Category Archives: Reviews

Isn’t It Romantic (2019) Review

A HUMOROUS SATRICAL ROM-COM


 

With Hollywood studios investing money in big-budgeted tentpole features or in smaller scale artistic films (ones that are worthy of Oscar / award nominations), the subgenre of romantic comedies is left somewhere in the middle of those two extreme juggernaut film genres. Naturally, romantic comedies movies, which are both a subgenre to both the romance and comedy movie genres, have been around for quite some time; featuring a motion pictures with light-hearted, humorous, and dramatic stories that are usually centered around romantic nuances (i.e. such as “true love” and are able to tackle problematic obstacles (be it family, friends, or some unseen challenge). Additionally, like many films from other genres, romantic comedies can range from a wild array of styles; pulling from other movie genres in order to try to appeal to a “wider” audience. Some classic romantic comedy film endeavors include 1940’s The Philadelphia Story, 1953’s Roman Holiday, 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1987’s The Princess Bride, 1989’s When Harry Met Sally, 2007’s Waitress, 2017’s Big Sick, and 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians. Now, New Line Cinema (under the umbrella banner of Warner Bros. Pictures) prepares to take a satirical look at this particular genre with the film Isn’t It Romantic. Is this parody romantic comedy worth a glance or is it a flat and uninteresting comically jab at rom-coms? Read more

Captain Marvel (2019) Review

HIGHER. FURTHER. FASTER.


 

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (i.e. the MCU) has indeed become a dominant force in both the superhero genre of filmmaking as well as cinematic blockbusters genre. Since the franchise began back in 2008, the MCU has quite literally ascended to popular movie franchise stardom, producing a continuing narrative of interconnected superhero feature films (all from which are comic book source material properties from Marvel comics) within a shared movie universe. With each new entry, the MCU has grown in size (expanding its own universe of heroes, gods, and monsters) as well as providing a blockbuster-ish superhero fantasy escapism for moviegoers around the world. Naturally, the franchise itself has proven to be a powerhouse juggernaut, cultivating large successful numbers at the box office with every entry, which demonstrate the mass appeal of costumed comic book heroes and the need for continuing the various MCU phase sagas in continuing already established ones as well as new ones to fill in the roster. Now, Marvel Studios and directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden gear up for the 21st theatrical motion picture installment of the MCU with the movie Captain Marvel. Is the movie “simple marvelous” or is it just a flat and uninspiring entry in the long-running cinematic universe? Read more

Mary Queen of Scots (2018) Review

ANOTHER SIDE, ANOTHER STORY


 

Within many of the movie genres of cinematic tales, the subgenre of the commonly named “period pieces” have always been produced throughout the years of filmmaking; spinning different stories that place in “another time” and “another place” for the modern world. These particular feature films, which span multiple genres (i.e adventure, comedy, horror, thriller, fantasy, etc.), can also speak to historical reference in both a general sense of timeline era (i.e England’s Victorian era or the American Revolution) as well as vague period era (i.e the Middle Ages or the “roaring 20s”). Regardless, a heavy emphasis on the film’s time period is a crucial element of the movie’s narrative setting from its historical references and influences in various categories, including religious belief, political structures, society order / stasis, and costume attires. Thus, these period piece cinematic productions cast a very wide net across the theatrical features that Hollywood has produced over the years, including 1959’s ancient world epic Ben-Hur (as well as 1956’s The Ten Commandments), 1972’s and 1974’s mafia gangster masterpieces of the Godfather and the Godfather Part II, 1997’s sweeping tale romance and loss in Titanic, to 2012’s lavishing story of love and betrayal in Anna Karenina just to name a few. Now, Focus Features and directorial Josie Rourke present the latest Hollywood endeavor of a historical costume period piece with the movie Mary Queen of Scots. Does this shed new light on the famous “Queen of Scots” character or is it just another humdrum / adequate of motion picture from current Hollywood? Read more

Green Book (2018) Review

DRIVING DR. SHIRLEY


 

