Saturday, June 20, 2015

My Vegas Vacation, and 3 More (Awful) Film Reviews

As I mentioned in my previous post, my wisdom tooth's wacky, painful hijinks came at a pretty bad time.  I hate calling off work, and the surgery to remove the tooth (along with its new friend, Root Abscess), forced me to take a week off, due to pain, fever, and medicine side-effects (like the sudden urge to watch and review movies).

But I felt especially bad about taking off because, only two or so weeks prior, I had taken a week of vacation off.  This is the first time I properly used my vacation time because I don't get out much.  But Andrew and I had a travel voucher and we had to use it or lose it.

A quick word on the voucher: Last year, we went to a timeshare presentation because they promised a trip to Hawai'i.  We thought, eh, let's try it.  There's no risk of losing anything, right?  Right!  After ninety minutes of enthusiastic salesmanship and complimentary coffee and cookies, we declined and got our voucher.  So yes, those timeshare things are legit.

...sort of.

They'll promise you 1,000 "doll hairs," but they will follow through and give you the doll hairs.

See, they make you jump through every possible hoop to redeem your voucher.  There are letters and phone calls and refundable deposits, and it's a nightmare of redtape.  When we finally were given our departure date, it was completely different than the dates we'd requested; when we got the flight information, we discovered that the "three day, two night" trip included air travel time, and that each flight had two or three layovers, and that we would arrive in Hawai'i at 2 AM and have to leave at 4 AM, and spend only about 12 hours there, and our "hotel" was actually a shitty hostel one or two hours away from the airport and no, rental car was not included.

So while they technically give you the trip, they go out of their way to make you cancel so they don't have to spend the money.  We did cancel, but after much arguing, I got us a $300 refund and a voucher for a hotel stay in Vegas. 

So we went to Vegas.

We stayed in a suite.

 Here's a view of the strip from our car.

 Early morning Bellagio.

 As always, my favourite attraction was Statue at the Venetian.

  I'm fond of statues, apparently.  Here's me with Wax Johnny Depp.  

Not everyone shares my enthusiasm.

 I got pulled onstage at a magic show.  Andrew was delighted.  I was mostly embarrassed.

 Good times.

My hope was that the trip would boost me up a little, out of my depression, but it failed to in the long run.  Some things just can't be fixed by all-you-can-eat buffets, although I'm certainly willing to try again.

 Sometimes, even "OMG PUPPIES" slot machines don't help.

I'm trying my hardest to stay positive, though.  For example, trying to update my blog more, and trying to get out of the house more, and trying to watch more cheery animated movies.

Incidentally, my last blog post I reviewed some movies I saw while high on pain-killers.  A couple were cheery animated movies (like "Hotel Transylvania" and "Guardians").  But I didn't bother to review three movies that are so bad I couldn't see straight.  Yet, the more I think about it, the more I realise that the world needs to know.

Without further ado, here's...

Julie's Reviews of Recent, Terrible Animated Films 
that are an Affront to the Dignity of Man

1) Big Hero 6

This movie won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, and is the only movie on the list I was able to watch in full.  (Although I had one false start where I started to watch it and then turned it off.)

Here's my problems with it.  First, the characters.  Each are painful caricatures and nearly unbearable.


The whole thing is set in San Francisco that's also Tokyo, and it's so "kawaii" it makes me want to kick Pikachu in the teeth.

The dialogue is cheeky and supposed to be funny, but with all the characters spouting off constant one-liners that are just playing up their unbearably shallow, one-dimensional personalities, it's predictable at best and insultingly flat at worst.

This whole movie feels like some 13-yr-old gamer's wet dream.

Side annoyance: The six heroes are an early 90's style team of minorities.  There's the token black guy, and the token perky girl (who, according to the animators, is Latina, but is clearly not Latina, unless "Latina" now means "white"), and the token foolish slacker, and on and on.  And they all have retarded nicknames.

Side annoyance #2:  "Boy genius" trope needs retired ten years ago.

Redeeming feature: The conflicts (death of close family members) were real ones.  No shying away from death in this movie.

2) Home

I first started seeing billboards for this all over Los Angeles.  The billboards said, merely, "HOME," and showed a purple alien on them, sometimes with a cat.  No other information was given, but you could guess the plot.  An alien is on Earth and either wants to go home or wants to make Earth his home, with hilarious consequences.  A fish out of water story.  I sort of wanted to see it.

Then I saw the trailer.

Dear God, no.

The highlights of this movie were tired, drawn-out jokes that were cringe-inducing in their laziness.  This was the trailer and I could barely sit through it; image what a train-wreck the feature film must be.

