Connect with us


Transformers: The Last Knight Can’t Decide Which Movie it Wants to Be




Kori: So Transformers. We knew this movie was coming, and that we’d have to review it for the Fandomentals. Hell, it’s impossible to NOT know this movie was coming from how pervasive the advertising campaign was. Unless you’re a Luddite and living off the grid. I envy the Luddites in this instance.

Anyway, we knew this movie would have to be witnessed and written about, and because I’m not a terrible wife, I went in with Jeremiah to go see this turkey.

Was it as bad as Fifty Shades Darker? No. Was it good? No. Let’s break it down.

Transformers: The Last Knight is set sometime in the future after Optimus Prime leaves Earth for some mission that is never clearly defined, and the people of Earth have outlawed any Transformers. Except for Cuba. Apparently, Castro is totally cool with letting any Transformer, Autobot or Decepticon chill on his beaches.

We’re treated to a tonally inconsistent “epic” battle with King Arthur (Liam Garrigan) facing off against a barbarian horde interspersed with Merlin (Stanley Tucci) getting drunk for funsies and meeting with a Transformer knight from a giant Transformer spaceship, obtaining a staff because he asked nicely (that’s all it takes to get a staff of unlimited power?) and riding back to save Arthur’s ass with a robot dragon. It sets the tone for the entire movie.

Jeremiah: About twenty minutes in you turned to me and asked: “What is going on?” This encapsulates what it feels like to watch a Transformers movie. You just sit in the dark wondering what the hell happened for any of this to occur.

Kori: Can you blame me? That opening tried to cram three different genres from four different movies in one segment and started offering up “epic movie moments” that had all the weight and build behind them of a preschooler’s popsicle stick birdhouse.

Jeremiah: Oh I understand and relate. But in a Michael Bay movie, you don’t have feelings and plot so much as ‘stuff happens’ and keeps happening until the credits roll and you’re left going, “Well that happened?”

Kori: Yes. But so many things happened. I used to joke that Australia was a bargain movie because you got three plots in one. Transformers: The Last Knight blows this out of the water. We start with an extended sequence of a group of school kids sneaking into a restricted area, and it’s got all the setup of a far shallower Power Rangers movie, except boom, shit blows up, the kids get rescued by Cade (Mark Wahlberg) and Not Becky G and we never see them again.

Then Cade suddenly has a run in with the TRF (an anti-Transformer extremist group who wants them all dead or detained) and gets rescued by Bumblebee and co. He rides off into the sunset with Not Becky G stowing away with her little Autobot friend Squeaks. And this is after a BIG SAD MOMENT where Not Becky G’s other robot friend, Canopy, is murdered right in front of her by the TRF. She cries over his death, and then it’s never. Mentioned. Again.

Jeremiah: Well there’s no time. We have to move on to not Megan Fox in this movie, an Oxford Professor with umpteen degrees, who is a bit of a klutz, wears pencil skirts and stiletto heels, and whose Mother is trying to hook her up by looking through the classifieds.

Kori: Yes. But we get five minutes of her monologuing about how the King Arthur legend is bullshit so we know she’s a cool and edgy history professor before we cut back to Cade at his junkyard. And honestly, the time we spend with Cade and Not Becky G whose name is actually Izabella (Isabela Moner) is pretty solid.

Wahlberg and Moner have a fun, natural chemistry and there’s a decent found family dynamic working with them. If you overlook the three additional EPIC MOVIE MOMENTS that come out of nowhere and are just as quickly dismissed.

But this is a Bay film, and just as you’re getting invested in this little duo, surprise! BRAND NEW MOVIE GENRE ACT TWO!

Jeremiah: ENTER Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) as the last surviving Witwiccan. It’s an Order that’s sole purpose was to protect the secret history of the Transformers. Oh, and the staff of Merlin. Because magic is a thing now, but it isn’t because it’s just advanced technology. Except it is magic. I don’t even know anymore.

