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While I do believe it's important for a film to have a high budget and talented actors, the value of a well written script and good character development should not be underestimated. Click 'See More' to see all of my polls on IMDb, in no particular order.
Honest Movie Titles: 2019 Edition
The Greatest Showman... RiffTrax Style!
Aquaman... RiffTrax Style!
Face-Off: Let it Go vs. Into the Unknown
Best Movie Taglines of the 2010s
A Time of Remakes
All I Want For Christmas...
Face-Off: Hollywood Pain vs. B-Pain
Shoulder to Shoulder, Side by Side
IMDb Poll Board Favorite Love Songs
Halloween-ified Movie Quotes!
What is the Best Song From a Non-Musical Movie?
Most Surprising Food Advertising Trick
A Season or Less, What a Mess
IMDb Poll Board Favorite Tearjerker Movies
Check Out That Hair! (Female Edition)
Check Out That Hair! (Male Edition)
IMDb Poll Board Top 5 Favorite Comedy Films!
It's the 2010s... Let's Take a Little Trip to the 80s!
Potential Dark/Serious Classic Sitcom Remakes
Tough Fins to Fill
Tough Tentacles to Fill
R.I.P. Doris Day: The Songs
The Threes of 2019
Favorite Barbie Character!
Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who is the Best Rose Red of All?
Most Popular Halloween Costumes 2019
Just Add Names!
The Great Disney Halloween Costume Contest!
Favorite Cartoon Dogs
Favorite Cartoon Cats
Favorite Cartoon Mice
From Paper to the Screen: The Brothers Grimm
From Paper to the Screen: Hans Christian Andersen
Fresh Takes on Crime Shows
IMDb Poll Board Favorite Literary Characters
Happy New Year!!!
Best "Dallas" Season Cliffhanger
Which of the These Sitcom Groups Would You Most Like to Hang Out With?
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Discuss here, just you and me.
Fantasy Island (2020)
Fantasy Island is... A Genius Concept That Just Barely Delivers.
The biggest selling point of this film, to me, was the idea of re-making a classic feel-good show into a horror movie. It truly is an imaginative approach, and certainly relevant given all the remakes/reboots of the movie's decade. That being said, it is not without flaws and oversights.
The characters are fairly interesting, and the plot does exist. There is a mystery and everyone's situations payoff and come together in the end. So kudos for that. But there are traces of lazy writing and some annoying plot holes, if you think about it too much. The performances depend on the person. Michael Pena, who portrays Mr. Roarke, is excellent in his role, while Michael Rooker is quite hammy as a rogue jungle-detective.
But one must give the filmmakers credit for refraining from an R-rating, especially given the previous success of titles like 'Joker' and 'Us.' The horror here is pretty creepy without being stomach churning.
While it is not faultless, 'Fantasy Island' is a step in the right direction as far as creative re-makes, and horror that isn't just for gore fans. I hope Blumhouse can take lessons from this and learn to improve upon this model, instead of just giving up due to a fair amount of negative responses.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is... A Lame, Cliche Attempt at a Horror Flick.
Most films are made by a group of people, people with a vision and a goal. There are storyboards, script revisions, and re-takes. But that is not how this movie came to be. This film was created by a blender. Yes, a blender, like in the kitchen. The only two ingredients used were "Stranger Things" and stupidity.
The story takes us back to a questionable 1968, being as it feels more like the 1980s. It has a real "Stranger Things" vibe of a group of nerdy, outcast friends who have walkie-talkies and face monsters and evil in their small town; only difference being that the Netflix series has more developed characters instead of the cookie-cutter kids here.
The "scary stories" actually end up being the film's biggest failure. They are absolutely ridiculous, which takes away from the creepy feeling that makes you think, "It could happen to you." The monsters end up being so cheesy that they are almost comical.
The one thing the movie does do right is give the lesson that just because someone is a victim, doesn't mean they are necessarily a good guy. But other than that the whole thing is a ripped-off mess of cliches.
"Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" is not scary, and for what it's worth we never actually get told a whole story in the dark. A more accurate title would be "Skippable Stories to Half-Tell in the Dark (or Daylight)."
