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Random Thoughts: Beauty and the Beast, or This Isn't the Last of Disney's Animation-to-Live Action Adaptations

"You had me at 'library'."

•This isn't a shot-for-shot remake of the original 1991 animated film by Disney. This is more or less a very similar retelling, updated for a modern audience, particularly those who weren't born yet when the original was released.

•There are more songs here than the original one, but the great thing is, it's by the same composer and lyricist, Alan Menken and Tim Rice. And I believe that's the reason the new songs are a great fit to the old. Like, to someone who hasn't seen the original, all the songs in this 2017 version would have a unified feel to it, and they probably wouldn't be able to tell which songs are more than 20 years old.

•Emma Watson can sing, yes, but just barely. Like you can tell musical theatre isn't her background. In fact, she is, in my opinion, this film's weakest link. But I can't seem to think of anyone else who could've played Belle in this live-action version.

•Ewan McGregor was awesome as Lumiere. We've heard him sing before, in Moulin Rouge, so no surprise there. And to think he'd never seen the original before he signed up for this project. But with the way he sang "Be Our Guest", you can't tell. You'd probably even think he's seen the original a thousand times on VHS.

•I'm not a fan of the boots, Emma Watson. I understand it was your call to wear them. What were you thinking? No. Just no.

"You're not wearing those hideous boots, are you?"

•Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad as LeFou were awesome. Unlike Emma Watson, these two are great singers. Josh Gad has already shown us his vocal prowess in Pixels, so it's nothing new, really. But Luke Evans came as quite a surprise. And to think I used to refer to him as a "poor man's Orlando Bloom".

•Apparently, LeFou is the first openly-gay Disney character. I just found that out recently, because it wasn't really obvious in the animated version. But I think Josh Gad is really gay. Or at least he could pass for gay. Actually, he's a family man with two daughters, so I don't think he's gay.

•I understand it was a stylistic choice to put Mrs. Potts's face on the side of the teapot instead of having the spout as her nose. But the animation looked kind of tacky, of you ask me. Emma Thompson in lieu of Angela Lansbury is okay, but I just don't like how the animation looks, sorry.

•I didn't know Ian McKellen was Cogsworth. I can picture him in a superhero film franchise. But I thought voice acting would be beneath his status as a skilled thespian. Apparently everyone has a price. I wonder how much he got paid for this gig.

•Dan Stevens was perfect as the Beast. First, because he sings quite well. Second, because he kind of looked like the prince in the animated version. With all the effort he exerted in his performance, it's a shame director Bill Condon didn't opt for practical make-up over CGI, but it was still a good job nonetheless.

Why does Cogsworth look like a Transformer?

Beauty and the Beast. USA. 2016.

Original rating: 8.0/10
"Be Our Guest": +0.1
"The Mob Song": +0.1
Emma Watson's singing: -0.1
Underutilising Kevin Kline: -0.1
Underutilising Stanley Tucci: -0.1
Audra McDonald's singing: +0.1
French translations at the end titles: +0.1
Final rating: 8.0/10


Random Thoughts: Kong: Skull Island IMAX 3D, or This Is Just the Start of a Monster Cinematic Universe

Riding off into the sunset... to certain death.

•Okay, first thing's first. Kong is not a gorilla. He walks upright, like man. So this makes him more a primate than an ape. A primate that looks very much like a gorilla.

•Toby Kebbel dies. The actor I like more than the actual lead star Tom Hiddleston doesn't make it to the end. Why, oh why? Wait, I don't actually know who the lead star is. If it's the one that gets top billing, then it's Hiddleston. But if it's the one with the most screen time, I think it's Samuel L. Jackson. Or Kong.

•I'm not sure if the Richard Nixon bobblehead doll on the helicopter dashboard is an anachronism. Although bobblehead dolls did indeed exist during this period, my research has revealed that early bobblehead dolls had generic faces, with very few specifically recognisable heads, and I don't think Nixon was that popular to warrant his own line of mass-produced bobbleheads.

•The curly-haired Latino scientist–the one who expressed his desire to just stay on the boat–got killed by being snatched from the boat by some flying creature. His death reminded me very much of the accountant's in Jurassic Park.

•Samuel L. Jackson says one of my favourite Samuel L. Jackson lines ever: "Hold on to your butts." This line was, again, from Jurassic Park.


•Samuel L. Jackson has no redemption. He died a true villain. He didn't even let Kong live. Not even when they had eye contact while Kong was down, when "the big one" was making its way to them. Damn you, Mr. Jackson.

