Whatever happened to Ken Watanabe’s steely mini-sermon of “let them fight” from 2014’s Godzilla? Cast aside all the screenwriting urges for world-building or acting egos for showy screen time. The blueprint for any good monster movie of any brand is as simple as what Watanabe’s Ishiro Serizawa said before the final act of Gareth Edwards’ MonsterVerse starter.
LESSON #1: THE FORMULA FOR A MONSTER MOVIE — Punch up the peril. Amplify the spectacle. Turn the big boys loose. That’s it. Should it really be that hard, especially when you pair the two most popular monster properties in cinema…
This is going to get confusing, but critiquing Voyagers calls upon several illustrative conflicts. First off, science fiction is the realm of high-minded concepts of fantasy, and yet organic humanity creates and drives each and every great idea in the genre. In the same regard, you have homage versus originality in applying prototypical themes to the luster of new settings. Lasty, you have an audience’s subjective aim to project any number of thoughts out of a movie while the work was created with certain objectives in mind that may not be seen or readily interpreted. …
LESSON #1: THE FEMALE EQUIVALENT OF A “MANCHILD” — Going through the bulk of Melissa McCarthy’s filmography leading up to Thunder Force hitting Netflix this weekend makes this writer ponder a question. What’s the female equivalent of the “manchild” strereotype? Because other than the Y chromosome, the top physical comedienne of her generation keeps playing the kinds of lovable losers we’ve seen Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, and every Judd Apatow lead play for more than two decades. So what does one call an immature woman in their 40s incapable of making their own decisions, let alone good ones?
The genre of disaster movies loves to take the well-worn “Murphy’s Law” of “anything that can go wrong will go wrong” as pseudo-logical permission to get excessively creative with their hazards and menaces. There’s most certainly spectacle to be generated but also overindulgence. Just ask Roland Emmerich. The new Norwegian dramatic thriller The Tunnel from director Pål Øie is somewhere wisely in between.
LESSON #1: PLAN FOR THE WORST, HOPE FOR THE BEST — In the country of Norway, one chiseled from mountains and fjords, their roadways have over 1000 tunnels, some several miles in length and most…
On a 2008 episode of Mythbusters, hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman were given the mini-challenge of whether or not they could polish poop to answer the idiomatic burn of “you can’t shine shit.” As it turned out, using an ancient Japanese art technique called dorodango of molding earth and water, the hosts were able to pull it off. The biggest downside, other than the painstaking time, was how the polished sphere still smelled like shit. In revisiting the Justice League film molded with different earth and water than his own, filmmaker Zack Snyder had to essentially perform…
Cherry feels like the cinematic embodiment of the expression “throw everything at the wall to see if it sticks.” The Collins Dictionary defines that to mean saying something “that is not believable but hoping that what is said will be acceptable as truth.” For the movie, it’s about the performers and filmmakers piling on every trope and trick they can to try and get noticed for praise. To that end, Cherry is trying way, way too hard.
Sourced from the best-selling pseudo-memoir of the same name by Nico Walker, Cherry chronicles the hardscrabble romantic roots, the brave battlefield…
Back in 1988’s Coming to America, what became the “our song” for Prince Akeem Joffer of Zamunda and Lisa McDowell of Queens was the smoky 1958 ballad “To Be Loved” from “Mr. Excitement” Jackie Wilson. Shove aside all the wild characters, makeup tricks, and zany antics on display, and the third verse of Wilson’s song says it all about the true beating heart underneath:
“Some wish to be a king or a queen
Some wish for fortune and fame
But to be, truly, truly, truly loved is
More than all of these things”
We came for the laughs…
LESSON #1: TRUTH IN FICTION — Seeing Disney’s Raya in the Last Dragon calls to mind a fundamental principle of fiction outlined by famed graphic novel storyteller Neil Gaiman in a session of his MasterClass course. To him, “one of the central tools of literature is using the ‘lie’ of a made-up story to tell a human truth.” Speaking on the vitality of creating memorable stories with their deliberate takeaways, Gaiman doubles-down to add:
“What we’re saying is we are using lies. We’re using memorable lies. We are taking people who do not exist and things that did…
Several aspects read as off-key between the real story of Ross Ulbricht and Silk Road’s movie adaptation. Don’t get me wrong. Filmmakers grab two crude tools for dramatic license all the time. They pick a blade of choice, anything between a guillotine or a scalpel, for whatever is the desired severity or precision. They also pick a mechanism for inflation, which can range from a bulbous hand pump to whatever engine fills a hot-air balloon, because movie’s need entertainment value that floats.
When you read the source material coming from David Kushner’s 2014 long-form piece from Rolling Stone…
To borrow a term from the great Stan Lee, there are casual comic book fans and then there are “true believers.” The latter never miss an issue of their favorites and, even greater, walk through life inspired by the heroic pillars written in and drawn through those page-turning panels. In the new Disney+ film Flora & Ulysses, we are graced by one of those true believers in a film that has its cape hung up out of sight, tights put away in drawers, and heart smack dab in the right place. …
Don Shanahan of “Every Movie Has a Lesson” is a middle school educator who writes film reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical.