Tenet (2020)

I’ve seen quite a few films since the cinemas reopened, some good, some very very bad, but this is the first “cinema” film. The first film where I felt it needed to be seen on a big screen to be appreciated.

I feel Nolan is aiming his films squarely at cinema use now, which I really appreciate. I love how his films are ambitious and full of spectacle, with jaw-dropping practical effects (in this one he actually crashed a plane). On the downside I think his characters tend to feel a little flat. With the exception of the main characters, nobody in his films tend to stand out as particularly well written. That’s definitely also the case in this one, the main character is literally called The Protagonist. It’s weird as it’s got a lot of big actors in it, but they barely do anything. There are a lot of actors in this film who are not really needed. Michael Caine, for example, is in a single scene which could be cut entirely from the film and it wouldn’t effect the plot. It would effect the enjoyment of the film though as it would take away from the excessive runtime. It’s two and a half hours and you feel every moment.

Make no mistake, this is a BIG film, and you will be amazed, but you will also be slightly frustrated. Not so much at the plot which isn’t anywhere near as clever as it thinks it is, not so much at the complete lack of character development, and not even at the handwaving of the science integral to the plot (seriously they just say “don’t try to understand it), but you will be frustrated by the audio. It sounds like they’ve just made a song go backwards, I don’t know if they actually did that or not but that’s the definite intention they meant. Now in Inception they slowed down Non, je ne regrette rien until it was unrecognisable, and that worked. But melodies don’t always work backwards, they’re jarring and uncomfortable to listen to, so if you have your entire soundtrack be like that it’s just kind of annoying. Also, the sound mixing is atrocious so a lot of the time dialogue is impossible to understand. I wasn’t going to mention this at first as I thought there’s a chance it might have just been an issue with the cinema I saw it in, but then I saw other reviews mention it. So either every cinema in the country has got it wrong, or there is an actual problem. Supporting the “it’s an issue with the film, not the cinema” theory is a post from sound designer Richard King who has worked with Nolan on seven films (including this one). He said:

“He wants to grab the audience by the lapels and pull them toward the screen, and not allow the watching of his films to be a passive experience.”

Far be from me to criticise Nolan, but what the fuck is he thinking? I know they did something similar in The Wire, where they had characters use a lot of slang and didn’t explain it, so that people would have to pay attention to it. But that’s done realistically, people do speak in slang, and they don’t often understand it. Watching a film where they intentionally muffle the dialogue is not the same. If reality was like that then 50% of conversations would consist of the words “sorry, can you repeat that?” It doesn’t make you lean in to the film, if anything it frustrates you so you lean out. You don’t make a film entirely in shadows “so the audience has to really focus with their eyes and get drawn in”, no, you make shit that people can actually see (I understand darkness is an effective tool in film, I’m not talking about singular scenes and motives, I’m talking about in general).

None of that can compare to my biggest issue with the film: I just didn’t give a shit. I didn’t care about the characters, I didn’t care about the plot, I just did not care at all. I was completely passive when viewing it.

I get I may be one of the few people who didn’t love this film (and after the response to Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, I know my viewpoints don’t always match the general public), but I did like it. The performances were good, visually it was superb, it had a great concept, and the fight choreography was incredibly unique. The plot….I feel if I watched it a second time I’d notice lots of foreshadowing and realise how intelligent a lot of that is, I love when films do that. The only issue: I don’t particularly want to watch this film again. I don’t want to spend another 3 hours in a cinema, and I don’t want to watch this at home. It just…..it did absolutely nothing for me. I felt the same way about Interstellar to be honest, and Dunkirk. I sat there thinking “this is an absolute masterclass in film-making that I will never ever have the desire to watch again”.

