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MCKillswitch123's Corner of Old CAYOM (Y1-Y6) Reviews

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This thread will be dedicated entirely to reviews of movies from Y1 to Y6.

 

I will update this thread with relative frequency. I will be adding at least 5 reviews every time I update this thread, as I work my way across the multiple marathons of whatever comes to mind.

 

Spoiler

BioShock

(Y3 - dir. Alex Garland)

 

Borrasca

(Y6 - dir. Fede Alvarez)

 

Broadway Selects: Network

(Y6 - dir. Ivo Van Hove and Lorenzo Thione)

 

Broadway Selects: The Band's Visit

(Y6 - dir. David Cromer and Lorenzo Thione)

 

Burnout

(Y3 - dir. Robert Rodriguez)

 

By The Balls

(Y4 - dir. Tony Yacenda)

 

Call Of Duty

(Y3 - dir. Paul Greengrass)

 

Call Of Duty: Of Their Own Accord

(Y4 - dir. Paul Greengrass)

 

Can You Imagine?

(Y4 - dir. Genndy Tartakovsky)

 

Chrono Trigger

(Y1 - dir. Andrew Adamson)

 

Gateways

(Y6 - dir. Pete Docter)

 

Green Lantern Corps: Rise Of The Manhunters

(Y5 - dir. F. Gary Gray)

 

Hoops

(Y4 - dir. Charles Stone III)

 

Hoops 2

(Y6 - dir. Charles Stone III)

 

Making Waves

(Y6 - dir. Sean McNamara)

 

Mirror's Edge

(Y1 - dir. Pierre Morel)

 

One Piece: The Journey Begins

(Y4 - dir. Jon Watts)

 

Pandas

(Y6 - dir. Drew Fellman)

 

Pillars Of Eternity: Never Far From The Queen

(Y5 - dir. Miguel Sapochnik)


Pillars Of Eternity: The Hollow Vale

(Y5 - dir. Miguel Sapochnik)

 

Psychonauts

(Y5 - dir. Duke Johnson and Tim Schaffer)

 

Sir Thymes Time

(Y4 - dir. Chris McKay)

 

SoulCalibur

(Y3 - dir. Paul WS Anderson)

 

Spark: A Hero's Promise

(Y6 - dir. Jennifer Yuh Nelson)

 

Spark: Beyond The Sky

(Y4 - dir. Jennifer Yuh Nelson)

 

Spark: Homeward

(Y3 - dir. F. Gary Gray)

 

Spark Rising

(Y1 - dir. Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer)

 

Splatoon

(Y5 - dir. Craig McCracken and Rodney Rothman)

 

The Epsilon Syndicate: Union Of Thieves

(Y5 - dir. Drew Goddard)

 

The Last Policeman

(Y6 - dir. Cary Fukunaga)

 

The Last Six

(Y5 - dir. James Wan)

 

The Scavenger Wars

(Y3 - dir. Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer)

 

The Scavenger Wars Part II: Director's Cut

(Y7 - dir. Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer)

 

Wolves

(Y6 - dir. Alastair Fothergill)

 

Yin

(Y5 - dir. Daniel Espinosa)

 

Edited by MCKillswitch123
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Pillars Of Eternity: Never Far From The Queen

(Y5 - dir. Miguel Sapochnik)

 

Spoiler

Boy... talk about a big jump in quality.

 

I recommend reading my review of The Hollow Vale 1st - or rather, reading The Hollow Vale itself 1st you haven't, since this is a sequel to that after all, then reading Never Far From The Queen - and THEN getting to this. But man, Pillars Of Eternity: Never Far From The Queen stomps all over its predecessor. It's not even funny how much of a jump it is.

 

This sequel goes into Defiance Bay, the capital of the Dyrwood, and there, our party - which grows bigger and bigger lmao - heads off into an investigation over what is happening in the land. That's the basic gist of the movie, which does itself a massive favor by far simplifying it in comparison to The Hollow Vale. If the 1st movie is weathered down by too much exposition, Never Far From The Queen successfully corrects that by knowing how to inform the audience in natural, creative and necessary ways. The story is basically an investigation thriller disguised as a fantasy, which I find to be absolutely brilliant and a very unique tale on the fantasy genre.

 

The party, as I mentioned, grows and grows, but the characters never stop being fun. This laaaaaarge ensemble could have easily fallen into the trap of seeing most of its characters get a big shaft, but the movie makes smart decisions along the way that not only prevents that from happening, but allows every character, old and new, to have at least a moment to themselves, even if it comes at the expense of the 2nd act's pacing to a degree. This time around, Iwan Rheon as Aloth steals the show, with a take on the character that I found to be quite fun and an interesting development of him. The villains are also more compelling than those in the 1st movie... even if one of them literally is the same character, but he's more fleshed out this time around.

 

The film also continues the 1st movie's trend of being a visually intense and gritty experience, thanks to Sapochnik's smart approach to fantasy action and visual storytelling. And it has a distinctive identity for it, it's not just ripping off the styles of other fantasy franchises like a Harry Potter or a Lord Of The Rings.

 

The only real nitpick I can find with this movie is that there still is some of that overexposition happening every now and then. Not a lot of times, but it does happen. That's it.

 

This movie kicks ass and it's one of CAYOM's finest entries, especially when it comes to both sequels and video game movies.

 

A

 

Pillars Of Eternity: The Hollow Vale

(Y4 - dir. Miguel Sapochnik)

 

Spoiler

CAYOM's biggest fantasy series and one of its biggest video game movie series kicks off with this ambitious 1st entry.

 

I have never played the Pillars Of Eternity games made by the wonderful studio Obsidian Entertainment, that I know for making two games that I really enjoy, Fallout: New Vegas and South Park: The Stick Of Truth. But I've heard a lot of raves about Pillars for a long time now. This is basically my introduction to the franchise.

 

And... it's a pretty atribulated one, I'm not gonna lie. This movie could be better.

 

Now, Miguel Sapochnik, of Game Of Thrones fame, had a lot on his shoulders as this is a 1st outing that tries to set up A LOT for the future. And that setup feels like a chain locking the movie away from greatness. The 1st act, in particular, is so drowned in exposition and setup that it feels like the movie is frozen in time to explain everything there is to explain. Not only is it hard to follow - hardly what I'd call an easily accessible crash-in - but when it does try to explain itself, it goes to a place that isn't confusion but isn't all that much better, which is being convoluted. The Hollow Vale is skillfully convoluted. It feels convoluted, it acts convoluted and it really doesn't make it much easier for anyone up until the 1st half of the film is done.

 

Also, the lead villain, Lord Raedric, played by Colin Farrell, is mostly a bit of a cartoon. Not the entirety of the movie as there are some scenes that stand out, but I feel like he was both miscast and miswritten. I swear I saw him twirl his moustache as he comically yelled away some of his dialogue. It didn't work.

 

But, on the note of characters, characters do happen to be The Hollow Vale's strongest aspect. Ana De Armas plays Sarana, a character built from scratch based on the player's character in the actual Pillars game, and she rocks. She's determined, strong, plucky and a fighter that has tremendous chemistry with her party, which includes some really amazing members. For my money, the showstealer has to be JK Simmons as Durance. What a character lol.

 

And visually speaking, The Hollow Vale has a powerful identity with its Game Of Thrones-esque atmosphere and its strong visual strikes. My favorite scene of the movie is one of the most powerful visuals in all of CAYOM.

 

When the movie decides to explode into action and tell story above explaining story, it becomes fairly pleasant and a nice watch with some solid characters to go. But you have to drudge through a lot to get there, and even after, there are still some issues. It's a fine movie, but my recommendation is not glowing.

 

B-

 

The Epsilon Syndicate: Union Of Thieves
(Y5 - dir. Drew Goddard)

 

Spoiler

Thomasin Mackenzie is the lead for this stylish franchise starter for Hourglass, which is hoping to see its own generation of Kingsman out of this series.

