‘Cruella’ Is Insane

I can’t believe this movie. I watched it and everything you heard about it is true. Cruella is insane. The character and the movie. It is ridiculous.

On one hand you’re watching an insane live action film meme and that’s wild. On the other, if you’re looking at this as capital C ‘Cinema’ then it isn’t great at all. Charming and absurd because its so manic. Manic is just the word I couldn’t stop using thinking about this movie. Manic.

It’s a crazy person movie. It’s like the flower shop scene from The Room but as a full movie. And in a similar way to The Room, its goes so far around the dial in a circle that it comes back around to a positive.

I didn’t know what I was in for. I didn’t watch a trailer and I really should have known better by the one marketing image I saw on Disney+. But for some reason I thought it was going to be a bit more of a drama about how messed up the world of high fashion is as an industry and how a desire to reach the top made her evil to the point her name is almost literally CRUEL DEVIL.

I don’t know why I thought that but I’m willing to toss blame on it being the fact I haven’t seen a comic book movie since like Spider-Man: Far From Home and I’ve been watching film and TV dramas a lot through the last year of quarantine. You know, “real art” or whatever. My brain has hit a reset point but I think this is going to help get me back to where I belong. Mortal Kombat and Godzilla vs Kong reviews incoming!

The entire point of the movie hinges on the fact that Dalmatians are villains. I’m not sold. What kind of evil psychopath sat down and got other psychopaths to agree that the world needs a movie where dogs are evil?

Like, I guess Dalmations are kind of dicks as far as dogs go since they require super hardcore training to be well behaved.

Maybe it’s a secret meta story? Because prior to 101 Dalmatians coming out Dalmatians were actually pretty darn serious guard and security style dogs. When that movie came out though that kinda changed and they’ve sort of become messy mutts because of severe inbreeding issues to meet the puppy demand after the movie came out.

But they’re still dogs!

You can’t really review this movie without spoilers, so I’ll keep it to the intro of the film that was posted on YouTube already:

  • A Dalmatian dropkicks Cruella’s mother to her death off a cliff
  • The Dalmatians are trained to literally do this by the antagonist of the movie
  • The name of the antagonist is Baroness Von Hellman. I don’t think she makes mayonnaise.

The movie basically comes down to Cruella de Vil vs Woman Who Trains Dogs to Dropkick People Off Cliffs. And we get it as a “sympathetic” origin story, again, for a character whose name is basically CRUELTY EVIL.

In some bananas way, this is almost like Batman’s origin story but replace Batman with Harley Quinn and Joe Chill with a Dalmatian. All the notes are there, but its manic and insane.

This is kind of a good capital M ‘Movie’, but its bogged down by being a Cruella movie. There is kind of a heist thing going on and I love me heist movies. There’s very much a style and vision here.

But its couched in this layer of thick, cream cheesy icing where it’s like a shitpost on Tumblr went viral and someone wrote an insane fanfic that lasts two hours and 14 minutes.

Emma Stone looks great and is wonderful in the role. So are the rest of the cast. The characters are simple and fun and wild. It’s overacted in a fun cheesy way but there doesn’t feel like there’s a lot of cake-like substance under the icing.

One major negative to the movie for me was the fact that Cruella doesn’t smoke one cigarette the entire movie. I get it’s a “kids movie” but properties like Pixar and Digimon have shown you can tackle slightly more adult themes and have some darker elements without children turning into Satan worshippers.

You can portray smoking as a normal and fine or intimidating. You just gotta try. Someone sparking up a smoke doesn’t automatically have to equal burnt out scrub stressed out and mentally falling apart anymore. Watch Letterkenny where smoking is casual and you almost don’t even notice it. Watch any non-Strangers Things-ish 70s or 80s throwback movie and smoking is just there and casual because it was. This is a movie set in the 60s and people loved their cigarettes back then!

There’s a plot thing about poop and murder but smoking is too far? This is a character basically named CRUEL AND VILE.

I don’t think this movie can be watched before 101 Dalmations and make any sense. I just don’t really see where this silly-crazy-IDK-BUT-MAYBE-wink-wink style character becomes the pure evil lady who wants to skin dogs to make a fancy jacket to smoke cigarettes in.

She goes from this meek “Oh shucks I’m just Estella oh jeez!” style character to comedic levels of “I will bathe in the blood of 1 billion Dalmatians while the planet burns around me!” and it doesn’t feel earned. It just kind of happens and switch gets flipped. I would have like to have seen more Cruella under the Estella mask moments. Maybe it is there and I missed it but I’m not sure.

