Thursday, 11 August 2016

OJ's Movie Review - The Little Prince

I've had my eye on this film for a while; it's been to various different film festivals and even got a wide release in France but only last week was it finally released in the UK with the help of Netflix.

I'm surprised this film hasn't been promoted more; even if you haven't read the book it's based on (like me) the film boasts a fantastic cast with the likes of Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, James Franco and more. The animation style is similar to that of Pixar, which is interwoven with stunning stop-motion moments. So in general this film has a lot going for it.
  For the most part, I really liked The Little Prince. As I say, the cast do an amazing job, each role is brought to life with very unique voices and delivery. You can have a film with unknown cast and sometimes that works quite well but sometimes when you hear these voices and you instantly recognise them, it gives you as sense of comfort and familiarity; and the lines delivered by ones such as Jeff Bridges and James Franco make them really stick with you. Like a lot of good animated films, The Little Prince gives you a lot of mottos and life lessons to remember; some of the ones in this movie though, I felt didn't come across as clearly as intended. Something would be happening and I was left wondering exactly what it was trying to tell me, and that's the thing with this movie, there seems to be a lot of metaphors, all of which are presented beautifully, but are left up for interpretation. So in terms of cast and dialogue, I really thought the film was something special.
  I mentioned the animation before and I'll just elaborate. The majority of the film is computer animated and although not as detailed as the more popular animation studios can give, which is to be expected, the look and style were enjoyable enough and it seems like they took a few notes from Pixar, which is never a bad thing. The animation though is nothing compared to the visually stunning stop-motion sequences that are presented. It's nothing like I've seen before and was by far the most interesting parts of the film; a visual experience.
   I'll move onto the story now. The summary of which is a little girl moves to a new house with her very controlling, almost OCD, mother and meets her neighbour, an old man who has a hoarding problem that tells her about his supposed experience he had in the Sahara desert. The first two thirds I really enjoyed, some could argue it's a bit slow, but for me I enjoyed the storytelling element and the sometimes very real depictions of life spliced in with the wildly imaginative metaphors. The friendship between the little girl and the old man was a charming and entertaining watch, and the stop-motion story always had me invested. The third act however took quite a turn in the narrative, the tone changed somewhat and I was constantly waiting for some degree of explanation. I felt it got a little too mixed up into what was real, what was metaphorical, and it didn't quite give closure to some of the plot threads. According to some Internet articles both the book and the film try to base it's logic on a child's imagination so I suppose in that way it makes a nonsensical kind of way.
  In the end, The Little Prince was a visually stunning film with a great script and voice work but the narrative was a little shaky, especially towards the third act.


Thursday, 4 August 2016

OJ's Movie Review - Finding Dory

Never mind finding Dory, finding quality has been Pixar's struggle as of late.

So, as if you didn't know, Finding Dory is the sequel to 2003's brilliant Finding Nemo and we rejoin our main fish friends Dory, Marlin & Nemo as they go on an adventure in the waters of California. I really like Finding Nemo, I think it makes the ocean really interesting and encompasses the vastness of it really well along with giving us investing characters to enjoy. I was a little concerned with Finding Dory however as Pixar has only had success with follow-ups in the Toy Story series; both Cars 2 and Monsters University were average at best. 
  This sequel though, isn't too bad. Finding Dory is mostly an entertaining and well-made movie. As with all Pixar films, the animation is some of the best in the business. The sand, the water, the textures on the animals is all so breathtaking to look at (even more so in the short-film beforehand) that the visuals alone make the film worth watching. Fortunately Finding Dory also has a top-notch script filled with funny moments, really good life lessons and mottos, all delivered wonderfully by the cast. 
   Ellen DeGeneres obviously is the highlight as the titular character and she is just as entertaining as the first time we met her and you really feel that she is always so genuine in everything she says and does, you want to be friends with Dory. I actually enjoyed a lot of the new characters introduced also; Hank the octopus makes for a visually interesting character with him being able to change colour and manipulate his body and they allude subtly to things from his past which was a nice way to build the character. Destiny the whale shark is also introduced and I wasn't the biggest fan of her character, I felt the 'clumsy friend' thing wore off quickly and some things she did didn't make sense in terms of what animal she is. Her friend Bailey the Beluga however I thoroughly enjoyed, he had some great lines and entertained me whenever he was on screen, and proved to be educational in some respects with cool visuals. Two more characters I'll quickly mention are the two sea lions voiced by Idris Elba and Dominic West; they were great, I'm always happy to see Idris in stuff so this was a treat and their scenes were very funny together.
   Moving onto one or two negative points now; the story has some issues. I really enjoyed the beginning and the majority of the main story but pacing was a problem every now and again. For instance, I won't spoil it, but the whole reason they had to find Dory happened so quickly and rushed it kind of felt they were trying to make a reason to call it "Finding Dory", if I were honest it's more like finding Dory's parents, which isn't a spoiler as that is the synopsis of the film. 
   Another point is that Finding Nemo took place almost entirely in the ocean which made the adventure seem that much bigger and exciting whereas here it all happens in an aquarium which makes sense I guess as they don't want to rehash the same things and try something new but one part did require them to cross the ocean and it made it seem as though it takes just a few minutes whereas in the first film it took the entire movie to get to somewhere much closer than where this takes place. And a final thing I wasn't a fan of was the climax. Now obviously it being a children's film I have to suspend some disbelief but the whole final bit just didn't fit into the world Finding Nemo set up, I thought it went a bit too far.
  In the end though Finding Dory was an adequate sequel; I was entertained and it was certainly better than some of Pixar's recent entries. Nostalgia still makes me prefer the first film but when you've been watching it since the age of five, it's hard to root that out.