Spider-Man: Far From Home

After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker goes on a school trip to Europe with his friends, only to be recruited by Nick Fury to take on the Spider-Man mantle once again and team up with interdimensional hero Mysterio to fight new threats known as the Elementals.

Spider-Man: Far From Home marks the beginning of a new chapter for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and had a lot of expectations to fill consider it not only has to follow the grand phenomenon that was Endgame but also follow up on the story of Spider-Man: Homecoming and make a story that still feels new and exciting. Well not only does Spider-Man: Far From Home live up to the expectations for a good Homecoming sequel but it also introduces new concepts and unexpected turns even after 23 Marvel films, proving that they haven’t yet lost their steam. Tom Holland still carries the film wonderfully and continues to convince me that he’s the best Spider-Man yet. Peter is now trying to hold onto his youth and is afraid to accept new and bigger responsibilites after losing an important figure in his life. Peter must learn to mature and step up throughout the film which makes for a strong arc in the film. Also great is his chemistry with Zendaya, who is also really great in her role as MJ, who we didn’t see enough of in Homecoming but is a leading part here. Watching their connection blossom throughout the film is really sweet and was done well by the writers and actors. Also really fun parts of the film are Jacob Batalon as Peter’s hysterical best friend Ned, and Jon Favreau as Tony Stark’s assistant Happy who is still played with plenty of charm, and he and Peter once again have great scenes together.

What director Jon Watts is once again able to do with this sequel is maintain that “high school movie” tone with Peter facing issues like bullies, crushes, etc., but Watts also makes sure to bring us a high-stakes superhero movie with threats and responsibilites that Peter must face as Spider-Man. He keeps the tone light and adds plenty of humor as we’re used to seeing from Marvel, and keeps the signature Marvel hero, villain, and conflict tropes. However, one thing I was underwhelemed by was the visual look of the film. Marvel has always impressed me with the production design, cienamtography, and visuals in their films, espeically lately with the gorgeous Captain Marvel and Avengers movies, but here the movie feels very boringly shot and there is no color scheme or visual style that will keep your eyes in awe like the past Marvel movies this year have. The battles often feel well-realized but the green screen also sometimes doesn’t blend in and the design for the Elementals villains as well as the final battle are also less impressive visually. Also, the fact that Sony oversees these Spider-Man MCU films while Disney controls all the others leads to some questionable or unexplained references to the bigger universe, which are sometimes welcome but sometimes a bit much or raise unneeded questions rather than serve as world-building. While Homecoming had fun small appearances from Iron Man and Captain America, here some of the connections to the rest of the MCU feel like Sony trying to constantly remind the world that their property is part of Disney’s Marvel universe as well. Other than the obvious impact Infinity War and Endgame have on the main character, some of this world-building raises more questions than it needs to and possibly tampers with the consistency Disney has been keeping so smoothly through its MCU films. I feel like there were also some underdeveloped plot points throughout the film, and they could have extended the runtime by only 5 minutes to help establish these more, like we don’t see much of how the world is readjusting after Thanos’ actions shook the universe, and we also hear peoople repeadetly mention a large character from Endgame but I think we needed a bit more about how Peter is affected by that character’s loss. Also, the timing of the release was way too soon (only 2 months) after Endgame, which was the big conclusion to many years of MCU films — so why not wait a bit longer and let us take in the first big chapter instead of diving right into the next one? Hopefully this won’t undermine the effect of Endgame as a finale as time goes by, because both these films are still great on their own. What Spider-Man: Far From Home does best, however, is remind us why we love this incarnation of the character and why he resonates with audiences, as well as provide new challenges and growth for the character as well deliver on the tone of a film that has to feel large-scaled on small-sclaed at the same time.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is a satisfying sequel that ups the scale and stakes for Spidey with more locations and more cdhallenging foes than before, even though it’s visually dull compared to the other big Marvel movies this year, and the pacing could’ve been slightly improved. However, the performances, storyline, and humor all deliver as expected and there’s an awesome mid-credits scene that changes the game for the future of Spider-Man.