Like a lot of movies that come out now as sequels, reboots, soft reboots, etc. this movie almost feels like the script was for something different but the writers couldn’t get it green lit as Unknown Intellectual Property. So they turned it around, shoe horned it, cut and covered it in “Cruella de Vil’s origin story but live action and it has levels of story insanity that not even the 90’s Spider-Man cartoon on Fox could match!” Boom, script greenlit.

I don’t know where this places overall as a Disney live action remake/reboot/whatever. It would have to be almost on its own because of the absurdity of it all. The climax is straight out of Saturday morning cartoons where you basically get the Team Rocket “We’re Blasting Off Again!” moment.

The movie is insane and I don’t even really know what I think about it. I won’t watch it again, but I hope this enters the cultural zeitgeist and we get memes for a long time. It absolutely feels like a movie you maybe wouldn’t enjoy a second time. But maybe the meme scenes are strong enough. I’ve really enjoyed seeing random Dalmatian-posting. Is it worth watching? Maybe. Is it worth the money on Disney+? Probably not. But are you a big Disney weeb? Well I guess sure then.

Lastly, Disney’s BS “inclusion” scene annoyed me in this movie maybe even more than the 2 second kiss in Rise of Skywalker. It’s Cruella holding hands with a lady for 2 seconds before the scene matters so it can be cut so China doesn’t get mad like someone dared to say Taiwan is a country. F off!

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.

#ThisGuyScored 2021 #HereComeTheOilers

Why not revive an old classic? Check back after every game for updates.

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.

March 3, 2021 – Zach Hyman, Ilya Mikheyev 1-6 L

March 1, 2021 – Zach Hyman 0-3 L

February 27, 2021 – Zach Hyman 0-4 L

Connor…

February 15, 2021 – Kyle Connor, Nik Ehlers 5-6 L

February 8, 2021 – Adam Larsson (Evgenii Dadonov) 3-1 W

February 6, 2021 – Milan Lucic, Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett 4-6 L

January 31, 2021 – Colin White, 8-5 W

January 30, 2021 – Zack Hyman, 4-3 W

January 28, 2021 – Jason Spezza, Willim Nylander 3-4 L

January 26, 2021 – Mathieu Perrault, Nik Ehlers, Paul Stastny, Adam Lowry 3-5 L

January 24, 2021 – Adam Lowry, Nikolaij Ehlers, 4-3 W

January 22, 2021 – Jimmy Vesey, John Tavares, 2-4 L

Draisaitl wur r u doin!

January 16, 2021 – Jeff Petry, Jake Evans, Tomas Tatar. 1-5 L

January 13, 2021 – Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser. 3-5 L

The original from 2015 is HERE. I did half a season in 2017 found HERE.

Money Plane Is A Good Bad Movie

“You wanna bet on a dude fucking an alligator? Money Plane.”

This won’t be a long review. This movie is trash but its earnest trash but I say that affectionately. It is repetitive, it isn’t particularly well executed. But it is hilarious and fun. It’s one of those bad movies that is very watchable instead of being a slog.

I don’t like bad movies that try to be bad or try to be in on the joke. That ruins things. It’s the difference between enjoying Samurai Cop and then being miserable watching Samurai Cop 2. This movie doesn’t feel like it is trying to be bad. It feels like they had an idea, and you can see how this idea could be good, but only had a few bucks and a tray of sandwiches to make the movie so they did the best they could. That’s why I like it. That’s why I’ll forgive this as a bad movie.

It looks like a knock off of a TV show like CSI or Hawaii Five-0. Sort of like how an Asylum movie looks (the studio behind Sharknado, Transmorphers, etc.) but this is 100% more earnest. It’s going for an Ocean’s 11 style heist film set in 2020 with crypto currency and data hacking and dark web and rogue nations and the criminal underworld all converging on this plane, the Money Plane.

The issue? It just isn’t that good. The heist plan of your heist movie doesn’t make a ton of sense, and that’s the entire premise of a heist movie.

The props are cheap like using dollar store poker chips. They make good use of the set, but it just isn’t nearly as glamorous as the idea would have you imagine. There’s a drone sequence that you know they though would be like a military drone striking down bad guys, but its just a Christmas morning present type drone with a normal pistol ziptied to it.

The dialogue isn’t overly coherent. Just a bunch of clichéd lines that are going for the feeling of an action/heist line but don’t really make sense as one. Like those scripts you see where an AI read 100 action scripts and then wrote scenes. There’s one character, The Concierge, who can’t even pronounce “concierge”. Instead he refers to himself as “The Con-see-air-ss”. Maybe he wanted to make his title sound more bougie.

