“The Lion King” Movie Review

Due to a birthday weekend with my daughter this one’s a couple days late. In all honesty there's not really much left to say though after my first thoughts video. Which if you haven't seen you can watch here. Anyway, I still think the best way to sum up this movie is, in a world without the original animated film, I’d be coming to you saying this was a really good movie. However, that said in that world it wouldn't have reached the prestige & greatness of its predecessor. Story wise this thing is pretty much a carbon copy of the classic. Just devoid of anything you wouldn't see out of actual animals. Think the hula scene with Timon. Leading me to the craziest part about this film for me. Dealing with the realistic aspect of the whole thing. Its biggest achievement seemed to also he its biggest flaw. The amazing CGI that led to everything looking so real, that the animals couldn't really seem to keep up emotionally with the material to do it justice. I’m still not sure if that had anything to do with the voice work not really standing out. Mediocre all around with the exception of Oliver, Rogen, & Eichner. Those three were the only ones that kept me entertained throughout all of this, & if no one is getting them together for a film, a big mistake is being made. Wasn’t really impressed with Ejiofor's Scar, & same goes for the whole depiction of the hyenas. This Scar is a pale comparison to the original. While the hyenas, while very frightening, lost their entertainment value it seemed. The main three were my favorite characters from the original. They seemed to adept here. Almost as if they wouldn’t even need Scar in the first place. Cast aside, even the songs fell just short. My favorite going to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight". That whole scene was great. The rest was an alright remake of “Hakuna Matata” & “Just Can’t Wait To Be King”, an absolutely horrible “Be Prepared”, & a “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” duet where one party over powered the other completely. The bad thing is a lot of this could be derived from the fact that I do have a greater version to compare to that's almost a facsimile of. I did enjoy myself still. All in all you have a technological wonder of beautiful CGI on display with a great story. That while it dosen't knock it out of the park, does mange to round at least base. This will be on the list of these remakes that unlike Aladdin & Beauty & the Beast, I’ll most likely grab the animated classic the next time I want to watch Lion King. Curious what others think though. So as you see it please let me know on the comments what you think.