You've Got Mail (1998)
You've Got Mail is... Only Slightly Charming and Mostly Dumb.
Good grief! What a mess. Well, maybe not a mess, but a cheesy mess - a chess? The plot on its own has potential to be funny, but the way it's executed is pretty nauseating.
It's not down to earth, but it also doesn't completely give in to the madness and become one of those crazy but rather witty comedies. It's just sappy and wacky, expecting to be loved for its irritating, forced "charm."
The characters are unlikable due to their unrelatable NYC lifestyles; how many of us accidentally fall in love with our attractive business rival because we've been having heartwarming chats online? I'm not trying to be cynical, but I do hate sappiness.
The film attempts a 90s version of a Doris Day-Rock Hudson farce, but without the charm and humor. The last 15-20 minutes takes a helpful turn that should've happened much earlier.
Point being, you can take or leave this romantic comedy.*
*Romance and comedy not guaranteed.
On - drakon (2015)
I Am Dragon is... One of the Best Fantasy or Romance Films of All Time!
I'd like to start by saying that this movie failed hugely at the Russian box office, and they didn't even make back their budget. So keep that in mind as you read this review.
Everything about this on-screen experience is perfect. It's one of those rare movies that I wouldn't change anything about. The story, the characters, the cinematography are all perfect. This tale of a Duchess falling in love with a dragon-man would never be made in America, because it is so well made.
The plot is one of the best I've ever seen; it moves at just the right pace and its contents are amazing. The way everything plays out, from the action to the love story, happens so naturally. The actors are terrific, not to mention the fact that quite a bit of the film only features the two leads, a fact that dooms most movies but here it works. They do a good job at being sweet together, but without getting 'Bella-and-Edward-style' creepy and sappy.
The whole look of the ancient royalty is ten times as submersive as a land depicted in a Disney movie, because things look real. The castles and costumes are "historically accurate" (which I'm assuming is Disney's least favorite phrase), making you feel like you really are there and not on a Hollywood backlot.
The only way to put it is that you must see this film to believe it; it's charming, fun, exciting, and free of cheesy formulae. What a shame it was recieved so poorly. It's truly not everyday something like this comes along.
Frozen II (2019)
Frozen II Is... Aesthetically Pleasing if a Trifle Strained.
When you make people wait six years for a sequel to one of the highest grossing films ever, you've got to give it your all. This is what Disney did with 'Frozen II', but perhaps they overplayed. Well, let me go into more detail.
The premise of Elsa being called by a lovely voice, causing her to go in search of answers about her past, is a clever turn of events. The Arendelle sisters have an interesting enough backstory to make their origins the focus of the entire sequel. The film achieves this, but somehow the personal mystery gets a little undercut by pointless politics. It's still a fine plot, but I think more explanation concerning Anna and Elsa's parents, and the girls' own charisma, could've held it together alone.
The songs are good, but none as good as the tunes from the first one. The only ones that really stand out are Elsa's 'Into the Unknown' and 'Show Yourself'. I think part of the reason these melodies are successful is beacause they are during important scenes, and explaining powerful emotions. Most of the other songs are just sitting there, with no purpose, just kind of stating the obvious. I'm guessing the composers felt pressed to churn out "the next big 'Frozen' song" and put together some generic stuff for kids to lip sync to.
The animation and landscape is, of course, wonderful. You can always count on 'Frozen' to have beautiful natural sourroundings, not to mention great gowns. Disney would do well to market clothing inspired by Anna and Elsa for grown women, not just toddlers.
I sort of got the feeling the makers were trying too hard to give us something elaborate, when the viewers would've been happy with a more simple basis. But ultimately, 'Frozen II' really is fun, if a bit complex, and Olaf is hilarious, so it's plenty entertaining to take in(-to the unknoooooooown!).
Dracula Is... Artful for It's Time, but Not Entirely Satisfying.
I've never read the book 'Dracula' or seen any other movie adaptation, so this was my first experience with the classic. A local venue was hosting a showing as a Halloween event, so I attended.
