Melissa Lopez-Martinez | Report
Our Reading week in the 6ix series is back! Take a look at the top events and activities to do this reading week in Toronto.
Please note Monday, Feb 18 is Family day and many places of business are closed.
Skating at Nathan Phillips Square
The city will be hosting a skating party sponsored by Tim Hortons. The party will include skating instructions and hot beverages at the Time Hortons lounge.
Time: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Location: 100 Queen St West
Family Fun Day at Fort York
The Fort York National Historic Site will be open to all for a day of family-friendly activities. After checking out the event be sure to try out the Bentway skating trail that will be open until 9 p.m.
Time: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Location: Fort York National Historic Site, 250 Fort York Blvd
Luckily on Family Day, most city attractions will remain open. Great for a time spent with friends or family. The aquarium also has discounted prices for “after dark” hours, great for students on a budget!
Time: 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Location: 288 Bremner Blvd
Image is taken from City of Toronto website. ■
Review: ‘El Camino’
Pinkman seeks to tie up loose ends.
Vince Gilligan’s epilogue to one of the greatest shows of all time brings the story of Jesse Pinkman to a close.
It’s been over four years since the hit series Breaking Bad left television, and it would be accurate to say that very few shows have filled the gap for thrilling and tension-filled television.
Series creator, writer and producer, Vince Gilligan, teamed up with Peter Gould to produce the spin-off show Better Call Saul with Bob Odenkirk reprising his role, detailing the beginnings of the criminal lawyer leading up to his fateful encounter with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman.
While that show certainly kept fans content, the question remained: What happened to Jesse Pinkman? Freed from captivity by White in the series finale, Pinkman sped off in an El Camino with tears streaming down his face from joy, but what came after? This movie answers that question.
We pick up exactly where the series ended with Pinkman speeding away from Uncle Jack’s compound. From here, he seeks to gather enough money to buy his way out of New Mexico and towards a new life.
What really helps this movie along is Aaron Paul’s performance. By this point in the Gilligan universe, he is a broken, tortured man, and Paul is able to channel the character flawlessly even after the five year gap.
Returning characters include Badger (Matthew Lee Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) who get a chance to bid their close friend farewell before cutting ties with him completely, and while the roles are short and minimal, both Jones and Baker bring the goofy, emotional support back from the main series to help ground Pinkman.
Vince Gilligan returns as writer/director for the film and it’s very apparent that he has grown as a creative force. His signature dark and gritty visual style helps to reinforce the desperation that Pinkman faces.
The score is provided by none other than Dave Porter, the man who provided the score to the main Breaking Bad series. While his iconic theme from the main series isn’t present, his minimalistic score does provide a reflective backdrop to the visuals.
The story itself may not provide a lot of action or guns-a-blazing moments, but it never sets out to do that. This is a world where Heisenberg’s reign has come to an end and this is the slow crawl to a halt for these characters. There is a tense shootout towards the end of the film that provides a classic Breaking Bad fake-out, but don’t expect the film to be a wall-to-wall action movie.
Despite the positives that this movie provides, both as a movie and an epilogue to the series, it is completely unnecessary. It doesn’t add much to the character of Jesse or anyone in the Breaking Bad world, and really only serves as a buffer to the true end of the story. That itself isn’t a bad thing, but one could leave Jesse’s story as is at the end of the finale.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie does well to close out the story of Pinkman, even if it wasn’t exactly needed. It gives fans a chance to live in that story and universe one more time with a character who has helped redefine dramatic television. ■
Review: The Addams Family
The kooky gothic family is back.
Starring a near perfect cast, The Addams Family tells the story about an unusual family in an unusual (for them) new town.
“They’re creepy and they’re kooky…” as the theme song goes. After a few years off of television and movie screens, The Addams Family, a gothic family with horror elements within their circle, are back in a new animated feature for a new age. With a cast that could not be more perfect, good animation and some decent jokes, the film is indeed enjoyable, although it has many flaws that pervade this edgy (but not edgy enough) movie
The film concerns the titular family Gomez, played by Oscar Isaac and Morticia (Charlize Theron) having just gotten married, before being chased out of their traditional home by an angry mob for being “weird” according to the locals. To escape from the torches and pitchforks of the “regular people,” they move to the most hideous place they can think of: a converted abandoned insane asylum in New Jersey. From there they live “peacefully” with their hand servant, Thing, and the asylum’s lone living resident turned butler, Lurch, played by co-director Conrad Vernon and later having their 2 children, their solemn and blunt daughter Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz) and their explosive loving son Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard).
