Movie Review: Inside Out (2015)

Running time: 94 minutes

Director: Pete Docter

2901682From the director of some of Pixar’s most beloved  films, like Up and Monsters Inc, Inside Out is the first Pixar movie that has not debuted at number one. However, it has scored the biggest box office opening for a movie based on an original idea, unseating James Cameron’s Avatar. It is also the second highest opening for a Pixar movie, after Toy Story 3. With numbers like these, it doesn’t seem such a big problem for Pixar that Jurassic World was the one who took the first place in the weekend’s box office.

11-year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) moves from Minnesota to San Francisco after her dad (Kyle MacLachlan) gets a new job. As she struggles to adjust to her new life, the same happens with her emotions: Joy (Amy Pohler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kailing) and Anger (Lewis Black), who live in Headquarters, the center of Riley’s mind, and guide her through everyday life. Joy, Riley’s primal emotion, tries to stay positive and in control of the situation but after a traumatic first day of school she will have to learn that all the other emotions, even Sadness, play an important part in Riley’s life.

mt2InsideOut11After a problem with Riley’s core memories, Joy and Sadness embark on a journey to get back to Headquarters, taking us through Long Term Memory, Abstract Thought, the Personality Islands, Imagination Land, Dream Productions or the Train of Thought, and showing us in a very imaginative and clever way, how the mind works. It’s fair to say that the world-building in this movie is absolutely brilliant.

It is fascinating to see how these two opposite emotions develop their friendship along the journey and how they realise that they need one another. Joy, honouring her name, is a joy to watch every time she is on-screen and Amy Pohler seems to be the perfect casting. Sadness is an interesting case because I absolutely hated her at first. I wonder if it was poor writing, trying to make her too annoying, but at the beginning all her actions seemed out-of-place. That said, she developed a lot of personality on the journey and became much more likable.

intensa-mente-trailer-1Meanwhile in Headquarters, Fear, Anger and Disgust have to take over the control room and as you might guess, these three emotions are not the best to have full-time in charge. This leads to Riley making some very bad decisions and creates some conflict with her parents, like the dinner sequence featured in the trailers. A scene that played really well showing the interaction between the members of the family from the perspective of their individual emotions. It was great to see more of that in a funny montage during the credits.

As for these three emotions, I loved them. The voice acting was fantastic and they had some of the best comedic moments. I just wished we could have seen them do more stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Joy and Sadness’ quest and discovering the mind, but I also wanted to see more of the five emotions working and bickering for who should take over in certain situations. Maybe if there is a sequel about Riley’s adolescence, these three will be able to play a bigger part.

Inside-Out-8 Sure, if you look too much into it, you will find some inconsistencies. For example, I feel like there should have been something to indicate that Riley was partly in control of her actions because she seemed to be like a robot. But when you have a premise so ambitious, some flaws will come along and, unlike Interstellar or Tomorrowland, Inside Out was geniusly executed and for that alone, it deserves a lot of merit. It is emotional, but not manipulative and like most of Pixar movies, kids will be entertained, but adults will be the ones to fully appreciate it. In the midst of the summer blockbusters this is a breath of fresh air and a delightful experience.

9,5/10

Movie Review: Jurassic World (2015)

Running time: 130 minutes

Director: Colin Trevorrow

650_1200It’s been 14 years since the last Jurassic Park movie came out and Jurassic World must have been a very eagerly awaited sequel as it has broken box office records, with the highest-grossing opening weekend domestically and worldwide in history, surpassing the two Avengers movies.

Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar is fully functional as a dinosaur theme park. After genetically engineering a new breed of dinosaur to raise attendance, as people are not impressed anymore by regular dinosaurs, the park’s operation manager, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) will need the help of Owen (Chris Pratt), the velociraptor trainer, to find her nephews (Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins), who have gone missing at the same moment that the Indominus Rex, outsmarting her guardians, has been set free in the park.

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Not only did Chris Pratt look fantastic, he also proved that he is a movie star. It was great to see that he can be more than just Star-Lord. He elevates the movie in every single scene he is in and even though his humour is toned-down he is still the only character with charisma, likability and common sense and definitely the most interesting. I loved the part the velociraptors play in this movie. Some people may be apprehensive about it from the trailers, but it actually worked really well. Anyone who owns a pet will feel the emotion in the relationship Owen has created with them.

As for Bryce Dallas Howard, I wasn’t a big fan of her character from the trailers and she was too stark and dull at the beginning, but as the story unfolded she kind of won me over. Keeping the heels when you are running away from dinosaurs that are trying to eat you was a bit ridiculous but her scene at the end with the T-Rex (though immensely unbelievable) was pretty cool.

31723And for some strange reason, in a movie like this you always need to have kids and, while the little one was quite charming, the older brother was for the first part of the movie the most annoying thing ever. Constantly flirting with every single girl, being an asshole to his brother… I was starting to wish the dinosaur will eat him quickly. Also, there was this whole subplot about their parents getting divorced that was just unnecessary. It didn’t add anything to the story and it slowed the movie considerably every time it came up.

