Tag Archives: disney

Movie Review – The Lion King (2019)

Briefly, 3.5 readers, I’m not sure I get Disney’s remake everything with live action initiative, even though I assume they’re generating a ton of revenue and not having to spend money on writing new stories as they’re just taking the old stories and re-doing them.

It sort of makes sense when there are human characters but something about a talking CGI animal cast is odd.  That’s the fun part of cartoons.  Why cartoon animals talking doesn’t seem silly I don’t know.  Maybe just the idea of real-ish looking animals talking seems weird.

But at any rate, it’s fun, though again, for some reason, cartoon lions fighting seemed ok but something about letting kids see real lish lions fight seems strange.

It was a good time but I don’t know.  I’m not sure CGI-ing everything is the way to go.  Don’t believe me?  Check out that Cats trailer.  I’ll probably rant about the Cats trailer at some point.

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Movie Review – Aladdin (2019)

You never had a friend like me, 3.5 readers.

Wait, have I ever had a friend?  Probably not.  Geeze, now I’m sad.

Oh well.  Here’s a review of “Aladdin.”

Disney continues with its quest to live action-ize all of its classic cartoons.  This time around, its one of its biggest, “Aladdin.”

The challenge here is that cartoon was 99.99 percent based on the late Robin Williams’ manic energy.  Just as Williams would, at a rapid clip, move from one impression and silly voice to another, so too would the Genie.

There just isn’t a comedian today who matches Williams’ abilities and frankly, it would be lame to have someone just do a Williams impression anyway.

Ergo, I think Disney made a good choice in picking Will Smith.  He can sing.  He can dance.  He can do comedy.  He doesn’t try to copy Williams but rather makes the role his own.  Sure, Genie engages in some silliness, but there’s no attempt to copy Williams here.

True, Smith does look odd in blue genie form but the film tries to have genie in human form for as long as possible to make up for it.

Overall, the film is fun and a good time.  Not knocking Marwan Kenzari, but I think they might have picked a scarier actor to play Jafar but I get that Disney is going with mostly unknowns, perhaps to keep these remakes from being overpowered by star power or perhaps so they can go with one big star like Will Smith and not break the budget on a supporting cast.  I don’t know.  I’m not a Disney executive so what would I know.

I also give Disney credit for not being afraid to tinker with the plots of these movies and making them their own for a new generation.  For example, I think someone realized Genie couldn’t be a blue ghost for the whole film, so in human form he becomes more like Aladdin’s wing man and adviser.  I think maybe they missed an opportunity for laughs with Iago the parrot.  He was voiced by the parroty sounding Gilbert Gottfried in the original, but becomes a sinister little varmint in this reprise.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – The Incredibles 2 (2018)

It was incredible.

BQB here with a review of the long awaited sequel to “The Incredibles.”

Wow.  How quickly fourteen years go by.  When I saw the original film in 2004, I was young, full of hopes and dreams and now, all these years later I realize that being the humble proprietor of a blog that’s only read by 3.5 people is the best my life will ever get.

SPOILER ALERT – before the film, the cast, i.e. Craig T. Nelson (Mr. Incredible), Holly Hunter (Elastigirl) and Samuel L. Jackson (Frozone) come out to apologize for taking so long to make a sequel, and then in a fun way, explain how long it takes to make an animated movie, from coming up with a story idea, refining it, drawing it out on paper, getting it into computerized animation, etc.  It’s all so complicated you are amazed animated movies, or really, any movies, get made at all.

As it turns out, 14 years was worth the wait.  This is a rare sequel that is good as the original, and perhaps even surpasses it in some ways.

The story picks up right after the end of the last film.  Superheroes continue to be hated by the public and the government, thought of as jerks who just get in the way and cause more damage to the city while fighting villains that the world would be better off just letting the villains take whatever they want.

However, Winston and Evelyn Deavor (Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener) don’t share this view.  Wealthy telecom company owners, this brother-sister duo believe that superheroes are the future and are willing to put up their money and public communication skills on the line to rehabilitate public perception of superheroes, all in the hope of changing anti-super hero laws.

SIDENOTE: I’ve always felt that the anti-hero laws of this world reflect the real world.  All too often, we bitch at people who are trying to solve problems because it’s easier than, say, actually rolling up our sleeves and trying to solve the problems ourselves.

