Guest Review: The Lion King (Chris Smith)

1994’s The Lion King is one of my favorite movies of all time. Anyone who knew me as a child will tell you I watched it constantly. I remember having to buy a second VHS copy due to wearing the first one out. Because of this, I of course had high expectations for Disney’s remake.

These “live-action” remakes Disney has been making recently have varied wildly in quality. Some have been quite good (The Jungle Book). Some have been awful (Beauty and the Beast or Alice in Wonderland). Some have been bizarre (Maleficent). I regret to say that The Lion King is unfortunately one of the bad ones.


Simba can restore the pride lands, but he cannot restore this dumpster fire.

First let’s start with the positives, because there are a few. Timon and Pumbaa are delightful, maybe even more entertaining than in the original. Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen nearly break their backs carrying the film from the minute they come on screen. Some of the other supporting characters are also fun. John Oliver is great as Zazu, while Alfre Woodard does a lot with little to work with as Sarabi. The hyena characters were expanded upon and given a truly sinister edge that I liked a lot.

The music (with some glaring exceptions) is also very good, capturing the same spirit of the original film, but with a cool spin. “Hakuna Matata” and the new expanded version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” were especially good.

Scar was also a highlight. He carries the appropriate amount of menace and I enjoyed the added bits of backstory give to him. Chiwetel Ejiofor is clearly going for a more Shakespearean bent to the character and I think it works well.

Lastly, the effects are gorgeous. The vast majority of the film is photorealistic and looks as if they just took a film crew to Sub-Saharan Africa to film. However, this is a double edged sword, and leads me to the negatives.

circleoflife
Clearly the best moment and all down hill after this.

Hoo boy where to begin? So let’s start with some nitpicks and go from there. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” is set during the day. That might not sound like a big deal, but it took me completely out of the movie. The whole time the song was playing (and the recording itself is great) I couldn’t stop saying to myself “But it’s broad daylight…” It’s the title of the song! One of the most famous love songs in Disney history! How do you make that decision?

Be Prepared” is just completely butchered. It’s very clear that when people heard it was being left out and people complained, they hastily put it in last minute. The tune is bad. The rendition is bad. The whole sequence is really bad and is the exact point in the film where I started to turn on the film completely.

There is also an original song here from Beyonce. I like Beyonce as an artist, but this song just completely sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s also not that good, especially by her standards.

I won’t get completely into plot details, but some changes made here and there are very odd and take some emotional power away in key scenes.

Lastly, but most importantly, the truly fatal flaw of this movie is also one of its strengths: the effects. Somewhere in pre-production, a decision was made by someone to make this movie truly photorealistic in every way, including the animal faces, so that at times it appears you’re looking at a nature documentary. For some scenes, such as the iconic (and still great) “Circle of Life” scene, this works amazingly well. However, the minute any dialogue scene occurs, especially ones requiring a lot of emotion, this decision literally kills the movie dead. Now I know it’s possible to animate realistic animal faces to show emotion. Disney themselves did it in their Jungle Book remake a few years ago. Here, the lack of expressiveness, especially with the lion characters, is definitely a purposeful decision.

The problem is that because the lions aren’t shown being that emotional, the voice actors are clearly having to tone down their performances to match. This is most clearly heard with James Earl Jones, where the difference in emotion between this film and the 1994 film is just staggering. Some of the actors still manage ok. Jones is still Jones so he’s not bad. Ejiofor manages a lot with subtle voice inflection. Donald Glover does a decent job. But for the most part, the lion characters fail to properly convey the weight of what we’re watching. The big test for me is the film’s ending. The original Lion King’s ending never fails to give me goosebumps. With this one, I felt nothing. That is nothing short of failure.

In short, go rewatch the original film this weekend instead. You’ll have a far better time.

2 out of 5.

Stuber

I imagine that if you want people to enjoy your movie, if you think you have made a fine piece of art, that you realize you need to convince them to spend money and go to see it. So you need posters, advertisements, interviews, screeners, whatever.

And part of the equation just has to be a good movie name. Something long an exciting, something that is visually appealing, just anything, right?

Stuber does nothing for me as a title. Nothing positive.

It screams like a movie I’d want to actively avoid, if I was a normal consumer. Only reason this review exists is because I was invited to watch it. If it was up to me, I would have probably avoided it forever, just on the title alone. Clever joke potential or anything aside, I just hate hate hate this title.

drive
Sitting up front? That means they feel DTT. Down To Talk.
Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) is an Uber driver and a clerk at a sporting goods store. Yeah, big player. He isn’t even a great Uber driver, which is just his side gig to make more money. He is going to start a woman’s only spin cycle class with his BFF, Becky (Betty Gilpin), whom he is of course in love with.

Vic (Dave Bautista) has spent many months, years even, trying to bring down a drug kingpin named Teijo (Iko Uwais) in LA, bringing in the hard stuff, that heroin. After tragic events, he escapes and he still has to spend all of his waking moments thinking about Teijo. This puts a strain on his relationship with his daughter (Natalie Morales), and everyone in his life really.

Also he is getting old, and losing his eyesight. So he wants to get LASIK, which is great, minus the being blind-ish a few hours after the surgery. And that is of course when Teijo is finally able to get caught again, doing a big drug bust. Aw shucks. Good thing his daughter just taught him about Uber to get to her art show.

