Coco- Movie Review

Credit: Pixar

What is it about?

Coco follows Miguel (Anthony Gonzales), who wants to become a musician despite his family’s ban on music. He accidentally ends up in the Land of the Dead on Dia de Los Muertos, where he meets a shifty con artist named Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal). He must break his family’s curse on music and get back to the real world before he gets stuck in the Land of the Dead.

How is it? 9.3/10

Coco is a truly touching movie, with fleshed-out characters, amazing music, an emotional, personal plot, and gorgeous animation.

Credit: Pixar

The Ups

The characters in Coco are stellar. It’s super fun and interesting to watch Miguel’s (physical and inner) journey across the Land of Dead where he definitely grows as a character. Anthony Gonzales is really great as Miguel, and he gives a ton of emotion in his vocal performance. Hector is another solid character. We learn a lot about him over the course of the movie, and although he seems one-note at the beginning, he has a ton of depth to him.

As far as the animation goes, this movie contains the best animation I’ve seen all year. It’s standard for Pixar to make their movies look gorgeous, but this movie is really special. Everything about both the Land of the Dead, the real world, and the characters all look amazing. Some of the shots of streets and buildings are super realistic and it’s hard to believe it’s animation at times. The entire design of the Land of the Dead is also great. The city’s design is colorful, creative, and we get to see a ton of it through Miguel’s trip through the city. Speaking of which, this movie is insanely colorful. There are a ton of bright, neon colors found inside the Land of the Dead that work the almost real animation to make something that looks awesome.

Credit: Pixar

Both the score and the original songs in Coco are great. There are some very catchy, and sometimes even genuinely emotional original songs in the film that are used in just the right places. The vocals from the cast are very good and they can all sing exceptionally.

The plot of Coco is never cliched or cheesy and there are lots of really surprising twists and turns. It has a lot of depth, which is expected from a Pixar film, and is captivating to watch. From the very beginning, you see Miguel’s world and how he as to deal with it. It keeps you constantly engaged as he goes farther and farther away from his home and learns more about his family. There’s also no shortage of humor here: the movie mixes emotion with some good jokes very well.

Credit: Pixar

Pixar knows how to make their audience cry, and their strategy is very effective here. The movie deals with a very personal, human story, even for Pixar, and it has a giant emotional payoff near the end. The reason this works is because the movie develops these characters and you learn so much about them. By the time that the emotional punch rolls around, you’re deeply invested in these characters and you care about them a ton. At the center of this movie is a story about family. It explores the different aspects of a family, their flaws, and their traditions, as Miguel learns more and more about his family and their history. It also dives into what it means to be remembered, and all of these themes are displayed in the fantastic story that a bunch for both adults and kids. Coco is very informative about Mexican culture and Dia de Los Muertos, and you can learn a lot about that holiday through this movie.

The Downs

Honestly, there’s nothing much wrong with this movie. I can’t think of anything to complain about and it was just a super touching movie overall.

Coco is one of the best films of the year. It mixes colorful, realistic animation with emotion, a deep plot, and great music to make a really original, sweet movie. I would recommend it to all ages and there’s something in it for everyone.

Justice League- Movie Review

Credit: Warner Bros.

What is it about?

After the death of Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck) is forced to assemble a team of other heroes, including Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to fight the incoming threat of Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds).

How is it? 6.8/10

Justice League is a disappointing, but definitely entertaining movie. It has great performances and fun characters, as well as plenty of humor and a hopeful tone, but the rushed plot, CGI mess of a villain, and lackluster, sloppy visual effects make it just decent.

Credit: Warner Bros.

The Ups

The characters (mostly) and acting were pretty strong in Justice League. First off, The Flash/Barry Allen was a lot of fun here. He gets some of the best jokes and acts as comic relief and “the rookie” of the group. Ezra Miller is really good as Barry Allen . He has a lot of fun moments interacting with his teammates. Aquaman, another new character, is just…so awesome! Jason Momoa gives the character a very confident, cool demeanor that’s super entertaining to watch. Gal Gadot is, again, excellent as Wonder Woman, and she remains a strong character, being the highlight of the last two films she was in. Also, we finally get a hopeful Superman! That’s what character is supposed to be like, although in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, we got a very mopey, brooding Superman that wasn’t too in line with the character. Henry Cavill shows us what an optimistic, actually fun Superman would look like.

