Inside Out (movie review)

Inside_Out_(2015_film)_posterTremendously entertaining, visually gorgeous and deeply touching, Inside Out might just be the best movie that I have watched so far this year.

Released by Disney and Pixar, Inside Out tackles the mind of an 11-year-old girl where five personified emotions (Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust) deal with her daily activities and experiences. Now, she has to deal about moving in to a new place, a new school and a new neighborhood with the help (or burden?) of these five emotions.

Kudos to the movie’s directors Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen for visualizing a unique story the way the moviegoers experienced it. Such a good story isn’t put to waste because of their careful directing. The voice actors are so alive in the film, especially Amy Poehler who voiced out Joy, of course. I remember her stint in Parks and Recreation wherein she played Leslie Knope, a very jovial character who’s the heart of that great comedy series. Her co-actors in the movie are also perfect for their roles: Phyllis Smith (who really looked like Sadness haha), Saturday Night Live’s Bill Hader (Fear), Lewis Black (troubling Anger) and Mindy Kaling (a shoo-in for the playfully sarcastic Disgust). The animation, the graphics and the visual effects are beyond amazing, while the musical score fills everything in that make the movie perfect.

There are three things that I have pondered in this movie.

One, you can’t just be solely happy in life. There are certain things that we can only learn from experiencing other emotions. Sadness is what we feel when we’re hurt or rejected. If you come to think about it, feeling sad is not that bad. Of course, nobody wants to be sad but there are times when inevitable things happen that makes us experience it. This feeling of being down is nasty, but we could somehow turn it into a way that can work for us. Sadness can make us realign our thoughts about things, including what made us sad in the first place. Also, it’s a way for us to know the people who really care about our feelings. It’s also a truth that sadness can force us to really move on. It’s been said for a lot of times that we should refuse anger if we can. In a way, that’s correct for we might not be thinking straight if we really are angry. But truthfully, we can use it as a gauge on what really upsets us that makes us move to change what it is. Fear is there to know our limits while disgust can be used to really know what we like and dislike.

Two, the team up of Disney and Pixar is still the best out there for animated films. They might have hit a bit of a rocky road for the past few years, but they have proven with Inside Out that they’re definitely still the best in the field. Only they can consistently show those popping visuals that carry out a very inventive story about the emotional center of the human mind that touches every heart of those who watch. While watching, I think I’ve seen (in my peripheral vision) that a daddy (who was with his wife an kid) sort of sighed and sniffled during the very emotional scenes.

Three, if the creators can find a way to make a sequel out of this movie, I’ll be more than willing to watch it in the silver screen!

Inside Out’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 5 out of 5

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Big Hero 6

Big_Hero_6_film_posterAs the first Disney animated feature film to feature characters from Marvel EntertainmentBig Hero 6 impresses as one of the best animated movies ever.

Hiro, a 13-year-old genius, spends his time doing fun things like participating in back alley robot fights. His older brother, Tadashi, who’s also a genius, made him realize he might just be wasting his time and his potential by introducing him to the robotics lab in the university where he is studying. Tadashi introduced him to his project, a personal health care assistant named Baymax. There he also met Tadashi’s friends GoGo Tamago, Honey Lemon, Wasabi and Fred, who are also geniuses in their own fields. An application exam in the form of a project presentation is needed for him to enter the university. While he passed it with flying colors via microbots, which are swarms of tiny robots that can link together and form into any shape imaginable, a tragedy strikes that made a great impact to Hiro’s life. This is the premise of Big Hero 6.

Such a heavy theme in an animated movie, shall we say? Yes, but all is well put to make it suitable both for kids and kids-at-heart. In fact, Big Hero 6 gets it all right: great story, appealing characters, slick direction, impressive cinematography and spectacular animation! Believe me, I was very pleased the whole time I was watching the movie! The movie had me (hehe) at San Fransokyo during its very first scene and it made me really smile until the very end!

