My Opinion on… The Emoji Movie

emoji

This movie does not need to exist. This movie should not exist.

This is a film that started as a fleeting idea in the hazy brain of some corporate executive that should’ve been forgotten and overridden by whichever new 13-year-old pop star making the rounds on YouTube he wants to invest in.

I have never seen a film try to cater and pander to a certain demographic this desperately in my entire life. It’s essentially trying to do what The Lego Movie did, except that movie was, y’know, good. It essentially did for Legos what Toy Story did for toys and what Wreck-It Ralph did for video games; it had heart, it had humor, it had a damn catchy song. This movie sounds like it got pitched after some middle-aged white man in a boardroom slammed back a few shots of tequila and then said, “You know what the kids would like?”

The Emoji Movie is an amalgamation of all of the worst things that could happen when companies try to make themselves “hip” and relevant to appeal to the little kiddies. (If you think this sounds outlandish, check out http://reddit.com/r/fellowkids. There are more examples of this than you think.) There’s a reason why the only two reactions to the news of this film are extreme criticism and blind optimism, and the teasers for this film that have gone up on YouTube have a number of dislikes that completely dwarfs the number of likes; they know that there are tons of ways to market, and this is not it.

The most hilarious thing about this film is that it was advertised by a character just as unenthusiastic about it as we are, and I don’t blame him one bit. To add insult to injury, the entire video is portrayed like a vertically-filmed iPhone video uploaded to YouTube with those nasty black bars, acting like a tongue-in-cheek middle finger to the audience. Imagine if the whole film was like that.

And just when you think it can’t get any worse, here’s the storyline of the film, in my own words: the film centers around an emoji called Gene who is unique because he can change his expression, but apparently all emojis live in a weird communist agenda where individuality is shunned and conformity is the status quo. Fearing the fact that he may disappoint his family or even be killed (well, deleted) for his distinctiveness, he seeks a code that will make him like everyone else by teaming up with his friends Hi-5 (voiced by James Corden; not surprised he got in on this) and an infamous code breaker emoji called Jailbreak. That..that doesn’t even make sense. There’s not even a jailbreak emoj…whatever.

First of all, Lord knows I couldn’t type that with a straight face. Second of all, this “unique person faces shunning/death and is forced to be normal” story structure sounds like something out of a World War II book. Not only that, but this plot has been used so often in films like these I know exactly where it’s going to go from here. Gene finds out that his individuality should be embraced and not hated, and eventually everyone becomes unique expression-changers, so unique becomes the new normal.

It’s predictable, it’s cringey, it’s tacky, it’s petty, and it’s a complete mess that shouldn’t be made. I will not be surprised if this film bombs hard; I will be one of the people dancing and celebrating among the flames. I will be taken aback if this film manages to pull a reverse Suicide Squad and actually start holding some ground between now and August 2017. It will bring great disappointment to me, however, if people go out to see this film with a “I need to see how bad this is” mindset and give this film money that it doesn’t deserve. If you don’t support a movie, don’t give it your money. Simple as that.

Hey Sony Pictures Animation, thanks for another addition to the endless list of reasons why 2016 sucks (yeah, I know this doesn’t come out until next year, but we heard about it this year, and that’s tragic enough).

My Opinion on…Cars 3

cars3

I just need to get something off my chest real quick.

I haven’t really cared about Cars in a while. I haven’t cared since I found out just how much of a colossal screwup the second Cars movie was, gaining the “honor” of being Pixar’s first film to get a rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes, and getting a pretty mediocre tie-in video game in comparison to the awesome video game that the original movie got, which I distinctly remember playing on the PS2. When I first heard that Cars 3 was coming, I was fairly happy. It seemed like it was a long time coming, and perhaps the franchise could try and redeem themselves.

Then the teaser came out, and the Internet went crazy.

I haven’t seen people get this riled up over a Disney movie since all of the “cultural appropriation” hullabaloo that Moana got for some reason, and it’s very similar to that situation in the sense that I have absolutely no idea why everyone’s pissing their pants.