There’s quite a bit of humor in Justice League, as the trailers have promised, and most of it comes from the group dynamic among the team. Warner Bros. has acknowledged criticisms of a lack of humor and levity in other DC Extended Universe movies and made an effort to make this one more light-hearted. There are lots of funny gags throughout, and it’s an easy, light watch. Yes, it can be a bit cheesy at times, but it’s cheesy in the right ways. Because Joss Whedon, director of the (much quippier) Avengers movies, came in after Zack Snyder, who directed Batman v Superman and Man of Steel, had to step off, you can see the film have a bit of his touch. He’s known for a lot of banter between characters, and you can see that on show.

Credit: Warner Bros.

As far as action goes, this movie (mostly) delivers. There are lots of action scenes sprinkled throughout, and they are very entertaining, especially in the final battle where the whole “Justice League” teams up. There are also two great post-credits scenes here. The first is a quick gag that’s pretty funny and the second is a genuinely surprising reveal that gets me very excited for the future of the DCEU.

The Downs

Justice League stands at 2 hours, which is shorter than most superhero movies these days. That’s generally a good thing, but not for this movie. A lot of scenes feel rushed or cut down significantly and there are some side storylines that never get revisited and are just there for the sake of being there. The movie didn’t know where to spend more time and where to spend less: some scenes go on for too long or shouldn’t be there, whereas others feel just skimmed over. It has a very messy plot that piles scenes on top of each other without any flow.

Some characters were subpar also. For example, Cyborg is really bland. He has his own storyline that’s not very interesting and is supposed to be a key character, as he has a special connection to what the villain wants. He is also one of the most powerful in the group, but the audience doesn’t really care about him. Ray Fisher’s performance comes off cold and dull for such an important character. Ben Affleck looks almost bored playing Batman and is very unenthusiastic in his role. Also, although Superman’s entrance is pretty awesome, he’s absent for most of the movie and sort of hangs over it before he’s “resurrected”. It feels kind of abrupt when he just shows up.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Steppenwolf is undeniably the worst part of Justice League. He’s just another CGI monster that wants to destroy Earth for the sake of being evil and was almost unwatchable. I nearly cringed whenever he was onscreen and he doesn’t feel like a real threat. You know nothing about him except for the fact that he’s powerful and evil. Every time he shows up, he mumbles something about having to destroy everyone like a video game villain. He was a weak, underdeveloped, and boring villain.

For such an expensive ($300 million!) movie, you would really expect better effects. The effects are very sloppy and obvious. Cyborg is an almost entirely CGI character, and he looks awful. The visual effects are not great on him and are really obvious. Also, Steppenwolf, who is similar to Cyborg (mostly CGI), doesn’t look that good, and you feel like you’re watching video game graphics when you see him. A lot of this movie is shot on green screen, which is common, but so many shots are glaringly obvious. Sometimes, it’s painfully clear that green screen is being used, which took me out of the movie a little. Some of the action, combined with the messy visuals, can be really chaotic and hard to follow, which detracts from the film.

Overall, Justice League is just fine. It’s not awful, but it’s definitely not great either. Its characters and their interactions provide for lots of humor and a more fun, hopeful tone, but it has an awful villain, embarrassing CGI, and a messy, rushed plot.

Thor: Ragnarok- Movie Review

Credit: Marvel Studios

What is it about?

After getting trapped on a faraway planet where he has to fight Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in a gladiator contest, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has to team up with him, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and new character Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to defeat the goddess of death, Hela (Cate Blanchett).