Spider-Man Far From Home poster.jpg

Men in Black: International

ratings2

In this Men in Black spin-off, new agent M arrives at the MIB London headquarters and teams up with senior agent H to find a mole in the organization and stop an alien being from destroying all life on Earth.

The Men in Black movies have been very unique and enjoyable in the past, with moments that many generations can remember or quote — so it’s a shame this new installment is just pretty standard. It’s a movie we’ve seen god knows how many times — two agents/cops have to get along and fight bad a guy, but turns out it’s not who it seems. One golden aspect of the MIB films is the main duo, agents J and K, so they really needed to nail that without Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones around. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson are the saving grace of the film and play off each other well, like they have in the past as a lovable duo in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Endgame. Thompson especially delivers a great performance as the rookie agent discovering a huge world of extraterrestrial friends and foes. Kumail Nanjiani is also clearly having fun voicing an alien named Pawny, because… well, he’s a pawn. Get it? But the thing about cast members like Hemsworth and Liam Neeson are that they basically play the same types of characters we’ve already seen them play — give Agent H a magical axe and I would’ve certainly thought he was Thor. Some of the exposition gets uninteresting and the villain does nothing for the film, and barely any of the humor lands, whatever does was already shown in the trailer. Also, this is an action movie, and while the action here will keep most viewers in their seats, that’s just about the best compliment I can give it. I found the action to be dull and boring and it feels too much like the other films — or any action film, in that matter — to be praised, but most viewers will find it not bad enough to at least sit down in front of. The visuals are sometimes serviceable but there are even moments when the green screen and set design seem too obvious and stand out in a bad way. There’s also a huge plot twist in the final act that, well, I saw coming before the movie even began. The final battle is the most boring part and the ending is also very silly. I don’t know if they’re planning on making more of these films, but they should get new writers and directors, and also the original titular duo, on board to make it better.

Men in Black: International hits all the familiar notes, and you won’t really remember it after watching it. It has an enjoyable cast and some moments the general audience will enjoy if you’re looking for a light-hearted action film, but if that doesn’t necessarily mean a good film in your books, then you should just give it a go.

Men in Black International (Official Film Poster).png

Despicable Me 3

ratings2

Gru (Steve Carell) meets his long-lost twin brother Dru, and they set out to get back a diamond stolen by villain Balthazar Bratt.

The first Despicable Me film brought a new and original concept to the animated film genre, but by the time Minions came out it was clear the series was out of ideas. Despicable Me 3 had literally no potential and no good payoff in the end. Steve Carell gives it his all as Gru and Dru, but nobody else does. The animation is lifeless and the story brings nothing new to the table. Gru is developed well, but his brother, wife, children, or even the minions aren’t. The villlain Balthazar Bratt is at first entertaining but quickly becomes very annoying and horribly written. His motive and presence are weak, and his character barely poses a threat against the protagonists. The theme of brotherhood is depicted well but Gru’s brother Dru’s presence is annoying as well and his character wasn’t very interesting. The Minions make for the best comedic moments of the film, but they’re barely in the film and I was never able to laugh when they weren’t on screen. Besides an opening scene that makes great use of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” and a scene featuring the Minions in prison, no scenes managed to catch my eye at all. The writers aren’t able to carry even a short 90-minute runtime well, with many subplots that had no effect on the plot and were extremely boring to watch. The first two films had good themes and vivid animation to bring the audiences in, but all this one has is uninspired comedy and predictable writing and characters. Instead of improving on the letdown of Minions, this one is even worse. This movie isn’t even a disappointment because I didn’t expect anything good out of it. The Despicable Me series used to be fun and engaging, but now it’s just a source of merchandising and money for Universal Pictures. Your young kids may be able to have fun with this movie, but even so I would recommend Cars 3 as a family film much more than this one. And if you’re looking for a good or funny film in general, you should just watch Baby Driver.

Despicable Me 3 may entertain your young ones or make you laugh a few times, but other than that this film falls completely flat and is not worth paying for. You won’t get anything new or even worth sitting through unless you’re with your family, and even if you are, you should just see Cars 3, which you’ll all be sure to enjoy. There are so many better films out right now than this unnecessary, uninspired, and unimaginative sequel.

