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A few reviews

Moe_Syzlak

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Badlands. Having just seen Malick’s most recent film, A Hidden Life, I decided to check out one glaring omission I have in his filmography: his debut Badlands. It’s an interesting experience because I couldn’t simply watch it at face value. I bring with me the “baggage” of my knowledge of Malick’s other work and the work of other filmmakers this movie inspired. The young couple on the run story was certainly not new even then. In fact, I’d wager the recent success of Bonnie and Clyde helped this film get made. That said, it does feel like this movie marks a line of before and after for this kind of movie and its influence is deep.

Much of Malick’s trademarks are present, though of course to audiences in 1973 they wouldn’t have been known. It’s a personal story, a road movie, but the characters are set against the grandeur of nature in such a way as to suggest that all that is happening means naught in the grand scheme of things. This is a constant theme for Malick and I admit to looking for it. But it’s definitely there. The voiceover  is there too. But it’s less metaphorical, less spiritual than usual for Malick. It comes in the form of 15 year old Holly (Sissy Spacek) and while it’s more of a straightforward voiceover, it also seems a little mature for her 15 years. And it left little doubt in my mind that it was the basis for Alabama’s voiceover in True Romance.

True Romance is clearly inspired by Badlands as is Natural Born Killers. There’s the same sense that these people are caught up in the romance of it all; they are relishing the infamy. Of course this was also present in Bonnie and Clyde. Matin Sheen’s Kit is told by Holly and others that he looks like James Dean and he seems to need to play that out as the Rebel Without a Cause. There’s no real other reason for what Kit and Holly do. They really aren’t portrayed as young lovers; this is not a romance. There’s nothing else driving them. It’s not as on-the-nose in its meta-criticism of media/Hollywood/celebrity as Natural Born Killers, but it’s definitely there. With both Natural Born Killers and True Romance penned by Tarantino, we see another instance of him wearing his influences nakedly on his sleeve. 

It was impossible for me to view this movie without thinking of the works that followed, both the movies and filmmakers inspired and Malick’s own developing style. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it made for a different viewing than if I didn’t have that knowledge. Still, it is a must see if you’re a fan of any of the above.
 

TM2YC

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Dick Johnson Is Dead (2020)
At the start of this Netflix documentary, director Kirsten Johnson says of her father Dick "He's a psychiatrist. I'm a camera person. I suggested we make a movie about him dying. He said yes".  The two of them then act out possible deaths for Dick (who is beginning to suffer from Alzheimer's), in a comedic, slapstick fashion, like him falling down the stairs, or being stabbed in the neck.  So it's a father and daughter getting to kinda share their professions with each, exploring death emotionally and psychologically and explaining the mechanics of recreating it on film with stunt doubles and fake blood.  She also has her father act out what heaven might be like, incorporating a super slowmo dance sequence, it's incredibly beautiful and magical.  Dick even participates in a performance of his own funeral, very much enjoying the black humour but for others it's far too real and upsetting.  The viewer may find the film an uplifting, hilarious and illuminating tribute, or they could find it in poor taste (It was the former for me).


Time (2020)
A documentary by Garrett Bradley in which she films the efforts of Fox Richardson to raise her sons and get her husband released from a 60-year prison sentence (with no parole) for armed robbery, plus incorporates extensive home video footage shot by Fox herself over the years.  It's an elegant, artistic, black and white portrait of a family and their determination and love for each other. However, this arty, non-linear approach skips over a lot of detail and if you are going to ask an audience the question "does the punishment fit the crime?" then I think you do need to spend some time describing exactly what the crime actually was, beyond it's name and to discuss the events that led to such an inflated tariff.  I later simply googled the case and discovered these facts for myself e.g. that 60-years is triple the usual maximum sentence in Louisiana.

 

TM2YC

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Athlete A (2020)
A powerful Netflix documentary chronicling the exposure by 'The Indianapolis Star' of physical, mental and sexual abuse within the US girl's gymnastics system.  Naturally it covers the abuse by Larry Nassar, whose court proceedings were already well publicised after the judge made him sit through impact statements from 150 survivors and sentenced him for up to 175 years. However, more time is given to the deep-rooted culture of abuse and cover up in the 'USA Gymnastics' organisation from the CEO Steve Penny down.  That monsters like Nassar exist, in denial about their crimes, is sadly no surprise but to see the plain evidence of many people (parents, who wouldn't themselves ever commit such acts) actively engage in covering up the abuse of children, silencing the victims and punishing them professionally for speaking out was absolutely shocking, just to protect their jobs and reputation.  Thankfully it looks like some of them are facing jail time too.  It was also damning to hear more than one former child athlete recall that Nassar was the only one within the 'USA Gymnastics' leadership that they remember treating them with any kindness.  It sounds like a sinister sport but the film suggests things are finally changing. 'Athlete A' is definitely required viewing.


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The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)
I absolutely love legal dramas and titular trial about the trumped up charges brought against Vietnam protestors at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago takes up most of the runtime, so I was in heaven.  Mark Rylance plays the defence with intelligence, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the prosecution with nuance and Frank Langella is incredible as the backwards Judge.  Sacha Baron Cohen and Eddie Redmayne are excellent as Abbie Hoffman and Tom Hayden, virtually enemies but fighting on the same side.  Jeremy Strong also provides some enjoyable comic relief.  Writer Aaron Sorkin's first directorial effort 'Molly's Game' was pretty bad, making me think he should've stuck to his typewriter but his second film 'The Trial of the Chicago 7' is top notch.  Maybe him sticking to politics and the law is the key because he knows exactly how to tell this kind of a story.  Lots of detail, lots of drama, lots of characters and meaty dialogue about truth and power.  It helps that the case is deliberately chosen to be analogous with recent heavy-handed suppression of US protestors, so Sorkin can say what he wants to say about freedom of thought and draconian authority today.

 

Moe_Syzlak

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TM2YC said:
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

I’m surprised. I felt it was a weaker script from Sorkin with painfully inept direction. And I, too, love a legal drama. You and I are usually more in agreement. But again, this is what makes art great. I’m glad you liked it more than me. And I didn’t hate it.
 

TM2YC

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Moe_Syzlak said:
TM2YC said:
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

I’m surprised. I felt it was a weaker script from Sorkin with painfully inept direction. And I, too, love a legal drama. You and I are usually more in agreement. But again, this is what makes art great. I’m glad you liked it more than me. And I didn’t hate it.

There were a couple of clunky moments in the script like when somebody says early on to Hayden "you know Hoffman is smarter than you think" and instantly know it's going to be a mini arc for Hayden to realise that by the end.

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Onward (2020)
Tom Holland and Chris Pratt play two brothers on a quest to (sort of) reunite with their father, in a sword & sorcery parallel version of Earth.  A Pixar movie riffing on the Fantasy genre should've been an absolute slam-dunk but it's merely okay.  I couldn't help thinking how much better Aardman would've done this premise, cramming every second with puns and cute observations skewering and celebrating the tropes of Fantasy and how it would slot into a modern context.  The only time 'Onward' ever really engages on that level is at 15-minute intervals when Officer 'Colt Bronco' appears, who is a centaur policeman, so knocks things over with his tail, or struggles just to sit on chair, it's very funny.  Him being tagged as "mane man" on his girlfriend's caller-ID was the best joke in the movie.  The family have a pet dragon but nothing clever is done with it whatsoever, it's just a re-skinned dog.  I also started thinking how this could've almost been a live action movie in the 80s from Steven Spielberg, like a 'Goonies' but 'Onward' suffers from that comparison too. I reckon 'Onward' could've been set in the real world and the script would only need a 10% re-write, that's how much potential was wasted. I know the main character's arc is him lacking confidence but it makes him such a wet blanket, moaning about everything.  The animation isn't the best, things lacked weight.  Some of the plotting is illogical, lazy and uninspired but I've got to say the heart-warming ending really paid off emotionally and totally landed the overall message of love and family, so I could see somebody who had enjoyed it more than me being in floods of tears (my lip just wobbled a bit :D ).


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Parasite (2019)
'Parasite' plays even better on the second viewing because there are so many little bits of subtle foreshadowing and layers of meaning you get to enjoy.  I love black & white movies but I think the alternate monochrome version loses some of the deliberate changes in colour and lightning that originally conveyed story and meaning visually.  Definitely don't watch it that way first time but it's a nice bonus experience.  I'd forgotten quite how funny the film was and how violent it gets at points.  A thing I noticed this time was the contrast in how although the poor family are scummy, amoral, crooks, they only say nice things about the rich family behind their backs, where as the rich family (especially the father) are quite nasty behind the backs of the poor family, with little reason, to the point of physical revulsion.