processed_20190713_002844.jpg

"Aladdin" Movie Review

As usual I've took a couple days from my first thoughts review video (here), and now it's time to get into my full thoughts on the live-action remake of the Disney Animated Classic, Aladdin after getting some time to let it sink in. I can't believe how excited I still am about this film. It totally lives up to its own phrase, "diamond in the rough". That said, there will be some layers to this review. First, I want to get into how this film stands up to its animated predecessor. This is the part I couldn't believe the more I thought about it. As great as Robin Williams is, I think I now actually prefer this out of the two. Probably because it hits every single beat of the original. With only  slight changes & additions. Changes that seem only there to compliment the realistic nature of live-action, & additions that go on to further the mythology of the tale without changing it any way. It being live-action also gives it room to draw on so much more emotion. In today's context, animated Aladdin is a smartphone, the live-action Aladdin is the upgraded version. Speaking of upgrades. Sees like a good time to get into the music. With the addition of Jasmine's new two part song, along with some amazing dance numbers, this film seem more a musical than the original. All the original songs got a new remix if you will. However, they stayed so true their original counterparts if I played the right snippets, you'd think only the artist performing had changed. Basically there was a very subtle hip hop influence injected into each. Like a 80-20 mix, 80% original, 20% hip hop. It blended perfectly at that rate. One of the things that worried me going in. Jasmine's new song I mentioned earlier was an amazing piece of music performed beautifully. It seemed a strange place to add it, but by the time she was halfway done the hair on my neck was standing up, & I didn't care about its placement anymore. I also mentioned the dance numbers earlier. These were amazing! Also a mix, this time Hip Hop meets Bollywood, & I never wanted to learn a dance in my life until I saw this. This blew me away! I loved the dance choreography in this film. Never really seen anything like this in my life. Now, before I sign off I want to break down the standout acting performances contained in this film. I have to start that by mentioning the overall chemistry between the cast as a whole. The chemistry displayed made it look as if these people had been really good friends for years that just decided to make a movie. I couldn't believe how tight knit they all seemed. I'll break 'em down first with the one everyone was most worried about, Will Smith as the Genie. When he first was cast, I told a lot of nay sayers if we could get old Fresh Prince, Bad Boys Will Smith, he could pull it off. If anyone has the charisma to even attempt to fill those big shoes Robin William's left behind he could, but only if he could tap back into something we haven't seen for a long time. That's exactly what we got. I haven't thought Smith was having a good time making a film in a long time. It was so refreshing to see this return for someone who at one time was one of my favorite acting personalities. He took full ownership of this role & totally made it his own, & the addition of keeping him around throughout to be Aladdin's advisor was a perfect addition. Definitely one of the additions that puts this over the top. Mena Mossoud was also just cast perfect as Aladdin, as was Naomi Scott as Jasmine. You believed every minute of their love story. Not just that though, every other aspect of their characters as well. From his thief with a heart of gold, to her frustrated Princess who's beauty hides her mind. These three carried this film to the heights it reached, but they did definitely have some back up in that feat. Nassim Pedrad was great as the new character & best friend to Jasmine, Dahlia. Even if I did immediately realize why she was there, i loved her role. The biggest one i was worried about going in though was Marwan Kenzari as Jafar. Jafar always came off as downright sinister even in just his look, where this guy didn't to me. What he lacked in sinister look though, he made up for in performance. This guy oozed evilness from the start. They added some extra layer to the character too that worked very well. I noticed at the end af my first thoughts vid that I didn't mention the digital characters of Abu, Jago, & the Magic Carpet. I at least have to mention how real these characters came off. You would totally have thought that they not only trained these animals, they also went out & got an enchantment put on a rug. Beautiful effects abound, & set pieces for that matter. Every place form the alleys of Agrabah to the Cave of Wonders seemed so real. Last but definitely not least though, Guy Ritchie. I think the craziest part of all this is how this stays so true to the animated original, but at the same time is totally a Guy Ritchie film. The chase scenes are absolutely amazing. The storytelling is fluid, with virtually no downtime. Totally Guy Ritchie. Anyway, all in all I completely loved this film. Definitely my favorite out of all the live action remakes Disney has done so far. If they can keep them to this level, I can't wait to see what's next.