Burton kidnaps Not Megan Fox whose name is Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock) via Hot Rod (Omar Sy) who speaks French now because French accents are funny. Odd, how he kidnaps Vivian but sends his Jekyll/Hyde bot Cogman (Jim Carter) to cordially invite Cade. Whatever, long story mercifully short, he tells the two that he needs their help to stay the tide of human history or some horse shit.

Kori: And all that time we spent with Cade and the Junkyard Autobots with their newly adopted teenage daughter is dropped like a hot potato. No, we have to go on a completely unnecessary car chase through London and ransack libraries and jump on a retired naval submarine that is actually a transformer that only reacts to Vivian, because oh yeah, SHE’S THE LAST DESCENDENT OF MERLIN AND ONLY SHE CAN WIELD THE STAFF. YOINKS.

So off we go merrily diving into the Atlantic depths, while Burton James Bond’s his way into the Prime Minister’s office and tells everyone to gather the troops ’round Stonehenge. Is any of this feeling like film whiplash? Yes? Congratulations, try watching it.

Jeremiah: You left out the part where Burton tells Cade that he’s a Knight because he fits all the qualities of the Knights of Arthur’s Round Table. Notably chastity. Then Burton and Vivian spend like two minutes mocking him for NOT having sex in a while?

Kori: Or how Bay attempts to be meta by calling out his predilection for EPIC MOVIE MOMENTS by having Burton tell Cogman to knock off playing the organ dramatically while he recounts the Order’s history.

Jeremiah: Oh my God, I forgot about that.

Kori: He does it again later in the movie when everything’s gone batshit and Cade, Vivian, and the reformed TRF plus our old pal Col. William Lennox (Josh Duhamel) are making a last attempt offense at landing on what is basically a floating cybernetic golf ball base to try and get the staff back that Optimus Prime stole (more on Optimus in a minute). They’re set to land in a torrential hail of Decepticon fire and out pops Izabella and Squeaks because… why? Izabella doesn’t know either and quickly verbalizes that this was probably a bad idea. Someone needs to tell Bay that the meta only counts if you course correct or play it with a wink and a nod. You don’t go meta then turn around and do it again for serious.

Jeremiah: Michael Bay doesn’t understand irony. Take Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen). A character whose sole purpose in the movie is to go to his home planet, which we’ve known is a dead planet for like four movies now. Then we watch him get his ass handed to him by a floating metallic lady in the water type sorceress figure who’s just hanging around Cybertron, Quintessa (Gemma Chan).

She then ‘casts a spell’ on him and Prime becomes Nemesis Prime. Nemesis Prime then returns to Earth, gets his ass handed to him AGAIN. Shortly there after someone slaps him, or he hits his head, I don’t know, and I don’t give a fuck either. All I know is Optimus snaps out of it; we know this because he goes from losing fights to never shutting the hell up.

Kori: Long story short, the good guys win, Earth is saved and now connected to Cybertron, and everyone has to work together to rebuild. Oh, by the way, Earth is apparently one big transformer itself named Unicron that spouts seven horns.

Yup. Get ready for movie number six. At the end of the day, at least it’s anything but boring. We have no idea what’s supposed to be happening at any given moment, but unlike Fifty Shades Darker, we weren’t always checking our phones for the time and praying it was over. So, progress?

Random Observations

Kori: The nerdy NASA type guy who flips his shit about our heroes using “fairies and hobgoblins” to save the world instead of science and is then proved wrong. *Sigh*

Jeremiah: I loved Gil Birmingham as the Tribal Chief/Police Chief. All thirty seconds of him.

Also “The watch that killed Hitler.” I’m left wondering since we see Bumblebee fighting Nazis, did the Third Reich have Decepticons on their side? Also, implying that transformers fought in WWII begs the question of why it went on for so long; not to mention why Truman thought the A-bomb was necessary?

Kori: Remember how you told me to let the gothic arches in King Arthur’s court go? Same thing applies here. This movie is as shallow as a teacup, and you can’t think about it beyond just watching the flashing pictures on the screen.