Also starring Karen Gillan, Mira Sorvino, Jimmy Tatro, Scott Lawrence, and Steve Howey.

sex
I often contemplate teaching my driver sex moves because I assume their lifestyle.
Now that I have seen the movie and I am past the title, I have to admit, the movie itself also does nothing for me.

Excessive violence can be okay, but the amount of excessive violence in this film never felt believable. It could be partially because of the cop’s blindness for most of the film, but he never feels like he is a great cop, detective, anything. He is a big body that can look intimidating, but Bautista never seems to really match the role given.

On the other side of the coin, Nanjiani is also goddamn terrible. It’d be one thing if he was some sort of perfectionist character who needs that 5 star rating to keep it perfect. But holy shit, he is a bad uber driver and it makes the whole thing uncomfortable. Since he is playing such a passive character, it is hard to root for him throughout the film, just so he can show some growth by the end. But the character is just insufferable for most of it.

In Stuber, the twists are lazy, the violence is easy, and the message is missing. Don’t be a bitch? Go excessively towards your goals at all costs? I have no idea. I just know it was a waste.

1 out of 4.

Uglydolls

When I first heard about the Uglydolls movie, it was…when I got an invite to see the movie. I honestly had no idea this movie was coming out. I try to keep my finger on the pulse of the coming soon community, especially animated films, because I am looking always for the next big thing that will dethrone a Disney or a Pixar. And yeah, this one I knew nothing about.

Sure, it is based on a line of toy dolls I have seen mostly in comic book shops for a decade or so. The actual theme of them is “reject” dolls that would normally be trashed and sold anyways, despite obviously being made that way. Like a fake level of being unique. Okay, that leads to a pretty easy plot to anticipate and follow.

And I also figured out it had to be a musical of some sort, because over half of the main voice cast appears to be a singer. Even some I have never heard of before in my life, but singers nonetheless. A lot more B-talent in terms of voice acting singers, people you don’t see in the biggest movies, so maybe it is their chance to shine?

Really, what I figured from all these glances is that Uglydolls wants to be the next Trolls. Toy line, weird looks, bright colors, and of course, songs to entertain. But honey, this ain’t up to the Trolls level, and Trolls was only average.

Not trolls
Hello group of Not Trolls, whats up? Eating? Cool!
Deep in a toy factory, many dolls are created and sent off to be loved by kids everywhere. Except, sometimes a doll is not molded correctly, for one reason or another. There is a mistake! And that doll is sent away down a series of tunnels to Uglyville. A happy small place with strange looking homes, citizens, and a party every night. Mayor Ox (Blake Shelton) makes sure everyone is having a swell time and living it up.

Now Moxy (Kelly Clarkson)? She is an extreme optimist. She believes that one day, every doll is sent into the big world to be with a “child” when the moment is perfect and right. Destiny will find them together. And every new day is the day where she will be picked!

Everyone else knows it is nonsense, until she finally goes exploring with her band of friends. And sure enough, she finds a bigger area, with a lot of dolls that look like people. They have to go through training before they can hit the real world. They need to be perfect. They need training before they can hit that child’s arms. And hey, are these the dolls to do it?

Also starring the voices of Nick Jonas, Janelle Monáe, Leehom Wang, Jane Lynch, Emma Roberts, Gabriel Iglesias, Wanda Sykes, Ice-T, Pitbull, Charli XCX, Bebe Rexha, and Lizzo. The last few I have confirmed are real people.

judgement
Totally getting judged right now.
Judging really early on in the movie, it was already starting off on the wrong foot. The animation style was a bit safe, nothing to top of the line. It started basically with a song, that also needed to get some exposition and character introduction in, and seemed to go on just a bit too long.

Overall, none of the songs really stood out to me as being great. I didn’t want to go find the soundtrack afterward to hear something again, and that is a real shame. They are all mostly generic.

The plot is really easy to guess/understand for the most part. It is something that a kid will probably follow along and enjoy, but the older folks will be quite bored. It also moves along too quickly. We aren’t able to dwell on anything for too long before it is quickly resolved and moving on to the next moment. One scene similar to the ending of Toy Story 3 was fixed almost instantly and allowed no time for potential sadness to creep in.

Also, let’s be clear. There are dumb components. In the intro, we see all these animals being made for dolls, and then obvious messed up versions being sent away. And so we’d expect diversity when they climb up the tunnels. And instead we get only people looking dolls, perfect and the same, with just different skin tones and hair. How do these dolls accidentally create any of the Uglydolls? They weren’t even trying to make sense.

Uglydolls is a forgettable film, that is safe, and full of generic pop. The message is simple. Ugliness is on the inside. Next.

1 out of 4.

Donnybrook

I was initially intrigued by Donnybrook a few months ago, solely on the title alone. It is a rarely used term for a brawl, and at this point, most used occasionally in a hockey game when the announcers are feeling frisky.

Now, in retrospect, this could just be a sequel/reboot of the movie Fighting, since its title isn’t really different. A movie about kicking the crap out of people, is that what I need to look forward to nowadays?

I know parts of the cast, I didn’t know the director, and I wasn’t sure where it might go. But theoretically, it could surprise me and go the way of Warrior, a film I probably watch at least once a year. Only time will tell!

kid punch
Teach a kid to punch, and he will never be hungry for life.