Tales of diversity and of the formation (and overall bonding) of a friendship from the most unlikeliest people has always been touching centerpiece to tell. Whether from racial segregations, society classes, or something else entirely, stories such as these has always been impactful ones to tell, resonating its thematic message that ring true and triumph over adversity, which is the palpable crux of the human condition of emotion an empathy. Given the general positive consensus of narrative of friendship endurance in the face of social / racial challenges, Hollywood has taken an interest in developing feature films around this concept (whether fictional and fantastical or grounded and based on a true story), depicting them under a cinematic light for the masses to learn and appreciate. Prime examples of this compelling narrative can be drawn from 1981’s animated feature The Fox and the Hound, 1982’s sci-fi E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, to 1989’s comedy-drama motion picture Driving Mrs. Daisy, to 2000’s biographical sports drama Remember the Titans, to 2008’s historical drama The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas, to 2009’s sports family drama Blind Side, and many others, inspiring hope, heart, and of human faith that friendships can form in the most unlikeliest of places and from the most unlikeliest of individuals. Now, Universal Pictures (and Participant Media and DreamWorks Pictures) and director Peter Farrelly present the latest film of an unlikely friendship with the movie Green Book. Does the feature ring true with the bonding friendship of two different people or does it fail to produce a measure of both heart and drama throughout its proceedings? Read more

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) Review

EVERYTHING IS (STILL) AWESOME


 

Back in 2014, Warner. Bros. Pictures (under the name of Warner Bros. Animation Group) produced a surprising smash with The LEGO Movie. Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the duo behind 21 Jump Street (and its 22 Jump Street sequel), The LEGO Movie dropped viewers into an imaginary cinematic constructed world of LEGOs, telling a creative tale that was full of humor, talented voice-actors, dazzling animation, and some heartwarming drama. Surprisingly, The LEGO Movie was met with overwhelming positive reviews from fans and critics, garnishing nearly $470 million at the box office against its $60 million production budget. The success of The LEGO Movie fueled Warner Bros. with the idea that a cinematic universe could be formed around the property idea of the popular toy brand. However, in a somewhat unorthodox way, the studio, instead of developing a sequel to The LEGO Movie, decided to create two spin-off feature LEGO films in 2017, with The LEGO Batman Movie and The LEGO Ninjago Movie. While The LEGO Batman Movie, which was directed by Chris McKay and continued the cinematic LEGO representation as well as introducing new elements such as rifting / playing on the lore of Gotham’s “cape crusader”, was met with critical / positive success from its viewers (and critics), The LEGO Ninjago Movie, which was directed by Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, and Bob Logan, was met with mixed reviews; citing that the movie (though fun playing with their Ninjago property as well as the voice talents) was just sub-par and, mediocre, and that the franchise movie formula had lost its edge. Now, two years after the two spin-off LEGO Movies of 2017, Warner Bros. Studios (under Warner Bros. Animation Group) and director Mike Mitchell finally return for the much-anticipated sequel to the original 2014 film with the movie The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. Does this long-awaited sequel succeed or does it fail to “reconnect” with its moviegoing audience? Read more

The Kid Who Would Be King (2019) Review

THE ONCE AND FUTURE KID


 

The names of Camelot, Excalibur, Lancelot, Morgana, Merlin, and Arthur Pendragon are some of the main staples to the many different iterations of the Arthurian legends of King Arthur. Taking inspiration from many the tales of British folklore, the legend of King Arthur has been told and retold through a multitude of accounts, finding its origins within 12th century medieval England. With the passing of the tale, the story of Arthur has passed through the ages, reimagined and refined the British figure into a legend in both folklore and in literary. While many novels and books have written on the legend of King Arthur, none is more famous than version written by English novelist T.H. White titled “The Once and Future King”, which consist of the widely and well-known part of the Arthurian tale (i.e. The Sword in the Stone). Much like the literary world, Hollywood as a plethora of cinematic tales (made for the big and small screen) that represent the legend of King Arthur. This includes Disney’s 1963 animated feature The Sword in the Stone and 1998’s Quest for Camelot, the films 1995’s First Knight and 2004’s King Arthur, 2017’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and 1998’s television movie Merlin amongst many others. Now, 20th Century Fox and director Joe Cornish present the latest variation of the King Arthur legend with the YA film The Kid Who Would Be King. Is this new cinematic take on the old legend worth seeing or is it just another “run-of-the-mill” endeavor from the illustrious Arthurian lore? Read more

