This Year in Film (2019) – Film List

Personally, I feel this year in film has been a bit of a mixed-bag, as while I do feel we’ve had our fair share of great films this year, I also feel we’ve had plenty of disappointing entries as well. Obviously I haven’t seen every film this year, and I will most likely update this list as time goes on. But for now, in no particular order, here’s my thoughts on a variety of films I saw this year.

Joker

Without a doubt one of my favourite films of the year: ‘Joker’ directed by Todd Philips (The Hangover, Old School, War Dogs) is an interesting take on the comic book genre. Focusing more on being an engaging character piece with themes of untreated metal illness rather than your usual barrage of CGI action and explosions, all shown through some beautiful cinematography and an eerie original score.

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Knifes Out

Director Rian Johnson proves himself a brilliant filmmaker once again after his smash-hit: ‘Looper’, as although I personally wasn’t a enormous fan of: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’. I knew this director had talent elsewhere, and this was proven to me by ‘Knifes Out’. A hilarious and clever twist on the classic murder mystery, with some great performances from the huge cast, plenty of plot twists and a well-written narrative. I feel you’d struggle not to enjoy ‘Knifes Out’.

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Marriage Story

Standing out mostly for the fantastic performances from the all-star cast of Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, director Noah Baumbach takes on this wonderful story of a couple broken apart by marriage and distance. Which, despite the filmmaking not be anything astounding, manages to be engaging, emotional and very enjoyable from start-to-finish.

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The Silence

Easily one of the worst films I’ve seen this year, ‘The Silence’ directed by John R. Leonetti, mostly known for the awful: ‘Annabelle’ and ‘Wish Upon’. Is another generic horror with weak performances, dreadful CGI effects and a plot which feels as if it’s been ripped straight from: ‘A Quiet Place’ released back in 2018.

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Le Mans ’66 (Ford v Ferrari)

After directing one of my favourite films of 2017: ‘Logan’, director James Mangold now takes on the real-life story of the creation of one of the fastest race cars ever built in order to win the iconic: ‘Le Mans ’66’. Featuring some excellent performances from main cast in addition to some great cinematography and high-fueled racing scenes, ‘Le Mans ’66’ is a true thrill-ride of a film.

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Toy Story 4

‘Toy Story 4’ is definitely one of the most disappointing films of the year for me, as the original ‘Toy Story’ trilogy is (in my opinion) near perfect, and this film seems to do nothing but continue the story for the sake of it. As although the animation is incredible throughout the film, and the performances and original score are also pretty great, the narrative and character-arcs simply let the film down, and make it the weakest of the ‘Toy Story’ series for me.

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I Am Mother

This slick science fiction thriller had me excited for quite sometime leading up to it’s release. However, when I eventually watched: ‘I Am Mother’ I found myself a little disappointed. As the beautiful visuals and solid sci-fi soundtrack are sadly let down by a drawn-out and sometimes bland story. As while not boring by any means, I felt the film was a bit of wasted potential overall.

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It: Chapter 2

Director Andy Muschietti returns to once again bring the demonic clown: ‘Pennywise’ to life in this sequel to the ‘It’ remake from 2017. This time around however, I personally found the film to be a bit of a let down. As although there were plenty of entertaining scenes and great character moments throughout the film’s extremely long run-time, there were also plenty of ridiculous moments alongside the barrage of enormous CGI monsters.

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Crawl

Going off the initial reviews, I originally had high hopes for: ‘Crawl’, hoping it would be an extremely tense, edge of your seat kind of experience. But unfortunately, the film felt like a mostly standard thriller by the end of it’s run-time. Having nothing more than a few tense scenes and a couple of effective jump-scares to make up for it’s weak CGI effects and mostly dull characters.

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Yesterday

While definitely not on the same level as many other of director Danny Boyle’s films, ‘Yesterday’ was still a pretty entertaining feel good comedy which I felt had an enjoyable up-beat tone, and enough likable characters to carry it through many of it’s cheesy moments and sometimes overly predictable story.

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Aladdin

This year’s first entry from the usual barrage of pointless live-action Disney remakes: ‘Aladdin’ is exactly what I expected it to be. The classic story most know and love but incredibly dulled-down, trying to capture the adventure of the original film through an enormous amount of CGI visuals, nostalgia and a new cast lead by Will Smith which are all rather bland.