Jeremiah: At one point Anthony Hopkins shows them all the people who were in the Order of Witwiccans and the movie just becomes this confusing montage of images and sound. I’m not sure, but I think Bay implied Harriet Tubman was a member of that order. Which, like the WWII thing, just raises a lot of vaguely offensive possibilities.

Kori: Bay tries to throw in a lot of fun, nifty little surprise!History moments in this. Tries being the key word. I can give him half a credit point for trying to diversify a secret society so that they weren’t all stuffy, rich white men. But some of the people he decided to include only raise more questions about this order, and the Autobots themselves.

Jeremiah: Hearing Anthony Hopkins say the words “Bitchin ride” was akin to hearing Sean Connery saying “You’re the man now dog.”

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures

[starbox id=”Jeremiah,Kori”]

Jeremiah lives in Los Angeles and divides his time between living in a movie theatre and writing mysteries. There might also be some ghostbusting being performed in his spare time.


Leave a Reply

2 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
3 Comment authors
Stephen GarrettJeremiahSannom Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

The more reviews I read/listen to, the more I want to see this movie. It looks like a trashfire, but at least a colorful and crazy one, unlike all the other recent blockbusters (Aliens : Covenant, King Arthur, The Mummy, etc.), which all look bland and boring. Say what you will about Michael Bay, but that guy managed to impose his (problematic, ridiculous and nearly non-existent) vision to the studios.


*sighs* When will Michael Bay stop raping my childhood? 🙁 No, seriously, it’s clear he and the rest of the production crew don’t give a fuck about the setting they’re adapting. The Transformers are there solely to provide “EPIC MOVIE” stunts while their characters get mutilated beyond all recognition and the Humans dominate the story in a way they shouldn’t. And this is apparently the third movie in the series where the Humans just outright hate TFs and drive them underground or offworld? Seriously? The show did this *once*. ONCE. And then it didn’t again. Hell, in the third season… Read more »


Friendship in a Time of Blood and Ice Cream




Edgar Wright’s Blood and Ice Cream trilogy, also known as the Cornetto trilogy, is a trio of movies that stand in a league of their own. Each movie is its own story and any of the three could stand on its own without the others. Yet they’re all linked by their craftsmanship, themes and, of course, Cornetto. They’re all top class comedies, while also being well-executed character-driven action movies. Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End each focus on the friendship between their protagonist and deuteragonist (each time portrayed by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost respectively). They delve into the deeps of friendship and the aspects, both negative and positive, that can exists in relationships.

It’s not you, it’s the Zombies

Before the zombie apocalypse, Shaun was living aimlessly, while Ed, his best friend, loafed around on his couch playing video games all day. Shaun had a serviceable job, a stable relationship with a girl he loves, good friends, and pub to go at the end of the day. He was hardly living a full life, but he was living. Sure, he had plans for the future—get a better job, commit more to his relationship, and get Ed off his couch—but he never acted on them. He made promises to his girlfriend that he’d do better, but had no follow through. When anyone pointed out that Ed was a hindrance to him, Shaun would always defend his friend.

Ed’s antipathy to development is even worse than Shaun’s. He doesn’t have many expectations for himself. Instead, he’s content to let Shaun defend him while he plays games and does a whole lot of nothing. Ed only helped keep Shaun stagnate.

It’s almost like a visual metaphor for something standing in-between their relationship.

Everything changed when they found zombies in their backyard. It takes the z-word to get Shaun to act on his plans. With the undead knocking at the doors, he firmly decides what’s important to him and sets out to protect it. He finds not only is he good with the follow through, he naturally assumes the leadership role, adjusting quickly on the fly to keep his friends and family safe when their lives are on the line. When disaster strikes, he makes decisions no one should ever have to make, zombie apocalypse or not.

And Ed, well, actually, Ed doesn’t change all that much. He’s more interested in getting to drive the cool car than he is about the zombies in the street. In the few minutes, Shaun takes to get his mom and stepdad he manages to crash the car. When they’re surrounded by a horde he nonchalantly takes a call (from a guy he occasionally sells drugs too).