 

asterixsmeagol

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TM2YC said:
I love black & white movies but I think the alternate monochrome version loses some of the deliberate changes in colour and lightning that originally conveyed story and meaning visually.  Definitely don't watch it that way first time but it's a nice bonus experience.

I like a black and white movie as much as the next guy, but I'm not really a fan of this recent trend of re-releasing color movies in black and white when they weren't filmed with that presentation in mind. I have yet to see one that I think is improved by removing the color.
 

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^ I haven't seen the theatrical/color The Mist, but I can't imagine it's superior to the grayscale version - but then, Frank Darabont has said he always wanted it to be grayscale, and the studio demanded the color theatrical. Otherwise, I agree. :)

My family watched Chicago 7 on Thanksgiving night, now that it's safe for us to feel at least somewhat hopeful about our government again. We all liked it pretty well, and it was a particular treat for my old man, who was part of the '68 Chicago protests and spent a day or two observing the trial. It's crazy that the movie took 13 years to make, with Sacha Baron Cohen attached the whole time. I liked it reasonably well, though the fate of the case, as revealed in the closing text, kinda made the whole exercise feel like a shaggy dog story, and perhaps we should have been following Bobby Seale and the Panthers instead.

Grade: B
 

mnkykungfu

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Zodiac (2007)
It all appears well researched and fact based from what I've read.

Truth vs Hollywood did 2 episodes on this... the facts of the case are all detailed pretty well in the film, though the two main characters played by RDJ and Ruffalo didn't really interact like in the film. They mostly worked the case in very different years and from very different angles, mostly separately. That's a lot harder to translate to a good film though, so they compressed time and conflated events.
 

Masirimso17

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@"TM2YC" A little off topic, but my mother and I are working on a potential fantasy animation movie adapted from a book. It’s a very imaginative and creative high fantasy world with colorful skies and clouds, candy-like houses and trees, etc. and it’s a Harry Potter style and tone older kids/younger teens adventure.

Onward is on the list of fantasy animated movies we’re planning to study when it comes to its animation. I remember us watching Rise of the Guardians, and off the top of my head Trolls and Smurfs: The Lost Village could be good material for animation reference. Would you have any recommendations for fantasy animated movies like this to study? It’ll most likely be CG-animated and not hand-drawn though so I don’t know how films like Alice & Wonderland would help us
 

TM2YC

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Masirimso17 said:
@"TM2YC" A little off topic, but my mother and I are working on a potential fantasy animation movie adapted from a book. It’s a very imaginative and creative high fantasy world with colorful skies and clouds, candy-like houses and trees, etc. and it’s a Harry Potter style and tone older kids/younger teens adventure.

Onward is on the list of fantasy animated movies we’re planning to study when it comes to its animation. I remember us watching Rise of the Guardians, and off the top of my head Trolls and Smurfs: The Lost Village could be good material for animation reference. Would you have any recommendations for fantasy animated movies like this to study? It’ll most likely be CG-animated and not hand-drawn though so I don’t know how films like Alice & Wonderland would help us

 This isn't a bad list: Classic Animated Sword & Sorcery

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20 Feet from Stardom (2013)
An Oscar winning documentary celebrating some of the biggest names in the background singer business, names that are famous in the industry but not so much with the public. Some of the vocal performances in the film by Lisa Fischer (The Rolling Stones' regular singer) are off the chart and Darlene Love and Merry Clayton's anecdotes are a treat. It goes to show that jaw dropping talent often isn't enough to make it in the business, you need songs, random luck and determination.


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Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport (2000)
The winner of the 2000 'Best Documentary' Oscar is the story of the children that were rescued from the Holocaust on the "Kindertransport", a pre-war operation to move around 10 thousand Jewish kids to the UK, from Nazi occupied territory. Their testimony is powerful in a way that only things seen and remembered through the eyes of children could be, even when those eyes are now surrounded by wrinkles. The film sticks exclusively to that child eye view, giving this a unique perspective on these events but I found myself wanting more detail about how the evacuation was organised. I knew some of it already though. The filmmakers don't shy away from looking at mistakes made in the rush to get them out. I'd also like to have gone into what the survivors went on to achieve. Again I knew some of that already, there are Lords of the land and celebrated film directors.


