Finding Dory

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One year after the events of Finding Nemo, Dory begins to have flashbacks of her childhood and sets out on a journey to find her parents. Along the way, she becomes captured and taken to a California public aquarium, where Marlin and Nemo attempt to rescue her within.

Finding Dory is a movie we’ve all been awaiting for thirteen years (just a year short of how long I’ve been alive). Its beloved predecessor Nemo is a film I’ve grown up with and watched more times than any other film in my life, so Dory isn’t just another newly released animated movie for me, it’s practically the sequel to my childhood. So for such an anticipated movie, this one definitely did not disappoint. Ellen DeGenres once again brings such charm and fun to the iconic amnesiac fish, and Albert Brooks is able to hold on to what made him so great as Marlin in the first film. Not to mention the newcomers of the cast,  Modern Family‘s Ed O’Neill as an octopus and Ty Burrell as a beluga whale, Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton as Dory’s parents, and The Wire costars Idris Elba and Dominic West as two hilarious sea lions, who all do a remarkable job in their roles. The animation in this movie is absolutely beautiful, with more vividness and color than before. The way the ocean, fish, and underwater habitats were animated doesn’t try to be as photo-realistic as The Good Dinosaur, but focuses more on bringing back the familiar settings from the first film and much more, and still pays off just as well (and adds a lot more to the overall film).

The one thing I loved about Finding Dory more than anything else is the messages it tries to convey about family. Pixar’s movies are known to touch your heart and make you shed a few tears, and this film is no different. Unlike its predecessor, its title does not refer to a journey with the purpose to find someone physically, but this time around, our protagonist is trying to find herself. Dory’s journey to find her family is more emotional than physical, as she struggles to remember her past and who she really is. The message in this film about how family will never give up on you and that nothing is closer than your family was very touching. This movie, however, also explores the theme of living with disability. As all you viewers of the first movie know, Dory struggles with short-term memory loss, and you can see how this adds challenges to her everyday life. Her friend Destiny, a near-sighted whale shark from the aquarium, struggles with her visual impairment and always has to make sure she never crashes into any walls. Pixar’s ability to bring depth to fish and make them feel human in both Finding Nemo and Finding Dory is so intriguing and applaudable, as it’s something no other studio is really capable of doing. We’ve seen them do this before to toys, bugs, and other different things we’d never imagine be done. This is something that makes Pixar unique, as many other animated studios have similarly tried these things but it’s never really worked that well. Pixar can practically do anything with the amazing potential they have. My one problem with the film is that a few messages and lines get somewhat repetitive, but this did not bother me too much. Also, the way the movie’s climax plays out feels too forced  and unrealistic, and was probably only done to bring some excitement for younger audiences. Nevertheless, Finding Dory is another wonderful Pixar summer feature that you should definitely go watch with your family, not not just alone.

Also, there is a short film called Piper that plays before the feature film. The short is about  a young sandpiper bird learning to behave like her flock, searching for clams on a sandy shore with some of her mother’s instructions. On the way, she learns how to be resilient, brave, and try new things. Not to mention that all this is told without any dialogue. This short is animated marvelously, and it’s overall a very cute short that you should look forward to before the film begins.

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Now You See Me 2

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In the sequel to the 2013 heist thriller hit, a good percentage of the Horsemen resurface for a comeback performance only to be threatened into pulling off a dangerous heist by tech prodigy Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe). Their only hope is to perform one last stunt to clear their names and reveal the mastermind behind it all.

Now You See Me 2 sacrifices everything that made the first movie successful and entertaining to bring you a bloated, unimpressive, and ridiculous mess of a sequel. Jon M. Chu (director of G.I. Joe: Retaliation and other bad films) was one of the worst choices to direct this film. He turns the franchise from a heist chase thriller into an action caper, which really does not suit the films. The first movie’s original taste and fun is gone here. Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, and Dave Franco are not as good as they were in the first film, although Mark Ruffalo still delivers almost as well. Replacing fourth Horseman Isla Fisher is Lizzy Caplan, who is surprisingly entertaining and without a doubt, the most fun part of the movie. However, none of the actors besides Caplan seem like they’re having fun with the film, even Ruffalo doesn’t feel like he’s always enjoying being there, even though he gives it his all. Daniel Radcliffe’s onscreen presence here was awful, with his character having an unclear motive and barely any point in the film. Michael Caine was also very dull, and Morgan Freeman’s return was way too unnecessary. The movie’s plot is not focused well, and is badly shot and edited, with every shot not feeling continuously edited well. Even the movie’s title feels very lousy and unimaginative (what’s wrong with a title like Now You See Me: Now You Don’t?) By the end of the movie, everything is so ridiculous, not to mention that there is way too much going on, and the right things are never explained. The third act was too complicated and tiring and nothing important went explained. Also, a lot of the movie was way too predictable because of how cheesy and cliche a lot of the plot points were. This film brings the franchise on a completely wrong track, to the point where a third film just wouldn’t work.

Now You See Me 2 is a disappointing and uninspired summer sequel with unfocused narrative and directing. There is just way too much going on for you to care, and nothing is explained well when explanation is needed. Most of the cast is not great, and the movie is lost within the wrong genre. If there’s a film you want to go watch on the big screen, you should not consider this one.

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