Among the awful things featured were the alien's "accent," which was just him speaking in shitty grammar.  There's a thing about accents that I've noticed after watching "After Earth," and the "Home" trailer.  Don't try to invent your own.  Just rip off an existing one, okay?  "New" accents always sound stupid.  And don't do the whole "retarded ebonics" grammar thing for your aliens.  Want to see a list of aliens that bad grammar has worked for?  Yoda and E.T.  That's it.  The "Home" alien says things like, "I do not dancing," which don't make him endearing... they just make him seem mentally handicapped.

Even the other aliens think the "cute" alien is irritating as hell.

At one point he hears music and starts dancing because he just can't control himself and he declares that, quote, "What happening?  My hands are in the air like I just do not care!"  Har-har-har.  That would have been hilarious, like in the 90s.  It might be funny to a 3-yr-old.  You featured that joke in your trailer?  Can we please stop with the "music taking over the body" sequences in kids' movies?

Another "joke" was that he eats a urinal cake.  Toilet humour, Dreamworks?  Really?  That's the best thing this movie has to offer?

Side annoyance:  It looks like they created the aliens based on the question, "What's the easiest thing we can animate?"  Look at that picture up there.  Ten or twenty years ago, that CGI would have been incredible, but it's 2015 and people expect better.  There's such a cheap, cartoony look to it.

Redeeming feature: The protagonist, conspicuosly absent from the billboards, is a black woman (or girl?  Her age is unclear; she drives a car but seems like she's 12.)  Good for them, I guess, for picking a minority protagonist and not having them be a raging stereotype.

Anti-redeeming feature: So the movie's about an awkward, on-the-run alien being chased by galactic forces who teams up with a girl who teaches him about belonging?

Hey, wait, that sounds familiar.

3 ) Minions

This shit with the minions needs to stop, okay?

Despicable Me was a classic tale about a cranky guy who adopts some precocious little girls and learns about love.  It was a typical Daddy-Warbucks-meets-Annie plot that tests well with audiences.  And the characters were fun and it was a great movie.  The minions were secondary characters there for comic relief.

Despicable Me 2 was a story about the cranky guy, Gru, having settled into the life of a single dad, and his conflicts with raising the kids and seeking out a mate for himself.  This is a new plot that hasn't been explored much.  I think this movie had so many new dynamics to explore, and so much more to offer.  And the conflict centered around... the minions.  They were a little more oopsy-daisy than in the first movie; they were awkward, bumbling morons, but they were still Gru's workforce.

Now, look.  Everyone likes comic relief.  But comic-relief spin-offs are almost always dreadful.  And with each new movie, the minions have gotten more unbearably cutesy.  In Despicable Me 1, they were workers.  They hung out at the water cooler, and Gru asked about their wives and kids.  Now they're just helpless, cooing infants.

The marketing has gotten to a point of frenzied insanity.  Am I the only one who thinks they're not cute, but annoying as hell, and that their baby talk and "uh-oh!" style shenanigans are getting out of hand?

From my FaceBook feed, these two things were posted in the last 24 hours:

I did not make these up.  These are actual things my friends thought should be shared.

Despicable.  (See what I did there?)

The "Minions" movie raises more questions than it answers.  Are they immortal beings?  If they weren't genetically engineered by Gru (as assumed in the first movie), where did they come from?  What, exactly, is there place in society?  Are they endangered?  Are they aliens?  Why does it seem like they're animated so shittily?  Who green-lighted the idea of an infantile, babbling Tic-Tac getting its own movie?  Do the writers have no shame?  Can no one but I tell that this is nothing more than a desperate and obvious cash-grab?

Side annoyance: "Supervillian conventions" are a funny premise for an SNL short, but nothing more.  They need to stop appearing in films.  They joke's dead... let it lie in peace.

Side annoyance #2: I hate it when there's a bumbling character that frustrates the straight-laced villain character.  If they're a villain, why wouldn't they just shoot the bumbling character and be done with it?  Why would a villain put up with this nonsense?  Why do they constantly express exasperation but never take measures to stop the thing that's irritating them... and why do they constantly play into the bumbling character's antics?  At one point in the trailer, it shows the villain reading the minions a story in bed, and all I could think of was, "This is embarrassing and I wish I weren't here right now."

Side plot hole: If the minions gravitate toward bad guys and are immortal beings that have done so throughout history, doesn't that mean that they have been directly involved with a large numbers of genocides, including the Holocaust?

Redeeming feature: None whatsoever.

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