Back to the review. The Deavors become the Incredible family’s benefactor, putting them up in swanky digs and funding missions for Elastigirl.  That’s right.  It’s Mr. Incredible’s turn to stay home and play Mr. Mom, helping super fast son Dash with his homework, invisible girl Violet with her teenage angst, and, to hilarious effect, corralling baby Jack-Jack, whose budding super powers have no bounds as the little guy is all emotion with no ability to control himself.

Meanwhile, Elastigirl dazzles in a particularly awesome scene with a special motorcycle that can separate apart as she needs it to.  Remember, she’s like a big rubber band, so as the action happens, her butt can be twenty feet away and the back half of the bike will detach and stick with her butt as needed.  Sounds silly, yet awesome on the big screen and kudos to the writer who thought of that.

There are many great action scenes like this, showing that Disney knows super heroes, Pixar knows animation, so more animated super hero flicks might definitely pan out.  As I recall, Disney’s other animated super hero flick, “Big Hero 6,” was further proof of this phenomenon.

It all culminates in taking on “The Screenslaver,” the villain who is able to control the minds of anyone who watches one of his hacked screens, with an underlying message that perhaps we could all use a little less screen time.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Lesson?  Take your time with sequels, Hollywood.  Resist the cash grab urge.  I know you’re in a money making business but put sequels on the back burner while you work other projects, and then when those sequels have simmered enough, move them to the front burner where they can satisfy our appetites with gourmet precision rather than fast-food speed.  The extra time taken here paid off big time.

Not to keep knocking “Star Wars” but keep in mind that absence makes the heart grow fonder and maybe even makes the movie maker’s mind sharper.  Maybe 14 years is a long time but a sequel, say, once every 5 years is like getting together with an old, long lost friend, whereas a sequel once a year is like that house guest who sets up shop in your living room and refuses to leave.  Sure, it was fun for a week but now you’d like to be able to watch your TV and sit on your couch in peace.

Other lesson – more animated super hero movies or, barring that, more animated any kind of adventure movies.  Live action hero movies are great, but animated films can really stretch boundaries and give adults something to actually enjoy while captivating the kids.

 

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Why is the Star Wars Franchise in the Dumper?

Hey, 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

“Solo” did poorly at the box office, though strangely, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Meanwhile, the latest saga films, “Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” were commercial successes, but the fans aren’t happy.

“Rogue One” did well commercially and in my opinion, is the best of the four new films.

I do believe this is partly “Star Wars fatigue.”  Absence makes the heart grow fonder and when 10-20 years passed between sequels, you really got excited to see a new film.  I was 20 when “The Phantom Menace” came out and while today, I think that movie does not hold up, at the time, I was just so excited to see light sabers being whirled around on screen again.

Say what you will about the prequels, but they did, absent an occasional hiccup, at least attempt to follow the pre-established rules of the universe.  Plus, the characters were put into peril, so the stakes were high.

Sure, you know faves like Yoda or Obi Wan weren’t going to buy the farm, but faves like Mace Windu or Qui Gon Jinn were kicking the bucket so the peril made you grip the edge of your seat.

Cliffhangers and new threads meant something.  When new questions popped up, you’d get answers.  Maybe not answers you wanted but you got something.

Here in the new saga films, there’s a lot of jerking us around.  Too clever by half writers saying, “Ha!  Fooled you!” and not realizing that if there’s no payoff we are losing interest.

So, if we’re getting a new film once a year, plus the films aren’t paying off for the super fans, I don’t know, this doesn’t bode well for the franchise.

I think either they should have cast new actors to play Han, Luke and Leia (younger actors) and start a new three part saga right after the end of “Return of the Jedi.”

Either that, or they should have put it far into the future and just wracked their brains to create all new characters, perhaps some older aliens who live longer coming in from the old films, but a whole new setup with heroes and villains.

Instead, they tried, just as King Solomon once did, to split the proverbial baby and as we all know, babies don’t split well, they are much better off intact in one piece.  A future that was just an homage to the past didn’t bode well.

My two cents.  What say you, 3.5 Jedis?

