Soul – Movie Review

TL;DR – A perfectly fine film, with great animation, but it felt like it was missing something.   

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene (sort of)

Awards

Nominated: Creative Animation & Exquisite Musical Score

Soul. Image Credit: Disney.

Soul Review

Well, it has been a long, and let’s call it, interesting year, but today brings to a close our last reviewed of a film from 2020. To round out the year, it is time to look at Pixar’s next entry, and given we already had a strong movie in Onward this year. I came into Soul with some reasonably high expectations.   

So to set the scene, Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) is a high school music teacher, but his real passion is performing jazz. This puts him in conflict with his mother Libba (Phylicia Rashad) who wants him to have a stable job. Well, those two worlds are about to collide when he is offered a full-time position teaching while also getting the chance to perform with the famous Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett). This would be a big decision for Joe if he didn’t then fall through an open manhole and wake up on the escalator to the other side.

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Onward – Movie Review

TL;DR –  It takes a straightforward premise and elevates it with a real heart.    

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Awards:

NominatedCreative Animation & Most Fun

Onward. Image Credit: Disney.

Onward Review

There has been a couple of attempts in recent times to do the ‘what if the fantasy realm that you know was set in modern times’ and well, on the whole, they have been bad. But as a concept, it is solid, so I have been wondering if anyone would be able to pull it off. Well if anyone can do it, it is Pixar, and boy did they.

So to set the scene, Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) is just an average teenage elf, winning math awards, learning how to drive, avoiding his brother Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt) and trying to find friends. He is trying to find his place in the world with his brother, who is a bit of a screw-up, and his mother Laurel Lightfoot (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) who is trying her best with the chaos. On his 16th birthday, their mother surprises them with a gift from their late father Wilden Lightfoot (Kyle Bornheimer) which turns out to be a magic staff and a spell, one that can bring him back, but only for one day.

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Mulan (2020) – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that is desperately trying to differentiate itself from the past while still hitting all the same story points.     

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Mulan. Image Credit: Disney.

Mulan Review

When I was growing up, I was at the perfect age for the original animated Mulan. It was this joyous riot of humour with music that I can still repeat verbatim today. However, it is also one of those films that as you grow up and the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia start to fade you begin to see it is not a film without its issues. With that in mind, this was one of the only Disney remakes that I was interested to see remade in live-action, but I am not sure it got to where it wanted to go.

So to set the scene, along the Northern Silk Road, a witch Xianniang (Gong Li) is helping a Rouran warlord Böri Khan (Jason Scott Lee) attack garrisons of the Imperial Chinese Empire. To respond to this threat, the Emperor (Jet Li) signs an edict that one man from each household must be conscripted into the army to fight the menace. This is a dilemma for one family because the only man is Hua Zhou (Tzi Ma) who badly injured his leg in the last war and has only daughters. Being called up to the army would be a death sentence for him, something his wife Hua Li (Rosalind Chao) sees. Seeing the inevitable outcome, Zhou’s daughter Mulan (Yifei Liu) takes his place even though it would mean her death if she is found out.

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Movie Review – Black is King

TL;DR – A visual masterwork and required viewing if you have Disney+    

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Awards:

Nominated: Beautiful Cinematography & Stunning Costumes
Winner: Stunning Costumes

Black is King. Image Credit: Disney+.

Review

Today we review a film that might be the oddest film I have watched from a conceptional perspective. It is a reinterpretation of the story of the Lion King remake, a movie I thought was okay but not much more. But this reframing is the barest framework the film uses throughout to explore everything from religion to music to race and more. This should not work, but it does.      

Black is King. Image Credit: Disney+.
It explores many themes during its runtime and gives each and every one of them the justice they deserve. Image Credit: Disney+.
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Movie Review – Artemis Fowl

TL;DR – There is a lot of promise here that unfortunately falls flat at every turn.    

Score – 2 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Artemis Fowl. Image Credit: Disney.