upload.jpg

"Dumbo" Movie Review

So as usual, after my first thoughts video (see that here), I like to let the movie set in awhile before I go over my full thoughts. This time we're talking about Disney's newest live-action adaptation of an animated classic, Dumbo. First off, I really enjoyed this film. Is it perfect? No. It has it's problems. Which I'm gonna go over first to get out of the way. The biggest problem stems from the human element. I'll get more into that as I break down the performances. Next, early on there's some shaky CGI. The crazy part about that statement is to me it had nothing to do with the flying elephant scenes. Those to me were probably some of the most amazing parts of the film. Finally, it felt a little slow to start. Mainly, due to the first 30 minutes or so containing a large & depressing amount of loss. This is also where you hit 95% of all the beats of the original animated classic. Starting from the beginning credits you see the Medici Bros. Circus start up on there tour, & by the end of the credits it's a dilapidated shell of its former self. Followed by the first scene of the kids greeting their father fresh off the train from WW1 to the knowledge he's lost his arm. On top of that we revisit all of the sad notes of the original Dumbo. Which, like I said earlier, pretty much gets summed up in the first 30 minutes of runtime. To me the rest of the story is where this film really shines. As I've been saying leading up to this, out of all the classics, Dumbo really was the shortest on substance. So, from it's announcement, I knew this would be the one to be built on with new content. That's my favorite part about these live-action adaptations, when they're done right. Not changing any of the core storyline, but building onto it, an enriching it that much more. This aspect was my favorite part of this film. This is where you meet my favorite human performance of this film in the form of Michael Keaton's Vandemere. A very realistic wolf in sheep's clothing villain. Kind of an anti-Walt Disney, creator of a steampunk version of Disneyland in the form of Dreamland. He's the epitome of greed, but a realistic version as well. Coming off as a philanthropist out to help everyone succeed their dreams, only to show his true colors once he gets to what he wants. A master manipulater, I loved to hate this character. This performance alongside the poor man's version of pretty much the same character in Danny DeVito's, Medici, were hands down best human presences this film had. They found a way to separate the two. Where while Medici was also fueled by getting a buck any way he could, he still had a since of family when it came to his troupe. His decisions seemed more fueled by his allegiance them,  then the pursuit of wealth. I also found Colin Farrell handled his role well. He was surrounded by so much loss & confusion throughout. I felt like he did well portraying a lost soul, just going through the motions of life. Where this film fell short in the human aspect for me was in Eva Green, & the two kids. I never really cared about Eva Green's character throughout. Much less her "evolution" from beginning to end. More so, in the kids. They just didn't seem to drive the emotion they should have through the course of this film. That said, part of me thinks they deliberately tried to keep the human aspect of this film toned down to make Dumbo the true star. And if that was the case, they did a great job in my eyes keeping him the frontrunner for this film. From the time that elephant take his first flight this film takes off. As Keaton's character said, it made me feel like a kid again. I compared it to the first time we saw Reeve's Superman fly. My favorite part of this film however, was how it was handled by director, Tim Burton. Tim Burton usually has a style all over his films, that you can distinctly notice is his. That said, my favorite Burton films don't have this thumbprint. This falls in that category. If no one would have told me going in this was a Tim Burton film, I probably wouldn't have known until the credits rolled. He really did deliver an aesthetically beautiful film here though. Where I siad the CGI was shaky in the beginning, was immediately made up for. Not only when Dumbo took flight, but also in the amazing steampunk homage to Disneyland in the form of Dreamland. Totally amazing, & the set pieces that made it up were absolutely beautiful. I also loved the way he subtly hit all the points you remember from the original, without beating you over the head with them. His handling of the pink elephant scene is reason alone to see this in the biggest theater you can see it in. So all in all, though not perfect, I highly enjoyed myself through the course of this very good family film. I will definitely add it to my collection, to enjoy with the family many more times. Curious what everyone else thought though? Let me know in the comments, like, & share.

Read More

"Mary Poppins Returns" Movie Review

So, if you haven't seen my first thoughts video on Disney's follow-up fifty plus years in the making you can see it here. As always though I like to let these sink in a little more, & write out a more full review. Mary Poppins Returns will be no exception to that, even though I might have took an extra day or two this time around. As I said in my first thoughts many times, this film had an uphill battle from its inception. To try to follow up a classic, 50 plus years old no less, that has stood that test of time in almost every way, is no easy feat. And even though this one doesn't quite measure up to match its predecessor being practically perfect in every way, it does manage to hold it's own as a more than solid, highly enjoyable sequel. I'm gonna break this down into sections starting first with the overall story. This is where this movie really shines. It picks up with a grown up, widowed Michael Banks just finding out he's losing his childhood home to the bank, while at the same time raising his own three, highly grown up for their ages, kids of his own. Of course his sister Jane is by his side to help out, but the Banks kids are once again in need of Mary Poppins. Oh, and Michael's kids are too. What sounds like a simple story on paper, as they try to find lost bank shares to help pay for the house, turns into a at times heartbreaking tale, filled with magic & lessons abound. The real beauty to it being how well it not only picks up in a perfect place, but totally parallels the original's theme, without taking the easy way out of just copying its successes verbatim. On top of this, the film is absolutely beautiful. From the animated scene, to the dance choreography, to even just the overall use of color, saying this film's beautiful is an understatement. Now when it comes to the acting Emily Blunt owned this movie in the title role. She made this movie Mary Poppins' movie. Which I always thought of the original as Mary & Bert's film. With Dick van Dyke stealing the scene just as much as Julie Andrews. Not the case in this film. There will be no argument, this was Emily Blunt's film. And she was perfect, fully resisting the urge to just copy what Andrews had already done, she made this character her own. There were times it was so her own, I felt she was almost even out if character, but then I would tell myself that Mary is here for different reasons this time around. So as much as she comes when she's needed, she comes in the form she's needed as well. The more I think about it, the more I really like this extra layer to the character. Another shining piece of performance goes to the three kids, who were absolutely amazing. They struck acting gold with those three. Lin-Manuel Miranda was good, but as the main side character to Mary I feel he just fell a little short. His singing & dancing was great. It's just his acting fell a little short when you compare him to his predecessor Bert. He held his own, but he couldn't quite get on that level to rival Blunt. Which would have made him that equal part like Van Dyke did in the original. A major example of that was Dick van Dyke's cameo in this film, where he steals the scene from everyone. Two major differences in this film were an actual villain, who demands your hate, & the fact that this one was a little more Broadway than the original. I mention this Broadway feel now because there was one spot that I feel this negatively affected the film. And that's in Meryl Streep's character. She was the one dance scene to many in my eyes, & I would have loved to see her character used much like Ed Wynn's in the first. I think using her in a strictly comedic role, light on the music, would have added much to her role, & to the film as a whole. The tea party on the ceiling was actually one of my favorite parts of the original, & this would have been a perfect place to pay homage to that scene. Now this is a musical, so we have to mention that. I walked out of this with the original music still stuck in my head. Now, that said, I enjoyed all but one song in this film. However, none of the music was quite up to the original's. An impossible feat by the way, as the original had some of the best music to ever be put on film. One of the songs is just guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes, but a lot of this music had more of a Broadway feel in my opinion. Not a bad thing, just something I noticed. Out of all of them i absolutely loved "Trip the Light Fantastic", & the choreography that went with it. An amazing scene. Overall, I highly enjoyed this film, & would recommend it to anyone. You'll just feel better about life as a whole after watching it. It didn't hit the impossible goal set before it 50 plus years ago, but that by no means is a failure. This is a great film, & as sequels usually go, it's even better than that. I'd love to know & discuss your thoughts as you see the film. Put them in comments, like, & share.

