Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

is gorgeous on a visual level, and the fantasy Scotland that Pixar has created within this film is a thing of beauty. Sadly, beyond the visuals, I actually found Brave to be quite frustrating. I will avoid spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it yet, but the thing that rubbed me the wrong way was that the central message of the film is one about choosing your own destiny and defying fate, and yet the protagonist doesn’t show any agency to choose her destiny until she is given permission by her parents. “Choose your own destiny…when your parents say so” kind of contradicts the main drive of the heroine, whose awesome red hair is the real star of Brave. There’s also a bunch of dangling plot threads, like the story of the mysterious witch who is clearly also wrapped up in the story of a monstrous bear that lives in the forest (neither are given any significant screen time). Brave is an enjoyable movie overall, but for Pixar I found this to be very sub-par, ranking somewhere near the bottom of the Pixar scale alongside the Cars movies.
3 out of 5

Like Crazy
This movie drove me, like, crazy. On a technical level, Like Crazy is interesting, simply because all of the dialogue was improvised by the actors, and as such it always feels quite natural and believable. What drove me crazy about Like Crazy is the story – a young American guy played by Anton Yelchin falls in love with a young British exchange student played by Felicity Jones. They spend a few scenes falling for each other, but since her Visa is about to expire, it looks like their time together is going to be cut short. She will need to return to England for two months in order to sort out the paperwork so she can return to the USA…but apparently two months is just too long for her to wait because she overstays her Visa and is banned from entering the country after she goes home to England and tries to re-enter the States. The entire rest of the film is devoted to the two characters pining over each other, and yet they’re not so committed that Yelchin’s character will move to England to be with her, and both of them end up having small side-relationships (Yelchin’s is with Jennifer Lawrence) that they pick and discard thoughtlessly whenever there’s a chance that they might be able to get together. The whole film hinges on a bonehead move in the opening fifteen minutes, and frankly, I kept on finding myself pissed off at Anton Yelchin for treating Jennifer Lawrence’s character like garbage. She deserved way better, and by the end, I didn’t even care if the two main characters got together. Not a good sign when your movie is a romance.
2.5 out of 5

The Dictator
I went into The Dictator expecting it to be a complete waste of time, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. This isn’t Sacha Baron Cohen’s best work, and doesn’t even compare to Borat or Bruno, but his portrayal of the eccentric dictator Admiral General Aladeen is quite solid, and Cohen shows off his ability to transform completely into different characters by also playing Aladeen’s body double who’s a complete moron. The fact that the same actor is playing two identical roles and yet makes them both distinct is a testament to Cohen’s Peter Sellers-like chameleon talent. Anna Faris is enjoyable here as an ultra-granola hippy activist, and ended up being my favourite part of the film, and Ben Kingsley and John C. Reilly are both good in their secondary roles. None of the jokes made me laugh particularly hard, but on the whole, The Dictator is an amusing film. It feels surprisingly safe for a Sacha Baron Cohen picture, but it put a smile on my face. If you’re a fan of Cohen’s work, I predict that you’ll enjoy this movie and then promptly forget about it.
3 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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