The State of the Movies: Joker – Is it Really Worth all the Trouble?

Joker is a new comic book movie that recounts the origin of renowned comic book villain Joker. It stars Joaquin Pheonix as the titular character and is directed by Todd Phillips, the director of the Hangover Trilogy.

If you roam social media at all you’ll know that many are almost afraid of this movie. They argue that this will inspire more mass shootings from disgruntled individuals which is something nobody obviously wants to have happened. When I first heard these arguments made though, I shrugged them off and thought we would stop talking about this once the movie actually comes out. I never was one to believe that media will cause violence, and I still hold that stance to this day. But then more users started weighing in on the discussion and they started getting intense about it too. This is something that tends to happen whenever you browse a social media platform, especially Twitter. A person with extreme opinions will usually be rewarded with clout and it makes for an incredibly toxic place to have a public discussion. I for the most part never chose to comment until I actually saw the movie but I still held my argument that media does not and will not cause violence.

The MSM began to almost slander the movie in any way they could in an effort to make film-goers “beware the joker movie”. Article after article was released with varying headlines some of which included a report that the US Military issued a warning for Joker screenings and that NYPD officers would be going undercover attending screenings of the movie to stop anyone who has any tricks up their sleeves. They reported on it so much they were almost subliminally begging for someone to shoot up a screening of Joker just so they could get those “I told ya so” clicks. It felt really uncomfortable to browse and even a little scummy.

The movie finally premiered last Thursday and the 70mm screening I attended at the Grossmont Center was equipped with more security than normal. Before the film started, employees went up to several audience members and asked to inspect their bags on the spot. It was safe to say for theaters, safety was a number one priority, which is great. I just question the media’s rampant reporting of the film in such a way.

An example of a headline warning its viewers about the “dangers” of Joker.
This one came out after the movie was released, likely because people had now seen the movie and they were no longer able to frame this movie as a dangerous one. This is clearly reaching for any amount of outrage to be generated and is extremely meaningless at that (just so we’re clear, statutory rape is bad, but this is not relevant to the movie in question).
The most accurate way to describe the way the MSM is treating Joker at the moment.

Having seen the movie now I can understand why critics do not like this movie. I don’t agree with them at all, but it is understandable. The movie is very critical of modern SOCIETY (as the meme goes) and even the media and the facade of wholesome values they try to display. The film was shocking for me not because I found its message controversial but because I was surprised a major film distributor like Warner Bros. went ahead and released a film with this message. I’m really glad they did though because I think this is a movie that will be talked about for a long time.

This is a bold and daring picture that asks its audience harsh questions about the way we treat others and the effects those actions have on our modern world. It also highlights the dangers of what can happen when one disgruntled person feels as if they’ve been abandoned by society and even what we can do to prevent this from happening. I would say this film promotes mental health care and the coming together of classes more than it does violence.

In order to make a case in point as to why I believe this is not only a phenomenal but important as well, I once again will want to discuss this movie with SPOILERS. If you’re at all curious about this movie, you should definitely rush out and see this movie. It has a brilliant and even at times challenging message that is complimented by gorgeous cinematography, great acting, and extremely tense and uncomfortable moments. It may be challenging to watch for some viewers, but it’s definitely worth your time and attention.

*****SPOILERS*****

Joker is a movie about a man who slowly discovers who he is and how the world truly feels about people like him.

From the first few moments of Joker we’re told that Gotham City is in its worst state yet. The city is run by loads of trash and super rats (Google pictures of them, they’re disgusting), and the working class are struggling to live and survive in such horrible conditions. We are then introduced to Arthur Fleck, a clown for hire, who lives with his mother in a disgusting dilapidated apartment in the middle of the most trash-filled areas of Gotham. We also are told that he regularly attends his therapist sessions in which we find out that he has a mental condition in which he laughs hysterically whenever he gets nervous. The therapist asks to see his journal and she finds the statement, “I just hope my death makes more cents than my life”. This suggests that Arthur possibly suffers from frequent suicidal thoughts as well.

