Sunday Lists: Hayao Miyazaki, Directed Films Ranked

Hayao Miyazaki List

January 5th marked the 78th birthday of one of the best Japanese animator and filmmaker, Hayao Miyazaki. I don’t watch a lot of Japanese stuff in general but I grew up with Studio Ghibli films so some of these hold very close to my heart. There is this fantastic magical and fantasy world that he manages to create.

With that said, there is no better way than to kick off this year’s first Sunday Lists with a list of Hayao Miyazaki’s Directed Films ranked from what I think is the best to the the not so great ones, because lets be honest, there is no worst. Even the last choice here wasn’t a bad film just didn’t execute as well as the others or connect as well with me.

There are a few films not seen yet. The list will be updated over time.

*Only full feature animated films DIRECTED by Hayao Miyazaki has been included here*

1. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

my neighbor totoro

My first Miyazaki film in my memory is My Neighbor Totoro and it has never stopped being my favorite. I know the movie almost by heart, the Cantonese dubbed version dialogue almost all memorized. Its about family and its charming. The little girls are adorable and the Totoro super cute. There are some heartwarming moments and some hilarious ones as well. It balances light-hearted and heartbreaking moments. Its cute and serious in equal measures. Plus, how do you beat a CatBus? You just can’t!

2. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

kiki's delivery service

I love cats and witches. Kiki’s Delivery Service is a well-rounded film as well. I remember there was a phase in the early stages when I had some crappy blogging server somewhere that I had used Kiki has my name. Watching this one when I was a kid was a ride for sure. Witches weren’t evil, they were nice and helpful. This one is  fun little trip full of charm whether its the people that Kiki meets on her deliveries or her learning how to be independent.

3. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

howl's moving castle

Howl’s Moving Castle is based on a children’s novel which actually diverts quite far from its source material a fair bit especially when interpreting Howl’s character. However, maybe it has to do with this being the first Miyazaki film that I saw in theatres and the enchantment that comes from the big screen but this is one film that I love watching over and over again. Because of that, this film is filled with charm. It does get a tad dark and scary here and there but its so magical as well.

4. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

nausicaa

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind that makes me think about how Miyazaki is quite before his time in story telling as you can see how this film set the bar for his career, whether its the female characters he uses or the world that he creates. At the heart of it all, Nausicaa is about a world that has fallen apart environmentally and Nausicaa is trying to find a way to revive it while at the same time, nature has revolted in an unexpected way and she needs to find a way to solve the mystery of what happened. Its such a beautiful film. The only reason its placed lower is because its one that took me a second or third viewing when I was older to fully appreciate its message and its story.

5. Spirited Away (2001)

spirited away

Spirited Away is what put Miyazaki on the map along with Studio Ghibli. Its quite a feat when we think about it. In fact, there is so much to love here. I like this one a lot also. It has dragons and fantastical creatures and some pretty hilarious moments intertwined with a story about reuniting family, gluttony and life in general. Its colorful and beautiful and there are such charming array of characters wrapped up in this one story.

6. Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986)

laputa castle in the sky

I know a lot of people who would put Laputa really high up or even consider this one their favorite Miyazaki film. I don’t disagree with that at all. Laputa: Castle in the Sky is beautiful, especially once we arrive at the castle in the sky and all the events that happen from there on out.  It has a cast of silly bandits and a gentle robot and the castle design itself is so detailed and intricate. The only deal is that I’ve never been prone to watch this one a lot but I always enjoyed it whenever someone puts it on.

7. The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

castle of cagliostro

I saw The Castle of Cagliostro because of a blogathon a few years back when it was looking at a debut of a director. I always thought Miyazaki started out his career with Nausicaa but before the existence of Studio Ghibli, he had created The Castle of Cagliostro adapted/based on the Japanese manga Lupin III. Its crime and comedy mixed together for this film and boy is it an adventure. The debut of Miyazaki is a fine start. There are its flaws with this one in terms of storytelling and pacing but there is still a ton of heart and charm.

8. Ponyo (2008)

ponyo

Ponyo is something like Miyazaki’s version of The Little Mermaid fairy tale story which takes a little fish girl who becomes human and meets a little boy. Its so adorable and imaginative. It takes this angle of making the creative angle of the tsunami and then links the whole story together. It is actually quite clever.