 

Now, that's not to say that it's a rip-off of Kingsman or that it's a bad movie. As a matter of fact, Union Of Thieves is a really fun time.

 

Alongside Mackenzie herself, it boasts a talented cast that thrives off of a fun, vibrant script full of tremendous style. The 60's art deco vibe collaborates with gruesome, gory and very entertaining action to give this film a sense of identity that makes it so clearly stand out from your everyday action movie.

 

While it's also light on characterizations and plot, it still provides the basics you need, as well as the humor and wit, to go with it. And again, it's very, very stylish. Like, this movie would fit well in Guy Ritchie's filmography kind of stylish. Hell, if you think about it, it is a movie about crime, so it would fit well in Ritchie's filmography either way, although it is well given to Drew Goddard.

 

However, the Kingsman parallels are very obvious, and they kinda stop the movie from having an even more distinct identity. Also, I will say that some of the characters, particularly those played by Michael Keaton and Amy Sedaris, are way too sidelined for the caliber of actors that are playing them and I really hope that's an issue that's corrected in the upcoming sequel.

 

With that said, I quite enjoyed The Epsilon Syndicate and I have to say that this has easily the potential to be one of CAYOM's action franchises of reference.

 

B

 

The Scavenger Wars

(Y3 - dir. Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer)

 

Spoiler

One of CAYOM's biggest franchises started off in rather high fashion.

 

The Scavenger Wars is a movie that proves that the well executed ambitions of the Duffer brothers with Stranger Things and Spark Rising, as well as the success of Cookie Pictures with the Scrooge McDuck and Voltron franchises weren't just flukes. These guys are the Midas touch of franchise starters and this movie is further proof of that.

 

At the center of Scavvies, we have two characters going through an intense journey of self-ratification in life, going from down to their luck ex-military fighters to heroic figures desperate to stop the disease of Pallasyne and save humanity and the Scavenger colony of Khouga. These two characters played excellently by Daniel Henney and Naomi Scott - the latter being the showstealer of a tremendous cast - are the soul of a sprawling tale that brings rich writing, epic visuals and great action to its core.

 

The characters really are the strong suit of this movie, from Kira to Tamara to T-Bot to Reese to the compelling villain James Packer... they all won my heart. Funnily, the least impactful character might've actually been Joel, our lead, and one of the downfalls of the movie is the fact that it really becomes his movie and Kira gets sidelined by the end. But no matter, the characters are the film's strongest suit and it lives by them.

 

It also helps that, visually speaking, the film is virtually flawless, with absolutely jaw dropping cinematography and tremendous visual effects for both the worlds, the setting and the Scavenger aliens. The action is sensational, from the brutally powerful, if sometimes a little more graphic than PG-13 might get away with opening act, to a heartpounding ending where everything is on the line.

 

The film does suffer from radical tonal shifts. It tries to juggle two ends of a fat coin, between the happy-go-lucky adventure of our heroes and the darker implications of the story as well as some of its more dire consequences. And while the fun adventure is, well, fun, it does clash with the occasionally sudden shifts in atmosphere that come with the admitedly more interesting darker moments. Also, the writing can get pretty cheesy at times, and, as I mentioned, some of the characters are given the sideline near the end, which was a bit bothersome.

 

Still, this is a home run of a movie and a strong start for the Scavvies franchise.

 

A-

 

The Scavenger Wars Part II: Director's Cut

(Y7 - dir. Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer)

 

Spoiler

I know I'm already cheating on my rule of no movies from Y7 onwards, but technically, this is a review of a Director's Cut of a movie that was released in Y5, so I feel like I'll give it a pass here. I might review the original cut in the future, if I get much requested to do so. Just to see how the two compare.

 

The Scavenger Wars Part II had a lot to live up to, because I really liked the characters, worldbuilding and action of its predecessor The Scavenger Wars. Did it live up to all that? In some areas, yes, and in some... no.

 

Part II decided to give The Scavenger Wars a rebranding in attitude and personality, going for a much leaner and meaner style via an R-rating and a revamping of the majority of its cast. As I said in my review of The Scavenger Wars, I did like the darker tone of that movie better than the lighter one. The lighter one wasn't at all bad, it's just that the darker one was the most interesting. Which already gave the vibe that this is a franchise that knows how to go dark. And go dark Part II does. However, it suffers along the way.

 

The revamped cast, while not as good as the cast of Part I, is still a strong cast overall. At the center now is Mary Elizabeth Winstead's Lucina, which was a good enough character in Part I and now manages to outstage Kira from the previous entry as my favorite Scavvies protagonist. She's dope. A broken but still badass shell of a woman who is everything this particular plot demands her to be. Not to be completely outdone, the new cast of characters brings the goods... for the most part. Alex Spark herself, Sasha Lane, as Sal gives what might've been the second best performance of the movie, next to MEW, with a rich, intense character that really embodies the darker side of Scavvies. We also have Jarek, a complete douchebag who you just love to hate.

 

And then you have... the likes of Sunn and Luna. I mean, they're not bad... they're just not all that great or interesting. Some might describe them as annoying, really. I did enjoy a lot some moments with these characters, but overall, if they were to be killed off, I wouldn't cry over it. On top of them, we also have a new villain, Ares, who not only looks kinda goofy, apart from his imposing size, but he is a disappointingly lame villain, even though he raises the amount of "I'm not fucking around" tenfold compared to Packer. Again, not a bad character, just not in quite the same heights reached by its predecessor.

 

The Scavenger Wars Part II also continues to struggle a bit with tonal shifts every now and then, as well as some really, really obvious writing choices, sometimes obvious to the point of flat out disengagement from the film. There's one at the tail gate end that really brought me down on a character that I had up until that point ranked as my favorite from the movie. And the 3rd act in general needed something else to make it click together, of sorts. It could've done with a rewrite or two.

 

But where it shines, it really shines. The characters that work the best reach similar or same heights as those from Part I. The action is violent, with a big V, and it's helmed in incredible style. The brutal, tragic opening and one scene in the final act with Lucina really shine, in particular. It tells a strong story, surprisingly well paced considering the length of the film. And, while the movie isn't as visually sprawling as its predecessor, it still manages to sneak in absolutely stunning visuals every now and then.

 

Overall, this is a step down from its predecessor, and as I mentioned in my Never Far From The Queen review, that movie did what this one set out to accomplish better in pretty much every way, apart maybe from the action. However, it's still a very good outing that I think warrants a watch from both people who liked The Scavenger Wars, for obvious reasons, and disliked it, since this one takes a different approach to the series.

 

B+

 

Edited by MCKillswitch123
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Green Lantern Corps: Rise Of The Manhunters

(Y5 - dir. F. Gary Gray)

 

Spoiler

Remember 2011's Green Lantern? Yeah, I don't want to either. Even though it was directed by Martin Campbell, that film was a wreck.

 

Endless Entertainment tries to honor the DC characters' legacies properly this time around with a new adaptation from Straight Outta ComptonThe Fate Of The Furious and Spark: Homeward filmmaker F. Gary Gray. Does it get the job right?

 

Kinda.

 

Green Lantern Corps: Rise Of The Manhunters makes no attempt to hide that it's a big, epic scale space opera with tons of action, tons of brimming life and tons of nice visuals. If I were to describe it as anything, it would likely be as an action sci-fi buddy investigation movie. But above all else, as an action movie, because action is certainly Green Lantern Corps' biggest preoccupation. And man, the action in this movie is extravagant, greatly directed and exciting. Shot in IMAX and everything, this is a movie that if you're seeking out for action alone, you're getting your money's worth especially if you see it in IMAX.