Shaun’s willing to forgive and ignore Ed’s apathy until this moment. It takes the world ending and their lives at stake to Shaun to finally confront his friend. The apocalypse becomes the catalyst that pushes Shaun to making decisions. One of those decisions is letting go of a friendship that had been holding him back.

But it’s not all sad; Shaun gets the girl and still finds time to play games with Ed occasionally.

Nevermind Ed’s a zombie.

They’re not Bad Boys

Nicolas Angel is kind of cop who’s good at his job. Every part of his job, including the paperwork, but everything else in his life suffers. He breaks up with his girlfriend. The other officers are all too happy to get rid of him because he makes them look bad by comparison. The only constant in his life before moving to Sandford is his Japanese Peace Lily.

They even make the paperwork cool.

Danny, on the other hand, is the kind of cop who never had to be good at his job. He lived his whole life in a small village where the most work the cops had to do was deal with ‘accidents.’ His father is the inspector. Everything he learnt about his job was from action cop movies.

Friendship in Hot Fuzz goes in a different direction. Nicolas and Danny aren’t the lifelong friends Shaun and Ed were. In fact, a drunk Danny almost runs overs Nicolas when they first meet. Danny actually learns what it means to be a cop from Nicolas. Nicolas learns there’s more to life than the service and there’s more to service than enforcing every law. For Nicolas, Danny becomes the person he cares about more than the job.

By learning more about Sandford from Danny, Nicolas becomes more willing to let smaller infractions go when working to keep the greater peace. By the climax, he even enlists the help of some vandals he’d been suspicious of on his first night in the village. Danny, on the other hand, learns that being a cop isn’t about the big action shootouts, and even when the big action shootout happens, he and Nicolas fight their way out while only using non-lethal takedowns. In this view of friendship, each one makes each other a better cop and a better person.

The Crowning Glory of the End of the World

Gary King is the king in his mind and every king needs a court. For Gary, his court is made up of his friends or, to be more accurate, his enablers. Like so many, Gary found his adulthood paling in comparison to the glory of his youth and has been trying to regain that feeling. The height of his youth had been trying to conquer the Golden Mile, a twelve pub crawl with four of his best friends. They never finished the Mile, but that night still left a mark on Gary. For him, it never got better and that’s where the problems start.

He keeps searching for that same high in the substance he linked with the first: alcohol. Never finding it, he makes one last ditch attempt to regain his crown by reclaiming the Golden Mile and finishing what they’d started all those years ago. He rounds up his old friends, who have all grown up and progressed in their own ways. Among them is Andy Knightley, who used to be Gary’s right hand but has been sober since the very night Gary is trying to reclaim.

Amidst the discovery that their hometown has become a hub of alien activity, Andy learns just how deep Gary’s addiction goes. Of the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy, Gary King is the most tragic protagonist. His addiction sends him on a dark spiral. Even as he tries to regain his youth with his friends, he keeps them at distance emotionally. He thinks he needs drinking buddies more than he needs true friends who will help him.

Gary’s inability to say no to a drink inevitably leads to the World’s End, both the name of a bar and the actual end of the world. But when he hits rock bottom and realizes Andy was willing to follow him there for his sake, that’s when he finds the strength to stop living in the past.

It’s another visual metaphor.

Be it the heartbreak of losing good friends, the surprise of finding friendship in the unlikeliest of persons or wanting to help a friend who’s not ready to help themselves, the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy portrays the complexities of platonic relationships. Best of all, it shows how they evolve as we grow and change.

Images courtesy of Universal Pictures. 

Continue Reading


‘BlacKkKlansman’ Sizzles With Rage and Wit




BlacKkKlansman is an act of cinematic rage. Spike Lee’s latest film is a wild, somewhat sprawling nuanced look at how a black detective, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) infiltrated the KKK. The humor is sly, and Lee’s targets range from politics to the history of film itself.