9. The Wind Rises (2013)

the wind rises

I saw the premiere of The Wind Rises at TIFF a few years back, the same year that Miyazaki announced his retirement in 2013 (of course, now we know that he has decided to not retire and is working on his next film). Putting aside the ridiculous couple next to me who sobbed the entire movie from start to finish who was incredibly annoying, The Wind Rises is a passion project of  Miyazaki’s and you can see it by the subject he chooses to take as he tells the story of World War II engineer who designs the fighter aircraft. His love for aircrafts and his country and his admiration for Jiro Horikoshi is all highly visible in his work. My issue here is that I don’t share the same admiration and for that, the story falls a little short of what I liked. Its not a bad film in any means because the animation, the visuals, the character designs and the music all work well. I just failed to connect with it but that is the risk of making a passion project film.

Not Seen or Can’t Remember

Conan The Future Boy: The Big Giant Robot’s Ressurrection (1984)
Porco Rosso (1992)
Princess Mononoke (1997)

How would you rank Hayao Miyazaki’s film?
Which one of his directed feature films is your fave?

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Double Feature: Moonlight (2016) & Hidden Figures (2016)

Welcome to the first Double Feature of 2019! We’re starting off with a strong pair of Oscar-nominated/winning films that I caught up with over the holidays. I went into both of these films with only a general knowledge of what it was about. Most of the time, I don’t stay too current with Oscar movies and are in no big rush to catch up with them because I’m not a huge fan of watching dramas however, a little spoiler, no regrets on watching either of these.

Moonlight (2016)

Moonlight

Director (and screenplay): Barry Jenkins

Cast: Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monae, Naomie Harris, Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes, Jaden Piner, Jharrel Jerome, Andre Holland,

A chronicle of the childhood, adolescence and burgeoning adulthood of a young, African-American, gay man growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami. – IMDB

In some ways, Moonlight reminds me of Boyhood except it takes an African-American boy’s life in chapters, taking a snapshot parts of his life from when his young childhood when people called him Little and finding refuge in a man’s care who accepts him and takes him under his wing to face the cruel reality out there. The second part takes us into his teenage years as Chiron as he grows to embrace his sexual orientation. It highlights his friendship with his childhood friend Kevin who has always been there even from the first part who never questioned all the bullying towards him. The third part fast forwards to Chiron, now an adult who others called Black and has followed the footsteps of his mentor.

Choosing to look at the snapshots of his man’s life from boyhood to adulthood is a very nice way to execute this film. In fact, its part of why this film shines. , there are always factors that give the story a thread to tie it all together from the start to the finish. It also lies heavily on its cast who does a fantastic job. Mahershala Ali may have had a small role but his role’s influence plays a big part. At the same time, Janelle Monae is also spectacular as well. I’d go to the say that the supporting roles here are as powerful if not more powerful than its main lead. All this really dials down to the fact that the script itself has created some compelling characters that feel incredibly genuine.

Hidden Figures (2016)

hidden Figures

Director (and screenplay): Theodore Melfi

Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Glen Powell

The story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program. – IMDB

Hidden Figures is one of those films that I finished up the film and was so pleasantly surprised because of not only its content aka the story its telling but also due to its well-rounded messages and tone which is serious but managed to also give it a fair bit of lighthearted humor to round it out. It gives a lot of credit to its incredible cast. The main reason being its three leading ladies whom I liked a lot to begin with: Taraji P. Henson (can’t remember if its from Hustle & Flow, The Good Doctor or Date Night); Octavia Spencer (from The Help) and Janelle Monae (from Moonlight). They do such a great job especially when looking at their dynamic together in some scenes where they carry the film and highlight the inequality in the workplace and the inconveniences. Of course, the film is also full of other memorable roles whether its Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons including Kirsten Dunst as well.

Its been honestly years since I’ve been incredibly impressed by an Oscar-nominated film. Its a shame that it didn’t win anything. It isn’t a surprise of course because Oscar has a specific type of films that always wins. Hidden Figures feels too light-hearted and fun albeit having its drama. Regardless of Oscars or not, Hidden Figures is a fantastic film lead by three spectacular female actresses, a poignant supporting cast and managing to find a great balance between a lighthearted tone despite its serious historical drama.