Out there in the woods, somewhere, there is a yearly brawl. One that people come from all over to watch, to bet on, and to compete in. It is of course popular. Why? Well one, you get to watch people beat the crap out of each other in a cage. No boxing gloves, not many rules (outside of no killing), and a lot of people getting the shit knocked out of them. Oh and there is a $100,000 prize.

That’s life changing money, but not any fool can enter. It also has a significant entry fee, that way only people are serious about probably just getting wrecked.

People come for various reasons, revenge, to save their family, debt, whatever. A few people are going to make there way to the fight, some leaving destruction in their path, some relatively easily. Who wins? Who dies? Who just comes close and falters? We shall see.

Starring Frank Grillo, Margaret Qualley, Jamie Bell, James Badge Dale, Chris Browning, and Pat Healy.

grillmaster
Barbed wire adds a little more of an unnecessary danger. Yay!

Donnybrook is an action movie, but it is also a drama. In fact, it is more drama than action. A lot slower of a movie than one would expect with the title, with bouts of extreme violence to shock you along the way.

And I just didn’t get it. It never drew me in. I didn’t care about the characters. I didn’t care who won, or even if there would be a final fight, to be honest. It dragged and felt too violent without the payoff.

I guess it is sort of like life. It sucks, bad things can happen, unexplainable bad things, and people can get hurt along the way, their dreams crushed. But it didn’t feel like a message that I needed that hadn’t been given before.

Those who want to see the violence and some extremes might enjoy it, but I think this movie would have a hard time finding an audience.

1 out of 4.

Movie Roundup – Indies 2018 Part 1

Welcome to a Movie Roundup! A movie roundup features a few films that I didn’t feel like making full reviews for, but needed to get basic reviews out there for completionist reasons. It also helps me deal with my backlog. It may have a theme, and today’s theme is Indies 2018 (Part 1)! Basically, the indie movies I had missed, and need to really review, or else. Are these all really indie movies? Heck if I know. Some certainly are. Go with it.

Being on a movie round up doesn’t mean a movie is inherently bad, or good, or meh. I can feature any rating on here! So don’t assume the worst! I will also just post the reviews in alphabetical order.


Indies 2018 Part 1

Arizona

Arizona is a weird movie to talk about, because it is a dark comedy. A lot of dark comedies go into just such strange corners of the room. And you know, are funny, but usually involve death, or extreme “edgy” jokes. It could easily just go into some crude territory that is a poor taste and lose its viewers. Arizona is a lot more grounded in reality and about one person who is clearly losing his marbles, and using his size and gun skills to try and fix things.

I was shocked by Arizona, surprised, and I couldn’t believe no on was talking about. Dark comedies are almost always a hard sell, but this one was a great one compared to other similar movies in recent years. Our leads were believable, the setting was something easily relatable (an empty residential community after the 2008 housing collapse), that is also a bit unsettling. Yes, some aspects of this are a bit terrifying. And hilarious.

Arizona I think really works and it is a shame that it had almost no push for visibility.

3 out of 4.

Arizona

Bad Samaritan

Bad Samaritan is an example of a film that I really liked the idea about, but did not execute great.

We have a thief breaking in to steal and while there, they found someone clearly held captive. What do they do? A similar plot line was used in Don’t Breathe and used a bit better in that film. Instead, a majority of the movie takes place after the initial find and is more of a cat and mouse battle between our thief and the evil guy, played by David Tennant.

And the cat and mouse game is lame. The villain doesn’t seem smart, it seems ridiculous. He is flawed with a god complex without showing us why he even warrants a god complex. It goes completely ridiculous, moves away from a more grounded in reality movie, and doesn’t really give us the moral quandaries that the plot line suggests.

Forgettable film on every level, unfortunately.

1 out of 4.

bad

Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade is an example of a pretty well known film, and one you’d be more surprised to see that I did not have a full review upon. It was an immediate success, and had all the praise, and has spirit award nominations!

And yet, that’s why I have the round up. Things happen.

Eighth Grade is a pretty great and uncomfortable film. I cannot say that this is an accurate portrayal of what middle school girls are thinking and go through, because I am not one of them. It seems very accurate, and our lead does a wonderful job of riding that awkwardness and navigating through her school life. Bo Burnham‘s transition from comedy musician to director/writer seems to go flawlessly, and I wonder if he just had a lot of smart people on his side to make this work.

Eighth Grade is uncomfortable, awwkard, completely modern and set in the now, and probably something that a lot of people will want to read.

3 out of 4.

8th grade

Izzy Gets The Fuck Across Town

What drew me to Izzy Gets The Fuck Across Town is the title. Of course. I mean if you are going to be bold and swear at me, I think you need to bring it. It made me think of older films like Igby Goes Down, about these run down people with strange I names.

And hey, it had Mackenzie Davis, an actress who I think hasn’t gotten her fair shake yet. Haven’t you seen Tully? She is great! And despite how great she may be, this movie felt like a chore to get through. We have have movies about miserable people and they can be great movies, but this is one where I just wanted it to hurry and get to the final point. And once it did, it was lackluster.

I don’t remember much about this movie, but I do remember that it had no hype for a reason. The fuck did not give it notoriety.

1 out of 4.

Izzy

Summer of 84

Finally, we are going to talk about a movie that I think we average, for most of the film. Set in the ’80s with a group of kids, trying to solve a mystery of missing kids. They think it could be the local, single middle aged cop. Maybe he is taking kids and killing them? No, that can’t be.