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Velvet Buzzsaw

Despite ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ not quite being the hilarious, gory and extremely weird horror/comedy I was initially hoping for, in addition to going off the back of director Dan Gilroy’s other film: ‘Nightcrawler’ (which is one of my all-time favourites). I still found the film interesting enough throughout it’s story to keep me watching, despite it not being overly memorable in it’s entirety.

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Avengers: Endgame

Marvel finally bring their enormous franchise of superhero flicks to an end (for now that is) with ‘Avengers: Endgame’, a blockbuster spectacular which gives many viewers the conclusion they’ve been desiring for many years, and although it isn’t one of my personal favourite Marvel films, I enjoyed: ‘Avengers Endgame’ for what it was. As the film provides some endings for characters alongside plenty of comedic moments, fan service and thrilling action set pieces.

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Dolemite Is My Name

Based on the real-life story of Rudy Ray Moore, Eddie Murphy makes his awaited return to film after a long break. As this brilliant comedy/drama makes all the right moves to keep it’s audience engaged within it’s story through plenty of humour, style and emotion throughout it’s run-time.

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Jumanji: The Next Level

A sequel to ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ from 2017, as well as the original ‘Jumanji’ from 1995. ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ is very similar to the previous instalment in regards to it’s tone and story (with some elements mixed-up of course), and despite some humour and story moments going a little too over-the-top for my taste. The film is still enjoyable enough for those seeking another fun family adventure from this franchise.

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Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Unable to actually decide what I thought of the film initially, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ is a true mixed-bag of a blockbuster, having some fantastic monster action with flawless CGI effects and a surprisingly ranged colour palette be completely bogged down by weak characters, cheesy moments and at points, a very messy story.

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Director Quentin Tarantino returns to the sliver screen once again with ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’. Bringing us a slight subversion of some of his usual film tropes, to focus more on a story of a man seeking his return to fame in Hollywood, all shown through some beautiful cinematography and an excellent 1960s soundtrack.

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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

In another one of this year’s biggest disappointments, ‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’ is the third entry in the ‘John Wick’ series. Which sadly, leaves a lot to be desired, as many of the trilling and well-executed action scenes are dragged down by a messy and uninteresting story, as well as a variety of out-of-place comedic moments.

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Star Wars – Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

Arguably the most disappointing film of the year for many, ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ attempted to close the enormous legacy of the ‘Star Wars’ saga, which unfortunately failed quite miserably. As overly fast pacing and a messy narrative didn’t save the film despite it’s fun moments and exciting action scenes, further proving that this franchise needs a short rest before it’s inevitable return.

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Spider-Man: Far From Home

Most likely my favourite Marvel film of this year, ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ hardly breaks new ground when it comes to superhero flicks. But the main cast’s great performances mixed with plenty of exciting action and a surprisingly interesting antagonist, leave ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ an enjoyable and mostly faithful comic book adventure for the iconic web-head.

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The Lion King

The second of this year’s live-action Disney remakes: ‘The Lion King’ directed by Jon Favreau, is definitely one of the worst in my opinion, as although the film’s CGI visuals are nearly flawless, the film simply lacks any of the charm, heart and overall personality of the original film. Resulting in the remake being nothing more than an overall boring experience.

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Little Monsters

Although the film is help-up by some strong performances and some interesting ideas, ‘Little Monsters’ never manages to break the structure of your usual zombie film. Coming off as an occasionally fun yet mostly bland horror/comedy, which is just as predicable as it is dull, despite many of it’s decent comedic moments.

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Serenity

While I personally didn’t dislike ‘Serenity’ as much as many others, the film still suffers from a variety of issues. As director Steven Knight attempted to achieve something very different with this film, which at some points works quite well, and at others doesn’t work at all. As many of the unusual performances and can really drag down the film’s great cinematography and editing.

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Captain Marvel

One of the most bland Marvel films I’ve seen for a while, ‘Captain Marvel’ focuses far too much on pushing on themes of strong female empowerment that it forgets to actually create a likable protagonist or an interesting origin story, making the film overall feel simply forgettable than anything else.

