68. Isle of Dogs
You know, sometimes there are filmmakers or styles of filmmaking that everyone else seems to outright adore, but never quite seems to click with me. And I’m not talking about just ‘any critically acclaimed movie that I don’t like’, mind. Films like The Old Man and the Gun or last year’s Dunkirk are films that I don’t enjoy as much as others, but I also understand why I don’t enjoy them and can articulate my problems with them. No, in this case I’m talking more in regards to filmmakers like Green Room’s Jeremy Saulnier or arthouse films like You Were Never Really Here. The sorts of films where I can see what they were going for, feel like they succeeded at what they trying to be but, for whatever reason, their style just doesn’t seem to work for me. And in that regard, I’m just going to have to say it.
I don’t think Wes Anderson’s animation style is for me.
And it’s not like this movie is the sole instigator of that feeling. In 2009 everyone was gushing over his Fantastic Mr Fox but, even being a big fan of the original book, I just thought it was eh. And it’s a similar result this time around. Everyone is gushing massively over this movie, but I thought it was just okay. And it’s not like I have a complete aversion to Wes Anderson’s style, I loved Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel, but his animated movies never really quite seem to do it for me.
Honestly, I’m really not entirely sure what it is about this movie that left me so uninterested. I mean, okay, sure there’s obvious flaws and criticisms to be made, like Greta Gerwig’s character in her entirety, but something about how flat and empty the animation constantly feels just turns me off the wrong way. It’s not like it doesn’t fit the tone or anything, but it just didn’t really work for me. Plus I could barely tell half the dog characters apart, in spite of their big name voices.
Still, as much as I may have personally felt underwhelmed, it’s not like I don’t get why a lot of other people have really liked this film. There’s a lot to enjoy, there are a lot of neat ideas and little touches here and there and it does have a lot of Wes Anderson’s unique style to it. But it’s not for me. Unfortunately.
67. My Hero Academia: A Tale of Two Heroes
Boy, this sure was an anime filler movie, wasn’t it? Yup. Veeery anime filler-y.
Okay, so for those who aren’t aware, My Hero Academia is a Japanese manga/anime series set in a scenario where more-or-less everyone has superpowers called ‘Quirks’. The protagonist, Izuku Midoriya, is one of the unlucky few who doesn’t, but ends up inheriting one from the mightiest and most celebrated hero of the time, All Might. Then he goes to high school, because Japan. I’ve actually been following the original manga since literally the first chapter (if I want to go full hipster, I’d bring up that I actually read the author’s previous series as well when it ran) and it’s nice to see how phenomenally popular it seems to have gotten. Especially since it’s honestly probably one of the better shonen jump titles running right. But, as with all popular long-running anime series, it was probably only natural that it would eventually get a generic anime filler movie to go with it, so here here we are.
Still though, as far as generic anime filler movies go, it’s fine. It does the job well enough. There’s a basic story, some neat flashy fight scenes and plenty of moments and cameos for fans of the series to lap up. It doesn’t really do much more beyond that and doesn’t really live up to the writing standard of the series but, like I said, as far as generic anime filler movies go, it’s fine. Something for the fans to enjoy and then probably forget about in a month’s time.
66. Tomb Raider
Okay, I’m aware I’m starting this review off on a somewhat personal tangent, but I just talk about how much I fucking hated Lara Croft’s dad in this movie? Like legitimately really fucking hate him.
Ignoring for a second the insult of having one of the most iconic female video game icons of all time having her entire character/motivation revolve around daddy issues, the guy is just the fucking worst. Seriously, his wife dies and, rather than help their grieving daughter, he instead dumps her in a boarding school for years and goes gallavanting around the world in a quest to commune with the dead or some shit, before going missing and being presumed dead and causing even more emotional trauma to said daughter and then being an asshole and, in the few messages he leaves behind, insists she never ever look for him and just abandon him for dead, completely ignoring the impact that that might have on her. And let’s not even go into the fact that the quest almost ends with him unleashing a fucking doom plague on the world. He’s kind of a terrible father all round, to be honest.
And, most frustratingly of all, nobody ever calls him out on this shit! The movie treats him like he’s a great dad and a good person when the entire plot is caused by him all-but-abandoning his daughter and almost dooming the world because of his own inability to just let things go! There’s one point where he actively berates Lara for coming after him and potentially dooming the world and I just wanted her to turn around and call him out on all of his bullshit!
Ugh. Sorry, really really hated that character. A lot.
Honestly though, it’s kind of a shame this movie underperformed because, Richard Croft aside, there is genuinely a lot to like about it. Alicia Vikander does a great job in the title role. is instantly likeable and charismatic and genuinely makes you want to see more of her. Plus there’s a few fun action setpieces to the film as well and some real heart-in-mouth moments, even if ultimately it’s a bit forgettable. Even the villain was surprisingly sympathetic (probably moreso than Lara’s father.)
Admittedly, it’s not anything particularly outstanding as far as blockbusters go and certainly doesn’t come close to truly breaking the video game movie curse, but it’s still a somewhat fun (if a bit flawed and forgettable) ride.
But seriously, fuck Richard Croft.
65. Pacific Rim Uprising
You know, it’s funny. Five years ago, I would’ve given my left kidney for a Pacific Rim sequel, considering how much I genuinely enjoyed the first one. For years it was a touch and go as to whether it would ever actually happen, before finally getting the green light to cash in on that sweet sweet China movie. And now that we’ve actually finally got it, my thoughts are just… eh, it’s okay I guess.
Honestly though, there are quite a few things to genuinely like about this film, despite its fairly averageness as a sequel. I feel like Charlie Hunnam gets a unfairly bad rap for the first Pacific Rim movie, but John Boyega far outpaces him in terms of charisma and likability and I enjoyed his relationship with other characters, even Scott Eastwood who is usually flat as cardboard in most of his roles. Plus concepts like the rogues Jaegers were great and turning Charlie Day’s character into a villain was a legitimately inspired twist. But overall, it’s a fairly underwhelming sequel and honestly, while it feels weird to say, I think the biggest problem with Pacific Rim Uprising is what made the first Pacific Rim so fun.
The giant robot fights.
See, the thing about the original Pacific Rim’s robot fights is that they had a real sense of weight and scale to them. Everything from how they were shot to how they moved made them feel real and heavy and powerful. Each blow, each impact, each punch and crash, felt precise and felt heavy. The fights in Pacific Rim Uprising are… well… just CGI robot fights. It lacks that same feeling of scale, destruction and weight that the first one did and thus just come off more like weightless CG Michael Bay robots smashing against each other without thought or meaning. It never feels real in the same sort of way that the original Pacific Rim did. And without that sense of scale and wonder, the writing alone is far from enough to save the movie.
So yeah, it feels like switching out Guillermo Del Toro ultimately was kind of a mistake. I mean, it’s not like he was doing anything important at the time. Just working on some freaky fish movie that no-one ever heard of. Who cares about all that? Ah well, maybe we’ll get him back for Pacific Rim 3. Which I’m sure is deeeefinitely going to happen. I mean, they put a sequel hook at the end of this film and everything, so obviously it’s going happen, right guys? Right?!