Well, I won’t say if it was, or was not, of course. But the story the story is not unique. However…the ending was pretty damn good. It amped up the intensity, it went places I didn’t expect, and it left me with a little bit of dread. It is not a common way to end a film, and leaves it open ended in a good way. It turned a middling film into a film that I wanted to talk to people about, just to see if they saw it for the ending.

3 out of 4.

Summer

Overall, this is a really good list of indie films to check with. At least three of them I rated highly, and two of them I did not. Indie seem to have a better chance of giving me quality, you just have to take a dive and go into them knowing that they have a lot less hype around them on average.

Movie Roundup – Online Releases 2018

Welcome to a Movie Roundup! A movie roundup features a few films that I didn’t feel like making full reviews for, but needed to get basic reviews out there for completionist reasons. It also helps me deal with my backlog. It may have a theme, and today’s theme is Online Releases 2018! Basically, things that started out on the internet, ideally a streaming website, because it is a loose theme, and I will take it.

Being on a movie round up doesn’t mean a movie is inherently bad, or good, or meh. I can feature any rating on here! So don’t assume the worst! I will also just post the reviews in alphabetical order.


Online Releases 2018

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Can we go wrong with the Coen brothers? Yes, we totally can. But I can’t help but feel something wonderful when they continually try to do something different, or make the normal a lot more eccentric. This time, they went back to the former, while also going back to some of those old timey western roots, which are arguably their best movies. Except this time, it is straight to Netflix, and an Anthology movie with six short films instead. The only connection? Western.

This ends up working really well, even if I can say I didn’t love every part of the anthology. Unfortunately, the best and most fun was the first of the stories, and probably me least favorite was number two. I really enjoyed the one about the prospectors and the woman with her not dog too. When it works, it really works, and when it doesn’t work, it is still well made and a bit beautiful, if not full of fuckery. This is not a happy movie, and it can easily be watched in parts, and deserves praise for its individual shorts that work out amazingly well.

3 out of 4.

Ballad
None of these people share a scene with the others.

The Kissing Booth

On the other hand, Netflix has made it clear its strategy isn’t to appeal to just the best movie ever, but to instead go for all the demographics so that they all have something to watch, which is fair. Netflix having a shit movie doesn’t mean that Netflix is bad, I just don’t have to watch it…if I am a normal movie goer.

But this movie is something else, and it has crawled out of the pits of hell thanks to some teenage girl. Yeah, it is based on a book, written by a teenage girl, on some website, and now its a movie. An uninspired romance movie, that seems to rely on the kissing booth as a feature, despite not being featured too heavily in the grand scope. It features a love interest who is super controlling, threatening, and uses his fists to solve problems. Ah, what good values to instill in our youth.

0 out of 4.

Kissing
Help, help, I’m trapped in a 90s movie.

My Dinner with Hervé

Over on HBO, they also like to do movies, and shows, and documentaries. In this one, we have dudes as the stars, with one of them being one of their biggest stars of their biggest show. Makes sense. Peter Dinklage playing a biographical role, of possibly the most famous little person in history (before Peter Dinklage and Verne Troyer), Hervé Villechaize. Made famous for being in Fantasy Island and The Man With The Golden Gun.

Now, this is all according to a journalist, but it is based on the night out on the town with Hervé, where he also recounts his whole life story leading up to the point, his rises, and his many many downfalls. Dinklage does an amazing job of transforming himself, or what I know about himself, and this is an extremely touching tale of a childhood of abuse and sadness, while still trying to make something about it. It never seems to go deep enough into the sadder parts though, and probably skirts around important details. I just knew that it started off way better than it eventually ended.

2 out of 4.

DINNer
And that is also true about life, I suppose.

Slice

Slice might not technically fit this theme, because it came out on VOD, but hey, my themes are loose, and I want it in this post. Slice is the type of movie that is just so out there, it is hard to believe that it even exists. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, murder mystery, pizza store, witches, and such a strange plot and concept. It is the type of movie that when describing it you know will have a cult following and probably LARPing in the future.

But in all honestly, it just doesn’t work out well. The only redeeming factor is that it definitely feels original. It just is a weird mash of ideas that aren’t fully explained because it isn’t fully thought through. It is cool, it is weird, but it is definitely not good.

1 out of 4.

sLIce
Although, it made me want pizza, so good job there.

The Tale

Finally, another HBO movie (sorry Hulu), that I didn’t even know came out this last summer. I would have never known it existed if it didn’t get nominated for a Spirit award. I mean, it has a big name in it, and it is about sexual abuse when someone was a child. Sure, a fictional tale, but a tale that resonates due to how often similar “tales” have been told by other girls in relation to their coaches while growing up. Hell, the gymnastics scandal was in 2018, maybe even going on after this movie. It is very relevant.

Dern plays someone very vulnerable and stubborn at the same time. It doesn’t end with fireworks, but plays it in a more realistic way. More importantly, the girl who plays the younger version is amazing at her role. Her acting, in normal kid way, amplifies the creepiness of everything. It puts the viewer in a dark place and really helps bring the hate towards these sexual predators.

3 out of 4.

tale
These two adults are now on my despise list, well done!

Overall, steaming platforms put out a lot of duds, and some successes. And especially Netflix, because I will never catch up on on their new releases. Or, maybe I will, if I just keep the review format like this and not larger. But these ones caught my eye for some reason or another and I chose them to watch to review, and never got around to actually writing.