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Zombieland: Double Tap

Surprisingly, Zombieland: Double Tap’ was far more enjoybale than I was initially expecting. As while not as memorable as the original film for me, there were more than a few moments of humour between the excellent cast that had me laughing, despite the film’s tone going even more over-the-top than before.

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The Irishman

Iconic director Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Wolf of Wall Street) returns to bring us another tale of crime and regret with: ‘The Irishman’, and while the over three hour run-time can definitely make the film drag at points, the brilliant performances and phenomenal filmmaking are sure to keep those paying attention engaged for the majority of the film’s run-time.

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Us

Director Jordan Peele’s follow-up to his 2017 smash-hit: ‘Get Out’, was a far cry from excellent for me. As despite the brilliant reviews, I personally found the film’s story to be bloated with rushed ideas and ridiculous scenes, all adding up to a horror flick that placed more focus it’s themes than it’s narrative. Resulting in a film which was just as inconisitant with it’s tone as it was with it’s story.

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Hellboy

The latest superhero to get his own remake is the iconic: ‘Hellboy’, with the remake this time falling far, far from the mark. As a ridiculously messy story mixed-with poor CGI effects and dreadful comedy, leave the film pleasing no-one, despite David Harbour’s decent performance as the horned hero.

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1917

Made to appear as if it was filmed entirely within one shot, ‘1917’ is a brutal, gripping and engaging story involving two soldiers who set-off in a race against time to save thousands of men from a doomed battle, and while not flawless, the film is definitely impressive for both it’s narrative and filmmaking.

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Jojo Rabbit

Heartfelt, emotional and brimming with comedic charm, ‘Jojo Rabbit’ is another one of my favourites from this year. Being a completely different take on the war genre by giving the audience a new view of the events of the second World War All under the excellent direction of Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Thor: Ragnarok).

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Missing Link

From Lakia animation studio, the production company that brought to life many of my favorite stop-motion animated films, such as: ‘Coraline’ and ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ comes another fun family adventure. Shame this one couldn’t have done better at the box office, as the film is wonderfully put together, featuring plenty of humorous moments alongside the great voice acting and beautiful animation.

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Ready or Not

One of the most surprising films of the year for me, ‘Ready or Not’ may have a very cliché plot for a modern-horror, yet it somehow still manages to be extremely funny, gory and memorable throughout the majority of it’s run-time.

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Doctor Sleep

The long-awaited sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s classic: ‘The Shining’, ‘Doctor Sleep’ attempts to continue the story of the ‘Overlook Hotel’, and does so with mixed results. As although the film does pay plenty of the respect to the original film, I couldn’t help but feel the film doesn’t stand on it’s own, having a mostly generic plot with overall bland characters and atmosphere.

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Uncut Gems

After many poor attempts at comedies in recent years, Adam Sandler gives one of his best performances in years with: ‘Uncut Gems’, portraying a shady jeweller who carries the film through from start-to-finish despite some shaky cinematography and an unusual original score.

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Midsommar

Although I quite enjoyed ‘Hereditary’, director Ari Aster’s other film from 2017, ‘Midsommar’ was most certainly not for me. Feeling far too pretentious at points with a slow paced narrative and weak characters, the film’s unique ideas and decent visuals couldn’t save from becoming the boring mess it ended-up.

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The Kid Who Would Be King

A decent fantasy adventure for families, ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’ directed by Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) definitely has some areas in need of improvement. As the film is full of cheesy moments and a very unfitting original score, despite it’s pretty engaging story and overall fun tone.

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Beautiful Shots in Film – Film List

There are many beautiful shots in film, combing amazing cinematography, with great colour grading, lighting and visual storytelling. As many shots can become truly iconic on themselves, even telling the story of a certain character or location purely through the visual. Here are a few of my personal favourites…

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

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The Matrix (1999)

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Pulp Fiction (1994)

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Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

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The Revenant (2016)

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Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)

44(548)

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

36(436)

Don’t Breathe (2016)

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American Beauty (1999)

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2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

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Annihilation (2018)

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Interstellar (2014)

38(511)

Jaws (1975)

32(537)

American Psycho (2000)

59(64)

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

35(358)

The Road (2009)

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Life of Pi (2012)

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Fight Club (1999)

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Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

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Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (2014)

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Toy Story 4: The Forgettable Epilogue – Film Dissection

So ‘Toy Story 4’ has finally hit cinemas, supposedly to be the ‘true’ conclusion to the animated saga. But does it live up to it?

