Moana (2016)

Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Moana Movie Review

Moana is a 2016 animated musical fantasy adventure film that is the 56th Disney animated feature. It is such a wonderful, old-fashioned Disney film which I liked a lot.

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If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

I found the plot to be very good, if some plot points felt obvious. To me, the film succeeds the most as an adventure owing to its pure, unabashed sense of fun and discovery. I loved that about it as nowadays we rarely see these kinds of films and here we’ve got a grand sea adventure for the ages.

Of course the Polynesian setting is beautiful and highly authentic and intriguing. I loved that we got to meet this culture and their traditions, it definitely felt original and refreshing in that aspect. Another strong thing about it is its lack of villains. Moana has no villains whatsoever in it and that was great and realistic. The villain is the nature and its forces which was great to witness and so refreshing. I loved that the film focused more on the relationship between its two characters than on action. But the action is great too and actually the entire last battle and especially the final appearance of the goddess was just beautiful to behold and it was the best and most epic scene in the entire film.

Let’s talk about the characters. Moana is pretty good as the newest Disney princess. Yes, sometimes she felt too arrogant and annoying to me in a typical feminist fashion. But she was mostly likable and I liked that the movie was about her for the most part and her journey is so well established and her ups and downs are dramatic and emotional.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

As for Maui, I don’t know about this one. Mainly because I dislike Dwayne Johnson and his voice so much, I did not care about this character much. Auli’i Cravalho did a much better and more natural job in her voice performance. But even though the two are great together and their tumultuous friendship feels like one of those classic Disney friendships from yesteryear, I still did not like him individually. He had some great moments, but was overall too unwilling to help her at first, too selfish and his humor felt forced to me. Really not a fan.

I liked the fact that the movie chose to focus mostly on these two as that led to a better developed relationship between these two, but it still has a couple of memorable supporting characters in it. To me Moana’s parents and especially her father was a walking cliché, but the grandmother was such a kind and wonderful person and their relationship was so sweet. Her death scene was really impactful and tragic. Tamatoa as this gold-obsessed coconut crab was the closest that this movie came to having a villain and I really liked him. He was a memorable and sometimes even funny character and he served his purpose and made an impact for a short screen time he received. I would have really liked for them to have focused on Pua instead of Heihei and that was unfortunate as Pua is such an adorable, lovable pig whom I liked a lot. But Heihei is also pretty good as this incredibly stupid rooster and some of his gags were quite funny. He truly is the dumbest Disney characters of all time.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Moana is a musical and to me it succeeds as such much more so than ‘Frozen’ did because it has more than one really good song. The overall score was really good too. Tulou Tagaloa is a short, if good opening for the movie, but I loved its Polynesian sound and language. That is the major strength of this movie – finally we see a Disney movie that utilizes the culture it depicts in its soundtrack!

An Innocent Warrior is another strong Polynesian number, it has beautiful vocals and is really moving. But I disliked Where You Are quite a bit as it is so bland, so forgettable and it is probably the weakest song in the entire movie. I also disliked You’re Welcome which featured too much rap and Dwayne Johnson singing is not my cup of tea. That sequence is comedic and it explains his character well, but the tune as a whole was annoying.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Shiny is a much better rap song. I still dislike that that genre was featured here as it does not fit, but I found the song’s chorus to be very catchy and memorable. But I have to say that I strongly disliked how this song started, but more on that later. I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors) was to me such a powerful number and not that much in the tune itself, but in terms of storytelling and characterization, it probably succeeds the most out of any song here as it perfectly helps us prepare for the storm and is so emotional and with beautiful vocals.

Logo Te Pate is also such a catchy, fun number that I liked a lot. But the highlights are naturally How Far I’ll Go which was Oscar-nominated and We Know the Way. How Far I’ll Go is such a classic Disney song in its style and it perfectly helps develop the character of Moana while also having a great scene to accompany it with good imagery and such good lyrics. But it is so immensely catchy too.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

But to me We Know the Way is easily the highlight. I love this song so much! With superb lyrics and a great usage of Tokelauan language, it features such a great scene as a whole and I just loved that backstory in this movie. But it is such a catchy tune, so catchy and so fun that I actually have listened to it at least fifty times so far. It is a new Disney classic song in my opinion.