This wraps up this double feature of Moonlight and Hidden Figures!
Have you seen these two films?

Christmas 2018 Double Feature: Dreamworks Home For the Holidays (2017) & Trolls Holiday (2017)

Its Christmas day so I shifted things around to keep it light and fun. After some thought, the best is to put together another double feature of animated shorts. This time, it is two Dreamworks holiday specials, one for Home and the other for Trolls. Both of which I have not seen the films so watching their holidays special is going to be a completely new experience to dive into each of these worlds.

Let’s check it out!

Dreamworks Home: For the Holidays (2017)

Dreamworks Home For the Holidays

Director: Blake Lemons

Voice Cast: Rachel Crow, Mark Whitten, Ron Funches, Matt Jones, Atticus Shaffer, Ana Ortiz, Nolan North, Ben Schwartz, Kelly Clarkson

Oh takes it upon himself to introduce Christmas joy to his fellow Boovs. Unfortunately, his well-meaning mission nearly destroys the city. – IMDB

While I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy Home For the  Holidays, there is something here that definitely didn’t quite hit the mark and that might have to do with the animation or the character design or even just the type of humor it chooses to have. I’m not sure its something that I’d go and watch the TV series for or the movie for.

The idea of Home is cute to say the least and the characters I see can work for the young children audience. For me though, I can’t say that it worked quite as much. It also has the idea that it reminded me a lot of Lilo and Stitch in a lesser way and I hold Lilo and Stitch very close to my heart. Home for the Holidays is a fun 45 minutes though. It has some nice tunes and songs to keep it lively. There is a strong Christmas holidays all throughout and even has parts for Kelly Clarkson and Ben Schwartz, both that I like quite a bit.

Some good and some bad but in terms of holiday cheer, this one does have quite a bit. As a family thing, it does seem like maybe it might be more for the kids than the parents. But then, I’m not a parent yet, so maybe I’m wrong.

Trolls Holiday (2017)

Trolls Holiday Special

Director: Joel Crawford

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, James Corden, Ron Funches, Aino Jawo, Caroline Hjelt, Kunal Nayyar, Walt Dohrn, Kevin Michael Richardson

When the Queen of the Trolls, Poppy, finds out that the Bergens do not have holidays, she enlists help from her friends, Branch and the Snack Pack, to help her bring holidays to the Bergens. – IMDB

22 minutes of fun Trolls time. I’m going to be honest here that other than playing with actual Trolls toys in the 90s when I was a kid, I have never watched the movie before. I’ve heard the song from the movie sung by Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick but other than that, I have no idea how it all goes. Suffice to say, this one seemed and was absolutely colorful and fun.

I’m a big fan of Anna Kendrick, whether its her acting and her singing. I think she’s so dynamic as an actress so I have full confidence in her capability. And my first experience with it here definitely proves that its a pretty fun time and a lot of it has to do with all the quality singing that goes into each scene. Its abundant but that is what highlights the talents of both Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake because it is their fortes. Of course, I can’t get past this one without talking about Bridget, voiced by Zooey Deschanel who I happen to love also. Trolls Holiday had all the cards on its side for me to absolutely enjoy and I did with all my heart. It was light, happy, colorful and fun. There’s a positive message about friendship and communication and listening.

While Trolls Holiday isn’t exactly a Christmas movie mostly because Poppy goes to her best friend, Bridget to pitch one of their many holidays to hopefully make them happier, it is still a happy experience because of how silly all the Trolls holidays are and how they present it.

This Dreamworks Christmas double feature is done!
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!

Christmas 2018: Christmas Wedding Planner (2017)

Christmas Wedding Planner (2017)

Christmas Wedding Planner

Director: Justin G. Dyck

Cast: Jocelyn Hudon, Stephen Huszar, Kelly Rutherford, Rebecca Dalton, Eric Hicks, Joey Fatone

Wedding Planner, Kelsey Wilson, is about to have her big break: planning her beloved cousin’s lavish and exclusive wedding. Everything is going smoothly until Connor McClane, a devilishly handsome private investigator, shows up and turns Kelsey’s world upside-down.  – IMDB

The good streak of holiday films plummets with Christmas Wedding Planner. It falls into the incredibly predictable movie even more than any other ones I’ve seen. There’s really awkward chemistry and lacking of romance also. I’m not exactly sure where to start. It did a few redeeming points and moments so it wasn’t something I hated just something I probably wouldn’t want to watch again.

