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John's Reviews

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Spirited Away -

Greed; it has no limits, no boundaries, and no antidote.

Spirited Away was Japan's most successful movie during the 00's, and it even dethroned Titanic from the number one spot at their domestic box office. To this day it still stands as the highest grossing film in Japan and, at its initial release, was lauded as one of the most successful animations ever, winning an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. And it is the only non-English, hand-drawn animated film to do so.

Hand-drawn animation can suffer in a number of ways when it comes to storytelling. For instance, the attention to detail, or lack thereof, can present the same story in a multitude of ways. Too little detail and we are left wondering what story is trying to be told, and too much detail can leave us reeling and failing to absorb other crucial storytelling elements, such as dialogue. Spirited Away is rare in that it maintains a fine balance between too little and too much detail, and not once does its animation detract from its storytelling. Emotion is conveyed without ambiguity, and action is presented without confusion. Yet all the while there is a secret that hides beneath its surface; a type of magic I daresay.

Spirited Away is also one of the few animated films where you surrender nothing when faced with the choice between its subbed or dubbed presentation. The English writers were, in my opinion, acutely aware of the importance behind this choice and were able to create a dubbed edition that seamlessly integrated English voice acting with the animation, and I am convinced that this was instrumental in its success with American audiences. Couple this with the fact that most of the original audio effects were left untouched, and it creates a product that is nearly timeless in its execution. I cannot help but see the significance in this bilateral perfection: it is the perfect vessel suited to Disney's greed, furthering the movie's motif.

Timeless art is rare in its execution and even more so in its marketing, but the true genius that lies beneath the surface of Spirited Away is the moral ambiguity it conveys to the viewer. Greed sneaks into and behind every line and color without once presenting itself as an evil to be avoided. Instead, it welcomes us, befriends us, and shows us that the true evil of greed is desire itself.
__________________
Halcyon days are not a thing
Nostalgia is no excuse for stupidity
I don't believe in golden ages
Or presidents that put kids in cages
America awaits on bended knee
Bad Religion




Blade Runner -


Where does one begin with this cult classic? Move in. Stop. Track 45 right. Stop. Center and stop. Enhance. Stop.

"More human than human" is a motto that begs more questions than it answers. What makes us human? Peel back one layer, and we will find three more. Each one overlapping like scales on an artificial snake.

I take the outlandish view that any version of Blade Runner is the best version to watch. Each version, of which there are five, delves into the seedy underbelly of humanity. Overpopulation, climate change, mass extinctions, and pursuit of perfection. No single version holds more truth than the other, but it is agreed by many that The Final Cut is the proper choice. I contend, however, that even the theatrical cut has its merits, namely an introduction to a world that is still far off and alien to us.

What was once considered debatable is now held as fact: Our hero, Rick Deckard, is more human than human. He is the embodiment of our plights, our fears, and our dreams. He dutifully accepts the first, ignores the second, and questions the third. What does it all mean? No one has the answer; and so, what continually drives us forward is the same mechanism that drives Deckard. The endless search for meaning in a world devoid of it is no less dangerous than running on the edge of a blade. What use is meaning if it cannot be commodified?

Blade Runner is a film that deserves its status as a cult classic because of these things. It gives us no answers, no explicit meaning, and no purpose to which to cling. Instead, it paints a mirror copy of our own world in the darkest of grays. More human than human? Our humanity is already tough enough.



Avengers: Endgame -


Welcome to the greatest cash grab in cinema history! Wear a spandex Captain America suit, get their early, and hit the concessions bar because Avengers: Endgame is back!

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a multi-film monstrosity that knows no shame, and Avengers: Endgame is the 22nd punch to an already beautifully pulped audience. The scream of delight is louder, the roar of laughter is heartier, and the drain of bank accounts is swifter. But this film stands alone as the most shameless of the MCU films. It is an experimental exercise: how wide can the audience open their wallets? And the answer is, with numerous records broken, one of the most successful endeavors of the past decade. But alas, that does not make it good or necessary.

While I am not a comic book reader or collector I do understand the fundamentals of the business. Story lines and character arcs are carefully planned to stretch across multiple issues, and a poorly kept secret is that character deaths and revivals are mechanisms that are repeatedly used to sell more comics. These methods make sense for their shortened form and, more importantly, are entirely necessary for the business to remain viable. Yet the same cannot be said for multi-year productions and multi-million dollar budgets.

Does it have action? Yes! Does it have laughs? You bet! Does it have special effects? Most definitely! Does it do any of these things better than the previous 21 films in the MCU? Hell no! If you want action, watch Captain America: The Winter Solider. If you want laughs, watch Thor: Ragnarok. Those two films are standouts in the MCU for doing things better than their predecessors. As for special effects, the MCU is so chock full of them that you can pluck any movie from the universe and not go wrong.

Avengers: Endgame is, at best, revisionist history; it wants you convinced that the MCU can be better than it is already. If you are a fan of revisiting sets and story lines previously explored, but from a new vantage point, by all means crack that wallet open. If you are a fan like me, who cares about stories driven by more genuine emotion, then keep that wallet tightly shut. And hear this promise: there's another cash grab waiting off on the horizon with more heart and soul than Endgame could ever hope to revise.