 

Alongside that, the overtalented cast is also unexpectedly strong, with star turns from leads Armie Hammer, Joaquin Phoenix and Luke Evans as Hal Jordan, Sinestro and Kanjar-Ro respectively. The chemistry between Hal and Sinestro is interesting and the soul of the movie, as is Hal's process to become a good Lantern. And Kanjar-Ro is the kind of smarmy asshole villain you just love to hate.

 

It's a fun action movie with good lead characters and great visuals. So what's wrong?

 

Well, the plot is overblown to smithereens. To say the least. The structure of this movie is beyond bloated, as action setpieces keep pouring in and in and in. And it's not even the Spark style of bloatedness where it's always entertaining despite itself... no, the overstuffing in here gets in the way of the pacing. It reminded me of Man Of Steel in the way that, while doing so much, it accomplished so little as a consequence.

 

Also, the editing of the film is kinda choppy. Not just the writing that is unpolished and makes it hard to follow, but also it unequivocally rushes through important plot details as well as characters and subplots rather impressively. Some of these can be forgiven, but in other cases, not so much.

 

With a weird structure, choppy editing and bloated plot, the film's strengths are only good enough to make the overall experience... passable. Mixed is perhaps a better word.

 

C+

 

Spark: A Hero's Promise

(Y6 - dir. Jennifer Yuh Nelson)

 

Spoiler

If you're reading this review 1st because it's the 1st one of the Spark bunch that appears on your feed, stop right now and read them by order of film release. In another words, Rising 1st, Homeward 2nd, Beyond The Sky 3rd and this last. As I'm sure you will not do that, I judge you for it.

 

Anyway, A Hero's Promise is arguably the biggest movie in CAYOM history. The culmination of its trademark franchise. One of Hollywood's most ambitious attempts ever. Does it succeed?

 

Well, as far as I'm concerned, it is the best Spark sequel. It is also batshit fucking ludicrous at the same time.

 

This movie is basically the closest thing to a full blown novel that CAYOM will ever get. If you thought Beyond The Sky was ambitious almost to excessive degree, A Hero's Promise makes that movie look like a baby's toy. This is a 3 hour long mish mash of subplots, crazy action, crazy shenanigans and TOOONS of satisfying conclusions to arcs and bits that we've seen grow for the course of four movies.

 

And honestly, one wouldn't feel wrong to say that this might've as well been a 5 or 6 movie franchise, because A Hero's Promise has enough material almost for an entire trilogy. It is commendable that Jennifer Yuh Nelson tried her hardest to cram 700 things into this movie, but it really feels its overstuffing at times and many of its subplots, some of which come basically from thin air, are crippled by the whiplash of so much stuff beating into each other at the same time. The writing takes a hit, especially if you notice how Xevarre is not as menacing as she was in the 3rd movie or that a lot of characters are rushed in and out of the movie.

 

That being said, it is also unquestionably satisfying to a massive degree. Everything you have to come to expect out of Spark is here in arguably the greatest kind of spades possible. It's all amped up to maximum degrees, from the action to the character moments to the humor to the drama... and it feels earned. It's not just here for the sake of being here, you really do feel like this is a franchise that came to a conclusion at the peak of its popularity and gives every fan what they came to see. It's hard to review a movie like this because it relies on outside factors almost as much as inside factors to succeed, but the reality is that this one succeeds.

 

It's not perfect. It's far from perfect. But its imperfections are kind of perfect in their own way, because while this movie could have easily been rewritten to knock some of its weight out or even elongate the runtime if needed, the fact is that it really does feel like an earned mega conclusion. And it caps off a franchise in pretty high fashion.

 

B

 

Spark: Beyond The Sky

(Y4 - dir. Jennifer Yuh Nelson)

 

Spoiler

Hot fucking damn, talk about escalation.

 

Beyond The Sky took the Spark level on a whole new level of epic. In pretty much every way... and that includes the negative side of things as well.

 

The 3rd entry and 2nd sequel directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, of Kung Fu Panda 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3 fame, elevates the drama, the characters and the worldbuilding to levels of epic up until this point unreached. And, for the most part, it's a well succeeded task as this movie is a substantial improvement over Homeward.

 

Not only is the scale of this as epic as they come, but the drama of how did Alex get her powers as well as the rise of the series' trademark villain, Olivia Cooke's edgy Xevarre, are hands down the most compelling aspects of this movie. They ground the all out insanity to something that has a beating heart and living soul to it. They make Beyond The Sky feel like it is driven truly by emotion, not just by exposition, revelations and explosions,

 

But when the explosions happen, my God do they happen. Beyond The Sky has probably the best 3rd act of the franchise and one of the best action heavy 3rd acts in CAYOM, alongside the Mass Effect movies, Pillars Of Eternity: Never Far From The Queen and The Scavenger Wars movies. It is fucking bonkers. That's all I'm gonna say.

 

However, in getting so high, Beyond The Sky also trips up along the way, with plenty instances of editing and writing that feel confusing and disjointed. Like, the movie is so excited about itself that it almost chokes on its own words sometimes. This includes even the 3rd act itself. And these do take away from the experience. It doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, one can't help but get flashbacks of how overambition has brought down many a project.

 

Still, one can't help but recognize the wonders of Beyond The Sky. It is a compelling, flashy and insane 3rd entry that will fulfill any hardcore fan's appetite and let them drooling in wait for A Hero's Promise.

 

B

 

Spark: Homeward

(Y3 - dir. F. Gary Gray)

 

Spoiler

Hmm.

 

Spark: Homeward is a bit of a controversial movie. The very 1st sequel to the massively successful and beloved Spark Rising "sparked" very divisive reactions, and even more so when the Jake Gyllenhaal cut of the movie - which this is not a review of, btw, this is a review of the theatrically released cut - was unveiled to the audience. Some really like it, some are very cool on it, some think it's... okay. So, where do I stand on this movie?

 

I think it's fine.

 

Yeah, I'm not exactly neither over the moon or under the bottom of the ocean about it. I think it's a fine movie.

 

From a positive perspective, the action is still really good. F. Gary Gray uses his Fate Of The Furious experience to helm stylistically high octane action and the movie knows how to pull off spectacle well. The worlds are still vibrant and the characters are still interesting. The main trio of Sasha Lane, Charlie Heaton and Aubrey Plaza still pull great performances, as does the incredible supporting cast from Octavia Spencer to Chiwetel Ejiofor. It also continues to handle well the balance between drama and lightness.

 

However, Homeward is the 1st sign that Spark sure likes its excess, as there are a handful of subplots that could've been better handled but turn out to feel a little undercooked. And, unfortunately, despite the really strong performance by Taron Egerton, Venchall is easily the franchise's weakest villain. Forgettable, predictable and with disappointing twists around his character, he's just not all that interesting at all. Everything around him is just not exactly the most enthralling to follow, and when the movie took its most engaging aspect and turned it into a half-baked twist (you know what I'm talking about if you read it), you can't help but feel like so much potential was drained.

 

Still, I couldn't not recommend Homeward to anyone at least minimally interested. It still has the drama, the characters, the action and the worlds to give you enough satisfaction. It's just... a big fall from grace after Rising and the worst of the franchise for me.

 

Between this and Rise Of The Manhunters, F. Gary Gray is not very good at directing space operas, I see.

 

B-

 

Spark Rising

(Y1 - dir. Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer)

 

Spoiler

The 1st outing of CAYOM's flagship franchise and its biggest achievement ever. Talking about CAYOM and not talking about Spark is like talking about sci-fi without mentioning Star Wars. A wonderous, epic journey that made us all imagine *ahem* infinite possibilities.

 

Rising, after all of these game years, is still the franchise's highest mark. And not only that, but it's one of CAYOM's greatest achievements. And while one could be disappointed that the franchise peaked in its start, this is more of an indicament of Rising's standalone quality than anything else.