From the first moment Arthur arrives home, we see his mother ask him if they have received a written response to her letter from Thomas Wayne, a very wealthy businessman running for mayor who she once worked as a maid for in their manor. We find she writes to him in hopes that they can get them out of the old apartment and maybe into a newer cleaner place to live. The mother, Penny, insists to Arthur that Mr. Wayne and her have a “very special connection” that she simply cannot explain.

Things start to turn worse for Arthur though after he’s fired from his job as a clown after he accidentally drops a gun a co-worker gave to him for protection during a performance (the opening scene of the film involves Arthur being jumped by a group of street kids). The first moment of “grace” comes for Arthur while on the way home on the subway when a group of wall street boys harasses Arthur which leads him to use the gun he was fired over to shoot and murder them on the spot. He also finds out that Gotham has cut funding for mental health, meaning he will no longer be able to talk to any doctors or receive his medication.

Arthur also finds a new letter that Penny writes to Thomas Wayne that reveals that he possibly is in fact Arthur’s father. Arthur becomes understandably distraught that his mother never told him about this and he takes action into his own hands and visits Mr. Wayne himself. He is sent away by Alfred after he performs magic tricks for a young Bruce Wayne but Arthur is able to eventually track Mr. Wayne down in the bathroom of an old movie theater. This is when Mr. Wayne reveals to Arthur that Penny is actually mentally insane and adopted Arthur.

This leads him down an even deeper rabbit hole as he gains access to Penny’s personal medical files while she was incarcerated at Arkham Asylum. This is when he realizes that his adopted mother abused him as a child as he was tied to a radiator and beaten over the head. To make things worse, after Arthur finally has the courage to go on stage at a comedy club and pursue his dream of stand up comedy, the clip of him bombing on stage is found by famed talk show host “Murray Franklin” who mocks Arthur for his uncontrollable laughter and unfunny jokes. The stage is now set for Arthur as he slowly begins to realize that nobody actually cares about him and that his life has been a lie.

Arthur finding out the way he has been mistreated is ultimately what causes him to snap and seek revenge.

The more information Arthur receives about his life and the world around him, the more he boils and eventually reaches a breaking point. He first seeks revenge on his mother who is in the hospital as a result of a heart attack and suffocates her with a pillow. He then shortly after receives a phone call from a representative for “The Murray Franklin Show” who mentions that Murray wants to invite him to the show. As he’s getting ready for the show, a few former co-workers come by and visit Arthur just to check in on him to see how he was doing during these times. One of these co-workers, the man who gave the gun to Arthur, also framed him as he told their boss he asked him for the gun which was never the case. He gets revenge on this man and stabs him in the eye and throat with a pair of scissors, and the other co-worker, who happens to be a little person, runs away in fear.

In one of my favorite moments of the film, Arthur dismisses the man as he “had always been nice to him” and as he tries to leave, he realizes he can’t reach the lock on the door to open it. This is an incredibly suspenseful scene and one that seems accurate to the persona of the Joker. You never know what he wants to do next or how he’s going to treat his victims right before he ultimately does his worst onto them.

Arthur finally arrives on the set of the show afterward in his clown get up and he admits to everyone on national television that he was the one that in fact murdered the boys on the subway, a moment which this movie earlier explains has started a riot in the city of Gotham. Rioters wear clown masks and cause chaos on the streets as they finally begin to protest the horrible conditions they have been forced to suffer for so long.

Once Arthur admits to every one of his crimes, he challenges the audience’s horror as he says “if it were me being killed you’d walk right over me and no one would bat an eye”. He then shoots Murray Franklin in the face on national television and everyone runs away in horror. The movie ends with rioters lifting the Joker in celebration of everything he’s done for the common man and he is eventually incarcerated (likely at Arkham Asylum as well) where he murders a therapist there who only seeks to help Arthur.