Review – Some genres really excite me when I get to see them, and one of those is when you crash fantasy and science fiction together. It is a delicate balance to get right, but when you do, it is grand. So a story where all the tales of fairies and such are real and they still live, but in high-tech cities under the Earth, well you have me intrigued. But you need to do something more than just intrigue, which is where we fall flat from almost the start.     

So to set the scene, we open in on Fowl Manor in Ireland, who is currently under siege, by the press and police. As the police arrest a Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad) and take him to a black site for integration, he speaks of magic as it is real, to the amusement of everyone. However, as he continues he lets everyone know, it is not Artemis Fowl Sr (Colin Farrell) they should be concerned with, but his son Artemis Fowl (Ferdia Shaw). Artemis is just a kid, a brilliant kid, what threat could he be? Because isn’t it the father, the thief, that is the real threat, or is there something darker at play?    

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Movie Review – Toy Story 4

TL;DR – A fitting end to a series that I have loved   

Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Toy Story 4. Image Credit: Disney/Pixar.

Review

I am not sure if I have ever walked into a cinema with as much trepidation as I did when seeing Toy Story 4. I have mentioned in the past how much I adored the conclusion to the trilogy in Toy Story 3, indeed it is one of my favourite animated films of all time. Given they had wrapped everything up so neatly in 3 I was wondering what was going to be the point? Was this just a cheap cash grab, was this going to be a victory lap or was this just an epilogue? Well, it ended up being a combination of the last two and thankfully not the first.

So to set the scene, it has been a little while since Toy Story 3 and Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and the rest of the gang are getting settled in their new home with Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw). It has been a difficult transition for Woody because he is no longer the leader of the group of toys anymore. Well, Woody needs to be helping so he sneaks into Bonnie’s first day of school and to comfort her he sneaks her some crafting supplies. All good, Bonnie is happy and Woody was not caught, so no problems. Okay, so there is one small hitch because Bonnie created a new friend Forky (Tony Hale) and he just came alive and he is about to go AWOL during their family vacation.

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Movie Review – The Lion King (2019)

TL;DR – An animated marvel that unfortunately comes off as a disjointed mess at times   

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

The Lion King. Image Credit: Disney.

Review

I’m going to be honest right from the start here, I had some real trepidation on walking into The Lion King today. I consider the original animated film to be one of my all-time top animated films. In the 25 years since I first watched it, it still holds a special place in my heart, even though those 25 years were filled with hot takes about authoritarianism and plagiarism accusations. However, something about this remake just was not jiving with me. Well now that I have seen the full film I am happy to say that it was not the disaster I thought it would be, but wow does it have issues.

So to set the scene, and if you have seen the original film you can probably skip this section. We open with dawn breaking on a very special day in Pride Rock. Because this is the day that the new prince Simba (JD McCrary) is being presented to the animal kingdom. As Rafiki (John Kani) raised the young cub up in front of all the animals that have gathered Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and Sarabi (Alfre Woodard) watch on with pride, but someone is missing. Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) the brother of the king is absent and his absence is notable. He wants the throne for himself and he will stop at nothing to make that happen. Well, one day when young Simba and Nala (Shahadi Wright Joseph) escape their watcher Zazu (John Oliver) and take a trip to the elephant’s graveyard an opportunity lands in Scar’s lap.

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Countdown – My Personal Top 10 Animated Films of All Time

TL;DR – There are so many great animated films and I struggled to limit them to just 10

Countdown

Last year I went through and made a list of my Top 10 Films of All Time, and it was only after I posted it that it occurred to me that no animated films made it into my Top 10. This was an odd revelation because I loved animated films and while a couple came close to getting into that 10th position and I think today that my top animated film would be on that list somewhere, I thought it was time to give animated films the showing they deserved.

There are so many animated films released every year and a lot of the time there are just awful, when you are aiming your films at 5-year-olds quality it seems is not high on the list. However, every year creative geniuses throw that stigma aside and create works of art that sit in my head and make me think of them years later. So today we are going to look at my personal top ten animated films of all time, but before we start a couple of quick notes. Firstly, these are my favourites and they may be different from your favourite films, so let me know what ones I missed in the comments below. As well as this, they are current to when I am writing this list in 2019, it may change in the future, and the top three are mostly interchangeable, but I had to put them in some sort of order.

