Monday, 24 August 2015

Movie Review: Inside Out

After three lacklustre and uninspiring films (Cars 2, Brave and Monster University) and two months of long wait (that's how long it took for this film to release in Malaysia!), Pixar is finally back to their best again with its latest most ambitious, complex yet funny, thoughtful, imaginative, creative, innovative and beautifully crafted emotional film to date. Throughout the years, we've been given films about talking toys (Toy Story), bugs (A Bug's Life), monsters (Monsters Inc), fish (Finding Nemo), cars (Cars), rat (Ratatouille) or robots (Wall-E) that have feelings. So what if there's a film about feelings that have feelings instead?

Inside Out is a film about the inner mind of an ordinary 11-year old girl Riley. Much like any of us, Riley's conscious mind is guided by five of her core emotions since young: Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. These emotions are represented by characters that are constantly interact with each other inside Riley's brain. For 11 years, Joy is the lead of the group, the main contributor for shaping Riley's character and personality by providing many joyful memories for the child. However, things start to change when the family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. Joy's job of making Riley happy suddenly become more difficult as Sadness becomes uncontrollable and more powerful than any other emotions and her touch can override any existing memories. This started a clash between the two emotions that both of them accidentally get thrown out from 'Headquarters' into the long-term memory storage facility along with Riley's character-building 'core memories'. Here starts a journey of adventure where Joy and Sadness need to venture into the unknown 'parts' of Riley's mind to go back into the 'Headquarters' before it's too late.

First and foremost, no words could ever describe how much effort is poured into creating the world of Riley's mind. The creativity and inventiveness of the heavily detailed interpretations of the brain's inner workings is nothing short of impressive. As Joy and Sadness going on a journey in Riley's mind, we get to see the various imaginative interpretation of how the mind operates: dreams and subconscious thoughts, personality islands, train of thoughts, imagination land, long-term memory storage facility, what happens to our imaginary friends as we grow up, abstract and concrete thoughts, showing the intertwined relationships between complex emotions and why these emotions can't exist without each other. There are lots of surprisingly funny moments that will make you smile or laugh throughout the film. With this film, Pixar touched on the complexities of human emotions and provided a thoughtful look at understanding the feelings of a child (and adults as well). It shows that our lives are made up of memories that shape who we are, how we feel and what we think. In short, it's the various experiences that happened around us that define our character and our various persona that we carry throughout our lives.

The film greatest strength is that it managed to highlight certain truths about the emotional complexity of our thoughts and emotions by showing us the importance of each of these core emotions and how the interactions between these core emotions contribute the well-being of a person. The film essentially tries to let us realize, understand, accept and embrace that sadness and misery are just as important as joy and happiness. Without sadness, happiness will not truly exist. Truly happy memories are often the ones that makes us sad at the same time. When there's sadness, comes empathy and understanding. It is what hold us to one another, makes us realize the importance of togetherness. Sadness should not be interpreted as a negative feeling, but a necessary feeling in life that gives life meaning.

Pixar has created something truly original. It had everything you could expect out of a Pixar movie. Moreover, it managed to show the complexities of human psychology by providing a simple but clear view of how life consists of memories and how it shapes our character and personality. There are many emotional moments in this film that will surely put tears in your eyes. It contains a strong meaningful message that is relatable for the young and old. It's a mind-blowing experience. A DEFINITE MUST watch. Don't miss it.


Pixar short film: Lava - A short musical animation about a lonely volcano singing in hopes for finding someone to love him. Simple and decent.

Worthy Note:
  • The film's producers consulted numerous psychologists, including Dacher Keltner from the University of California, Berkeley, who helped revise the story emphasizing the neuro-psychological findings that human emotions are mirrored in interpersonal relationships and can be significantly moderated by them.
  • The writers considered up to 27 different emotions, but settled on five (Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger) to make it less complicated. Some of the major emotions that ended up being cut included Surprise, Pride, and Trust. The creators originally wanted to have 27 emotions in the film. But dropped it down to 5 to make it less complicated. 
  • Earlier versions of the story did include a character named Gloom, who was going to be the film's main antagonist, but this was dropped because the film-makers didn't wish to imply any connection to clinical depression (much less make a villain out of it).
Taken from:

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Movie Review: Fantastic Four

Let's be honest and straight to the point. Fantastic Four is a horrible mess. It's the worst superhero film in recent years. The third act is a mess, character development is nonexistent, character designs were horrendous, the pacing was off and the CGI was bad. There's nothing 'fantastic' about it at all. The origin story for the four heroes was changed entirely in this new reboot. The film has a much darker, serious tone compared to its predecessors. It tries to give a modernized retelling of the superhero team's origins with some unique casting decisions but it failed miserably. The film never bothers to take time to show and develop the relationship or family bond that exists between the four, their reactions to their new-found abilities and how they work together as a team. There's no exploration of how they've been affected physically and emotionally after what's happened to them.