For a generation of movie buffs who have decried that politics and entertainment should never meet, Lee must resemble something akin to hemlock. Lee makes every film he makes feel as if it might be his last one. His movies feel alive and unpredictable. A breadth of ideas and themes Lee is less interested in you liking him and more interested in prodding a reaction or a thought out of you.

BlacKkKlansman opens up with a famous tracking shot of Gone With The Wind. Scarlett wanders the train yard of wounded soldiers as the camera pulls back to reveal the mass of wounded bodies and corpses. The camera hovers over the train yard, a Confederate flag waving proudly in the left-hand corner.

It’s impossible to watch BlacKkKlansman and not think about current events. An intentional act by Lee as he is trying to show us both the circular nature of our tendencies as well as the creeping evolution of a new kind of fascism. A more gentle but no less poisonous and bigoted form that smiles at you warmly in a sort of “Aww shucks” manner.

Hollywood has long shown us racists, but they have been racists caricatures. These characters have been barely people. Instead, they have been tropes with a name and a face. These films have looked at racism less like something that is institutionalized and more a trait that reveals the character’s true villainy. Lee blows up this trope and shows us in more ways than one what “good ‘ol boys” look like. Which is to say like someone you might meet walking down the street.

We are shown an instructional PSA with Dr. Kennebrew Beauregard (Alec Baldwin). He gives a bigoted rant against desegregation and civil rights. Beauregard stands in front a series of pictures from that era. His vile thoughts and words are punctured as Lee cleverly shows us an unpolished ill-prepared man. Beauregard stumbles and pauses to do vocal warm-ups, calls for his lines, and stops from time to time to complain about the structure of a sentence.

It’s the normalization of racism that tumbles through BlacKkKlansman. Everyone is the hero in their own story, as a popular writing maxim goes. Lee endeavors to show us how terrifyingly accurate the maxim is in reality. After all, David Duke (Topher Grace) isn’t the Grand Wizard of the Klan. He prefers to be called the National Director or Organizer.

Lee is often accused of being less than subtle. He has always had the rare ability to make his films highly artificial and yet somehow deeply emotionally resonant. It’s as if his heightened artificiality allows him to get at the emotional core of his characters.

But he is subtle. Notice the scene where the Klan watches D.W. Griffith’s infamous Birth Of A Nation. Lee and his cameraman, Chayse Irvin uses the same techniques so often cited as the reason to watch the film.  They indulge in close-ups, pans, even the way Barry Alexander Brown edits the montage, is reminiscent of the infamous movie. Lee portrays the white Klansman the way blacks are portrayed in the film.

Brown and Lee cut between the Klan’s watching Birth Of A Nation and a meeting with black student activists. Ron’s girlfriend Patrice (Laura Harrier) is leading a talk. The klan hoots and howl at a bygone piece of propaganda and decry black people’s humanity. While Patrice and her fellow students sit around an old man Jerome Turner (Harry Belafonte) as he gives witness of being black in early America.

Turner is surrounded by images, of lynchings, and beaten black bodies. Lee is showing us the power of images. Showing us the kind of images White America has time and time again shown they prefer. Early on in BlacKkKlansman Ron attends a Black Power meeting. The guest speaker Kwame Ture (Corey Hawkins) tells the all-black audience about black beauty and black agency. Lee and Irvin superimpose the faces of the black audiences members, so they grow large as they are told, black is beautiful.

Ron’s partner, and white double, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) doesn’t understand Ron’s desire to bring these men down. A Jewish detective who “passes” he is slowly radicalized to Ron’s cause. His radicalization comes both from the men he is forced to befriend and the connection with his own Jewish heritage. Early on in the film, Ron asks Flip if he’s Jewish. “I don’t know. Am I?” Little by little Flip begins to see and understand Ron’s urgency in monitoring the local Klan.

Patrice forces Ron to come to terms with the duality of his existence as a black man and as a cop. The black community and law enforcement have a long and troubled history. Lee does not shy away from the complexities of this long and torturous relationship. Ron forces Flip to come to terms with his own roots and his role in the fight. All of them drag the Colorado Springs Police Department into an era of equality kicking and screaming.

