Movie Reviews: Before and After

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Movie Reviews: Before and After

Post by Rinoko »

Yes, I'm making another project, shut up.

If you follow some of the stuff I do here on AZ, you might have noticed that I like to critique things, and posting my opinions and thoughts on subjects here helps me to center my feelings about certain works in various media(as well as give me somewhere to express myself without causing annoyance and boredom to friends and family.)

You should also know that I love going to the movies. Although, in a broader sense, I just enjoy being told a good story. However, visual arts, like musicals, video games, and movies allow one to experience a story in a way that, as strong as imagination may be, can't be fully realized through other methods, and that's really what I love about those types of media.

For this thread, I want to see how my perspectives of a film change from the time before I watch it to the time after I watch it. There won't be any real structure to these reviews, as I think it'll be more fruitful just to point out things that I found noteworthy. This format will allow me to keep this thread at hand when I decide to watch a new movie, but can also be allowed to go untouched for a period of time without me feeling obligated to put up a new review just because the last one hasn't been out for a while.

Also, I'll try to avoid spoiling any of the movies I decide to review for myself and for the rest of you, but please offer me the same courtesy. If you absolutely must bring up a point about a movie, PLEASE MARK YOUR SPOILERS. I won't read any of them until after I watch the movie in question.

Finally, I am NOT claiming to be a professional film critic by any stretch of the imagination. I understand the basics, like theming, cinematography, what have you, and and enjoy learning new things about film-making techniques, but Siskel and Ebert I'm not. So please take these reviews as the perspective of an amateur enthusiast, and not the hard truth.

Oh, and as always, please feel free to provide your own reviews if you'd like to. I'll put up links to all the reviews eventually.

Now, then, let's get started!

Before Review #1: Maleficent

Ooh, another re-imagining of an iconic villain! What an original idea!....or at least it was eleven years ago(thanks, Wicked). I'll admit, though, I don't HATE the idea of retelling the story of Maleficent. I'm a bit of a sucker for back story, as it makes a more cohesive universe by adding layers of depth to that universe's inhabitants. Plus it's just fun to imagine how and why The Mistress of All Evil became the way she did, instead of just "Once upon a time, Maleficent decided to be a jerkwad to everybody and she could do magic, but she got her comeuppance and everybody lived happily ever after." What I see for this movie is a lot of potential for an interesting set-up to the events of Sleeping Beauty.

Now, I've only seen the first trailer that came out for the movie, not the more recent ones, so I currently know next to nothing about the plot. And the trailer I did see was pretty standard and forgettable. Angelina Jolie in her fancy costume is revealed, there's some untold evil coming, she recognizes that Aurora can stop it, aaaand that's about it. It's funny, now that I think about it, that trailer seemed to take a lot of focus AWAY from Maleficent herself, at least as far as story goes. The trailer focused more on her as a VISUAL reveal, showing off her live action appearance and her razzle dazzle gritty CGI magic powers, and this is something that honestly worries me about the movie. I'm MUCH more willing to be forgiving of a film having less focus on character design and effects in favor of more focus on the story, rather than the other way around. I mean, if your titular character isn't a central part of the plot, how do you plan to convey your morals and themes?

Speaking of plot and themes, that's where I see a great deal of the potential for this film. I can see this one playing out in 1 of 2 ways:

1. Maleficent was a mild-mannered girl who was corrupted by the dark side of the Force and became Darth Vader, despite her best intentions and wanting to do good, with the moral being that people aren't always evil solely for the sake of being evil. This route would make the movie more cliched and lacking in originality.

2. Maleficent was always pretty much a rotten, yet relatively harmless individual, maybe not even thinking that she's bad, but then stumbled across some great power that granted her the ability to take whatever she wants by force, corrupting her further and completing her descent into evil. The moral in this instance would be that some people ARE evil, but no one considers themselves that way, and that power in the wrong hands leads to trouble. This would be a much more interesting and varied moral from the standard fare, leading to a more memorable, enjoyable, and perhaps even thought-provoking experience.

Or maybe the movie will be fueled by Disney fluff and dreams can come true and true love is magic.

