Saturday, February 25, 2017

Saturday Double-Header: Final Oscar Viewings

I finished up my viewing of this year's Oscar-nominated films (in the theaters, at least) with a double-header at the "dollar" theater. Granted, neither of them are up for any major award. But since I have seen 7 of the 9 Best Pic Nominees (and have no desire to see the remaining two) I justified the double-header with them being nominated for Oscars this.

The first was Moana, the Disney-release with Lin-Manual Miranda music and songs. Lots of people liked this film. I thought for sure I would, but I just didn't. I can't even put my finger on why I didn't like it. I kept comparing it to Tangled, which I loved. Whereas I liked Rapunzel and her journey and her spunkiness and tenacity, I found Moana to be annoying. I do think Moana is better than the dreadful Frozen (which I would say I deeply dislike), but both signal a concerted effort by Disney to portray their females at not "just" princesses looking for a prince. That is another discussion entirely, but I will say that I enjoyed that the journey was Moana's and involved a platonic friendship (although I will say that I think Zootopia did this better). A couple times I was amused to the point of actually laughing out loud - when the crab states he ate his grandma; and Maui as shark on top. That visual gag was hilarious. Stray thought: Why was Moana's dad the only one with an accent?

Moana is nominated for Best Animated Film and Best Original Song, "How Far I'll Go", written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (of Hamilton and general awesomeness). I personally liked "You're Welcome" a lot more, and the tune Miranda himself sings as non-diegetic music.

The second film was Passengers, nominated for Best Original Score and Best Production Design. The film is sci-fi lite, the story of two passengers on a spaceship headed for life on another planet. The journey to Homestead II takes 120 years, so the passengers and crew "sleep" in hibernation and are supposed to be woken four months prior to arrival. Technical malfunctions cause a passenger, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) to be woken 90 years too early. He wakes another passenger, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), whom he has become taken with after essentially stalking her. Honestly, if I was completely alone for a year, minus the robot bartender, I'd probably wake someone else up, too.

About halfway through the movie, two people on my row got up and left. I certainly understand why. The film is slightly slow and not terribly interesting. It picks up a bit of steam when a crew member also is woken early, but his time is cut prematurely short. Then it's just your average race-against-time movie. After being only half-engaged in the film, I surprisingly was really into the last ten minutes or so.

I remember reading a headline about the film back when it was released, calling it essentially Titanic but in space. That's a fairly accurate view of the film (however Titantic has much more going on with much more interesting leads). It was really made clear in a couple scenes: Aurora tells Jim that if he dies, she dies ("You jump, I jump"); and when Aurora yells out "Come back!", I thought of Rose yelling comeback to the rescuers after letting Jack go.

Stray thought: Arthur, the robot bartender, reminded me of the bartender in The Shining. Then I couldn't figure out if that thought was put in my head from reading my cousin's review of the film months ago, or was my own. Either way, it's true.



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