The editing has all those classic errors where between cuts blood goes missing and reappears. The scale of plane isn’t consistent. And they’re clearly cutting and editing around only having some of the name talent, Kelsey Grammar most notably, on set for what I imagine was one or two days maximum.

It does have a few moments that are over the top enough to be enjoyable, especially as you start to realize the limitations they were under. The movie isn’t even 90 minutes long as it clocks in at 82 minutes so it doesn’t waste a lot of time. It comes and goes without being offensive to your senses.

I can see when they wrote this script how they probably had some great ideas. The Money Plane. It’s a big jumbo private jet funded by criminals who like to gamble on sick criminal things like piranhas eating dudes and Russian roulette and whatever. Bunch of seedy evil egomaniac criminals playing poker and getting into it with each other to build tension over which criminal snaps and tries to blow the other guy away. Then you have your fun Ocean’s 11 action heist going on with your loveable group of crooks outwitting and out-smarting all these bad guys.

But then you get into reality and they’ve got an old plane set that looks like a hollowed out standard sized plane that would normally seat six or nine across. The twisty-turny plot isn’t as clever as it was supposed to be. It’s very straightforward. Sometimes it’s even dumb like your heist plan not accounting for the co-pilot on something called The Money Plane.

It get’s a bit repetitive with the nerd guy winning gambling a lot, and I mean a lot, to show how smart he is. The femme fatale fights three goons three times in the same sort of “gotcha!” fight to prove how tough she is.

And that’s not including anything about how gambling with chips and roulette and stuff wouldn’t be easy or wise on a plane that has turbulence that could shake everything and cause disasters when you’re getting this wild.

The big action finale is just as hokey. This gets back to them only having Kelsey Grammar for a weekend and they didn’t have enough time to film him actually getting into a gun fight with the bad guys so they just cut together him shooting at nothing, and then cut in shots of private military dudes getting shot.

The movie stars Adam (great name) Copeland aka Edge of WWE fame. I recognized one of the other actors, who turned out to be the director Andrew Lawrence, as a lab tech or something from Hawaii Five-0. Thomas Jane, the original film Punisher, is in this too as the military back up man. Denise Richards was around for an afternoon to film enough scenes to be Wife.

I think Edge is trying to look conflicted and stressed for most of the movie, but it almost looks like he’s puzzled by a test questions where he knows 60% of the answer but can’t remember the first 20% or the last 20% of the formula.

Kelsey Grammar was great in his limited capacity. He doesn’t give it his all, but he gives this movie exactly as much talent as you would expect for this movie. At one point he yells “I’M DARIUS EMMANUEL GROUCH THE THIRD! THE RUMBLE!” What more do you need from an actor?

I’ve been hard on the movie, but it’s just what it is. It isn’t great, but it isn’t insultingly bad. It’s definitely bad, but in an authentic way. I’ve watched far worse movies. This one doesn’t feel like a cheap cash grab or way to launder money to a bunch of actors like other bad straight to DVD/streaming films.

I almost wonder if someone big in Hollywood will see the movie and go “I can do that but way better” and in 4 years we’ve got a wicked heist action movie. The bones of the idea are here, but the muscle, guts and skin are not.

Watch this movie when you want to kill 90 82 minutes with a bit of bad fun. It’s no worse than most of the crap that streaming services are putting out as their own originals on Netflix, Prime, etc. Maybe it’s just dumb enough in the right way to tickle your fancy.

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker is Whatever. It Exists.

Star-Wars

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the Transformers movie equivalent of a Star Wars film. It fell into itself and didn’t want to change anything.  It clings to the basic premise of Star Wars, which is fine, and doesn’t let go for anything or any reason, which is frustrating. This might be Star Wars at its worst, which is afraid to be anything you haven’t seen before.

Star Wars, cinematically, is an echo. Everything rhymes. “It’s like poetry” said George Lucas once. Everything Star Wars is here: the Force, X-Wings, Star Destroyers, Sith, Jedi, lightsabres, etc. Empire big strong and then the underdog Rebels pull a John Cena to a victory. That’s where the movie becomes frustrating because that’s all the movie is, again. We saw that in Episode VII and in Episode VIII.

That’s to be expected. The Lord of the Rings movies are fantastic and every movie ends with the heroes winning over evil. The key difference is that it feels earned; every movie ups the stakes and increases the grandeur in a way that makes sense step by step.