Glass (2019) Review

AN ORIGIN STORY FINALE


 

Director M. Night Shyamalan has always been the case of cinematic scrutiny and sometimes movie frustration when it comes to his feature films. While he had directed movies like 1992’s Praying with Anger and 1998’s Wide Awake, many moviegoers were introduced to Shyamalan with his 1999 supernatural horror The Sixth Sense, which starred actor Bruce Willis and young upcoming actor Haley Hoe Osmond. From his critical acclaim from both critics and moviegoers of that movie, Shyamalan followed The Sixth Sense with the 2000 superhero movie Unbreakable, which starred Bruce Willis again as well as actor Samuel L. Jackson in the lead roles. While not as met with universal acclaim as he did his previous film, Shyamalan’s Unbreakable was well-received and has gain quite a cult following amongst its viewers. After Unbreakable, however, Shyamalan’s movies were less-than satisfactory, with many (critics and moviegoing audience viewers alike) finding the films like 2002’s sci-fi thriller Signs, 2004’s psychological mystery The Village, 2006’s fantasy drama The Lady in the Water, and 2008’s post-apocalyptic psychological film The Happening to be subpar and weaker movies to what both The Sixth Sense and (to a lesser extent) Unbreakable were able to achieve in movie entertainment, with some sighting that Shyamalan’s weak story / script handling as well as his commonplace “twists” that appear at the end of the film. Even worse were some completely deplorable cinematic motion pictures, including 2010’s The Last Airbender and 2013’s After Earth, which were met with both critical and commercial box office failures. In 2016, Shyamalan released Split, a psychological horror film that starred actor James McAvoy, that regained the public’s interest in the director’s movie, citing the feature as a welcomed “returned to form” for Shyamalan’s works as well as receiving critical positive reviews and praise alike and garnishing roughly $278 million against its $9 million production budget. Now, two years after the success of Spilt, Universal Pictures (along with Blinding Edge Pictures and Blumhouse Productions) and director M. Night Shyamalan present the follow-up sequel to both Unbreakable and Spilt with the crossover motion picture titled Glass. Does Shyamalan’s latest feature find strength within superhero origins or does the director’s ambition exceeds the narrative story he wished to tell. Read more

Mortal Engines (2018) Review

A VISUAL (YET PREPLEXINGLY BLAND)

DYSTOPIAN EPIC


 

Director Peter Jackson has quickly become a recognizable name in Hollywood. The New Zealand born native began his film career by developing horror-ish comedy features like 1987’s Bad Taste and 1989’s Meet the Feebles before heading into other venues, including 1992’s zombie comedy Braindead and 1995’s the psychological drama Heavenly Creatures. While those particular feature films were created by him and gave him some credibility as a film director, Jackson’s career didn’t skyrocket off until he was given the opportunity to direct The Lord of the Rings trilogy; a cinematic adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy epic. Acting as a passion project, Jackson helmed not one, not two, but three feature films (consisting of the three installments of Tolkien’s novelized trilogy of Hobbits, Elves, Orcs, Wizards, and the Ring of Power). To his credit, Jackson succeeded in bringing Tolkien’s immersive fantasy world to the big screen with the releases of The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001, The Two Towers in 2002, and The Return of the King in 2003, creating a massively huge fans base amongst moviegoers everywhere and universal acclaim. From there, Jackson worked on other projects such as 2005 remake of King Kong and 2009’s supernatural drama The Lovely Bones before returning back to Tolkien’s fantasy world once again to create The Hobbit trilogy; a cinematic three film adaptation of Tolkien’s prequel installment to The Lord of the Rings (i.e. An Unexpected Journey in 2012, The Desolation of Smaug in 2013, and The Battle of the Five Armies in 2014). In addition to his directorial work, Jackson has also dabbled in being a screenplay writer (for several of his directorial projects) as well as acting as a producer for several movies, including 2009’s small-scale sci-fi drama District 9, 2011’s animated feature The Adventure of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, and 2012’s documentary film West of Memphis. Now, Universal Pictures (and Jackson’s Wingnut Films) and director Christian Rivers presents the latest big-budgeted epic motion picture (with Jackson producing the feature) with the movie Mortal Engines, based on the book of the same name by Phillip Reeve. Does this movie find its cinematic footing within its immersive world or does it flounder within its lofty ideas and barrage of CG visuals? Read more