There is little or no interaction between any of the four main characters to let the audience get to know about them. Reed and Ben are portrayed as lifelong best friends but they only have a few scenes together in the film. Johnny and Sue are brothers and sisters (Sue is adopted) but they rarely speak to each other in the film and expressed love to each other like a family. There's no reconciliation or resolution for the character conflicts presented in the film. The alternate dimension where they traveled and gained their powers is a barren wasteland that remains unexplained in the end. Furthermore, there's no development to Victor's drastic transformation into the powerful villain, Dr Doom. It felt like the villain is merely there for the heroes to defeat and save the world. Not to mention, his character design was horrible to the point that you'll wonder why the design gets approved by the filmmakers. Why does there have to be a one-year time jump after the incident happened which caused our main characters to develop superpowers? Why making Ben and Sue mad at Reed for abandoning them when there's no proper resolution at the end? Why does Reed have to escape in the first place? Why does Doom hate Reed? Why Doom thinks that our world isn't worth saving?

Moreover, the visual effects for the third act were so horrible that it looks like it was shot almost entirely with a green screen. This could be the only major superhero film with the worst climactic battle I've ever seen. All these lead to many thinking that something went terribly wrong during production. It is said that 20th Century Fox pulled 3 major action scenes, change the entire third act of the film, hijacked the editing process without the director. The fierce argument between the director and studio caused many unpleasant behaviour from the director on set during production (to the actors and crew). This is not the first time that films turned bad due to studio interference during film production.

Needless to say, this is a terrible reboot for one of Marvel's famous superhero team. It's such a shame considering the fact that the film has great potential, that it might eventually tie in to the X-Men franchise to create a bigger universe. Such a waste of talent, resources and effort to make this film. Please do yourself a favour and save your money instead of watching this rubbish.

Rating: 3/10

Note: There are no mid-credit or after-credit scenes. So don't bother to stay.

Movie Review: Paper Towns

Paper Towns is another one of those coming-of-age films about young adults who are leaving school life to embark on a journey of uncertainty in life, searching for your place in the world and discovering the joy and excitement of getting out from your comfort zone to venture out to the unknown and try new things. This film is also about adolescent crushes - for those of us who had a crush on someone popular and hot in school who we tend to always think about and fantasize many things of her, but as time passes it turned out that she's not the girl we expect her to be. We found out that we liked the idea of her, but not who she really is.

Based on the novel of same name by John Green, who's also the author of The Fault in Our Stars, it's a story about Quentin, a slightly nerdy, conservative, smart boy who had a crush for the girl next door, Margo who moved in to the neighbourhood since young. In the beginning, the film describes Margo as an outgoing, adventurous girl who likes to explore and discover new things around her, which is the complete opposite of Quentin. After having a rather wild revenge night with Margo, she disappeared mysteriously the next morning without informing anyone, including her parents. Since she's known for leaving clues behind for others to find her whereabouts, Quentin decided to embark on a quest with his two best friends to go out and find her.

First and foremost, I have to say that this is the not the typical teen romantic comedy film you expect it to be. The road trip adventure is slightly less dramatic than other comedy films that we used to see in the past, of which I think might put off some audience who might expect something more fun and interesting might happen. However, you will soon learn that sometimes things in life just aren't what you expect it to be. It tries to show the false sense of reality we have in life, we tend to assume that we know people around us, but that doesn't mean that's who he/she really is. We think we know, but we don't. It tries to show the importance of discovering who you really are, what you want to be and what actually matters in life in a less preachy manner.

Paper town literally means fictional town that mapmakers include into their maps so that they could know if someone copied theirs. It is used in this film to describe the illusion of perfection, how everything is not what it seems, especially people. The ending gives a slightly heartfelt bittersweet feeling about moving on to the next stage of life, growing up and allowing people closest to you to be who they are and what they want to be. Sometimes people need to get lost to find out who they really are.