The Good Dinosaur – Bottom shelf Pixar, which means it’s still decent with quick moments of magic. What if the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs missed the earth? If that sounds like a great idea for a short film, that’s because it is. Arlo is a meek (toooooooo meek) young dinosaur whose lost and far away from home. His companion is Spot, a young caveboy modeled after a dog (nice reversal of a common trope for kids). The Good Dinosaur is a clever concept stretched and thinned out over 90 minutes and full of head scratching characters. Pete Sohn directs with purposeful visual storytelling but the script damn near ruins it by explaining what’s happening all the time. Take out half the dialogue and this is instantly rock solid. In true Pixar fashion it amps up the emotion towards the end, but by the end I was already longing for Inside Out on blu ray. That this is one of Pixar’s worst, and still borderline decent, speaks to the level we hold that studio too. (C+) Wouldn’t be a bad saturday night rental.
Brooklyn – Imagine sitting on a fluffy bed, eating cotton candy, and listening to your grandmother tell the story of how she fell in love. That’s Brooklyn. An elegant, lovely, immigrant romance. Set in the 1950’s, an Irish girl named Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) sets sail to America and finds herself in a love triangle. Luscious cinematography captures both the landscapes of Ireland and the streets of Brooklyn. Snow falls in front of Eilis as she walks the streets initially alone and afraid. She’s set on reinventing herself in America, and the film’s central dramatic tension asks if she can, or will Ireland beckon for her to return? Brooklyn is old fashioned and intimate with big emotions plus the watchability of a popcorn flick. Doesn’t that sound pretty great? It is pretty great. The film’s sweet innocence can get too wide eyed and the second half isn’t quite as well oiled and passionate as the first, but it functions solidly and the end is a big warm hug. Somewhere between the bubblegum tone and Saoirse Ronan’s once in a generation talent, you’ll be swept up. Every movie that has a 1950’s diner scene is instantly good. That’s a scientific fact and this has a couple of them. The most warm and charming film of the year. Walking out I said “Gee, well golly that was just wonderful. Wonderful.” (B+)
I don’t think it’s legit great and I wonder if it’s charm potion will wear off in a few weeks, but I’m currently swooning over most of it.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 – Murky cinematography, brushed over quick deaths, and jagged pacing plague the final chapter in The Hunger Games. If only it lived up to that wicked poster to the left. They really really really shouldn’t have split up the last movie. Film ain’t TV ya numnuts. We’ve more or less got a half baked Rebels vs. Empire story. Lawrence is fine though her character has lost her spark after 4 movies in 3 years. An Aliens inspired action sequence in the middle offers a much needed buzz and the ending is satisfying. This series ends batting 1 for 4, but the one that is legit good (Catching Fire) is legitimately REALLY good. (C-)