upload.jpg

"Christopher Robin" Movie Review

Took a little while extra to get to this one. There's a lot going on right now. That was actually the best thing about for me about Christopher Robin though. It totally took me to another place. This is the definition of a feel good movie. If you haven't seen my first thoughts video you can see it here. First off, I'm a huge Winnie the Pooh  fan. If you find yourself in that category at all, you're going to love this movie. It captures the spirit of the Hundred Acre Wood in all it's glory. Jim Cummings absolutely shines as Pooh. Completely stealing the whole show. Every time Pooh was on screen you begged for more. There's a lot of wisdom in that silly ol' bear's childlike ignorance. He says the most simple, yet deep things throughout this film's course. Pooh's supporting plush cast were depicted pretty much exactly how you know & love. Nothing really new. Except Eeyore, he served as kind of a fourth wall breaker. A little more aware than the rest of the crew. His comments here & there were so matter of fact, & the timing was just perfect. The human side of this worked, even though you really just want as much Pooh as possible as this goes on. As I say in the video, my hat's really of to Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, & the girl that plays their daughter. Considering most of their acting & responses were to inanimate plush objects, they were amazing. Same goes for the people who notice the talking plush in the streets. Great reactions. The overall story was a little old hat. It resembled Hook  with its child becomes adult, gets over wrapped up in work, & neglects the family he's working for. They do go out of their way to justify it this time. Instead of a dedication to the job in the name of success, it's for the preservation of other families jobs. Humanizes it bit more, but doesn't change the similarities. We have a lot of of similar films though, some carbon copies. So the real question is did they pull it off. The answer would be a resounding yes. This movie tugs at your heartstrings, playing with every emotion. The whole time surrounded by the most hilarious, innocent comedy. The packed house we were in was a combination of awes, hysterical laughter, & uncontrollable sobbing. In the end, everyone erupting in applause. All in all, this film was everything I could've asked for. A family, feel good film that brought the Hundred Acre Wood to life so well you'd swear they did just that. I'm sure I will be enjoying this one for years to come. That's my full thoughts, I'd love to know yours. Put 'em in the comments, like, & share.

upload.jpg

"Incredibles 2" DOUBLE FEATURE Movie Review

Alright, after getting my first thoughts out (see here), I've took a couple days to really let the Incredibles 2  DOUBLE FEATURE sink in. Since we're dealing with 2 films & a short I'm gonna break this into 3 sections.