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Movie Review – Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

I can’t believe it took me a week to see this flick.  Maybe my reputation as the Internet’s greatest nerd is ill-deserved.

BQB here with a review of “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Where did the past 10 years go, 3.5 readers?  I remember watching “Iron Man” in 2008, thinking Marvel was really onto something here and, well, if only I could time travel back 10 years, take the seat next to me and give myself some advice on how to negotiate the next decade.

Oh well.  No use crying over spilt milk.

Speaking of not crying, we have a seasoned cast of superheroes now, and damn, there are a lot of them.  You’ve got the Avengers…the various hangers-on who help the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the assorted interlopers who mingle in these worlds…you’ve got a lot of characters.  Is it too many?  Maybe not.

After all, this film is our reward for sticking with the franchise for so long.  Once you watch the individual films, as well as the group get-together films, you spend a lot of time with these characters, getting to know what makes them tick, and thus films like this are possible, i.e. where the individuals come and go, make their entrances and exits and you understand their motivations by now.

There was a brief moment in the beginning where I wondered if this whole spectacle hadn’t jumped the shark.  Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older but when you really think about it, I mean, seriously…you’ve got a man in an iron suit, a Norse God, a green monster, a patriot, a computer man, a witch, wizards, a spiderman, a cat man, a flying guy, another guy in an iron suit, a lady assassin, a band of space pirates and their talking raccoon…WTF?  How do these all fit together?

At one point, I was like, “Wow.  There are way too many Avengers.  Like seriously, I can’t keep up with all these Avengers.  There is a ridiculous amount of superheroes on screen right now.”

Somehow, Disney/Marvel makes it all work.  In past movies, we’ve been teased with an impending Thanos (Josh Brolin) attack and it pays off big time here, as he’s the villain to end all villains, the big bad that the Avengers et. al. will have to throw everything at, including the kitchen sink, the toilet, the toilet paper, the plunger and so on.

It’s an intergalactic battle royale featuring different planets, different locations on Earth, different bands of heroes duking it out with different bands of Thanos’ cronies, all in the name of gathering the infinity stones, which the infamous ne’er-do-well hopes to use to engage in acts of evil-doery across the cosmos.

There are touching moments, hilarious moments, humor, laughter, suspense and I don’t want to give it away but Disney/Marvel does go in quite an unexpected direction, one that defies the typical ending of these films and perhaps when all 3.5 of you have had a chance to see it, we can discuss it further.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Kudos to Disney/Marvel for keeping this franchise alive, still going strong, still being as magical as ever.  Thank you to all the actors who didn’t let fame go to their heads and bail on their recurring characters.  It’s been quite a ride and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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Daily Discussion with BQB – What’s Your Favorite Ride in Disney World?

Hey 3.5 readers.

Your old pal BQB here.

I’ve picked up stakes this week and moved BQB HQ to Orlando, where I have established a temporary BQB HQ.  If you see a nerd walking around with an alien and a yeti…that’s probably some other guy.

In the mean time, what’s your favorite thing to do at Disney World, 3.5 readers?  Your favorite ride or your favorite other activity…what is it?

To be honest, as I get older, the whole place loses its appeal to me.  Maybe the older you get, the less you believe in magic, I don’t know.  I mean it’s all very pretty and it’s impressive and so on.  And the Yeti and Alien Jones dig it, of course.

I don’t know if this counts as an activity, but I think “The Earl of Sandwich” in Disney Springs makes the best sandwiches.  They make a good meatball and a good Thanksgiving sandwich and I always get the Thanksgiving.

Anyway, what say you, 3.5?

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Movie Review – Coco (2017)

Who knew skeletons could be so adorable?

BQB here with a review of Disney/Pixar’s “Coco.”

You know, 3.5 readers, I don’t usually do a review of kids’ movies, but this one moved me a bit, so here we go.

Miguel is a young boy who dreams of becoming a famous musician, as famous as Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), this fictional version of Mexico’s answer to Elvis.

Alas, his family has put a long, long, longtime ban on music due to the fact a musician in the family once caused great heartbreak for all.

Blah, blah, blah, shenanigans ensue and Miguel finds himself in the Land of the Dead, where the deceased “live” albeit in skeleton form.  Miguel is still alive and obviously, does not belong here, but he’ll have to solve some mysteries about his family’s past in order to return to the land of the living.