•This film, by the way, is set during the tail-end of the Vietnam War, in case you didn't get the Apocalypse Now vibe this movie seems to be giving off.

•Tom Hiddleston looks great in rugged themes. Yes, he looks great as Loki, but the rugged, unshaven look suits him better. Like how he looked like in The Night Manager. But seriously, what happened to his badassery? The first time we see him, he beats up guys at the pool table, and even breaks a cue stick on his knee. He never followed through on that badassery.

•Kong is huge. Like extremely huge. This is probably the biggest incarnation of Kong on the big screen ever. So it makes sense to see this film on the biggest screen known to man: IMAX. In fact, despite not being shot in IMAX nor in 3D, it seems IMAX 3D is the best format to see this film in.

•This film utilises great CGI. However, the creature designs, not so great. Those skull crawlers? Terrible. I mean, what're they supposed to be? Half-evolved lizard snakes? Ugh.

•And now we go to the end credits scene. So what is their mission now? Is this going to be like a monster cinematic universe? Apparently, it seems like they're serious about the idea.

"God damn, you're ugly."

Kong: Skull Island. USA. 2017.

Original rating: 7.9/10
No Brie Larson nudity: -0.1
Eugene Cordero: +0.1
John Goodman as a despicable character: -0.1
Toby Kebbel dying: -0.1
Samuel L. Jackson dying: +0.1
Final rating: 7.8/10


Random Thoughts: Logan, or It's Been an Honour, Mr. Jackman

*Random Thoughts is a new style of reviewing I'm trying out, so this blog can release reviews faster. In case you don't know, reviewing films is time-consuming, and I don't get paid to do this.

"My daddy drives a limo. And decapitates people."

•Great move for Stephen Merchant. Those who don't know him will be surprised to learn that he is one of the greatest comedic minds of the English-speaking world. He's the co-creator of The Office, and the creator and star of HBO's short-lived Hello Ladies. So seeing him in the non-comedic role of Caliban the albino mutant tracker is quite refreshing indeed.

•This is Marvel's most realistic movie to date. Like Batman Begins. Well, you could argue that Captain America: The Winter Soldier was realistic, but I think you got "realistic" confused with "dark and gritty". Of course mutants aren't real, but if they were, this film would probably depict it better than the stylized look and feel of the preceding films in the X-Men franchise.

•I thought Wolverine can't die. I thought his healing factor made him close to immortal, and that there's only a few ways he can actually be killed. So why is he dying in this movie? Adamantium poisoning? Okay, so his healing factor kept the adamantium poison at bay all this time? Sure, I'll buy that. But why did his healing factor fail in the first place?

•What I would've wanted was more of a back story. So this movie takes place in 2029, but how did they end up there? How did Logan get into the limousine business? How did Caliban and Professor X end up in Mexico? I mean, why Mexico? Also, there was no sign of a Mexican-American wall, so does that mean President Trump reneges on his promise to keep the Mexicans out? Or maybe he didn't get reelected? Or does that mean Trump gets impeached?

•Is there some sort of demand for characters like Eleven from Stranger Things? You know, the weird, creepy girl who's actually nice were it not for the circumstances in her life that forced her to become feared as a weapon? I mean, don't get me wrong, Dafne Keen gave a good performance as Laura, even if she spent most of her screen time in silence. She's got that rage-y angst down, and I'm not sure if she's hit puberty yet.

This is actually a very cool costume, in my opinion.

•At one point in the X-Men universe, Charles Xavier was the most powerful mutant in the world. What happened? How was he reduced to this withered old man that Hugh Jackman can carry up a flight of stairs? It seems the Professor is now suffering from Alzheimer's. It's kind of strange that a mind  as powerful as the Professor's can't fend off a mind-debilitating disease. I mean, if I had Charles Xavier's mind, I'd use it to command my cells to regenerate. But I guess that would be a tall order, seeing that he can't even command his legs to walk.

•Boyd Holbrook plays a bad guy in this film. I liked him in Narcos, where he plays a good agent with an even better moustache. Here in Logan, he plays Donald Pierce, the leader of the mutant-hunting gang known as the Reavers, and he sheds off his good guy-image while retaining his facial hair. No, Pierce is not a mutant. He's a cyborg who hates mutants.

