5 ideas about a movie: Kubo and The Two Strings

Movie reviews

Hello!

Let’s review a possible Best Animated Feature nominee that came out a few months ago – Kubo and The Two Strings.

IMDb summary: A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.

  1. 2016 has been a strong year for animation, especially financially: Zootopia and Finding Dory both earned over a million dollars, while The Secret Life of Pets came super close. Kubo might not have been as big of a financial hit as the other animated pictures but it definitely appealed to the critics and the cinephiles.
  2. Kubo and The Two Strings is the latest stop-motion picture from Laika. I’ve always been a fan of this type of animation and of this particular studio and their product. Coraline is still one of my favorite animated films of all time and I also enjoyed 2014’s The Boxtrolls. Kubo is their least financially successful but the best (quality-wise) film. It differs from the other pictures with its Japanese setting. Kubo feels like a blend of Western and Eastern animation – the anime of the West.
  3. Kubo was written by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler. I loved the adventure story that they crafted for the film. The feeling of the deeper underlying mythology was present and enriched the narrative nicely. The themes discussed were serious and universal, like family, love, and memories. I also loved the writing for the main character (his powers were so cool and unique) and the writing for the supporting cast (the choice of animals for the secondary roles was really extraordinary- haven’t seen many beetle and monkey team-ups before). The dialogue was good too: the heartfelt emotional moments mixed well with the funny bickering (and flirting). The super positive ending was also lovely.
  4. The film was directed by Travis Knight, who has worked as an animator on a bunch of stop-motion animated pictures. I loved the atmosphere and the overall look of Kubo: it was eerie and scary but also adorable and really beautiful. The character design was magnificent too:  I loved that the main character appeared to be of ambiguous gender and that the character’s look corresponded with the character’s traits (e.g. the ability to fly came from the kimono top). Kubo actually reminded me a lot of Mulan (and yes, I know one comes from Japan and the other from China). Lastly, touching more on the animation – I loved how origami (the next level origami, while I don’t even remember how to make a swan) – a distinctly Japanese art of folding that is popular globally – was used in a stop-motion animation setting. It was truly a great combination of tecniques and ideas.
  5. The film featured great performances from the A-list voice cast, which included Charlize TheronMatthew McConaughey (Sing), Ralph Fiennes (will voice Alfred in The Lego Batman), and Rooney MaraArt Parkinson (GOT’s Rickon) was great as the titular lead character as well. The movie’s soundtrack by Dario Marianelli was spectacular too.

In short, Kubo and The Two Strings is another great animation of 2016. However, this one is the most unique because of its style, setting, and characters.

Rate: 4,5/5

Trailer: Kubo and The Two Strings trailer

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Movie review: San Andreas 

Movie reviews

Hello!

I’ve finally found time to watch the newest disaster movie and this is going to be my review. I know that I am more than 3 weeks late but better late than never. Let’s go!

IMDb summary: In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey across the state in order to rescue his daughter.

Directing and Visuals

The film is directed by Brad Peyton. I practically know nothing about him but his work in San Andreas impressed me. The action pieces were really cool and a definite treat for one’s eyes. The CGI was a bit wonky at first, but it got much better as the movie progressed. The falling buildings, cracks, opening on the surface of the Earth, and the tsunami – all looked amazingly real. I also have to give a shout-out to the masses of extras that contributed to this film – they really made me think that the Earth was literately collapsing.

Story

Since this is a disaster movie, one shouldn’t hope for much of a plot. Though, I liked how they portrayed the family dynamics between characters as well as made all the characters relevant. None of them seemed out of place, well maybe just a few of them (more on that latter). The movie also ensured me that the thing, which I should be scared of the most during the time of crisis, is other people. My worst kind of fear (as well as my dad’s, who I watched this movie with) is to be crushed underneath a running crowd.

Character by character

  • Dwayne Johnson as Chief Raymond “Ray” Gaines – no matter what kind of character Dwayne Johnson plays, he is so dam likable. His smile is so heartwarming and while it looks strange on that big body of his, this weird combination turns him into a special kind of a movie star. So, he was definitely the star of this film and I am really happy that he finally shined in a leading role. He was always good as a supporting character (especially in The Fast and The Furious for me personally), but I never really liked him in a lead (last year’s Hercules was a total disaster). Also, speaking about his character – I liked that they made him into helicopter-rescue pilot in this film, because that explained why he could do all the things that he did while looking for his daughter. What I am trying to say is that it all made sense.
  • Carla Gugino as Emma Gaines – I am not familiar with this actress’s work, but I really liked her in the role. Hers and The Rock’s character’s chemistry was also really good. However, I think that the plot-line, concerning their daughter who drowned a few years ago, could have been cut out, because it slowed the movie down. However, it did pay off in the end, when their other daughter was caught in a similar situation.
  • Alexandra Daddario as Blake Gaines – I have only seen Daddario in Percy Jackson movies and she was okay in them. I really enjoyed her performance in this film. I liked her character’s relationship with her father and I also loved the fact that she knew how to survive and what to do in critical situations because of her dad. I have a very special bond with my father too, so I really appreciated that story-ark.
  • Hugo Johnstone-Burt as Ben Taylor – was a nice addition to the cast. I loved his and Daddario’s character’s first encounter. However, I don’t believe that he would have ran to save her after one brief encounter IRL. But this is a movie after all.
  • Art Parkinson as Ollie Taylor – was such a fun character. His comedy relief was organic, fitting, and a nice relief from the action.
  • Ioan Gruffudd as Daniel Riddick – he was the most unlikable character in the film. I couldn’t wait for him to die. He was such a coward too. I have been a fan of Ioan Gruffudd since that King Arthur movie, so I was happy seeing him still getting work. Nowadays, he is more often seen on the small screen rather than on a silver one.
  • Archie Panjabi as Serena Johnson and Paul Giamatti as Dr. Lawrence Hayes served as a really great B story line. I love when movies give scientific explanations (even the fake ones) and Giamatti’s character did exactly that. His monologues were extremely compelling. Panjabi played the reporter who helped Giamatti’s character address the people and I believe that she did a nice job and brought some diversity to the cast.
  • Will Yun Lee as Dr. Kim Park – was another actor which was used mainly for commercial purposes (diversity once again). Sadly, he didn’t had much time to shine.
  • Colton Haynes as Joby – I have no idea why Colton Haynes was in this movie. He had like 5 lines of dialogue and one action scene which wasn’t even that interesting. And he left Arrow for this? His movie career is suppose to be taking off, but he doesn’t have any movies slated for next year. Maybe he is going back to Teen Wolf – another project he left.
  • Kylie Minogue as Susan Riddick – she had a short cameo in the film and, while I love her as singer (concert coverage), I don’t believe she contributed anything to this film.