Incredibles:  This was my first experience with the classic Pixar film on the big screen, & it was impressive on a while new level. The story, action, & comedy stand up to time so well. In fact, the only sign that this was a classic, was the dated Pixar animation. Which even 14 years ago would stand up against any other animation studio today. The movie blends classic golden-age superheroes, James Bond like locales, & a strong family dynamic seamlessly. I still say to this date, this is actually the best Fantastic Four  film we have recieved. Set in that golden age of heroes like the old Superman cartoons from the 50s, superheroes have been made illegal due to ever growing lawsuits against them. Honestly, the most realistic reason ever, & then the "Supers" are out on a form of Witness Protection. Part of the catch is they can't use their super powers any more. Mr. Incredible can't stop dabbling in heroics though, & eventually requires help form the whole fam. That's the ultra simple version of an animated film that holds it's own with major live action comic book films of today. Ultimate storytelling in what is one of Pixar's best. The cast of characters are intriguing, with so much depth for animated characters, that only Pixar can add. Seeing this on the big screen gave me a even bigger love for this movie. Depending on what day I wake up, this goes back & forth with Toy Story  & Coco  as my favorite Pixar film. If you haven't seen this film, where have you been for 14 years? Anyone with a love for superheroes, golden age heros, Pixar, James Bond, or just all around great feels all around films this one is definitely for you, & leaves you begging for more.

upload.jpg

Bao:  For me this short film was an intermission film. For anyone seeing a non-DOUBLE FEATURE, this will be what opens Incredibles 2. In a nutshell, without spoiling it, this short is about a lady who makes a dumpling that comes to life. She raises this adorable dumpling as her own child. From there the clip uses this as a metaphor for growing up & letting go. I never knew so much emotion could be contained within about 5 minutes. You could feel the emotion radiating throughout the audience when this was over. It's a very powerful short, quickly becoming one of my all time favorites. 

upload.jpg

Incredibles 2:  Here it was. We had all waited 14 years for this. 14 years, & they definitely made it worth it. Picking up exactly where the first left off to the second, there was one notable difference. Pixar has come a long way in 14 years, & it shows in the best ways. This was probably easier to see due to the DOUBLE FEATURE aspect, but the difference was like HD versus classic film. Everything immediately looked so much more alive. Other than that though, if you wouldn't have told me this was part 2, I'd have thought I was watching an Incredibles  extended edition. Not only does this pick up right after, it just take the ball & keeps running. The story progression feels more natural than almost any sequel I've seen. The story takes those moments at the end of the first to segway right into fixing the illegal superhero problem. With a brother/sister pair enlisting Elastigirl to put Supers back in the limelight. This has Mr. Incredible playing Mr. Mom while wifey does all the hero stuff. Opening up the reveal of baby Jack Jack's powers by the way. Had me laughing in tears for what felt like a solid 5 minutes. All the main characters return, not skipping a beat. Meanwhile, favorites Frozone & Edna Mode get some more screen time this time around, sprinkled along with some new Supers. There was an awesome villain that felt straight out of Batman, even if the reveal was a little telegraphed. All in all, this movie was as good, if not better than its predecessor. I've got my fingers crossed we don't have to wait another 14 years to cap this as a Trilogy. I do suggest to anyone that does see this film, it benefits highly from coming directly after the first. Revisit Incredibles  as soon as you can prior to seeing the sequel. I'll probably never watch these films another way. That's my full thoughts though. Love to know yours. Put em in the comments, like, & share.

