Bridge of Spies

bridgeofspies

James B. Donovan is chosen to represent Rudolf Abel, a man charged with treason for spying on behalf of the Soviet Union. However, contrary to what people expected of him, which was just throwing something out there for the sake of maintaining appearances, Donovan actually does his job to the best of his ability, even managing to avoid the death penalty for Abel on the basis of future use as a bargaining chip to use in case any US personnel are captured by the USSR. This opportunity comes to arise when Gary Powers, a U-2 pilot, is captured. Donovan thought that his involvement with the entire affair was over, however he is the one that the Soviet Union ends up contacting, and hence despite having no involvement, he is the one that ends up going to Berlin on behalf of the CIA to negotiate the trade.

***

The movie features two phases, the first is the court case, which is relatively short and acts like a sort of prologue, and the second is the actual negotiations and prisoner swap, which is the core of the film. The court case actually felt somewhat slow despite its length, however the rest moved very fast. It was a good look into the history surrounding the period, especially highlighting the differences and similarities between the USA and USSR, and it was also pretty interesting in terms of watching Donovan step up to the plate and do quite a bit more than was expected of him. Beyond that, though the plot was told reasonably well with some solid tension at points, overall it was a pretty standard flick through and through lacking any especially interesting characters or plot elements. The cinematography and soundtrack were decent.

A film that is a good historical timepiece relating to espionage during the Cold War, but isn’t all that interesting beyond that. 

 

7/10

The Peanuts Movie

peanuts

Charlie Brown is seen by many as pretty pathetic and is strongly lacking confidence in himself due to the fact that nothing ever seeming to go as the wants it to. However, when a new student, a little red haired girl, comes to his school, he tries to make an effort to change to impress her, though as always things never work out as he planned.

***

The Charlie Brown movie is exactly what I expected it to be, and that’s great because it was incredibly funny and touching.. It was very true to the characters, especially Charlie Brown and Snoopy, but everyone’s character showed through to at least some degree. The plot was incredibly fitting in showing off the core of Charlie Brown, in that he’s a character that may be fail often for ridiculous reasons, but has a good heart. It was really simplistic in a sense, but it just fit so well. And the side story with Snoopy was interesting as well and I think helped with preventing the pacing from getting too slow. The animation quality and style were great, being different from normal animated movies but fitting quite well, the soundtrack was also fitting.

Exactly what one would expect from a well made Charlie Brown movie.

8/10

I really hope we get another one, though I’m reading that may not happen for a while.

Also, what was even the little red haired girls name? Good grief.

Zootopia

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Judy Hopps has always wanted to be a police officer in the great city of Zootopia. She does her best, graduates police academy as a valedictorian, and arrives for her first day of work, prepared to finally acheive her dream. Then she gets assigned to parking duty. Unfortunately for her, Judy Hopps is a rabbit, and no one takes rabbits seriously as police officers. Still, she does her best. But on her very first day, she ends up getting hustled by the con artist fox Nick Wilde, so things are not going well for her at all. However, afterwards she finally seems to get her big break. She is tasked with finding an otter named Emmitt who had disappeared alongside 14 other predators, but with the condition that if she fails she has to resign. Knowing that she needs all the help she can get, she ropes the reluctant Nick into assisting her through blackmail and they both tackle the case head on. However, as they delve deeper and deeper into the case, they discover a major conspiracy that rocks the very foundation of Zootopia to its core.

***

There’s something special about great family movies, especially the animated ones, that just seems sort of magical. This film manages to hit that sweet spot perfectly. Its set in a super diverse city with a large number of biomes and a large number of types of animals inhabiting said biomes. This gives it a very fantasy like feel to it due to all the variety. However, the actual plot is much more grounded in reality. It imparts a very strong message about how despite all of us being different, we all need to work with each other and get along, which is tremendously relevant these days. Yes, to some degree this is kind of ridiculous because the story invokes predators getting along with their prey, which is kind of weird, as well as a lot of other inconsistencies or points that are awkward when you think about them. However, because the setting works so well for what they were trying to convey, and the fact that a good film can be structured in such a way that viewers can gloss over such details while watching, I think it managed to work out tremendously well. The plot itself was pretty predictable, with the true villain being pretty obvious from the first scene they’re in, however the duo of Judy and Nick played tremendously well together in getting through that plot, both of them growing tremendously because of the trials they go through as well as strengthening their bond with each other, ultimately coming to a fantastic ending that wraps things up perfectly and brings things full circle. All of this is done with fantastic animation and artwork, great comedy, and a great soundtrack featuring Shakira who seems to be a lot better than I remembered.

A fantastically animated movie about coming together despite differences.

 

9/10

This seems more ripe for a sequel than any other Disney movie I can remember in recent memory. Really hope we get it.

Central Intelligence

centralintel

Back in high school, Calvin Joyner was at the top of the world. He was loved by everyone and seemed on the path to success. However, his life afterwards hasn’t been so great. Twenty years later he’s stuck in a job working as a forensic analyst, which he hates, and his marriage with his high school sweetheart is falling apart.