 

It's impossible not to talk about this epic self-discovery tale without mentioning Sasha Lane's star turning performance as Alexandra Spark. Alex is possibly CAYOM's most iconic character, and her journey here has her finding self-acceptance by herself and her peers amongst the tormentous idea that she's nothing more than a weapon of mass destruction. It's an endearing story that is clearly above just explosions and punches, and it wins all the more hearts for it. The chemistry between her, Charlie Heaton's Kozar and Aubrey Plaza's Aera is so palpable that it also boosts the film tenfold.

 

It's not just the original trio that are good characters though, as everyone in the film is giving at least a fun performance and getting fun stuff to do. It's just fun, fun, FUN all around. A true blast of a film. The visual effects are absolutely tremendous, with all of the worldbuilding, action beats and character designs flawlessly executed; the settings feel creative and interesting... it's all just really well done.

 

Yeah, it's a fairly straightforward story, it's not exactly complex, but it really doesn't have to be. As a franchise starter, it hits all the right notes and gets the basics down to a tee.

 

My only complaints with the movie are that it is a little predictable at times, and the writing can get cheesy. It's mostly cheesy in a fun way, but sometimes it's cheesy cheesy and it gets intrusive.

 

But oh man, if you're looking to start in CAYOM, look up Spark Rising asap because you don't wanna miss one of this game's proudest accomplishments.

 

A

 

Edited by MCKillswitch123
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Can You Imagine?

(Y4 - dir. Genndy Tartakovsky)

 

Spoiler

Endless Animation has really grown to become one of CAYOM's most reliable brands. Some may argue that they are the Pixar of CAYOM.

 

Can You Imagine? is undoubtedly one of their produest achievements. While I may personally think, as of now, that Gateways is just as good if not better, no one can take away the fact that this is a Hell of a film.

 

One of the strongest suits of the movie is certainly its voice cast. Alison Brie and Ryan Reynolds are spot on as Jennifer and Kyle, a troubled married couple that struggles to find their footing after years of marriage and raising a son, Ethan, who also suffers from their ignorance as parents while bringing to the world his incredible imagination. Alongside them, the talented supporting cast all does a great job, with another of the standouts being, of course, Tom Hanks as The King.

 

Besides the voice cast, Can You Imagine? boasts stunning animation with the Worldmeander style that Endless Animation has created, which blends traditional 2D with CG 3D styles very smoothly. It could easily feel like a gimmick, but Can You Imagine? uses the effect wonderfully and it makes for a film that looks every bit as good as its script is.

 

And speaking of the script, the way that Tartakovsky deals with adulthood and childhood family troubles is not only incredibly mature for any film's standards, nevermind those of a family movie, but teaches valuable lessons without feeling heavy handed or like it's beating you over the head. The balance between the drama, the adventure and the comedy is just that well executed.

 

From a nitpicks perspective, I guess there are some unanswered questions which may have been left open for the upcoming sequel Should You Imagine? to explore, as well as some parallels with other animated flicks like Toy Story 2 and 3, but these are hardly big issues. I would go even as far as to say that they don't really hurt the movie that much. I... honestly can't think of any big faults the film had. It's just really, really well done.

 

A

 

Making Waves

(Y6 - dir. Sean McNamara)

 

Spoiler

Sean McNamara, one of the greats of water sports in the world, decided to make a movie about a father-son relationship that has to do with surfing, and..... cancer. Man, it's as dumb as it sounds.

 

Now, don't get me wrong, Ryan Reynolds and the kid who play his son both do a good enough, if unspectacular job, and the imagery is very pretty. Cinematography-wise, this movie looks great. I mean, the torture the GoPros went through wasn't in vein as they captured some nice shots.

 

But the plot is mega dumb, in poor taste, wannabe pretentious and also pretty lame, really. What should be a simple sports movie... is actually about a father who has cancer and a son who is really stupid and then they bond while they're on the waves, it's just lame as Hell.

 

D+

 

Sir Thymes Time

(Y4 - dir. Chris McKay)

 

Spoiler

Just in time for its anticipated sequel is this review for the beloved Y4 animated entry from The Lego Batman Movie director and Blankments Productions' Sir Thymes Time.

 

This is a movie that other fellow critics, while praising it, have said that it suffers from similarities to other animated flicks. Personally, I agree that it has some similarities with other ideas, and that's probably the biggest issue with the movie, to get the cons out of the way first. I also think that, while Jesse's Girl is a fun character and Anna Kendrick does a good job voicing her, the villain's plans are a little lame and kinda make for a slightly lesser third act than what you might expect.

 

That being said, who cares about these things when the movie has such a unique voice to it. Chris McKay directs the Hell out of this funny, engaging, shockingly thought-provoking love letter to music starring Elijah Wood in a great turn as this character who is desperate to know about his origin story.

 

Everyone in the cast does a job, the pacing is great, the music references aren't just music references for the sake of it - they move the plot forward in creative ways, and it's just quite well written.

 

Simple review, simple movie. I really liked it.

 

A-

 

The Last Six

(Y5 - dir. James Wan)

 

Spoiler

The Last Six is basically what would've happened if The Avengers was about real world mythology instead of comic book characters. It's basically that kind of movie.

 

It's the kind of movie that lives by three things: the chemistry between the actors, the action and the villain. Do these things work? For the most part, they do. However, that doesn't take away from the fact that, in a post-Avengers world, Last Six feels more rudimentary than groundbreaking.

 

The stars of this movie are, hands down, James McAvoy, Patrick Wilson and Jason Momoa. The latter two get to play Greek Gods Dionysius and Ares, and they have tremendously fun chemistry together. They're not the most well fleshed out characters - that would probably be Cillian Murphy's Loki, who is also a good character - but they are very fun to watch. McAvoy plays Afterlife, the villain, and he chews up the scenery like it's bubble gum without even caring, but he chews it with the kind of flavor that only an actor the caliber of McAvoy could. The villain is not exactly groundbreaking, but McAvoy plays him well. The other main actors, Daniel Kaluuya, Gemma Chan, Danai Gurira and Rami Malek, also do an unsurprising good job given the actors' calibers, but their characters are far underdeveloped or just have less interesting stuff to do in comparison.

 

When it comes to action, The Last Six is quite a lot of fun. It's a big scale spectacle that has no shortage of thrills. And that's everything that it needs to be. James Wan helms it with the style he brought to Aquaman and, just like in that movie, it feels like a massive showcase with quite a lot of personality.

 

The fun action, good characters and great cast all help knock down the lack of depth of the script and the underdevelopment of quite a few of its characters to make it a solid enough action watch.

 

B-

 

Yin

(Y5 - dir. Daniel Espinosa)

 

Spoiler

Daniel Espinosa is a director that I respect while acknowledging he's not exactly fantastic. But he's gotten better. Life was a good Alien clone. And now, he gave us his best accomplishment yet, the twisty thriller Yin.

 

Yin is a movie that may not sit very well with you on first viewing, because it takes some huge leaps of faith that you either go with or you will quite frankly hate until you see the film a second or third time. However, I took my time with the movie, and while I had a rough time buying its twists and turns at first, as the film progressed, its advancements quite worked.

 

At the center stage is a well deserved Oscar-winning performance by Daniel Henney, who gives it all into this character that is trying to unravel a series of mysteries that stand in his way. You understand the very warm relationship that he has with his daughter (whose child actress also does a really good job), and you root for him all the way through the dark alleys his character has to roam.

 

Also fantastic is Michael Shannon as the lead villain. He is a calculating, maniacal character with almost cold empathy for Henney's protagonist, and while his motivations are somewhat questionable from a logic perspective, he has a very intriguing and fascinating aura around him.

 

The film looks absolutely incredible, definitely an achievement from a cinematography and effects perspective.

 

And finally, it bears a very unique script with a lot of ups and some downs. As I mentioned, the film has a distinctive personality and way that it deals with the idea of taking control of your own life and destiny. However, amongst some of its decisions, it does leave some unanswered questions and some things that make less sense than others. Though I'm not gonna lie: the first time I saw the movie, I was a bit baffled at the whole of it until one other twist came and pretty much justified everything that had happened. And while said twist is also quite disappointing when you take it for what it is, the fact of the matter is that it really does make the movie better in a lot of ways.

