There were two things I knew when I went into this movie a couple days ago. For one, Beauty and the Beast is a classic among classic Disney animated films. More pertinently, though, is that I am way behind on any sort of analysis I could offer on this movie. Beauty and the Beast’s 2017 remake came out back in March and despite me kind of wanting to see it, I never got around to it while it was in theaters. For the sake of full disclosure I’ve never watched any of the previous Beauty and the Beast animated films in their entirety, so I don’t really have any of that childhood attachment or nostalgia for the film that the remake was trying to desperately to cash in on. When the 2017 version was originally announced, I wanted to watch it mostly because of the darker aesthetics–I wanted to see if Disney had learned anything from their Alice In Wonderland mess. As fate would have it, though, I jumped into the film with the aesthetics’ unwanted friend tagging alongside it: the painfully laughable characterization of Le Fou that Disney (or Le Fou’s actor, Josh Gad, at least) tried so hard to call “gay representation”. I’ll admit, that may have colored my viewing more than a little bit. Still, that alone didn’t make it a bad movie. What made it a bad movie—maybe bad’s a little harsh. Exhausting?—was how hard it tried to convince me that it was better than the sum of its parts.
As soon as I read the title for Alyssa Rosenberg’s movie review in The Washington Post, I knew I had to watch King Arthur: Legend of the Sword as soon as I could. Rosenberg’s title is “It took awhile, but I found a movie worse than Batman v. Superman”: like, come on, how could I not be pulled in by that? Now, I may not have seen Batman v. Superman unlike some unfortunate souls on this blog, but I still know a bad movie when I see it, and hoo boy, is Legend of the Sword some shit. Unlike Rosenberg, I’m not willing to write the entire movie off as being not worth anyone’s time—though I do agree with her on many of her points. Parts of Legend of the Sword are exactly the schlocky “thinks of itself too highly” moments that make a lot of popular movies great and fun to watch. Still, the rest of it is a convoluted mess that “thinks of itself too highly” in the worst possible pompous British way imaginable; both sides are constantly duking it out in a street brawl that never quite gets a definitive victor.
Given that the world is already full of enough horror at the moment, I decided to forgo the bizarre thriller flick I found and talk about an upcoming animated feature instead. Most of us have a pretty good grasp on at least one or two Greek myths—even if you didn’t have a unit about them in school, they’re somewhat inescapable in popular media. With re-imaginings like Percy Jackson maintaining a modicum of popularity, it’s no surprise that studios continue digging down into the mythology wellspring. Today I present a new take of the story of Icarus that has as much potential to be enthralling and thought-provoking as it does to be boring and even offensive.
This isn’t typically what I do for Trailer Tuesdays, or at least I usually don’t go out looking for a terrible trailer to trash. However, the moment I saw the trailer for Wish Upon playing silently on my Facebook wall, I knew the film would be bad. Out of some morbid curiosity, I decided to find out just how bad this film was willing to be in the name of hopping on the generic gritty fairy tale trend, and hoo boy, does this film look bad in the terrible, boring ways we’ve all become accustomed to.
After the pleasant (but still mildly depressing) surprise that was My Life as a Zucchini, I’ll admit: I was pretty excited to check out the final Oscar’s animation nod for this year. Add to that the fact that Studio Ghibli also had their hands in this animated feature and, well, it just seemed like a slam dunk. Despite everything it had going for it, though, director Michaël Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle—La Tortue Rouge in French and Aru Shima no Monogatari in Japanese—just didn’t stack up to any of the excitement or expectations I had for it. It’s no secret that the Oscars, or any mainstream award show, is basically just a huge circle jerk for popular companies. Still, the fact that this film was even nominated at all, to me, shows that Disney’s association with Ghibli (and, well, how awesome Ghibli usually is) overrode any actual critical viewing of this film.
Here on this blog, we’ve unintentionally managed to cover just about every animation nominee for the 2017 Academy Awards in one way or another. Not that I particularly care about the Academy or their opinion, but after giving some page space to Kubo and the Two Strings, Zootopia, and Moana, it felt kind of strange to just ignore the other two films and my artsy ass can never resist delving into productions by lesser known studios. So I set out to tackle the first of these two films: My Life as a Zucchini (or Ma Vie de Courgette in the original French). Distributed by Gebeka Films and premiering at the 2016 film festival in Cannes, the quirky stop-motion film tackles a surprisingly dark subject, and does it well. However, as with most things, this doesn’t mean it was devoid of problems.
Spoilers below and trigger warning for mentions of child abuse.
During the middle of last week, Disney finally released their U.S. trailer for their own theatrical jaunt into the Day of the Dead mythos, Coco. I, for my part, completely forgot this movie was even going to be a thing, and still kind of wish that it wasn’t. The bad blood Disney created during the film’s production still lingers, and with a seemingly superior film, The Book of Life, having already been released, many still question why we even need Disney’s spin on Mexican culture. Does Coco seem worth giving the time of day? For the time being, I’m going to give it a somewhat wary “yes”.
Whenever I get pulled back once more into that YouTube whirlpool—which is basically my life right now since winter decided it wanted to majorly shit on us one last time—I tend to go for one of two things: conspiracy/horror videos and review shows. Ever since Channel Awesome became exceedingly less “awesome”—there were rumors of mismanagement and general ego inflation, and I just didn’t like the people who decided to stay on the site—finding reviews for things I actually cared about was a bit of a crapshoot. However, thanks to an opportune link in the sidebar of a completely unrelated YouTube video, I managed to find myself back on Lindsay Ellis’s channel (she was previously “the Nostalgia Chick” when she was a part of Channel Awesome) and was subsequently led to Dan Olson’s media review channel, Folding Ideas. Low key and introspective, Olson presents his analysis with a good mix of easy to understand technical terms, a dash of social commentary, and sometimes even a bit of humor. And hey, anyone who doesn’t immediately start their review of No Man’s Sky with “aaaah!! It was the worst game everrrrrrr” is okay in my book.
I don’t have to tell you, dear readers, that Jordan Peele’s Get Out is good; all other film review outlets have done that for me. But allow me to say that if you haven’t seen this film yet, do so as soon as you can. If you’re worried that this film is a Boo! Haunted House sort of horror, then let me soothe your fears. Get Out is absolutely a horror film, but it’s horrific more in its realism than in any sense of gore or otherworldly fiends (though there is gore to be had). More than horror, though, the film is clever in its message. Like Zootopia, Get Out relays the message that racism continues to be damaging in its persistence in modern-day culture, but unlike the Disney flick, Get Out doesn’t lose its message due to a lack of direction. Instead, Get Out focuses on exposing the subconscious racism that lingers in a portion of its audience. Get Out sets itself apart by subtly—and then not-so-subtly—showing that white people who consider themselves progressive can be just as racist as the blatantly racist, and that this liberal-coded racism can perhaps be some of the most damaging racism of all.
In the summer of 2013, the first part of Koe no Katachi was released. Written by Yoshitoki Ooima, and based off a one-shot that was published earlier in 2011, the series quickly picked up a following in part, I think, due to its empathetic handling of its one Deaf protagonist. As a fan of the one-shot, I was ecstatic to find that the series found its way to the silver screen and that the people at KyoAni were going to be leading the helm in terms of animation because honestly, this story about growing, learning, and redemption deserves as much beauty as it can get.