The film itself is a bit dull, especially if you don't have much patience. It is even more tedious than movies from the 1950's or 60's. The story is actually pretty simple, so there's not a whole lot to convey. There is virtually no soundtrack, which can make the experience seem slower, but also keeps it from being too cheesy. Sometimes what really ruins an old horror picture is the over-dramatic score. The performances aren't too bad, considering most acting at the time was done in a more theatrical, hammier way.
But there's plenty of laughs to go around, whether they're on purpose or not. One of my favorite recurring gags is whenever a bat appears on a balcony, a character waves his arms around frantically, as if shooing away a gnat.
If you're a fan of classic films, 'Dracula' isn't all bad. But if you're short on patience or prefer a faster pace, perhaps you should choose something else for your Halloween viewing.
Hobbs & Shaw Is... Overdone, Generic, and Boring.
Since I genuinely enjoyed 2017's 'Fate of the Furious,' I was looking forward to 'Hobbs and Shaw' all year. Johnson's and Statham's recent projects have been great, so my hopes were high. Unfortunately, this film was a big letdown.
This movie is nothing like the 'Fast and Furious' franchise. Every character is cliche and every stunt is epic, but still somehow dull. Hobbs and Shaw's rivalry gets tired and is rather puzzling (those two actually have a LOT in common!) and their entire comedy together consists of cartoon style banter. Vanessa Kirby was halfway decent, but you know you're in trouble when Hobbs' mom churns out the best performance.
The plot is in waaaaaay over it's head. The sci-fi element of Idris Elba's genetically enhanced villain is too much, not to mention his sadly awful performance of cliche monologuing and evil cackling. His motivation is cheesy and has been very overused in recent film.
The action is huge and unrealistic, but it's not well done or fun at all. It's generic, moves too fast, is over quickly, and you've seen it all in the trailer anyway. I was shocked that this franchise failed to bring something new. Even the trip to Samoa (where people love Stallone's 'Cobra'!) managed to get botched.
Sadly, 'Hobbs & Shaw' is not up to par, making it more rental worthy than theater. Here's to hoping the next Fast movie is better.
Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny is... (I'm Speechless)
In this review, I will divert from my usual writing style and simply list things that 'Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny' has to offer. Let us begin:
Sweaty Santa in Florida
Lazy Santa in Florida
Santa's Sleigh stuck in sand
Children freezing in midair
Inexplicable appearances by Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn
A guy in a monkey suit trying to pull Santa's Sleigh
Farm animals being shoved into Santa's Sleigh
Santa telling the children a story about Thumbelina
A teen girl at Pirate's World (a Florida Amusement Park 1967-75)
The story of Thumbelina being told on a speaker at Pirate's World being imagined by teen girl
Insane animal costumes/puppets
A large, horrifying rabbit that recklessly drives a red car with a siren
A mad dog
Santa and the Bunny abandoning the children on a beach
And if that doesn't say "Merry Christmas", I don't know what does! Merry Christmas, everyone!
T.J. Hooker (1982)
T.J. Hooker is... Hilariously Entertaining and Full of Shatner!
Of all the cheesy 80's cop shows, 'T.J. Hooker' is my new favorite! I love movies and shows that are so bad they're funny, and this a perfect example of that.
William Shatner plays the titlular character, a mediocre cop who gets hailed as one slick guy. Shatner has that same quality as others like Alec Baldwin and Steven Seagal: the ability to be comical without even trying. His facial expressions and acting gild the lily. The other stars of the series (Adrian Zmed and Heather Locklear) aren't much better.
The show has plenty of corny, lovable quirks, including but not limited to: tubular 80's action soundtrack, sloppy stunts, HUGE explosions, awful dialogue, orangutans, break dancing, and did I mention 80's music?
In the episode, 'A Child Is Missing', Hooker heads to solve a case in Mexico along with a guy named Gomez. Those are traits used in Shatner's book Tek-War, which was actually written by a ghostwriter. It seems William has few ideas of his own!
If you are looking for something truly interesting, don't mess with T.J.. But if you like cheesy 80's fun, I recommend this! SPOOOOOOOOCK!