Well, to be fair, there is some explanation for the controversy; mainly, people aren’t happy with the new super-dark direction that the film seems to be going in judging by its teaser trailer, which gives us glimpses at the disquieting image of Lightning McQueen crashing violently during a race. Parents were taking to the Internet, expressing outrage with how the teaser was making their kids cry in the theaters, and that sparked a whole discussion of whether or not a darker tone is the right decision, especially for this franchise. You wanna know what I think?

I think everyone should just shut up.

Disney are professionals at tearing people’s hearts out, and they’ve been doing it for decades, from Bambi’s mom’s death to Mufasa’s death to the first ten minutes of Up. If this is what people consider to be the final straw in 2016, then we are really waist-deep in the quicksand pool that is sensitivity.

I personally like this new style. It shocked me the first time I saw it in the sense that I didn’t think Disney actually had the balls to make such a drastic tone-shift, even though Cars 2 was a bit darker than the first Cars. The animation is several leagues up in terms of quality, and it’s so realistic and gritty that, from what we see, there aren’t even any cartoony faces on the cars. I’m excited to see where this goes and what more information will be revealed about the film, and if Cars 3 seriously gets any changes to make people happy, I will be extremely disappointed in Disney for cracking under the pressure. It’ll be a betrayal of their original vision for the film, and what’s the point of making a film that doesn’t match the vision you had when you came up with it in the first place?

~S~

“Awaken, My Love!” – Childish Gambino (review)

awaken_my_love

I don’t intend to come across as a hipster when I say this.

That’s a questionable sentence to start my first review with, but whatever.

I’ve been a fan of Donald Glover before I ever knew him as Childish Gambino. I was first introduced to him in 2009 by both his acting work on the hilarious NBC show Community and his work as part of the sketch comedy troupe Derrick Comedy (I’m not saying they specialize in dark comedy, but their most viral video is called “Bro Rape“). I first discovered his work as Childish Gambino right when Camp came out in 2011, and I distinctly remember my first song from him being “All the Shine”. Upon hearing the first line (“What the fuck do y’all niggas really want?”), I immediately turned off the song and pretty much never listened to him again for a few years. My naive mind thought that it was too gimmicky to take him seriously as a rapper.

Boy, was I wrong.

Fast forward to three years later, when I went through a phase in my life where I listened to because the internet religiously and firmly believed that it spoke to me in a way that few other albums did. I made amends with his discography shortly afterwards and ended up becoming a fan. “Awaken, My Love!” is the first Gambino album I’ve gotten to experience as it dropped while being a fan of his.

A lot of people aren’t really happy with the direction that Glover took with this album, straying away completely from his alternative hip-hop roots and going towards an old-school sound inspired by albums such as Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain. A lot of people got riled up when the singles of this album (“Me and Your Mama” and “Redbone”) came out since they desperately wanted to hear Glover rap again. I get where they’re coming from. I’d really love to hear that as well, but I can’t deny that I don’t like what I got with this album.

“Awaken, My Love!” starts with the first of the two singles, “Me and Your Mama”, a six-minute epic that shifts from soothing R&B to spine-chillingly emotional rock and back again, already setting the bar extremely high for the rest of the eleven tracks. “Have Some Love” comes next, a heartwarming and more stripped down-sounding song about the power of love and unity that’s definitely more timely than ever this year. The following song, “Boogieman”, centers around an admittedly irresistible riff and carries a heavy message about how African-Americans are portrayed in today’s society as fearful caricatures. “Zombies” has a groove just as strong as the previous tracks but seems like a bit of a step down, to be completely honest. The lyrics carry a strong metaphor, but hearing a woman seductively whispering “We’re eating you for profit / there is no way to stop it” feels cheesy to me.

However, the album quickly regains its footing and takes several steps back up with “Riot”, easily one of the highlights of the album, even though it is the shortest song. The melodies are infectious and complement Glover’s singing perfectly, and there are so many layers to the production that it makes for a generally fun listen. The only gripe I genuinely have with the song is that I wish it was longer. This song is followed by “Redbone”, the second of the two singles, and another fantastic song. Glover utilizes a unique pitched-up voice that works surprisingly well with the song and honestly doesn’t sound like a gimmick. The song has continuously been described as “babymaking music”, but I feel like that’s genuinely the best way to describe this.

