietly. By those rules, “Allied” fits perfectly. The costumes are trĂ©s chic and they kill several people. Many people believe that spy thrillers should also have mystery, intrigue, double crossing, and actual spying, but that is simply not true. “Allied” is considered a spy thriller and really doesn’t have any of that. While it does have a bit of a mystery and twist, you don’t have to worry about getting confused or excited because it’s pretty easy to guess and the characters aren’t very deep so you can be happy knowing you won’t care too much about the stakes.

If you want to watch a fun movie about secrets, a marriage between spies, action, and Brad Pitt, there’s probably a better option already out there. But if you love watching Marion Cotillard, it may be worth it to see parts of “Allied.” I give it three popped corns.


Zero Popped Corns

I Just Watched This Movie; “Moana”

Money. All studios have only one goal, and that is to make money. It is refreshing to see great films supported by a studio, however the new film “Moana” is not one of those. No doubt in a way to profit from their new found “Frozen” audience, Disney decided to make an exact copy. In order to make it seem like they were selling something new and not just remaking “Frozen,” the filmmakers set the movie in the warm pacific islands with a character that manipulates water instead of ice and the snowman was replaced with a rooster. Other than that the films only differ by plot, characterization, cultural context, and themes. While some may be fooled into thinking this is an original movie, it is clear that this is a cash grab by Disney. Just look at the two films’ hit songs and tell me that “How Far I’ll Go” and “Let It Go” don’t both have the word “go”.

Musicals. Many movies use music sung by characters as a way to express the feelings of the characters and the plot of the story. While the music is a helpful tool, it is important that the music doesn’t overshadow the film. That is why it was so disappointing to hear the music in this film. Not only were the songs catchy and full of energy, they also gave the film a unique rhythm and mood. A great musical should have a bunch of very boring songs that are indistinguishable from each other and use a lot of excessive lyrics so that the audience can focus on what really matters; the visuals. Watching “Moana,” I feel like I could have closed my eyes during the whole movie and still genuinely enjoyed it. What good is the movie on screen then? Alexander Hamilton needs to learn from his mistake, or just stick to writing music for Broadway.

Type casting. When casting for a film, it is hard to avoid hiring actors and actresses that look the part. Not only did Disney fall into this trap, but they got actors that sounded and behaved like the characters as well. At a time when there is such a big call for diverse casting, all of the lead actors were of asian/pacific islander heritage just like the characters. Additionally, the actors were exactly who you’d expect. Maui, the demi-god character was played by real life demi-god Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (“Hercules”, “The Scorpion King”). Moana, the title character, an animated happy young girl who lives on an island was played by Auli’i Cravalho, an animated happy young girl from Hawai’i. At least the casting director got creative in casting a human to play the giant crab character.

It’s always delightful when a movie comes out that can be enjoyed any time and with any company. “Moana” is one of those films. From the wonderful music to the exciting and original story, this movie will surely be a classic. I give it zero popped corns.

Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 3.48.46 PM

Two Popped Corns, Uncategorized

I Just Watched This Movie; “Jason Bourne”

Equipment. Shooting a movie requires various tools, such as a camera, a sound recorder, and lights. Equipment doesn’t simply appear on set, it must be rented. Major studio films usually have the budget to rent all the equipment they need, especially the essentials. That’s why it was so surprising that the producers of “Jason Bourne” forgot to rent a tripod or steadicam. This mistake was not the first time. The same mistake has been made on the productions of all the Bourne films. You’d think that someone would learn or get fired. This mistake goes right up there with Terrence Malick forgetting to rent lights, and Michel Hazanavicius forgetting to rent a sound recorder for “The Artist.”

Retaining Cast. Sequels should give an audience more of the characters that they’ve fallen in love with. These characters are tied to the actors that play them, which is why it is so important to retain cast members. Some series have issues with this. The James Bond series, for example, has had an extremely difficult time getting Sean Connery back for the films and thus has resorted to many other actors. If there’s one thing that the Bourne series has done well, it’s keeping Matt Damon in the films. Julia Stiles returns alongside Damon in her role as ex CIA analyst Nicky Parsons, and the pair return to their long term staring contest. You’ll have to see the film to find out who wins. Along with them, Tommy Lee Jones joined the film to reprise his role from “The Fugitive.” The filmmakers even cast all the same extras from the past film’s crowded London scenes for this film’s crowded London scenes.

Information. In the spy genre, the characters are always in search of information on how events are linked, who is related to who, and what evil plot must be stopped. “Jason Bourne” creatively fulfills this genre requirement by presenting all information on computer screens. In the digital age, it makes sense that all of the characters backstory and secrets would be available in a file on some CIA computer, or in the results of a google search. Some might say it’s not cinematic to show computer screens for more than half of the film. Or to have actors share emotional scenes with computers. But presenting exposition and plot points this way is very efficient and the audience can find a way to enjoy it.

There aren’t many Bourne films out there, but this is definitely one of them. While it may not have been as well written or exciting as the past films, it’s an action movie with Matt Damon. I give it two popped corns.

Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 3.49.42 PM