The Morning After: Apr. 27, 2015

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:


A delightful little animated film, Home does child-targeted entertainment quite well, though adults might struggle a bit more to keep interested.

DreamWorks has always been a shade more kid-friendly than their counterparts at Pixar, that’s largely thanks to scripts that give adults and children equal potential to be involved and engaged. DreamWorks had been edging closer to this with films like How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Kung Fu Panda 2, but this film seems more in the vein of their more populist offerings.

The voice cast does superb work and the animation is often engaging and invigorating. It’s also incredibly nice to see a black character as a lead in a major animated feature, a genre that has been too frequently acquainted with white girls as protagonists. However, that wonderful decision aside, the film is fun frequently, quite humorous at times and overall a pleasant diversion for the cinema even if it isn’t quite in the top-tier creatively.

American Splendor

Paul Giamatti gets one of his most inspired roles as the simulacrum of real life underground artist Harvey Pekar, a man whose work is exceptionally eclectic. Giamatti does a nearly spot-in impression of Pekar, who makes an appearance in the film as himself, sarcastically narrating his own life.

American Splendor uses both animation and live-action to tell its story of a rare comic book artist whose life provides intense and biting criticism of the world around him. Pekar isn’t a likable character. He’s combative, aggressive and egocentric. He doesn’t seem to get along well with anyone and he’s ok with that as long as he gets to create and get credit for creating.

Apart from Giamatti’s performance, the creativity on display in the film is inspiring. Directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini deserve a lot of credit for employing a unique style of storytelling to their film without making it feel like cheap theatrics. The film has a lot of problems, not the least of which is its short running time that ultimately feels excessively lengthy.

Jupiter Ascending

The Wachowskis have struggled since their debut feature The Matrix turned the film world on its head. Their films have either been increasingly inaccessible or horrendously over-produced. They are enamored with visual flair often at disservice to generic, if not deeply involved plots.

Jupiter Ascending takes the audience into a dark intergalactic battle between three siblings trying to earn favor with the reincarnation of their mother (Mila Kunis) so they can reap the exceedingly valuable property known as Earth. She’s provided with a protector to keep her safe, but perpetually falls into the hands of her “children,” who each hatch schemes to take her for granted and gain control of Earth.

Kunis isn’t bad, but she suffers from being a character that’s written so thinly that she constantly needs rescuing even though she’s trying to be exceptionally independent. Channing Tatum is miscast as the hulking protector trying to keep her safe and Eddie Redmayne is laughably over-the-top as the most ruthless of the three siblings. The concept is interesting, but relies far too heavily on excessive action sequences and fancy set pieces without allowing its characters to develop organically or grow into full-fledge people.

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