As with all our lists, there has to be some kind of criteria or else there is just no way you can keep it to just 10 entries. So for this list, they are:

  • Films that are examples of beautiful art
  • Films that use the medium to tell interesting stories
  • Films that are always re-watchable
  • Films that have added to my love of the art of cinema

Now before we begin the list here is our list of ‘Highly Commended Animated Films That Almost Maybe Could Be On The List, Oh No I Am Rethinking Everything’ are: An American Tail, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Big Hero 6,Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, Fern Gully, Finding Nemo, Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder, Inside/Out,Ghost in the Shell,  Kubo and the Two Strings,Kung Fu Panda, Monsters Inc, My Neighbor Totoro,Mulan, Pete’s Dragon, Princess Mononoke, Robin Hood, Shrek, Space Jam, Spirited Away, Tangled, The Incredibles, The Jungle Book, The Cat Returns, The Great Mouse Detective,The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones,The Land Before Time,  The Lego Film, The Lego Batman Film, The Nightmare Before Christmas,The Prince of Egypt,Titan A.E., Up, Wallace and Gromit, WALL-E, Wreck it Ralph & Zootopia. Well before I re-question all my list let’s dive in and explore my Top Ten Animated Film of All Time, and no they are not all going to be Disney, and there may be some spoilers in there for the films.

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Movie Review – Aladdin (2019)

TL;DR – It is a good, sometimes great film, but it does fall into some of the same traps as other Disney classic remakes of recent years.    

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is midish-credit dance number scene

Aladdin (2019). Image Credit: Disney.

Review

I’m not sure if I have ever been so apprehensive walking into a film before. For me, the original Aladdin holds a special place in my heart and without a doubt, it is my favourite from the entirety of the Disney Renaissance. However, this more than any of the recent remakes have had a very rocky history with its promotion misfires on top of the simple worries of how does an Aladdin film without Robin Williams? Well, some of those fears were put aside in the first couple of minutes of the films, others not so much.

So to set the scene, we open in on Aladdin (Mena Massoud) who is walking through the streets of Agrabah with his monkey companion Apu (Frank Welker). He is an orphan, or street urchin, or as the guards call him a street rat. He lives by stealing from others and then surviving off the small returns. But this is not your every day, because someone new is in the markets, someone who clearly does not belong, Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) in disguise. One musical number later and all is right in the world, however, The Sultan’s (Navid Negahban) Grand Vizier (Marwan Kenzari) has other plans, for he is searching for the ‘diamond in the rough’ and his macaw Iago (Alan Tudyk) might have just found it.

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Movie Review – Mary Poppins Returns

TL;DR – This is a film with two halves, the beautiful story of a family coming together in the face of a crisis with the help of Mary Poppins, but also a story about how it is individuals and not big corporations that are bad … from Disney … umm  

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Mary Poppins Returns . Image Credit: Disney.

Review

Mary Poppins is a movie that is quite dear to me. When I was a child it was one of those films that we would watch as a family on a Saturday night. I honestly I was not really all that on board with the remake/sequel hybrid film all the trailers seemed to imply that we were about to get. As well as this, I am starting to get a little tired of Disney’s ‘Weaponised Nostalgia Era’.  Well, that is what I thought walking in, but then a wave of joy enveloped my life leaving a smile on my face and tears rolling down my face.  

So to set the scene, it has been a number of years since the first film and the Banks’ children have grown up. Michael (Ben Whishaw) is, well was, a painter, who married and had three lovely children Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) before his wife tragically died. This has understandably sent ripples through the family, made all the worse when there is a knock on the door and we discover that the bank is foreclosing on the house because Michael has fallen behind paying back a loan, the same bank his father helped run, and the same bank he currently works for. Well, the whole family, including his sister Jane (Emily Mortimer) helps to look for their father’s shares in the bank in the last ditch effort in saving the house, when who should appear at the end of a kite, none other than Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) herself.

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