Inside Out review

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It’s been two years of absence and InsideOut is Pixar’s most triumphant return since Toy Story 3.

There’s a reason why I respect Pixar as a movie company. All their films are incredibly mature while mantaining that innocent and cheerful spirit of an animated film. Also, every new Pixar movie is quite unique and different from the rest.

Inside Out aroused a lot of expectancy from me because Pixar is already good at portraying deep topics, so, when I heard that they were making a movie about how the emotions work inside the head, I knew something big was coming.

But most importantly is that we are talking about the emotions inside 11 year old Riley, a young girl who’s life has been mainly guided by Joy, hence, most of her memories are happy ones. Riley’s life seems very colorful in every aspect as Joy, Fear, Disgust and Anger all co-work in a very efficient way. The only one that doesn’t seem to fit very well is Sadness, as nobody really knows what she is there for.

However, things start giving a radical turn when Riley has to move to another city because of her dad’s job. This means goodbye to everything she once knew and now she has to  face the changes of a new school, a new sports team, new friends… and the 5 emotions are having a very hard time trying to find new ways for Riley to be happy again.

The most brilliant aspect about this movie for me is the fact that everything is a total represantation of real life. Everything Riley lives is actually what real kids sometimes have to face when they are growing up and Pixar takes advantage of this to explain how the emotions become out of control and try to restore balance to them.

And everything becomes even deeper and better when the movie starts showing the conflict most people have between Joy and Sadness in a very funny and heartwarming way. The way Pixar shows how all the emotions have a very important role in daily life is quite unique to experience.

Great merit for the film to feel authentic and immersive goes to the main characters who are the emotions. Everyone has his own personality portrayed in an excellent way while caring for restoring emotional balance. Joy is always energetic and cheerful and literally glows of happiness; Sadness is always remembering the possible sad outcomes; Fear is the one responsible for the second thoughts about decisions; Disgust is always judgmental; and Fear is the one who can’t tolerate injustices.

Another great aspect of the film is that everything is told in a very funny way. All the jokes have to do with the emotions and how the head of a little girl works. It’s enough to say that even the jokes make sense with the plot and are not just silly random jokes.

There are even short scenes where we visit Riley’s parents heads and see how their respective emotions work based on their personality, which results in very hilarious moments.

There are heartbreaking scenes, too. Another big topic in the movie is forgotten memories, and some of those memories end up being crucial for the film’s plot,  and when we see them vanish, it’s truly heartbreaking.

As a whole, Inside Out results in yet another masterpiece from Pixar. I really hadn’t enjoy another Pixar movie that much since those days of Toy Story 3. In fact, if you pay attention, there are some elements in Inside Out that will remind you of that movie, too.

Inside Out is a movie that has it all. It’s beautifully animated, the plot is a perfect combination between a deep story and a funny one, the jokes make sense with all the plot, it’s a new and great way to show kids and adults alike the importance of emotional balance…. I would say those 2 years of waiting for a new Pixar movie were worth it.

10 stars

Rating: 10

Cinderella review

There has been a notorious trend of adapting fairy tales to the big screen in the form of live-action films in the last years but most of them have been negatively received by the people. Some of them tried to look too matured that the essence of what was once a colorful story was forgotten, such as Alice in Wonderland and Red Riding Hood. However, this time, Disney has changed that stigma by presenting, with Kenneth Branagh as the director, a live-action version of Cinderella that manages to keep the essence of a true fairytale while adding some new refreshing elements that make the experience heartwarming.

It’s still the same concept for the story. Ella (Lily James) was a young and generous girl whose life had no signs of sadness. One day, her mother passes away after reminding Ella to always “have courage and be kind”. Her beloved father, worried for Ella’s loneliness while he is away for business, marries Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett), who moves in with her two daughters Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drizella (Sophie McShera) to become Ella’s new family. In an unexpected turn of events, her father passes away during one of his travels, and she is forced to live by the abuse of her mean stepmother and sisters… until the fairytale magic will change her faith.

Everything so far might sound like everything we already know, but that’s just the beginning. It’s not the conventional girl that daydreams of his prince all the time or the love-at-first-sight kind of tale or other cheesy stuff. This time, both Cinderella and Prince Kit have some slightly convincing backstories that make us believe their love is genuine. Besides, the movie doesn’t revolve only about the love, but also around some other values, such as forgiveness and kindness that gives the movie a refreshing new look that is now more enjoyable for the whole family to watch, not only children, or, rather, girls. That promise of always being kind and courageous fairly plays a vital role for the story to feel different than the original 1950’s film while having its own fairytale magic.