Movie Roundup – Mainstream 2018 Part 1

Welcome to a Movie Roundup! A movie roundup features a few films that I didn’t feel like making full reviews for, but needed to get basic reviews out there for completionist reasons. It also helps me deal with my backlog. It may have a theme, and today’s theme is Mainstream 2018 (Part 1)! Basically, the popular movies I had missed, and need to really review, or else.

Being on a movie round up doesn’t mean a movie is inherently bad, or good, or meh. I can feature any rating on here! So don’t assume the worst! I will also just post the reviews in alphabetical order.


Mainstream 2018 Part 1

Alpha

In the face of this movie, I expected the worst. I thought this movie had to be a typical January release, something similar to
10,000 BC. But alarmingly, it came out in September, and when I finally got to see the movie it mostly met my expectations. It was surprisingly not amazingly bad, just regularly bad.

Gross CGI landscapes to recreate the before time, and a pretty uninspired storyline about the bringing together a “dog” and a man. The other sad aspect of this movie is that people might watch it and go, “Oh, so that’s how it happened! Domestication!” and take this movie as fact. That would be a shame. And I don’t know if people actually say that, because I barely know people who have seen it, but this straw man stands in my mind. A forgettable film, like most dog films.

1 out of 4.

Alpha
Waiting for Mufasa to show up takes forever.

Crazy Rich Asians

When I first heard this title, I really assumed it was sort of a joke. I didn’t know it was based on a book of the title, or why it was called that, but it just felt off. I thought it would be some sort of exploitative film that was a comedy no one would watch, and hey, it feels good to be wrong. A romance more than anything, this is a film about an outsider being brought into the world of ridiculously rich Asian people in Singapore. So we get all of the wealth, luxury, and snide comments with some back stabbing.

On its whole, it could have been a forgettable romance film. But the lavish sets went all out to display a lifestyle most of us can only dream about, while also bringing in new cultural elements to American cinema. Having the lead be the mom from Fresh Off The Boat was great, and showed she has at least some range. The ending teared me up too. And damn it, it is great in general to see different people on our romance movies. Bring on this wave of Asian-American films, damn it.

3 out of 4.

CRA
Out of the three adjectives in the title, I’d prefer the middle one myself.

Mission Impossible: Fallout

“More Mission Impossible? I thought we were done with those,” said no one really ever. Or at least said people who hadn’t been watching them. I will go on record and say the only one I didn’t get enjoyment out of was the second one, and that one has a lot of stranger things going on. I just didn’t see them until I was already an adult, so it took me awhile to appreciate them. Because lets face it, there isn’t another successful American action franchise that is going into this level of detail and craziness for its stunts. It wants Cruise to do most of the work.

He is never going to be the level of some of our older or past martial artist stars, with the long choreographed fight scenes, but its at least a step in the right direction. This film is still exciting, but overall, it feels uninspired. It just isn’t as good as the last two modern MI movies. The stunts aren’t as sexy, even if they have bigger overall stunts. It doesn’t fill me with as much awe, and the story line just gets excessive as it attempts to continually top itself. The ending also feels really clunky and I never really feel that sense of dread that it is going for. A good attempt at an action movie, I just expect a bit more now from the franchise.

2 out of 4.

MI5
The biggest stunts are helicopters? Eh, I’ve seen helicopters before.

Ocean’s Eight

I am a huge Ocean’s Trilogy fan, and a huge Steven Soderbergh fan, and so even if the director wasn’t really involved, I was hoping to love this one. Heck, the stars are there too, with a lot of big names.

I will say it feels gimmicky, and not equal, to just go the opposite direction and make it an all female cast. It doesn’t feel natural, just like an all male heist would be with the large numbers (which is why technically the two sequels had…one woman in on the heist). In the movie, it does seem to make a lot more sense, given just the nature of the crime and the talents they needed to pull it off, so that is the good news. The biggest issue overall is just that the movie feels forgettable when it finishes. No one person stands out in acting, and the various twists to show how it was pulled off are for the most part guessable, especially thanks to the title.

I still hope they can do more. Go for it. Just lets raise the stakes.

2 out of 4.

O8
Yep, eight people, like most of the advertising, spoiling a twist.

Tag

Finally, a film people maybe thought initially was a joke. A high budgeted comedy (and slightly action?) movie, about people playing tag, that has gone on with very specific rules for decades, and one person who never, ever gets tagged. So many stars, so little time, and such a ridiculous concept (based loosely on a real story). I wanted to enjoy it and was intrigued by the trailer. But like a lot of modern comedies, I think it really just needs a group of people or slight inebriation to really fully enjoy.

I’d prefer a comedy I can find historical alone, and this is clearly one meant for you to enjoy with your own group of friends, which is fine, but limited. Again, with a large cast, no one really feels like a standout, and some people seem to be doing the same sorts of character they are always type casted into. The ending also went a really strange place. Unexpected, sure, but something that feels almost like a complete genre switch.

1 out of 4.

Tag

Mainstream movies may be a broad title, especially when you compare them to the other quick themes I put together, but hey, its my themes suck it. I originally would have done genre, but too many films are multi-genre that I didn’t want to deal with that hassle.

Movie Roundup – Animated 2018

Welcome to a Movie Roundup! A movie roundup features a few films that I didn’t feel like making full reviews for, but needed to get basic reviews out there for completionist reasons. It also helps me deal with my backlog. It may have a theme, and today’s theme is Animated 2018! Basically, all of the animated movies of 2018 that didn’t get their own review.