 

Yin is a movie that, above all else, I recommend you watch to judge for yourself. But for my money, New Journey Pictures' sleeper hit left a Hell of a legacy behind.

 

A-

 

Edited by MCKillswitch123
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Hoops

(Y4 - dir. Charles Stone III)

 

Spoiler

Space Jam but even dumber and a lot less fun. That's the best way to describe Hoops.

 

From the maker of DrumlinePaid In Full and a famous Budweiser commercial... aka, an apparently competent director, comes this stupid ass sports movie about a bunch of high schoolers who are fighting the evil corporates trying to buy out their basketball park, and decide to play a game of basketball against a team assembled by the evil corporates in order to decide the fate of the park. The evil corporates assemble basically an NBA All Star team, with some of the best in the game. And - spoiler alert - the professionals who score tens of points every game against other professionals lose to the high schoolers. And they were actually trying to win.

 

At this point you might be thinking: "it's just a harmless, dumb sports flick for families, give it a break", and I would, actually... if it was entertaining at the very least. But the only way in which Hoops is entertaining is if you see it as an unintentional comedy. Even its moments of supposedly intense gameplay, moments in which the audience is supposed to be enthralled in the experience, are completely ruined by the fact that a bunch of NBA All Stars are legitimately struggling with some kids that aren't even old and/or bright enough to be in the NCAA. Take that aside, and it's boring and generic as all fuck.

 

I guess I appreciate the fact that they tried to make a movie, and, at the end of the day, it's not trying to be anything harmful, but its faults are too grave to overcome. I have nothing to recommend about this, unless you wanna go out of your way to make fun of something that's trying to be somewhat serious but falls so flat on this face you would've easily mistaken it for a drunkard trying to dunk a basketball and instead splatting hard on the floor to the echoes of collective laughter.

 

F

 

Hoops 2

(Y6 - dir. Charles Stone III)

 

Spoiler

Hoops? More like Oops.

 

What happened to Charles Stone III? His resume indicates he's a lot better than these terrible movies. Did he just pull an Alex Proyas on his own career and decided to make trash and then flip off the critics (in Proyas' case, it was literally having a fit; in Stone's case, it's making a sequel to Hoops, which is apparently also getting a threequel in Y7 as well)?

 

So Hoops 2 is about one of the kids from the 1st Hoops who became a big star in the NCAA, and he comes back to his neighborhood to help poor kids through the power of... college basketball. Kay.

 

Needless to say, this movie sucks lol. And... one wouldn't have a bad argument if they said this is actually worse than the original. Because, as I said in the review of that movie, at least Hoops was trying to be a movie. There were three acts, there were protagonists, antagonists, a conflict and a plot. I may not exactly be very smart, but I did learn in Narrative Structure class (that's a class I took in college here in Portugal) that those are the things that compose your everyday story, especially that of a movie. Hoops 2 has none of that. Well, it has a protagonist and maybe an antagonist (poverty?), but... yeah, it's kind of a stretch to pinpoint what even happens in this movie. It's just... nothingness.

 

That being said, I will say that seeing a college basketball star trying his hardest to help his people whatever way he can is a great message to send. Of course, you could easily poke holes in that and criticize the American sports system for what it does to its once full of dreams athletes, but I personally see it as good hearted. But even in that end, Hoops 2 manages to feel like a movie made by committee, and one that's so unabashedly pandering to the point where it's almost offensive, for God's sake. It doesn't feel genuine. At all.

 

Again, at least Hoops was a movie. This, while having a nice message, is just a vat of nothing. Even the decent performance by the lead kid can't save this dull trainwreck. I won't give it an F because it's not as nonsensical and it is better acted than its predecessor, but man, stay away from this.

 

D-

 

Mirror's Edge

(Y1 - dir. Pierre Morel)

 

Spoiler

Pierre Morel is a mixed bag of a director. Easily, he could churning out your District 13's and your Takens of the world, and as easily, he could be putting out a Peppermint (okay, I will admit I've never seen Peppermint, but word is that it's pretty damn bad) or other not so good content. But nevertheless, he's not someone who's never shown good work before, and Hell, two of his movies are amongst the most influential action films of the 2000's. So, in my mind, he wasn't a bad choice to helm an adaptation of the action adventure video game Mirror's Edge, a game that I respect.

 

Unfortunately for him, and for audiences alike, Mirror's Edge - the movie - is less Taken and more mixed bag. It's not a wretched failure of a movie, but it's definitely less than the sum of its parts.

 

On the plus side, you have a decent enough cast led by Scarlett Johansson, who apparently didn't get enough whitewashing from Ghost In The Shell and she had to go ahead and play Faith in this movie as well. Nonetheless, ScarJo pulls a solid performance out of the bag, as per usual.

 

You also get plenty of action setpieces, and Morel is pretty damn good at filming them. Mirror's Edge is most famous for its blend of gunfighting and parkour stunts, and we get a lot of that in this movie. And unlike in the Assassin's Creed movie where it looked like trash, in here, it actually looks really good. The action is exciting, the parkour stunts are impressive and the movie has a good flow whenever these are happening.

 

But on the con side, you have a bit of an odd script. It's not the worst script in the world, but it's very clearly a script that thinks it's better than it actually is. It's another conspiracy theory thriller, nothing that you've never seen before, and the action is great, but the pretentious thriller elements aren't greatly told and the story just isn't all that you'd want. It feels disjointed, I would say.

 

It's not bad, but I'd call this movie average at best. As of this point in time, I have yet to read the better regarded sequel, Mirror's Edge: Catalyst, but it's a stretch to say this lives up to the game. It's definitely on the upper echelon of video game movies, but that's not an incredibly high bar to reach, is it? It sure as Hell isn't no Pillars or Mass Effect.

 

C

 

Psychonauts

(Y5 - dir. Duke Johnson and Tim Schaffer)

 

Spoiler

I am a huge fan of the video game Psychonauts. From the mind of one of the co-directors of this movie, the brilliant Tim Schaffer (creator of other cult classic video games like Grim Fandango and Full Throttle), it was a game that could easily capture the imaginations of anyone who plays it, with its macabre Burton-esque worlds, creative ideas and amazingly fun characters and dialogue.

 

I am also a fan of Duke Johnson. The man is one of the responsible for Anomalisa (alongside Charlie Kaufman). And Anomalisa is pretty fucking incredible.

 

I am a fan of pretty much the entire voice cast of this movie.

 

And lastly, I am a fan of stopmotion. I think that it's a beautiful art form.

 

WHAT THE HELL WENT WRONG HERE? WHY WASN'T THIS GOOD?!?!?!?

 

Poor choices of adaptation, that's what.

 

Psychonauts is an incredible ingredient to make your meal with. It's excellent. But trying to make a sub-2 hour movie out of a 10-15 hour video game that has two incredibly distinct sides to it is like trying to make one standalone movie that tells the entire story of the It novel. It's just a bad idea all around. Everyone knows there's part 1 and part 2. And that is what Hourglass should have decided to do with this property: divide the game's plot into two different films. Instead, we got one messy rushjob that completely squandered the potential of the game as a movie.

 

The movie is a 1 for 1, beat for beat adaptation of the game, which is completely fine except for one element: the game is at least 10 hours long, while this movie doesn't even make it to 2 hours. There's no time to flesh out any characters in this movie besides Raz, Lili and slightly Oleander, there's no time for all of the beats to flow correctly and make sense, and there's just no time to make this story feel more coherent than just "now we have to quickly go here, now we have to quickly go there, now we have to quickly go everywhere" video game nonsense. It's completely overstuffed and has its stomach almost blowing up with the amount of content that it has to pack in. 1 hour and 47 minutes is seriously not enough AT ALL to tell this story.