Nicholas Winton speaks a couple of times in the doc but I'd have liked to hear more about his work and that of other such heroes. This clip gets me every time:


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Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (2020)
The kids that went to Camp Jened (a little free-spirited New York hippy summer camp for the disabled) went on to change the world, becoming protestors, campaigners and spokespeople for disabled rights. This 2nd documentary from the Obama's production company doesn't go much beyond that initial premise but seeing it happen through mountains of well researched footage is amazing. Happily some documentarians extensively filmed life at the camp in 1971, which we see first, then pick up on where they are today and what they achieved. The grown up camp kids keep appearing in news clips, the stand out is vociferous campaigner Judy Heumann. The documentary is co-directed by James Lebrecht, also one of the Camp Jened alumni. The film's overall message (outside of the specific subject of disability) that a positive, empowering experience at a formative stage in a young person's life can so dramatically improve the rest of their lives is an encouraging thought, when you see it so clearly demonstrated in this case of "cause and effect".


Netflix took the decision to put the whole film on youtube for free! :) :

 

TM2YC

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Enola Holmes (2020)
I adored 1985's 'Young Sherlock Holmes' and I'm generally a Sherlock fan, so this should've been made for me.  Apparently the constant fourth-wall breaking in 'Enola Holmes' was at star Millie Bobby Brown's insistence to director Harry Bradbeer, plus she improvised her own lines.  There are moments where Enola is super excited to see somebody again, enthusiastically hugs them, then conspiratorially turns to the camera to give you a look saying "actually, I'm excited to see them" which completely defeats the point of a fourth-wall break!  or she is visibly angry, then looks into the camera to give you a "I'll let you into a secret but I'm angry" look, I knew you were angry already because you're a talented actor Millie!  The device also indulges the film's tendency to over explain everything, adding overdubbed lines of Enola saying things like "It's some money" over a shot of some money.  It's one of the most irritating performances I've seen in many a year.  Guess what, you probably shouldn't let 15-year olds be producers on the films they are starring in.  Frustratingly, in the very brief sections where she isn't talking to, or looking at the camera, Brown is great and her chemistry with Louis Partridge is cute.

I started to imagine this with the innocent charm of 'Narnia', 'The Railway Children', or even 'Harry Potter', where children go off a super-spiffing wizzo adventure!   The script is by hack writer Jack Thorne who was responsible for the cliched writing in 2018's well directed 'Radioactive'.  That a Sherlock Holmes property screws up Mycroft is to be expected by now but here he's practically a new character.  An irrational, unthinking, close-minded simpleton, instead of Sherlock's much more intelligent omniscient elder brother.  I love Cavill in most things but his jacked-up physique looks a bit silly and out of place in Victorian clothing.  It's true that Holmes was supposed to be a champion boxer, so you really need to focus on that one aspect and not the usual image of him being a stick thin addict with an eating disorder.


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A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2018)
This Netflix biopic of National Lampoon co-founder Doug Kenney really wants to be as anarchic as it's subject by pointing out the tropes of the biopic genre in a post-modern way but only because it's falling into all those cliches.  You 100% believe Will Forte is the young Kenney, especially when he's standing next to the real older Kenney.  Everybody else seems to be cast to look and sound as little like the real people (Chevy Chase, Bill Murray etc) as possible, in an array of terrible wigs.  For it's flaws it's still funny and entertaining and doesn't outstay it's welcome.

 

TM2YC

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Halloween II (1981)
John Carpenter and Debra Hill returned to write and produce 'Halloween II' but it was somewhat of a "contractual obligation" to rights holder Irwin Yablans.  So it's frequently lack-lustre and populated with forgettable, disposable characters.  Carpenter and Alan Howarth's score doesn't have the same magic as the first somehow. However, the movie's "the moment after..." continuation of the events of the first film is very cool, the material pertaining to that is decent, especially Donald Pleasence's haunted Dr. Loomis and the return of Dean Cundey's anamorphic cinematography ensures it looks consistent.  A brisk 92-minute, fairly entertaining slasher overall.


The Nightmare Isn't Over: The Making of Halloween II (2012)
Sadly this Shout Factory documentary is missing some key players like John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis, so it's left to distributor and Halloween rights holder Irwin Yablans to tell his side of the story.  He doesn't come off well, by ascribing the artistic successes of the first 'Halloween' to himself (despite Carpenter making several other masterpieces and him making mostly rubbish, including all the terrible 'Halloween' sequels) and then insulting 'Halloween II' director Rick Rosenthal's abilities (every one else interviewed speaks well of him).  I don't think stunt-coordinator Dick Warlock did a very good job of playing Michael Myers, there's just something off about his posture and movement (compared to Nick Castle) but this doc makes Warlock sound like a lovely guy to work with.  Generally you get the impression of a production where some people knew what they were doing but weren't trying and of others being unsure but doing their absolute level best to make the film as good as it could be.


Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013)
Considering the poor track record for translating sitcoms into movies, 'Alpha Papa' is as close to perfect as one could expect.  It goes a little too heavy with the action at the end and the fantasy sequences were a mistake but for the most part it keeps things pleasingly low-key and true to the Alan Partridge character.  The writers don't try to do a whacky "Alan in New York" type adventure, they just put him in his radio studio and engineer a siege to keep him there, nervously talking rubbish and letting his ego run riot.  The best bit is still the opening credits where Alan lip-syncs along to 'Cuddly Toy' by Roachford in his car, only pausing to berate another motorist for having is fog lamps on when there's no fog.

 

Moe_Syzlak

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TM2YC said:
Halloween II (1981)
John Carpenter and Debra Hill returned to write and produce 'Halloween II' but it was somewhat of a "contractual obligation" to rights holder Irwin Yablans.  So it's frequently lack-lustre and populated with forgettable, disposable characters.  Carpenter and Alan Howarth's score doesn't have the same magic as the first somehow. However, the movie's "the moment after..." continuation of the events of the first film is very cool, the material pertaining to that is decent, especially Donald Pleasence's haunted Dr. Loomis and the return of Dean Cundey's anamorphic cinematography ensures it looks consistent.  A brisk 92-minute, fairly entertaining slasher overall.

My first horror movie. I was living with my dad in Chicago while my two brothers stayed with my mom in NY. My dad was traveling and the receptionist from his office was babysitting. She took me with her and her friends to see this movie in the theater. I suppose I had just turned 11. The song Mr. Sandman has always been a bit uncomfortable for me since.
 

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Watched Birds of Prey with my wife. It's rated R so this was after the little one went to bed. Not perfect but a lot of fun, we both liked it. It's hard to find comic book movies my wife will like.

Without getting into spoilers, it's not aping Deadpool but does want that market, language and violence is about the same level. We didn't like it because of the language and violence, but it wasn't gratuitous enough to stop us liking the movie anyway. I appreciated the smaller scale, and frankly I just really like the character from back in the Animated days. It's nice to see her get a big movie and be her own thing.

I'm glad DC movies have gotten better. I hope the eventual release of the Snyder Cut doesn't cause them to relapse into the dark/gritty tone/aesthetic combo. I know at least a few in the pipeline won't, Wonder Woman seems immune in her own movies, Shazam is inherently colorful and intentionally somewhat separated from the others, and James Gunn's The Suicide Squad appears to be embracing some silly Silver Age characters which could be a lot of fun in its own way. Aquaman 2 though seems destined for something to go wrong, it's already got bad press and hasn't started filming.
 

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The Bodyguard (1992)
'The Bodyguard' was such an enjoyable, popular mainstay of video rentals and TV schedules back in the 90s (and briefly being among the top-10 highest grossing films of all time), that it surprises me to read how negative the reviews were at the time and still seem to be (e.g. 33% on Rotten Tomatoes).  It's a really classic, romantic, high-gloss action thriller.  Three decades ago, having a Hollywood romance be between an interracial couple and having it not be the subject of the film, or even referring to it once, was pretty groundbreaking.  I doubt a romantic drama done these days would aim for an r-rating and have quite as many knife fights, blood squibs, heads being blown off and f-bombs.

I'd forgotten how much it references Japanese culture and Akira Kurosawa's 'Yojimbo' particularly (the couple actually go see it at the cinema), which has the same title when translated into English.  Kevin Costner's 'Frank Farmer' character fits the profile of the disgraced "masterless Samurai" having failed to protect his former "feudal lord" (in this case President Reagan).  Protecting Whitney Houston's pop star diva 'Rachel Marron' becomes his chance to regain that honour.  Alan Silvestri's score and Whitney's songs are total magic.  I'd forgotten that she only sings 'I Will Always Love You' at the end because she hears it at a country bar during her first dance with Farmer.  That finale is note perfect, as Whitney stops the plane, runs across the tarmac to Farmer and the camera swirls around the couple as they kiss, all edited to time with her singing and the beats of the music.  The version I watched on Amazon Prime looks fantastic, possibility an HD scan of a 35mm print, it's got deep Noir shadows, warm skin-tones and strong James Cameron-esque blues.