Toy Story 4 (2019)
Toy Story 4 is... Fun and Resonant!
With all the newer projects Disney seems to be starting, it's nice when they take a break to follow up with characters from the past. The 'Toy Story' films started in 1995, and they're still thriving. For some franchises, this would be redundant, but 'Toy Story''s characters and plot are lovable enough to make it more than just work!
It's ample to say that the movie is a lot of fun, with both old and new characters who are very entertaining. The voice work is amazing, and doesn't feel cheesy and forced like in some animated features (really, voice talent is just as important as acting!). It's also nice to see people like Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz), and Annie Potts (Bo Peep) be the stars of the show; so many cartoons now want to cast stars that are faddish, like Justin Timberlake and Miley Cyrus.
And like most Pixar films, especially this franchise, be ready for plenty of emotion. The story is simple but sweet and touching, balanced with humor.
Ergo, I very much enjoyed 'Toy Story 4' and it is by far the best film I've seen at the theater all year. I highly recommend it and hope this marks a continuation of the series!
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is... Mostly Colorless and Somehow Comical.
An epic Godzilla film with a showdown against all his classic rivals sounds promising, right? Sure, but only if it's a well made movie.
Most of the monster action of the film is so pompous and busy it's not always fun to look at, although the CGI creatures were pretty cool - so it's what you'd expect. But the action is not what I'm here to talk about. The movie's biggest flaws come with the story and human characters, which I will delve into now.
Kyle Chandler plays Mark Russell, a nature photographer who somehow knows a LOT about bombs. His ex-wife Emma (Vera Farmiga) is a scientist bordering on evil, whose plan to 'cleanse' the Earth is Thanos-esque. Their daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) is a stereotypical "kid who goes in the middle of the monster battle and needs saving." Also along for the ride is Dr. Serizawa, whose seemingly 50 sayings of "Goochula" need to stop.
So, Dr. Emma uses the Orca (what exactly IS the Orca and how does it work, you ask? Too bad! We don't know!) to wake up the monsters so they can flatten the Red Sox stadium. But things get messy when guys eject out of their plane at the wrong time and make stupid faces for their I.D. photos. Another delightful trope is that every time a monster goes on a rampage and the alarms go off, people announce things like, "What's wrong?" and "Something's wrong." You don't say?
So as you can see, I thought this film was mediocre and a touch comical. I say call the guys at RiffTrax; we've found their newest project. The only thing that would've made it better is if an orange tabby cat ran past Kyle Chandler and dropped off a newspaper that read, "Godzilla vs. Kong!"
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Avengers: Endgame is... A Fair and Satisfactory Finale.
'Avengers: Infinity War' undeniably impressed me, given it's cliffhanger ending. I was anxious to see 'Endgame' and see how things wrapped up. As you know, the plot consists of the heroes trying to patch things up after Thanos' destruction. I will try not to give too much away in this review, because spoilers can be, well, spoiling!
While the film is quite exciting and surprising things do happen, all I could think about was getting to the end, when everything fell into place. The final outcome was not what I would've done with the story, but it's nothing to complain about. Also appearing is a peanut butter sandwich (you'll see).
It's quite exciting and full of both drama and humor, along with cameos from characters we haven't seen in a long time. It's acted fine, nonetheless I still think the performances in 'Infinity War' were far superior, for some reason.
However, I found that I didn't enjoy this installment as much as 'Infinity War'; I suppose not being a full-on Marvel fan made me surprised but not too sad when characters died then. I was simply impressed with how plot developments were actually made! Marvel usually suffers from 'nothing ever happens' disorder, where they get too afraid to make something big occur for fear it will upset the fans. In that department, 'Endgame' is also an improvement.
It may be the end of the explosive, cast-of-thousands Marvel movies, but it's of course not the end of stand-alones and spin-offs. 'Avengers: Endgame' is a fine little movie, but I know regardless of what I've said in this review you'll see it anyway. So I say, "Have fun."
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return is... Big Modern Media's Take on Something Quintessential.