How is it? 8.5/10

Thor: Ragnarok is, above all, a ton of fun. I can’t emphasize how funny this movie really is. The action looks great, but this movie is still primarily a comedy. The cast is all terrific, and they are all hilarious in their respective roles. However, this constant sense of humor takes away any palpable emotion or drama from the film, and causes some tonal dissonance, as so much of the story involves destruction and death.

The Ups

Thor: Ragnarok nails its humor. The movie knows exactly when to time jokes for maximum impact, and it (for the most part) works. There were several times in this movie when I just couldn’t stop laughing. It is definitely the funniest MCU movie yet. Taika Waititi did a great job directing the film and has great comedic timing.

Credit: Marvel Studios

Chris Hemsworth got to show off some of his comedic chops here, and is really good as Thor. The film elevated Thor as a character, specifically in its removal of his hammer. It shows what he can be as the “God of Thunder,” without his hammer. Tom Hiddleston is, as always, awesome as Loki. He has lots of fun scenes throughout. Hulk is amazing here. He can finally talk (albeit like a 2-year-old), and is portrayed as a sad, whiny child. This causes for lots of humor. The relationship between Banner and Hulk is explored more, which is very interesting. Cate Blanchett gives a hammy, but good performance as Hela. She has her comedic moments, too, and clearly has fun with the role.

Credit: Marvel Studios

Taika Waititi as Korg, one of the contenders in the gladiator contest, is just the best. Korg is one of the best characters in the film, and despite being a giant rock-monster, is actually soft-spoken. He is hilarious and gets some of the best lines in the movie. Jeff Goldblum is a riot as Grandmaster, who controls the gladiator contest. He has a ton of fun witht he role, and steals the scene every time he’s onscreen. Tessa Thompson kicks butt as former Asgardian, but now alcoholic bodyguard, Valkyrie, for Jeff Goldblum’s character. We learn about her past, and her character arc is pretty satisfying.

Credit: Marvel Studios

Although this movie is mainly a comedy, when the action comes, it’s spectacular and a blast to watch. The effects are great, especially for CGI characters like Korg or Hulk. This is one of the few Marvel movies (mainly the Guardians films), that utilizies color. There’s a bright neon color scheme, emphasizing the colorful, vivid locations. There is also a great 80s-influenced, sci-fi score that complements the action and humor nicely.

The Downs

The emphasis placed on humor in Ragnarok does cause the movie to lose any sense of emotional weight or drama. Its few attempts at this are undercut by jokes: not to say the jokes don’t work, but the movie could have had more emotion. There is one specific moment where the movie could have had a lot of emotional impact, but chooses to go straight for the joke.

Credit: Marvel Studios

The tone also feels a bit shaky at times, as you have a buddy comedy with Thor and Hulk for half of it and a story about death and destruction on Asgard for the other half. The film treats the second part a bit too flippantly sometimes and it’s kind of jarring to switch tones so rapidly.

There are also some problems with structure in the film. The ending, in my opinion, feels abrupt. The movie’s structure left me feeling empty afterwards: Thor’s at Saakar (gladiator planet) for a bit, he has to escape, they go to Asgard, he has to defeat Hela. The Saakar part, entertaining as it is, isn’t even that essential to the story. So much time is spent at two general plot points that the movie feels shorter than it actually is.

Credit: Marvel Studios

While Blanchett’s performance was fun, Ragnarok runs into another case of the Marvel villain problem. We get a little bit of backstory for Hela, but nothing really stuck out in her character. She’s evil for the sake of being evil, without any real development. I found myself bored when she was onscreen and wanted to go back to Sakaar for more of Thor and Hulk because she just wasn’t that interesting of a villain.


Credit: Marvel Studios

Overall, Thor: Ragnarok is a blast. It’s hilarious, looks (and sounds) great, and has stellar performances from its cast. Taika Waititi did a fantastic job directing Ragnarok and acting as Korg, who is definitely a standout character. However, the same can’t be said for its villain, who is definitely underdeveloped. The movie fails to provide any real emotion and has a slightly jarring tone at times. Also, the structure of the film feels empty, as it jumps between two major storylines.