“California”, another one of the shorter songs, is a more reggae-influenced song about a Cali lifestyle that I hated on first listen, due to how eclectic it sounded and the fact that Glover’s vocals were practically saturated with a very audible Autotune that had only been used sparingly on previous songs. On another listen, everything sorta clicked, and I found out that what I thought were flaws were actually aesthetic choices that added to the whole atmosphere of the song. This is a song for the daytime or an afternoon on the beach.

“Terrified” is a continuation of “California”, but from a darker perspective, detailing the bad side of a life in California. It’s like the moment when you stop acknowledging the silver lining and remember that the rest of the cloud is still there. It’s a stylistically dark-sounding song from the get-go, with Glover’s vocals sounding gently over stark, reverberating soundscapes before the rest of the instruments are added and the full groove is heard. The outro is very poignant, featuring a little girl singing lyrics such as “You can’t run from me / you can’t hide from me”, which take on a new light after listening to the next track, “Baby Boy”, the longest track on the album (a few seconds longer than “Me and Your Mama”). This song is essentially Glover’s version of “Only One”, showing him addressing his recently-born son with all of the optimism and fears that a new father would have. It also boasts an emotionally-charged outro led by a touching spoken-word message from Glover to his son.

“The Night Me and Your Mama Met” is a beautiful, gorgeous-sounding instrumental that carries some of the same emotions from “Baby Boy”, having a powerful guitar solo that is arguably the most Funkadelic-esque moment on this entire album. This is a song for late-night campfires (bonfires, if you will). The album concludes with the uplifting “Stand Tall”, centered around a moral Glover learned from his parents that he passes onto his own child in “Baby Boy” (“walk tall, little one, walk tall…”), and is already a perfect finale to the album, with a laidback sound populated with choirs and guitars, but then there’s a switch-up. Heavily Autotuned vocals and flutes carry the song from its first part to its second part, which starts with a synth-led interlude that is probably one of the greatest things I’ve ever listened to. It feels like you’re ascending to a higher plane of existence. It’s beautiful. After this, the song goes to a relatively hip-hop-esque beat with acoustic guitar in the background alongside the synths and choirs. It’s a song for late evenings and sunsets on the beach. It’s fantastic.

I’d be lying if I told you that I was unsatisfied with the sounds of this album. I think it’s a fantastic album and sounds like evolution for Glover more than anything. Although the sound of “Awaken, My Love!” falls mostly under R&B and blues rock, there’s still a lot of experimentation, just like with other Gambino albums that really be classified as just “hip hop”. Donald Glover is a forward-thinking artist in every sense of the phrase, just like all great artists are, and has a constantly changing sound to boot. To address those that don’t like the direction of this album, maybe time is the solution. I’m not immune to this mindset; I hated Kanye’s Yeezus when I first heard it, but grew a lot of respect for it after coming back to it in a few years’ time. At the end of it all, it doesn’t matter how albums sound as long as they still have that emotion, and “Awaken, My Love!” is a very emotional album. It’s like hearing traditional Gambino emotion given a fresh coat of paint and under a new medium.

9/10

Best Tracks: “Riot”, “Me and Your Mama”, “Have Some Love”, “The Night Me and Your Mama Met”, “Stand Tall”

 

Let me introduce myself.

Hello there.

I don’t know how you got to my blog; fate, boredom, curiosity, whatever. Just know that I’m really glad that you’re here and I’ll do whatever I can to make you stay, as long as it’s legal.

My name’s Sam, and I’ve been doing blogging on WordPress for about six years now. It started out as a vessel for my hectic thoughts but progressively evolved as I myself did the same. Hoopis Lane is something new and fresh I wanted to start. On this blog, you’ll mainly find reviews of music, films, shows, and books that I do or don’t take a liking to.

If that interests you, then feel free to follow and thanks for the support!