Friday, April 7, 2017

Swiss Army Man

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I'm wondering if the song "You're Welcome" is meant to be sarcastic because I can't get that damn thing out of my head.  I never thought I would find farts so beautiful.



Swiss Army Man – 5 out of 5

Fart humor can be a sketchy thing for me.  When done right, I find it to be hilarious but when done improperly, I find it to be groan-inducing.  What’s the right formula for this type of humor?  Hell, if I know.  It’s just one of those things that when it’s done right you can just feel it.  One thing is for certain, it’s rare when a property can redefine the humor that comes from these gaseous releases and that’s one of the things that Swiss Army Man did.  It’s not every day that you find a heart-warming, endearing and charming movie about love and friendship that’s filled with a fine dose of butt blasting.

"There there, dead friend."

While out in the wilderness, a depressed man named Hank (Paul Dano) decides he’s going to commit suicide.  However, before he has a chance to hang himself, he spots a dead body (Daniel Radcliffe) on the shore of a beach.  When he examines the body, he learns that it holds special abilities (some fart-based) that will help him survive out in the wild.  Soon, through the power of friendship, the body starts to come back to life and declare his name is Manny.  Now Hank and Manny are on a course to find their way home and, along the way, learn the price of being alone and the meaning of real friendship.

Don't be weird-ed out by this pic.  It's just a dude making a connection
with the dead body he found in the woods and became friends with.

When I first heard of Swiss Army Man, I was instantly intrigued with the concept and really wanted to check it out.  It felt like one of those original ideas that are too wild for even the gutsiest of production companies to make.  However, the concept also had an inherent risk that it could be really awful.  This film had to walk a line where if it leaned too far in either direction the whole product could come apart.  Amazingly, writers/directors Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan performed the impossible and made some incredibly special and wholly amazing with this one.

BY THE POWER OF FARTS!!!

What makes Swiss Army Man work so well is there is a palpable genuine feel to every aspect.  The performances are honest and feel real (even with the outrageous premise), the chemistry between the two leads is unmistakable, and the drama, comedy and heart all seem to pour from a place of passion rather than a place of just wanting to produce.  Nothing about this production feels phoned-in or farted out (terrible pun totally intended).  There’s an undeniable craftsmanship that accompanied every detail of this film and it culminated in a movie that is absolutely hysterical one moment and completely endearing and charming the next.

Who would have thought that one day the same kid who played Harry Potter
would one day be a talking and farting corpse in a movie?  What a time
to be alive!

Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe are both very talented actors and it’s really no surprise that each man did a fantastic job.  You would think that Radcliffe would easily stand out more because he had to play corpse and, although he still did a tremendous job, Dano is right there on the same level as him and they play off each other so well that neither looks like they are faltering at all.  That’s easily one of the strongest aspects of the film because the natural looking chemistry that these two men share completely lights up the screen and makes their developing friendship so much easier to engage with.

Also, Mary Elizabeth Winstead was in the film--not to downplay her role
or anything because she was also great in her limited appearance.

The final element that really made this film sing is how the marriage of humor, heart and drama come together.  The two Dans that wrote and directed this film knew the exact amounts of comedy and drama each scene needed and they developed the story at such a skilled and perfect pace that nothing in this film ever feels overwhelming and the plot never drags.  Additionally, the blending of everything is done so incredibly well that there are never any jarring changes of tone but rather seamless fades into one other.  This movie is like a goddamn painting done by Bob Ross.

In retrospect, it's a bit dark that this entire charming adventure began with
a dude trying to commit suicide.

After the whole film was concluded and the credits rolled, I realized there wasn’t one aspect of Swiss Army Man that I didn’t enjoy.  Sure, the farting aspect could turn people off (and it famously did at Sundance) but it’s delivered in such a way that that they aren’t your typical fart gags.  Combining that with the gorgeous visuals, amazing music, awesome performances and the undeniably charming and beautiful story and I found a movie that entertained me endlessly.

Ouija: Origin of Evil

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I'm wondering if the song "You're Welcome" is meant to be sarcastic because I can't get that damn thing out of my head.  Did the producers speak to the spirits and it was them who said a sequel was a good idea?



Ouija:  Origin of Evil – 2 out of 5

When the original Ouija came out, I was less than impressed with the product.  I didn’t think it was terrible but with a lethargic pace, no atmosphere, no adequate scares, and a cast that was kinda forgettable, the whole feature ended up feeling very generic.  I’m not entirely sure why the film ended up getting a sequel in the form of a prequel because it wasn’t a runaway hit and reactions from both audiences and critics were mediocre at best.  But, acting as if the horror genre isn’t already crowded with too many films that all look and feel the same, it was decided that we needed to learn more about the ghoul in the house and see more of the toy that you can buy in the board game section of your toy store.  So, is Ouija:  Origin of Evil another weak affair or is this one a step up?  

"Now let's begin this bullshi--I mean, communication with the spirits."


If kids weren't loud enough with regular sized
mouths...
In the 1960s, Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) works with her two daughters; Lina (Annalise Basso) and Doris (Lulu Wilson), scamming folks out of their money by pretending to be a psychic that communicates with the deceased.  However, after she decides she is going to incorporate a Ouija board into her act, she unknowingly invites a violent presence into her house—one that takes over her youngest; Doris.  Soon, local holy man; Father Tom Hogan (Henry Thomas), reveals the truth over what is possessing the child and the supernatural forces that are closing in on all of them.

I feel like someday in the future Ouija boards with have a dick icon so
skeezy dude-bro ghosts can send messages of their dicks from beyond.