Vivarium (2019)

I remember when I watched The VVitch years ago and was amazed at how it made somewhat standard scenes seem creepy and scary. A shot of a tree would somehow be one of the scariest moments in film and you have no idea why, it’s just great film-making. This is similar. It has a moment where they drive up a street to a house, that’s it. Nothing happens to them, nothing jumps out at them, it’s just them driving up a street. It’s also the creepiest scene I’ve seen in a LONG time. The houses are identical, like they’ve all been copied and pasted in an unnatural manner. The whole film is like that, the mundane made incredibly creepy through FANTASTIC film-making. Normally in horror it’s darkness that makes things creepy. This is the opposite, everything is so well-light and normal and bright that it’s that that makes it creepy.

The story is good, but ultimately frustrating sometimes as there are multiple questions which don’t get answered. Normally I’d call that annoying and lazy, but with this it works. The tone is perfect for that kind of narrative. It’s supposed to be a confusing mess as that’s what the characters are feeling. It makes you feel as helpless and trapped as the characters. There’s not enough focus on how character empathy can be tied into the narrative structure. I’ve made a conscious decision to do this when I made Poppy Blooms. I intentionally kept everything in that building so that the audience would feel as limited as the character was. The best case I can think of where the opposite has been the case and the narrative structure has been hurt by it will be The Mercy, aka, the film where Colin Firth is stuck on a boat. As I said here the film was supposed to be about how isolated he felt, but it kept cutting back to other characters, and had a lot of flashbacks of him interacting with people, as such you never felt as isolated as he did.

This is the opposite, it’s a confusing mess, because the characters are confused. I refuse to believe the confusing nature isn’t intentional, the film-maker is just too talented for that to be the case. I’m basing that off one film, yes, but it is a very good film. Plus, anybody who made this scene is certainly one of the most talented film-makers the world has.

I highly recommend this film, I’m not going to want to watch it again but I’m very glad I watched it. Well, maybe “glad” isn’t the correct word but you know what I mean, if you have shudder (and if you don’t, you should), it’s available on there.

Bloodshot (2020)

I was going to cough on the woman who lives next door the other day, then I remembered that the bible says you shouldn’t COVID your neighbours wife.

There it is, possibly the worst joke I will make all day, maybe. But what does it have to do with this film? Absolutely nothing. So was there any point in me making it? Not really. So why did I do it? I don’t exactly have a word count here, I just go until the review naturally stops. I do know, though, that I don’t want a review to just be a single paragraph as that will be a bit weird. But that might be all I can manage for this review so I have to pad it out somewhat. It’s a difficult review to write. Not for any personal or deeply emotional reason, I just can’t remember much about it. I can’t remember any of the characters names, much of the plot or sequences etc, it left absolutely no impression on me.

I think part of that is due to the advertising, it made it clear that the backstory about his wife being killed was a lie so that he would hunt down and kill people in revenge. This takes A LONG TIME to happen in the film, so for a large portion of the film you don’t pay attention because you know it’s fake. You know that what you’re watching doesn’t matter so you don’t care. A smarter thing to do would have been to either not have that in the advertising, or to change it so it happens much earlier in the film.

Don’t get me wrong, predictable can still be good if it’s done well. If it’s either stylish enough or funny enough so that the predictability doesn’t effect it too much. This doesn’t do that. It doesn’t have enough impressive action set pieces and the ones it does have don’t really work. The best example of this is a scene set in the aftermath of a truck carrying flour crashing. The flour causes the scene to look like snow. It’s being bathed in the light from a red flare so it looks kind of cool. There’s just one small problem: flares are fire, and flour is flammable (trust me on this). This would have been a cool moment if he set fire to the flour and used that, but nope, they just it for a cool visual, and sacrifice realism and logic to do so.

I would mention some of the background characters but with the exception of two characters nobody was given anything to do. There are 3 more enhanced individuals but the enhancements they have are not really given any focus so it’s easy to forget what they are (I think one had robot legs, and one could breathe underwater, a skill which doesn’t really factor into the plot at all, despite it being very easy to do so). Obviously the script thought it was more important to spend all it’s time showing things the audience already knows is false when it would have been a better use of the time to develop the side characters.