Being on a movie round up doesn’t mean a movie is inherently bad, or good, or meh. I can feature any rating on here! So don’t assume the worst! I will also just post the reviews in alphabetical order.


Animated 2018

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

First up is the only third film in a franchise in the group, but there are a few unnecessary sequels as well. And in terms of unnecessary things, this is near the top. This film doesn’t relaly have any redeeming qualities. It is very clear right from the get go what a twist would be, so instead of milking it, they give it away early as well.

The real twist is tricking you to give money for this terrible, terrible movie. The ending features a several minute long dance battle, from various artists, and then an even longer Macarena dance party. Yes, that Macarena. Were they paid to have it featured so prominently, has it been too long outside of our pop culture sphere? It seriously had to milk this scene so hard, as each main character needed to be shown doing the dance, and then group shots, and then tons of tourists, and every person everywhere, with extreme body movements to highlight their awkward appearances. It was one of the worst endings of a movie this year, so well done Hotel Transylvania 3. Please stop now.

0 out of 4.

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If only Van Helsing was successful hundreds of years ago, none of this would be here today.

Incredibles 2

Next up is a sequel people have actually been wanting forever, and Brad Bird said only when he had a worthy script, and apparently that meant 14 years later. Real time, not the movie time, as it takes place right after the first movie. And I honestly thought he should have waited longer. This film just feels so uninspired by me. I really didn’t need to see moments after they finished the first film, leaving me at the same exact point except we have a baby with changing every power nonsense. I could have used years later, more developed.

This plot feels too similar to the first. Still people are afraid of supers, but instead of the man going out to fight, its now the lady. The plot twist was once again obvious, so it didn’t do much for me. In 2004, Superhero movies were shit, so The Incredibles stood out as a beacon of hope for things to come. Now Superhero films have been able to elevate their game, bring a whole lot more exciting things, and this film more or less stayed the same. My mind checked out by the end, and it felt like too little too late.

2 out of 4.

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Babies are hard to care for. Hialrious!

Ralph Breaks The Internet

This sequel is a lot sooner after the first film, to maximize off of its success. However, this felt like a rushed piece of movie that relied on current style jokes only to work, which is going to doom it in the long run. This movie is by Disney, who wanted to flex their expansive collection and throw in all of the princesses and more in an internet hub world to make people giddy, almost as counter to Ready Player One , another nostalgia heavy film. Except this one combines nostolgia with extremely current, so we get memes, we get current popular websites, and it is going to do what many modern comedies do: fade into obscurity in a few years.

It is still nice to look at, and the ending is totally weird, but honestly, they made Ralph into such a shit in this movie. In the first film, he was tired of being a bad guy, who tried to do the right thing, but from his good intentions some bad still happened. In this film, he becomes selfish and straight up almost gaslighting Penelope into staying, and going out of his way to be a dick, whcih causes the problems. He felt like an extreme nice guy. “I did all of this for you, and now you want to leave!? Love me!” These are not the traits to be highlighting in our animated heroes, even if he learns his lesson. He still needed to not be such a dick.

2 out of 4.

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Ha ha ha ha screaming goats ha ha manipulation ha ha ha free will.

Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero

This movie is an awkward one, as it had a small release, not a big studio, and looked like absolute shit. Letting us know it is based on a true dog from World War I doesn’t make this feel any less uncomfortable the whole time. In highlighting what a dog did, with most likely extreme examples that might not have happened, we downplay the hell out of actual soldiers in the war who died. I don’t know if anyone is still alive from that war, but I know they would definitely not like this movie iteration.

It was a terrible war, and not saying we can’t make kid versions about the war. But it didn’t do a good job of really informing the details of the war, so it isn’t really educational. Instead, it is a super pup movie, who has a soldier friend, who saves everybody. It is so soft and basic it just feels like a waste of time. Cool, at least one dog in a war was given the title of sergeant. Please don’t trivialize the war at the same time.

1 out of 4.

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Yo dawg, just no.

Sherlock Gnomes

For those of you who did not see Gnomeo and Juliet (which I will assume is everybody), it was lawn gnomes, but the Romeo and Juliet story line. And for whatever reason, they got Elton John on board with it, and a lot of his hits were either background, or the tune of his songs with different lyrics. It was uncomfortable. So yeah, let’s do a sequel. But a different story. Completely unrelated, except also being British in nature.

Now, if you are like me, you assumed okay, new story, new hero and will just be gnomes. But no, they think we really like the pair from the previous movie and it is still really about them, with also a mystery and extra characters. And despite the first being a big movie about their romance and getting together, this one is also about how Gnomeo is a shitbag who won’t let his woman do her own things, so he has to be insecure and they should not be a couple. More bad things for kids, really. Also, what the fuck is this Shelock plot line. I haven’t seen Homes & Watson yet, but this has got to be the worst year for that poor detective in hundreds of years. Straight up I will let you know, at some point, Watson is found to be part of the bad guy plot as well, because they want something new. Get out of here.

Oh yeah, and still, Elton John music.

0 out of 4.

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Here are four characters no one ever has, or will, care about.

