The Star (2017) Review

THE OTHER SIDE TO THE

NATIVITY STORY


 

Within the bountiful religious tales of Christianity, no tale is more well-known, celebrated, and as poignant than the tale of the birth of Jesus Christ. Called by other names, including the Nativity Story, the First Noel, the Holy Night, etc, this paramount tale in all of Christendom tells of how Mary of Nazareth` (the Virgin Mary) conceived her son by the Holy Spirt (or by the celestial Angel Gabriel in some accounts) and how she and her husband Joseph journeyed to Bethlehem where she gave birth to a son…. named Jesus of Nazareth (Jesus Christ). The nativity story played an instrumental part in Christianity faith, standing as a hallmark event for the religion that played a major role in its foundation. Of course, the people of the Christian faith still celebrate the day of Jesus’s birth in today’s world (December 25th) in conjunction with the more popular and commonplace moniker name of Christmas; a celebratory feast-day and of gift giving exchanges to family and love ones. Additionally, the famous Nativity Story has been told and retold in various mediums and media, including children’s books, animated cartoon specials, and live-action feature films. Now, Sony Pictures Animation and director Timothy Reckart presents a new spin to the classic Nativity Story with the animated film The Star. Does this movie weave a new thread in this old tale or is it a far cry from its religious source material? Read more

Justice League (2017) Review

ALL IN OR NOT?


 

As the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) continues to expand and grow; reaching mass popularity with the cinematic version of its superhero properties in lucrative blockbuster features, the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) has had a rocky road in trying to catch up with it rival comic book movie juggernaut. In 2013, while the MCU entered its Phase II saga with Iron Man 3 (the seventh entry within its shared universe), DC (under Warner Bros. Pictures) began its cinematic universe with Man of Steel; a rebooted Superman origin story that showed off blockbuster aesthetics can could be achieved within this DC superhero world.  However, despite the film making money at the box office, Man of Steel was met with some mixed reviews from critics and moviegoers. In 2016, while Marvel released their thirteenth and fourteenth MCU features (Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange), DC Comic’s released two more movies underneath their DCEU banner, with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. However, while both movies were hyped and had much pre-release fanfare projections and did produce a hefty amount at the box office, with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad were faced with mixed reviews (ranging from mediocre to negative criticism from moviegoers and critics). Given their film track record (at that point in time), it would seem that the DCEU would never get a highly praise film under its belt, with Marvel’s MCU further lengthen the distance between them. Fortunately, success was award to the DCEU with the 2017 arrival of Wonder Woman, which garnished a huge praise from fans, casual moviegoers, and critics alike as well as grossing roughly $820 million at the box office. Now the time for the DC superheroes to unite on the big screen as Warner Bros. and director Zack Snyder (as well as co-director Joss Whedon) present the highly anticipated comic book team-up blockbuster film Justice League. With fan expectations and the inherit hype building, does the DCEU finds its groove with this all-star superhero feature or does it fall flat and get lost within its own blockbuster narrative? Read more

Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! (2017) Review

I CHOOSE POKEMON NOSTALGIA


 

Back in 1997, the Japanese anime series of Pokémon (i.e. Pocket Monster), introducing viewers to a colorful episodic adventure within a cartoon world of the vast and diverse range of these Pokémon creatures and beings. In a nutshell, the original TV show followed the series main protagonist character of Ash Ketchum, along with Pikachu (his faithful Pokémon) and his traveling companions Brock and Misty, as they ventured across the Kanto region, encountering various Pokémon, battling gym leaders, and thwarting the troublemaking attempts of Team Rocket (Jesse, James, and their Pokémon Mewoth) as Ash inches closer to becoming a “Pokémon Master”. The original season, which would later be known as Pokémon: Indigo League, originally aired in Japan in 1997 and crossed the ocean to the US in 1998. As the Pokémon popularity grew for the brand (trading cards, feature animated movies, video games, toys, apparel, and other merchandise), the Pokémon anime cartoon continued to further evolve and expand the animated of Ash and Pikachu, with the pair venturing off to new lands (i.e. Orange Islands, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, Unova, Kalos, and now currently in Alola), making new friends (Ash’s traveling companions usually changed out within each season or two), discovering a new array of unique Pokémon, battling trainers / gym leaders within the various different regions, and usually deposing of some evil organization along the way. The has followed a formula, but it was worked and the anime’s fanbase continues to expand. Likewise, the Pokémon movies (animated feature length adventures) have continued to evolve as well with the anime series, usually showcasing Ash and company coming across rare / legendary Pokémon with whatever region that they are in. Now, in celebrating 20th anniversary of Pokémon, OLM, Inc. (Orient Light and Magic) and director Kunihiko Yuyama goes back to where it all began with the film Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You!. Does this newest animated feature pay homage to franchise’s beginnings or is it a recycled “greatest hits” from the original Indigo League season of Pokémon? Read more

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