So yeah, that’s Bloodshot, and I can’t even be bothered to write a joke about bloodshot eyes through alcohol consumption. I would not recommend this at all, a huge disappointment (well it would have been if I had any expectations of it to begin with) that just leaves you asking questions. Mainly:

  1. Who edited that trailer?
  2. Who thought it would be a good idea to try and start a franchise with a first time director?
  3. Why did they keep his ex alive? They should have known he would attempt to find her and then find out how long ago they split. Actually, why did they use a real person at all? They could have just fabricated one in a false memory like they did everything else. Was it an attempt to get emotion into the film? Why would you attempt to put emotion in a Vin Diesel action film? FFS

My Spy (2020)

I mentioned in my review of Stuber last year my hope that this would be the film that causes Batista to go from “oh yeah, that guy” to “THE guy”. Sadly that’s not the case. This film is predictable, the villains are SEVERELY underdeveloped, and a lot of the actions of the characters don’t make any sense if you think about it for more than a minute. It’s also REALLY fun and well worth a watch.

Yeah it has some flaws, but I seriously doubt you’ll regret watching it. It’s funny, sweet, and has enough unique parts to stand out. It sets its tone very early on with a hostage situation that turns into laugh out loud comedy, and a reference to Iron Man 2 (although if the MCU exists in this universe, who played Drax?), and then plays a car chase to foreign language covers of I Will Survive and My Heart Will Go On. It’s a cheap laugh, but it’s a laugh nonetheless. It’s also something you don’t really expect in this film, a bit like the high number of Notting Hill references compared to most comedy action films.

Now when I say “things that don’t make sense” they’re mainly character-based mistakes rather than impossibilities. For example he stands in front of a class and admits he’s a spy. Number one on the “list of things needed to be a good spy” would be “never mention you’re a spy” yet he never suffers any backlash from this. (Number two on the list, by the way, is “a preference for cheese sandwiches over ham”, I don’t know why that’s important, it just is.) It’s strange as he suffers for other things he do which aren’t spy-like, but not for this. It’s a very sweet moment, and incredibly funny, but like I said it doesn’t make that much sense. I mean, it is worth it for his description of his time in the service when he mentions killing people: “they were all terrorists, human traffickers, or really annoying”

One thing is made abundantly clear in this film: Batista is f*cking huge. You don’t normally notice it because he’s paired up against similarly muscled men. But when you see him standing against normal people, you realise he’s a massive human being. Like, scarily large.

So in summary I think you do need to see this. It’s not like “omg that was so smart and brilliant” but near the end they think a helicopters about to explode so she begs to do a slow cool-guy walk away from it. it doesn’t blow up so he throws a grenade at it so she can do it. How can you not love a film like that?

An American Pickle (2020)

I should have liked this. It’s a funny idea, and it’s something quirky and strange, I like strange. It just didn’t land with me, though. I went in not knowing what the story is, I came out and still didn’t really know, it goes through multiple ideas so quickly that it never really has an identity.

Essentially it’s about a guy who falls into a pickle vat and ends up being uncovered still alive 100 years later and you think the film is going to be about him adjusting to a modern age. Nope. He meets his great grandson who he hopes is a success, and you think it may be a family based drama about the two connecting, nope, although for the brief moment where it is that, it is superb. He finds a billboard in the graveyard where his family is buried and vows to get enough money to take it down. That storyline lasts about 20 minutes. He gets into an argument with his relative and starts selling pickles out of spite, becoming internet famous among hipsters. That is part of the previous story and is how he gets the money, so also doesn’t last that long. He goes on twitter and tweets offensive shit, which people love. He then slightly suggests running for President before offending Christians and having everybody hates him. That lasts about 5 minutes. He is about to get deported so makes up with his relative and the two try to smuggle him into Canada. That lasts about 10 minutes. He swaps places with his relative (they’re both played by Seth Rogan), so his great grandson gets deported to a place he doesn’t know. That storyline takes about 20 minutes, then the film ends.