Despicable Me 3 (2017) Teaser Poster.jpg

War Dogs

ratings4

War Dogs is based on the true story of two young men, David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, who won a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan.

War Dogs is surprisingly one of the smartest and most entertaining movies of the year. With two excellent leading actors and superb writing, this movie is very hard not to enjoy. Jonah Hill and Miles Teller both kill it as two twenty-something-year-old arms dealers who became millionaires by forging their way to million-dollar deals and eventually, driving Porsche’s too. Hill is unforgettable, bringing so much fun and wit to his role, and Teller is filled with soul as Hill’s partner-in-crime, as well as the film’s narrator.

This movie is being sold as a comedy, and as much gut-busting humor that’s included in the film, I would look at it in a more broad way as a hybrid of The Big Short, The Wolf of Wall Street and Catch Me If You Can. I was especially reminded of Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can because of the idea of young men making bad decisions, as well as an awful lot of money, with Hill and Teller’s roles resembling DiCaprio’s portrayal of con man Frank Abagnale, Jr. Although the characters in this film weren’t always in illegal business, but in both films the characters decide to cheat their way to the American dream. Even though this movie is from the director of the Hangover trilogy, don’t expect goofy and nonsensical humor, because War Dogs is a LOT more than that.

If you like watching movies about true stories that you wouldn’t believe actually happened at first, then this is the movie for you. The plot is heavily fictionalized but the overall story is true, and it was a story that was not just interesting to watch, but entertaining as hell to sit through. The movie is less than two hours long, but not a moment felt rushed. The script never provides a dull moment, and there are some scenes and lines that will be difficult for you to forget. Don’t expect much action from this film either, because that’s not what War Dogs is about. War Dogs is a dangerously true story, that’s more of a dramatic than a comedic or thrilling movie, and that may be hard to believe but also very hard to forget. Please give this one a watch in theaters if you want a remarkably awesome time at the movies.

War Dogs 2016 poster.jpg

Pete’s Dragon (2016)

ratings3

A reimagining of Disney’s cherished family film, Pete’s Dragon is the adventure of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliott, who just so happens to be a dragon.

Disney is continuing their surprising streak of great live-action remakes with Pete’s Dragon, which is based on the 1977 live-action classic, instead this time, the dragon is given a visual update with CGI instead of being hand-drawn. And once again, Disney succeeds at bringing a charming, family-friendly world of CGI to life. Although there isn’t as much visual weight and realism to the dragon as there was to the incredibly photo-realistic environment and characters in this year’s Jungle Book, there’s enough charm and fun to make it another solid and spirited Disney family flick. The is a splendid cast that helps carry the film that includes Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, and Robert Redford. Oakes Fegley, the child actor who plays Pete, does a remarkable job acting in front of his costars and sometimes in front of nothing (in the scenes in which his character must interact with Elliot). The majority of the film, however, didn’t require as much interaction with computer-generated surroundings as the leading child actors from The Jungle Book and The BFG, hence making Fegley’s performance less impressive and unique as the other actors and overall, I felt much more connected to the leads from the other two films. The standout of the cast is definitely Howard, who brings lots of life and energy to her character and delivers a notable performance from the film.

This movie may be a great time for families and especially younger kids, but that’s really the only target audience for the film. If you watch this film looking for a great story, you might not be satisfied. The story has lots of soul, but the film’s second half starts to slow down a little bit before entering familiar territory and following a formula used by too many family films.The story of a kid trying to protect an extraordinary being while the adults’ greed and fear prevents them from understanding the situation as well as the protagonist has already been used plenty of times. E.T. and How to Train Your Dragon are just a few examples of films that follow the exact same formula during most of their runtime. When the movie tried to get exciting during the final act, it was hard for me to care because of how cliched it mostly was. However, the film concludes with a great message about family and preserving your surroundings.

Although it does get too familiar at times, I can bet you Pete’s Dragon will be a great time if you go see it with your family, with lots of soul and great underlying messages, as well as outstanding cast members and writing. I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re looking for the best movie out there, but if you want to see a fun and touching family film, then Pete’s Dragon is unlikely to disappoint you.