Joker is a film that teaches you to love and respect others rather than incite pain and suffering onto them.

One of my favorite aspects of this movie is its themes about the actions we inflict on each other and the possible consequences of those actions. The truth is in this movie there are no good guys. Obviously Arthur Fleck is not a good person, but neither is Thomas Wayne, Penny Fleck, or even Murray Franklin. They all represent a form of evil that really shapes the chaos that is society in Gotham City. Thomas Wayne and Murray Franklin act as the rich elite who put on their own masks as they pretend to care about the working class below them in an effort to win the sympathy and respect of society. Penny and Arthur Fleck both represent the evil that rises as a result of a society that seemingly abandons those who need help the most.

One of the biggest messages I personally picked up from this movie is no matter who you are or where you stand in the world, always show love and respect to all your brothers and sisters around you. Your actions towards others really could mean more than you possibly realize. The film forces you to consider if looking down upon those less fortunate than ourselves leaves us responsible for the madness and chaos we bring onto others even if we aren’t the ones pulling the trigger. It’s understandable if some may find that idea abhorrent as that is admittedly a very controversial concept to promote.

I loved though that this movie actually had the balls to give this harsh reality check to its audience. It’s especially a different and even harsh take on the ongoing debate of what our government needs to do to prevent more mass shootings from occurring. I truly think we need a movie like this to really highlight what really causes a monster to rise and what we, the average person, can do to prevent it if the government refuses to get involved.

This film is very controversial but I would argue that Director Todd Phillips intentionally designed the movie to be this way.

Without delving too much into modern politics, this film widely ignores and even rebuts talking points that the MSM today chooses to continually regurgitate onto its viewers. The film is mostly anti-rich liberal elite and anti-media. One argument some commentators have pointed out is that the movie possibly argues against cancel culture when Murray Franklin mocks Arthur for his bad jokes on stage.

Although this is possible given that the director Todd Phillips did come out recently criticizing the sensitivity of “woke leftists” (as he puts it) when it comes to humor, I would argue this moment more serves as a way to express that big elite personalities really only care about the common man when they can benefit in viewership and profits. I think this is a bigger blow to obnoxious late-night talk show hosts like Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert who really only seem to discuss politics and issues in American society as a way to generate more viewership rather than toxic cancel culture that celebrities and random internet users love to promote.

Thomas Wayne too represents every fake politician who claims to serve the public but instead only really cares about themselves. Some may argue this is a blow to Donald Trump, and while that is the easy go-to person to compare Thomas Wayne to, I think it more accurately reflects the fake nature of any politician and even the MSM. The media similarly seems to only care about issues, just like late-night talk show hosts, to generate clicks and traffic onto their outlets.

The people of Gotham City are suffering from trash and rat infestation and all anyone can think about is how three white wall street boys were murdered on the subway. This hit home for me too because as someone who is from Los Angeles, I see the growing amount of trash on the streets due to homelessness and even the growing number of rats in the city. I just wished politicians did more to help these people and that the media reported on these issues more.

Los Angeles is a complete disaster at the moment and nobody really seems to be doing anything about it. In that way, I think Gotham City is very similar to Los Angeles and Phillips perhaps even developed this metaphor intentionally to criticize the current state of the city. This film is very timely and relevant to today’s world but it never feels like it’s pandering to you. You feel like a smarter person after you’ve watched it and truthfully it will get you to think about its themes long after you finished viewing the film. I’m still thinking about it now and I saw the movie a week ago. It will be interesting to see if this film holds up with time but I’m really happy that this movie has been an eye-opener for some.

Only time will tell if this movie holds up but as of now, I believe this movie is, in fact, a masterpiece.