upload.jpg

"A Wrinkle In Time" Movie Review

If you've already seen my first thoughts video (here), then you know I rather enjoyed Disney's A Wrinkle In Time for what it was. If you haven't, there's that really big, "for what it was" attached. That's because this movie was definitely for a younger audience, & therefore needed to be watched through younger eyes. That in mind, I thought this was a good family fantasy film. Not great, yet not horrible, it falls into the good category. Which in some people's minds is ceasing to exist. Speaking of that younger audience though, I felt like this film was really targeting the early teen age group of it's main star, & it should be a must see if you have early to mid teens. That being said, this is way to whimsicle & cute in the trailers to ever be on their radar. Sad thing, because this film contains an amazing message on growing up & loving yourself. The film is a beautiful spectacle when it's really on, but that goes against itself when it gives you some uninspired backdrops in key places. Most noticeably in the scenes with the Happy Medium & the film's climax. However, I will say those scenes were highly helped while viewing in 3D. It added depth to what would've looked flat & basic. In fact, if this is released in 3D will probably be the deciding factor on whether I buy this or not. Now, actor for actor, Storm Reid's Meg steals the whole show. This little girl is amazing, putting up experienced, adult level acting. Levi Miller was good as her friend Calvin, but really could've used some more development to his character. As well as Reid, keep an eye on Deric McCabe who played Meg's little brother Charles Wallace. He also delivered on an amazing level considering his age. Chris Pine played the lost father that inspires the journey. He was great as usual, but he wasn't really in too much of the film. This was really the kid's movie. They were the driving force. Even the "otherworldly beings", for lack of words, we're supporting characters. Reese Witherspoon's Mrs. Whatsit totally steals the show from the 3 beings that help Meg on her journey. She's great in this role, closely followed by Mindy Kaling's Mrs. Who. Who speaks in famous quotes, & it's really fun when you know one, but takes a lot a work to decipher meaning into so me the first time around. Oprah was regal as Mrs. Which, but shows one of the dangers of getting someone that big to play a part. Every time it was her time to speak, & especially when they are giving Meg gifts, I was waiting on her to start giving out cars to everyone. Took me out of the film, & made me chuckle many times. Other notable performances go to a toned down Zach Galifianakis, which I noticed I like when he's not over the top, as the Happy Medium & Michael Pena as Red. And Michael Pena? I love Michael Pena in whatever you put him in. I could've used more of his character, but he does remind me. If you're taking smaller children to this film there are some spots that are pretty scary. A little too intense for some kids, I'm thinking. Overall, like I've said, I enjoyed this movie for what it was. Far from perfect, but also far from horrible, I wouldn't pass on this one. Especially as a film for the whole fam. I don't know if I'd say rush out to the theater to see it, unless you're seeing it in 3D, but I would definitely say take a chance & watch it. It's not great, but I thought it was a very enjoyable, family film.

upload.jpg

"Coco" Movie Review

If you haven't seen my first thoughts video on this amazing animated film from Pixar, you can do so here. This is where I like to give a more detailed look after I really get to sit & think about it. First, we'll start with the opening, not so short, short film that opened the film, Olaf's Frozen Adventure. There's been a lot of controversy, & hate thrown at this short. Most of it seems to fall under a little cynicism it seems though. Mostly complaints about the length, or not knowing it would be there in the first place. I thoroughly enjoyed it though. Olaf is quickly becoming one of my favorite Disney characters. The way he sees things wrong, yet at the same time sees things more right in the process is just great. He goes to find holiday traditions for Elsa & Anna, & some of his descriptions of them are hilariously on point. The music was alright, really good for a holiday special. I found myself really liking the song sang while building the ice-tree. All in all I really liked this long short. It will definitely be on my Christmas list of must watches every year. I love the fact that Disney & Pixar have restarted the use of opening shorts, I hope the reaction to this one's presence doesn't hurt the chances of future ones. I don't even care if they're this long. If you want to give me a free movie in front of my movie, then thank you. Especially if it's as laugh out loud enjoyable as this was.