One day he receives a mysterious friend request from a guy named Bob Stone. It turns out to be Robbie Wierdicht, a guy who was heavily bullied back when Calvin was in high school but that Calvin often tried to stand up for. But he’s nothing like the bullied teenager he once was, now being a tremendously strong and confident man. They meet up for old times sake, after which Stone asks Calvin if he can help him with some financial documents he needs to deal with. Thinking it’s something small Calvin agrees, but instead finds out that the documents point towards a secretive multi-million dollar auction. Calvin is shocked of course, but Stone is elusive, and in the end Stone ends up crashing on Calvin’s couch and Calvin goes to bed as well, thinking it doesn’t really matter.

However, the next day a group of CIA agents rush into his house. They tell him they’re on the search for Stone, who has become a rogue agent who is trying to sell satellite codes to the highest bidder, and that Calvin should stay away from him. However, Stone then abducts Calvin, and tells him that he’s being framed, and that he’s the only one that can stop the real villain from auctioning the codes, but to do that he needs Calvin’s help. Calvin wants nothing to do with any of this, but it seems he doesn’t really get much of a choice.

***

Going into this film, I had no idea what to expect. What I found was a plot that was tremendously random and went all over the place, but in the end somehow managed to work itself out. It also had characters, Calvin and Stone, that grew a good amount over the course of the movie, though the growth and morals imparted were the standard, be confident, be true to yourself, type, but they were implemented decently enough. The action too wasn’t that amazing, but it fit in with the comedy. And that’s what really makes the movie stand out, that it was tremendously hilarious. It had solid comedy throughout and had some scenes that were downright hysterical. While the plot was fine, the comedy is what makes this movie worth watching.

An action flick with a standard plot but great comedy.

8/10

Also, nice to see the CIA not being the villains as is the case in pretty much every movie.

Now You See Me 2

nowyouseeme2

Since their entry and retreat from the world stage a year ago, the Horseman have been biding their time waiting as per the orders of The Eye. During this period, Atlas has been trying to make contact and talk to The Eye himself. McKinney and Wilder have been trying to learn hypnotism and card skills from each other respectively. Reeves couldn’t stand the waiting and left. In her stead, The Eye chose a woman named Lula to join the team instead, who’s as strange as rest of them and just as good of a magician. Rhodes is still working at the FBI pulling the double agent. Finally, they get orders to act, being told to expose a major privacy violating scheme by a technology company called Octa. However, in the middle of doing so, they’re the ones who get exposed and somehow end up in Macau. There they’re told that they’ve been forcefully recruited by tech genius and underground investor Mabry to steal a computer chip that may come to pose problems for him. Meanwhile, Rhodes is also dealing with his father’s rival Bradley, who he put in jail earlier, but still seems to have some tricks up his sleave. Working through their own issues within the group, they set off on their quest to expose wrongdoers while of course wowing and amazing onlookers along the way.

***

Now You See Me 2 like it’s predecessor is a movie that on paper doesn’t seem good at all. The core of the film is magic tricks, but because it’s in film form, meaning everything come down to standard movie magic , and because most of the tricks aren’t properly explained it shouldn’t really be all that awe inspiring. However, despite it not making that much sense, the tricks are still incredibly amazing to behold, still managing to capture the essence of magic tricks themselves, and ultimately very enjoyable to watch. The plot too is completely ridiculous, with twists upon twists without any warning or rhyme or reason, but that too just seems to workout somehow and be really enjoyable. The cast is also great, and though some of the character twists were ridiculous, they are a cast of heroes you can genuinely root for, with Lula being a great addition, and on the other end the film also has a cast of villains you can genuinely hate.  It’s lighthearted tone full of solid humor also fits in perfectly, as does it’s mystifying soundtrack. The film full well knows what it is and fully embraces it and to that end I think it deserves a lot of credit. While there are clearly issues if you pay attention too closely, it’s not really a brain dead film, though it kind is, but rather it invites you to look past them itself to enjoy the magic itself, and does a really good job of it.

A film that is finds strength in being ridiculous and managing to wow at every opportunity.

8/10

Captain America: Civil War

civilwar

After the various disasters that have occurred over the years involving the various members of the Avengers, the United Nations led by the King of Wakanda have decided to pass the Sokovia Accords which put the Avengers under the control of the UN. Some members are in favor of it, such as Tony Stark, and some are opposed, such as Steve Rogers. Things get more complicated when at the signing of the agreement, there’s a bombing which ends up killing the King of Wakanda, with Roger’s old friend Bucky Barnes as the prime suspect. Rogers defies the Sokovia Accords to attempt to catch Bucky Barnes before the others do, especially as they have orders to kill on sight and the son of the slain Wakandan King T’Challa is after revenge. Rogers ultimately comes to the discovery that Bucky wasn’t the one that performed the bombing, rather that he was being framed, and that a larger plot by someone named Zemo was in the works, resulting in him attempting to escape with Bucky and stop Zemo himself. This leads others to follow him. Stark meanwhile is tasked with bringing in Bucky, and pursues them with his own group of allies, setting the two groups on a collision course.