I recently saw Ad Astra and thought that was my favorite movie of the year due to its visuals and complex characters, but this instead takes the cake for me. I will go so far as to say I believe at the moment that Joker is one of the best movies not only of the year, but the decade as well. I haven’t even mentioned yet that Joaquin Phoenix gave a phenomenal performance! He really understood the nature of Arthur Fleck’s character and embodies him so well. I forgot I was watching Joaquin Pheonix on the screen and believed I was seeing a character who is truly going mad. This film is powerful, intense, beautifully shot and at times challenging to watch. I think the fact that it is controversial and so divisive among critics is what makes this movie more special for me. I think movies that are masterpieces are going to be ones that really challenge the viewer to think in new ways while being presented in a beautiful and interesting way.

What may stop this movie from being a masterpiece in the future is that although this movie looks gorgeous as the colors are vibrant and vivid and the production design is lively and intricate, the film is admittedly somewhat basic when it comes to the cinematography. There were never any intricate or complex shots that I found myself really admiring, it mostly relies on its colors and the actors surrounding the environment to give it beauty. At that point, though this is me really reaching to find a flaw with it, but I still think this movie is wonderful. If you’ve made it to this point and still have not seen the movie yet, well what are you waiting for? Rush out and see this movie as soon as you can if you find yourself intrigued even in the slightest.

Also for all San Diegans and SDSU students, I want to personally recommend that you see this film at the Reading Cinemas at the Grossmont Center as I did in 70mm film. It’s only $10 for a ticket and there’s so much beauty to each and every one of these shots when presented on film that you simply are not going to get out of a digital showing. This blog is NOT sponsored by the cinema, it merely is a recommendation for film buffs in San Diego.

I know I said the word “society” a lot in this blog post, and I know it’s become such a meme to say “we live in a society” at this point I would feel embarrassed not to acknowledge it. So here you go, enjoy this meme:
Written by Christian Scognamillo
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Joker is a new comic book movie that recounts the origin of renowned comic book villain Joker.

We take look here at the new film Joker. Not just the quality of the film but the controversy surrounding it as well and if it’s justified.

The State of the Movies: Ad Astra – A Beautiful, Slow, and Strange Masterpiece

An intergalactic film that explores themes of the imminent future and the search for truth, Ad Astra is an engaging and visually spectacular movie standout.

Ad Astra is one of the most fascinating movies I’ve seen in a while. Directed by James Gray of The Lost City of Z, it’s a film I can safely say is one of my favorite movies of the year. It’s been getting a lot of mixed reviews though as critics and audiences seem to either love or hate this movie. It’s purposely methodical and slow which is bound to frustrate the average moviegoer, but also beautifully shot and extremely complex in its themes despite a simple narrative.

I have seen the movie twice now and both times were very different experiences for me. I was shocked the first time I saw it by its amazing cinematography and visual effects, but more invested in its narrative the second time. This is a very lonely and even at times depressing movie as Roy McBride, played by Brad Pitt, searches for his father who is likely up to no good billions of miles away. This is a film that I feel deserves to be discussed in detail. In order to do so, I will need to discuss SPOILERS for the film for the rest of this article. My recommendation to you all is if you’re at least curious about it, try to see it once in the theater and give it a chance, but if you don’t like these types of slow space odyssey like films and were never interested in this film to begin with, you may not find much to win you over. With that being said, let’s discuss this movie in detail from the visual aspects to its themes and ideas.

Check out the trailer released by IMAX here:

One of its strongest themes is the effect space travel can have on a human being and how this can damage someone psychologically. *****SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE*****

The film starts off in the near future where mankind now has the resources to be able to dedicate more time to discovering space. Some countries, particularly the United States, now have stations set up on the moon and in Mars where research is conducted and where space travel commences. It is revealed that Clifford McBride, played by Tommy Lee Jones, began a mission known as the Lima Project many years ago in an effort to discover intelligent alien life to hopefully help humans in the continued discovery of our universe. That mission had since seemingly ended but power surges are now being emitted from the capsule which is destroying bases in space and killing innocent civilians both on Earth and in space. One of these power surges directly affects Roy, Clifford’s son, who, while repairing a satellite in the sky, experiences one of these power surges which propels him off the structure towards Earth. He then is ordered on a mission to Mars to attempt to make communication with his father to see if they can grab his attention so they can track his location and hopefully figure out a way stop these surges.

