Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Film Review: The Peanuts Movie

Directed by: Steve Martino
Starring: Noah Schnapp, Mariel Sheets
Rating: G
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Runtime: 1 hr. 28 min.

A heartfelt feature starring Charlie Brown and gang, The Peanuts Movie doesn't stray far from its source material, offering old-fashioned sweetness and humor not often seen in modern animated films. The animation is gorgeous and modernizes the classic cartoon's 2D style nicely. The story is fairly basic, focusing on Charlie Brown trying to prove himself to the new girl in town. In classic Peanuts form, antics ensue at various locales including a talent show, dance party, and a final dash through a carnival.

Snoopy helps his pal through it all, but is also the cause of surprising tonal shifts throughout the narrative as we continually revisit his Red Baron side plot. It's funny, action-packed, and some of the themes match up with what Charlie is struggling through, but the dog fights detract from the emotional build up and simplicity of Charlie's story. Had Snoopy and Woodstock simply acted as foils to Charlie's emotional journey the film could have remained more on point, and felt less like a fan service to Snoopy fans. As a result, the majority of the Peanuts cast is forced into the background, and many of them never get their shining moment in the script. Charlie's story, however, hits a home run.

Overall, The Peanuts Movie is a welcome return to Schultz's classic, and what it lacks in originality and focus, it makes up for with a genuine grin. 3/5

- The Catalyst

Monday, May 30, 2016

Film Review: The Walk

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon
Rating: PG
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Biography
Runtime: 2 hr. 3 min.

Robert Zemeckis' The Walk is a transformative experience. The plot follows wirewalker Philippe Petit as he finds his calling in wirewalking, which eventually leads to a gripping wirewalk between the Twin Towers. The film falls victim to some routine biopic cliches, but tensions do rise during the real-life coup. Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivers a fantastic portrayal of Philippe Petit; offering narration throughout the film that's both insightful and often humorous. This recounting is particularly powerful during the film's climactic and breathtaking wirewalk. The team behind this recreation should be commended on their awe-inspiring efforts. The camera sweeps around Petit as he moves back and forth along the wire, establishing a moment that is simply emotionally moving and impossible to describe; not one for the faint of heart.

Overall, The Walk could have used a few more cuts so we could get to the wirewalk a little earlier, but the wirewalk itself is so poignant and technically proficient that the build-up is worth it in the end. Easily one of the most overlooked films of 2015, and definitely one worth experiencing. 3.5/5

- The Catalyst