Sunday, June 26, 2016

'Shaun The Sheep' is a wonderful movie.

Last week I got curious and I decided to check which movies had managed to get nominated at last year's academy awards. I wanted to find out whether there were any movies that were worth watching and possibly worth my time.

As I kept checking the nominations, I soon noticed the section where best animated movies for the year 2015 were listed. I thought that I should probably give a chance for one of the films that I hadn't managed to see yet.

It didn't take that long before I decided to watch a movie called 'Shaun The Sheep'. This movie about a farmer and his farm animals seemed promising, especially considering how universally positive reviews it had received.

In any case, I managed to see the movie a couple of days ago and it turned out that I liked the film a lot. Even though I did have some doubts about it initially, I was surprised how good the movie as a whole was.

Likely the best thing about 'Shaun The Sheep' is that its story is so well crafted. The plot about the sheep and the farm's dog following their amnesia suffering farmer to the city is really solid and manages to engage the viewer.

The biggest reason that the story works so well is because the film has tons of good ideas that are executed well. These ideas - like the sheep wearing disguises - keep the story moving forward and provide many humorous moments throughout the film.

One of the most intriguing and also challenging things about the movie is that it doesn't contain any spoken dialogue. Except for the occassional gibberish that you hear in the film, all the communication that happens is nonverbal.

Even though one might think that the lack of dialogue would hurt the movie, here it actually works in favor of the film. That is because every single moment in the movie is earned with ideas that make sense.

In 'Shaun The Sheep', the writers manage to rise up to the challenge and manage to come up with all kinds of ideas that keep the audience entertained. Ideas like 'counting sheep' are wonderful and serve as great plot devices.

The story and the movie work so well that you barely even pay attention to this being a claymation film. The stop motion technique works so well in the film because the creators concentrate on things that are essential and needed.

All in all, when it comes to this animated film as a whole, I was really surprised how well 'Shaun The Sheep' was made and how entertaining it was. I didn't expect the movie to be as good and as uplifting as it turned out to be.

In my opinion, there's a lot of observational humor in the film that should appeal to just about everyone out there. I genuinely appreciated the film's solid observations about how our society works and how we as human beings behave.

In the end, I would recommend 'Shaun The Sheep' for anyone who is interested in seeing a movie that has a good story and likable characters. It's a must see animated film for anyone who wants to be entertained and wants to feel better about their lives.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Learning from a bad movie (Unstoppable).

A couple of days ago I managed to turn on my television to check whether there was anything interesting on. I hadn't watched that much television lately, so I thought that almost anything would be more or less okay for me.

Pretty much the first thing that I noticed when I was channel surfing, was a film called 'Unstoppable'. This movie, starring Denzel Washington, was new to me, so I thought that perhaps I should stay on the channel that I was on. 

Unfortunately, it didn't take that long before I started to get bad vibes from the movie. Even though I had missed maybe the first five or ten minutes of the film, this movie about stopping a runaway train didn't feel right at all. 

That is because almost right away I noticed that the main characters didn't seem likable at all. I didn't like how Washington's character kept screaming at Chris Pine's character about how he was a horrible worker and that he should lose his job. 

It was really weird and I couldn't understand why the characters were so unlikable. After all, it's not exactly a secret that it's super important that the audience roots for its character and wants them to succeed in the film.

In any case, this 'unlikable' thing didn't really make sense, until it became obvious that the only reason that Chris Pine's train operator had made boo-boos was so that there would be an instant obstacle for these two protagonists in the movie.

This was a massive red flag for me and I was almost certain that it was because the film didn't have an organic premise. I felt that the 'train must be stopped' thing wouldn't make sense and that all the plot turns would be both implausible and undramatic.

Sure enough, it didn't take long before we got series of events where people _outside_ this main duo were attempting to stop the train. These were sequences that made no sense dramatically, so I started to feel even worse about the film.

After all, what were the chances that 1) the train would stop this early in the movie and that 2) it would be achieved by others than our two main protagonists? There's just no way that's how things we're going to happen in the film.

Naturally, all the following sequences that followed were incredibly boring, completely predictable and totally lacked any kind of dramatic tension. It felt that the movie went absolutely nowhere and I felt like falling asleep.

After these obvious failures, I pretty much zoned out and didn't pay that much attention to the movie anymore. There was no reason to actively watch the film anymore since the script for it had gone completely off the rails. 

Not surprisingly, during the last 45 minutes things didn't really get any better. The script didn't provide any plausible or non-stereotypical moments that we hadn't already seen a million times before in other movies.

So after the movie ended, all I could think was, why was this movie produced in the first place and why did it have so many good actors on it? What where these people thinking when they decided to spend 100 million dollars on this clunker? 

Even worse, what were the critics thinking when they decided that this was a good film? As unbelievable as it sounds, 'Unstoppable' has a mindboggling 86% fresh rating on and has gotten a lot of praise.

In the end, what I'm saying is that this movie didn't really have anything going for it. There wasn't really anything interesting happening in the film and there was no villain in the movie to keep our minds busy either.