It was first showcased on HBO’s streaming service, and it’s definitely a streaming movie. I would probably be more charitable towards it if I watched it online instead of cinema. As it is I just wish it was a TV show instead. If it was then each of those storylines I mentioned would have time to be fleshed out and breathe, they’d be able to develop into actual stories instead of just a collection of scenes.

It’s a shame, as Seth Rogen is great in it. Even when they are supposed to look exactly the same you can tell which one you’re looking at due to the way they carry themselves. It’s a testament to his talent that despite some characters being confused as to who is who, the audience never is. I would compliment the other actors, but most of them turn up, do a few scenes then are never heard from again as their story is dropped. So in summary, I’m not sure whether to recommend this. It had some good moments, but they were too fleeting to offer the film a full recommendation I’m afraid.

Babyteeth (2019)

Those of who who have been following this blog for a while, or have spoken to me for an extended period of time, know that I LOVE slice of life dramedys, especially ones with a cool visual style and a female lead. For evidence of this, view my love for Ghost World and Lady Bird. I also love films that go into dark subject matter, 50/50, for example, is one of my favourite comedies. So lets look at this film:

  • Slice of life dramedy? Check.
  • Female lead? Check.
  • Dark themes? The lead has cancer, so check.
  • The lead has funky hair? Check.

So this should be one of my favourite films of the year, but it pains me to say that it may be one of my least favourites. It’s not one of the worst, it has too many good things about it for that to be the case, but from a subjective standpoint I just could not enjoy this. I never hide the fact that these reviews are entirely subjective, that’s why Lego Batman movie gets a more positive review than Dunkirk. This approach hits some films more than others, and never will it hit harder than for this.

This film lost me in three of the opening scenes, to the point where it would have had to work VERY hard to get me back in.

1: The “meet-cute”

If your story is based around a romance between two people, you need the introduction of the two to each other to have a certain spark. Whether it’s locked eyes from across the room, one helping the other with an issue, or even just sitting near each other and their being an unexplained chemistry. So how do these characters meet? He bumps into her whilst running at a train. At first I thought what had happened was him bumping into her slowed his momentum as he attempted suicide by jumping in front of the train. I actually loved that as it would have been incredibly unique and funny. Now I look back at it I’m not entirely sure that was the case, there is a slight chance it might have been though so I won’t hold that against it. What I will hold against it is the following: they start talking and she gets a nose-bleed. How does he stop it? Pretty much like this:

Yes, he basically smothers her face (with a cloth though, not just his hand). Oh, and you have no idea how much I had to search before I found a non-porn picture like that. It genuinely looks like it’s going to start a kidnapping scene, especially once he gets onto the floor and pulls her down with him. For some reason she finds this cute, so he asks her for money, which she gives him. It’s at this point the film is begins to make me feel uncomfortable.

2. The therapy scene

Soon after this we’re introduced to a scene titled something like “9am Tuesday appointment” which features a woman and a therapist talking and then having sex. It’s not made clear until near the end of the scene that they’re husband and wife so you’re sitting there thinking it’s a man abusing a vulnerable patient and then by the time you realise it’s not you’ve forgotten what actually happened in the scene as none of your notions about what was happening were correct. This is good a time as any to point out how weirdly the film introduces major plot points. How do we find out the main character has cancer? A title card that says “remission”. It’s not set up AT ALL.

3. The Dinner scene

This is where we find out the characters ages. The girl? 16, the guy (Moses), 23. So this film is about a 23 year old guy (who already has a girlfriend) going out with a 16 year old cancer patient, breaking into her house to steal things, and at one point stealing her drugs. Why should I give a shit about it?

Like I said, it would have taken A LOT for the film to come back from these scenes, and it never even looks like it’s going to. Moses never gets any better, never has a redeemable moment that makes him likeable. He continues doing awful things throughout the film and is never held accountable. His relationship with the main character (Milla) is basically this:

Moses: *steals from her*

Milla: You dick I hate you, leave!