One of my favorite aspects of the movie is this film’s depiction of the future and the society that surrounds it. As Roy departs for his journey, he must first travel to the moon to reach the base and meet his team that will take him to Mars. They order Roy to travel “commercially”, which this film introduces as a concept, in order to keep a low profile. We also find once Roy has gotten to the moon that there seems to be a little society which has formed there as there is now an airport with restaurant locations like Applebee’s, Yoshinoya, and Subway. This film’s depiction of the future and settlement of intergalactic territories almost reminded me of Rick and Morty in its realism and attention to detail. It was interesting too to find that nations are still fighting over territory on the moon as a Virgin Atlantic PSA warns its passengers to stay in safe spaces as they could be caught in the middle of a war zone if they go outside the safe lines. I can’t help but wonder how many years it will be until humanity has colonized the moon and it becomes widely accepted for passengers to travel to the moon commercially.

One criticism many people had with this movie is that some scenes felt “pointless”.

A scene involving Roy traveling through a war zone in order to get to the military base and a scene in which Roy’s crew responds to a mayday call on the way to Mars some critics determined were exciting but ultimately pointless to the main story. I would argue that these scenes are important as they either develop the environment or the characters in question. The rover scene provides proof to the audience that the moon is essentially a huge war zone. The mayday call scene, however, involves Roy’s crew finding an abandoned craft in which a couple of space primates have broken loose and killed everyone on board. Roy and his crew are able to destroy the chimps but it still seems to have a negative effect on Roy. It is mentioned earlier in the film that Roy’s pulse is never above 80 bpm which means that his anxiety levels remain consistently low. He is forced to take seemingly daily psychological evaluations in order to ensure that it is safe for him to continue on the mission and it is events like this that test him as a competent astronaut. Some have criticized Roy’s character to be dull because Brad Pitt is forced to give an emotionless and calm performance, but it did not bother me as I acknowledge that Roy’s emotionless expressions make up his character. Other actors would have tried to go big in their performance, but Pitt always keeps his performance laid back and subdued which I think is extremely fitting for a character who is forced to remain calm in order to go deeper into space.

One of the most marketed scenes in the trailers that critics found exciting but pointless. See the clip here:

Once Roy gets to Mars he finds that his father is still in his capsule in Neptune, likely still searching for intelligent life. The people in charge of the base at Mars, Space Command, refuse to let Roy travel on the mission to Neptune. It isn’t until later when we find out that the reason is that Roy’s father actually murdered his crew after they hesitated to go beyond the solar system to keep finding alien life. Since it would ruin the reputation of Space Command given that they’ve been able to spread the narrative that his father was a hero for so long, they refuse to let him continue on this journey to find his father. He is able to stow away on the rocket to Mars, but he is forced to kill everyone on board as they try to attack him once he gets on. He must now travel from Mars to Neptune all by himself, a journey which theoretically would take him over 10 years. This is one of the issues I do have with the movie. Although we feel the effects time has on the character psychologically, it never really is shown physically. Roy’s hair never turns grey, his skin doesn’t begin to wrinkle, he looks as if he was the same age by the time he gets to Neptune and by the time he gets home (which again could span over 20 years).

