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Moana Review – Beautiful, Familiar & Different

Good day to you ladies and gents and welcome to the first of three new film reviews, today I had a lovely three film session at the cinema and now I’m going to talk about one of my most-anticipated films of 2016; Moana. I thought after Zootopia, I wouldn’t be expecting anymore animated Disney films this year but then I remembered this was coming out towards the end of the year. The trailers definitely had my interest and the positive word of mouth coming out of the US recently got me really giddy for its UK release. So is it good or not? Well read on and find out!

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So for those not aware here’s a brief synopsis:

“This film tells the story of Moana, the strong-willed daughter of the chief of a Polynesian tribe, who is chosen by the ocean itself to reunite a mystical relic with a goddess. When a blight strikes her island, Moana sets sail in search of Maui, a legendary demigod, in hopes to save her people.”

The story is definitely not anything new if you’re familiar with Disney animated films, this means that the story beats and overall doesn’t offer too much new and plot’s easy to predict, that being said, Moana has so much more to offer with its culture, characters and life lessons. The film’s just so different with its spirituality, mythology and magic, and deals with themes of self discovery, family, destiny and having courage in the darkest of times. One of the key aspects that I loved was Disney’s approach to the Polynesian culture and mythology, it felt like the behind the film did the research and were able to create a world with its own sense of identity. If I had any nitpicks I’d say the film was quite humourous too though not nearly as funny as I’d hoped, and it definitely felt more child-friendly than it was for adults and I kind of wanted something a little darker.

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As for the cast they were great. Let’s start with the stand out star, Auli’i Cravalho as Moana Waialik. Here we have a character’s who is headstrong, athletic, kind and charismatic and from a young age she’s likeable and destined for better things, and over the course of the film she grows and becomes so much more, and I loved Cravalho’s performance especially with her singing. And then there’s Dwayne Johnson as Maui who is fun yet self-centered. Just when I thought I couldn’t love Johnson any more than I do now, he voices a shape-shifting demigod and the dude’s on fire in this role. Johnson brings all of the charisma from his life-action roles to Maui who is fun, charming and larger-than-life, he kind of reminded me a lot of Genie from Aladdin. I also loved the chemistry between Cravalho and Johnson, it clearly showed through the character back and forth which was delightful and hilarious. Jemaine Clement was a surprise favourite as Tamatoa, this character was quirky, strange and funny. Rachel House did well as Gramma Tala offering some great moments between her and Moana, and Temuera Morrison I was just about able to recognise by voice as Chief Tui Waialiki, he was really good. Nicole Scherzinger was fine as Sina Waialiki, and no offense to Alan Tudyk because I love his work both in live-action and voice acting, but I thought he was wasted as Heihei; a character I didn’t even know had a voice until the credits rolled.

When it comes to the presentation it was incredible. Visually Moana is one of the best animated films I’ve seen in recent years, there was a great deal of care given to the 3D CGI and even after seeing incredible visual spectacles like Toy Story 3, How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Big Hero 6, Disney are still finding ways to create these insanely detailed and realistic films but still retain the charm and familiarity of their traditionally animated films especially with the character design. The art direction is fabulous, the colour palette is vibrant and varied and the mixture of 2D and 3D animation is inventive and pretty. Oh and that soundtrack by Mark Mancina, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Opetaia Foa’i is gorgeous, I was pleasantly surprised by how many of the songs I got into and it was also impressive how they incorporated both english and the Tokelauan language. Straight from the beginning I was into “Where You Are” and then enjoyed “How Far I’ll Go”  (though maybe it’s because it appears more than once), “You’re Welcome” was one of my favourites, but I think the stand out was “Shiny” damn that song was catchy and a pure delight. 😀

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In conclusion Moana was a lovely film that continues Disney’s streak of impressive animated films, and while it is a little familiar in its story structure, the cultural elements, amazing visuals, strong characters and catchy soundtrack make it worth a watch.

So have you seen Moana and if so what did you think of it? Be sure to drop your thoughts in the comment section below and I’ll see ya on the next review! 😀

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2016 in Film Reviews, Reviews

 

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Month of Superhero Film Reviews 2: Green Lantern

Howdy ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Day #4 of my Month of Superhero Film Reviews 2! During this month I’ll be reviewing of some of the best, average and worst comic book adapted films. Today I’m going to be talking about a film I thought I would never have to see again, but because of this blog series I am once again going to talk about Green Lantern.

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SIDE NOTE: At the time of writing this particular review it is February 5th, so by the time it is actually published it would have been just over a month since I experienced this film. I had to get this one out of the way early for timing purposes.

Oh Green Lantern, what can I say about this film that hasn’t been said by many people already? I even did a video review for the film many moons ago and it wasn’t exactly glowing. I never thought the film would be great, but I had hoped for much more. The first trailer was terrible, the subsequent trailers gave me hope for the film. Then I saw this film in the cinema with a friend and was just so disappointed with the end result, and since then I have not watched the film… Until this year. So how does the film fare almost 4 years later? Well read on and find out.

