Friday, February 24, 2017

Movie-watching at home

I realized that I haven't been able to go to the movie theaters yet this year but I have managed to find time to catch up on a lot of the DVDs I have at home. My recent movie-watching at home has revolved around Academy award nominees, animated films, and young adult (or maybe even kiddie) thrillers. If I exclude the two Oscar nominees in this list, the movies I've seen recently all seem to be for kids or young people. I'm not sure whether that is some kind of indicator of my current state of mind...

Captain Phillips, which stars Tom Hanks, is tense and riveting, and the way it is filmed makes you feel like you are actually on a cargo ship being attacked by pirates. The fact that it is based on a true story makes me wonder what it must've been like to be under attack by pirates. The Martian was also a best picture nominee and I found it to be quite a unique and interesting movie. The premise is that Matt's character Mark Watney is presumed dead during a mission to Mars and as such, is left behind. To survive, he decides he has to "science the sh*t out of this" as he actually says in the film. While it is exhilarating and has its fair share of intense moments, I found it to be a relatively easy watch. It's a brilliant movie and I definitely recommend it.

Recently, I have felt that most animated films tend to be some of my favorites. That isn't the case with the recent set of animated movies I saw. The Peanuts Movie was pleasant enough to watch but it really caters to kids and not exactly to adults. Still, I'm quite happy that for a change, Charlie Brown has a bit of a happy ending in this. The 2015 version of The Little Prince got pretty good reviews online and I am such a big fan of the book so I had to watch it. Personally, though, I thought it didn't quite live up to the hype. This film actually takes place years after the book so it's not the exact same story. While it still showcases some of the most important messages that the book conveys, I thought that it lost some (or a lot?) of the magic of the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry classic novel. I also finally got to see the 80's Disney film The Black Cauldron. While I was intrigued by the fact that this cartoon has a much darker tone compared to other Disney films, I thought that it was just okay. Maybe if I saw it back in the day as a kid, I would have enjoyed it more. For me, these three films were not great but were not bad either. The movie that I really didn't like, however was The Good Dinosaur. Considering that this is a Pixar film, I was very surprised at the fact that I absolutely didn't enjoy it. I think it's mainly because I didn't appreciate how the little boy in the film was portrayed like a dog. It just rubbed me completely the wrong way.

Goosebumps was the kiddie thriller I more or less expected it to be, with a group of kids working with mysterious author R.L. Stine (played by Jack Black) to battle monsters that have magically come out of the pages of Stine's Goosebumps children's books. I somehow thought that Krampus would have the same light approach but it was actually a lot darker than I expected. Krampus as I found out is like the demonic version of Santa Claus. I was surprised at how the story unfolded and how menacing the creatures in this film were.

I also got to see a couple of other movies that don't fit any of these three themes. One of them was Warcraft. Based on video game series, this film was not received well by critics but it did seem to get generally positive reviews from audiences. I actually quite enjoyed it. I also got to see The Banquet (released in other territories as Ye Yan or Legend of the Black Scorpion). It stars Zhang Ziyi and I thought it would enjoy it as much as Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, all of which stars her as well. Somehow, though, this film didn't meet my lofty expectations

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