Once Roy reaches Neptune he finds his father still alive as well as the malfunctioning antimatter causing the surges throughout the solar system. Clifford refuses to go home with his son and at this moment admits that he never cared about him or his well being and only really cares to successfully complete his mission. Even though Roy is able to get his father to leave the capsule with him so he can blow it up, Clifford refuses to go home with Roy and forces him to let go. Roy, likely acknowledging the hurt Clifford has caused him, unhooks him from the tether they both are connected to, ultimately killing his own father in the process. The audience at this point now knows that this is the most challenging moment Roy has ever faced as he’s forced to confront the harsh reality that his father is not who he thought he was and further act upon this realization. And even through this, Roy still doesn’t lose his temper or have a mental breakdown as an average audience member may expect him to. I originally did not like the ending of this movie as I thought it was a somewhat disappointing conclusion to a largely built-up story, but upon second viewing I found I liked the ending given that Roy was able to finally gain closure in his life and accept his father for who he truly is.

Ad Astra is the type of movie any serious lover of film needs to see at least once

Ad Astra is a movie I love to death and I think any fan of movies should check out as soon as they can. This is not your average movie-going experience and is definitely not something you watch on a date maybe for fun. James Gray has created a deep, complex, and lonely tale of a man who must accept the reality his father is not the man he thought he was through an interstellar journey. Many people are also going to call this a rip off of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I too noticed the similarity between the two movies. But what kept this movie consistently engaging for me though was the main character and the journey he took. Gray’s direction and the cinematography as done excellently by Hoyte Van Hoytema is just icing on the cake to this intergalactic masterpiece. See this on the biggest screen you can, and I hope you all enjoy!

Written by: Christian Scognamillo

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Is Captain Marvel Worth Your Time?

Captain Marvel is a mediocre entry into the MCU, but nonetheless a fun film.

Captain Marvel was directed by husband and wife team Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck and stars Brie Larson as the powerful Captain Marvel, also known as Carol Danvers.  This is the 21st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (holy s***!) and they’re still going semi-strong.  Despite the repetitive nature of these films, they still manage to make me happy at the end of the day. 

I’m not sure what it is, but even though all these movies are made for “normies” who like “big” blockbuster movies, I always manage to watch these movies and get the impression that they feel personal to me in some way.  This is most likely because of the absolutely incredible character building as well as strong world building.  In my opinion, Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2, Doctor Strange, Thor: Ragnarok, and the first Avengers movie are the best in the series/universe. What these movies did to make themselves so well done was either introduce the formula that has been sustaining them for so long, or take that formula we are used to and did something new and exciting with it.

Caveat: I wouldn’t say that Black Panther is the best film in the MCU, at least when compared to Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse or Avengers: Infinity War, but I will say that one does feel more unique in some aspects of its style and presentation. Looking back I am happy it did get nominated and even receive some Academy Awards.

Captain Marvel takes place before most Marvel movies at around 1995!

The film tells the story of Vers and the clan of Kree as they defend their territory against their enemies, the Skrulls. After she escapes a Skurll ship where they attempt to extract her memories, she’s shot out of her escape pod and finds herself atop a Blockbuster Video location in Los Angeles. After making a successful land on the ground and informing Nick Fury, an agent for S.H.I.E.L.D., of the war that is brewing between the two races, they must team up to fight an enemy threatening their territory, who may not be the same group they expected.

Even if Captain Marvel is a fun movie to watch, there is nothing in it that makes it exciting, special, or unique.

Captain Marvel was okay. I think the movie is good, but certainly one of the weaker ones in the franchise. It’s the same as all the other Marvel movies. If you are fine with the formula they have set for their movies, and don’t feel that you need a change of pace in this formula, then you’ll likely enjoy this one. I just wish there was some style to this movie, but there unfortunately isn’t. There isn’t even much color in movie, there’s no memorable music, nor does it even really have a very interesting script or commentary.

The movie is mostly just very generic. It tells a simple story, sets up a few conflicts, there’s a quick resolution, and the movie is suddenly over. There’s not even much tension to this movie really. The best way I can describe it is just pure escapism. You’ll be entertained for two and a half hours, but you’ll probably forget about it until you find it on a streaming service of some sort (probably Disney+ by the time that’s ready). This doesn’t make it necessarily bad, it’s competently made, but there’s nothing unique or special about this movie. It’s so generic and by the numbers, I wish there was more to it. When ranking films with a female heroine, I think Wonder Woman and Alita: Battle Angel, both of which came out this year, are superior films. They additionally have much better action sequences as well.