The way the movie started brought about a feel of Real Steel but it quickly moved to show that even though it has a similar vein as that movie, this is way better. If The Big Bang Theory made smart as the new sexy, this movie justified that nerd is the new cool. Not a new idea considering the success of Iron Man and similar movies that escalate technology to a whole new level on a pedestal, but Big Hero 6 made it more relatable for kids and teenagers. It also somehow reminds adults of their purpose and relevance in life, thanks to the adult figures in the movie.

It has always been said that time flies when you’re having fun and I have always said that a good movie would let the time fly while you’re watching without you noticing. Big Hero 6 is such a perfect example of a movie wherein you won’t notice that a lengthy amount of time has passed by. And, more than the fun, watching it was such a great movie experience. Not only would it please and entertain you, it would also make you think, feel, and make you want to act in favor of what it is teaching.

The animation used in the movie is a whole level of amazing. (Have you noticed I am saying whole a lot of times in this review? Big Hero 6 makes me do so because it is a whole lot to take in! Hehe.) Its use of computer graphics made the scenes seem to be real. From topography up to robotics technology, Big Hero 6 makes topnotch animation. I am guessing that simple isn’t in the vocabulary of the movie’s animation team and their efforts surely propel the movie at the list of films with the best special effects.

Meanwhile, one of the most llikeable, lovable and cutest animated characters is born in Big Hero 6! Watch out for Baymax, which, even though a robot, captures the heart of the viewers as he signifies the heart of the movie. Creators of Big Hero 6 set him apart from the rest of robots in films as he is one-of-a-kind: powerful, caring and huggable! And not just that. As a creation of a good person in the film (Tadashi), he is programmed to serve and do good things to others and refrain from hurting them. Moreover, when Hiro loses his way, Baymax serves as a true friend who redirects him to the right path. Do you know a robot that does exactly like that?

The voice actors (led by Ryan Potter as Hiro, Scott Adsit as Baymax and Daniel Henney as Tadashi) did a good job voicing out their characters. Their timing is on point, which made the funny dialogues really funny and the smart and witty lines very understandable. Furthermore, Henry Jackman’s score in the film (and Fall Out Boy’s “Immortals” as the movie theme) makes it more appealing.

Big Hero 6’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 5 out of 5

The Lego Movie

The_Lego_Movie_posterHighly creative and solidly funny, The Lego Movie satisfies with its extraordinary story and awesome visual effects.

The movie is about Emmet Brickowski, a seemingly ordinary construction worker, who happens to find a Piece of the Resistance, which is said to be the only thing capable of stopping the use of Kragle, the super weapon that can destroy the Lego universe. He is assisted by Wyldstyle, Batman, Metal Beard and rest of the Master Builders to go against Lord Business, the tyrant owner of the Kragle. Will they be able to save everyone from harm? Watch this movie to find out.

Technically speaking, The Lego Movie was everything I was hoping for in a movie about Lego. Could you imagine the toy many of us played and loved (and still love) being made into a full motion picture? It must have been very taxing to make this movie years ago! But thanks to advanced CGI technology, the Lego blocks were created in this movie in a way that suited every kid’s Lego movie dream, complete with towering structures, fancy vehicles, amazingly detailed Lego characters and grand settings. It was visually perfect!

The voice cast was delightfully good. Every spunky or funny dialogue in the movie was brought alive and on point by Chris Pratt who voiced out Emmet, Will Ferrell as Lord Business, Elizabeth Banks as Wyldstyle, Will Arnett as Batman and Nick Offerman as Metal Beard.

The witty script, which brings out many pop culture references, was really funny, making it relevant not just for kids, but also for adults. The twist in the end might not be that unexpected, but it was totally appropriate. The satire shown in it proved the major points of the story: stop the rigidity, explore creativity (which could just actually be Lego’s motto if you think about it).