In that sense, we can only be grateful that there actually exists good films based on 'unstoppable vehicles', like 'Speed' and 'Runaway Train'. These films were made when people still gave a damn about telling a good story. 

Unlike 'Unstoppable', movies like these managed to get most things right and managed to keep the audience entertained. These movies had ambition, respected our intelligence and most of all, made sure that the premise of the film actually worked.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

I can't wait to see a David Kelley show on tv again.

It's not exactly a secret that during the late nineties and the early 2000s I was a big fan of writer producer David E. Kelley. His television shows like 'Ally Mcbeal' and 'The Practice' were likely the biggest reason that I wanted to become a writer too.

In my opinion, his shows were so good because as a writer he dared to be a real person. His writing was so full of honesty, integrity and kindess that I couldn't help but to fall in love with him as a writer and as a human being.

I also liked him, because even though he clearly was an opinionated writer, he wasn't a judgemental person per se. He wasn't about judging people or thinking that he always knew exactly how things were supposed to be.

In any case, even though he was super successful especially during those years,  over the last ten years Kelley hasn't had that many good shows on the air. After Boston Legal he hasn't really delivered stuff that was that good and I had almost given up on him.

So knowing this all, I was more than pleasantly surprised when I noticed that not only does he have two high profile projects going on, both of them are going to air in the near future and have gotten some good reviews already.

When it comes to his first project, it's an original Amazon series called 'Trial', that is supposed to air next fall. This is a lawyer show that seems to have more than a solid cast, since actors like Billy Bob Thornton and William Hurt are on it.

Based on some anonymous reviews that I've found, it seems that this series might become some sort of a hit. At least those who have seen it already are saying that the series is very well made and that the pilot for it is excellent.

The second and likely a much more anticipated project by Kelley is a series for HBO that is called 'Big Little Lies'. This is an adaptation based on a New York Times bestseller by a female author Liane Moriarty.

When it comes to the story of the series, it's about three women and their families who try to get along and work out their problems. It's supposed to be a heart-warming and humorous take on how dysfunctional american society has become.

This is an anticipated series not only because the book that it's based on has gotten really good reviews, but it's also a series that is filled with A-list female actors like Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley.

Personally speaking, I'm looking forward to this series because David Kelley is famous for being a skilled 'feminist' writer. Unlike almost every other writer out there, he has always excelled at writing female characters.

I'm also looking forward to this series, because over the years Kelley has been so good at showing compassion and kindness. Perhaps this show could be a bit like his best series, 'Picket Fences', that aired during the early nineties. 

So all in all, even though I haven't expected that much from him lately, at least for now it seems that things look pretty good for Kelley. It seems that 'Trial' and 'Big Little Lies' are both projects that have a lot of potential and promise.

We can only hope that he's going to bring out his best qualities as a writer this time. That would be a really good thing, because there aren't that many quality shows out there that manage to keep us entertained.

Monday, June 6, 2016

I liked the kindness in 'Zootopia'.

Likely the most important thing about any feel good story is that you find the characters in them to be likable and relatable. They need to act and behave in a way that makes you believe and have confidence in them. 

For me it's especially important that I like the protagonist characters in a movie. That is because if I don't like the characters, there's a pretty good chance that I'm not going to finish the film and will do something else instead.

Fortunately, last week I managed to watch a lovely animation called 'Zootopia'. This movie manages to take its job seriously when it comes to us relating to its protagonists and making them look kind and likable.

The story is about a hillbilly bunny cop Judy Hopps and a scheming fox called Nick Wilde. During the course of the movie these two try and manage to figure out what is causing the trouble in the big city of Zootopia.

The biggest reason that the film works so well is because its main protagonist bunny Hopps is so unbelievably friendly and relatable. It's hard to think of anyone in real life who would be as likable as she is in the movie.

Unlike so many characters in other movies out there, she has empathy for others and believes that we shouldn't give up on people. We should be idealistic and helpful so that we could make the world a better place.

That the film works so well is because it handles its subject matter and theme well. That is, that none of us should judge anyone based on the color of their fur and that we shouldn't come to conclusions about anyone's abilities too easily.

The film shows that it's not okay to discriminate against a bunny like Hopps just because she's a tiny little rabbit. You have to give her a chance to show her capabilities as a policer officer before you give up on her.

In the film the same also applies to our anti-hero character Nick Wilde's fox. Together with officer Hobbs he shows that even a cynic like him can save the day when you start to believe in yourself and your cause.

In any case, when it comes to this movie as a whole, 'Zootopia' works because it's a surprisingly entertaining, thougthful and funny motion picture. It's an animated film that manages to make you feel, laugh and think at the same time.

Probably the only real flaw in the movie is that its villain is a bit too weak and doesn't make enough sense. Even a movie based on kindness like this should have done a better job when it comes to its so called 'evil' characters.

But other than that, this is a solid film that relies on good storytelling and the characters being kind and relatable. I'd recommend it for anyone who wants to get on a better mood and wants to feel good about themselves.