There’s a lot of bright colors and the plot was a little better than usual, IMO, for a kids’ movie.  But there was one takeaway that stood out.

You see, we learn that it’s possible for the skeletons to die a second time, i.e. to disappear without a trace.  The skeletons live and prosper and are happy…for as long as the living remember them.  Once the last person who remembers the formerly alive skeleton dies, and there isn’t anyone else around to tell stories of the dead person when he/she was alive, then the skeleton ceases to be.

Ergo, whether it’s “The Land of the Dead” or Heaven or whatever afterlife you envision, we’ll never know for sure what happens when we die.  Theology tells us we live on.  Evidence tells us we become worm food.  However, you can at least take steps in this life to make sure you are remembered fondly and tales of your deeds will be passed down throughout the generations.

The thought is bittersweet – it provides motivation to get out there and live and love, to be productive and helpful and friendly in the hopes that no matter what happens after this life, you will at least be remembered by others.

But the downside is the average person, even with the best intentions and the most follow-through, probably, at best, can’t achieve something that allows them to be remembered past a few generations of their family.

Doubt it?  Think fast.  How many of you are able to tell me the name of your great, great grandfather or mother?  Tell me in the comments how far back in your family tree you are able to recite.

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Movie Review – The Florida Project (2017)

Adulting is hard.

Sadly, kidding (child-ing?) is getting even harder.

BQB here with a review of “The Florida Project.”

I’m not totally sure what the point of this film was.  It’s not exactly plot driven.  It meanders quite a bit.  Large chunks of the film are devoted to young child actors around six years old, saying lines that I’m not sure they’d ever really say if there wasn’t someone, I can only imagine but not confirm, hanging off camera promising candy or toys or something.

Obviously, the overall intent is to give the world a glimpse into what life is like for the poverty stricken, as well as the lives of those whose job it is to take care of them.

On the strip leading to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, there’s a series of tourist traps – hotels, discount gift shops, all catering to folks who are visiting the House of Mouse on a budget.  The film doesn’t quite explain it well but there was a time, before Disney developed the ever loving crap out of its property, when tourists who wanted to save a buck would go have fun at the parks then stay at a cheap, non-Disney motel.  Today, Disney has a vast array of hotels catering to almost every type of budget.

So, if this film is to be believed, many of the strip motels have turned into sad, depressing welfare slums.  Once such establishment is “The Magic Castle,” where young mother Halley (Bria Vinai) lives on a weekly cash basis with her six year old daughter, Moonee (Brooklyn Prince.)

Sidenote – if your name is Brooklyn that’s like, a guarantee your parents were all like, “this kid is becoming a child actor!” right?

The film strings together a series of shenanigans.  Moonee and her young pals from the motel wander about aimlessly, spitting on cars, throwing dead fish into pools, harassing paying customers and generally making life miserable for Bobby, the motel’s overworked, underpaid, vastly put upon and long suffering manager, played by Willem Dafoe, whose presence, honestly, is the only thing that makes the film watchable.

Covered with tattoos and constantly high, Halley is unemployed and unemployable, making money by begging tourists for cash, occasionally running scams to bilk them out of money and yes, even turning tricks.  You get the general sense that she wants to do right by her daughter but are unsure if it’s just that impossible to pull herself out of the proverbial hole she’s in or if she’s so drugged up she’s not able to help herself in any way.

It becomes clear that poverty is inter-generational, though whether bad parenting leads to poverty or poverty causes bad parenting is sort of a chicken vs. the egg argument.  Halley’s life sucks and you are led to feel sorry for her and realize there are so many people trapped in such difficult circumstances.

At the same time, we see other parents in the motel who are similarly poor, yet they stay off drugs, work menial wage jobs and are actively attempting to better their lives and instill morals in their kids, making the most of the little they have.

Amidst this mess is Bobby, who might have one of the most thankless jobs I’ve ever seen.  He works tirelessly, fixing broken equipment, painting, repairing, moving heavy stuff and the second something goes wrong, the tenants he’s given thousands of passes to on their mistakes rip his head off and raise hell over the slightest problems.