However, I was actually expecting more. It was undoubtedly original, yes, but it somehow lacked that awesome fun some other animated movies bring. The over-all concept of the movie might be a genius, but it fell short in a few of its individual parts. I liked some of the featured songs, though I lingered on the thought of something better. The musical score is lively, but it could have been a lot livelier. Nevertheless, this movie was a great start for the animated movie genre this 2014. I hope more movies like this would be featured this year.

The Lego Movie’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4 out of 5

Frozen

Frozen_(2013_film)_posterFrozen is the best film Disney has produced for a long time. Using their magic formula of putting a princess as a lead character, they made a great change this time in terms of resolving the always predictable conflict. Not to spoil anything but this great change made Frozen one-of-a-kind.

As stated on its credits, the movie is loosely based on the story of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. However, they do differ a lot. Frozen is about the two princesses of a fictional kingdom called Arendelle: Elsa and her younger sister, Anna. The two used to be very close, but because Elsa had to hide her ability of creating ice and snow at will, they grew apart. They did not see each other for years until a tragic accident concerning their parents led them to. Elsa is to be crowned the queen and so, a banquet in the castle had to be made. Anna met the prince she wanted to marry and yet Elsa was against it. They argued, which led Elsa to lose control of her powers, making everything in the kingdom covered with ice and everyone freezing with cold. She departed to the mountains where she built her ice castle. What will happen to their kingdom now that they have separated? Will the sisters find their way again to each other? That’s what you have to find out.

The movie boasts itself with great animation and good visual effects. The combination of hand-drawn pictures and computer-generated imagery (CGI) effects made a spectacular display of animated sequences. You’ll be amazed by how some things onscreen are too detailed, with the lighting and the ice crystals and the snow.

What makes Frozen even the more impressive is its music. It’s not a good animated musical film for no good reason at all, right? The songs used are written and composed by Filipino songwriter, Robert Lopez, and his wife, Kirsten Anderson-Lopez. Their songs, incorporated into Christopher Beck’s musical score, made the audience either glee or moved depending on the scene. You’ll never wonder why you’re still smiling or even humming or singing right after watching because of the wonderful music heard in the film. Thanks also in part by the great voice work of its cast (who also sang) led by Kirsten Bell and Idina Menzel.

The movie teaches a number of good messages (e.g. Never marry a man you just marry), but the best for me, though, is how it showed a true act of love. I will not spill, but the movie’s climax pointed out a very strong message to everyone, that love isn’t what people always seem to believe.

Frozen’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4.5 out of 5

Epic

Epic (2013 film) official movie posterEpic is a wonderful fantasy-adventure movie that fits right with the whole family. It is so amazingly animated, beautifully edited and smartly scripted you’ll never want to miss it in theaters.

The movie is about Mary Katherine (MK), a 17-year-old girl who has just recently reunited with her father, Doctor Bomba, a scientist obsessed in finding out small creatures that lure around a forest. M.K.’s skepticism leads her to leave, but because of unforeseen circumstances, she shrinks in size and proves for herself that her father is right all along. She wants to go home, but she’ll only be able to go back to her normal size if she helps the Leafmen, the small creatures in the forest, defeat the evil creatures called Boggans. Will she be able to help the Leafmen despite the loss of their queen plus the horrifying number of the Boggans?

Green was the highlighted color in the movie, and that comes with good reason: nature is Epic’s main theme. Hues of green in combination with yellow, white, blue and red dazzled the screen from left to right, signifying serenity that goes along with nature. Seriously, some scenes are so calming you’d want to wish they’ll stay on the screen longer. Meanwhile, shades of black, brown and grey made the dark presence of the villains felt in scenes they were in.

The movie’s pacing was just right. The audience won’t feel hurrying up or slowing down as scenes breezed through the screen. Important scenes were unsurprisingly highlighted, and yet there were also scenes that were given emphasis to convey important messages. And that’s what I liked best.

Speaking of messages, Epic might just be any parent’s favorite film as no offensive dialogue and blatant violence were shown in the story. In fact, the dialogue’s so smart the children and probably some adults were bound to learn new things and lessons about life. The dialogues of the characters were even all throughout. Even those lines that show humor didn’t fail to give it.