Moses: *breaks into her room in middle of night*

Milla: I forgive you

Moses: *takes her to a house party and makes out with a girl in front of her*

Repeat ad nauseam.

It all makes for an incredibly frustrating watch. He doesn’t even make up for it in the closing scenes. Chronologically (there’s a random flashback at the end with no indication as to when it was) this film ends like this: She tells him the pain is too much and asks him to smother her with a pillow until she dies. He does it but stops halfway through, they then have sex. Yup, they really did a euthanasia-based sex scene. Fuck that. He wakes up the next morning and says hi to her parents and has a smoke. By this point, she is dead, and he doesn’t mention it to her mum before she goes to wake her up. He doesn’t even have the decency to look shocked. Well he might do but you can’t fucking see as the scene is weirdly shot with him being half in, half out the door so you can’t get a proper look at his face, instead being met with the far more interesting sight of beige. In that scene you NEED to see his emotion. You need to see the emotional conflict he’s going through, and this film hides that from us, and is all the worst for it. There are multiple sub-plots I haven’t mentioned because in the end they meant absolutely nothing.

Now onto the positives: the colours were wonderful. It had a vibrant palette that really popped and was interesting visually. Also the music was incredible, it had possibly one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard all year. That cannot make up for the rest of the film though. It doesn’t make up for how, I’m really struggling to find the words here. Well, you know how when you do exercise in the middle of a heat wave? (like running, jogging, or standing up out of a chair). You know that horrible sticky sweat you get? The sweat that clings to your body like it’s semi-solid and hangs in the air so you can almost taste it? Watching this film feels like touching that. It also reminded me of one of the worst songs in existence

Once Upon A Time In Nollywood

I noticed something a few weeks ago: the Western viewpoints of cinema. Despite Hollywood and the British film industry being made of people from diverse backgrounds (kinda), it’s only stories about locations we know that we see. This is kind of weird, wouldn’t a compelling story be a compelling story regardless of location? Would a love story not work just as well in Algiers as it does in New York? Studios push diversity in their marketing, and yet still only really do them set in Western world. “Look, a film consisting almost entirely of Asian people, diversity!” “Where’s it set?” “New York”.

As such I decided to be the annoying little prick I have a tendency to do, and write a story set in Africa. This was mainly because a lot of the countries are English speaking (woo colonialism and attempted genocide), yet are still uncharted lands when it comes to cinema. Seriously, how many films can you think of which are set in African countries and aren’t based around:

  • Extreme poverty
  • War
  • Period pieces involving slavery

I mean, I guess there’s Chappie and District 9. But other than that? Not much. So I decided to see if I could, similar to my Nightmare On Elm Street, just to be like “if I can, you can, stop making excuses”. So I present to you:

First off, yes that is a working title. As will become clear, I don’t know that much about Nigerian culture. I probably should have done more research into it, but I don’t know what I need to know. A google search can tell you facts, it can’t show you the random cultural quirks that make a country stand out. So if I was to do this, I would definitely have someone from the country go through and heavily edit it. I put a few cultural references in, a few bits of local slang, a few local locations, and local names (you’ll be surprised how many writers don’t do this). It’s not a perfect script, but I am kind of proud of what I’ve done. Not just because you should always feel proud when you complete a project, but also because it’s a plot I’m genuinely proud of. It has some imagery that I love, some of the most detestable characters I’ve ever done, and a mid-plot character change which doesn’t come off as made up on the spur of the moment (although it totally was). I can probably change the wording of the closing shot, I know exactly the image I want and I’m not sure it comes off quite as I see it in my head. I can probably cut the opening too as it’s just me repeating “this guy’s a dick” again and again. Also, this is not the best genre to write as you go along. You need to plan this, and I didn’t. So I really need to go through and connect a few threads better.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)

So we’ve reached the point where I’m catching up on films I’ve missed so far this year. First off is this one, a film not released in cinemas but was on netflix. It was originally supposed to be released alongside Eurovision, which was cancelled due to COVID 19.