13 years later however, as the family is planning for a family celebration that would see Pugsly become a man in the eyes of the whole family, they discover a small town called “Assimilation” built by HGTV-esque reality show host Margaux Needler for her next big project right at the foot of the hill their house is. And when the town meets the reclusive “creepy” family, tensions begin to boil, both from within and without both sides.
Impeccably animated, the films style mimics that of the original New Yorker cartoons. Despite being cgi, the animation is given similar rules to 2d, such as the utilizations of squash and stretch for certain comedic moments. Whatever plastic look objects within are deliberate, as the town of Assimilation feels creepy in its own way, with vibes of artificiality and conformity that makes the Addams Family, despite their (sometimes literal) creature comforts, seem natural by comparison.
The cast is probably the best part of the film. It’s good to the point where they could have easily played these characters in live action and be non the worse. This especially goes to Issacs and Theron in their roles, convincingly portraying a couple who very much care for each other (in their own way). Nick Kroll also deserves some spotlight as Uncle Fester, the adorably naive uncle, who has his own lovable but odd quirkiness.
The comedy also works very well, although not 100% of the time. Certain jokes involving Thing were definite causes of laughter, as well as some very funny sight gags throughout. Thankfully the film doesn’t loose all of its edgy morbid humour, though it has noticeably dulled, possibly to accommodate a more family oriented audience that the film appears to be targeting.
The dullness of The Addams Family does come across in its story. The film is rather warm hearted, at times contradicting the tone the family displays across other media. Certain characters will do something wrong or reprehensible, but will receive a proper happy end to it regardless.
The message of the film, while it may be more personal for some than others, is not exactly subtle and can be easily seen coming if you are above the age of a teenager. This also means the story is predictable, following similar beats and motions to some other animated movies, even if the style and timing is different.
Some of the reactions of the characters can be a bit out of touch with who they are, such as the certain times the family will get hurt and they will either act with glee/nonchalance, or react negatively. And in some cases moments where they shouldn’t react negatively.
The Addams Family might not have a complete grasp of the tone that these characters are usually associated with, and may need to polish its script and characters a bit more, but for an animated family film involving slapstick, light morbid humour and colourful designs and animation, you could definitely see a lot worse, especially with a property like The Addams Family.
It just perhaps needs to be more creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky. ■
Review: ‘Gemini Man’
Will Smith vs. Will Smith.
Ang Lee brings us the next step in de-aging technology through Gemini Man, but does the rest of the film reach that high bar?
As filmmaking technology advances, the ability to re-create actors and de-age them crawls further and further out of the uncanny valley and into a more believable reality.
While the technology itself is breaking barriers and bringing us closer to a completely digital form of filmmaking, it’s being used to mask over lazy screenwriting.
Gemini Man opens with a prologue that serves well to set up our main character, Henry Brogan (Will Smith), as the trained killer that he is. The movie then continues to try and build on this world where Brogan is a renowned soldier and how he’s gone through all of these events that led to him being as good as he is, yet it fails to resonate with the audience because it’s all talk and never seen.
The story is nothing new. At all. It’s your typical sci-fi, military story that has a corrupt military bad guy who claims to be in service of the United States and their beliefs of freedom in the most backwards way.
There’s very little suspense or surprise in the story as everything they try to spring on you can all be seen coming from a mile away, and it’s made even worse by the fact that the biggest twist in the movie is given away from the marketing.
What does keep the movie engaging in some capacity, however, are the performances. Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Benedict Wong are all very enjoyable to watch. This is a movie that Smith could have very easily phoned in for the sake of a paycheque, but he does bring some emotional weight to the role – I’d even go so far to say that he does better in this movie than as Deadshot in Suicide Squad.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Benedict Wong play Danny and Baron, respectively, and are able to riff off of Smith effortlessly and it makes the interactions between the three characters very enjoyable.
Lorne Balfe composed the score for the film, and it’s incredibly forgettable or completely unnoticeable, which is disappointing because I found his score to Mission: Impossible – Fallout absolutely incredible, so it’s a step down for him.
Ang Lee manages to make the movie look nice despite the lacklustre script. I saw the film in 3D/HFR (high frame rate). If you’re unfamiliar with HFR, it means the movie is shown in 48fps which gives it a ‘sped up’ look. I don’t think it added much to anything outside of a select few action scenes which I find disappointing as I greatly enjoyed HFR when I saw it used on The Hobbit trilogy in theatres.
In the end – Gemini Man is a very “middle-of-the-road” movie. It’s not the worst movie in the world, but there are far better movies you can see in theatres this weekend. Good performances and an interesting look at the advancement of technology don’t make up for a boring and over-used story that doesn’t try anything new. ■
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