Petes dragon 2016 film poster.jpg

Jason Bourne

ratings4

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), the CIA’s most dangerous former operative, is drawn out of hiding when old ally Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) finds him, to uncover more explosive truths about his past.

Jason Bourne reminds us that the series it belongs to is still one of the greatest action franchises out there, especially with Paul Greengrass in the director’s chair, and Damon in the spotlight. In 2012, we got The Bourne Legacy, which starred Jeremy Renner instead of Damon and failed critically because it didn’t feel much like a Bourne movie because of Damon’s absence and the lack of everything that distinguishes a Bourne movie from a regular action movie. In this film, Greengrass shows us that this series can still return to form after a mistake like that. Jason Bourne follows the formula set by the first three films, with lots of impressive shaky-cam action while Bourne is running from the CIA. However, it gets even more personal this time around, as he starts to uncover a final secret from his past. The story isn’t very new but as a huge fan of the series, I never lost interest thanks to the pacing and intense action. Damon is still fantastic as the titular character, even fourteen years after portraying the character for the first time. He never loses character both physically and emotionally, and it’s so much fun to watch him constantly kick ass in all four of these films. Tommy Lee Jones portrays a ruthless CIA director who’s as perfectly written and developed as Chris Cooper’s antagonist in the first film, while Alicia Vikander is superb as a CIA agent that, in a way, resembles Joan Allen’s Pam Landy from the previous movies. Although both characters feel familiar, they are most skillfully portrayed by two excellent casting choices for their roles. Vincent Cassel is also a great villainous newcomer to the series, with an interesting backstory and great writing to his character. It’s so impressive that even though the main characters are part of the franchise’s formula, each one of them was written so profoundly, and I loved the way they were developed and portrayed.

If you’re hoping to get some spectacular action sequences from this movie, then you won’t be let down because there is plenty of intense bone-crunching and heart-racing action that’s just as great as what Greengrass gave us in Supremacy and Ultimatum. There’s an epic motorcycle chase during a riot that glued my eyes to the screen, as well as an enormous car chase in Vegas that kept me on the very edge of my seat. The incredible use of practical stunt and shaky camera work definitely hold up. Cinematographer Barry Ackroyd is more reliant on shaky cam than Oliver Wood, who shot the original trilogy; Ackroyd has however proved to be a master at capturing exquisite action and scenery with his style in films like The Hurt Locker and Captain Phillips. Here, his style may feel overdone to some, but I believe the camerawork was done impeccably, especially during the action scenes. A lot of critics have sadly been disappointed by this movie, saying it doesn’t live up to the previous work of Damon’s Bourne pictures, but let me tell you that skipping this movie is not the right move for fans of action movies and especially of the saga. Jason Bourne gave me everything I wanted and even more. It’s strikingly written, phenomenally acted, and stunningly shot and directed. It’s definitely on par with the first three films, probably even better than Supremacy. The Bourne movies have truly raised the bar for action movies, and I haven’t seen many others like them. Jason Bourne is another fantastic example that did not disappoint, so please, despite what many critics have said, go see this movie with an open mind like I did, and who knows how much you may end up liking it?

Jason Bourne (film).jpg

Suicide Squad

ratings2

In DC’s latest attempt to recover from the backlash received by this year’s Batman v Superman, A secret government agency recruits a group of imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency, which inevitably leads to chaos.

Suicide Squad was easily one of my most anticipated movies of the year, but I was also expecting so much from it, and unlike other films that unsurprisingly disappointed, I was almost certain I was going to get everything I wanted from this film. With great casting choices and an intriguing story, I didn’t think anything could go wrong. However, despite a few perks, Suicide Squad is ultimately a chaotic and poorly constructed supervillain extravaganza. This movie isn’t completely bad, as most of the action is tons of fun and the film’s cast is packed with awesome and entertaining performances. Will Smith leads the cast with great humor and writing, and Margot Robbie steals the movie with her insane and lively performance as Harley Quinn. Robbie always seems like she’s having so much fun in the role, as she’s always full of energy and she definitely lived up to what I expected from her. Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Viola Davis, and the rest of the cast are solid and mostly funny. I expected more, however, from Jared Leto. His take on the Joker is nowhere as memorable as Heath Ledger’s take on the psychotic villain in Nolan’s The Dark Knight, and his role is of little significance in the film. The DC universe just wastes this character in the film and I didn’t like his use in the film, although I liked Leto’s performance. Another thing I enjoyed about the movie was the amount of humor incorporated in the movie, and how much it delivered. Characters like Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, and Captain Boomerang were hilarious and delivered some great lines. I was impressed and overall satisfied by how much the movie made me laugh. The action mostly entertained me as well.