First it was an alien and the government and now
it's ghosts.  This dude can't win.
Similar to the first film, Ouija:  Origin of Evil isn’t really doing too much obviously wrong but it’s not doing a whole lot right either.  It fixes a lot of things that hampered the first film but never to the extent that this is anything but a minor improvement.  Overall, the film ends up falling flat and delivering about as many scares and creeps as the previous one did. One improvement that this prequel that acts as a sequel does is providing a story that flows fairly well.  There are a lot of times, however, that the story and actions taken by this spirit that warranted some development or, at the very least, more moments of the thing being a terror.  As it stands, there’s very few moments in the film’s build-up to the final act that really cements the stakes and establishes the conflict this creature has.  There are some moments at play but they only really act as the bare minimum and it would have greatly assisted the feature with some more ghoulish gags.

"Oh no!  We're being haunted by a terrible looking CG ghost!"

Origin of Evil does have a creepy moment here and there but the film is kinda light on the visceral scares and the tone of the film doesn’t really convey a sense of foreboding or dread—similar to the first film.  Even where there are moments that should, in theory, be terrifying kinda feel like they are just lackadaisically put out there.  Hell, there is even a moment where the characters themselves don’t look like they want to put in the effort to sell the scares as there is a sequence where a body comes crashing into the scene and the characters look like this wasn’t all that surprising to them.

Way too mild of a reaction to the sight of this.

Overall, Ouija:  Origin of Evil isn’t really doing much wrong on its production front that instantly makes it a bad movie but it doesn’t feel like it’s doing too much right in order to make it a memorable one.  The cast is decent but not very memorable, the story is serviceable but not very rich or developed and, aside from some limited creepy imagery, I really didn’t find the film that scary.  It’s definitely easier to watch than the first film but, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not enough of an improvement to make the whole ordeal worth the effort.

Okay, that's actually kinda creepy.

Justice League Dark

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I'm wondering if the song "You're Welcome" is meant to be sarcastic because I can't get that damn thing out of my head.  This is a sequel to Justice League Light--which had half the calories.



Justice League Dark – 4 out of 5

My opinions on DC’s films lately have been quite mixed but there’s a few areas where I think they are doing exceptionally well right now.  Number 1)  Their comics since Rebirth began are flippin’ amazing, Number 2) The CW Arrowverse shows are incredibly fun and Number 3)  Their animated films are of consistent and excellent quality.  Their latest addition to their shared animated universe takes a dive in the mystic with DC’s more magical characters in Justice League Dark.

Hey look, suddenly John Stewart and Hawkman are on the
League without any explanation!

This movie is pretty racist against demons.
After a rash of people start mysterious becoming violent and unpredictable as they claim they are seeing demons surround them, Batman (Jason O’Mara) is directed towards a cocky and snarky occultist named John Constantine (Matt Ryan).  With the help of the magician Zatanna (Camilla Luddington) and the disembodied spirit known as Deadman (Nicholas Turturro), Constantine learns that a powerful sorcerer is responsible for the possessions taking over the people.  Quickly, the team gathers the help of the demon Etrigan (Ray Chase) and the creature Swamp Thing (Roger Cross) and sets out to use the magical arts to save the world.

They're on their way to pick up the next member who dabbles in the magical
arts:  Gob Bluth.

Justice League Dark is a refreshing turn for the DC Animated Universe because it’s not an actual Justice League-based story.  Sure, the League is there and Batman is in the mix but getting to see the more paranormal and mystic side of DC’s lore come to focus is a nice change of pace and a great opportunity to test the waters for the company.  Additionally, the film also offers up a return for Matt Ryan to reprise his role as Constantine after he did a tremendous job of teeing him up in the criminally short-lived NBC show. 

He's giving the side-eye to the network for not having faith in his show.

Already better than those obscure live-action
movies he had in the 80s.
The strongest aspect of Dark was, in my opinion, the story itself.  Unlike other DCAU films that have come out, this one doesn’t try to cram too much in nor ends up having a plot that feels rushed—I’ve mentioned this in other films like Aquaman’s feature.  Instead, the story is allowed to unfold and develop at a pace that feels very natural and not like it is trying to get too much done in a too small of a time period.  However, it kinda stunk that Batman was included.  I’m a big Batman fan and I get that DC and WB want him included because he’s their money maker but it would have been really nice to let Constantine and the crew spread their wings and try to fly on their own without the help of Bruce Wayne and the Batman name.  Of course, that comes with a huge risk of people not buying the video, so I understand why he’s included the way he is.  It just would have been neat to see DC take a risk and do a Batman-less animated film.

"Hmmm.  He's hurt.  I'm the world's greatest detective."

The only real thing I found odd about the whole film was the rating.  For some reason, Justice League Dark is rated R.  However, I really didn’t see anything about the film that was worth of this rating.  Sure, there’s a literal shit monster in it and there’s a couple of mild swears that you’d hear on basic cable but, beyond that, nothing about it screamed rated-R.  Hell, even the action didn’t live up to the rating as I found it…well…kinda tame.  Justice League:  Gods and Monsters has far more brutal and shocking violence and that one was PG-13.  Is this rating just another gimmick from the WB and DC in order to leech off the success of the likes of Deadpool?  It sure feels that way.

I was shitting you not when I said this film had a shit monster.

The rating aside, I found the overall product of Justice League Dark to be an excellent viewing experience.  Sadly, I think it might end up being a blip on the animated movies' radar and will probably end up being forgotten down the road and I’m really disappointed that DC didn’t take the leap and try to give these characters their own film without having to attach Batman’s likeness to it.  However, it’s a stepping stone in their animated universe and I really hope that it opens their world up to attempting other characters that the mainstream audiences aren’t overly familiar with.