Smallfoot

This is one of those movies I had completely dismissed before watching it. It looked like an Illumination movie, and they are generally godawful always. But it isn’t that! It is Warner Bros, who is known for Lego Movies and Storks (and that’s it right now). Knowing Storks, I wasn’t excited either. But strangely enough, Smallfoot had a lot going on for it. It had pretty good lead acting and some fun characters. It dealt with a serious topic about dealing with religious doctrination, from many angles. It didn’t say blindly follow, or screw all of it and get rid of it. There were layers to the plot.

I didn’t know it had songs in it either, so when they started I was a bit turned off, but for the most part they are really great. Even when one had to take the riff from Under Pressure, it completely ran with the premise and made it into something wonderful. Shit, the music was dope. I laughed. Now the ending did have a lot of problems, it got clunky and a bit off. But for the most part, Smallfoot is a solid film and better than most of the animated films this year. I’m looking at you, Disney and Pixar.

3 out of 4.

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Who really has the small feet in this situation, WB, Disney, or Pixar?

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies

And finally, we have a movie that came in a summer and I actually heard a lot of good things about. I heard it was hilarious. I heard I didn’t need to watch the show to like. I watched the first Teen Titans a few times, and it seemed quality. The Go version looked like, and maybe even smelled like trash. And it turns out, their movie seems to go with my preconceptions of the show.

Let’s make this clear. I didn’t laugh once. It had a few fart and potty jokes in it. It had a group of five people but it could not at all let them all be the stars, despite it being a team film. Clearly, a movie about Robin wanting a movie about himself will be more about him. Fine. But the other four are barely used. Cyborg is used a lot more, then Beast Boy, and our girls are rarely mentioned or get a line it seems. It is also a surprise musical, with some tunes being nice.

But what makes this movie insufferable is its over reliance on meta humor and current meme standards. We get it. Its a movie about making a super hero movies. We got superheroes in it, and they are hilarious. It just went all these terrible directions and never felt like something I would ever want to watch. It is like an idea someone made on an internet message board, and for whatever reason, a studio executive was drunk and actually listened to it. Yeah, a movie about making movies. But fart humor. And not showcasing all of the members of the team. And repeated jokes. Yes. God awful.

0 out of 4.

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God awful.

Overall, I am not surprised that three of these films got the lowest rating. I am surprised at how much I disliked Teen Titans though, could never imagine that poor of a film. I figured Sgt. Stubb would have been worse. I am surprised at the mediocrity from our big studios and how good Smallfoot ended up being.

Some of these films will make the worst of the year list, none will make the best. If you wanted quality animated films from this year, from America, check out Isle of Dogs and Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse.

The Grinch

The Grinch would be the biggest Dr. Seuss effect on society if it wasn’t for that feline that wore head accessories.

Speaking of the Cat of the Hat, I have still never seen that live action movie. But it was supposedly terrible, so bad that that the Seuss family said no more live action films. Just animated. Which means that eventually we got to have The Lorax from Illumination Entertainment, a company normally on my shitlist, because they make shit to average films.

And despite seemingly having any Seuss thing to work with, they figured they could just do The Grinch again. Why? I don’t know. We have a successful animated 2D version, and a successful 3D live action version, so I guess we need another version, this time animated and 3D.

If it was a better company, I would be annoyed because they could have decided to do One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish instead. Maybe Tim Burton will tackle that one after Dumbo.

Snowman
One way to ruin Christmas is to teach the local youth about jerking someone else off.

Oh yeah, this is the section where I talk about the plot of The Grinch.

So uhhh, there is this place called Whoville, where all these Whooligans live in splendor and wonder. They are overtly happy and cheerful, and for whatever reason, they all enjoy the shit out of Christmas. Decorations, noise, presents, togetherness, food, you name it. Christmas is number one. Celebrations all month long.

But someone doesn’t love Christmas. No, he hates it. The Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch) lives in a mountain outside of Whoville, alone and bitter, with his dog, Max. He just wants to be left alone, but he has to visit Whoville to buy food occasionally. Normally he hides up all December to avoid the festivities.

This year, however, he has to return and get involved. Because they are putting everything bigger, 3 times bigger at least, and that he cannot stand. He must steal this Christmas from them, to make them feel as sad as he does all the time. That will show those Whos who’s boss.

Also featuring Angela Lansbury, Cameron Seely, Kenan Thompson, Rashida Jones, and Pharrell Williams at the narrator.

Santa
That’s not Santa! Santa Claus is a black man!

There is only really one major point I want to harp on, so I will get to the quicker stuff first. The Grinch doesn’t seem mean, just sad and lame. The film felt too long, and featured what turned out to be an unnecessary reindeer plot to pad the time. And the backstory they gave to him paints the city of Whoville as a terrible place to be with a bunch of assholes, and also sort of makes his behavior completely justifiable. Great.

However, besides all of that, I have a question. Do you think the Whos in Whoville worship Jesus or believe in any sort of god? Because in the last two movies and the book, they have not made any references to Jesus or religion. They celebrate Christmas like Americans, the secular ones at least. Presents, Santa, food, and togetherness.

There are no mangers in Whoville! This is not Earth at all, it is its own planet or city or entity. Shit, maybe it is on a snowflake.

But not in this movie. The first sign was when a choir was singing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” in what was definitely a minute long and silly scene. It took me out of the movie. They had Angels on trees, which isn’t as bad. But then even later, there was a singing of Silent Night, another very religious song.

These movie makers are so out of touch with the material, that they are getting their own potential Christmas traditions mixed up with Whoville Christmas traditions and that is a problem.