So naturally I love these songs so much and I think the soundtrack is mostly superb and stupendous, but I really disliked the musical direction in this film. For example, We Know the Way just sort of started and those transitions were not the most polished. But as I said above, Shiny starts in such an unappealing way with the character basically saying that he is going to sing. I disliked this meta approach to the songs so much as it basically adds another strong reason for musical haters to hate the genre. I would have liked a more respectful approach.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

I liked the humor in Moana quite a bit, but I liked that it was mostly dramatic and that it focused on adventure and drama the most. It is a high-spirited adventure, but it succeeds in emotion as well because a couple of scenes are just so powerful, either poignant or uplifting. And some scenes, such as the last couple of them, are grand and majestic in both scope and emotion. The film is definitely ambitious in some areas.

The animation is gorgeous to behold. I loved its use of hand-drawn animation, but this is the first computer animated film from Ron Clements and John Musker and the results are more than stellar. The character designs are pretty good, but the highlights are some of the highly memorable imagery and the ocean. The water is so well animated and a character in its own right.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

The film is well edited and well directed, I found the tone to be well handled and diverse and the film is emotionally engaging, but the dialogue needed to be much bigger to sell those abundant conversations and emotional scenes better. And because the film was too simplistic and definitely unoriginal in its storytelling, it never achieved the status of those Renaissance flicks from the nineties, but it came actually pretty close at times which I did not expect. And I loved that it was a return to classical Disney musicals and that is the major reason why I liked it more than Zootopia’ from the same year. it has its problems, but it is so wonderful and adventurous that it mostly succeeds.

Moana has its problems such as some typical plot points, a lack of stronger dialogue and I really dislike Maui and the film’s annoying meta approach at times, but the film succeeds as a high-spirited, grand adventure and it is a return to those classic musical adventure films from Disney which is why I loved it so much. The characters are mostly good, the film is very emotional at times, its lack of villains is admirable, some scenes are just beautiful and majestic to behold and the film’s Polynesian setting is so well utilized and intriguing. But the soundtrack is just fantastic with so many great, catchy or emotional numbers with the highlights being How Far I’ll Go and especially We Know the Way which are definitely future Disney classics.

My Rating – 4

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A Monster Calls (2016)

A Monster Calls Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls is a 2016 fantasy drama film directed by J. A. Bayona and starring Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones and Sigourney Weaver. It is one of the year’s best films.

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Because humans are complicated beasts.

You believe comforting lies, while knowing full well the painful truth that makes those lies necessary.

In the end, Conor, it is not important what you think.

It is only important what you do

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A Monster Calls Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

It follows Conor, a child whose mother is terminally ill. One night, he is visited by a giant monster who begins to tell him stories that serve as life lessons and help him cope with his pain. This film surprised me because it started off in a regular manner, but ended up being very original and smart. It is one of the most sophisticated films of its type I’ve seen recently.

It deals with a subject matter of cancer which is overdone by now, but finds a new way to approach it like all the best films do. It shows us how it is okay to accept death of your loved ones and even wish it to come sooner in order to stop the pain. That emotion makes us human and it shows that none of us is perfect and we are all complex beings. I loved that statement and it was so clever and thought-provoking.

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A Monster Calls Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

Rarely have I seen a more emotionally raw and dark film. That is why this film is certainly not for children and even not for teenagers. It is adult and mature and intended only for that audience in my opinion. It is actually so dark that it was overwhelming at times, but it was mostly pleasantly serious and in the end emotionally rewarding, even if it can leave you in a depressed state afterwards.

I really liked the characters. Conor was great and such a realistic and complex kid. His mother is sweet and I really liked his strict grandmother too. And even the father had his moments. All of the performances are excellent with the exception of Sigourney Weaver whose accent is just so bad and it took me out of the movie whenever she talked. But Felicity Jones is terrific in an underrated performances and Lewis MacDougall is absolutely fantastic! Wow, I don’t know where Hollywood suddenly manages to find all these incredibly talented child actors, but his performance is once again (after Jacob Tremblay in ‘Room’) one of the best male performances of the year. So strong, so believable and so emotional. He was great in an extremely difficult role which is so commendable.

