Director M. Night Shyamalan gets a lot of crap, and rightfully so. Until his most recent outing, Split, he hadn’t made a good movie in more than a decade. After Earth was bad. The Happening was so bad that it was funny. The Last Airbender was so far down the scale of badness that it was no longer eligible to be funny.
When I was a junior in high school, I taught a film and media class at my former elementary school. I gathered a group of 11 year olds around a computer to write a script and asked them, “What message do you want to share to your audience?” They told me they wanted to make a movie about a dog traveling around the world; somehow dynamite and chicken wings were involved but I can’t remember how. “No, I mean what do you want the meaning to be?” I asked again. They didn’t understand what I was trying to say. They suggested dinosaurs instead of the dog.
ByElyes Benatar, Zachary Lee and David Gouldthorpe |
“What happens now?”
by Elyes Benatar
Arrival. The title itself echoes as a strike against convention. This is not a film about aliens invading. It’s a film about aliens arriving. It’s a film that presents a realistic narrative about humanity’s attempts at contact and interaction with extraterrestrial beings.
What do you think when you think horror? A rated R flick that tries to scare the daylights out of you? Recently, rated R has become a dying art replaced by PG-13, a much bigger and more profitable demographic. But does it work? It does in The Haunting (1963) (rated G) and Lights Out (recent PG-13 flick) but doesn’t always, as with the 2014 film Ouija.
Well, I said this before in a past installment of my column Animation Analysis, but I must repeat it here with greater sincerity: I owe DreamWorks Animation an apology. All of the previous flak I’ve given Trolls, I would like to redirect to their marketing team for making me think this was going to be a stinker of a film. Seriously though, do some reorganizing in that department. The cringeworthy teaser gave us twerking trolls; the film itself actually turned out far better than I dared to hope. To be sure, it has its share of flaws, but overall DreamWorks’ Trolls, directed by Walt Dohrn and Mike Mitchell, actually delivers a good time.
It’s no secret that humans are destroying the earth at an alarming rate. However, not much is being done because not enough people care. The 60-minute documentary Sonic Sea explores the impact of noise pollution on whales and other marine mammals and presents possible solutions and measures that can be taken to prevent more harm. The documentary opens with an animation of the sea, along with soothing music, setting the stage for an emotional journey that could make any landlubber want to do anything in their power to save our oceans and marine mammals. The film first explores the increasing number of whale and dolphin beachings and features several scientists each giving their take on the situation, as well as mildly graphic images of the stranded animals.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is exactly what I expected it to be. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but watching this movie with the wrong expectations could be rough. I’d place this in the realm of the first three Transformers movies (Age of Extinction was just garbage) — not strictly good films, but fun if you’re willing to turn off your brain a little. The Jack Reacher films are based on Lee Child’s popular long-running novel series of the same name. Never Go Back is largely based on the plot of the eighteenth novel in the series, with which it shares its title.
Seoul Searching (directed by Benson Lee) starts in black and white, old reels and footage of Korea as a narrator gives a quick historical background to give us the setting for the film. After a devastating war, many Koreans left the peninsula in search of a better life, bringing their young children to America and Europe. As so often happens in immigrant stories, the children inevitably experienced a distinct loss of heritage and understanding of Korean culture. In an attempt to mitigate this, the South Korean government implemented a program during the ’80s to bring children of immigrants to Korea for a summer camp to learn about their Korean heritage. This movie revolves around a set of these kids — Sid (Justin Chon), Klaus (Teo Yoo), Sergio (Esteban Ahn), Grace (Jessika Van), Kris (Rosalina Leigh) to name a few — going to this camp.
Though there were some notable cinematic disappointments to come out of 2016 (I’m looking at you Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), this year we, at least, saw everyone’s favorite regal blue tang overcome her short-term memory loss to be reunited with her family and Ryan Reynolds finally redeem himself from the atrocity that was Green Lantern. After the release of Suicide Squad in August, I was expecting the box office to be relatively light on major blockbuster releases until early November, when Marvel’s Doctor Strange will grace screens. After all, seeing the world get devastated three different times in three different movies (see: Independence Day: Resurgence, X-Men Apocalypse and The 5th Wave) gets cumbersome. Even I, an action movie connoisseur, needed a break from the carnage and violence. But rising up from the dust coming in out of nowhere comes Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven, an explosive remake of the 1960 film of the same name (which, in turn, was a remake of the 1959 film Seven Samurai).
The Wild Life, alternately titled Robinson Crusoe, is an animated film coming from Belgium. Illuminata and nWave Pictures produced it, while Studiocanal and Summit Entertainment distributed. As its Belgian title suggests, it’s loosely based off of the classic book Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. I emphasize “loosely.” I must make clear that I’m not opposed to adaptations in principle if they’re done well. Heck, even the old Disney movies, which are infamous for botching up their source material, were at least good films in themselves that also acted as segues for people to experience the real stories later on.