From back in 2010 when I first watched ‘Toy Story 3’, I was blown away by the true greatness of this animated trilogy. Still to this day, I still honestly believe that the ‘Toy Story’ films are one of the best trilogies to ever be put to the sliver screen. Combing beautiful animation, with incredibly memorable and iconic characters, in addition to plenty of humour, excitement and surprisingly in-depth themes at points. The films felt like one big story, split into three parts purely for the audience’s easy enjoyment, and I (along with many others) was very happy with the way the third film ended, finishing the story in both a satisfying and emotional way. That is of course, until Pixar announced a fourth film to be released back in 2014.

So as I wasn’t really anticipating anymore sequels to the ‘Toy Story’ series (thinking this fourth entry was purely created to be a cash-grab) I wasn’t really looking forward to the film all that much. But after seeing all the fantastic reviews from both critics and audiences alike, I started to think that perhaps Pixar may have pulled off the impossible. So I went into the film with decent expectations, wanting to be pleased. Unfortunately however, although I don’t think the film is terrible by any means. The film is easily the weakest of the ‘Toy Story’ films for me, feeling almost like an additional adventure with the occasional memorable moment sprinkled in. Aside from the ending of the film of course, which seems to be the main element that is really winning people over.

Spoilers onwards: the film takes place a while after the third film, now focusing on the gang of toys living with their new owner: ‘Bonnie’. However, this is where my first issue with the film comes in, as although we don’t find out exactly how much time has passed. It seems to have been only a months going by ‘Bonnie’s age in film, yet during this time she has now grown out of ‘Woody’, now completely ignoring him in favour of all her other toys. While I understand children can grow out of their toys in time, this simply feels like too large of a shift to me, especially when compared to ‘Bonnie’s love for ‘Woody’ back in ‘Toy Story 3’. This also plays into the ending of the film that I already mentioned, as here we a difficult moment for ‘Woody’s previous owner: ‘Andy’ as he hands over his favourite toy intrusting it to ‘Bonnie’ with a promise, to which she now completely ignores when going onto the next film, making this beautiful moment now mostly pointless and making ‘Bonnie’ feel like a victim of some weak writing.

The main narrative continues on however, as ‘Woody’ follows ‘Bonnie’ as she nervously heads to her first day at kindergarten, where she creates her own toy out of pieces of rubbish which soon become a sentient toy. This eventually leads the entire gang on a road-trip with ‘Bonnie’s family as ‘Woody’ attempts to stop ‘Bonnie’s new creation: ‘Forky’ from throwing himself away, believing he is a piece of rubbish rather than a toy. This soon leads onto ‘Woody’ encountering his old flame: ‘Bo Peep’ as he finds her now a rouge toy living a free life. It’s around this point many more of my issues start to arise, as from this moment on, the becomes film entirely evolves around ‘Woody’ and his love interest. Ditching many of the classic ‘Toy Story’ characters such as: ‘Jessie’, ‘Rex’, ‘Ham’, and ‘Mr. Potato Head’ in favour of many new characters voiced by famous actors, and while many of these characters are mostly entertaining, it’s a shame none of the other characters get any kind of conclusion or even anytime to shine like in the previous film.

Even one of the main characters from the franchise: ‘Buzz Lightyear’ has a very reduced role in the film, making his relationship to ‘Woody’ barely even notable, despite it being a very heavy focus throughout the trilogy. It’s also due to this that the film’s conclusion lacks the emotional impact I feel it should have, as when ‘Woody’ eventually decides the leave the gang for good. He only shares a simple hug with many of his long-time friends, many of which he’s barley even shared any screen-time or even dialogue with throughout the film. Which I do believe there was time for, as many of the new characters took up a lot of the run-time with a few of them not even adding anything to the story, purely just there for comedic effect. Which is a true shame, as I feel if this scene was handled well, it could’ve been even more impactful than the ending of ‘Toy Story 3’.