Mary Poppins Returns (2018) Review

A MOSTLY “PRACTICAL

PERFECT” SEQUEL


 

Winds in the east, mist coming in. Like somethin’ is brewin’ and ‘bout to begin. Can’t put me finger on what lies in store. But I feel what’s to happen all happened before”. Such is one of the first lines uttered in Disney’s 1964 live-action film Mary Poppins. Based on the children’s novels by English author P.L. Travers, the movie, which was directed by Robert Stevenson and starred actor Dick Van Dyke and actress Julie Andrews, tells the story of a magical nanny (named Marry Poppins) who visits a dysfunctional family (the Banks family) in London and employs her unique and whimsical brand of lifestyle to improve the family’s dynamics through a series of events. The film was met with critical acclaim, with many praising the feature for its narrative heart and imaginative nuances throughout the feature (the combination of live-action and animation) as well as the acting talents from Andrews and Dyke in the movie. Mary Poppins also received 13 Academy Awards nomination (setting a record for any other film released by the Walt Disney studios) and won five of those wards, including Best Actress for Andrews, Best Film Editing, Best Original Music Score, Best Visual Effects, and Best Original Song for “Chim Chim Cher-ee”. Since it’s theatrical release back in 1964, Mary Poppins continues to enchant viewers new and old on various home video releases, receiving many prestigious awards throughout the years, including being selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Now, almost 54 years since Mary Poppins graced the silver screen, it’s time to everyone’s favorite nanny to return as Walt Disney Studios and director Rob Marshall presents Mary Poppins Returns. Is this log belated sequel from the “house of mouse” worth a glance or is it a far cry from the beloved classic? Read more

The Upside (2019) Review

A POIGNANT (YET FLAT)

HOLLYWOOD REMAKE


 

Hollywood is still fascinated with remakes and it’s a paradoxical thing for major motion picture studios to “bank” on when crafting feature length movies. The idea of reimagining a cinematic narrative and repurposing it for a new modern moviegoing audience is something that seems to work, especially in the profitable eyes of film studios, but it does come with its fair share of criticism. Of course, this shows that Hollywood (speaking in general terms) is running out of ideas; embracing the idea something that worked in the past can be used once again in the present (i.e. slightly altering its cinematic make-up). In general, most of these endeavors do fail and / or don’t quite measure up in trying to surpass the likeability (or entertainment) of the original movie. However, there are a few Hollywood remakes that are better than their original counterpart, including 1982’s The Thing (1951’s The Thing from Another World), 1988’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1964’s Bedtime Story), 2006’s The Departed (2002’s Internal Affairs), and most recently 2018’s A Star is Born (1937’s A Star is Born). Now, in Hollywood’s on-going crusade of continuing its trend of revamping and rebooting old motion pictures, STX Films, Lantern Entertainment, and director Neil Burger present the remake of the 2011 film The Untouchables with the movie The Upside. Does this latest Hollywood remake rise to the challenge or does it flounder in being yet another pointless remake from Tinseltown? Read more

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