The reality is that there are too many subplots that you don’t care about going on. Vincent D’Onofrio, though it’s interesting what his character is trying to do with the velociraptors, felt like from a different movie. His character was very one-dimensional and seemed to be there just to set-up a possible sequel. B. D. Wong as the genetic engineer and the only returning cast member from the first movie, tries to link the plot to that one with every scene. On the other hand, Jake Johnson, rocking the original Jurassic Park t-shirt, was fantastic and he had one of the funniest scenes where he mocks a very stereotypical moment in these kind of movies.

hgxfysec5xcn2odalxroThe main problem with Jurassic World is that it’s pretty much a monster movie. Unlike Jurassic Park, the majority of the characters are cliché and you never really get attached to them, except for Chris Pratt’s Owen. And given that it takes too long before something happens, whereas the previous three started right away with a sense of dread, it needs to rely on the human characters for the first half an hour and it can be a bit too slow. It’s great to see the park, which is very well realised with the attractions and has a relatability factor that works very well, but it takes too long to introduce the Indominus Rex. That said, once the action started I was in tension and with a level of anxiety until the end and the final showdown was absolutely epic.

There are some plot holes in the story. It’s never explained how they could open the park after the events of the trilogy, though they managed to through a lot of reference to the first movie while completely ignoring the other two. There are some non-sense moments. Now, every time the dinosaurs are on-screen is breathtaking. The visual effects are phenomenal and the Indominus Rex is indeed frightening. I would love to see a sequel to it but I don’t see how there is any room left for it after what happened in this movie, without going in a completely different route and losing the main element of these movies that it’s the park. In the end, it captures the feeling of nostalgia and  the storytelling flaws are compensated by the spectacle. Jurassic World is a fun ride.

8/10

Movie Review: Spy (2015)

Running time: 120 minutes

Director: Paul Feig

Melissa McCarthy and Jason Statham in a scene from the motion picture "Spy." CREDIT: Larry Horricks, 20th Century Fox  [Via MerlinFTP Drop]Bridesmaids and The Heat‘s director, Paul Feig, is reteaming once again with Melissa McCarthy with spectacular results, which is very good news for those eagerly awaiting the all-female Ghostbusters movie where they will be working together again. But that will be next year, in this new comedy, Feig has front and center the two actresses that made the biggest impact in Bridesmaids, McCarthy and Rose Byrne, proving once more that women too can be funny.

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is an office-bound CIA analyst and the person who guides Bradley Fine (Jude Law) during his dangerous missions. When he is assassinated by Raina Boyanov (Rose Byrne) and all the top agents covers are compromised she volunteers to enter the field to avenge her partner’s death. The Agency chief (Allison Janney) reluctantly agrees, to which Agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham) is completely against. Cooper has to go through several pathetic covers before getting close to Raina and becoming her personal bodyguard to sabotage her plan of selling a nuclear bomb to a businessman linked to terrorism (Bobby Cannavale).

DF-03507_R2 Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) clearly has eyes for her partner, superspy Bradley Fine (Jude Law).After the let-down that Tammy was and with the help of Paul Feig’s script, Melissa McCarthy finds the way back to what made her so memorable in the first place and even got her an Oscar nomination for Bridesmaids. Characters that are a bit mean and always the smartest person in the room are McCarthy’s strong points and it doesn’t hurt that she manages to be always so unbelievably likable. She carries the film with ease portraying Susan’s vulnerability without ever being weak and slowly building her confidence. And she does kick some major ass in this movie. There is a particular fight in a kitchen that it’s intense, gruesome and funny as both women are using what is available to them, being that mainly pans and pots and occasionally, knives.

After stealing the show in Neighbours and Bridesmaids, Rose Byrne plays the daughter of a Bulgarian arms dealer with constant hairstyles that almost defy gravity. One of the stand-outs of the movie has to be the many vicious verbal smack downs between her and McCarthy, even more impressive than how funny they turned out to be is that the jokes are always about choices, like outfits, but they are never aimed at personal traits.

spy-2-gallery-imageThe greatest part about Spy is that not only these two center characters are funny, but the supporting cast is phenomenal across the board. Allison Janney as the Agency chief and Miranda Hart as Cooper’s friend, Nancy, both added a great dynamic. But it’s not just the women who get all the laughs. Jude Law is also fantastic as the Bond-type character of the film that Cooper is in love with and has to guide through an earpiece while monitoring him on a computer screen.

But it is another character who steals the show. Early this year, Colin Firth reinvented himself with Kingsman as an action star and now, the action star Jason Statham proves himself to be outstanding at comedy with this over the top character who is always cranky and determined to keep the “old spy traditions”, though at the end turns out not to be very efficient himself. With several endless monologues that are simply hilarious, Agent Ford is basically Statham spoofing his own career and he is terrific at it.

3040872-poster-p-1-spy-movie-paul-feigMaybe Spy is not the laugh-out-loud experience that Bridesmaids or The Heat were, but has a perfect balance of action and comedy and is consistently funny and is full of priceless moments. It doesn’t matter how many times I have seen it in the trailers, but the scooter bit still makes me laugh every time. Or all the cool spy-gadgets that Cooper gets that are disguised as things a middle-aged woman would be expected to carry, which are not glamorous at all. McCarthy’s many covers are not just there to add to the fun but to also make a social commentary on how the world sees middle-aged women. Alright, the plot doesn’t make a lot of sense, but who cares. Just to see the back and forth between these characters and the thrilling action, Spy is a movie worth checking out.

8,5/10