I was hoping Suicide Squad could help DC recover from Batman v Superman‘s terrible failure this year, however, I was wrong. Like its predecessor, the movie suffers from many continuity errors and plot holes. Many things happen that don’t make any sense later on, and although the movie tries hard, there is ultimately no emotional weight that got to me, and by the end, the story felt completely empty and pointless. The editing is too choppy and flashy, all the takes are transitioned through too quickly, and I could tell that too much was cut from the film. Not much is explained and regarded that I wish was addressed to have made more sense. A lot of the development for more minor characters was not there, so emotionally there was nothing this film gave me. Despite the backstories provided for more major characters like Deadshot and El Diablo, nothing hit me deep like other films of its genre, like Guardians of the Galaxy and other films in the Avengers saga. The film’s villain also did nothing for me, as the villain’s plot and presence were dull and effortless. The ending of the movie makes the plot and even the film itself feel so pointless and nothing seems to be in its place anymore. You may want to watch Suicide Squad for a few fun action sequences and good laughs, but don’t expect a redeeming summer blockbuster for DC, or anything close.

Official poster

Star Trek Beyond

ratings4

In the third of the Star Trek reboot franchise, the  crew of the USS Enterprise explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

Star Trek Beyond brings to the screen everything we love about Star Trek and more, even without J.J. Abrams in the director’s chair. Beyond is packed with great action, laughs, writing, cast chemistry, and editing. Justin Lin surprised me by how well he was able to direct this film without losing the energy, heart, and extraordinary style that Abrams brought to the first two films. You can’t get enough of Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, and the late Anton Yelchin (who sadly passed away due to an accident last month) as the crew of the Enterprise. They are all filled with so much energy and fun. The chemistry between all of them is golden, the writing for their characters is outstanding, and they always seem to be having so much fun in front of the screen. Sofia Boutella (who you may remember as Samuel L. Jackson’s henchwoman in last year’s Kingsman: The Secret Service) surprised me in her newcoming role to the series, and although her role wasn’t the most original character the writers could have come up with, I didn’t expect as much from her and enjoyed watching her onscreen. Idris Elba delivers a favorable performance as an evil alien warlord named Krall, but can’t nearly top Benedict Cumberbatch’s menacing Khan from Into Darkness. In the film’s last act, Krall is given a backstory that only complicates things and makes him less intimidating. The backstory they gave him felt too familiar and flat, and didn’t work well with the rest of the film.

Can a Star Trek movie ever disappoint me visually? Not quite. The effects in this movie are splendid, and although it lacks the glamorous touch Abrams gave the visual atmosphere and look of its predecessors, there is some marvelous cinematography and visual surrounding in the film. This experience was especially enhanced for me because I saw this in IMAX 3D, which explains why I felt so sucked into the movie’s setting, which was always animated beautifully. The action is shot and choreographed very well, and it’s all very fast-paced and fun to sit through. The action definitely holds up to the excitement and intensity in the first two films. This movie is a thrill ride packed with tons of sci-fi violence throughout, even though it doesn’t forget to provide the character development we want from a Star Trek movie. Expect plenty of nostalgia and throwbacks to the original Star Trek franchise and cast, the film doesn’t get rid of the great feeling that you’re watching Star Trek, a different kind of enjoyment than most other action films. If you’re a fan, you definitely won’t get let down by how much the original franchise is paid homage to, and by how much this saga still feels like Star Trek did decades ago. Although it’s not as great as the first two films, Beyond is still tons of fun to watch, with a stellar cast, plenty of vivid action and effects, and doesn’t forget to pay tribute to the late and great Leonard Nimoy, and of course, Anton Yelchin. Go see Beyond if you’re a fan, or if you simply want to have a great time at the movies.

