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Year 7: Review in the Time of Corona with Alpha

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Posted (edited)

 

Alright, I'm keeping it simple. Even though I've read a sizable amount of films thus far, I'm not barring any particular films from being requested. Just no fillers, meaning anything below 1,000 words. Request two films, only one of which you wrote.

 

This year I'll be grading on a five-star scale, and I'll reveal all my ratings and reviews for everything after my Top 25 is revealed. However, for the review portion, I'm refraining from distinguishing whether something, for example, got three stars or three-and-a-half stars. Hopefully this keeps the order of the final list a bit more mysterious. Instead, I'll be using these recognizable symbols for my grading system:

 

½: IMG_0461.jpg

★ and ★½: IMG_0457.jpg

★★ and ★★½:IMG_0459.jpg

★★★ and ★★★½:IMG_0460.jpg

★★★★ and ★★★★½:IMG_0458.jpg

★★★★★:IMG_0455.jpg

 

Reviews start Friday, May 1st, I'll set up a schedule tomorrow after everyone sends in their requests. It's not gonna be first-come, first-serve though. I'll be using a random list generator to determine the order in which things get reviewed.

Edited by Alpha
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3 minutes ago, Reddroast said:

Starlight

You can make more than one request.

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Posted (edited)

Columbine

 

Monster Bug Wars, please

Edited by cannastop

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21 minutes ago, Alpha said:

You can make more than one request.

 

25 minutes ago, Reddroast said:

Starlight

Long way home

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Posted (edited)

Countdown City

Love After Loving (since apparently this is A THING)

Edited by 4815162342

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Megalo Box

Roman Fever

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Should You Imagine?

Looping

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Alright, for the sake of not overworking myself, I'll be reviewing one film a day. With over 17 films requested, that should bring us to the middle of May.

 

I've randomized all your requests. First on the docket tomorrow...

 

 

(I know, different game, but you get the idea.)

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Tony Hawk's Pro Skater

 

 

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater plays out almost like a skateboarding version of The Wizard, except rather than be a bland yet obnoxious corporate advertisement, it chooses instead to tell an old-school tale about someone following their passion and trying to accomplish their dreams. While I never really got into the original video games when I was kid except for maybe once or twice at a friend's house (probably because at the time I owned a Gamecube I couldn't skateboard to save my life), I can definitely see their casual appeal. This adaptation replicates that feeling by never trying to overplay its hand, instead weaving an easy-to-follow and down-to-earth story, even if it feels a little dated at times.

 

One thing I definitely appreciated was the attention to detail in regards to the cinematography and the staging of each skateboarding setpiece. Even on a limited budget, Coogler and company bring each scene to life in a way that gives the sport an exhilarating feeling. 

 

However, there are some drawbacks. When you have a story this low-key, a lot of the heavy lifting is done by the characters, especially an interesting protagonist. However, while Gaten Matarazzo's performance is remarkable, I didn't find Chris to be all that compelling for a main character. Having a protagonist with Asperger's be thrown into the trials and tribulations of a sports competition sounds like fertile ground for character work, but the effects of Chris's Asperger's is left sorta vague. He just seems to be a quiet and emotionally reserved kid who has one hobby he's particularly interested in. That's not a knock against the filmmakers, or a plea for them to have Chris display more stereotypical symptoms. I just think if the way Asperger's had affected him was more defined, his journey might've had a bit more gravitas to it. In addition, David Loan is a bit of a one-note heavy, and I feel like his snobbish attitude could've been given more of a spotlight. Instead, it feels like he's pushed to the wayside of the narrative.

 

Nevertheless, I still found this to be an enjoyable if flawed adaptation, and one that could serve as a fine blueprint for future CAYOM sports movies for balancing the spectacle of the sport with the passion behind it.

 



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Coming tomorrow...

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Toons v Reality

 

 

Toons v Reality is the latest release from Endless Animation and follows their tried-and-true formula of combining animation styles to create a heartfelt story about believing in yourself. There's clever gags, some likeable central performances, some timely political commentary and a bit of the studio satirizing itself and the box office behemoth it's become over the past few game years. It'll be good fun for families everywhere, and you'll go home with a smile on your face for having enjoyed the moviegoing experience.

 

 

So why does it feel like we've seen all this before?

While Martin Scorsese isn't exactly the first person I would think of when it comes to something like Toons v Reality, after reading this I felt like some of his most ardent supporters felt when he made Casino just 5 years after Goodfellas. Perhaps my assessment of this film will improve over time, but after the one-two punch of Can You Imagine? and Gateways I feel like the studio is getting a bit too comfortable with their particular style of filmmaking. Sure, it's very charming. There's even one gag that made me laugh out loud, where the toons, after having escaped to the real world, are so focused on following their cartoon-world rules of how to sneak around that they're completely oblivious to the shock of the nearby human pedestrians. However, it seems like the Law of Diminishing Returns applies here, as Toons v Reality doesn't ever come close to matching either the visual spectacle or emotional power of the former two animations.