Great merit is due to main actress, Lily James. Truthfully, there wasn’t a better choice to portray a Disney female protagonist than her, as she has all the charisma, kindness, grace and innocent look that her character requires. The way her emotions fluctuate from sadness to joy is quite adorable, actually. And the rest of the casting has a very decent job, too. Blanchett makes a terrific job at showing that despicable look towards Ella in a way that she manages to steal the show once she is in the screen. However, I have to give special credit to Grainger and McShera for their roles as Ella’s stepsisters. And it’s because they depict the dorky essence of their animated counterparts so well that watching them is utterly funny.

Most of the characters have their participation done right, yet, sadly, some of them are responsible for the only times the movie loses its flow and becomes boring. The director tried too much to give to the mice, Ella’s best friends, a lot of participation, but they end up being dully irrelevant for most of the flick, since they are (unintentionally) shown as nothing more than, well, mice, that the spectator might think Ella is a little crazy for talking with rodents when she is feeling down. Their only good moment is when they are transformed into white horses that will pull the magnificent carriage that was once a pumpkin, as the CGI is quite nice to watch in those few seconds. At least it’s good that they don’t appear all the time.

Alice 2010 missed the heart of a princess story and it made us think those live-action adaptations were unnecessary. Nonetheless, Maleficent was a remarkable and touching new look for the story. With Cinderella being its second success at bringing fairytales to live action films, Disney has confirmed that they are the most suitable candidates when it comes to magic tales. Other studios have tried to do the same with other well-known names (Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast) but, sometimes one thinks that they should let the experts do it, instead. Sure, this film might not be for everyone, but if you are the kind of folk who enjoys some of the Disney charm, trust me when I tell you that this movie is totally worth it.

8.5 stars

8.5/10 stars

Trailer:

The Imitation Game review

There have been a lot of movies about World War II since memorial times but there are very few of them that focus on subjects that happened behind all the combat. Fury already took us to experience what it is like to actually live a war with all its cruelty from the eyes of the soldiers. This is why we normally tag them as the only heroes but The Imitation Game is a movie that tells us one of the greatest secrets in history of how Alan Turing was one of the most important men during the war but why his story had to be kept as secret. It’s a movie about the incredibly touching story of Alan’s personal and professional life as he had to face the importance of keeping secrets in order to help himself and others.

Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) was a mathematician who lived at the peak of the Nazi’s era and was hired to try to decipher the German’s code so that England could end the war faster. They had this German machine called Enigma that received the codes every day at dawn but every midnight the code was reset, so they had to start working from scratch all over again the next day. Alan believed something else was needed, a machine that could act and think faster than humans. His only problem is that he is socially awkward so his colleagues don’t trust him on his new machine, therefore, he has to try and get their empathy if he wants to make that machine work.

Everything that makes this movie highlight is mainly due to Cumberbatch. He is quite an actor and he demonstrates it in every single one of this scenes. Alan is an arrogant and lonely mathematician that believes everyone is slowing him down. It sounds like someone that would be hated by everyone, but, instead, Benedict does a great job at portraying him so good the audience can’t help but to grow fond of him. As the story progresses his boss isn’t happy with the results and are planning to shut down his machine and to see how Benedict reacts to that is something touching and eye-catching.

Keira Knightley also proofs once again her respectable talent. Her character has to face the awkwardness of working surrounded by men and her role as Alan’s most trusted colleague and friend is very mature and charming. The rest of the cast also perform a quite amazing job. The transition from the nuisance of having to work with Alan to respecting him and believing in his work feels so natural.

The team makes up a great brotherhood as they keep failing together day after day for a whole year and going to bars at night to relieve their stress. It’s in one of these moments when, after what started as a funny moment, ends up being the best clue to solving the puzzle. It’s one of the greatest points in the screenplay due to the fact that one can’t help but to feel the same emotion of finding the key where nobody would expect to find it as them. The reason why Alan Turing and his work was kept in secret for so long is addressed in such an immersive way full of emotions and excitement. The movie ends with a “bang” not only due to Alan’s life but with a powerful message about how computers, as we know them today, had a much deeper history than anyone would thought.

2014 was a great year for science in movies. We’ve had Interstellar, The Theory of Everything and now The Imitation Game. The first one just won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and the other two films were nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor. Trust me when I tell you The Imitation Game’s nominations is very justified. The story of World War II has been addressed many times in the big screen already but this production takes a much deeper path with a story about heroes nobody knew about until recently. Surely everybody will grow fond of Alan Turing after witnessing his great accomplishments and how he had to live a sad life after the events of the war. Hail Cumberbatch for that great performance.