To close, let me just state that prequels/re-imaginings are tricky beasts. The expectations of the movie are that the whole audience has seen the source material, so it's much harder to build up tension when the fates of familiar characters are already essentially predetermined. We already know Maleficent, Aurora, Prince Philip and the fairies(if they make an appearance) are all going to make it out OK, so we have to hope that the movie will introduce some new, engaging characters not present in the original story, people whose fates are undetermined, yet play a crucial role in future events. But maybe that's asking a lot of Hollywood.

My initial score for this movie is a 6/10. See you tomorrow with the After Review!

P.S. Angelina Jolie looks pretty unsettling in that getup, so I guess that's a good...thing? Maybe it's just her enormous lips.
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Re: Movie Reviews: Before and After

Post by Barabba »

What I heard about the Maleficent: Angelina Jolie's acting is magnificent. Movie es muy mal, though.
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Re: Movie Reviews: Before and After

Post by Rinoko »

After Review #1: Maleficent

I hate being right sometimes.

I REALLY FREAKING HATE IT.

So go ahead and guess which scenario the movie decided to follow, why don't you? Go on, I'll give you a moment.

Ready?

If you guessed bland, boring, uninspired, cliched, hackneyed Scenario #1, you win the prize! Congratulations! But it's actually worse than that, worse than even I imagined it to be.

Let's do a quick run-down of the movie, keeping out of spoilers as much as possible. I'll mark any spoilers that I do find important, though:

We get thirty minutes of back story for Maleficent, but there's barely any character development. That whole half hour entirely consists of why she has horns, where she got her staff, where she got the raven, and setting up a shallow, uninteresting conflict. Oh, and did I mention that for the first fifteen minutes of this segment, THERE'S A NARRATOR CONSTANTLY SPEWING EXPOSITION?

The next HOUR or so of the movie is literally, LITERALLY just a long, drawn-out rehashing(instead of retelling) of the story of Sleeping Beauty. No changes for the most part, no meaningful additions or subplots, nothing. The best part is that the movie takes focus AWAY from Maleficent at this point(I HATE BEING RIGHT) and follows Aurora around as she grows up. Sure, we get a few close-ups of the should-be leading lady glaring at her menacingly and then doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, but this hour is almost completely devoid of her.

Speaking of close-ups, get used to those. A lot. Like, more than any sane individual needs in one movie. Other fun treats in this movie include, but are not limited to:

Sudden expository narration

Overacting out the wazoo

Nearly every single character having an incoherent accent(the king sounds absurdly Scottish!)

Jokes that are dead on arrival(OK, ONE made me laugh.)

Cringe-worthy dialogue

Names strangely changed for no reason

Lots and lots and LOTS of plot holes

And Angelina Jolie's freaky CGI cheekbones. Holy crap, she could skewer meat cubes and summer vegetables on those things, stick her face on a grill, and have a lovely kebob.

Then suddenly in the last half hour, the director must have remembered that he needs to add SOMETHING to the classic story, because suddenly the whole ending to the original gets changed ENTIRELY. Prince Philip kisses Aurora, but she DOESN'T wake up, because it's not true love(ha ha, Frozen did it, so we can, too), Maleficent, who earlier in the film developed a sort of paternal instinct towards Aurora, kisses her on the forehead and wakes her with a different kind of love(HA HA FROZEN DID IT SO WE CAN TOO), Maleficent DOESN'T turn into a dragon(her raven does instead....?), DOESN'T die, kills the king, and Aurora goes to live with her. And all of these retco-I MEAN CHANGES are explained away in the stupidest possible way by our narrator.

Hmm.... I might be seeing things, but all those spoilers seem to happen at the end of the movie. Sure feels worthwhile to sit through the whole thing just to have most of the important bits happen at the very end, doesn't it?

The worst thing, in my opinion, was the fact that this movie offered exactly one new character, and his fate becomes very clear early in the movie, so after that point, there's absolutely no tension in the conflict, and therefore no personal investment from the audience.

To be fair, I didn't hate EVERYTHING about the movie. For starters, it finally ended at some point.

OK, fine. I liked the designs for most of the creatures, Angelina Jolie's acting was the least campy out of anyone else's, and they are a few decent moment of character development, particularly Maleficent becoming emotionally attached to Aurora like I kind of mentioned earlier. However, the bad definitely outweighs the good in this film. The whole thing feels shallow, whether it be in theming, tone, writing, directing, acting, plot, etc. It's very clear that no one involved cared too much about this project.

