The Book Of Life (2014) Review

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The Book Of Life (2014)

Directed by Jorge Gutierrez

Produced by Aaron Berger, Brad Booker, Guillermo del Toro, Carina Schulze

Starring:
Diego Luna
Zoe Saldana
Channing Tatum
Ron Perlman
Christina Applegate
Ice Cube
Kate del Castillo

Running time: 95 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears.

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My Opinion:

Hmm. I liked this movie and did think it was lovely to look at (but was probably a bit “too much” visually – they could have toned it down). As an adult, it’s not always fun sitting through kids movies but I enjoyed the story well enough in this and didn’t just want to sleep through the whole thing like I pretty much did during the horrible Boxtrolls movie. The problem with this one, though, is that I think adults may almost enjoy it a bit more than really young kids as I think the story is too confusing for those under maybe 8 or so. There’s no reason that younger kids can’t go to it – I just think they won’t like this one as much as it’s very fast paced, the story is too complex, and it’s just very “busy” – you’re constantly bombarded with the visuals, the story, the songs… I found it hard to keep up myself so I doubt a five-year-old really could.

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As I said, I did quite like the story. It’s actually told as a story that’s being told to a group of kids at a museum and I wasn’t sure that would really work at first but it wasn’t too bad – it just made it a bit harder to get into the characters who are in the “story within a story”. I put the very simple plot synopsis at the top but here it is from Wikipedia in much more detail to show you exactly what the central story is about (although, as I said, it’s more complex than this):

The spirits La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered and Xibalba, ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, appear at the San Angel’s Day of the Dead festival where they set up a wager after seeing two boys, Manolo and Joaquín, competing over a free-spirited girl named María. La Muerte bets that Manolo will marry María, while Xibalba bets on Joaquín. If La Muerte wins, Xibalba can no longer interfere in mortal affairs, but if Xibalba wins, he and La Muerte would switch lands.

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The girl in this is pretty good – she’s feisty and when the boys are fighting over her says something like “I belong to no one!” so I was all for that as too many female characters in kids movies are horrible role models to young girls. Her pet pig was pretty adorable and there weren’t any annoying or unlikable characters.

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The jokes in this are actually somewhat funny, even for the adults (well, one joke was SO dirty that the hubby & I looked at each other in disbelief! Don’t worry, though – your kids would NOT pick up on it. Just don’t laugh at it if you can help yourself. I couldn’t help myself…). There’s also a lot of music in this film which was sometimes fun as they did some popular stuff. Although I wasn’t sure if I should think it’s cool or if I should be pissed off at them doing Radiohead’s Creep… But, hey – it’s the first time I’ve heard Biz Markie’s Just A Friend since 1989!

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Summary:

The Book Of Life is a decent enough film that adults probably won’t mind sitting through as well. I do think it’s too complex for the very young but, aside from one dirty joke they won’t get anyway, I wouldn’t say there’s really anything inappropriate for kids (other than maybe the issue of “death” being discussed but you get that in most Disney movies anyway). Obviously, it’s not Pixar or Disney so it’s still just a kids film to me & I never rate those as highly as I’d rather watch a grown-up movie. I liked this okay, though, and think most kids of at least 7 or 8 probably will too.

My Rating: 6/10

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Here’s some Radiohead for Cara. 😉

Pacific Rim (2013) Review

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Pacific Rim

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

Starring:
Charlie Hunnam
Idris Elba
Rinko Kikuchi
Charlie Day
Robert Kazinsky
Max Martini
Ron Perlman
Burn Gorman
Clifton Collins Jr

Running time: 132 minutes

Plot Synopsis (via Wikipedia):

The film is set in the 2020s, when Earth is under attack by Kaiju, colossal monsters which have emerged from a portal on the ocean floor. To combat the monsters, humanity unites to create the Jaegers: gigantic humanoid mecha, each controlled by two pilots whose minds are joined by a neural bridge.

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My Opinion:

THIS is what I expect of a summer blockbuster. There are cool monsters (they even GLOW!), big funky robots, lots & lots of action, characters who are cliché as hell including generically attractive leads, and a story that’s totally predictable every step of the way. Turn off your brain, munch your popcorn, and just have fun. I really enjoyed this film as I got exactly what I was expecting.

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This movie is all about the action so I’m not going to go into any of that. All of that is really good and thoroughly entertaining. Instead, I’ll discuss the characters in the film a little bit.

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There aren’t going to be any Oscars handed out to anyone in this. But who cares? The main guy, Charlie Hunnam, really can’t get any more generically attractive. The good news is that he takes his shirt off a couple of times. The bad news is that those couple of shirtless moments are fairly brief and he’s otherwise always fully clothed. His storyline starts out OH SO PREDICTABLE and ends that way as well. As does the storyline of, well, absolutely everyone in this. Again, though – who cares? We’re all going to this to see monsters & robots! 🙂

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The other characters of note are:

– Idris Elba as the dude in charge of the Jaegers & their pilots. He was just right for the role and probably put in the most effort acting-wise.

– Rinko Kikuchi as “the girl”. Another very predictable storyline here but it was a decent enough story. And we see her as a little girl too and she’s adorable.

– The scientists (Charlie Day & Burn Gorman). You’ll probably love these guys or you’ll hate them. Predictably quirky & nerdy – they’re always competing with each other in trying to figure out the best way to save the world from the Kaiju. They’re the “comic relief” but you’ll probably be rolling your eyes at some of their antics.

– The other Jaeger pilots. There are a few other “teams” but the one focused on the most is a father & son (the son is the generically attractive “prick” these types of blockbusters call for). Again – their storyline is predictable but I liked it fine.

– Ron Perlman as the “lunatic”. I think his role is meant to be a bit of a surprise so I won’t say exactly who he is but he’ll be a favorite character, I would think, for anyone who is a Ron Perlman fan. He’s also in it to provide a bit of comic relief but I really couldn’t decide if I liked his character or not. It felt a bit too silly to me.

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Summary:

I know I’ve not said much about this film but there’s really no point. You won’t exactly increase your IQ by watching it but you WILL enjoy yourself. This movie does exactly what it sets out to do: keeps you entertained without requiring you to put much effort into “thinking”. And that’s fine when you’re expecting it – I have no issue with the braindead action in this whereas in something like Man Of Steel it annoyed me as I expected a film like that to be a little “smarter” and not have SUCH excessive action for such a large chunk of the film. And while I didn’t expect anything other than the cliché characters and predictable storylines, it does keep Pacific Rim from becoming something MORE than just “this year’s” big summer blockbuster. Plenty of other past summer blockbusters are now what I’d consider all-time favorites and, unfortunately, I don’t think Pacific Rim quite manages to make itself an all-time classic in this category. But I do recommend it, especially on a nice big cinema screen.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Scene after credits?: Yes, there is a scene partway through the credits that you’ll probably want to stay for. There’s not a scene after the credits but there is a dedication to Ray Harryhausen & Ishiro Honda and the sound of a Kaiju roar.

Also, there has been talk of a Pacific Rim sequel! SPOILER if you haven’t yet seen the film:

The sequel, Pacific Rim 2: Electric Boogaloo, will focus on the Kaiju and the dance show they organize in an attempt to raise enough money for a new portal.