9 stars

Rating: 9/10 stars

Trailer:

Jupiter Ascending review

Sci fi movies have come a long way in the industry with technical advances being their most notorious enhancements as years go by. The Wachowskis are no strangers to the genre, as their most successful film to date confirms it (aka The Matrix). Jupiter Ascending, as the latest installment from the dynamic duo, raised some expectancy since it’s unveiling. Perhaps it was the fact that a female protagonist would take the lead in a space opera or that recalling what the Wachowskis once created in this field could mean good news. Now, coming back to real life, what we get to see in the theatre is everything but good news as Jupiter Ascending, as a whole, acts as nothing but a terrible fusion of Matrix and Star Wars with an extremely cheesy love story set in space and some utterly inconsistent acting.

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis, The Black Swan) is a girl that cleans toilets for a living (although she looks quite tidy to believe it) along her Russian family and totally hates the life that has been bestowed upon her. Suddenly, she notices some weird activity in the house that turn out to be aliens. As these creatures try to kidnap her for reasons that are unknown by her, a space ranger named Caine Wise (Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher) comes in to rescue her and take her to safety on a planet where she learns that there’s a vast number of life forms outside home and that The Abrasax family is the most powerful dynasty in the universe and, hence, owns most of the planets in the universe, including Earth. What is most shocking for Jupiter, regardless, is knowing that she is actually the current descendant of the last formal owner of the Earth, therefore, the real heir in line. Balem (Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), and Titus (Douglas Booth), who are the current children of The Abrasax House, can’t stand that fate and are willing to kill her, no matter the cost.

During the first 20 minutes of the film it’s actually difficult to keep a pace with the screenplay, as the story fluctuates from place to place way a lot resulting in many confusing points to the viewer that don’t make any sense until later on. Likewise, during the moments when the story starts having an interesting approach, it quickly deteriorates one way or another. In addition, most of the time the story diverts from the action sequences to focus on one of the cheesiest, senseless romances I have seen in the last years. Jupiter is so desperate for love that one can’t help laughing at her flirting skills, and even more at how she actually succeeds.

It was good to know that at least the movie was quite a sight for sore eyes since the visual effects are sincerely impressive. Even if they might remind some of Star Wars stuff, it’s definitely the one thing the Wachowskis did right with Jupiter Ascending. All the special effects are not overwhelming, in fact, they are quite pleasant to watch and it pays tribute very well to the improvements of science fiction in movies. They are quite good on their own, however, the scrip relies a little too much on them at times that it definitely doesn’t help the story either.

Special mention to the totally inconsistent acting, as well. Mila Kunis has its good times here and there but as quickly as she has them is the way she loses them, especially in the moments of great tense, as she seems to “relax” very easily. Channing Tatum doesn’t really offer anything to the flick. He has all the time this cold attitude and, even if that is kind of justified in his background story, he is far from memorable. Finally, there are villains that the fans love to hate but the one chosen for this movie will definitely not fit that description. Balem has many quotes that imply he has a very dark heart but every time he appears on the screen it’s just impossible to take him seriously. It’s just a relief that Eddie Redmayne will not have less fans because of this after witnessing his immense talent in The Theory of Everything.

Jupiter Ascending is quite a setback for the Wachowski brothers in almost every sense of the word. Their latest attempt at the sci fi genre is not exactly delivering good results due to the incoherent oscillations in the story that make it hard to understand at the beginning and a little boring at the end. The special effects might be the only redeemable element in this whole space odyssey. If I had to describe this movie in one sentence it would be: an extremely cheesy television soap opera brought to space, since it really doesn’t offer anything else worth watching.

4 stars

Rating: 4/10 stars

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Trailer:

SpongeBob: Sponge Out Of Water review

It’s been 15 years since the first time Sponge Bob came to life via Nickelodeon and it remains today as one of the favorite cartoons to watch for kids. Since some are very popular, it’s not uncommon that cartoons have their own movie at some point of their lifespan and Sponge Bob has already had its own chance some years ago with Sponge Bob Square Pants: The Movie on 2004, however, Nickelodeon has changed the roles this time a bit to present us a mix of 2D and 3D action that feels at the same time pleasantly familiar with the series yet fresh enough to be a movie while avoiding the mistake many cartoon-based films have of making us think it’s just another episode. Even with all those years of presence, Sponge Out Of Water confirms us that everyone’s favorite resident of a pineapple under the sea has still a long life ahead.