With all that being said, Maleficent receives a 4/10.

But hey, at least the kids probably liked it.

P.S. I realized about halfway through the movie that the red fairy is played by Dolores Umbridge and suddenly I wanted all sorts of nasty things to happen to her.
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Re: Movie Reviews: Before and After

Post by Kamak »

I actually really like Maleficent, having finally seen it last weekend. If you go into it expecting no changes from the source material, it's going to color your perception of the ending, so it's best to go in without expectations.

The thing is, the movie as a whole has all of the trappings of being about Maleficent being a tragic hero. That she was good at some point, her weakness was used against her, and rather than rise above it, she lets herself be destroyed by it all while realizing at the end that she was the one who fell.

... But that wouldn't really work. If that was the case, she would have to tragically die after being fucked over by Duncan for the throne and cursing Aurora to get back at him, which would result in her just getting screwed no matter whether she was evil or not, killing any sense of moral reason to the plot, and a "power corrupts" story would also be kinda dumb because how many times have we seen this shit already and who would even be surprised that one of the most consistently evil and plotting villains in Disney history would have been corrupted by power.

Maleficent wanted nothing more than to live happily in the moors away from humans. The only reason she began to let Duncan into the moors was because he was willing to get rid of one of the few possessions he had, an iron ring, because it would keep him from being able to touch her, and she felt that he was different than other humans, and at one point he is, he even struggles with the idea of killing her given their past and settles with taking her wings, so that he can honor his feelings for her but still be rewarded with what he always coveted, the throne.

After cursing Aurora, Maleficent finds herself caring for the girl initially because otherwise she would die before the curse could take effect and it would be pointless, but eventually Aurora became fascinated with the moors, and ended up becoming what Maleficent used to be, someone who was in amazement at the beauty of the moors and wanting to live amongst it, not conquer it or profit off of what it had, unlike the other humans. Maleficent can't undo the curse and relies on Phillip to try to break it in the hopes that "true love's facebattle" is indeed a real thing. He fails however because the two of them only talked for like 5 minutes and that's not how true love gets formed.

Maleficent breaks it because for all intents and purposes, she is ironically as Aurora says her "fairy godmother". She cased for her her whole life and walked into the castle knowing they planned to kill her in order to deliver Phillip to Aurora in the hopes of breaking the curse, all of which she regrets because her quarrel was with Duncan and she hurt an innocent and sweet girl who was basically a human version of herself.

Maleficent broke free from the hate and pain she felt at the betrayal and became conscious that while Duncan hurt her, she hurt herself just as deeply for what she did to Aurora. But Duncan still couldn't let go of the fear of losing all that he had and his desire to eliminate the threat of Maleficent, and ended up dying because of it.

Because of Maleficent's actions, both as protector of the Moors and for cursing Aurora and setting the events in motion for her to be raised to appreciate the Moors (in addition to saving her from said curse), Maleficent ended up getting what she wanted from the beginning, a peaceful life in the Moors without the threat of human invasion, with Aurora acting as the bridge between the human and mystical worlds.

Some things could have been less clunky, and I feel they tried shoving fight scenes in as much as they could to get use of the CGI thorns and tree monsters, and the 3 fairies were frankly more useless than they had any right being, but overall it was a good story that hit all the right notes without worrying about forcing the original ending to happen. Maleficent's power seemed contained and consistent throughout the movie (she never transformed herself, which would be an easy way to get around not having wings or getting out of the metal traps), and the characters were pretty decent even if Duncan's accent wasn't kingly at all (why the hell he was cast as Duncan I will never know).

As for the complaints I've heard about the "true love's facebattle" being an asspull or that "FROZEN DID IT", I argue that Maleficent actually pulled it off well, and better than Frozen did.

Maleficent believed in true love's facebattle while she was with Duncan because he taught her that it's a thing that people who fall in love at first sight feel. After being betrayed by him though, she felt that what he said about it was a lie and used it as the key to the lock of the curse as an ironic echo that both she and Duncan knew would never come true.

But Maleficent still, at one time, believed that true love existed. And when presented with the desire to undo the curse, she had to hope against hope that true love's facebattle would work, but mistook what true love meant, not as a superficial "I met you and we became instantly enamored" love like she had with Duncan and Phillip had with Aurora, but a deeper love of someone totally devoted to another person.