•So who is that younger Wolverine? It's probably X-23. Wait, no–X-23 is Laura. This younger Logan is X-24. And to pull this off, director James Mangold utilised the method that's been growing in popularity and will probably be a game-changer in the future, despite the ethics controversy after Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I'm talking about the use of digital actors. Yes, they used a digital Logan in this one. Actually, for the scenes they were together, sometimes it's X-24 that's CGI, and sometimes it's Old Man Logan. It's just so seamless, you don't know who's who. And that's really how it's supposed to be.

•I noticed that the scene on the highway had trailers/container vans that seemed to drive themselves. Are those for real? They just looked like huge boxes moving across the highway. And also, good job, Professor, for calming the horses down with your mental telepathy. That would make you a...drumroll... horse whisperer. Yeah, I know. That was forced.

•Those kids in North Dakota, are they the New Mutants? You know, because they're new (to the franchise), and they're mutants. But seriously, there's a comic line called The New Mutants. So how do we know these kids are the same New Mutants? Rictor. Yes, that young man who seems to be their leader. Actually, introducing these guys is a set-up to their upcoming spin-off movie. That's right. The New Mutants are getting their own film.

•So while setting the stage for the spin-off franchise, might as well introduce that spin-off's new villain, which would be Dr. Rice, played by Richard E. Grant. Although Dr. Rice plays second fiddle to Boyd Holbrook's main villain, he is by no means still despicable, and we'll probably get to see more of his villainy when the spin-off movie comes out.

"Wait, I haven't done a Rogue-Jean Grey threesome yet."

Logan. USA. 2017.

Original rating: 8.4/10
Not-so-comic book treatment: +0.1
Professor X's powerful seizures: +0.1
Dafne Keen's annoying voice: -0.1
Fat black kid with the power of electricity: +0.1
Logan's death: +0.1
Chrysler limo: +0.1


Random Thoughts: La La Land, or Stop Showing Off, Ryan Gosling!

*Random Thoughts is a new style of reviewing we're trying out, so this blog can release reviews faster. In case you don't know, reviewing films is time-consuming, and I don't get paid to do this.

"Let me show you how to dance the 'Asereje'."

•An alliterative title about L.A., a.k.a. the City of Angels. It sounds playful and whimsical, which actually helps set the tone for the entire picture. This is actually a modern throwback to old Hollywood. It's like Singin' in the Rain, but with smartphones.

•That opening sequence on the freeway flyover was brilliant. Very well-choreographed, not just with the dancing, but with the camerawork as well. I bet they had to shut the road down, which would have made that sequence quite expensive to shoot.

•This is not a proper musical per se. I mean, it's not a musical in the Broadway tradition. It's more of like a love story with some singing and dancing.

•Ryan Gosling has really great comic timing. I've already noticed this in The Nice Guys, and I'm so glad he gets to unleash some of his comedy here, for the benefit of those who haven't seen his movie with Russell Crowe.

•Okay, so Ryan Gosling plays the piano. Damn you and your good looks.

•Is Emma Stone a natural redhead? And is it just me, or do redheads look good in any colour? Okay, I googled it, and she's a natural blonde.

•Ryan Gosling dances, too? Fuck you. I am kidding. You are my new man-crush.

•Okay, the singing wasn't bad. But it wasn't great singing, either. It's like driving a car. Most people can get their vehicle from point A to point B, but that's not the sign of a good driver. A good driver can get to point A to point B with style and grace. Much like hitting the right notes doesn't necessarily make you a good singer. Yeah, Stone and Gosling may have hit the right notes, but come on.

•Remember that scene when they had a fight about achieving their dreams? Well, a true musical would've done that scene in song. If this were a true musical, it would've done a lot of exposition in song. Just saying.

•Why is John Legend here? Did he write all the songs and the score? Like what Pharrell did in Hidden Figures? Ah, no. Google says Justin Hurwitz wrote La La Land's score. Thanks, Google, for answering my rhetorical questions.

•I loved that scene towards the end when Emma Stone and her husband went into Seb's. There's something wonderful about "what could've been" scenes. You know why? Because they are alternate timelines. Parallel universes. That's fifth dimension stuff right there, man. And I always find that mind-blowing.

When the director says "Jump", you say "How high?"

La La Land. USA. 2016.

Original rating: 7.7/10
Cinematography: +0.1
Ryan Gosling's comic timing: +0.1
Dance sequences: +0.1
Opening sequence: +0.1
Ryan Gosling's musical talent: -0.1
Tap dancing sequence: +0.1
Not enough J.K. Simmons: -0.1
Damien Chazelle's directing: +0.1
Final rating: 8.1/10


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