Was Episode VII – The Force Awakens good? Sure it was. Don’t pretend it’s a bad movie. Call it unimaginative if you want, but it was a safe and entertaining blockbuster that made you interested in what Star Wars could be again. You can go back and watch it and enjoy how it brought a charismatic cast together, planted seeds, had some mystery, did the big stuff and was enjoyable. Probably as good a reboot as you would get.

Was Episode VIII – The Last Jedi good? It was fine. It did some stuff that was interesting, had pointless side plots, some frustrating character choices and decisions (maybe the Rebellion really likes to watch Suits in space). For everything good, it did something a bit whatever and a few things just plain blargh. If that movie ends after the back-to-back fight on a cliff hanger then everyone is probably thinking of it relatively favourably. But it didn’t, oh well. However, it gets worse because of what follows.

Is Episode IX – Rise of Skywalker good? Eh… your mileage may vary. How much are you into wanking off to nostalgia, hectic action, 1+1=2 plot, frustrating character decisions and insane pacing? I can’t get away from thinking the movie was just frustrating. I’m not mad or sad. I’m not giddy. Depending on which 5 minute span of the movie I was watching I would go from enjoyment to indifference to annoyance or displeasure. But I know that after it ended, the conclusion to the 9 movie 40 year Skywalker arc, I wasn’t satisfied.

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The worst thing movie’s can do is waste potential because that can make an okay movie bad. A bad movie is just bad and you know its bad. But leaving an okay movie that could have been more feels worse because your brain is telling you “That should have been better.”

I didn’t know a movie could make me appreciate Avengers: Endgame as a film more than I already did. Imagine if Infinity War and Endgame were condensed into one two hour movie. No scene has the time to sink in. There’s barely been a pause in dialogue before the scene is transitioned and someone else somewhere else completely is talking. It’s like it was edited on TikTok.

There’s so few moments where things move at a “normal” pace that when it does happen it feels almost jarring that a “normally” paced scene is occurring. But then you take in the normally paced scene and enjoy it just to get discombobulated right after by another hectic, lightspeed mess.

Plot threads IN THIS FILM are literally being dropped from scene to scene. Something will be brought up and then 15 minutes, or less, after someone says the cinematic equivalent of “Oh that? Doesn’t matter. Forget about it, please.”

There are moments and decisions that should be Big Things that happen so quickly that the movie feels like a TV edit. There are other times where the weight of a decision is completely negated or becomes inconsequential almost immediately after it happens.  Characters are making turns and decisions so quickly that you feel like someone off screen is tapping their watch saying “Wrap it up” like Monica during Phoebe’s wedding speech.

So many scenes could have been so much more if they were given more time, but you travel across like 6 planets in less than 90 minutes. When scenes don’t have the time or weight to happen “properly” then you forget about them. Moments don’t become memorable otherwise.

There’s a scene where they straight up pull it from a WW2 movie with Nazi SS dudes doing door to door raids and stuff. The Rebels have to sneak about to find a macguffin and avoid the First Order. That could have been 20 minutes with a lot of tension and pressure. Instead it was like 10 minutes and it ends on what feels like a whim. And it was the second time they landed on Planet Convenience in a row.

Characters will face down something that appears harrowing, say “we gotta climb the big thing”, “wow that’s gonna be tough”, and then it just cuts to them at the top of the harrowing big thing. Usually this kind of stuff goes: Introduce an issue, struggle with issue, solve it. Instead we get: introduce a thing, solve it immediately, move on. It’s like a chain of fetch quests in a video game.

You would think a director who is also a fanboy of Star Wars, in JJ Abrams, would understand these things. He did these things pretty well in his Star Trek reboot. He got emotion and excitement right in those movies.

I can’t help but feel that JJ Abrams was the angry fan who walked out of The Last Jedi with a wet diaper. There’s such a feeling of “Episode VIII didn’t happen! Episode IX is the REAL VIII and IX at the same time!” There are moments that feel like actual middle fingers to the previous film to the point you could probably just watch Episode VII and go to Episode IX just off the pre-scroll.

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I just want to vent for a bit about Kylo Ren and Rey, and their relationship. There may be a few spoilers from here out but we’re talking about a movie from 2019 in 2021, so…

Kylo Ren, portrayed by Adam Driver, is the best part of the movie, again. He deserves so much more than this movie for his acting. He carried this franchise. He’s the closest to feeling like a real movie person across three movies, where other characters are all over the place due to the lack of foresight from page one or they’re almost entirely static.

