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…

Inside Out
Inside every living being there is a control room operated by five emotions: Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger. When 11-year-old Riley’s family moves to a new city, her memories, personality and emotion are thrown into chaos. It’s up to Joy, the most optimistic of her emotions, to travel into Riley’s subconscious to restore the balance. Inside Out is at once too complicated and too simple. The workings of the internal world in all of us are a mess. We create new memories every moment of the day, which are represented by coloured orbs. Beyond our short-term memories, we each have five core memories which generate subconscious islands of personality. But if those core memories are disrupted, the islands of personality sink into some kind of memory pit from which there is no escape. It’s all over the place, but at the same time, Inside Out oversimplifies in other areas. Why do only five emotions exist? When Joy falls into the memory pit, why would there be any danger of her being erased? Can you erase an emotion? The fact that the characters are represented by emotions is also a bit of a hindrance because they all become one-note. Sadness is always sad. Joy is always happy. Don’t look for personality traits beyond those because they don’t really exist. This was the conflict I felt while watching Inside Out; I didn’t dislike any particular aspect of it, I just felt that it was surprisingly shallow for a movie about the depths of emotion. All in all, Inside Out is funny and sweet film, and would be great to watch with kids, but it is only second-tier Pixar, belonging alongside the likes of Up, Brave, and A Bug’s Life, instead of with the classics such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles.
3.5 out of 5

Bridge of Spies
Steven Spielberg’s Cold War thriller is a spy movie without much in the way of actual spying. Tom Hanks plays a lawyer recruited to defend a Soviet spy in court and then oversee the exchange of the spy for a capture American pilot, and it is Hanks’ performance that makes this film feel much more dynamic than its plot material would imply. It would be easy for a movie set around a negotiation table to become quickly dry, but Spielberg and Hanks handle the script from Ethan Coen with their trademark talent. The result is one of Spielberg’s quieter films, but one that still crackles with tension in every scene. I was not a fan of Spielberg’s previous negotiation film Lincoln, finding it far too long and snore-inducing, but Bridge of Spies keeps the plot moving forward at a deliberate pace. It’s not Spielberg’s best, but it’s my favourite of his in over a decade.
3.5 out of 5

Pan
Quick, name something you like about Peter Pan. Did you say Wendy? Captain Hook? The crocodile? Too bad! None of those things are in Pan – at least, not in the way you want to see them. Sure, Captain Hook is a character in Pan, but he’s not a pirate, not a captain, not a bad guy, he has both his hands, and he’s played by Garrett Hedlund with a truly bizarre accent. Wendy is completely absent, and the crocodile only makes a brief appearance in one scene. So what is Pan about, if it’s not a Peter Pan adaptation? It’s an origin story along the lines of Oz the Great and Powerful or Maleficent: a live-action prequel to a classic childrens’ film, dolled up with CGI and full of bad choices. Pan follows an orphan named Peter as he’s kidnapped by Cirque du Soleil performers (they’re supposed to be the pirates, but they aren’t dressed as pirates and do all kinds of acrobatics) and brought to Never Never Land where they are to be forced into slavery under Blackbeard (played by Hugh Jackman). Blackbeard is abducting kids from earth and putting them to work mining fairy dust so that he can live forever. Eventually, Peter and his new friend James Hook escape the mine and encounter Tiger Lily and a tribe of…natives? Indians? The tribe is a mixed bag of different races and design choices, but ultimately it looks like a bunch of people from Burning Man moved into an Ewok village, and the fact that J. M. Barrie’s “Indians” were a racial stereotype is only made more awkward by the fact that the extremely white Rooney Mara is playing their leader. As all of these new live-action gritty prequel-reboots do, the whole thing culminates in a war, after which Peter wins, returns to London, and frees his orphan buddies – whom we know will become the Lost Boys. Pan is an utter mess, and I find myself at a loss to describe how strange it is. At one point, shortly after we arrive in Never Never Land, Blackbeard leads the slave boys in a rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – one of two anachronistic musical moments, the only two musical moments in the film. Over and over, I found myself asking “Why is this in here? What does this have to do with Peter Pan? What does this have to do with anything? WHY?!” Pan is bewildering, overproduced, and dumb. Avoid it. I expected so much more from Joe Wright.
1.5 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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