***

While being called a Captain America film, Civil War is for all intents and purposes the next Avenger’s movie, and overall it’s not just the best Avenger’s movie we’ve gotten so far, but also one of the best films in the entirety of the MCU, and what truly feels like the beginning of the next phase of the MCU. The reason it does so well is that like other films that stand out, it’s not just the quality that matters, but that it does something new. The MCU already has a bunch of films on the same basic concepts that are incredibly high quality. Doing the same thing again but better is very difficult and even then the improvement isn’t enough for it to not feel repetetive. But doing things that are dramatically different works out very well, especially if it’s done as well as Civil War.

The plot loosely follows the comic book plot line, but it gets more personal which works out much better in the film medium and in general honestly, as I think they did a better job with this than the comics. Iron Man and Captain America seemed to have much realer motivations as compared to how things worked out in the comics, and they actually behaved in ways that you would expect of them. Stark still had his failings, but he didn’t seem like the completely obvious villain like in the comics, rather he felt like someone with complex feelings. Rogers too, felt more like a hero coming out of the entire affair than the train wreck that came out of the event in the comics. Ultimately, both characters personalities really showed through. One particular reason that helps with this is that there’s a true ‘villain’ for the whole affair, Zemo, who’s given a much more sympathetic character as compared to the comics, but still captures the true essence of Zemo, in that he’s someone with no powers, no resources, and not much in the way of special abilities, but just through planning and sheer will he manages to pull off being the most powerful villain the Avenger’s had faced so far. For all intents and purposes, he succeeded in almost all his goals, which is more than you can say about any other villain int he MCUU, expect maybe Loki. Another reason that the plot is so great is that it was legitimately unpredictable. The standard super hero flick involves a hero going through some set backs, coming to some inner realization, maybe with others, and then defeating the villain. Here, that obviously could not be the case, and hence there was real suspense in how things were going to go down and who was going to ‘win’ the Civil War.

The character roster too overall was very good. Hulk and Thor may have been missing, but really the completely new additions of Spiderman and Black Panther as well as the old cast of Captain America, Iron Man, Bucky, War Machine, Falcon, Vision, Black Widow, Maximoff, Ant-Man, and Hawkeye is a strong enough line up that played out great, especially in the main battle. Most of the characters such as Falcon and T’Challa I also liked a good amount more than the comics and Spiderman was the best film adaptation yet. All these characters led to some great intense action, the best action in all of the MCU as far as I can remember.The designs of everything were also great, as was the CG used. The comedy was still there, though I would have to say it was somewhat darker and more serious than other MCU films. The soundtrack was also excellent.

A very different but tremendously high quality MCU film that’s basically the next Avenger’s movie.

10/10

 

Fantastic Mr.Fox

fantasticmrfox

Mr. Fox and his wife Felicity used to be thieves, stealing Chickens and such from farmers, but after Felicity became pregnant, Fox promises to find a safer career and ends up as a newspaper column writer, a job which he hates. Many years later, they both live together with their cynical son Ash and Felicity’s very agile and jealousy inducing nephew Kristofferson in a tree overlooking the farms of Boggis, Bunce, and Bean, a nasty set of farmers with heavy control over the area. Fox was warned not to live in such a place as its especially dangerous for foxes, but as time went on Fox grew more and more weary of the safe and dull life he was living. Eventually, he goes back on his promise and secretly begins his life as a thief once more, pulling a series of heists from Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. Things go well, and Fox is having fun, but eventually the farmers have had enough, and they go all out, combining all their resources with the single goal of killing Fox, resulting in a long chase that turns the lives of everyone involved with Fox upside down.

***

Fantastic Mr. Fox is a very different animated movie from most recent films. First of all it uses stop motion animation, and not just that but does it with an art style that’s very different from what I’ve seen in the past. Ultimately, I would say that they did a very good job at it, resulting in something that was somewhat bizarre and was always a bit ugly, but was definitely incredibly interesting especially some of the 2-D shots. The humor too was very rough, not in the sense that it needed more work, but in that it wasn’t as smooth as it is in most animated films, which certainly isn’t for everyone but gave the film character. The plot was also decent with a lot of generic plot lines and themes: Mr. Fox finding himself, his son dealing with not being as good as his father or his cousin, and his nephew dealing with being disliked by his son, dealing with the repercussions of one’s action, and various things along these lines. The big thing however, is that rather than trying to push forth morals based on the negative result of the characters actions, the end result is more along the lines of Mr.Fox just pulling it all off even without them, and how it all just works out was certainly unique. On one hand, it does make one question what was the point of it all, but on the other hand its certainly far more amusing than the alternative. Another note that make the film quite strange, is that the world was not consistent at all. Animals can speak and wear clothes and people know that, but they aren’t people, and various other plot holes along these lines. But with how strange the film was, it didn’t even matter oddly enough even though it did sort of jump out.

A comedic stop motion film that’s very rough, but that gives it its own charm in a way.

8/10