Being a HUGE fan of the original Mystery Science Theater, and everything the MST alumni have done since then, I was looking forward to the new reboot of the show. The original, while popular, was still something that only a narrow group of people had a taste for. It was nice to hear that it was getting a comeback on a big streaming network like Netflix. But that honor has it's setbacks, too...
First of all, the jokes are spoken too fast. Strange as it may seem to pick on small detail like this, I must insist that timing is everything with riffing. Jonah, Crow, and Tom shoot off four jokes every 30 seconds, without taking time to pause and let the movie play out. Sometimes on the old one, Mike, Joel, and the others would be silent for a little while, waiting for the perfect time to interject. But that is just a reflection of the times we live in now: go, go, go, with no time to be settled.
Another issue is that the jokes are not as witty as they once were. This is not surprising, as most of the original writers were not involved. The original writers were all basically the stars of the show; the actors, puppeteers, and voices. Now, the writers are 'Hollywood people.' and this is not a good thing. They have lame 'Hollywood' humor, something that the old MST mocked.
For the final two complaints, I say that the camera is too close to the screen at all times, whether they are in the theater or doing a skit (again, something odd to point out, but let me assure you it is not trivial). And finally, the actors seem to have no real talent. You can tell their heart's not in it, they're just reading the comments. They have no enthusiasm and no talent for funny voices or imitations.
In a nutshell, no matter how big of a budget you have, and no matter what large streaming website you go through, the only thing that really matters is heart and talent. If you appreciate those things, watch an original episode with Joel or Mike instead.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Thor: Ragnarok is... Loathsome and Revolting!
Let me just get right to it: It sucks! It stinks! It's a rotting pile of old brussel sprouts (my apologies if you like brussels) mixed with wet dog fur and topped with old braunschweiger for good measure. Okay, now that I've summed it up, let's get to the meat of it.
For starters, it's a Marvel movie, and a Thor movie, of which I am not a fan. But that aside, I tried it anyway. *sigh*
The characters are simply deplorable. It seems that each and every one of them is raunchy, over the top, and just plain unlikable. The worst of the lot is Vallkyrie (Tessa Thompson), whose name doesn't even make sense because it refers to her occupation. She is rude, drunk, and violent. Thor is, as always, completely annoying. His constant cheeky remarks quickly get tiresome. Hela (Cate Blanchett) is a typical villain, with no color or originality about her (well, she has antlers, but still). Loki (Tom Hiddleston) requires no complaint, but also evokes no praise either. Then we come to the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), who literally owns a space junkyard. My critique of him alone, should I write it, would be several pages.
The plot is awful; you care nothing for what's going on. The action is too busy to even look at. I usually go on a bit more, but all I can say is 'Thor: Ragnarok' is "Yuck!!!"
Pete's Dragon (2016)
Pete's Dragon is... Drab and Melancholy.
After practically falling in love with 1977's 'Pete's Dragon,' there's certain things we've come to expect from this magical story: humor, songs, likable characters, and of course, whimsy. Although the idea of a 'Pete's Dragon' with a bit more action and "epic dragon stuff" is fine, we still need that Disney fun to make it all come together. Evidently, David Lowery, (who both directed and wrote the remake) forgot this all together.
For starters, the original was set in the 1900's, providing a colorful background for the story, while the remake is set in an early 1980's town, and not a very fun one at that. Pete seems to dwell in the forest for no apparent reason. The original Pete lived in the woods because he was hiding from the Gogans; he wasn't a Mowgli-style wild boy incapable of speech! The opening scene is very traumatic and very unnecessary. And the CGI Elliot is nothing special. He is furry, which is very strange. Last I checked, dragons were reptiles, not cats.
Bryce Dallas Howard is extremely off putting as Grace, the new Nora. She doesn't sing, she doesn't dance; in fact, she's a hard core forest ranger (how charming). Instead of having a funny, bumbling father like Mickey Rooney, she has a creepy, clinically depressed father played by Robert Redford, who would be more lovable if he wasn't in the movie at all. Then there's Oakes Fegley as Pete, who can be mistaken for a girl sometimes. The villain of our story is a lumberjack, Gavin (Karl Urban), who sets out to catch Elliot and prove his existence (how dare he want to make eye opening scientific advancements!).
