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

Mario Kart 8 review

Mario Kart left its mark very early in gaming history and it still continues its legacy as one of the best racing games of all time. The 8th entry in the series really surpasses everything we have seen before by combining everything that has made Mario games a blast in the last years.

The first thing you’ll ever notice is the amazingly gorgeous visuals in this game. Nintendo has chosen to use a more colorful art style in their games since a long time ago. Mario Galaxy, Zelda: Skyward Sword and even Zelda U, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS and now Mario Kart 8; all of them feature more vivid colors with stunning lightning that the games will always be a pleasure to the eye. If you combine this with the fact that this time Nintendo has made the tracks even wilder, with lots of U turns, inclines, slopes, and even upside down stretches that defy the laws of gravity, the game ends up being a visually master piece.

Boy, Nintendo really likes messing up with gravity. Well, its inclusion in Mario Kart couldn’t be more welcomed! Also featuring the gliders that made their debuts in Mario Kart 7, the anti-gravitational effect really becomes a very good addition to the series. The tracks that put all of this to the test are honestly quite fun and original. There are the typical 4 cups tournaments, every one more difficult than the previous. But there was something that caught my attention: there are a few tracks that don’t require you to make 3 full laps of it. Instead, it’s one single lap, but divided in three sections. I thought that was really original because that way, the whole track is different and it’s more difficult to know what is expecting you ahead!

As it has been custom, there are also other 4 cups that bring old tracks from previous games to this race. But what’s cool this time, is that not only have they been remastered, they have also been added all those gravitational effects, with wilder turns and so on, which is very impressive. There is the classic Moo Moo Farm that, in my opinion, is the best looking track of the whole game. It looks taken right out from a movie!

Ok, enough with the tracks. Let’s talk about the characters now. The whole Mario Party team is back again as usual, but now there are more characters that decided to join the party this time. We’ve seen the koopalings lately in a lot of games. Ever since their debut in the 90’s, they didn’t make a return until Super Mario Bros. Wii, and it seems they decided to stay. For as much as I like those characters, there’s something that I didn’t really agree very much with. I honestly think Nintendo included some unnecessary characters this time. First of all, I’m not saying the koopalings are not welcome, of course they are! But it still is a little bit weird not to see Bowser Jr. when all his brothers are present. And there’s also Metal Mario, Gold Pink Peach and Tanooki Mario as DLC. They are not 100% Mario and Peach clones because they are heavier, which makes you rethink about your kart customization, but still, sometimes I feel those slots could have been given a better use with other independent characters.

I mean, Bowser jr., for a start, Birdo, maybe even Petey Piranha and King boo, if they wanted a heavy character so badly… I don’t know, I just think there were more options that could have made things better. Having a lot of koopas and skins for Mario and Peach makes it feel that there are very few racers once the game has just started. But that’s just my opinion.

In any way, once the race has just started, the game will instantly become the best Mario Kart you’ve ever experienced. Because, well, I’m not saying I am the best player available, but I thought that, once you had already mastered the controllers and tracks in previous Mario Karts, it was pretty easy to say goodbye to the competence and stick with the first place forever. But this is definitely not the case here. CPU will always be right behind you, and everybody will get deadly items to attack you at any time. It’s extremely easy to go from 1st place to 7th place, I kid you not. Speaking of the items… the classic items we all know are back, but now there are three new additions to the sets. The boomerang, the piranha plant and for the first time ever, something to repel the blue shell. Oh, those disgraceful moments seem to be over now for whoever is in 1st place. Once again, they are more than welcome. The more the better. Except for one specific item…

I personally think the coin couldn’t be more useless as an item. Coins in the game help you unlock new kart customizations, so it’s good that you grab them as you race. However, there are already too many spread throughout the tracks that when one single coin comes out of the item boxes the feeling you might get is no other than “why? I so need a red shell, a mushroom, even a green shell would be nice at this point!!” But no… you get a coin. But oh well, I think not everything could have been perfect.

But of course, if you are new to the series, don’t worry, there’s always 3 different modes to play, as the veterans should know very well by now: 50cc, 100cc and 150cc. The higher the number, the faster the game will be and the harder it will get, so, as usual, there’s always something available for newcomers and veterans alike.

Which takes us to the wildest addition ever in a Mario Kart game: the 200cc mode! Ever since it was announced as a free DLC everybody got excited and with a reason! Let me tell you, the speed this time is crazy!!! If you think you would never need to use the breaks in a turn or something, think again, because this new mode will definitely put everyone’s skills to the ultimate test. I don’t care how much you think you know the tracks by now… you will definitely end up crashing a lot, falling a lot, and struggling to get in the first places for a while.

In fact, this new mode just confirms that everything in the game has become faster. Even when you fall, good guy Lakitu will take you back to the stage pretty fast. Because you WILL need to get back to the track fast, trust me.

Finally, you know what other cool DLC is available right now? Yes, you got that right. Now the villagers from Animal Crossing and Link from TLOZ have arrived to the party with some tracks of their own! Is this a good thing? Totally! Especially when the developers were running out of ideas of what characters to implement. Guess it will become Super Kart Bros. one day?

So, all in all, Mario Kart keeps evolving as a series that feels fresh every time a new game comes out. Everything that was already cool of every Mario Kart game on their own has come to make this 8th entry one of the best racing experiences ever. Even with some minor things I still don’t agree with, the visuals are stunning, the tracks are wilder, the speed has increased, everything has changed for the better. With all being said, I am sure that Mario Kart 8 deserves a solid 9.5.

9.5 stars

Rating: 9.5

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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 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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