The USS Enterprise flying through the universe, with the film's title "Beyond", and the film's billing below.

The BFG

ratings4

In Steven Spielberg’s live-action adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book, an orphan girl named Sophie is taken to Giant Country by a big, friendly giant, and together they set out to stop the man-eating giants of Giant Country from invading the human world.

The BFG reteams my favorite director, Steven Spielberg, with Oscar-winning actor Mark Rylance, cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, and composer John Williams, to bring Roald Dahls’ imagination to life. Spielberg stays true to the story and of the book, as well as all the hilarious and nonsensical vocabulary spoken by the titular giant. This movie is so visually ambitious that it feels like Spielberg imagined a universe the size of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth when he was working on this movie. And that’s definitely not a bad thing in this case. You can feel how much visual imagination and work Spielberg put in this movie, that you can guarantee it’s from the same person who brought you Jurassic Park, Jaws, and E.T., which is exactly what I was hoping to get from this movie, if anything. The visual effects are so vivid and very well done, even though they don’t always blend in well with the live-action setting. Janusz Kaminski, who has worked with Spielberg before a million times, provides marvelous cinematography to the film, bringing the film some memorably beautiful shots. Whenever there’s an action scene, instead of providing constant fast cuts, Kaminski lets you enjoy longer shots of his style, to John Williams’ lively score that has a Star Wars meets Harry Potter vibe to it. Whenever Kaminski is shooting a Spielberg-directed film, you can alkways guarantee you’re up for something good.

The BFG also brings the best out of its main cast. Mark Rylance delivers a heartfelt performance as the lovable BFG, who may just make you cry by the end of the film. Winning an Oscar just isn’t enough for him, as he doesn’t hold back on putting his heart into this performance. I thought at first that Rylance would be the highlight of the cast, but I was clearly wrong. Eleven-year-old Ruby Barnhill, who plays the main character Sophie, steals every one of her scenes (which is pretty much every scene in the movie). It’s often hard to rely on child actors to pull off in films, but Barnhill nails it as the adorable and wholehearted lead role. There is also a pleasant supporting cast, including Shaun of the Dead‘s Penelope Wilton as the Queen of England, and The Prestige‘s Rebecca Hall as the Queen’s maid.

One of the reasons I love Steven Spielberg as a filmmaker so much is because of the tremendous amount of passion he has when it comes to movie making. Whether he’s teaching you about friendship in E.T., a history lesson in films like Schindler’s List and Lincoln, or trying to make you afraid to go into the water in Jaws, you always feel how much passion and hard work he puts into directing his films. Every film of his feels so personal and strong without exception. Here, you feel how hard he clearly tries to teach you a lesson: No matter how different you are, don’t ever let anyone bring you down. From this, I can even infer that the character of the BFG resembles Spielberg himself. I’ve read biographies about him, and I know that he, too, never fit in, but his differences were what made him unique, which is exactly the case with the film’s titular character.

So, if you’re still wondering, is The BFG a movie worth going to see? And if so, should you see it with your family? I believe that this movie is definitely worth a watch, and it’s not a movie that you should immediately go rush to see, but at some point I advise you see it because it’s a fun experience, and it’s a large box office bomb as of right now, so you should see it to go help it make some more money. If you’re a Spielberg fan, you’ll especially like this movie like I did. At one point in the first hour of the movie, I was starting to feel concerned that it would get repetitive and start to drag, and I felt like kids would probably get bored at that point. However, it picks up later and finishes very well. There’s some pleasant humor in there that’s quite enjoyable, and feels like it came right out of a Roald Dahl book, which it really did. This doesn’t feel a lot like a 21-st century live-action Disney fantasy, but more like a film that comes from the imagination and heart of Steven Spielberg. It may let down younger kids with its different form of entertainment than most family films, but audiences 11-12 and up will probably enjoy this movie. If you’re looking for a movie you can guarantee the whole family will consistently enjoy, then Finding Dory is probably the better movie to watch, but The BFG is still a film that you can smile at and even applaud by the end.

An elderly giant man holds a little human girl in his hand, while both look at one another.

Finding Dory

ratings4

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.

Finding Dory.jpg