Daisy Ridley is perfectly fine as Rey. But the issue is Rey. Rey gets to do everything for free. Our other big Force characters always took an L where they screwed up, but came out the other side as a better character:

  • Anakin lost an arm because he was too cocky, then he became a robot because had an unstoppable boner.
  • Luke lost a hand because he was too brazen and didn’t take his training seriously.
  • Obi-Wan lost his mentor and didn’t listen to his better judgment and it led to Darth Vader.
  • Kylo Ren is suffering from the galaxy’s biggest case of imposter syndrome after his Uncle tried to murder him in his sleep.

These are important because to round out a character they need to take a loss. Aragorn took an L in Lord of the Rings. Tony Stark took some L’s as Iron Man. Rey gives up a late goal but always scores it right back to win.

She might not win clean, but she’s basically John Cena when John Cena couldn’t lose a match for like 10 years. She’s Hulk Hogan from the 80s. I don’t consider her a Mary Sue, but I get why people say she is now when I didn’t really hold that belief before.

Her biggest trauma relates to her parents (fair enough), but she’s never gets her Big Loser moment to teach her a lesson. Not that I’m trying to neckbeard here, but there’s a moment that could have been her “oh my god I effed up” but like 12 seconds later they go “no it’s okay”. She’s never had to come back from a big mistake that changes her. That’s… boring.

It makes it even worse when the movie climaxes and she kisses Kylo Ren. The kiss sucks. It wasn’t about good and bad meeting and the whole world is grey.

Kylo Ren is shown to be a paranoid-schizophrenic with a hunger for violence and anger problems that have stunted his maturity to the point that he has had different Big Evil’s doing his thinking since he was a teenager when he became an intergalactic Neo-Nazi. He has tried to kill the Rebels more times than you can count and has killed enough of them, and innocents, to make Stalin feel inadequate.

His first encounter with Rey begins with him torturing her for information and he’s relentlessly antagonized her for a couple years now by killing her friends, blowing up planets and doing his best to manipulate her at every turn.

He’s basically happily killed both his parents. He is in no position to be in a relationship with anybody. No matter what you feel about him, he is in no position to be in a relationship with anyone. Especially not the equivalent of a Force using demi-god with her own abandonment issues with big time force powers she can’t even control.

But apparently torturing her left a good first impression. Killing her friends and tons of randoms and innocent civilians was also okay and cool and forgivable. Killing his dad was fine. Being hell-bent on destroying almost your entire resistance was okay.

Screw it. Maybe they deserve each other.

Just about everyone else in the movie is useless and don’t really matter but they get B plots that are easily solvable so they can kill time while the headliners do their thing because if you don’t have The Force Juice you don’t matter in Star Wars.

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If you’re going to spend 4 billion dollars on a media property famous for trilogies, lore and the expanded universe then perhaps plan your new trilogy out in advance. It doesn’t need to be scripted to the second, but setting up plot threads and then doing nothing with them because you had no plan is so painfully WWE.

Movie universes shouldn’t struggle and fail this often. What Marvel is doing, and to a lesser extent Legendary with the Godzilla and Kong movies, isn’t terribly difficult. Plan it out, have patience, execute it.

You can understand DC stumbling because it took them four years to realize they couldn’t do six years of build in three films. You get why the Dark Universe bumbled, because they couldn’t contain themselves and wanted to go big right away. Sony’s Spider-Man world failed in the exact same way. You can’t hit the gym twice and then hope to hit world record numbers on a deadlift.

But you would have thought Star Wars, a Disney property, would have been able to knock on the Marvel, a Disney property, door next door and get such simple advice as “yeah try to at least sorta plan things out and stick to that.” It’s like they went and knocked on the Fox’s X-Men door, a Disney property, and got their advice from them.

Or maybe the guy who wrote Batman v Superman isn’t the best choice for cohesion in your climactic film.

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The Last Jedi was not perfect, but it did do like four great things: Rey being a nobody, Old Man Luke not living up to the myth, Kylo talking to Rey about “Jedi and Sith are both dumb. What if we did our own thing?” and posing the question of “Maybe anyone can tap into the force/be a hero?”

This movie pretty will dumps on all of those: Rey is important and always has been like Harry Potter-Aragorn-Anakin. Luke wasn’t tired, he’s actually silly like puppet Yoda now. Then “actually the Jedi are good and right and the Sith are pure evil and wrong. There is no merit to the Jedi having their issues as well.” And absolutely no way can anyone be a hero. Only people from basically two families are allowed to be heroes.

One of the worst ways to handle something that is potentially cool is by going “Look how cool this could be?” and then going “Nope. That isn’t cool and you’re bad for wanting something like it” because now you’ve gone and split your audience further.

Rise of Skywalker is so desperate to course correct on The Last Jedi that in their attempts to make you forget about it that it instead makes it so you can’t forget about The Last Jedi at all.