My biggest issue with the film is also relevant to the ending, as personally I didn’t find ‘Woody’s decision to stay with ‘Bo’ within his character. While I have seen many people attempt to defend his decision, I simply don’t feel that fits in with the rest of the series. As the theme of sticking with your owner regardless of whether you get played with or not has always been at the centre of the ‘Toy Story’ trilogy and ‘Woody’s character overall. Obviously the film does attempt to give ‘Woody’ a character arc throughout the film, focusing on a toy’s need for more than just a owner, and the overall focus of self-worth. Which is interesting, but I simply feel with the film’s rushed pacing and very large character arc they are attempting to pull off, it just simply just doesn’t work. Perhaps if this was a single film I could believe it, but going off what we’ve seen before this, it’s just  too big of a jump to me that ‘Woody’ would abandon his owner and friends of years for freedom.

Now I do feel this story for ‘Woody’ could definitely work, and I do like the idea of the two best friends ‘Woody’ and ‘Buzz’ going their separate ways. But I just don’t feel this was the way to do, perhaps if this character arc was built up for ‘Woody’ in previous films it would’ve worked better. In regards to previous films, ‘Bo Peep’ returning again in this film was a smart move on the writers. As this character is far more developed than she was previously, and I can see her being used to convince ‘Woody’ down a different life-path over some random new toy introduced purely for that reason. Overall, it seems like there were trying to do something a little ‘different’ from previous films, and I think that’s great. But I feel this way mostly conflicts with what was set up previously in this series. It’s not that this film is ‘bad’ per-say, it’s just disappointing to me.

Of course, the film does have many merits. The animation is phenomenal (being almost photo-realistic at points) along with some great voice acting, an interesting/unique villain and a decent original score once again by Randy Newman. But personally, I find the story, characters and overall themes of ‘Toy Story 4’ a little messy. The film has been described by many as an ‘epilogue’ to the ‘Toy Story’ franchise, almost like a little additional bit of story after the main narrative. Giving ‘Woody’ a conclusion alongside his old owner: ‘Andy’. But for me personally, the film doesn’t quite land on it’s feet. Feeling more than an additional adventure with the iconic toy cowboy rather than anything truly impactful or conclusive of note, and for me, the ‘Toy Story’ trilogy will always be the true animated classic, with this film serving as a decent side-adventure. But clearly I’m in the minority on this, as it seems most people adore ‘Toy Story 4’, so it at least the franchise can still appease most.

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What Happened to Pixar Animation? – Film Discussion

What ever happened to the beloved classic Pixar Animation?

Pixar Animation used to make some phenomenal animated adventures that the entire family could enjoy together. Regardless of their age. Mixing brilliant storytelling with beautiful animation and incredibly memorable characters. Each film never failed to stand-out amongst the rest. Some of the films such as: ‘Monster’s Inc.’ or ‘Wall.E’ for example (my personal favourite Pixar films), really got creative with their own narratives and flushing out their individual worlds. However, in recent years, I’ve noticed a serve downgrade in quality from their films. As it seems ever since the release of ‘Toy Story 3’ back in 2010, Pixar has had a real reliance on sequels, prequels and spin-offs over original films. While still mostly enjoyable, I have noticed the storytelling, character arcs and world building all seems to be lacking when compared to their earlier films.

In recent years films such as: ‘The Good Dinosaur’, ‘Monster’s University’, ‘Brave’, ‘Finding Dory’, ‘Cars’ 2 and 3 and of course the upcoming ‘Toy Story 4’. Have all ranged from sub-par through to simply awful, the ‘Cars’ series of course being the best example of this. As this series has always been Pixar’s black sheep. Never truly having the magic that makes Pixar special, always feeling like more of a cash-grab than anything else. ‘Cars 2’ being the easiest example of this, as this film is Pixar’s only rotten film to date. The ‘Cars’ series has always felt very immature to me, although I didn’t hate the original film, it’s definitely no one’s favourite. In regards to Pixar’s other sequels: ‘Finding Dory’ and ‘Toy Story 4’, ‘Finding Dory’ is nothing more than a reskinned ‘Finding Nemo’. With the exception of a few amusing characters, the film has nothing more really to offer. Despite having fantastic reviews from critics for some reason, the film was never anything other than a massive nostalgia slap for me. As of now ‘Toy Story 4’ hasn’t been released yet, but I feel when it does it’ll be another film with great reviews, but with nothing truly memorable about it. As I personally believe the ‘Toy Story’ trilogy was ended so well, I don’t truly don’t understand why they feel the need to continue that story other than profit.