 

As a fan of the game, I loved seeing all these great moments and characters play out on the screen. I love the voice cast chosen - my God, especially JK Simmons as Oleander, that is as spot on as it gets. Stopmotion is a great look for a video game movie based on a property that is so clearly inspired by Burton, it's hard not to get Laika or Nightmare Before Christmas vibes from this. The script is witty, the dialogue is great, the worlds are creative.... everything is here for the movie to succeed. And I guess that I'm recognizing these positives because I am a fan of the game and it speaks to me to see all these things that I love.

 

But choices need to be made when you want to avoid to be lost in translation. Psychonauts, alongside the likes of BioShock and Chrono Trigger, is an example of what happens when you have a video game movie that loses the source material in translation. A huge shame.

 

C

 

The Last Policeman

(Y6 - dir. Cary Fukunaga)

 

Spoiler

Numerator is reknown for the many well recieved crime thrillers that it produces - including incorporating them in huge franchises, such as Mass Effect and Pillars Of Eternity - and one of the most recent ones was Cary Fukunaga's The Last Policeman.

 

This is a movie that cleverly uses a pre-apocalyptic setting for the sake of building tension in a much smaller scale story, which isn't something you see all that often and I praise the movie right out of the gate for. The town of Concord is tense, lived in and the kind of place where you can cut the tension with a butterknife. It added to the atmosphere of the movie quite a lot.

 

What also brought everything home nicely was the great cast. Pretty much everyone, from David Harbour in a shit-eating role that could have easily warranted him an Oscar nomination (if it did, I don't remember and I'm too lazy to research), to Jane Levy, to Annette Bening, to Zoey Dutsch... everyone in this incredibly talented ensemble does a great job. Well, everyone except for one person... and that person is Ansel Elgort, the lead of the movie.

 

Now, don't get me wrong, Elgort's performance was fine, but I'm not a huge fan of his and, while I think that this role fits pretty well with his sensibilities as an actor, his limited suaveness was only so much compared to the flexibility of the cast around him. He had a compelling script ahead of him, and wasn't exactly able to pull as much out of this character as a more talented actor could have.

 

With that said, the movie also gets a lot of points for being really well paced - it brisks by rather fast - and for having a smart script that never really makes the audience feel like they're dumbasses and lets them follow around Elgort and unravel the mystery along with him.

 

It was a tense thriller with a great setting, a strong cast and a strong script. Well done.

 

A-

 

Edited by MCKillswitch123
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Borrasca

(Y6 - dir. Fede Alvarez)

 

Spoiler

Based on a novella made famous in the interwebz, Lager Pictures brought us this twisted adaptation directed by Evil Dead and Don't Breathe's Fede Alvarez, a director that I quite appreciate.

 

Borrasca tells its story of a town wrapped around mystery and a group of kids trying to unsolve it in a way that makes justice to the town itself. What I mean by that is that Borrasca's supporting characters act and talk like they have something inside their closets that they want to hide from everybody. The town of Drisking is lived in, atmospheric and a Hellhole for just about anybody with morale. Just as much as Concord from The Last Policeman, this is another recent example of a setting done right.

 

But it's not just the setting that rocks when it comes to Borrasca. Its characters are really good too. At the center stage are three great lead performances by Quinn Lord, Greyson Russell and Annalise Basso as Sam, Kyle and Kimber, the hopeful and energetic teenagers that carry the story through (nothing against the actors who played them as children either, they also had a terrific performance at the start of the film). These are characters that you want to see succeed and get to the bottom of what's happening. The supporting cast also does a really strong job, with Charles Dance, Vincent Kartheiser and Karl Urban in particular standing out.

 

The script is engaging, enrapturing, funny at times, revolting at others and nothing to leave anyone indifferent on. It leaves a very powerful message behind, depicted in just about the most vile way possible. It's far from what I would assume as a crowdpleaser.

 

The pacing of the movie... has its issues. For the most part, it's pretty swift, but the 2nd act definitely feels slow and uneventful at parts. I appreciate slow burns and I wouldn't really cut anything out of the movie myself, but yeah, I found myself checking my phone a couple of times. Also, I found some of the characters' behavior in the film to be inconsistent. Very little instances, but they're here or there.

 

But I think the main focus of discussion regarding this movie will definitely be the 3rd act and the ending. Was it a fucked up ending? Without a doubt. Do I think this movie went over the top and did some things that might've been pointless in its track to send its message? I wouldn't say yes, but I wouldn't say no either. It's complicated. Do I think that the ending gave a vibe of leaving the story unresolved? Yes, I do think that. And I am absolutely for a Borrasca 2, because pay-off needs to happen for this story. While leaving it as is has its merit, I think it just sends a wrong idea not to continue from where we left.

 

In the end, Borrasca is NOT for the faint of heart. But I think that this is another winner for Fede Alvarez after Don't Breathe. It's a movie with strong characters, a solid script, great atmosphere and a powerful message. Not perfect, but definitely well packaged.

 

B+

 

Broadway Selects: Network

(Y6 - dir. Ivo Van Hove and Lorenzo Thione)

 

Spoiler

I honestly have no idea how to review this, but here we go.

 

Here's the thing about Broadway Selects: yeah, it's pretty impressive to see a Broadway play. The musical acts are awe-inspiring and all that. However, I really feel like these being a wide release from a big studio like Blankments... yeah, I'm not too keen on it. I don't really think this is exactly what I'd call cinematic, after all. I mean, I'm sure a lot of people don't mind paying money to see recorded plays in a theater, but I guess these just don't appeal to me as much. I'd rather see something like this on TV where I don't have to pay for the experience.

 

And while Network is a classic and it's interesting to see the translation from movie to Broadway, it just doesn't do a whole lot for me to see this. I'm not a huge fan. Taking the sum of all these parts, I feel like this is an above average "movie", if only because the actual Broadway act itself is strong.

 

C+

 

Broadway Selects: The Band's Visit

(Y6 - dir. David Cromer and Lorenzo Thione)

 

Spoiler

I mean... read what I said above, and replace the words Network with The Band's Visit.

 

Only thing to note is that this one is kind of a lot lamer in comparison.

 

C

 

Burnout

(Y3 - dir. Robert Rodriguez)

 

Spoiler

I grew up playing Burnout 3: Takedown on my PlayStation 2. To my money, it's still the greatest racing game ever devised. Yeah, I'm flipping off your Gran Turismos and Mario Karts of the world.

 

And I don't think that Robert Rodriguez is a great director, but I do think that he works well with the right material.

 

So, I was excited enough for this Burnout adaptation. And, after watching it... it's alright! Honestly, it's probably about as good as a Burnout movie could be lol.

 

At its core, it's nothing more than a Fast & Furious rip-off, without a doubt. Especially if we're referring to the first couple of movies. But Rodriguez was a smart choice from TriCrescent, and Rodriguez knows exactly the kind of movie this is. A balls to the wall ridiculous action flick. And it delievers the goods.

 

On the downside, it's not exactly high on character or plot. But, c'mon, did you really walk onto this movie thinking it was going to be? You came here for the driving, the crashing, the driving and the crashing. And you get that quite a lot. The movie is highly stylish whenever the action kicks in, the crashes look insane and the racing is exciting. And even when it's not racing, there's the plus that the movie was interesting with its choice of an all-latino cast, who do a good job with the paper thin script they get.

 

It is what it is. Burnout is a fun time in theaters. It's nothing amazing or anything, but I'm sure that audiences hoping to hop onto a fun time will certainly get that.

 

C+

 

By The Balls

(Y4 - dir. Tony Yacenda)

 

Spoiler

CAYOM's proudest achievement in terms of satire.