Boy did you miss the point of Endgame. If you didn't care for the characters by now, you missed the point of the series, which was to see a more human side to these superheroes. You know, what's beneath the colored undies? What really stands out is how you compliment it on several areas at once and then say, "but it made a lot of money so I can act like there's nothing good about it by giving it a 0/5." Cash grabs are typically bad, but not always. Compare this cash-grab to Transformers 5 or AVP2. The whole MCU is a cash-grab, so if you're gonna hate Endgame you might as well hate everything after the first Avengers movie.



I mad the mistake of watching endgame before seeing any other MCU movie. I still pretty much liked it, I thought the time travel and character relations were cool, but Iíll have to rewatch it after Iíve seen other MCU so I can have a better appreciation for the characters (None of the deaths did anything for me).

That said, Johns recent reviews are of flawless masterpieces, and for me in that case endgame pales in comparison.... so maybe a little psychological effects of watching so many perfect films and then a decent one?



A system of cells interlinked
I was gonna fight McClane in an epic showdown when I saw his silly Endgame review, which is clearly meant as a bit of (admittedly funny) comedy. Alas, he gave Blade Runner 5 boxes, so he's OK by me.


__________________
"Thereís absolutely no doubt you can be slightly better tomorrow than you are today." - JBP



Boy did you miss the point of Endgame. If you didn't care for the characters by now, you missed the point of the series, which was to see a more human side to these superheroes. You know, what's beneath the colored undies? What really stands out is how you compliment it on several areas at once and then say, "but it made a lot of money so I can act like there's nothing good about it by giving it a 0/5." Cash grabs are typically bad, but not always. Compare this cash-grab to Transformers 5 or AVP2. The whole MCU is a cash-grab, so if you're gonna hate Endgame you might as well hate everything after the first Avengers movie.
You are not wrong. But I only care about one thing: should I pay money to watch this movie? I stand behind what I wrote, and I felt the same way about Infinity War. I accept neither as official cannon, and any reference to it in the coming Marvel films is just mass delusion/hysteria.

WARNING: "What really happened" spoilers below
Tony Stark faked his death and is hiding out with Pepper and Morgan having a laugh at everyone.

That said, Johns recent reviews are of flawless masterpieces, and for me in that case endgame pales in comparison.... so maybe a little psychological effects of watching so many perfect films and then a decent one?
It was more of a reactionary review/perspective at the prospect of it being rereleased just 2 months after having already been released.

I was gonna fight McClane in an epic showdown when I saw his silly Endgame review, which is clearly meant as a bit of (admittedly funny) comedy. Alas, he gave Blade Runner 5 boxes, so he's OK by me.
Indeed! I was on a roll with the first two reviews and felt like taking a humorous crack at my dislike of Endgame.



Welcome to the human race...
I can see how someone can like the MCU in general but not Endgame specifically - I thought it was fine at the time but man it doesn't hold up particularly well in hindsight. Even KeyserCorleone's claim about how it works because it shows the superheroes as "human" crumbles a bit when you consider how it's trying to juggle dozens of characters and all their relationships in the space of a mere three hours amidst providing all the usual whizz-bang spectacle and short-changes a lot of the characters in the process.

The idea of rating films based on whether they're worth spending any money on reminds me of a film magazine that used to run here that would rate movies based on how much a ticket should be worth. The highest rating was $20.00, but for some reason the lowest rating was $5.00 instead of $0.00. An odd system, but I guess it's a change from stars or grades.
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Iro is to reviews as Kubrick is to films.



Doesn't that hysteria bit seem a bit pretentious? Besides, if you're "testing" a new system, then maybe it's not perfect yet so the review itself could be flawed. I'm not trying to irk you, but of all of the reviews I've read here this seems to be the one I disagree with the most.



Doesn't that hysteria bit seem a bit pretentious? Besides, if you're "testing" a new system, then maybe it's not perfect yet so the review itself could be flawed. I'm not trying to irk you, but of all of the reviews I've read here this seems to be the one I disagree with the most.
Good. That means it is working.



Welcome to the human race...
If anything, the real problem with the review is that it's too vague, especially if you're going to make the claim that it deserves to be removed from official canon while barely saying much about the film itself beyond the sort of generic comments you could readily throw at any less-than-stellar entry into the series. That might preempt people telling you you "missed the point" if you manage to show that you got the point but still thought it was bad anyway.

That being said, I don't agree with the idea of acting like acknowledging this film as canon is delusional either, especially when you already acknowledge that the other films in the franchise function as "cash-grabs" anyway.



Like @Sedai already said my review was not exactly serious. It is tongue-in-cheek and hyperbole, and it all comes back to money. I want my $12 back.

Is it a fun movie? Sure. Should you see it if you like butts in spandex? No doubt. Should you see it if you donít make a lot of money and live on a tight budget? Hells no! Skip it, watch something else, and pick it up at the library or wait till it hits Disneyís streaming service in December.

My days of living at the theater are over because Iíve been priced out, so I only go about 3-4 times a year these days. I have to carefully pick my movies but when I was in school I spent all my free money at the movies (I still didnít go as often as some people) because I had no other real expenses and had access to student pricing. But now that Iím a silly adult with a car loan and property taxes I gotta take a loan out just to get in the door.