The voice actors in the movie were such a wonder, with the exception perhaps of a few (i.e. Beyonce voiced out the queen of the Leafmen, and I must admit I couldn’t understand what she was saying at the start.). I liked how Amanda Seyfried voiced out an endearing MK, Colin Farrell a snub Leafmen leader, Josh Hutcherson a young, easy go lucky soldier, Steven Tyler an old, wise glowworm and Christoph Waltz the leader of the Boggans.  The rest of the supporting cast was good, most especially Aziz Ansari, who voiced out the funny laid-back slug.

What could possibly be lacking in this kind of movie? Ha, it lacked a deeper explanation about everything. It would be better if a bigger background about the main characters was shown. Even motives of some were not totally clarified. Meanwhile, the movie seemed to be full of lessons in life and yet some scenes just didn’t feel like showing these lessons well. Nevertheless, the movie was fun to watch and good to the senses right from the start.

Epic movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4 out of 5.

 

The Croods

The_Croods_posterThe Croods is the first hit animated movie of the year. It didn’t just bring (and continues to bring) in a lot of people in the theaters; it also is a good movie. It is not like any other animated film that we’ve watched before, most probably because it featured the ancient times with humans, not animals, as the protagonists.

The film is about a family of cavemen, the Croods, and their struggle to survive amidst the environment-changing events on planet Earth. Grug (voiced well by Nicolas Cage), the patriarch, always reminds his family to keep inside the premises of their cavern home so as to remain safe from dangers in their environment. They would only go out at day to hunt for food. Her daughter, Eep (voiced by the amazing Emma Stone), wanted to break free from this routine (“This is not living. This just keeps us from not dying.”). She finally has her chance when she met Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a much modern man, who is trying to keep up with the changing times, especially, if it means being alive. Would Eep ever convince Grug and her whole family to go out? You’d surely find that out in this movie.

Kids are going to love The Croods. But let’s change that statement for it may misguide people. Every member of the family is going to like, if not love, this movie. Each one is bound to appreciate what’s in store for them by watching this film.

There are many elements of this film that make it really unique. Steps on how ancient people might have discovered things are hinted, subtly or not (making fire, working with tools, naming things, starting a family, raising pets and the like). The dialogues are smart, even though a few may insult some people. The comedy scenes may not be appropriate for everyone, but each funny dialogue will hit anyone it’s supposed to hit. It’s the touching scenes, though, that will really hit everyone hard. You won’t know you’ve been hit until you realize you’re crying. Haha, seriously, even though you don’t cry, you’ll surely feel something with those touching scenes.

Choose among these two: playing it safe by abiding by the rules or discovering by exploring what is out there. These principles clash on this movie. Questions like “Is it better to be safe but feel fearful of not going anywhere than taking chances and risking it out?” will find its way to the audience’s mind. Needless to say, this movie empowers the idea of breaking the status quo. If the early humans have not tried to get out of their comfort zones, they might have not discovered things important for their survival. The movie shows us that if we keep on hiding on where we are (a.k.a. routinely following what’s always been on our daily lives), we’ll be safe and yet wondering… just wondering. It’s not bad if we follow the rules, but if we’re going to be tied up by them, we’ll not go that far. Now, changing the rules according to what’s better means we’ll have the chance to get better. It’s a risk, but we know we are doing something to change what has always been. And that’s not always a bad thing.

The movie’s beautiful but not in the conventional sense that we get from other great animated movies. You won’t be able to blame the animators or the visual effects supervisors for that because they have dealt with cavemen as characters and ancient earth as setting after all. But this movie showed signs of a visual masterpiece, albeit inconsistent. The visuals are enough to satisfy the eyes of the audience. Meanwhile, the audience’s ears are filled with outstanding aural effects. It doesn’t just provide emphasis on the scenes, it helped to really touch the heart in the sensitive ones.

The Croods movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4/5