 

"You gotta grab life by the balls" is the catchphrase to remember from this no punches pulled film where a journalism student played by Olivia Cooke is trying to unravel the mysteries of why is a man in the college female basketball team, and why no one seems to bat an eye over it.

 

And it's a catchphrase that won't leave your mind given how memorable the characters of this movie are. The satire that By The Balls presents is definitely hard in your face, but man, does it work. The message doesn't go unnoticed, and it's transmitted in a memorable, dare I say dark way.

 

Everyone in the cast has good material to work with and does a great job, but the film is clearly anchored by two performances: Olivia Cooke and Bradley Cooper. Olivia has arguably the performance of her career, and I recognize the great job she did in Bates Motel for the record. She brings positivity, hope and grit to a character that seems to face adversity from the entire world. But holy fucking shit, Bradley Cooper earned that Oscar that he won for this movie. Thomas Russell is the villain of CAYOM. Ruthless, toxic and just impeccably written. Not without an amount of humanity where you can't see where he's coming from, but certainly a villain you just love to hate.

 

And yeah, the message the movie sends is clear, audible and just no nonsense. I think that one could accuse the movie of being too in your face, but I think that the satirical nature of the film is exactly meant to make a clear joke out of something that is a well rooted problem in society.

 

I honestly have no big quibbles with this movie. Sometimes it's a little confusing in its writing. And that's about it. I wouldn't say it's very funny, I guess, but satire doesn't have to be a comedy. It's just what it is... satire.

 

American Vandal co-creator Tony Yacenda made a movie that I still haven't forgotten after reading it for the 1st time. I don't know how did it break out so huge at the box office, but man, it deserved it.

 

A

 

Edited by MCKillswitch123
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BioShock

(Y3 - dir. Alex Garland)

 

Spoiler

I love BioShock. It's one of the video games of the 2000's. Atmospheric, deep, intense, imaginative... it's one of those games that everyone that even has a remote interest in video games should play.

 

Numerator has a good track record with video game movies, so it was natural that I got excited for their adaptation of BioShock, especially since they were bringing Ex-Machina and Annihilation helmer Alex Garland to the mix. It just seemed like a perfect combination and a recipe for success.

 

However, much like what happened to Duke Johnson and Tim Schaffer's Psychonauts, leave it to poor choices of adaptation to ruin what could be a really strong project. In this case, even more so. BioShock is a hot mess of a movie.

 

It's not imperfect. As a fan of the game, I found that the set design, costume design and sound design were all well done and the film's pacing was even able to allow the atmosphere of Rapture, the desolate underwater dystopian Hellhole that is basically the main character of the story, to flow well. I also liked Alicia Vikander's lead performance.

 

However, BioShock suffers in lack of streamlining and trying to cram everything from the game into a movie for plenty of unsuspecting viewers that had no prior experience with the game. And even for me, someone who did have experience with the game, the way the film was structured was just impenetrable in terms of a story that felt coherent and straightforward. It tried to do so much that it accomplished so little. Endless concepts - both literal and philosophical - smashed against each other in a desperate attempt to make justice to the game. It didn't work.

 

One of the best examples of how sacrifices need to be made in order to ensure a strong cinematic experience.

 

D+

 

Chrono Trigger

(Y1 - dir. Andrew Adamson)

 

Spoiler

With experience in the 1st two Shrek and The Chronicles Of Narnia movies, Andrew Adamson was an inspired choice to direct a movie based on my personal favorite RPG video game of all time, Chrono Trigger. A true classic in the history of games with then innovative storytelling, exciting characters and gameplay that just made it feel like a truly one of a kind adventure.

 

A movie based on Chrono Trigger? Not a bad idea at all. As long as it's smart about the way it pulls it off. But smart is NOT the way that I would describe the way that Adamson pulled this off.

 

More so than Psychonauts or BioShockChrono Trigger is the best example there is of a movie that has no clue of how to adapt source material into another form of art. It reminds me of Duncan Jones' Warcraft in that the director seems like such a huge fan of the source material that he completely forgot to make a movie for everyone to try to appreciate and instead focused on make a movie pretty much for himself and any other hardcore fan. As a hardcore fan, I was able to keep up with Chrono Trigger's messy advances at references, settings and characters. As a critic, I sat in awe and watched a rather expensive production based on one of my favorite games completely crash and burn.

 

From the Godawful miscasting - seriously, who thought it was a good idea to have the likes of Ryan Gosling and Anne Hathaway play teenagers? How did they even accept these roles, for Christ's sake? - to the way that the movie jumps between place to place pretty much aimlessly (well, not necessarily aimlessly, but rather without effect, as it's trying to tell the story of the game in a really short runtime), to the lack of fleshing out of pretty much any characters apart from maybe the lead ones, Chrono Trigger is an exercise in pure frustration.

 

The only thing redeemable about this movie are the visual effects. That's it. But that's not enough to contain a terribly told story from falling into the shitter. One of CAYOM's worst movies ever.

 

F

 

One Piece: The Journey Begins

(Y4 - dir. Jon Watts)

 

Spoiler

I've now seen two movies based on franchises with popular animes subtitled The Journey Begins in CAYOM. For those wondering, Pokémon's review is coming in a near future.

 

But as far as One Piece goes, I was somewhat skeptical. Jon Watts is not a bad director - I do happen to appreciate both Spider-Man: Homecoming and its sequel Far From Home - but I failed to see how he was an inspired choice for a One Piece movie. Granted, my familiarity with the source material is slim at best, but still, I wasn't sure of how was this going to work.

 

As it turns out, Watts was a decent choice. The movie is not bad. Now granted, it's not particularly "good" either, it's just okay.

 

The choice of Watts helped the film in the sense that it did make it feel like what typically falls under Watts' niche: comedy adventures with young people. One Piece is fairly breezy, light (although it has some surprisingly dark moments) and swashbuckling enough. Though I still think there were much better choices out there and it shows.

 

The movie is clearly a franchise starter and here's hoping that One Piece II corrects the major faults of the 1st one, but as for good things, it carries a breezy vibe, it's well paced, well acted, has good action and very off-beat character design. It's a straightforward story that works well in setting up a strong future, so, fingers crossed that such future comes to fruition.

 

On the downside, The Journey Begins is very choppily written, with all the spelling errors it boasted. Green Lantern Corps was another recent example of a movie that was pretty hard to follow due to its writing mistakes, so I urge you guys to try to polish your films before posting them. It also has some very odd character motivations going on. And I kinda hate the movie's guts for giving Benicio Del Toro a complete shaft.

 

It's nothing that will blow your mind, but honestly, I had a fun enough time with One Piece: The Journey Begins. It's a pretty fun movie.

 

B-

 

SoulCalibur

(Y3 - dir. Paul WS Anderson)

 

Spoiler

I don't like Taylor Swift, but it's safe to say... SoulCalibur, I knew you were trouble.

 

I am not exactly fond of the plots of fighting video games... well, the greater part of them, at all (there are some exceptions, obviously). And neither am I fond of Paul WS Anderson - yeah, yeah, I know he's made one or two decent films, but he's not a good director. Let's get that out of the way.

 

SoulCalibur was his attempt to recapture lightning in a bottle that the achieved once with the original Mortal Kombat, and even then, he didn't even fully achieved it, he just got a little lucky with some of the things he did in that film. SoulCalibur is basically Mortal Kombat but without the fun and just the stupidity.

 

The plot of this movie is complete bollocks nonsense. It's just idiotic. In every sense of the way. The only half-redeemable aspect is Milla Jovovich's search for her son, which has an edge to it (no pun intended), but yeah. The characters? Also bizarre.

 

As for the action... some of it is passable, but for the most part, it's Paul WS Anderson shaky cam bullshit. It's like the man hasn't been able to keep the camera steady for decades at this point. It looks like cheap trash.

 

This movie triumphantly sucks, and when I say triumphantly, I do mean that its suckage is pretty epic. Not that it's so bad it's good.