WP_20160506_17_34_18_Pro.jpg

Now, with that aside, we can get into the main feature. Coco is quickly going to jump to the top of many people's Pixar lists for so many reasons. This movie has filled itself with so much Mexican culture, I'm going to have to see it again just to attempt to catch all the many references. The first real standout is the music. That & family is what this film's all about, & it shows. I purchased the soundtrack early, something I usually don't do, & never regretted it. I not only can't find a favorite, I can't find a song I don't like. My only drawback to the soundtrack is there's not more of it. The amazing music just highlights the beautiful animation. In which, Pixar really out did itself. The Land of the Dead is one of the most amazing things I've seen that studio do. Speaking of the studio, this is really what I want to see out of Pixar. Though animated, this movie plays like a live action feature film, pulling no punches. In fact, at one point when I was figuring what's the big deal, this film blindsided me with some very well done twists & turns. I want to say, that's probably do to the amazing voice performances all around. You're so tuned into them, you don't even see the curveball coming. And that's just on top of trying to soak in all the many details placed literally everywhere. I'm sure there will be some that frown on some of the "novella" aspects of this movie, that at times seemed a little mature (especially after Cars 3). At it's heart though it is all about family & understanding, containing very strong messages for both children & adults. Strong messages, that I hope aren't wasted. Like I said in the video, I dare the strongest person to not shed a tear throughout this film. You are devoid of all feeling if you can attempt this feat. I want to go into more, but I'm too scared I'll get into spoiler territory. And I would hate to spoil anything about this masterpiece. Enjoyable for all, I would suggest this film to anyone. I can't wait to own this one, so I can check it out again & again. I saw this in 3D, & if that's not your thing, I still suggest going to see this in a theater, & bring your family.. That way you can see all the beauty of this amazing film as it was meant to be seen.

WP_20171129_15_17_44_Pro.jpg

"Cars 3" Movie Review

Everything starts off with LOU, the opening cartoon. I'm really liking Disney & Pixar's efforts to bring back the opening short. I didn't really know what to expect from this, even with the clip that was released earlier in the week. About a Lost & Found "monster" helping out some children from the school bully, I was blown away by this short. It did what Pixar does best, but in about 5 minutes. It had me laughing throughout, & then out of nowhere, BAM, the feels. It goes from hysterical to make you cry before you even realize it's happened. Great short. Then we get to the main event, Cars 3. This movie takes the focus all back where it should be, racing. The third entry in the Cars franchise features an aging Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) dealing with the younger, faster, up & coming racers led by Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). Then after a crippling injury, has to mount a comeback with some help along the way from another newcomer in the form of Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo). All the old pals from Radiator Springs pop in too, but definitely as supporting cast. I thought this was a really good sequel. I loved the original Cars. It's one of my favorite Pixar films. On the flipside, Cars 2 totally missed the mark for me. So it was refreshing to be able to say with this one they definitely redeemed themselves. Mainly because, as I said earlier, this one brings the focus back to racing & away from the  "look at these cars doing people stuff". Though it's not as good as the first, I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loved the first outing. I enjoyed it all the way through. There's a twist at the end that almost didn't really do it for me, but I felt they smoothed it out pretty well all in all by the end. It had some genuinely funny moments scattered throughout. Especially the whole demolition derby scene shown in the trailer. It also has some emotion. A lot of which, much like the first, comes from a sense of nostalgia. The rest from the various relationships developed throughout the course. They also went ahead & realized Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) might be best in small doses. It's funny I went in expecting a version of Days of Thunder, & instead I got a version of a Rocky movie. That's what this really felt like if I had to compare it to anything. I even got that vibe from some of the training montage. I can't end this without mentioning the actual animation. Pixar has come so far, this movie looks amazing. It has a blend of realism with cartoon elements on a level I've never seen. Some of the backgrounds in this film are absolutely  beautiful. Overall, as a sequel, I liked this, I will be adding it next to my copy of the original Cars. Seen the movie? We want to know what you think as well. Let us know in the comments, like, & share.  