Among the film's other issues is comedy found where it doesn't belong. Isn't people toppling off gurneys hilarious?!? No? You're right. If you saw a dragon outside a hospital window when you were 10, you would smile, right? No? Correct again.
To summarize, this dreary revision of 'Pete's Dragon' will probably induce nothing but blinks and snores.
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Alice in Wonderland is... Inexplicable and Freakish!
Written by Lewis Carroll in 1865, 'Alice in Wonderland' is the story of a sweet but smart little girl who travels to a strange dimension called Wonderland, where some cute and some crazy creatures bring her to defend her sane knowledge, and ultimately stand up to a corrupt Queen. This movie... is not that story.
In this version, it is more like a sequel. Alice, now nineteen, escapes back to Wonderland amidst an unwanted proposal. Once there, her old "friends" - and when I say friends I mean nightmarish CGI monsters - celebrate her return because it means she will slay a dragon. Alice, however, believes and hopes she is merely dreaming (you and me both, girl).
There is actually no problem with the plot or characterization, because there is none!!! Director Tim Burton was obviously too busy making sure the cast was detached and the visuals were nauseating to worry about that.
Along for the insane ride is Johnny Depp, the King of Insane Rides. His interpretation of the Mad Hatter is even more mad and less comical than that of the book. Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen is incredibly annoying and has absolutely no charisma. Anne Hathaway is also somehow irritating as the White Queen; she suffers from "Sickening Sweetness." Crispin Glover also stars as the Knave of Hearts who works as the right hand man of the Red Queen (she was his last hope after 'A Match Made in Space' didn't sell many copies). And finally we have Mia Wasiikowa... or Wasakowki... Waiokaski... oh, whatever! as Alice, who can only be described as pale.
As for the CGI characters, there is a mouse named Mallymkun. But don't get excited - this isn't a cute, fun mouse. In fact, this mouse plucks out eyes. To be honest, I really don't know if it's male or female. The Tweedles are... stupid at best. And the hookah smoking caterpillar, Absolem, who was utterly confusing and slow in the book, has now become an Aslan-like voice of wisdom. Then there's the Cheshire Cat, who is creepy but somehow steals the show.
If you decide to watch this film, beware. It is disturbed, deranged, and dare I say offensive? But if you do decide to view, make sure you have sufficient headgear and other protection to avoid stray pieces of insanity.
Cinderella is... Very Lovely But a Bit Too Long.
When it comes to a classic Disney Princess, Cinderella is the classiest of them all! This live action remake suits her very well, as it does many things right. That being said, it is not a perfect film.
Among the things it does right is this: It does not screw with the story! The biggest thing a writer/director can do wrong is take a classic tale and twist it to fit his (or her) artsy ideas (as we've seen with Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland'). It pretty much sticks to the original story, adding, of course, more characterization and development along the way.
Lily James is wonderful in her leading role; Cinderella is sweet and feminine, a refreshing change from the Katniss Everdeens and Black Widows of recent film! Cate Blanchett settles nicely into her role as Lady Tremaine, with the same coldness as Eleanor Audley's interpretation of the character. Prince Kit (Richard Madden) was fair enough but he didn't deserve all the 'backstory.' This is Cinderella's tale, not Kit's 'Being a Prince is Too Hard!' lament. And finally we come to Helena Bonham Carter, the Fairy Godmother. I thought she was very talented and entertaining - a fresh new take on an old character.
The film's biggest flaw was that it was not a musical! You see, 'Cinderella' is actually a rather simple, short story - not material for a two hour movie with no breaks for song. There were scenes/plots that seemed to drag on; a big number (other than the occasional 'Lavender Blue') would've helped things along a lot. Plus, 'Cinderella' is just a perfect setting for bursting into song.
Aside from that, I must return to the good points of the movie: the gown. Oh, the gown! The entire transformation scene was breathtaking. And the little songs during the credits were absolutely delightful!
So, 'Cinderella' is a magical movie well worth your time (even if there's not many songs).
Prinzessin Maleen (2015)
Prinzessin Maleen (Princess Maleen) is... Beautifully Made and Puts American Fairy Tales to Shame!