‘Monster’s University’ is probably my favourite of Pixar’s recent continuations of their old stories, although I don’t think the film reaches the heights of ‘Monster’s Inc.’ Purley due to less originality and dark themes. I do still think the film is very funny, and it does explore the monster world further. It’s one of the few films I can say where it feels there was true thought put into it, as it doesn’t just lean on the legacy of the previous film. Finally we come to Pixar’s original films. This being ‘The Good Dinosaur’ and ‘Brave’, now whilst I don’t think these films are awful per-say. They simply just aren’t that memorable. ‘Brave’ having a few funny moments and an interesting setting, but falls more into classic 2D animated story at points. As for ‘The Good Dinosaur’, it’s simply a returning home story, with nothing of note at all other than the nice animation. It seems most people agree with me on this one too, considering it’s very low box office return.

Now of course there are some recent exceptions, Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’, ‘Coco’ and last year’s ‘Incredibles 2’ I did enjoy very much. These films proved to me that Pixar still does have some great stories in them, although these films aren’t perfect and I wouldn’t rank them as high as the classic Pixar films personally, they definitely show potential. I would love to see more original animated films like this from Pixar. Considering how much money ‘Coco’ made when it was released, it’s clear they still make money just from the Pixar name alone. So why do they feel the need to rely on sequels? Many people would point to Disney pulling their leg, and although I could believe that. I also think it’s due to Pixar simply becoming uninterested, they now think of themselves as the animation giants the audience believes they are. This means they no longer take risks, and are comfortable simply gaining profit of their previous franchises.

This could also be due to a lack of original ideas of course, Pixar simply feeling more comfortable returning to their previous stories. But considering some of their big competitors such as: DreamWorks Animation, Blue Sky Animation, Warner Bros. Animation and Illumination Animation are all still pumping out original films (granted not all quite to the Pixar standard). Films such as: ‘Captain Underpants: The Epic First Movie’, ‘Ferdinand’, ‘The Lego Movie’ and ‘Despicable Me’ are all still a very enjoyable watch. Some of these films even making a pretty big box office return. With the ‘Despicable Me’ spin-off: ‘Minions’ even becoming one of the highest grossing animated films ever earning over £900 million. Even the company teamed up with them: Disney. Are beating them recently when it comes to original animated flicks. With Disney’s ‘Zootropolis’ being one of my favourite films of 2016 when it was originally released.

In conclusion, what happened to Pixar Animation is very clear to me. They simply got lazy, focusing far more on wanting to make large profit rather than give their audience new exciting stories. The company isn’t completely dead, films like ‘Coco’ and ‘Inside Out’ clearly proving there is still talent there. But with the older writers and creators now backing down from the company with newer faces arising. I’m concerned that Disney and Pixar executives may continue to push for more sequels, prequels and spin-offs with the knowledge that the films will always make money regardless of their quality. This is mostly why I fear for ‘Toy Story 4’, as even though I really hope the film is great, I currently have a lot of doubts in my mind about it. Pixar however, have also recently brought out a trailer for their next film following on from ‘Toy Story 4’ titled: ‘Onward’, which does appear to be a completely original story focusing on elements of fantasy and adventure, so perhaps not all is lost for the iconic animation company just yet. But only time will tell I suppose.

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What’s Wrong With Modern-Horror? – Film Discussion

What’s wrong with the majority of modern-horror films?

In my opinion, there’s many different issues modern-horrors/thrillers, although there is a few films that manage to avoid these problems. Such as: ‘It Follows’, ‘The Descent’, ‘A Quiet Place’, ‘Don’t Breathe’ and ‘The Void’ to name a few. The majority of modern-horrors follow a very similar formula, a group of stereotypical teenagers do something they shouldn’t e.g. find a certain object (Ouija board, cursed book, dead friend/relative’s photo). Or a family moves into a new home only for it to be haunted by ghosts/spirits. These two plotlines are the go-to for most of the new releases now-a-days. But they are unbelievably drawn-out by this point.