Time to address the elephant in the room when it comes to this movie…

Now I understand there’s some “drama” with this movie and people’s reception to this movie on the internet, and I really didn’t want to get into it that much but I’ll just quickly say that everyone looks stupid fighting over this movie. If you’re claiming that this movie was going to be bad because there is a woman in it, you’re dumb. On the other hand, if you’re going to bully people who think this movie is only okay and call them “man babies” or “sexist” you’re also dumb.

I would advise anyone out there not review bomb a movie to serve any agenda you may have, whether it be “positive” or “negative,” because that will make you and your cause look bad. My thought going in was that I wanted it to just be a good movie. I also acknowledge Brie Larson said some things that got people really angry, and I really don’t want to get into that either. Just know that you commenting on her comments is only giving more publicity to the movie which will encourage people to go watch it. So whether that is your goal or not, acknowledge that you are doing this.

As a side note: I am planning on discussing how to properly engage in discourse with others on the internet because this is a subject I am passionate about and I really just want people just treat others with kindness no matter the opinions they have. What I would say to you for now regarding the internet drama of this movie is this, respect all people and they opinions they have. More importantly, don’t let what others on the internet have to say persuade you into shaping a belief about this movie, whether it’d be positive or negative. See the movie for yourself, and make up your own mind!

So the movie is fine but lacks style, should you still watch it?

With that being said, I don’t feel there is really anything else I can say about this movie. Although entertaining, I just wish the film-making on display was more interesting. I also wish there was more tension in this movie, because that too would have made this much stronger. Even the lack of color within the film bogged this down because this is one dark looking movie. It’s not as bad as Suicide Squad or Solo: a Star Wars Story, but there’s one scene near the end that borders on that quality of lighting and color correction.

For now, though, this is a completely harmless Marvel movie. I believe people will probably love it or hate it more than I did, so I would recommend watching this movie and just making up your own mind. I am very excited for Avengers: Endgame, and will probably continue to watch these movies for years to come. They would have to take a major dive in quality, or just get so tiring and boring to the point of complete exhaustion for me to stop watching these, and thankfully neither has happened yet.

If these movies aren’t for you, that’s fine. But if you find this to be the best Marvel movie though, good for you! I’m glad you could get more enjoyment than I did out of this. I understand I’m late to this party, and the majority of the population has already seen this movie, but I still wanted to give my general thoughts. If you haven’t seen it though and you want to, check it out! It definitely won’t be an infuriating movie to watch, it’ll just be bland. If you don’t care about this being a masterfully made film, you’ll like it fine. Finally, I will admit this: Captain Marvel has the best opening sequence for any Marvel movie! If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about.

Written by: Christian Scognamillo

Is How to Train Your Dragon: the Hidden World Worth Your Time?

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ends the long-running trilogy with a fun, wholesome ending.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World was directed by Dean Belois.  This is the third and seemingly final film in the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy produced by Dreamworks Animation.

If you’ve never heard of this trilogy before, these animated films tell the story of Hiccup (played by Jay Baruchel) and his friends who live with their dragons at Berk.  The first film told of the people of Berk domesticating the dragons after initially hunting them down.  It was about the relationships that these people could develop with these seemingly violent and frightening creatures.   It was a wholesome yet exciting film that would launch arguably Dreamworks’ best franchise to date.  The second film then resumed Hiccup’s journey as he searches for his mother that he believed was dead.  In terms of the whole trilogy, this one reigns supreme as the best one in the series; the film carried the most emotion without losing sight of the larger world the series was trying to build.  Additionally, action scenes in The Hidden World were by far and away some of Dreamworks’ best animation to date.

