TRIPLE REVIEW: PETE’S DRAGON, KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, AND BEN-HUR

TRIPLE REVIEW: PETE’S DRAGON, KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, AND BEN-HUR

TRIPLE REVIEW: PETE’S DRAGON, KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, AND BEN-HUR

I’ve hit a bit of an “end-of-summer” movie slump if you couldn’t tell. It’s partially because I’ve been a little busy lately, but also partially because the “end-of-summer” isn’t exactly a great time for movie releases. Honestly, there’s not a lot of exciting stuff on the horizon until about October or November for me. That doesn’t mean there aren’t movies I’ve seen that I haven’t talked about though, in fact there are a couple from even further back in the summer that I neglected to review, too; specifically Hunt For The Wilderpeople and The Infiltrator. Both movies are really good, and I’ll try to get around to talking about them more in-depth at the end of the year. For now I’d just recommend checking out either if you’re interested and judging for yourself.

Anyway, here are some other movies I’d like to recommend… And also Ben-Hur.

TRIPLE REVIEW: PETE’S DRAGON, KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, AND BEN-HUR

Pete’s Dragon

Disney seems to finally be hitting a bit of a stride with its live-action remakes of their classic animated films. Pete’s Dragon is a really sweet little movie. It’s definitely geared for probably an even younger audience than The BFG, but like that film, it’s still enjoyable for an older audience and it’s refreshingly emotionally-mature for a children’s film.

There’s no need to outright villianize anyone. Even the typical Disney stock-villain who wants to catch Elliot the Dragon is given a reasonable motivation and perspective for doing so. It’s really satisfying to see children’s films finally grasp the fact that more believable and well thought-out characters equals more audience investment It’s a trend I hope we can keep up for the foreseeable future. The same carries over for the rest of the characters as well.

Everyone acts mostly believably, the thought process of every character is easy to follow and sympathize with, and it’s all backed-up by fantastic performances all around.

The cinematography is also wonderful. Every shot in this movie feels incredibly cozy and peaceful, and it really helps to set the mood of the film and instill a sense of calm lacking from most other movies I’ve seen this year.

So yeah, not much else too talk about other than that. Pete’s Dragon is a really nice little movie and I enjoyed it a lot.

Media Fire Rating: 8/10

TRIPLE REVIEW: PETE’S DRAGON, KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, AND BEN-HUR

Kubo and the Two Strings

Kubo and the Two Strings might end up being my personal favorite animated film of the year, and in a year that’s been this successful for animation, that is saying something.

Laika has yet again managed to produce another beautifully executed stop-motion animation masterpiece that I highly recommend seeing in theaters. It’s far from perfect; mainly in the somewhat iffy story department, where everyone magically ends up being connected to one-another in ways I don’t want to spoil but can probably be guessed as the movie goes on. It’s worth forgiving these flaws just to be swept up in the adventure of it all.

Make no mistake, Kubo is a straight up adventure movie. It may also have some really well done messages about death and the loved ones that leave us and a lot of stuff other animation studios probably couldn’t execute nearly as well, but at the end of the day it’s mostly about traveling along with our three main characters to the next action set-piece.

The action is definitely something to acknowledge. The Media Fire always appreciates a “family” movie that doesn’t hesitate to throw its characters into peril, and Kubo has some of the most well-done set-pieces of the summer. This movie contains a set-piece involving the largest stop-motion puppet ever constructed for a film, there is a behind-the-scene’s mid-credits look at the constructing of said puppet that I highly recommend staying for.

All of this is backed up by impressive voice-acting as well. I think it’s now safe to say Matthew McConaughey literally can’t not be charming in any role he’s in; even when he’s voicing a giant man-beetle.

All in all, Kubo is a summer highlight I would strongly recommend everyone checking out.

Media Fire Rating: 8.7/10

TRIPLE REVIEW: PETE’S DRAGON, KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, AND BEN-HUR

Ben-Hur

Can someone tell me who thought this was a good idea?

Remaking classic Hollywood Cinema has literally dozens of examples of critical and financial failure, yet studios still continue make these! Presumably the idea is that “Some money is better than no money,” but honestly that’s just not the case anymore!

People’s lives and jobs usually hinge on the success of movies, and I literally can’t think of an idea that spells box-office poison more than remaking Ben-Hur; a remake of a 212 minute long movie everyone can agree was revolutionary for the time but no one can honestly remember much about, or even remember that ‘THAT’ movie was also a remake of something.

So you can probably tell I haven’t taken the time to watch the original Ben-Hur from reading this. I really feel I have very little framework to actually judge this movie upon. All I can say is that objectively its honestly not horrible.

All the actors seem to be trying their best and it’s definitely an interesting story for the most part with one or two nice action scenes, but it can’t help but feel underwhelming. Most of that is probably due to the direction.

Timur Bekmambetov is certainly a talented director in some respects, he’s clearly the wrong fit for a historical sword and sandal epic. These kinds of movies ideally call for large sweeping shots and steady cam, whereas Bedmambetov favors shaky cam and medium-to-close up shots of basically everything.

It’s really not as infuriating as it sounds for me but it’s one of the many things that keep this story from having the weight it needs to be successful. There’s honestly just no way I could think of to successfully remake Ben-Hur in today’s filmmaking era.

From the looks of things I can tell everyone involved really did try to make a good movie out of this, but it just doesn’t really amount to anything in the end. The most interesting take-away I have from this movie is a seen where you can clearly see two of our main characters wearing jeans as part of their costumes. It’s incredibly bizarre and I’m at a loss to see how the costume department just thought no one would notice.

This was probably never going to work, no matter what happened, so I guess it’s nice that I can see some effort put in at the end of the day. I hope no one loses their job over this, but judging from its already poor box-office reception, I’m not holding my breath.

Media Fire Rating: 5/10

Anyway that’s all for now! Hopefully I can come back soon with a full review of something!