TIFF begins this weekend. I have done no preparation and no research to review which films I would like to see. This is unusual as I would normally be part of a group with tickets as a Member and then securing the films I am interested in through the lottery. Instead, I am on the sidelines and thinking if I am interested in a movie that I will simply rush the theatre at the time of the showing. I will likely as in the past bring my youngest downtown to catch some stars and the buzz in the city.
I actually went to the theatre this week and saw Good Boys. This stars Canadian Jacob Tremblay (from Room fame) and a couple other kids. It was filmed in Vancouver which explained the CIBC bank signs that I saw around periodically. This was given high praise as very funny and it was doing decently at the box office. On cheap Tuesday it made sense to go. The premise is simple, three Grade 6 boys are looking to go to a house party where there will be “kissing”. They don’t want to go in without any knowledge or experience. They are just dealing with changes and hormones. Of the three friends, one (Tremblay) is girl crazy, the second wants to show his singing talent but thinks it isn’t “cool” and the third has parents just going through a divorce. They interact with some older kids, and look to solve a problem that is posed to them. It doesn’t really matter what the problem is, and the resolution isn’t all that believable nor important. The point to it is for setting up the scenes for the jokes and the language. These young boys have potty mouths which is funny a couple of times and then it isn’t. It’s similar to South Park kids who swear, but not quite as over-the-top. And not as funny. So this was okay. It had a couple decent laughs. In thinking about it, for me I like humour when things surprise me and the unexpected or when it’s clever word play. There were a couple of scenes that made me laugh. Some of the humour is sex-based for young boys who have no idea what sex and more “advanced” or unusual sex practices are of the adults around them. No need to see this is the theatre, and it could be a rental on an otherwise slow or cold Fall night.
On Netflix I refreshed my memory of the Dark Crystal by re-watching the original. Jim Henson created this back in 1982, two years after the success of Yoda in Empire Strikes Back with realistic muppets. Frank Oz joins in (who is voice and character of Yoda) and together these two voice and portray many of the characters. I am re-watching as Netflix has just released a prequel to this original film as a series with a lot of money spent on it, and ten new episodes. The original was 1.5 hours long. The new series much longer. Dark Crystal takes place in a mythical place where an elfling is sent on a quest to find a shard of glass to repair the powerful dark crystal which provides power into this world. There are ruling and diminishing creatures on both sides who look bird-beaked and dinosaur like. Henson and Oz show their creativity in creating this world and creatures. You will see many scenes which borrow from other movies (like Empire) and others that are later borrowed (in films like Avatar, and Return of the Jedi). The story premise is similar to Lord of the Rings. For the technology that they had, this was cutting edge stuff. Star Wars did it better with the interaction of live and muppet creatures. Having all muppet creatures (although I think the panned back scenes with running etc had live people portraying the elfling). This will be interesting to see if the new series, which is a prequel, captures the style and story of the original but manages to hold our attention with all these muppets interacting. There are notable voices in the new series including Alicia Vikander, Simon Pegg, Catriona Balfe (Outlander), Taron Egerton (Rocketman) and Mark Hamill himself. I won’t commit to ten episodes at the moment, but I will give it a chance.
I forgot to add the rental I had this week, from James Cameron with Alita: Battle Angel. This would appear to be a new franchise from the mind of James Cameron. He has taken a futuristic dytopian world (and really, aren’t they all?) where certain humans and other beings live on the ground while others live on an elevated city above, similar in a way to Matt Damon’s Elysium, but with a look and feel on the ground a lot closer to Blade Runner. Funny how that Blade Runner look seems to re-appear time and again. In this story we start with a cyber-doctor (played by Christoph Waltz) scrounging through junk and debris (like The Force Awakens or Wall-E). He finds the upper part of a young female and manages to re-start her with new limbs. She is the heroine in the story with no memory of her past. The good doctor tries to protect her, and there is a RollerBall-like game that goes on periodically which seems to borrow a bit from The Running Man. If it seems I am name dropping far too many movies, perhaps it’s because this is a movie of puzzle pieces from other movies. The highlight is the visuals and the interaction of the young girl and the characters around her; some fully human while others are like Ex Machina and the actor is wearing a similar suit as Alicia Vikander wore. The weakness is the poor relationship aspect of the story. It seems that James Cameron can be faulted, like George Lucas, with poor relationship aspects to their stories. They almost seem like add ons, where the over all plot, and cool technical are focused on while afterwards someone pipes up with the idea “we still need people to care, so let’s add a relationship in there”… There is a backstory, and some history as to how this situation occurred, but I wasn’t really engaged with it. It kept getting sidetracked by the forced story, and thus lost it for me. The RollerBall game is kind of cool, but there appears to be no rules really. The bad guy, is the same bad guy from Deadpool, but only his face. He’s still bad and you want bad things to happen to him. Overall this film was disappointing and I think that was the general consensus. I don’t think that the big screen would have saved it either.