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Story-wise the film can be summed up as the following:

“A test pilot, Hal Jordan, is granted an alien ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers that inducts him into an intergalactic police force, the Green Lantern Corps.”

The plot is functional, but hardly original or entertaining. Besides the GL mythos and villains of the film, this story feels like it belongs in 2001 rather than 2011 with all its cliché and generic plot points, overly comedic tone, cheesy character moments, the standard love interest and standard evil villain. Add on top of that an origin story of not only the hero, but two villains and the backstory behind the whole Green Lantern Corp, all it feels rushed and meshed together without enough time to process things. While keeping a swift pace in films these days is a good thing, here it comes at the cost of any character development. And it is annoying because there is potential here and had the writers given us better dialogue and an overall coherent plot then this film could have ushered in so many new fans to a DC property other than Batman and Superman, but instead they done fucked it up.

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As for the cast they were fine, but only a few people actually matter in the grand scheme of things. Ryan Reynolds is really the only person who does a good job as Hal Jordan. Now before this film came out I was a growing fan of Reynolds, he was one of the only likeable aspects of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and his performance in Buried is still underrated and unappreciated. In this film he does his best with the material he is given and the film does play off of Reynolds’ comedy talents, that being said, sometimes it can be a bit much and you can’t take him seriously. Also it doesn’t help that Hal Jordan is a jerk, is not responsible and even after his journey I don’t feel like he’s become any more likeable. Also as a superhero I know he’s just starting out, but the things he imagines with his ring are so lame and lacking in flair and creativity. Blake Lively as Carol Ferris is comparable to Jessica Alba in Fantastic Four; gorgeous woman but is only there to be the love interest. Lively is so pretty but I can’t take her character seriously at all, plus Carol’s so dull and generic that you don’t buy into or care her relationship with Hal. And then there’s Peter Sarsgaard as Dr. Hector Hammond, oh god, let’s just say that his performance is one of the worst aspects of the film. Prior to his transformation Hammond is a smart yet closed-off individual, however once he gets his powers the dude becomes a little more twisted and creepy… And annoying. I didn’t know it was Sarsgaard under that make up, I’ve seen him in other films and he’s been good, however here his performance is so over-the-top and loud. This guy screams A LOT and I can’t take anyone like him seriously when he scream like such a little bitch.

Mark Strong does a decent job as Thaal Sinestro, Strong brings a good amount of charisma and his own personality into the role. Angela Bassett as Dr. Amanda Waller is fine, but she is completely wasted. I didn’t know until now that 1) Bassett was even in this film and 2) That a character as important as Waller was even in a film. The film done two injustices in one go. Tim Robbins is another hidden face I didn’t know was in the film until I saw it again today. He played Robert Hammond and was fine, but like Bassett before him he was wasted. Temuera Morrison was alright as Abin Sur. Taika Waititi as Thomas Kalmaku was kind of funny and annoying at the same time, plus he distracted me because he looked like some imitation of Moss from The IT Crowd. Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan did nicely as the voices of Tomar-Re and Kilowog but their characters weren’t on-screen long enough for you to get attached to them.

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When it comes to the presentation its a bit messy. Some of the CGI looks nice, well, when it is static shots of Earth, space and certain planet surfaces. However everything else looks rough, blurry and unpolished, like it was made for television and while I understand that some films can’t afford to have the best special effects, this film looked like it just needed more time to be polished as it didn’t look very realistic or blend well with the live-action shots. Also what the hell did they do to the GL costume? I know elements things need to be updated for film, the new design was so ugly, illuminated and wrong. The soundtrack by James Newton Howard is weak, rarely does it sound epic or important or even leave an impact, the best track in the film is when the first set of credits roll. Howard is good composer, but here the music feels a little off.

And lastly how does it compare to the comics? Well since the only DC characters I know a substantial amount about are limited to Batman and Superman to some degree, I can’t say much about Green Lantern in comparison to the comics. I’ve seen the character appear in the Justice League animated series and The Batman, but that’s all I really know him from. From what I’ve read from certain fans of the source material, certain aspects were kept intact like the mythos behind the Green Lantern Corp, but everything else got changed and/or butchered.

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In conclusion my feelings on Green Lantern haven’t changed much. This film has some decent moments and Ryan Reynolds was the best aspect of the film, but the cons definitely outweigh the pros with so much potential wasted with the source material and talent involved. I hope DC have learnt from this film and will give us a better GL experience in 2020.

Rating: 5.5/10 (A disappointment for sure)

So there’s my review people, only 26 more to go. So have you seen Green Lantern and if so what are your thoughts on it? Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts yo! Come back tomorrow and I’ll have a new film review online, until then peace out!

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2015 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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