Christmas Wedding Planner

Most of these holiday romance movies are already quite predictable and that is a given. It usually doesn’t bother me too much because the formula it has works when it pairs up a charming pair, a few funny and heartwarming moment and things still feel fun to watch because of this natural chemistry or whatever supporting cast and shenanigans and situation that it is in. Christmas Wedding Planner is missing a few of those elements. It feels a bit disjointed because the story does jump around fairly fast but then if it was longer, it probably wouldn’t have changed much for this story. It is really where it falls flat because it is about as generic as generic can get. On top of that, the cast itself didn’t really seem to be feeling it. Kelsey (Jocelyn Hudon) and Connor (Stephen Huszar) on paper did have dialogue that normally would be relatively okay but then some of the dialogue felt like it was so rehearsed that it didn’t feel natural anymore. That is where my problem with this works because they both look great together and when they aren’t talking and just looking at each other, you can feel the chemistry a tad but then the script kicks in and it just knocks it all down.

The saving grace here though, despite the script is Kelly Rutherford as Aunt Olivia. Kelly Rutherford has this elegance and charm that radiates through her role and it works with the role she is playing as the controlling and disapproving aunt and somewhat seems to have a change in her role towards Kelsey at the end. The other is Joey Fatone who is really just a supporting role as George, Connor’s brother but somehow it was fun to watch him do his little bit.

Overall, there isn’t much to say about Christmas Wedding Planner. I don’t have a whole lot that I liked about it. In terms of holiday, this is about a holiday wedding so there was a whole lot of that going on. The wedding dress and outfits are pretty nice. However, it was the script and the lack of chemistry between the romance interest in a good few moments that pulled it down for me.

Double Feature: Central Intelligence (2016) & Rampage (2018)

What better way to start the week than with a Dwayne The Rock Johnson double feature, right? That is really all I have to say. Today’s pairing is one that happened to work out so I deliberately delayed Central Intelligence to pair with Rampage which I rented a few weeks ago.

Lets check it out!

Central Intelligence (2016)

central intelligence

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Smith, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet, Jason Bateman, Aaron Paul

After he reconnects with an awkward pal from high school through Facebook, a mild-mannered accountant is lured into the world of international espionage. –IMDB

Jumping into comedies is a scary thing because you never know what type of humor is going to be on the other side. Baywatch (review) is a fine example of how humor didn’t work but the action did. Central Intelligence reminded me a little of Get Smart. There is a lot of over the top humor and somehow a part of me enjoyed it because Kevin Smith and Dwayne Johnson paired up and reminded me of the good old days in Hong Kong cinema when Stephen Chow and Andy Lau did God of Trickery (one of my fave films ever). Before long, I did buy into the humor and the random action and how great Dwayne Johnson’s character is and how scared and random reactions Kevin Smith had.

On top of all that, you get some great cameos with Jason Bateman and Aaron Paul which is pretty cool as well. Plus, there is this secondary story of how high school affects the present with a message about bullying and a positive message about standing up for who you are and all that good stuff. Its an action comedy and it remembers that all the time which makes it pretty well-paced with some exciting moments.

Rampage (2018)

rampage

Director: Brad Peyton

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Malin Akerman, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello

When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago. – IMDB

Rampage was on my anticipated list (I think) but my cinema track record this year is not too good so its all down to rentals to catch up. While Rampage didn’t get really good ratings, this sort of film is always up my alley. Big creatures, check. Dwayne Johnson in action, check. Video game adaptation, check. I went into this with the only expectation to have fun and let me tell you, I had some really pleasant surprises. It isn’t a masterpiece but there are some key things that I found here which I liked a lot and for those points, this one was entertaining.

Lets start with the elements I like, all the things I wanted delivered worked out really well. Three big creatures were done so well with the effects and graphics especially with Joe’s facial expression. Dwayne Johnson is also so charismatic in films and this one is no exception. There are some odd forced parts however, overall he wasn’t the issue. As a video game adaptation, it has the reputation to be a guilty pleasure and this one does fit into that category but then I do argue that most of The Rock’s films fall in that mindless entertainment category and it works for that purpose especially as I love not having to think too much during a film and just have fun.