Blackkklansman is not a hopeful movie. But the script by Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel, and Kevin Willmott surprises us with a wry and dark wit. Flip rides along with one of the Klansmen Felix (Jasper Paakkonen) he is told, “We don’t call ourselves the Klan. We’re The Organization. Or The Invisible Empire.” Ron contacted them by calling a number he saw in the paper in the ad section. “To contact the Klan call…”

As Blackkklansman barrels toward its conclusion, it lands one final and gut-wrenching blow. Lee ends with footage from Charlottesville. As you may recall, white supremacists descended upon the city in a “Unite The Right” rally. Brown and Lee edit the news footage to bring home Lee’s point. Racism is not over, and neither is the Klan.

They may talk politely as they smile and walk around without robes and hoods but the hate burns brighter than ever. I must warn you that Lee also includes footage of the young woman who was run down by a car and killed. Her name was Heather Heyer. The final shot is of Heather, her birthday and day of death. It dissolves to an upside down American flag which turns black.

BlacKkKlansman is a bit like Sorry To Bother You. Lee’s offering is more polished but also more focused. His rage becomes infectious as the images of Charlottesville dance across the screen. Yes, it’s based on a true story, but Lee is saying something more than that. He’s saying it’s still happening. What are we going to do about it?

Image courtesy of Universal Pictures

Continue Reading


‘Christopher Robin’ Doesn’t Understand Pooh




Christopher Robin has the melancholic beauty of the postcards you find in gift shops. It looks nice and makes you go “aww” but then you forget about it and move on. Much like Cars 3, Disney once again tells the story of a middle-aged man dealing with a midlife crisis—to children.

Christopher Robin opens up promising enough. Marc Forster has worked with his cameraman, Matthias Koenigswieser, to create a story dripping with sepia-toned nostalgia. We see glimpses of Christopher Robin’s (Orton O’Brien) childhood with Pooh and the other creatures from the Hundred Acre Wood. Forster and Koenigswieser play with time. They give us snapshot glimpses of Christopher’s childhood. We see frames dissolve into drawings in a children’s book. But they mistake having a look for having a tone.

Slowly we see Christopher Robin the boy become Christopher Robin the man (Ewan McGregor). Christopher Robin meets Evelyn (Hayley Atwell). They get married. Christopher Robin goes to war leaving behind a pregnant wife, only to return home to a daughter he’s never met. By itself, this alone would make for an interesting story to explore, with or without Tigger (Jim Cummings).

Forster and his cadre of writers, of which there are five, decide to focus on Christopher Robin the efficiency expert at Winslow Luggage. I’ve seen loads of people online bring up Spielberg’s Hook just from the trailers alone. But while Spielberg made Peter Pan an accountant, we never had to sit through scenes with Peter at the office.

Forster wants to weave a tale of magic and wonder for the kids, while giving the adults a wistful reminder of their youth. He achieves neither. Pooh (Jim Cummings) is fond of saying “Nothing comes from nothing.” A clever little line. Or would be if it weren’t repeated to death. Repetition can either enhance a line or beat it to the ground. All meaning and context fleeing for the Hundred Acre Wood.

We spend the first half of the movie watching Christopher Robin grow old and see how miserable his life has become. The middle portion is only marginally better. Pooh shows up nearby Christopher Robin’s house. Christopher Robin, in order to get any work done, must take Pooh back to the Hundred Acre Wood. The third act is, of course, a race to the board meeting to save Christopher Robin’s job, which he hates.

The adults won’t be bored senseless but I’m not so sure about the children. Don’t get me wrong, there will be stretches where they will surely be enraptured. For all it’s missteps Christopher Robin does nail the voices of Pooh and his friends. Eeyore (Brad Garrett), Piglet (Nick Mohammed), Rabbit (Peter Capaldi), Kanga (Sophie Okonedo), Roo (Sara Sheen), and Owl (Toby Jones) are all perfectly cast. Except Forster doesn’t seem to know what to do with all these characters.