I've known for a while that almost any other country can make period/fantasy films better than American companies, but this just proves my point. Not only is 'Princess Maleen' foreign but also made for television. Yes, it's German, it wasn't on at the big screen, it's only an hour long, but it makes recent Disney projects look like squat. Sorry, Largest-Fantasy-Company-in-the-World, you've been beat.
The first amazing thing about the movie is that the story is not well known in America. And that being so, I won't tell you exactly what it is.
The acting is good, and the costumes are historical but beautiful. Not to mention the scenery, which is breathtaking. It doesn't have that "Disney magic," but that's almost a relief because it feels more genuine and real.
This film, along with all the others in this German fantasy film franchise, are must-sees. If you appreciate underappreciated fairy tales, you will not be disappointed.
Aquaman is... Corny and Terribly Written.
Not being a superhero fan, I was surprised when I was impressed with 2017's 'Justice League.' Aquaman was actually my least favorite character, but the trailers for his own movie showed sea monsters, and that sold it. So I saw it.
For starters, the script (written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Will Beall) is absolutely awful. Not only can you predict the outcome of the story from the moment the title comes up, but the dialogue is bone chillingly bad. It is even full of cliches like the "du du DU!" music that plays when the villain says something "scary." It also contains things that I never wanted to see or know, like an octopus playing drums, and apparently Aquaman doesn't wear deodorant.
And then we come to the cast: a fair enough group tainted by terrible lines. Jason Momoa (Aquaman) quotes his ill-timed one liners with all the dignity of smoked ham. So... yeah. Amber Heard (Ariel-Meara) graces the screen as your standard "tough superhero girlfriend" with all the dignity of, again, a smoked ham. Patrick Wilson (the evil Orm) is generally a talented actor, but is ruined by cliche "bad guy" yelling. Willem Dafoe is impossible to take seriously after his role in 'Mr. Bean's Holiday.' Dolph Lundgren rides a giant seahorse - and that's about it. And finally we come to Nichole Kidman, who looks lovely and doesn't botch her lines or performance. She should be apologized to for working with these people.
The visuals are amazing, if a bit overwhelming at times. The most impressive advancement of Atantis is their waterproof make-up. It's almost 2 hours into the movie before we see the creatures promised to us in the trailer. They are truly the highlight of the film and mostly the reason for my 3 star rating.
This is a long, lingering, rather dull movie and only watchable if there's nothing else to rent at the video store: Carson Clay's 'Playback Time.' I mean, uh, 'Aquaman!'
Peter Rabbit (2018)
Peter Rabbit is... Adorable and Funny!
I have never read the original Peter Rabbit stories, so I had no expectations for this film. I was pleasantly surprised, however, by the charm and sweetness of the story.
Firstly, the rabbits are ADORABLE! Rabbits can do anything and be adorable, but it's even better when they talk. The humor is fun and witty and the story is enjoyable. The actors are well cast, as are the voices of the (adorable) animals.
Don't get the impression that the story is "modernized" and dumb. It is charming and lovely, with just the right amount of spunk. 'Peter Rabbit' is definitely something to be enjoyed and watched again and again.
Venom is... A Perfect Example of Mediocrity in Superhero Movies.
After seeing Venom's character in 'Spider-Man 3,' I was a bit excited for this film. It had potential for being fun and awesome. But it was no more than the typical Marvel disappointment.
It wasn't poorly made in terms of budget or even acting, really - it's just a little shallow and boring. Tom Hardy is a quite unlikable character, and even when he gets Venom he can't pull it off. There is one well choreographed motorcycle scene though, and that's the reason for the three stars I gave it. And who on earth was Woody Harrelson supposed to be?
My biggest question is how this Venom fits into 'Spider-Man 3.' 'Venom' is "meh" and out of place for the current state of superhero movies. It could've been better.
Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
Mary Poppins Returns is... A Delightful Throwback to Classic Disney.
Usually, re-cast sequels made years and years later are tragedies caught on camera. But finally, this late follow up the 1964 film hits the mark.
