ROGUE ONE, PASSENGERS ZERO: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Passengers


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Warning: SPOILERS
rev-1In film, Sci-Fi has often been divided into two categories: adult science fiction, stories that capture the mind and are more philosophical and questioning in nature; and pop culture Sci-Fi, stories that are more escapist and less challenging where the grey cells are concerned.
Perhaps no better year can define this dichotomy than 1977 when the original Star Wars was released the same year as Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Critics often claim, or have a prejudice, that adult sci-fi is inherently superior or preferably to pop culture sci-fi. And I do have to admit, if truth be forceably told, I tend to prefer the former to the latter. But there is never a guarantee that one is going to be better than the other. In fact, in the end, the one that is better is simply the one that is better, and the reason why it is better is because, when all is said and done, it’s the, well… better one. Continue reading

WIIGING OUT: Welcome to Me and About Elly


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
Warning: SPOILERS
welcome to meWhen Welcome to Me, the new comedy written by Eliot Laurence and directed by Shira Piven, began, I instantly became a bit wary. The central character, Alice Kleig (played by the quite funny Kristen Wiig) is bipolar and has just gone off her meds. I felt in these opening scenes the filmmakers were exploiting her condition for laughs and I became a bit uncomfortable.
But then something intriguing happens. We stop seeing Alice through the eyes of the director and writer, but through the eyes of her friends, who love her very much, as well as her therapist, who is very concerned for her and also likes her very much, and suddenly all those things she does (like starting any explanation by whipping out a piece of paper and saying, “I have a prepared statement”) now seem charmingly eccentric.
We like Alice and have affection for her and her foibles and are concerned for her because her friends have affection for her and are concerned. Continue reading

WHAT HAPPENED TO ONE THROUGH FIVE: Big Hero 6 and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r

 

Warning: SPOILERS
big heroI’m sure you’ve heard the old joke, the one about the guy who said, “I’m not going to see Henry V because I haven’t seen the first four yet”?
Well, don’t worry, fair filmgoers, Big Hero 6 is not a sequel (though believe me, to paraphrase Paul Thomas Anderson, there will be sequels). It’s more an origin story of a group of X-Men like super young adults set in a city named San Fransokyo (so called because it’s an alternative future where Japanese immigrants rebuilt the city where I left my heart after the 1906 earthquake).
Big Hero 6 is a fun and satisfying enough animated movie, especially in the first half where it tends to show a bit more heart and emphasizes emotional resonance over the more prevalent action oriented approach of the second half.
True, it’s fairly familiar and almost Disney paint by number. I mean, c’mon, you gotta know that a mother or father or mother figure or father figure to the central character is going to die early on because, well, it’s Disney, and the only thing that studio likes more than making animated movies that rake in a ton of money is trying to traumatize pre-teens in the first fifteen minutes of their films (unless it’s about a dog, then they wait until the last fifteen). Continue reading