When Pooh and friends leave the Hundred Acre Wood to go help Christopher Robin, only Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger go. All well and good, except part of the genius of Winnie the Pooh is how each character is to some extent a manifestation of a child’s psyche or emotive state. To only use half the characters for most of the story seems a great disservice to the others.

Perhaps, giving Forster some credit, this is his point. After all, Christopher Robin is about discovering one’s inner child. Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore are the purest in their representations of childhood. Even though it still feels as if Kanga, Roo, Owl, and Rabbit are barely even thought of.

When Christopher Robin comes back to the Hundred Acre Wood he can’t find Pooh. But he does stumble onto Eeyore, followed by Piglet. But then the script has him stumble onto the rest of the animals all at once. I return to the lack of tone. Sometimes Christopher Robin feels measured as if it’s building to something. But almost always it abandons all it’s hard work just to jump into a loud wacky moment.

Scenes where Christopher Robin trying to convince Eeyore and Piglet he’s not a Heffalump are beautiful and subtle. They hint at a better more complex movie underneath. The idea is of course discarded for a wacky over the top quick solution. “If you really were Christopher Robin, you would defeat the Heffalump.”

The other animals hide in a log. Christopher Robin pretends to fight a Heffalump to assuage his friends’ fears. It’s a wonderful idea but it’s too hastily done and rushed.

Pooh and his friends look alive and as if they literally sprung from a child’s imagination. But, and here’s where I am reminded I am an adult, Forster and his writers have made the odd decision that Pooh and his friends can be seen and heard by everyone. So when Christopher Robin leaves, he’s not leaving his imaginary friends, he’s leaving his actual friends. Even more confusing is Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, Kanga, and Roo all look like stuffed toys come to life. Rabbit and Owl seem to be real animals.

I know, I know, this is a kids movie. Christopher Robin is at its best when it sticks to being a Winnie the Pooh movie. A.A. Milne’s dialogue is still as potent and poetic as ever. The warm and clever words of Pooh and his friends expose the crassness of the rest of the script. The simple wit and charm of the characters of the Hundred Acre Wood are cheapened. The lines are repeated by those in the real world, like an echo. As if the kids are too stupid to have understood them the first time.

Hayley Atwell continues to be underused, misused, underwritten, and sidelined for no good reason whatsoever. We are firmly in the 21st century. It’s depressing that so many men in Hollywood still have no clue what to do with a character who happens to be a woman. Don’t even get me started on Christopher Robin’s daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). But I guess of the, again five writers, one who was a woman, it was too much to hope for.

It would have made more sense for either Atwell’s Evelyn or Carmichael’s Madeline to be the main character. Set in post-war London, it could have explored Evelyn’s broken dreams or Madeline’s strict, almost joyless father. In the beginning, we see Evelyn was an architect during the war. Afterward, though she was, like most women, told to go back to the kitchen. Madeline seems less like a normal little girl and much like her father, eager to explore and with an imagination positively bursting at the seams.

Throughout all of Christopher Robin, the message is never grow up. Never stop playing. Never lose your toys. I couldn’t help but laugh. Maybe the message wouldn’t have rung so hollow if it didn’t come from Disney, a studio that cranks out Star Wars and Marvel movies—and their toys.

Christopher Robin is dull, dull, dull. Charming for bits, but only the bits involving words and characters not created by the army of writers hired by Disney. Slick and polished Forster always seems rushed. The emotion is never allowed to build. Instead, in the end, I was left with a feeling of morose apathy.

The magic of the stories of the Hundred Acre Wood is how simple and direct they are. Christopher Robin mistakes this directness for eschewing complexities and boiling everything down to boilerplate Pooh-isms. Or believing that just repeating the lines in awe makes them more impressive. Nothing comes from nothing may be true. But Christopher Robin also shows us that sometimes nothing is preferable to something.

Image Courtesy of Disney

Continue Reading