One of the many questions that spring to mind while watching Pixels - such as "Why doesn't any of this make any sense?" and "What would it take for Adam Sandler's tired Deputy Dawg face to register an iota of genuine emotion?" - is: Who is this film supposed to be for? As a PG movie packed full of fairly obscure 80s references, you can only assume that its core audience is nostalgic parents who won't mind it when, on the journey home afterwards, their child takes a brief pause from unpacking the latest expansion kit for their favourite immersive online RPG to ask: "What's a Donkey Kong?"
We've all seen the list of Pixar's story concepts throughout the years, right? 1995: What if toys had feelings, 1998: What if bugs had feelings, etc until we get to the Inside Out punchline: What if feelings had feelings? It's an apt joke, not just because you can imagine that this formula for success was actually decided years ago in a boardroom somewhere, but because Inside Out really does feel like the ultimate Pixar film. In terms of fun, emotion, gags and - yes - cries, Inside Out meets the very best of what the studio has done to date, and it does so within a simple, lovable realisation of an incredibly complicated abstract concept. This really is Pinnacle Pixar.
Posted by Ali Gray
at 16:00 on 24 Jul 2015
Mission: Impossible is the only movie series that's got the measure of franchise fatigue. Some elements remain omnipresent - the star, the stunts, the self-destruction - but with each new M:I instalment helmed by a new director bringing a fresh flavour, it has Bond beat in terms of shelf-life. Rogue Nation, however, is the first entry in the franchise to play it relatively safe, offering a slick and entertaining adventure but one that doesn't feel different enough from Ghost Protocol
- perhaps inevitably, given its predecessor's lofty ambitions, Rogue Nation couldn't ever hope to hit the same heights.
More than any of its other movies to date, it seems that Marvel has been really savvy with this film. After all, it has completely turned around our expectations. Remember when we were outraged at Edgar Wright leaving due to “creative differences”? Remember when we sharpened our caps-lock ready for whatever half-assed generic borefest followed? Slowly, but surely, Marvel have won us all over with some neat trailers, some fun marketing and the sheer force of Paul Rudd’s lovable charisma. If that wasn't proof enough that Marvel just know exactly what the fuck they are doing with what they have, the finished movie also happens be rather ace. And that is no small achievement.
I hold a special kind of contempt for people who indulge themselves in reviewing things that are blatantly not meant for them to enjoy; people who take pleasure in sticking the boot into something that is clearly aimed at a different demographic. I'm thinking the petulant one-star reviews of Kanye West's Glastonbury set, or Mark Kermode secretly enjoying giving the Entourage
movie a kicking - everyone knows Kermode would rather stay at home watching The Exorcist with one hand in a pot of pomade and the other down his pants. You wouldn't send a Danny Dyer fan to review a Michael Haneke film, so why is the opposite true?
10-20 years from now, future generations will look back on this decade and cringe at how their parents and grandparents belly-laughed at the offensive, nonsense humour of Seth MacFarlane, in much the same way as we do now at old sitcoms from the 70s. Clips of Family Guy's most near-knuckle gags will be shown in TV documentaries that explain how the 2010s were a less civilised era, before society learned to behave like better people. Luckily, we are already on the cusp of more progressive times as the tide has started to turn against the squeaky-faced MacFarlane’s now-familiar string of stoner/racist/pop culture/left field references. 2015 is truly a cornerstone year as MacFarlane Fatigue has firmly set in and, on the basis of Ted 2, it's easy to see why.
Three young friends lark about with a video camera, filming themselves eating sweets and making private jokes like typical teenagers. They start to sing Happy Birthday to the girl holding the camera, but one voice stands out – a rich, soulful and mature voice completely at odds with the young face its coming out of, one that will be later compared to the likes of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. It’s an astonishing opening to Asif Kapadia’s moving portrait of tragic singer Amy Winehouse, and it’s as sad as fuck.
Posted by Ali Gray
at 01:10 on 01 Jul 2015
Terminator Genisys represents everything that is wrong with modern movies. Absolutely everything. It is a hopelessly contrived revisit to a once famous franchise, long since dragged through the mud and reanimated - for the third time - in the hopes that it can repeat past tricks. It is a reboot that fails to perform the basic function of a reboot - to start afresh with a blank canvas - instead preferring to muddy the waters of an already terminally confusing timeline. Worst of all, it is chronically boring and manages to make a movie about a robot uprising seem about as exciting as the launch of Tidal. In short, it is the worst film of the year by far; a catastrophically bad moviegoing experience that not only manages to insult fans of the first (and only) two decent Terminator movies but manages to botch the franchise to such an extent you wonder if even the 12-year-olds it's aimed at will be impressed by its static action and needlessly convoluted plot.
The Beach Boys: squeaky-clean surfers, or the subjects of sordid sex scandals, substance abuse and psychotic breakdowns? Whatever your level of familiarity with these endless harmonisers and their incredible off-stage history – fatherly abuse, drugs, rivalry, death, links to Charles Manson, drummer Dennis Wilson falling out with lead singer (and cousin) Mike Love and then marrying his daughter – the chances are that you don’t know the whole history…. because, frankly, there’s just so much to tell. Any Beach Boys biopic just couldn’t possibly do justice to their entire 53-years-and-counting career. Thankfully, this new film focuses on band figurehead and recognised musical genius, Brian Wilson. And even then, it still feels like just a drop in the ocean.
It is hard, as a fan of a TV show, to divorce yourself from your feelings for it and watch the end-of-series movie without prejudice. And probably you shouldn't: it's meant for you, as a sort of valedictory reward for your loyalty. But then releasing it in cinemas suggests a pitch to a wider audience, so while it might satisfy the existing viewer, as Entourage sort-of-just-about does, you wonder who else they're expecting to queue up for tickets.