I do want to say that I feel the amount of freedom Disney supposedly gave Rian Johnson for Episode VIII was overstated as a lame attempt to satisfy people through post-film PR – I’m basing this off the weird shifts in tone and the extraneous forth act and how they fit the film compared to Rian Johnson’s other work.

But maybe you hated The Last Jedi for perfectly good reasons and you feel this actually did things right. I don’t know. I feel this movie bashes as much “established Star Wars” with a hammer just as much. However, I get the feeling that cinematic Star Wars has just reached fan apathy level.

Cinematic Star Wars is just so weird. You have so many people, that call themselves huge fans and maybe they are or maybe they’re “fans” for the hustle, that seem like they’re always racing each other to see who can hate it more. Who can be the most contrarian? Who has the hottest take that they can back with the most nerd cred?

It’s just so weird to see Nerd Media become the behemoth it has where you get the same level of tribalism and viciousness that have been present in sports and politics for years. You get the feeling from the discourse that most of the most vocal fans don’t even like it, but that feeling of not liking it also fuels them to keep not liking it while staying engaged with it.

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For what it is worth, the movie does look great. I love the lightsaber battles in the new trilogy. They aren’t swinging glow sticks and breakdancing, but they’re a bit more involved than a classic style sword duel that more resemble pirate movies from the original trilogy. They swing the swords like they have weight and like they’re really exerting themselves.

The cinematography is great. It’s a well shot movie that’s colour coded well so you understand where you are, even if you don’t know where you are. It isn’t completely devoid of creativity. You get all your classic Star Wars shots and iconography. It’s all here and that part is still pretty cool and backed by a traditional and excellent score.

The character designs and props are always a high point. Maybe its one of the reason’s that Star Wars relies so hard on its own iconography, because its that good: Storm Troopers look good, black bad guy looks good, white good girl looks good, scrappy Rebel outfits look good, the X-Wing and the Millenium Falcon are wicked designs. “Show, don’t tell” as a rule has been a strength of Star Wars for the better part of it’s existence.

The themes, as repetitive as they’ve become, are still strong. Anyone can stand up to oppression. Maybe it’s ten people but maybe then its twenty people, then fifty and then you’ve started a revolution. There will always be resistance to tyranny. That’s good and especially in 2021 its a really prevalent message.

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In the end, the worst thing Big Hollywood can do is be average. This movie is average. Did I complain a lot? Yes. Did I enjoy myself? Kinda. Would I recommend this? I guess but not really.

I’m just sour because the potential of this series declined at an exponential rate and that’s a bummer. Fantasy movies are cool. Space movies are cool. Fantasy space movies should be really cool.

I was just hoping for something slightly new creatively. A slightly different take on things that avoided wanking itself off with the nostalgia glove. It’s just a very predictable movie that never catches you off guard, subverts your expectations in a good way or satisfies the obvious outcome either.

This is the finale. The Finale. The finale to a nine movie arc (ten if you want Rogue One in here). This is the cap to Star Wars as people know it. The end. The big climax to it all. But it just piddles itself out with a sloppy landing.

At some point we’ll be into Episode X, XI and XII and everyone will be excited again. People have started looking back at the prequels and think they’re good movies for some reason. In 10-20 years I’m sure the same will happen here. Everyone cheered like crazy for The Last Jedi. Then they hated it. But then everyone rushed right back in for Rise of Skywalker only to hate it. People couldn’t keep their pants on for The Mandalorian but I’ve even seen some people start to poo poo that.

Maybe the best thing this set of Star Wars films did was get so mad at Rian Johnson that they kicked him out, and he responded by making Knives Out. Go watch that. It’s great.

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.

‘Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna’ – A Satisfying Ending And An Important Lesson

If Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna is truly the final story in the tale of 8 kids from Odaiba and their monster pals, then it is a fitting ending to a story that has spanned the last 21 years.  To bring such a long running beloved series to a close is not easy but now I am able to say goodbye to these characters now in a way that is both satisfying and heartbreaking.

It is weird in a world of never-ending IPs to have one that says to you “This is the end. This is it. We hope you like it.” There is enough room left for them to come back, as no door is ever really shut, but they don’t have to. I almost don’t want them to, as much as I love these characters, because they’ve found a way to end it in a satisfying way that franchises like Mass Effect, Star Wars and Game of Thrones could not.

This all might make the movie sound like it is depressing and I guess it is depending how you view it. That isn’t to say the movie lacks fun. It just isn’t a light hearted romp. It’s more like when you go out for drinks one last time with a friend before they move away.

