Quick Reviews: 'Knives Out', 'Frozen II' | Daniel Craig, Rian Johnson, Fantasy Musical Sequel
Knives Out was hands down one of the most enjoyable journeys with a movie I’ve had in some while. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, it could be considered somewhat of a bounceback in public eye for him as this classic whodunit is just delightful. The film isn’t really reinventing the wheel but it’s quirky enough that it shouldn’t be a problem in the end.
When a movie has such a huge and star-studded cast, things could go astray real fast or they could go exceptionally well. Latter is the case with Knives Out as the whole cast—led by names such as Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans—turns up to work and smashes it out of the park. Even surrounded by heavyweights, de Armas sparkles here as Marta, the nurse taking care of Harlan Thrombey (played by Christopher Plummer). She gets a lot to do with emotional and dramatic acting as most of the comedic side is more evenly spread out. Evans also breathes some fresh air into the film when his character, Hugh Ransom, is introduced later on. All around there is certain classic and sophisticated filmmaking happening here, making the whole runtime feel like a breeze. Johnson is clearly fully in control of his craft as his directing and script is delivered with grace.
Now I must admit that I had heard loud rumblings about how great the mystery side was and how it kept surprising people. I did go in with fairly high expectations regarding it but turned out being a little disappointed. Pretty much from the get-go I was following the clues and ended up being constantly a step or two ahead. Most disappointing part was the way we were following Marta’s story which didn’t feel as clever as many other parts of it. All this could’ve been much different had I not known anything about the movie beforehand but the less smart screenplay really brings Knives Out down a bit for me.
Smileys: Atmosphere, performance by a cast, score, editing
Frowneys: Some issues with story
Knives Out is a rare occurrence because the sequel could be even better if it sharpens some things.
Let’s take a moment to remember what made 2013’s 'Frozen' such a massive hit when it came out: an absolutely killer soundtrack with original hit songs, well thought-out exploration of sisterhood and very pretty visuals. Well now in 2019’s Frozen II—directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee who's also the screenwriter—the visuals are even more gorgeous but the songs are lacking overall and there is no real plan for the main characters. It seemed like with the first one money was spent for the story and vision while with this second one, a story was made to justify the money that will be spent.
As mentioned this film is leaps and bounds more breathtaking to look at, pushing the boundaries on computer-animation mixed with shifting the colour palettes to much darker shades. You’d be hard pressed to find a shot in this where the colours don’t pop and the details don’t matter.
And when talking about Frozen, we must talk about the songs. The movie really begins to move forward when 'Into The Unknown' starts playing, again showcasing the vocal talent that is Idina Menzel (voice of Elsa). For a long while after you could think that the soundtrack had hit its peak but then comes 'Show Yourself' which surprisingly wasn’t the song that was most heavily promoted (that is 'Into The Unknown'). ‘Show Yourself’ is way more challenging than most Disney songs and it’s combined with the best segment of the movie when it comes to the visual galore. The voice acting is solid all around and the pacing works well as the story doesn’t ever feel to be stuck for too long.
The movie takes a real nosedive when the main characters Elsa and Anna (Kristen Bell) are separated as it pretty much stops any character development for both of them. The bond of sisters was the driving factor in the first one in making their actions believable and true to who they were. The end of the movie is just nonsensical wandering and Anna is never portrayed anything but dumb for all of the movie, most obvious with the obnoxious scenes involving her and Kristoffer (Jonathan Groff), who has nothing to do in this film. Whereas in Frozen most, if not all in fact, songs were hits, here they are mostly misses. 'All Is Found' is sleep inducing, 'When I Am Older' is unimaginative and 'The Next Right Thing' should’ve been a writing practice left in the demo stage.
Smileys: Colouring, pacing
Frowneys: Characterisation, story, premise
It’s pretty so it will again sell a lot of merchandise but the film probably has less replay value.