Now, some good and some bad follows that part. I loved Malin Akerman as the villain here. She was quite impressive especially since the last thing I remember her in was 27 Dresses. I’m sure I’ve seen her in other things but I don’t remember right now. She did a fine job here. Now, I’m a little lukewarm on Jake Lacy, someone I thought did a fine job in Miss Sloane albeit a fairly smaller role. Here, he bordered a little on the annoying part. Talking about short roles though, Joe Manganiello has a cameo here and it comes and ends so quickly but his presence is always appreciated. My fave part though, has to be Jeffrey Dean Morgan and his role. Same goes for Naomie Harris who is an admirable actress that I really like in a lot of the roles she’s done. The cast here gave a lot of life to Rampage along with its creatures. Everything else was something of a generic sort of set-up but it managed to keep me interested and entertained so its a fun time overall.

That’s it for this Double Feature!
Have you seen these two films? Thoughts?

Christmas 2018 Double Feature: Super Monsters and the Wish Star (2018) & A StoryBots Christmas (2017)

Changing the pace a little with the Christmas marathon, its time to jump into some shorter children movie features. Its a perfect pairing to do double features with so I’ve chosen Super Monsters and the Wish Star and A StoryBots Christmas. I’ve never actually seen any of the actual Netflix series so I’m unfamiliar with the characters here but I still decided to give it a chance.  These are both individual Christmas specials.

Let’s check it out!

Super Monsters and the Wish Star (2018)

super monsters and the wish star

Director: Jacob Joice

Voice Cast: Elyse Maloway, Vincent Tong, Erin Mathews, Andrea Libman, Alessandro Juliani, Nicole Anthony, Diana Kaarina, Ian James Corlett, Britt McKillip, Kathleen Barr, Gigi Saul Guerrero

Christmas wishes come true for Lobo, whose favorite cousin arrives for a surprise visit, and for Glorb, who wishes he could be everywhere at once. – IMDB

Super Monsters at a first glance is a pretty cute series. Simply from the character designs itself, its very colorful and covers a cutesy version of different classic monsters from Count Dracula or werewolves to Frankenstein just for an example of a few. Its a little darker in the background of the characters they choose for the kids but somehow with the cute designs, it works. Plus, it adds this magical element to it. I’ve never been a huge fan of recent kid series mostly it is in how they talk but I think it has to do with the fact that I’m in my 30s now and while a lot of shows I watched when I was a kid still appeal to me like Arthur and Magic School Bus and such, a lot of the enjoyment is the nostalgia which I obviously don’t have for these new series.

Super Monsters and the Wish Star does work as  a Christmas special. There are a lot of Christmas elements from the decorating to different Christmas traditions between the characters and sharing a little message about being decisive and making choices but also being helpful to others. Its also very musical which is a winning  point for me. I thought the songs themselves were quite catchy. It doesn’t take a lot for me to enjoy something like this especially in a less than 30 minute dose. Plus, there is this transformation element of them changing to monster form at night and the transformation screen reminded me so much of Digimon, which is a show that I desperately want to rewatch. I’m not sure I’d go and sit through the Netflix series but this Christmas special was enjoyable that I did end up watching it once and putting in the background a second time afterwards as I was doing something else.

A StoryBots Christmas (2017)

A storybots Christmas

Director: Jeff Gill & Evan Spiridellis

Voice Cast: Judy Greer, Erin Fitzgerald, Fred Tatsciore, Jeff Gill, Gregg Spiridellis, Evan Spiridellis, Edward Asner, Jim Meskimen

When Bo mistakenly thinks that her friends don’t like her gifts, she heads to the North Pole to ask Santa for help making better presents. She learns along the way that Christmas is about far more than just the toys. – IMDB

StoryBots is a mix of real characters like Santa Claus (Edward Asner)and New York City and then there’s this sort of puppet animation when we see the elf and then the rest of show is pretty much animation. It is very reminiscent of child shows and the idea behind it is pretty good. The StoryBots design is fairly colorful and appeal to watch however, there is this odd way that they talk and humor that I’m not sure I’m completely appealed to. However, the message behind this one is pretty good. Its a lot about the meaning behind gifts on Christmas and the spirit of giving and what makes the best present. There is some silly parts like polar bears struggling over opening a soda bottle. It has a nice message about friends and being with the ones you love during Christmas.