What an ending! Not a dry eye in the house:


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The Mystery of D.B. Cooper (2020)
This BBC/HBO produced documentary examines the claims of four subjects to have been the legendary 1971 air-jacker known as "D.B. Cooper".  The doc combines traditional sit-down interviews with the relatives of the supposed Coopers, acres of cleverly assembled and researched grainy vintage footage from film archives and some witty dramatic reconstructions.  It's a lot of fun weighing the plausibility of the four stories, against the credibility of those telling them.

 

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Onward (2020)
A Pixar movie riffing on the Fantasy genre should've been an absolute slam-dunk but it's merely okay.  I couldn't help thinking how much better Aardman would've done this premise, cramming every second with puns and cute observations skewering and celebrating the tropes of Fantasy and how it would slot into a modern context.

The film was jammed with references and inside jokes for fans of D&D, Magic, and Fantasy novels. Wasn't really about Fantasy movies, so I think people expecting that might have felt let down. I was loving it, though. Not top 10 Pixar, but solidly in the top half, imho.
 

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mnkykungfu said:
TM2YC said:
Onward (2020)
A Pixar movie riffing on the Fantasy genre should've been an absolute slam-dunk but it's merely okay.  I couldn't help thinking how much better Aardman would've done this premise, cramming every second with puns and cute observations skewering and celebrating the tropes of Fantasy and how it would slot into a modern context.

The film was jammed with references and inside jokes for fans of D&D, Magic, and Fantasy novels. Wasn't really about Fantasy movies, so I think people expecting that might have felt let down. I was loving it, though. Not top 10 Pixar, but solidly in the top half, imho.

Agreed. It felt a bit like a love note to D&D players. Since my wife and I are long time players (I swiped my mom's blue box edition long long ago), we got all the references. It is certainly not their best, but even a mediocre Pixar movie is a good movie, at least IMHO.
 

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The Hidden Fortress
Scratching the itch I've had lately in looking at some of the influences for some of my favorite movies, I watched this one again. The beginning certainly shows where Lucas got a lot of inspiration for Star Wars. The further into the movie you get , the more dilute it gets. Some sections in the middle kind of drag, but that's just a cultural difference I think. Tahei and Matashichi are sometimes annoyingly greedy and just dumb. You wonder why Rokurota puts up with them at times.
 

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Racerx1969 said:
mnkykungfu said:
TM2YC said:
Onward (2020)
A Pixar movie riffing on the Fantasy genre should've been an absolute slam-dunk but it's merely okay.  I couldn't help thinking how much better Aardman would've done this premise, cramming every second with puns and cute observations skewering and celebrating the tropes of Fantasy and how it would slot into a modern context.

The film was jammed with references and inside jokes for fans of D&D, Magic, and Fantasy novels. Wasn't really about Fantasy movies, so I think people expecting that might have felt let down. I was loving it, though. Not top 10 Pixar, but solidly in the top half, imho.

Agreed. It felt a bit like a love note to D&D players. Since my wife and I are long time players (I swiped my mom's blue box edition long long ago), we got all the references. It is certainly not their best, but even a mediocre Pixar movie is a good movie, at least IMHO.

I must have missed them all???  Admittedly I've never actually played the physical D&D boardgame but I've played lots of the videogames, TV, films, documenatries and books, plus used to be well into Warhammer and love Tolkien, Discworld and fantasy generally, so I would have thought that would be sufficient grounding to get at least one or two of the jokes.  I "got" every D&D reference in Stranger Things just fine for example.  Thinking on it, the 40+ Discworld novels have maybe spoiled me for "a fantasy world that is like our world" based humour.

I'd define fantasy based jokes as = They have a pet dragon instead of a dog, which the family use to light the wood fire, it likes to be scratched in a gap in it's scales, it hoards the kid's shiny toys, the postman has to wear asbestos trousers etc.

Onward defines fantasy based jokes as = They have a pet dragon instead of a dog but it behaves exactly like a dog.

I didn't hate the film, it just didn't try hard enough for me. I'm glad some people are loving it.
 

mnkykungfu

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^Quick examples: the rules for using magic, for constructing magical objects, for exploring quest areas, etc. All plays on common D&D or Magic: The Gathering rules. And surely you got the gelatinous cube?? I actually guffawed. 

@"Racerx1969" re: Hidden Fortress, you might like the other thread I started about Homage/Influence/Theft then...
 
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