I’m inclined to think that Bobby is every adult in your life who a) wasn’t your parent but b) had a job that required him to help you and c) yelled at you for something bad you did or some rule you broke and you think he’s just an asshole because all you saw was the stern facade.  You didn’t see how he returns to his office and looks so pained because he knows you’re suffering and yet there’s little he is able to do to help you.

Despite a rule that prevents tenants from staying too long and becoming permanent residents, Bobby helps Halley circumvent this rule by moving her every so often to a different room within the motel.  Moonee raises hell and drives other guests nuts, constantly breaks things and makes more work for Bobby.  Meanwhile, Halley’s extracurricular activities bring all kinds of heat for the motel.

In short, Bobby could throw this problem customer out on the street any time and improve his life 100 percent and yet, he refuses to do so, putting his own job on the line because his gut tells him that something bad will happen if he doesn’t bend the rules and let Halley and Moonee stay.

If this a spoiler, then so be it, but literally, at no time, does Halley ever show any kind of acknowledgment that she understands Bobby is doing her a favor.  Halley makes all sorts of demands for Bobby to overlook the rules, let it go that she’s late with her rent, forget that she’s doing all sorts of bad things or that her unsupervised kid is driving everyone nuts.  Yet, when Bobby asks Halley for just a little bit of help in complying with the rules, she freaks out, leading to a used maxi pad being slapped on his office window in one gross out scene.

SIDENOTE  – I’ve seen tampons and pads being thrown at helpless victims in too many films now.  Is this something women dream about doing all day long now?  Whenever someone pisses them off, they just want to whip out their bloody cooch covers and whip ’em at some poor, unsuspecting schmuck?

Mixed feelings.  It’s more of a learning experience/acted out documentary than a fun movie.  There are some emotional parts though.  Poverty is hard and nearly impossible to break out of.  Good parenting and/or harping on kids to do the right thing can increase the chances of breaking out of it.

Perhaps there’s some irony that all these kids are suffering and are poor when just down the road there’s a theme park where wealthier parents dump tons of cash on toys, candy, rides and fun for their little brats.

But ultimately, the most I got out of it is that there are probably a million Bobbies out there – low level business employees who see people suffering hardships all day, who may come across as hardasses laying down rules but also are never thanked when they bend the rules and put their jobs and livelihood on the line to help those in need.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Not sure the film itself is Oscar worthy though Dafoe’s performance is and he is overdue for some recognition.

 

 

 

 

 

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Disney/Fox Deal

Hey 3.5 readers.

Disney is buying a large chunk of the Fox entertainment empire, their studio parts mostly.  For movie buffs, that means Marvel characters owned by Fox can now work with characters owned by Disney and that’s already led to talk on the Internet about Wolverine becoming an Avenger, which would be cool.

I’m not sure how well they will fit together though.  Disney is wholesome whereas Fox has been naughty.  Disney is Mickey.  Fox is Bart Simpson.  Disney is Frozen.  Fox is Deadpool banging his prostitute girlfriend.  So, will these two parts be able to work together without ruining each other?  The world needs wholesomeness AND edginess so I worry about these commingling.

What say you, 3.5?

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Universal’s Dark Universe Series

Hey 3.5 readers.

Did you all hear about this?  I did not until I caught the Mummy today.  Check out my review if you haven’t already.

Apparently, Universal is trying to bring its treasure trove of monster flicks back into the modern age, kicking it off with “The Mummy” with Dracula, Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Bride of Frankenstein, Phantom of the Opera, the Wolfman and so on  to come later.

One can only assume they’re trying to compete with Disney’s Marvel universe and Warner Brothers attempt to recreate the Disney/Marvel success with their Justice League films.

Do you think “Dark Universe” will be a hit for Universal?  Will other studios try to cash in on the expanded universe phenomenon?

My one caveat might be that while Marvel and DC appeal to kids, i.e., the viewers that will most likely nag their parents into buying Marvel and DC merchandise, I’m not sure there’s a huge market for a Mummy lunch box.  Then again, maybe Universal can pave the way for cinematic universe films for a more sophisticated audience.  The Mummy was actually a good, solid first installment.  It didn’t knock my socks off but it didn’t disappoint me either.  It left me curious as to what Universal has in store for us next.

Discuss, 3.5 readers.

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