Its an okay Christmas special and its pretty short running at around 25 minutes or so. Its a quick and fun time and there are lots of Christmas elements here especially as they go to New York City which is very much decorated. There is this fun humor behind it in some moments especially in the city that works in bits. It has its moments for sure. I don’t really have much to say about this one. Its pretty enjoyable and for a quick Christmas special to occupy the kids, it could be fun enough. Especially with the ending Christmas song that wraps the story which is a fun little bit that really warmed my heart and had me tapping my feet.

Double Feature: Star Trek: Beyond (2016) & Baby Driver (2017)

double feature

We are nearing the end of the year which means I’m going to try to get a lot of these backlogged movies reviewed. While I did write a review over on Weibo for Baby Driver already, I haven’t done one here and I’m not going to lie that Star Trek Beyond was a few months ago so its starting to get a little blurry.

Star Trek: Beyond (2016)

Star Trek Beyond

Director: Justin Lin

Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Joe Taslim

The crew of the USS Enterprise explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy, who puts them, and everything the Federation stands for, to the test. –IMDB

After the last Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness (review), I had my reservations about this one. For one, the first and the second had this conflict in tone and humor. There was this narrative that worked but the villains felt underused or not quite as effective. Thinking back now, it felt like a fairly unsatisfying and forgettable movie experience save for some of the returning cast who had roles which were quite fun to watch. Star Trek Beyond however takes a different approach. It may have to do with the fact that Simon Pegg doesn’t only appear in the film but also does the writing for this one. It also helps that Justin Lin, a director that I like a lot in the Fast and Furious franchise takes the helms of this sequel. A lot of the factors makes this one such a fun and entertaining movie experience that reminds me a lot of the fun I had in the first Star Trek film.

Star Trek Beyond resumes the familiar roles. Its a good thing because for those who have been following the franchise, its a nice little team that we know the personality of. There is this well-oiled machine dynamic despite the issues they encounter. Everyone delivers it very well. I completely had forgotten that John Cho was in this as well especially since I had just seen him in Searching (when I saw this movie in August or something..Searching review here). Then of course, we have Anton Yelchin that is still such a huge loss in my heart because he is so incredibly talented. However, I think what deserves a mention here are the new additions. The first is the girl on the planet they land on called Jayla, played by Sofia Boutella who has such a fantastic character design appearance wise and her weapons and Sofia Boutella does a great job. On top of that, mostly unrecognizable except for his voice is Idris Elba who plays the villain, Krall. He still feels a little underused but the presence is very much there.

Baby Driver (2017)

baby driver

Director (and writer): Edgar Wright

Cast: Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Lily James, Eiza Gonzalez, Kevin Spacey

After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail. – IMDB

Every once in a while we get a new gimmick and it works for some and doesn’t work for others. Baby Driver utilizes the constant soundtrack in Baby’s life to  work around it. It starts off fairly fun and charming, if a little odd especially when he turns on the wipers for no reason but to match the lyrics or sounds or something. There is a charm to it all. However, Baby Driver reminds us how sometimes soundtracks are used sparingly for a reason because it accentuates a scenes. As clever as the idea itself and how the execution works in some parts, it doesn’t translate to everything. There is no doubt that the soundtrack is really good, except I would have liked to not be overloaded with music so much.

Baby Driver

As charmed as I was with the use of music and soundtracks and how that was executed well enough, the story here is fairly basic. Its actually not even very fleshed out for any of the characters. Its almost like the gimmick is the reason for the whole thing. The action sequences are done pretty good though and the bombastic characters played by Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez and Jamie Foxx all are quite memorable. When things get dicey though, the characters are really just shells and the story is pretty much on rails following everything as expected and predicted.

Is it as awesome as it seems to be for a lot of people? For myself, I don’t really think its that well-rounded. There are aspects that stand out and as much as I like the music and cars and this one delivers two things I love, it somehow outlived its hype. Its not a bad idea and its a fun little experience but somehow it just lost its charm in the second half.