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A Monster Calls Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

A Monster Calls was obviously based on a book and sometimes it was too evident and at first I thought it didn’t translate well into the big screen with those three stories, but I changed my mind after witnessing those story sequences. The visuals there are absolutely amazing owing to some artistic and wonderfully moody animation. And they all served their purpose and actually were very well incorporated into the overall picture leading to one of the best adapted films of the year.

The editing is excellent and the direction from Bayona is expectedly great. I loved its cinematography as well, some shots were terrific. Even though I loved the dark visuals overall, I found the design of the creature to be overly bland and familiar. I just didn’t like it, though Liam Neeson naturally did a great job voicing the character.

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A Monster Calls Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

So the film sounds great and it looks really good, but it also has a great script, characters and acting and it is uncommonly clever for this type of movie. But it also possesses a big heart and truly its last sequence is emotionally powerful and just heartbreaking to witness. I loved it so much. This is clearly a drama instead of fantasy. It has fantasy elements, but they are obviously not real and that was a very interesting development. I found the film’s realism commendable and its dialogue is also surprisingly strong and again very down to earth. I would even call the movie artistic in its storybook sequences which felt inspired even. It is a film that has it all and I am so sad that it was such a huge commercial failure and even the critics didn’t appreciate it as much as it deserved, not to mention that it didn’t garner a single Oscar nomination which is just a travesty.

A Monster Calls features a very bland creature design and a pretty bad British accent from Sigourney Weaver, but Felicity Jones was great and Lewis MacDougall gave one of the year’s best performances as he was so great in a very difficult role. The story is intriguing, the tone is admirably dark and although it is difficult to watch and depressing, it is ultimately emotionally rewarding and it has such a great message and is overall stupendously sophisticated. It is one of the year’s finest and most underrated films.

My Rating – 4.5

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The Golden Compass (2007)

The Golden Compass Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

The Golden Compass Movie Review

The Golden Compass is a 2007 fantasy film directed by Chris Weitz and starring Nicole Kidman, Eva Green, Daniel Craig and Dakota Blue Richards. It is a solid, underrated film adaptation.

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“One thing I do know, Lyra, you mustn’t grasp at the answer.

Hold the question in your mind, but lightly, like it was something alive.”

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The Golden Compass Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

Now this was an interesting film for me as I departed largely from the general opinion of it, both from audiences and critics. It is based on ‘Northern Lights’ which is the first novel in His Dark Materials trilogy. And even though it is obviously a very problematic adaptation, it is still a very solid one and it didn’t deserve the mediocre reviews at all. It isn’t great, but it is somewhat satisfying.

In terms of storytelling, it mostly succeeds. The entire first and second acts are just phenomenal and very faithful to the source material which I did not see coming and it made me happy. The entire movie is actually quite faithful and some scenes are even directly taken from the book both in scenery and in dialogue. But of course that third act is just so troublesome in every way. They basically decided to cut off the last couple of chapters and intended to feature it in the second film as they had already filmed those scenes. But because the film failed both at the box office and with the critics, they never made the sequels and thus we’ve never seen those scenes which is so unfortunate. And the ending where she was going to Lord Asriel thus felt disappointing, abrupt and did not provide the necessary closure.

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The Golden Compass Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

But that is the only problem I’ve had in terms of the story as otherwise it was really well crafted and adapted and the action was great and not excessive thankfully. But the character development is definitely quite weak and the characters are just never as memorable as their book counterparts. Lyra is very disappointing and she got more of a passive role in the movie and was overall not as complex. Pan was solidly utilized. Mrs. Coulter is excellent and Nicole Kidman did such a great job in her role, very menacing and she stole every scene she was in. Lord Asriel is disappointing. I didn’t imagine Daniel Craig in this role, but he was solid. The problem with him is that they cut off too many of his scenes. Serafina Pekkala is actually quite solid and Eva Green was perfectly cast for the role. Lee Scoresby is likable as he was in the novel and Iorek Byrnison is very good and looked great. But I agree with the critics in that the heart is missing and the film is just never heartwarming and is too cold like its glacial setting.

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The Golden Compass Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

There is no denying the film’s visuals as it truly is technically accomplished, absolutely gorgeous to behold. The special effects are splendid, fantastic and they aged really well. It is in fact one of the best looking movies of the 2000s decade. It thoroughly deserved its Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

But the film’s scenery is just as good and the cinematography is amazing. I loved the scenes with Oxford and England looked wonderful and some of the scenes were jaw-droppingly gorgeous to witness. But of course I loved the icy scenes later on and the bears were well designed and both the film’s exteriors and interiors were quite inspired. The costumes were also top-notch as was the film’s score and sound effects. It was obvious that they poured the last penny on the production values and it paid off as the visuals are the film’s strongest asset.