The story of the movie revolves around the same concept as the series but with slightly turn of events. The charming pirate Burge-Beard (Antonio Banderas) has found a mysterious book in a lonely island that will help him leave Bikini Bottom to its doom and steal that which is most sacred in the whole sea: the Krabby Patty secret formula. Meanwhile, everyone enjoys a relaxing day at Bikini Bottom while eating a succulent Krabby Patty that Sponge Bob (Tom Kenny) cooks so well. Plankton (Mr. Lawrence), the series’ main villain, has developed a new plan that makes him able to finally steal the burgers secret formula, only to see it disappear in front of his one eye. Bob is the only one that witnessed Plankton’s lack of guilt and, thanks to that big heart of his, is willing to defend his innocence from Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown), turning both of them into accomplices of the crime forcing them to develop a teamwork to recover the lost formula in a journey that will take them out of the water.

The whole story is rather simple because, after all, it is a cartoon. However, the charming experience of the complete film comes in many different forms. First of all, the new concept of this flick is Sponge Bob’ entrance to the CGI. The way this was done was surprisingly nice and fun to watch, because the movie does a great job by starting with the classic 2D art style and once they are out in our world, they look both real and colorful. Perhaps if everything had been done in CGI, things would have looked very strange to everybody, but since it was not, it brings a new vision of the series while reminding us that it still the same cartoon. The transition between the art styles throughout the movie is quite something entertaining.

Secondly, as someone who watched Sponge Bob in his childhood, I can say the people responsible for the series were saving their funniest jokes to this very moment. From start to finish, Sponge Out Of Water delivers quite a bunch of jokes that are far from being tiring and reminds even the adult audiences that grew up with Sponge Bob what it was all about. It is a child’s movie, yes, but the jokes will not be found as ridiculous or something only a child would laugh at. The whole family will definitely have a funny moment with the whole characters. Even the score is perfect for every moment to be funny.

Loyal fans, newcomers and the whole family will find this movie delightful. The plot is simple, and there is no real moral message or something like that, but what the film tried to do was done right: to entertain with rather funny jokes and make you grow fond of the characters. Not all of them have the participation that I would have expected them to have, especially when the CGI comes to life, but, in the end, the overall experience is quite satisfying. With this new Nickelodeon feature film, far from being obsolete, the series will definitely catch a lot of attention from kids and new fans alike.

Rating: 8 – Definitely worth it

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The Theory of Everything review

With a story that has seen both wonderful and tragic, heartbreaking moments, it was just a matter of time that somebody took the lead of portraying the life of one of the best minds of the century in the film industry. It’s not the first time that Stephen’s life has been tried to be depicted as a movie. Back in 2004 there was a TV film which starred Benedict Cumberbatch as the young scientist. However, this is its first attempt at the big screen. For this, James Marsh comes with an incredibly talented cast that keeps everything as real and powerful as ever. Thus, although it feels that some elements are missing, the final product doesn’t disappoint as we get 123 minutes of a powerful and touching experience that tells the hard times that Stephen and his first wife, Jane, faced together from the first time they meet to the climax of his physical limitations.

Right since the beginning it’s clear what the movie wants to show us: the powerful bonding of Stephen and Jane. We witness their first time talking at a party of scientists and how different they are from each other. Stephen is all about physics while Jane is more into arts and God. However, it’s a real delight to see how they grow together, especially on the peak of the story when Stephen is diagnosed with motor neuron disorder which changes his life forever. He begins to lose proper control of his body and is eventually confined to a wheel chair while Jane is convinced that their love will help them overcome this fight together.

All that is achieved by the glorious acting that is presented. There’s really no doubt about why both Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are nominated for Best Actor and Best actress in a leading role, respectively, for these year’s Oscars. As spectators, we get a memorable experience as both of them do a terrific job at creating a romantic and tense atmosphere when they need to be that way. Eddie does such a realistic job at portraying professor Hawking in every way possible. The physical condition, the emotional devastation and even the great humorous spirit for which Hawking is known are what makes the film a joy to watch as well as Felicity’s sincere acting as a woman who loves her family but feels the stress of carrying everything through. Real-life Jane Wilde said in a recent interview that Felicity did an amazing job at doing it.

In addition, for a movie about a quite remarkable scientist, it is not exactly “scientific” as it is actually based on real-life Jane Wilde’s book Travelling to Infinity – My Life with Stephen. This is not a bad thing, because what is trying to be depicted is how Stephen and Jane managed to face the odds as a team and it is achieved in an outstanding way. Nonetheless, one would expect to (also) get a picture of how his works influence the world but that didn’t receive as much focus as the rest of the plot. Not even the moments when the scientific ideas are tried to be explained are very memorable as they feel without much personality. It wouldn’t have done any harm to follow some of Interstellar’s steps at explaining physics in a detailed yet understandable way for the average audience. It really doesn’t interfere with the real focus of the film but would have totally given a little of what the film slightly lacks: drama.

