Nothing amasing (the central premise is pretty flimsy–what exactly is the competition?) but it’s hard to go wrong with a colourful cast of celebrity animals, each with their own storyline of easily engaging, moderate turmoil, breaking out of their oppressive environment (see gruff dad but also jail when gruff dad learns to love his son and will stop at nothing to tell him) while also breaking out in (catchy pop) song (each one hits the right notes at the end). Good humour too (see the car wash).
Shortland nails the film’s spy-action component; it has a good tone and pace, the fights and set pieces are all well done, the comedy is well placed (see the awkward helicopter reunion after prison break), and the VFX looks good, save for in the sky. Despite good performances, the family drama has more issues; for such a traumatic and complex situation that’s steeped for 20+ years, the attempts at laughs feel misguided, and the dinner table scene does not come close to justifying the resolve.
Pretty rough (easy pickin’s). The friend chemistry is barely there and most jokes land as awkwardly as the stripper did when Alice jumped on him, and he died–an incident which, incidentally, wasn’t handled as roughly and insensitively as I initially feared (the unexpected twist/reveal helps soften the blow). On that note, the wild plot’s the best thing about the film, but with mostly bland drama and cringe-y comedy filling in the gaps between points, you’re still just waiting for it to end.
Exquisite in its script, performances, and craft: the feels are real and raw and wrenching, and there’s a lot of them (love, hate, heartbreak, awkwardness, tension, release); the leads, meanwhile, bring them all home, and the camera knows to just stay focused on them and not cut. In its monologues, songs, long takes, and dramatic emotion it almost has the feel of a theatrical play (with the troupe and their babbling commentary serving as the chorus), and it works perfectly with the material.
There are great moments of dark satire (see the training camp), but it’s the more intimate scenes (some funny, some poignant, some both) of developing relationships that carry the film–that of JoJo and Adolf (a quirky friendship gets ugly as JoJo grows–see Adolf’s anger in the kitchen), Elsa (McKenzie is excellent), and Rosie (see the riverside talk) respectively, and even that of Elsa and Rosie (see the cupboard convo). So the climactic battle felt out of place, but the dance after was perfect.
The plot is loose and meandering but it’s no matter as the performances are strong (Buscemi as sad sack Seymour really shines), the indie quirkiness on point (see convenience store guy, art teacher), and the thematic threads thoroughly thought-provoking, as nostalgia, niche-dom, and the search for identity do battle with the uncertain future, capitalist suburbia, and loneliness in the post-high school void (“Just think, we’ll never see Dennis again… It’s actually totally depressing”).
Terribly heavy-handed, from its pointless visual metaphors (the pursuing bad guy is the cheetah, Lucy is the antelope, wow, nice one) to Freeman’s excruciating presentation (yes let’s hear “cerebral capacity” said one more time, thanks) to its bad plot exposition (see Lucy mind-reading and saying what we already see). All of this said, it’s got a good action-thriller pace, and the extremes it goes to with its concept in the end are actually pretty compelling (if still presented in a cheesy way).
From the devastating opening scene to the goosebump-inducing climactic action sequence, the scope and spectacle here will blow you away. Rich with humour (Thor and Ant-Man are highlights but even stoic Cap hass his moments), emotion, and inside references, it brings the MCU to a remarkable climax and resolve. After the blockbuster-high wears off some issues emerge (the main plot concept is severely underexplained; some characters are–understandably–neglected), but it remains a monumental film.
Thanos’ villain still felt a little familiar with his twisted “for the greater good” motive, but he remained an intimidating presence-a good match for the huge cast of heroes which is balanced remarkably well throughout and contributes to plenty of amazing moments both of comedy (see Thor meeting the Guardians) and action (see the Titan attack; Thor’s arrival in Wakanda). With all the superpowers going around some snags in the plot arise but its massive stakes and solid execution overwhelm them.
Set in Japan, Isle of Dogs follows a boy’s odyssey in search of his lost dog. (IMDb)
Awe-inspiring animation, as expected, with an amazing attention to detail (petals on noses, fur blowing in the wind), breathtaking landscapes (see the journey montages), a variety of unique shots (see the shadowy discussion in the bottle cave), creative storytelling devices (see the split-screens), and fun flourishes (see the sushi-making). A welcome surprise is the engaging hard-boiled political drama added to Anderson’s typically quirky comedy (the gossiping goofy alpha dog pack is great).