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The Golden Compass Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

The action is also pretty good and The Golden Compass is actually pretty well edited and paced if you naturally discount that awful third act. Now obviously it wasn’t as clever as the book was, but that wasn’t the problem to me as the film is meant to be more of a visual and kinetic experience. And it did deliver on both fronts as the action is quite good and memorable and some scenes were just as I imagined them. The dialogue, although not great, is mostly solid and passable. Overall, I think it was undeservedly judged and although far from great, it is better than most book-to-film adaptations.

The Golden Compass is an undeservedly judged movie that is actually quite solid and never as mediocre as critics made it out to be. Yes, the third act is just awful as they basically cut off the last couple of chapters from the book and thus left no closure to it plus the characters are never as memorable as they were in the written form, but the film is still satisfying because in terms of the plot it was actually very faithful and great before that third act and it is a visual feast for the eyes with absolutely gorgeous scenery, exquisite costumes and brilliant special effects that rightfully won the film its Oscar.

My Rating – 3.5

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Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review……………………………………………………………

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings is a 2016 stop-motion adventure film directed by Travis Knight. It is Laika’s fourth feature film and it is pretty disappointing.

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If you must blink, do it now

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Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review……………………………………………………………

The film revolves around Kubo who has magical powers and whose left eye was stolen. Accompanied by Monkey and Beetle, they must subdue the Sisters, Raiden the Moon King and his army of evil spirits. This is the kind of a film where it took me a while to realize just why I didn’t enjoy it more as it seems to be perfect in every way, but it just isn’t. And that is the point here – almost all of the plot points are very good, but the film is somehow not great as a sum of its parts and the story just isn’t all that fascinating.

I enjoy Eastern animation and I did enjoy its influence on this film, but in terms of storytelling and tone, it is too much of an American film. Let me elaborate. Japanese animation is mature and serious and this movie is like that many times and it deals with serious issues and it has some incredibly creepy moments, but the overall tone to it is frustratingly light-weight and comedic and it just doesn’t fit in with the story.

But Kubo definitely has a stupendous story. I liked all of its elements and I particularly liked the use of ancient music as well as the overall setting which was great. Those sisters were phenomenal foes and quite creepy actually. The horror elements here were awesome. And even though it somewhat affected it in terms of scope, the twist itself was very interesting and I didn’t see it coming at all.

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Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review……………………………………………………………

Kubo is a boring protagonist, but Monkey and Beetle are much more memorable. They aren’t that great individually, but in a group and together they are terrific and the character interactions were great here as was the overall group dynamic. As for the Moon King, I never really found him all that interesting as a major villain and, without spoiling anything, how they concluded his story was pretty odd and somewhat stupid in my opinion.

Kubo and the Two Strings has absolutely gorgeous stop-motion animation which has now become a standard for the Laika studio. I loved all of the details and the world building is mostly solid. It could have been much more epic in scope, but what we got was still good. Some of the character designs were pretty inspired with the sisters and Monkey being the highlights, so well done. And the color palette is excellent.

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Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review……………………………………………………………

Kubo is well paced and well directed by Travis Knight, but I just found its voice acting to be quite uninspired. It isn’t terrible, but it is far from great as both Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey gave weak performances and the casting in particular is quite bad in this one. And the other flaw is the emotion. The film is emotional and I guess melancholic, but because I just wasn’t that invested in its characters, I never really felt anything which was a big problem for me. And that is this movie in a nutshell – it is seemingly great, but to me personally it never quite came together as a whole and I was quite disappointed to be honest.

Kubo and the Two Strings has expectedly gorgeous stop-motion animation, good mythology, very interesting twist in the third act, it works great as an adventure film and most of its plot points are very good, but it isn’t that great as a sum of its parts, the tone is way too comedic and not fitting in with the plot and I just didn’t feel anything mainly because I didn’t connect with the characters and because I found the voice acting to be not that great.