Eurovision is insane and weird, so this is perfect fodder for a film, and should allow Will Ferrell to be at his madcap best. It’s a shame then, just how plain this film is. Will Ferrell’s character is essentially “Will Ferrell with an accent”, and at this point that type of character is just becoming grating.  The film itself is incredibly plain, very American. It also has a central premise that doesn’t hold up if you do any research into it.

It’s about two Icelandic singers who enter Eurovision (essentially a Euro-wide singing contest which is, well it’s kind of weird) hoping to win. But (unknown to them), one of the people on the Icelandic Eurovision committee has been killing Icelandic singers because if a country wins then they have to host the next years contest, and the country can’t afford it, so if the singers die then they won’t win. The central premise is flawed, as if a country can’t afford to host, it can defer to another country, and that has happened multiple times. So the premise of the film doesn’t work. It doesn’t even work in the universe the film creates. A character mentions in passing that “Everybody hates UK so they never win”, but in this film, the song contest is being hosted by the UK. So they obviously won the year before. So even if in this film universe of “no, if you win, you HAVE to host” it completely lacks consistency.

The opening song has to be commended though, it’s the kind of weirdness that you associate with Eurovision and is kid of perfect, the rest of the film? Not so much. It’s an incredibly generic “a man and woman work together and one doesn’t realise the other is in love with them, complete with comedic misunderstanding” film. First off, why is it a romance film when it should be like a sports story? Also I consider it a mistake to have so much Will Ferrell, this is the perfect setting for an ensemble movie. You have different comedians be different performers, focus mainly on one night of the contest, and just let them all go nuts.

It’s also FAR too American. There’s a moment where the cast randomly burst into a song medley. This would have been a good opportunity to do like a mini-showcase of Eurovision hits, and whilst it does include ABBA and a Celine Dion song which was an entry in 1988, it also includes Madonna, Cher, and Black Eyed Peas. So that scene doesn’t give you an insight into the contest, and instead is just an advert for American music. It would be like if a film about the American film industry had a montage that consisted mainly of anime and Bollywood films.

One final thing: why the f*ck was this 2 hours long?

Unhinged (2020)

I’m well aware of my big flaw when it comes to reviewing: all of it is down to personal taste. So if a film is impressive, but for whatever reason just doesn’t grab me, I won’t review it favourably (and conversely, if a film is technically awful, but I have a soft spot for it, I’ll review it favourably). They’ll be some films I negatively review because they just didn’t gel with me. Keep that in mind when I talk about how much I disliked this film.

I get some people will like this, it’s a pulpy violent throwback full of well-crafted but realistic car chases. It just wasn’t for me. It might have been fun if I was drunk, or I could have just found it super depressing. Before I start this I’ll point out that the performances are all good, there is absolutely nothing any of the actors could have done to improve on it So why didn’t I like it? Hard to explain, it could be how, despite being only 90 minutes long, I spent a long time looking at my watch. It could be how, outside of the main character, you didn’t care about anybody. There at least 3 characters who have two scenes:

Scene one: the character gets introduced.

Scene two: the character gets killed.

I’m not asking for an essay-level of detail on every minor character, but I need to at least feel like these characters exist outside of this film, and I never felt like that, I was always constantly aware that these are just characters in a movie.

I guess my main problem with this film is it’s just so ugly. Not in terms of look, in terms of spirit and world. It’s all just so relentlessly cruel.

I haven’t seen anything this despairingly ugly since I last looked in the mirror. The “happy ending” of this film is basically the main character letting people do whatever they want and she will just stay quiet. Yay, she’s scared and won’t ever stand up for herself, yay?