All in all, this movie had its problems but good acting (for the most part) and exciting action turned this film into a perfect summer blockbuster. This is definitely my favorite disaster movie in a few years. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did for sure. Moreover, I cannot wait to see more films staring Dwayne Johnson in the lead role at last.

Rate: 4/5

Trailer: San Andreas trailer

Movie review: Dracula Untold

Movie reviews

Hello!

Sorry for not posting this week but my computer crashed again and I have only just now got it back. However, now I will give you very informative Dracula Untold review, so, I hope you will forgive me for the lack of posts this week.

Vibe

I actually haven’t seen a real fantasy movie in a while. I mean, I have seen a lot of science fiction and superhero movies but those are not real fantasy. The real fantasy for me is a thing you can’t explain and can’t imagine happening in a real life. Having said that, I really liked the vibe of Dracula Untold and enjoyed the movie much more than the rest of the people who had seen it. The reviews form the critics and Rotten Tomatoes score were quite bad and Universal expected it to earn much more, especially when they are trying to launch their monsters’ cinematic universe. In addition, as a huge fan of period movies, I fancied the medieval-ish setting of the film and all those historical costumes and cool sword fights. True historic Middle East and Eastern European setting also pleased me, as I live in a country that is on the verge of being in Eastern Europe – I mean we (my nation) call ourselves part of the Western world but that doesn’t change the fact that our country is situated quite deep into the northern/eastern part of the continent.

Acting

Luke Evans was great in the role of Vlad Tepes/Dracula. I have previously seen him in Clash of Titans and The Three Musketeers. Although both these movie were kind of box office flops and fails with the critics, I enjoyed Luke’s acting nonetheless. He was also great villain in Fast&Furious 6 and don’t even get me started on how excited I am about the third and final Hobbit film.

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Another, one of my favorite actors, is Dominic Cooper and I really liked him in this film as well. I have seen quite a few of his movies, starting with Mama Mia (when it came out, I was 11 and going through a phase of worshiping ABBA, so that movie was perfect for me) and I am also really excited that he will be reprising his role as Howard Stark in the Agent Carter TV series.

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The third actor I would like to mention is, of course, Charles Dance. As a huge GoT fan, I was really happy to see him in this movie, his role was quite small, but he did an amazing job with what little time he had on screen. I am really sad that Tywin (his character on GoT) died at the end of season 4 but I hope we will see him in flash backs in season 5.

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The main female character – Vlad’s wife – was played by Sarah Gadon. I wasn’t familiar with her work before and I got to say – she was quite disposable in this movie. Anybody could have played her character.

Lastly, props to the young kid playing Vlad’s son- Art Parkinson– he was really good. I didn’t recognize him while watching the film but, doing the research for this article; I found out that he used to be on Game of Thrones too – playing Rickon Stark. I knew he seemed familiar!

Visuals

I liked the visuals and the overall dark and appropriate mood for the film. The scenes where vampires were turning into bats looked cool and the last “burning alive in the sunlight” scene was also great. Charles Dance also looked amazing in his costume – the make up was superb. I also really liked how the Dracula looked when he went into full on vampire mode with his eyes glowing, skin darkening and fangs gleaming.

Story

I liked the overall plot, it differed form the source material but practically everything in Hollywood nowadays does so. Moreover, I loved the fact that the movie was only half and hour long because I am so tired of these super long films that can’t seem to wrap up. The plotline of “sometimes we don’t need a hero, we need a monster” reminded me of Batman’s infamous quote: “I am not a hero Gotham needs, I am the one it deserves” or something liked that. The final acts (SPOILER) of Dracula turning his last people into the vampires, defeating Mehmed in the last dual and demolishing last pieces of sultan’s army in an uneven fight were really great scenes. However, the saying goodbye to his son and sacrificing himself and all his followers was predictable but enjoyable twist. Soul mates/star crossed lovers meeting in a different period and unexpected ‘friend’ from the past were also quite nice predictions of a possible sequel.

All in all, the movie was quite good, though, you can definitely find a handful of clichés in it. The visuals and acting were superb while the story might lack intensity for majority’s taste. I enjoyed it nonetheless and I hope Luke Evans will reappear as Dracula in the future Universal’s monster movies.

Rate 4/5

Trailer: Dracula Untold trailer

Dracula_Untold_poster(Google Images)