I’m a hardcore Digimon fan. I’ve watched all the movies in Japanese and English. I’ve played the games, collected toys and cards and I’m watching the new series Digimon Adventure 2020 with subtitles because I just love this property. I love these characters. I even like the Digi Rap.

Something that has resonated with me throughout the years is that the show is about growth and how to tackle growing up so you come out better. The growth of the kids was tied to the growth of their monster pals. Their pals couldn’t become new bigger better versions of fighting monsters without the kid also learning and growing and becoming a better version of themselves first.  That theme couldn’t be more present throughout this film.

Last Evolution Kizuna is about Tai and Matt. This is their story and it really does help the film to have a tight focus on the two of them.  You get updates on the others and get to learn that Izzy has his own tech start up, Mimi is working on her cooking brand, Joe is doing his residency as a doctor and we get a glimpse into Sora’s life.

The 02 kids are back and they’re actually doing something. Its good to see them involved as Kari and TK are in helping keep rogue Digimon from crossing over between the worlds along with Tai and Matt. There’s a few little bits of fan service you’ll see around the edges. Keep your eyes open and you’ll spot a few kids from the Digimon World Tour episodes, Willis shows up and you get to see Meiko as well. It is just another small thing that gives you a bit of fan service while also driving home the point that this is the end. The glimpses are acknowledgements as much as they are farewells.

If you’re a fan today and you watch this movie, you’ve seen them go from elementary school students to middle schoolers to high schoolers to young adults now. That’s uncommon in a lot of media aimed at kids and it is an underrated part of the franchise that connects you to the cast in a way that is similar to the Harry Potter films.

We pick up 11 years after the start of the whole series and about 4 years after the end of Digimon Adventure Tri. The focal characters are 22 and finishing their undergraduates but neither of them really know what they want to do. Tai’s given up on soccer and Matt’s given up on pursuing music. They’re a bit aimless but what they still commit to do is always protecting Japan from Digimon attacks.

Tai is still your leader but he doesn’t really have anyone to lead anymore with everyone growing up. Matt makes sure he’s always there as well for his friends. Izzy still runs tech support but doesn’t often get involved in the battles. They don’t exactly have secret identities and the media treats them as if they’re heroes despite the kids not feeling that way about what they do. Again, they’re feeling a bit aimless and that’s what kicks the plot into gear.

I won’t say much more about the plot other than it focuses on growing up and how the bond to your childhood will grow weaker. It isn’t exactly original for a story to have the theme of “gotta stop being a kid” but that doesn’t make this any less effective. You could tell the most basic story ever written, but if you do it creatively and an in an interesting way then it is still exciting and grabs your attention.

There’s a new macguffin this time which can feel a bit cheap, but I think the movie does a good job of explaining the macguffin and why specifically its affecting Tai and Matt in this story. The kids grow up but the Digimon don’t really age. Agumon today is basically still Agumon of 11 years ago. Tai today isn’t Tai of 11 years ago though.

In a way, it is similar in plot to Tri but it is just executed better. It isn’t exactly a problem to have repetitive ideas when you do it well. The movie also doesn’t quite ignore Tri but doesn’t exactly acknowledge it either. You get a small nod towards it and that’s all. That’s fine. Tri always felt to me like it was a bit divorced from the property rather than an expansion.

Tri felt drawn out but Last Evolution Kizuna is tightly knit. There aren’t any wasted scenes. Nothing is drawn out. The movie is only 94 minutes long so it doesn’t really have time to waste anyway. That isn’t to say that the movie isn’t given a chance to breathe. Those slower quiet moments hit hard.

This feels like Digimon. It got a number of the original voice cast to reprise their roles. The characters look right. They act the way you expect them to act, just as adults now. The Digimon are themselves as ever. This fits into the cinematic line of the movies from Digimon Adventure to Our War Game to here. There’s just good filmmaking here. Edits make sense. Scenes rhyme. Themes are mirrored. There is visual and audible throwbacks that don’t feel shoved in. Everything feels earned. Director Tomohisa Taguchi did a tremendous job.

This movie also accomplishes something I wasn’t expecting in that it feels like a quality segue to the finale of Digimon Adventure 02. That surprised me.

Everything about this movie surprised me in terms of the quality. It’s a more grown up story with jokes about nudey mags and the guys going out for a beer together. They have to deal with things everyone does as adults. Just because they’re The Digidestined doesn’t make them immune to the world. Going through the new stages of life where you make friends just to be too busy for each other. Get a job just to be bored with it. Have a family just to want to spend time alone.