Similar to how every horror plot in the 80s was to have a group of teenagers visit a cabin in the woods only to get slaughtered one-by-one at the hands of a serial killer. Sticking to stories that we have become so familiar to means that there is little surprise left for the audience, and the narrative soon becomes very predictable. Another issue with the majority of the stories that are told is the weak characters, nearly every modern-horror has such bland characters it’s difficult to get invested in the story at all. Just because these characters may be killed off doesn’t mean you don’t have to write for them, having some likeable or interesting characters actually makes the audience care whether they live or die, therefore increasing the tension. Of course hiring unknown actors who aren’t the most amazing at their craft also doesn’t help.

Another thing that’s always bothered me in regards to the characters in modern-horrors, is the characters extreme stupidity. The film actually falls less out of reality due to the characters being so unbelievably oblivious to everything around them. It’s understandable the characters would have some doubts the first time one of their friends die. But after two or three, it’s ridiculous the characters still haven’t figured out what the audience has half an hour ago. Even if their curious but not concerned, it’s nothing but frustrating and less-believable. This unbelievability also applies to the attractiveness of the cast, as although I think some attractive cast members is perfectly fine, casting nothing but models takes the audience straight out of the story. A film particularly guilty of both of these things is the Blumhouse production: ‘Truth or Dare’ This film is a perfect example of the problems I have with modern horrors, both in regards to their characters, actors and scripts.

However, it isn’t just the script or actors that’s an issue when it comes to modern horrors, the overall filmmaking of the picture is usually extremely bland. Again, due to the genre, some people may believe the filmmaking isn’t important. This isn’t true. The filmmaking can still be impressive while building tension and fear. ‘It Follows’ is a great example of this, the beautiful lighting, cinematography and original score all give the film style without taking anything away from the eerie atmosphere. Horror soundtracks are a huge issue for me when it comes to most of the films, as it is possible to create a great memorable score without making it just sound eerie. E.g. ‘Halloween’ or ‘The Shining’.

Finally we get to the biggest problem with modern-horror: the classic jump-scare. Jump-scares only really came around in the early 2000s, but since then they have completely invaded the film industry. Not only appearing in horror but everything from action to sci-fi to even superhero films, they’ve now become almost a staple of modern filmmaking. I don’t believe they are an entirely awful idea, they can be used correctly every so often to shock the viewer, and give them a quick rush before the next scene. However, most modern-horrors now essentially rely on jump-scares (most James Wan films being particularly guilty of this in my opinion), and I believe this is incredibly lazy. Horror should be about creating an eerie atmosphere, having creepy visuals and giving the audience some likeable characters to fear for. Almost placing the audience in that situation themselves (Pyewacket being a great example of this). Drawing out shots and using dark lighting/shadows etc. can all help build fear in the audience. Not just throwing ‘spooky’ faces and loud noises on the screen and seeing what sticks.

The main reason all these bad decisions are made when it comes to the horror/thriller genre is mostly due to money, no matter how awful the majority of these horrors are, the reality is that they make money. As these films can be made on a very small budget as they utilize mostly unknown actors and very little CGI or make-up effects. With a target audience consisting of teenagers or horror fanatics who will pay to see the film, no matter how terrible the trailers look. For example the first ‘Paranormal Activity’ had a budget of only £11,800 and grossed over £151 million. The film only having an hour and twenty-minute run-time along with very little actual ‘ghosts’ in it. ‘The Bye Bye Man’ also being another example. Having a small budget of £6 million with a gross of £21 million. Despite awful reviews from both critics and audiences.

In conclusion, modern-horror films are suffering due to both a lack of creativity and a heavy focus on profit. I’m of course aware that film is a business, but in my opinion, creativity is the most important aspect, as without creativity film doesn’t exist. Horror is a fantastic genre that isn’t reaching it’s full potential a majority of the time due to production companies/directors not caring. There’s a reason a lot of indie horrors are praised, as they don’t set out to only make money, may of them are extremely creative and make amazing use of their micro-budgets. Although horror also wasn’t perfect in the past, I definitely preferred it. At least back in the 80s/90s we still had some creative concepts, from killer’s invading their victim’s dreams, to murderous children’s dolls to a hand-held documentary on teenagers finding an ancient evil witch in a forest. The possibilities were, and still are, truly endless. Hopefully soon filmmakers and producers alike will look past the profit and truly see this.

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