The newest How to Train Your Dragon film starts off following the events of the second film, with Hiccup’s father now dead and his mother back in his life.  After learning about yet another person who wants to take their dragons and destroy their homes, they realize the possibility of the existence of another world in which the dragons can live in peace away from the rest of society. Hiccup, having assumed the role of chief, decides that it’s a good idea to get not only the people of Berk to safety but more importantly the dragons as well.  Things get more complicated when the main dragon, Toothless, meets another female dragon and develops a relationship with it.  While the gang wonder what the best way to accomplish this goal could be, they begin to consider the possibility of releasing the dragons into the wild.

Although this latest entry in the How to Train Your Dragon series has heart and some touching scene, it’s not perfect.

I would say the scenes whenever the characters considered what life would be like without their dragons are probably the best ones of this film.  I further think this is the emotional highlight of the film when it comes to the way this story is structured.  The other aspect I really liked is of course the animation, but I also don’t really think animated movies are released today without top-notch animation.  These movies have always had really nice animation and this film is no exception.

The biggest flaw with this movie is the pacing.  Despite running for 1hr 44mins, the filmmakers still didn’t have enough time to tell the story they wanted to.  This affected certain elements of the film into feeling rushed, whereas other unnecessary elements felt overly drawn out and exhausting to watch.  The film chooses to spend much of its time showing either the characters quickly interact with the villains, the two leading dragons going on their little dates (which admittedly are very entertaining), or the other side characters being goofy and getting into silly shenanigans.   Many of these moments felt like they were only there in order for the film to force either substance or bad comedy into it.  Although it’s been awhile since I’ve seen the first two How to Train Your Dragon films, but I remember them being pretty funny.  I think that’s why it was surprising to me to see this film and acknowledge that it’s really not that funny.  The humor is mostly very juvenile and meant to cater towards children.  If the humor took a backseat to the drama the characters face this wouldn’t be a big deal, it’s just the fact that jokes are thrown in very often which makes this experience very distracting.

Even though I really liked the animation and I thought the emotions shared between the characters and their dragons were strong, this movie overall is somewhat boring.  Honestly, this is perhaps the weakest movie in this trilogy and the reason for that would be because the film does not have much substance to it.  The supposed feeling of dread that these characters have is never fully related or felt by the audience.  My guess as to why this is the case is likely because they don’t want to make the kids watching this feel uneasy.  And while that is understandable, you can still keep the audience engaged and feeling like the stakes are high while still entertaining the kids.  Good examples of this concept are the first two How to Train Your Dragon films or the Toy Story films, as these films showed managed to be entertaining for both kids and adults.

I will say that the resolution to this film and the ending to the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy is very well done.

When it is time for the climax to come that has been built up for the entire film, it feels mostly underwhelming and it comes in really quickly.  I would say the final fight of this film, although very good, is probably under 10 minutes, which is not usual for one of these movies.  What’s interesting though is that I really like the climax and I think it is my favorite part of the film, it’s just jarring to see it come so quickly is all.  What leads after the fight is really wonderful I will say though.  I won’t give away the resolution of what happens to the dragons and to Hiccup and his friends but I thought that was very satisfying.  I just wish the film had a story with higher stakes so that this ending could feel more earned.

I know I’ve been trashing on this movie a lot, but I really don’t think it’s bad.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think this film was disappointing, but I acknowledge that these films could be so much worse and more childish.  I think this film has the potential to bore some audience members, but I thought it was fine really.    I am happy I saw where these characters ended up and was able to watch their growth and development.  The main characters all go through incredible arcs that changes who they are and that was very interesting to see as well.  If you want to see how this trilogy ends, I’d say check it out.  I would say my enthusiasm for this film is mostly reserved just because I thought the film was underwhelming more than anything, but I still thought it was perfectly fine.  I would just say expect to possibly be disappointed and acknowledge that the film does feel rushed at times.

Written by: Christian Scognamillo