 

PS: What the fuck was Antonio Banderas doing in this movie?

 

D

 

Splatoon

(Y5 - dir. Craig McCracken and Rodney Rothman)

 

Spoiler

I have never played Splatoon, but I'm very much aware of how popular this third-person shooter for children is. It's one of Nintendo's most popular IP's in a long time and it has captured the imagination of players all over the world.

 

But a movie adaptation? Yeah, that seemed like a bizarre idea. Little did I know, however, that genuine effort was going to be put into making this a legitimately solid film!

 

It's nothing otherworldly by any stretch of the imagination. The opening act is extremely bloated and confusing with a ton of subplots going on, also lacking some polish in terms of writing. It follows fairly generic beats for an animated film. And it even boasts similarities to other CAYOM films, such as the imo far superior Sir Thymes Time.

 

However, I went in expecting Splatoon to be much, much worse. And the opinion is that the movie actually is fairly decent. It has characters that board on being annoying, but never cross there and find themselves right on the balance board of enjoyable, mostly thanks to the charismatic performances by the voice cast - especially that of Ice Cube as the lead villain King Octavio, who is just hilarious; it is very colorful and energetic; and it's also, above all else, really strong from an action perspective.

 

Animation genius Craig McCracken and Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse co-director Rodney Rothman teamed up for a wonderous adventure that will certainly endear younger audiences and probably entertain older ones too.

 

B

 

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Call Of Duty

(Y3 - dir. Paul Greengrass)

 

Spoiler

Call Of Duty is easily one of the biggest video game franchises in existence. Its entries are always amongst the top sellers in the industry every year, and, while the series isn't anywhere near as popular as it used to be a couple of years ago, it's still a big franchise that sells like hot cakes and gives those who seek some military shooter thrills a decent enough time.

 

A movie has been in talks for a couple of years, and this adaptation of the plot of the widely praised Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was thus taken by Numerator, given to the excellent Paul Greengrass, helmer of strong thrillers like The Bourne Supremacy and UltimatumFlight 93 and Captain Phillips.

 

So how did this adaptation fare? Well... it's more like Jason Bourne than The Bourne Ultimatum, tbh.

 

Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad movie. It follows three different threads - the British military squad, the American military squad and the Russian antagonists. The British squad is by a country mile the most interesting, mostly because of the chemistry between Sean Bean and Kit Harington, who get the most fleshed out characters in the movie and feel like they're the film's heart and soul.

 

The film also has amazing action sequences. The action is really good. Sometimes a little too shaky, as Greengrass unfortunately likes it, but his shaky tends to be the good kind of shaky (the shaky that doesn't edit action like a 10 year old would), and - make no mistake about it - it's dumb action. This is unquestionably a dumb action movie. But the action that it presents is well filmed, gritty, bloody and intense.

 

Unfortunately, there are two thirds of this movie's plot that don't work very well for me. Not only is the American squad far more uninteresting and lame compared to the British one, despite the film's attempts at giving the American soldiers personality; but the antagonists are pretty boring for the most part. And, as I said, the movie is dumb as a rock, but sometimes it takes itself far more seriously than it has any right to. I get it, it's a military/war thriller, but the atmosphere is more serious than it should be.

 

Call Of Duty is definitely on the lesser side of Numerator Pictures' video game adaptations, but it's still leaps and bounds over the batting average for video game movies in general and a watchable enough adaptation of a popular game. Not very impressive, at the end of the day, but it could've been worse.

 

C

 

Call Of Duty: Of Their Own Accord

(Y4 - dir. Paul Greengrass)

 

Spoiler

One year after the successful launch of the Call Of Duty movie franchise, Numerator proceeded to fast-track its sequel, Of Their Own Accord, an adaptation of Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Well, it was either fast-tracked or shot back-to-back with the 1st movie.

 

Either way, the job that Paul Greengrass had done on the 1st movie wasn't bad, but it wasn't exactly stunning either, so there was plenty of room to improve when it came to the sequel. Modern Warfare 2 as a game is not as widely praised as Call Of Duty 4, but again, that's the game realm, and this is the movie realm. Differences were bound to exist. And boy, did they ever.

 

Call Of Duty: Of Their Own Accord, much like Pillars Of Eternity: Never Far From The Queen, is a massive jump in quality from its original movie. Not massive enough that the movie is great, but certainly enough to make it a pretty solid watch.

 

The main pros of the movie maintain itself. The British side of the things, while not as strong as in the 1st movie, is still the heart of the film. Also, the action remains as good as ever... even better than in the 1st movie, in my humble opinion.

 

Where the film takes a jump in its other plotlines. Both the American squad and also the lead villain are much more interesting this time around, as they're both much better written this time around. They feel more focused and more thorough. Just more pleasant to watch in general.

 

There's not much to say here, it's just a fun dumb action movie that jumped massively in quality from the previous entry. Well done, Mr. Greengrass.

 

B-

 

Gateways

(Y6 - dir. Pete Docter)

 

Spoiler

The highest grossing animated film in CAYOM history. An absolute juggernaut at the box office, grossing over 500M DOM and over 1.4B WW. An original animation that made this much money has to be at least good. Thank Goodness, Gateways isn't just good - it's really good.

 

Now, tbh, it might be probably my least favorite Pete Docter movie, as I do prefer Monsters Inc.UpInside Out and To The Moon over this. But to say that Gateways is the lesser Docter film is like choosing your least favorite Beatle. The guy is still a Beatle. Gateways is still a Docter movie, and my God, it lives up to the director's fame.

 

Endless Animation crafted themselves another winner with this boisterous, wonderous, epic adventure that is grounded by a lovable father-daughter relationship between McKenna Grace's Bailee and Donald Glover's Levi, who put on two of their best performances ever, nevermind voice performances. Bailee is such a well written character, a witty, hopeful hero who fights against all sorts of adversities to find a home, while Levi is basically Childish Gambino in his smoothest form while hiding the fact that he does bear his own demons inside and learns to overcome them and become more caring and less selfish as he cares for this young child.

 

Also great is the cast of supporting characters and actors, from Awkwafina's Magi, to Jermaine Clement's Fino, to Keanu Reeves' Brutus, to Paul and the robots... every character in this movie is either well fleshed out, really funny, or both. The writing is just terrific.

 

Now, the big gimmick that of course sells this movie above all else is the animation shifting that happens whenever the characters jump dimensions, and the amazing universes that are showcased as a result. While one could argue that it does feel like a gimmick at times and that the story could be told without it existing and it wouldn't make much of a difference, I feel like that is a pessimistic way to look at things. Not only does this choice impact the story, even if not all the time, but it gives Gateways a distinct identity that always keeps the film flowing. It is a love letter to the art form of animation, and it's a beautiful one.

 

In terms of cons, the movie is fairly predictable. I think that I saw pretty much every twist coming, and while my investment didn't suffer for it, it's still worth pointing out. Also, at times, the movie feels like it drags a little bit more than unnecessary, even if it makes sense or if it's just for the sake of giving us more imaginative worlds and animation styles. I think Can You Imagine? is probably the superior Endless Animation entry.

 

That being said, there's no denying how good Gateways is. It rivals Can You Imagine? in many ways and surpasses it in others. It's a worthy box office behemoth that estabilished Endless Animation as CAYOM's strongest animation brand by a long shot.

 

A-

 

Pandas

(Y6 - dir. Drew Fellman)

 

Spoiler

Nature documentaries are entertaining, informative and cute. There's really nothing special about them, but they're a decent time in the theaters, albeit I don't know why would anyone pay money to see them as they are TV shlock at best, but whatever. At least they're cinematic, unlike Broadway Selects.

 

Pandas are adowable.

 

B

 

Wolves

(Y6 - dir. Alastair Fothergill)

 

Spoiler

Wolves are adowable, if a bit scary.

 

B

 

Edited by MCKillswitch123
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