With Frozen... I didn't get that. Yes sisterly love and "aww that's sweet and didn't need a boyfriend to fix the problem", but honestly, Elsa and Anna didn't have a relationship. They'd been separated for years, Elsa constantly shut Anna out, Anna realizes that Elsa kept a huge booty secret from her and wants to help fix it, and Elsa shoots her with ice magic, again, which forces them to leave and get help. At what point did these two girls have a real relationship? Are they holding onto true sisterly love that they had when they were 5? Or did their relationship get rekindled with the like one conversation they had as adults where they were kinda okay being in the same room together?

At least Maleficent eventually embraced her position as Fairy Godmother to Aurora and came out of the shadows to raise her after GROWING to like her. Elsa shoved Anna out completely and couldn't at least tell Anna that the reason she shut her out was because she was scared of hurting her and their relationship deteriorated more than anything.


It certainly wasn't the best movie, but for what it is, being in the genre of Wicked and other retellings, it was pretty daisies good. And the fact that "Once Upon a Dream" spoils pretty much the majority of the movie yet was used as the promo song for the movie was brilliant and I love it.
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Re: Movie Reviews: Before and After

Post by Rinoko »

AWW SHIET WE'VE GOT ANOTHER REVIEW INCOMING

Hopefully I can get the Before Review out before I actually see the movie. I've been super busy with work lately.

Before Review #2: How To Train Your Dragon 2

I'll be perfectly honest with you guys: I'm not the biggest Dreamworks fan in the world. "GASP", says the audience. No, I mean you guys bodaciously say "GASP", not just make the sound and....never mind.

My general disinterest in the studio really doesn't have anything to do with their animation style. If we were looking solely at the animation, then yeah, of course I can recognize that they're a great studio. My problem lies more in the fact that their movies tend to be, uhhh.....ummm.......hmm.....yeah.....

There are exceptions, of course, one of which is How To Train Your Dragon. Audiences went crazy for the movie when it was first released, and for good reason. The movie had fantastic animation, likeable and strangely relatable characters, a pretty daisies good story, and just a generally great feel to it. I remember seeing this film in high school and really enjoying it.....or at least what I can remember about it. (Sorry, I was a little busy macking on Sailor Moon at the time. Yes, I'm being serious.)

Suddenly, off in the distance....what's that? That warm, glowing light at the end of the cinematic tunnel? Could it be.....?

Yes! How To Train Your Dragon 2, the long-awaited sequel(OK, not THAT long....) to its critically-acclaimed predecessor! How will this new iteration stack up? Will it move the franchise forward? Will it cause it to recede into the deep, unforgiving depths of forgettable movie trash? Are such things knowable to mere humans?

I dunno. But I can sure as hell give my opinion.

Well, the trailers offer plenty of appeal. The animation still looks beautiful and the characters appear to have been updated to match a feeling of growth for the series. Plus, there wasn't TOO much revealed, aside from introducing a plot point involving Hiccup's mother. It's enough to garner my interest, but not make me feel like I can tell you exactly where the movie is going.

I've heard plenty of good things about the movie from those who have already seen it, so I'm certainly not expecting a bad time. In fact, it's pretty fair to say that my expectations for the movie are mostly blank. There are ways they can screw it up, yes, but pointing out those potential scenarios would seem to me to be somewhat akin to government conspiracy theories. If I had to give one prediction, I'd say that the movie looks like it'll be plenty of fun and a good flick for kids, but I'm not holding my breath for it to quite live up to the original.

So basically I'm expecting it to be a sequel.
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Re: Movie Reviews: Before and After

Post by Kamak »

Goddamnit Marcato, stop going to the same movies as me.
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Re: Movie Reviews: Before and After

Post by Tetrunes »

before watching LEGO movie:
Morgan Freeman and everything==awesome

After:
Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, everything==awesome, and feels

11/10 amazing to see something new
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Re: Movie Reviews: Before and After

Post by TerraChimaera »

I also saw Maleficent over the weekend
It went from boring romance plot to Angelina Jolie kicking booty in ten minutes and I appreciate that
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Re: Movie Reviews: Before and After

Post by Rinoko »

Hi, sorry! I didn't forget about the After Review, I just need to deal with some bullshit with student loans. It'll be out soon!
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