All of this made the story so interesting to me. I needed to know where it was going every scene. It puts them in situations that actually have you think “They actually can’t win.” And I think that relates back to the central theme. Sometimes you can’t always win clean and have things the way you want. Growing up can take sacrifices.

The final fight is ruthless as everyone takes a beating, emotionally and physically. Characters that have always seemed invincible aren’t anymore. They take real shots. They get hit real hard. They’re in danger and you feel bad for them. It feels desperate. The kids are faced with consequences that are depressing. Without feeling repetitive, the movie keeps driving the central theme of Digimon home again; for your monster pals to grow and be stronger then so do you.

I originally wasn’t totally thrilled with the ending. Not because it was cheap, just because of what it meant. After sitting on it a bit and rewatching the film, I’ve come around and I appreciate it. When I think about what the story tells me then I can take a breath and go “I’m okay”.

I do have quibbles with the story. This isn’t a perfect movie. Some of the twists are quite predictable which lessened their impact but not all of them were. As beautiful as the animation is, there are a few times where the CGI does make movement feel a bit floaty and lacking weight. I only noticed this a couple times but it is something that does get to me with CGI films in the hand drawn style.

You don’t get to see Wargreymon or Metalgarurumon at any point which just would have a nice bit of fan service and I don’t think the designs of the final monsters and how the come together are particularly strong either. None of this takes away from the movie, but just maybe keeps it from really achieving a perfect score to me. We’re honestly talking small visual nitpicks about a movie that is story and character driven.

Digimon has been a series I have always enjoyed. As a kid, I was more into Digimon as a show than Pokemon. I enjoyed both, but if I missed an episode of Digimon it was a big deal but I missed episodes of Pokemon without too much worry. I used to ask my mom to buy blank VHS tapes on the regular so I could record Digimon if I were to miss an episode.

As an adult, I have been able to figure why Digimon means so much more to me. Digimon as a show, while not deathly serious, did have a more serious tone and included a weekly plot that expanded passed villain of the week with much less filler. That drew me in and connected me to the characters in a way that really made me care.

Digimon was a kids show with a cast that felt like real kids. They had problems that real kids had. These were kids that had to deal with issues in their lives such as divorce, adoption, sickness, death, the pressure to succeed, not living up to expectations, familial rifts, etc. Ideas and character arcs that you might call more high school topics compared to typical anime kids show topics. They were tied to their families and they weren’t all one group of friends. They were different personalities and social circles that had to learn to get along and work together: jock, nerd, emo kid, preppy kid, tomboy, spoiled girl, etc. but they weren’t one dimensional. You learn that Tai is a “jock”, but he also is fiercely loyal to his friends and wants to help them all. You learn why Matt is aloof and “too cool” because he’s coping with a broken relationship with his parents.

Growing up is scary and hard. It is really easy to feel that as you get older that your world becomes more narrow. You realize you can’t do everything and you won’t achieve all your dreams. You try less new things because you don’t want to fail or don’t feel it is worth it. You don’t feel the need to challenge yourself anymore. It can make you feel unremarkable and alone. It’s easy to want to ignore that feeling and stay a kid forever despite reality making that impossible.

Digimon was really important to me. That was my Star Wars or Ghostbuster or Ninja Turtles. You know, the one property that I could turn into a turbo-shit-internet-baby with a full diaper because “OMG U RUINED MY CHILDHOOD BY RUINING THIS THING!!!”

Lucky for me, Digimon Adventure: Last Evoltion Kizuna did not ruin it. Instead, it did a tremendous job of reminding me what I loved about this show. It connected with me in a way that made me analyze and reflect on my life and what I’m doing. I know my potential isn’t limitless, but how do I make the most of myself? Something new may start rough, but the more you do it the easier it becomes and the more you’ll grow.

The things you loved growing up will always be there for you. Digimon is never going away for me. But I’m not a kid forever. No one is. Life changes. Being able to come to terms with that in a mature way is important to becoming the best version of yourself you can be.

Eventually some parts of your life come to an end and you have to let that happen. If you don’t, you might be stuck as the same person forever. But if you can let it go in a healthy way you’ll be able to grow from that experience and take on more as a person.

Part of me will always want more adventures with Tai, Matt and the others but if this is where we say goodbye then I’m okay with that. It’ll be nice if Toei agrees and maybe we can get some kind of follow up of this quality to Digimon Tamers. Or, maybe they just focus hard on pushing the new Digimon Adventure 2020 series and I’d be okay with that (because its fricking great).

This movie tells you that it is time to let go of 1999’s Digimon Adventure. That’s okay. Letting go is not the same as giving up.

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