Come on, you know it is true. A fundamental breakdown of this magnitude is either agenda driven, or a lack of intelligence, neither of which should be celebrated.

1 out of 4.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Right off the bat, I will say I was not looking forward to Bohemian Rhapsody. The song is fine. And I love Queen! I have very fond memories growing up, watching Wayne’s World and hearing Queen’s greatest hits. My family owned two VHS tapes collecting their music videos. I saw them all the time. I really enjoyed I Want To Break Free because the men were dressed like ladies with facial hair, but the instrumental part freaked me out.

Hey. I was a kid.

But why don’t I care about this film? Because production woes made me indifferent. I was in love with the idea of Sacha Baron Cohen playing Freddie Mercury, it was perfect, and he could sing!

Production woes! Cohen left! Creative differences! The band wanted a feel good movie about the band and PG-13, the actor wanted the real story, the R rated stuff, the Oscar winning Mercury stuff. And eventually we now got this movie. Let’s not forget that the director, Bryan Singer, probable diddler of young male talent in Hollywood, was kicked off the project when it was almost done, and they had to finish it without him.

Even the well edited trailer did nothing to me. I got to hear so many Queen songs in under 3 minutes. With Mercury singing. Is this whole thing going to be a film with Queen songs just spliced on top? Fuck. On my films, even my biopics, I want the actors do the singing, at least in a studio. I don’t need to see Remi Malek doing an air band performance for a few hours.

Mercury
And aerobics!

In the 1970’s, times were changing. Disco wasn’t yet in a full swing, but people still liked music, and still had dreams. Like a young Farrokh Bulsara (Rami Malek), who later would change his name to Freddie Mercury. He didn’t want a normal job at an airport, he wanted to sing in a band. And he just so happened on a band who just lost their main singer. That is where he met Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy). A guitarist and a drummer. They didn’t want him, due to his teeth and look, but his talent did not lie. They eventually found a bassist in John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) and the rest was history!

Oh, and some more things happened. Not an instant success, but honestly, it didn’t seem to take long either.

They were a band who worked together and competed together. To get songs on albums, to try new things, to go into places they had not gone before. Especially true for Mercury, who found himself eventually with men, despite being married with his long term love, Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) and with kids.

There were a lot of influences on their music and on their lives. Roadies, managers, other lovers, groupies, fans, and what not. And of course, eventually the story ends in tragedy, but not before one of the best live concerts televised around the world.

Starring Aidan Gillen, Allen Leech, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers, and Aaron McCusker.

Band
They definitely look cooler in this picture. Too cool. Ice cold.

Behold, for I am disappoint.

People will praise this movie for several reasons, and these are things you should be leary about. The number one aspect being nostalgia. Hey, they like Queen, so a movie with Queen songs is alright. Just having music that you expect to hear inside of it is not a reason for something to be automatically good. Queen music is expected.

Malek’s performance is praised because he gets to prance about on stage like no fucks are given, with some big facial expressions. But you know what he didn’t do? Sing. I think maybe once, or twice in this movie he actually had to sing, and when he did it was all very little. Basically all of it is just actually Mercury singing and again, if I wanted to hear Freddie Mercury sing, I have YouTube and CDs for that. Is it weird to have a double standard when it comes to performances? I want my actors if they are playing singers to actually sing, but of course I wouldn’t care if an actor is actually playing piano, guitar, or drums, although it can surely help make things authentic.

Honestly, one of my favorite aspects of the film ended up being the other members of Queen. I just loved that these members looked so much like their counterparts, who I recognize from seeing their music videos over and over again. They all also had their own personalities and traits, consistently through the film. I guess it is easy to get them right when the real figures are alive and backing the film. They weren’t outstanding acting performances or taking away from Mercury, but they felt like real people and that was a good change.

The way they chose to portray actual events in the film is really what bugged me. Honestly, it took way too long to have Mercury come out as gay in the film. They had hints about it, like stupid teases. Sure, being gay at that time was way more frowned upon, but as modern viewers, there is no need to keep such an obvious and important focal point hidden. And honestly, about 3/4 of the way through the movie, I was wondering if they would even say the word AIDS in the movie. I almost thought they wouldn’t mention it at all (they did). But they did it first through a weird news cast that Mercury happened to see. And the scene where he went to the hospital and was tested was just so…odd looking. It ended with a fan singing at him, and felt way too much like an awkward TV PSA about…drugs or anything really. It didn’t feel impactful, it felt awkward.

Biopics often have moments where they have people who doubt their talent who later are shown regretting it and being angry. These scenes are ALWAYS bad, and seem petty and unnecessary. But they really went full out with it in this movie. First, they had Mike Myers as the character in question. They made him say a line about how teenagers would never be banging their head to Bohemian Rhapsody, obviously referring to the scene in Wayne’s World decades later. We get to see him angry in his office later in the movie, because why not. Also during the Bohemian Rhapsody scene, it decided to have news/review quotes fly through the screen about how it was a bad song and destined for nothing.

Like, was the entire point of this movie actually to just rub it in some critics faces that people ended up liking Bohemian Rhapsody? Enough to name the Queen biopic after the song (which feels unoriginal and uninspired), just to prove that people like it.

The whole thing is incredibly average and standard as a biopic. This feels like a disservice to a band that was anything but average and standard. And because of that, I disliked it even more. This movie played it safe and boring. I, for one, will be ready for the better film in twenty years.

1 out of 4.

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