It’s not a story, it’s just a bunch of stuff happening one after the other. It’s far too dependent on luck. If characters don’t do the exact thing that they do, there is no film. If the police aren’t as stupid as they are, there’s no film. If bystanders do, well, anything, there’s no film. Again, this all builds together so you never really lose yourself in the film, you’re constantly aware that it’s fiction. It doesn’t help that it never builds up to anything, it starts with him burning someone’s house down and killing them, how can you increase upon that? He doesn’t even change his car until the final act, with all the cameras around, he never gets pulled over by the police? That’s kind of the case for a lot of this film though, it depends on only the main characters being active in the plot. If they’re not a named character, they don’t do anything. So even when Russell Crowe strangles someone with their own tie in a diner, nobody in the building does anything. It’s America, you’d think at least one of them would have a gun. Plus, it’s a diner, so there’s enough knives around, or even things you can just pick up and hit him with. Also, the diner scene happens after Crowe’s character has:

  1. Burned down a house in full view of the neighbourhood.
  2. Run someone over outside of a petrol station.

He parks his vehicle outside the diner and just sits in there for quite a while. Definitely long enough for the police (who really should be searching for him) to spot it and drive there to arrest him. It’s just incredibly narratively frustrating. Especially since there probably is a way to do this, but this film couldn’t be bothered.

All I can say about this film to end this review is this: Nicholas Cage turned it down. That shows the level we’re dealing with.

Onward (2020)

I was both looking forward to, and slightly apprehensive about this. Yes, it’s Pixar, and if a studio’s worst film is Cars (which, as much as I hate it, is MASSIVE financially) then you know you’re in for a good time, but since this film has been out I haven’t heard a lot of love for it. So maybe it’s just average, maybe it’s another Good Dinosaur, a film that’s perfectly serviceable but nothing special. After seeing the film, I don’t get it, it’s hard to say it’s one of Pixar’s best, but that’s only because their films are such high quality that it’s really hard to rank them. I will say this though: it’s going to take something special coming out for this not to be in consideration for one of the best films of the year.

I mean it could be argued that the plot is kind of generic, it’s essentially a road movie. But a lot of Pixar films are really when you think about it. For every brilliant plot of Ratatouille or Wall-E, you have the simple plot of Monsters University. Pixar are not about the story the telling, it’s about HOW they tell them, and they tell them perfectly. As to be expected it looks gorgeous, and the script and the characters are just as beautiful.

The best thing about this is just how deeply personal you can feel it is to the writer. I often criticise films by saying “I can’t imagine someone feeling they NEED to get this film made”. You could NEVER say that about this. It’s obviously deeply personal and that personal touch permeates every inch of the film.

It’s helped by the performances, Chris Pratt and Tom Holland work incredibly well together and their relationship is the true emotional core this film depends on. It depends on the brother relationship much more than the “sons missing their father” angle that you expect. I mean, the fact that they miss their deceased father is central to the film, and it does provide one or two deeply emotional moments, but the central emotional crux is the relationship between the two brothers. For a story about not-mythical creatures it is incredibly human, but then again that’s always been Pixars strength.

Now the downside: it feels like it doesn’t do enough with the premise. The film has two main concepts:

  1. Magic used to be a thing people could do, but then technology replaced it as it was simpler. Reminds me of the Arthur C. Clarke quote: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
  2. The legs.  Okay I should mention it: this film is about them trying to bring their dad back from the dead but it goes wrong and only his bottom half comes back (fully clothed thankfully).

I feel it could have done more with those premises, although then I suppose there is a risk that might have taken away from the emotional developments. The legs thing is weird, and should provide very unique scenarios, but it really doesn’t provide that many. It does provide a great moment where the legs realise that his sons are there. One of them lets him know by tapping on his foot like he did when he was a child, after that the legs immediately search for the other son, and press down on his foot with his own. It’s the closest it will get to a hug, and it’s beautiful. As is the moment near the end, when you see it you’ll know.

So yeah, go see it. It’s a great film, and all the cast are brilliant (I haven’t mentioned it but Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer’s characters are crying out for a spin-off).