WP_20170615_21_18_08_Pro_LI.jpg

Disneynature's Born In China Movie Review

This is my first Disneynature experience in a theater. In, fact If I'm being truly honest I want to say the only other one I've ever seen is Disneynature's Oceans. After this I know what I will be doing every Earth Day from now on though. This was incredible. I feel like I just took a trip to see a China that I never knew existed. Not the giant cities that we're use to seeing, or the Great Wall either. Instead, I just spent the last 1 hr. & 16 min. surrounded by the most beautiful landscape I've ever seen. Forgive me if I wind up over-using the word beautiful in this review, but that's the only way to describe this film & do it justice. I've never seen clarity like this. There were times I felt like I could jump right through the screen, & feel the animals' fur. I was so amazed there were times I couldn't help but wonder how this feat was accomplished at all. Which I got a glimpse into during the credits. Just that small look made this feat look even more overwhelming. They give us a very intimate look into the family lives & struggles of three families. An adorable panda family that further cements the notion in my mind that pandas are possibly the cutest animals on the planet. Then, a family of golden monkeys. Or more particularly, the family life of a certain mischievous little growing monkey finding his place in life. Finally, probably one of the most stunning creatures I've ever seen, a snow leopard trying to provide for her two cubs. These animals stories were very intriguing, much to my surprise. The picture was so clear & precise you could really get a sense of emotion from these animals. Which helped the rather entertaining narration provided by John Krasinski (The Office, 13 Hours). Director Lu Chuan, usually known in China for more action based material, seemed right at home in a genre far outside all the action he's used to. Overall, I was very impressed. This was a very enjoyable film, that is definitely best enjoyed on a big screen. If you want to not only see, but also be entertained by some cute creatures in one of the most beautiful environments I've ever seen on film, this is for you. Go see it by Sunday though. As long as you see it on opening weekend, you're actually helping pandas & snow leopards. Entertainment & a good cause. So that's my thoughts on Born In China. Let us know what you thought & like & share. TTFN. See ya real soon.

Beauty & the Beast (2017) Movie Review w/ "Be Our Guest Fan Event"

Just got out of the Beauty & the Beast "Be our Guest Fan Event" first release of the brand new live action movie. I had never been to a "Fan Event" so I wasn't sure what to expect except an inflated ticket price. However, it was worth it just to feel the energy in the room as the rest of the audience sat & chattered about all things Disney in anticipation. For that matter, my little girl was not the only person to come in full costume.

 

thegangbeauty&beast.jpg

I was a little let down that the AMC Imax we went to didn't have themed cups or popcorn buckets. Along with the fact that our particular theatre wasn't showing the fan event in 3D. It did provide a few attendee only items though. In the form of a lanyard style event pass with the date & a fold up cube style Beast. The lanyard was a nice touch as it felt as a sort of backstage pass. While the Beast cube figure was....  Well, a Beast cube figure. There were also two scenes that played before the movie. These two were only for the event. We got the Ariana Grande - John Legend video for their version of "Beauty & the Beast". Which I could've done without. Then we got a nice little behind the scenes with the composers that was actually a real treat. You could really see the passion they had for wanting to make this one bigger than what was already perfect. 

WP_20170316_23_39_38_Pro_LI.jpg

Now to the review of the actual movie. I had a few worries going in from the previews. First, was Emma Watson's ability to sing. I had noticed in the previews the songs had been altered to suit that she couldn't belt it out like her predecessor. Second, the CGI designs.  I wasn't fond of the first images of the various furniture, it seemed basic & lacking life. I was also concerned with the ability to pull off the Beast for the whole duration. Lastly, was the music in general. The more I had watched the previews I was starting to think this cast would have made a better non-musical film.

All of those worries have been put to rest. First of all, I must say I was very wrong about the non-musical. The old songs felt as new as they could considering you've heard the perfect versions already. While the new song additions had all the passion of the originals, even if they weren't as memorable. Emma Watson sang, & though it wasn't Paige O'Hara level, it was quite good & took nothing away from this fantastic retelling. The CGI is also not perfect, there are a few times you can notice the Beast is animated. However, they are few & far between when you take into consideration how long he is present throughout. These being the only the only actual negatives they were easy to look past.

On the upside, in the most curious casting decision for me by far, Luke Evans shined as Gaston. Emma Watson made you fall in love with Belle all over again. To Dan Stevens & all the creators involved with bringing the Beast to life, I must commend them on their near perfect quality. Not quite on the level of Jungle Book's CGI, but very impressive nonetheless for an emotional leading role. Most of all, the all-star supporting cast was amazing from the believable cadre of furniture, to Belle's father, to LeFou all contributed to making this bigger & more magical than its animated version.

Overall, that's the best thing I can say about this movie. The fact that they set out to make it bigger & better, & they actually achieved that. They managed to top a story that had already been told to perfection. I must give this movie a 10 out of 10 just due to that fact. We're now 3 for 4 on these live-action Disney remakes in my book, & if they keep up like this count me onboard for the ride. Disney really made this one a tale as old as time.