I think part of my problems with this film have to do with the characterization, which for a film filled with messages about accepting yourself falls kind-of flat. Ashley's character has the potential for a powerful arc, with a backstory about her giving up her childhood dreams of becoming a cartoonist and instead being pushed into practicing law, but she's too easily dragged into the toons' desires to finally get their compensation from their owners in court when it's easy to see her more willing, even fighting to return to reality and continue climbing up the ladder. Her journey would feel more complete if she learns to combines her two strengths (her courtroom skills and her growing appreciation for the characters that have aided her along the way) towards the end, but we instead see her delivering sagely advice about expressing yourself to Amira like the denouement has already passed. In addition, it seems like Randy's real-world antics and mischief never seem to catch up to him, while Amira seems all too willing to make a devil's bargain with Grubb. These signs of character growth don't have to be obvious, per se, but at times it feels like they're not even there. It seems like most of characters have their perspective on the world figured out already, and there isn't much room to grow.

Nevertheless, there are still some positives. Even if Randy's punchlines occasionally miss, John Mulaney is a great fit for the role and the character never crosses over from being appealing to being irritating. But overall, there's still something left to be desired her, whether it's an improvement upon the character work or the plot structure, with a courtroom drama storyline that occasionally tends to sag. Then again, maybe it's a sign that the studio needs to explore some new thematic territory. I'm sure it'll be a hit for families and fans of the studio's output, but I think the usual charm just wasn't there for me this time.
 

 

 
 


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Edited by Alpha
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Posted (edited)

The Scavenger Wars Part III

 

 

 

 

Over the past 24 hours, as I've taken a dive back into the Scavenger Wars franchise, one theme present in all three films has really stuck out for me: destruction. Whether that be the destruction of the old world, the destruction inherent within the fascist ideologies of Packer and Jarek, or the destruction that produces emotional and psychological trauma.

Probably no other film in the series has explored that last facet as much as Part III. And even if this entry is much more of a slow-burner compared to Part I and Part II, it's probably my favorite in the franchise so far for those reasons.

Like Numbers said in his review, a huge part of this film is how everyone is damaged in some way or another, and that opens the door to a giant amount of character work that I absolutely loved, mostly because it's the characters and their internal conflicts that are driving the action in this story, not just the plot, which still remains vitally important even in a franchise with such large stakes and huge, universe-spanning consequences. The big baddies like Ares and the Eldritch horror that is Zedium hide in the shadows for most of the running time, leaving the rest of these characters to piece everything together in a way that feels so organic and so well-thought-out for a nearly-three-hour $250 million sci-fi epic.

I also think it's the entry where Jarek as an antagonist (and an allegory for ultra-nationalism) eclipses Packer, in my opinion. At least Packer never had to live in the aftermath of his destruction. In a crumbling kingdom, Jarek isn't even so much committed to his "ideals" as he is committed to living out his time as emperor amidst the rubble of his creation, like the last of the Roman Emperors. In that way his character arc perfectly captures what happens in the aftermath of a rising tide of fascism: when things begin to come apart and these previously feared-and-respected figureheads are struggling to maintain the facade while other actors begin to take what they need. In this case, it's Enyo, a new addition who adds some great bits of levity to what mostly feels like a depressive episode by just being so done with everyone's shit. Her bluntness is such a great foil to Jarek's bloviating that it feels like you could watch an entire movie with these two characters.

But the true MVP here is Lucina. I mean, if Mary Elizabeth Winstead doesn't get a Best Actress nomination for this role, I will be furious. Like the film itself, her character is a powder-keg that explodes at disparate points, but mostly brims with this rage mixed with dread that leads to a final culmination with Jarek that carries with it a ton of emotional and thematic power.

All of these elements lead up to an unforgettable climax, one that both features a ton of great setpieces and perfectly encapsulates the horror of the enemies we'll continue to see in later films. I felt a shiver go down my spine each time that bold text came up. When this film gets going, it really gets going.

Even in its quietest moments, The Scavenger Wars Part III never lets up, which is why it's my favorite in the franchise. It makes every moment spent with these characters completely worth it, and all those moments combine to form one of the best explorations of the crippling effects of grief, trauma and destruction I've seen in a CAYOM film. Bravo, @cookie. Bravo.
 

 

 
 


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Edited by Alpha
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