The visuals and special effects style makes it feel like a classic Disney musical. Although the tunes aren't as catchy as the original ones, they're fun enough to pass. Some of the dance sequences felt like they were trying too hard to be epic. It would've paid to have some simple couples dances and waltzes.
Emily Blunt nails it as the title character, practically perfectly portraying the personality and mannerisms of Mary Poppins. But she still makes the role her own, which, in a way, respects Julie Andrews' former part. The grown and young Banks children are also well cast, with Emily Mortimer spot on as an adult Jane. Lin-Manuel Miranda was okay as Jack the lamplighter, but you could tell he was trying too hard to be the new Bert: the good ol' song and dance guy. That part just came so naturally to Dick Van Dyke. It felt a bit overcompensated with Lin. Oh, and let's not forget that Dick does play Mr. Dawes Junior again - doing a pretty good dance for a 93 year old!
The only element that puzzled me was Meryl Streep's appearance as Topsy - her story led nowhere. But that was made up for with Angela Lansbury's delightful part in the finale, which I enjoyed.
So, in conclusion, 'Mary Poppins Returns' is a fun, magical family film, and though it somehow does not quite stand up to the original, it's not bad at all.
Mission Impossible: Fallout is... Not Quite Boring, Not Quite Exciting.
I've never been an avid fan of the 'Mission Impossible' franchise. Although I do remember liking the first one when I saw it, these movies just don't resonate with me like, say, 'Fast and Furious.' But this installment was #1 at the box office for ages and got rave reviews, so I figured it was amazing.
As usual, when a movie is popular, I'm not impressed. It's hard to explain how this film made me feel. I wasn't really bored, but I wasn't in awe. For starters, the plot was too complicated. That's the problem with movies now. The story is either lazily written fluff or it's too much information for the viewer to understand.
The action was fun at times (the Paris chase, for instance) but the thrill was quickly gone. It was nothing to talk about later. And it's nothing we haven't seen before. Trust me. If anything, it occasionally rips off other action movies.
The acting performances where also mediocre. Tom Cruise was a bit hammy because all of his lines were. And it's hard to take Rebecca Ferguson seriously after 'The Greatest Showman.' I keep expecting her to burst into a cheesy pop song. And it's hard to take Alec Baldwin seriously - well, ever.
So, 'Mission Impossible: Fallout' is okay for a Saturday night when there's nothing else on T.V., but if you're looking for something to blow you away, this may not be it.
The Little Mermaid (2018)
The Little Mermaid is... Not Enchanting, But Entertaining Enough.
Beating Disney to the punch, Conglomerate Media and Kingsway Productions made their own live action take on 'The Little Mermaid.'
Some people have overreacted to the fact that it's not "Disney level" and give it more hate than necessary. I would not truly call this film low budget; it's not B grade, just, well, A-?
The biggest flaw is that the plot could have used more surprise, and possibly a bigger climax. Other than that, this is a fair-enough family movie... with a mermaid. I can say that the world is low on live action mermaid movies.
Some reviews would have you think this is comparable to 'Plan 9 From Outer Space!' If you're wanting to settle in with a fantasy epic, this may not be for you. But with a cast that's well known enough to make it work, and a story that is simple but happy, 'The Little Mermaid' isn't all bad.
13 Ghosts (1960)
13 Ghosts is... a Sloppy Mess of a Movie.
Although this film was sort of pioneering in special effects, given the Illusiono technology, in every other department it stinks.
So, the infamous 13 ghosts - or 12 to be honest, given that the final victim was never shown as an actual, trapped ghost. The biggest disappointment is that the ghosts are not really a threat. In fact, one of them ends up doing the little boy a great service. (Oh, I'm so scared.)
Our on-screen family consists of a Ward Cleaver impersonator, Shirley Partridge's mother, a girl called Madea but she's not played by Tyler Perry, and a boy with a bad haircut simply called "Buck." Not to mention the maid, who is the Wicked Witch of the West (literally).
Then of course there's the fact that this is a 60's movie, so it's not really that frightening. So, it's really a waste of time to watch '13 Ghosts.' unless you wish to see it because of it's reputation.