All in all, what we see in the big screen is definitely worth-watching. The cast is the real essence in a movie of a great man and a great woman the demonstrate love is what gives anybody a reason to live for. The score also need to be highlighted as a great factor that enhances the spirit of the film. The only downside might be that Stephen’s works are not depicted as remarkable and his physical illness as dramatic, which would have made it a complete film and depict why Hawking is the great man he is, because the movie is more about Jane. But, in conclusion, the movie as such does not let down, in general. It’s a love story capable of inspiring while giving us an idea of what Stephen has lived.

Rating: 7.5 – Enjoyable
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The Book of Life review

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Hollywood’s animated sector has seen some outstanding works since its debut almost a century ago with most of them taking us to inconceivable environments such as enchanted forests, outer space, lands with dragons and so on. Albeit, a change of scene from the books of fairy tales to a Book of Life feels as refreshing as the Mexican touch that is engraved on this visually gorgeous film from newcomer director Jorge R. Gutierrez and producer Guillermo del Toro. What make this film stand out from others is that it doesn’t come in the form of a fairy tale. This “book” comes as an invitation to celebrate one of the most iconic holidays of Mexico: El Día de los Muertos.

The movie begins with a group of scholar kids having a tour in a museum whose tour guide is about to explain the origins of one of the most popular celebrations in Mexico as it is told in the Book of Life. It tells the tale of young Manolo (Diego Luna), a child who grows up passionate about music while trying to evade the traditional bullfighter profession of the family as he only cares about winning Maria’s heart (Zoe Saldana). The only problem is that his best friend, Joaquin (Channing Tatum), a brave boy destined to be the hero of the little Mexican town, is also in love with her. Bored out of his reign in the Land of the Forgotten, Xibalba takes advantage of the love triangle and wagers with La Muerte, the ruler of the Land of the Remembered, over who will Maria marry. This bet unleashes a series of unexpected turn of events with fate as Manolo will have to travel across the three kingdoms if he ever wants to see Maria again.

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Right from the beginning, the picture immediately catches the spectator’s eye, and not only because of the brilliant animation, but because of the original, colorful characters and landscapes that manage to accurately capture the essence and spirit of the festivity. This especially noticeable on two parts: the very first minutes in which the holiday is explained, with the many decorations surrounding the graves of the deceased families and when Manolo first enters the Land of the Remembered, where the colors of every single detail almost pop out of the screen. But first price goes to La Muerte (who is based on Mexico’s “La Catrina”) with its beautiful costume design and features. She, by herself, is enough to pay tribute to what El Día de los Muertos actually is about: characteristic colors, Cempaxúchitl flower and “Calaveritas” (little skulls). All of this definitely reflects the effort of newcomer but talented Jorge Gutierrez in showing his nation’s traditions.

“What is it with Mexicans and death?” asks a kid hearing the story, and he might be right, after all, how do you explain death to a child?  Well, the love story that is told throughout the movie ends up being a very good and funny way to explain a new way to see death to children. It is not the conventional “best friends turn rivals” kind of story, as both Manolo and Joaquin, even if they want the girl more than anything else in the world, they respect each other, it’s like a friendly “may the best man win” kind of match. This is a good move, I mean, why would kids want to see a cartoonish soap opera? Nonetheless, at some parts of the movie the theme of El Día de los Muertos is somewhat forgotten because there are moments in which the film relies too much on the love triangle. But that doesn’t represent a real problem for the film to be a nice thing to watch. Even if death represents a difficult subject for children, the rest of the story makes it comfortable with plenty of funny moments, moral messages and popular pop songs.

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The Book of Life arrives in perfect time to arouse the celebratory spirit of the Mexican holiday with an animation so rich in color and detail it becomes a real pleasure to the eye. Even if the story loses its Day of the Dead feeling at some points due to the love story of the characters, everything else reflects the full cultural pride the Mexican team has managed to engrave in the film (a remarkable achievement for rookie Jorge Gutierrez). Everything from the characters and environment’s design to some life and death lessons that kids may be able to understand without having to worry about it, the product of this “book” can’t go unnoticed by any fan of CGI animation and festivities.

Rating: 8 – Definitely worth it

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBw5YScs8iQ