My Rating – 3.5

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Hercules (1997)

Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

Hercules Movie Review

Hercules is a 1997 animated musical fantasy comedy film that is the 35th Disney animated feature film. It is such a minor, but very entertaining Disney entry.

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I’m a damsel, I’m in distress, I can handle this.

Have a nice day.

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Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

It is based on the titular legendary hero who is the son of Zeus. And this of course all comes from the wonderful Greek mythology. And that makes it the second Disney film to be based on the myth or legend after ‘Pocahontas’ released two years prior to this one. Here the change in pace was quite welcome as we have never before seen a film from this studio tackle such a subject matter and they mostly did a good job with it, if admittedly far from a great one.

Now of course the film follows the very familiar trope of an underdog/superhero origin story and that is certainly typical, but definitely well done here as the film is entertaining from start to finish. It marks a major departure from the other films released during the Renaissance as it is rarely serious and is much more comedic in tone. In fact, it is definitely a comedy at its core and there is nothing wrong with that as it’s a fun romp that also has a big heart and some genuinely memorable characters.

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Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

Speaking of the characters, the protagonist is definitely a typical heroic type you’ve seen countless times before. He is charming for sure, but definitely forgettable. But Megara charges this movie and is easily the most memorable and best character of the bunch. First of all, she is animated and presented differently and is for once a more realistic in looks female character which is great. Another great thing about her is her backstory which is dark and I loved the explanation for why she’s working for Hades and it all ties well into the overall arc and her relationship with Herc. She is such a funny, realistic and extremely likable personality and it’s a shame that she’s not regarded as one of the best Disney female characters when she most certainly is.

These two are fantastic to watch together. In fact, their romance is one of my favorites from the studio as they are just so charming together and those romantic sequences are pleasantly playful and charming. It is at its core a traditional love story, but it’s presented in a more modern way which makes it more relatable.

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Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

Phil is solid and I liked his character quite a bit here. He wasn’t as funny as he ought to have been, but he is such a good soul and some of his moments brought a smile to my face. Another great relationship is between him and Herc too. Hades is definitely a joke of a villain in the vein of Captain Hook from ‘Peter Pan’. He is too easily defeated and is never menacing. But he is still good for this type of movie as he is very funny at times and such a delightfully memorable presence on screen. Zeus is great and I liked how the Gods were depicted and animated quite a bit, Pegasus is of course endearing and Pain and Panic are such amusing, at times hilarious henchmen for the villain that they are quite underrated characters in their own right. The voice acting here is fantastic with Susan Egan, Danny DeVito and James Woods all knocking it out of the park.

Hercules is never animated as artistically as most of the other Renaissance flicks which makes it inferior in comparison. But it is still good when viewed in its own context and honestly the designs here are simply phenomenal. The character designs in this movie are some of the most original in the animation history as they look like their representations on those vases and they look like they actually came from this particular time period. That is something that ‘The Prince of Egypt‘ would repeat a year later, but this movie came before which makes it quite unique in that matter. The film is also pleasantly colorful and its color palette also fits well into this world. The animation here is another testament to how great Disney once was at adapting its songs and animation within the time period.

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Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

However, the songs in Hercules are quite the opposite. They never fit in with the period as they are way too modern. But that wasn’t a problem to me as these songs are just so good. And of course incredibly underrated, at least some of them are. The only song here that I honestly really dislike is One Last Hope. Danny DeVito is good in this role, but his voice is too distinctive and here that shows a lot along with his lack of a greater musical talent. But the song is above everything else very boring and the scene too should have been better.

The Gospel Truth is inferior too, but a solid opening and I liked its backup sinking quite a bit. A Star is Born is another similar song, but very well sung and very catchy. I liked these female voices a lot actually. Go the Distance is a typical Disney song in its entirety, both in imagery, plot and tone. It is a regular “I wish/I can do it” song and it sets up the rest of the movie just fine and is admittedly very well sung, but the melody itself is boring and the lyrics aren’t the greatest.

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Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

The two best songs from Hercules are of course Zero to Hero and I Won’t Say I’m in Love. The first one is just so incredibly catchy and one of the fastest and most purely entertaining Disney songs ever with fun lyrics and such a phenomenal melody. I loved that it also has two parts and both are absolutely terrific.

And of course I Won’t Say I’m in Love is the highlight both in terms of music and in terms of storytelling. The sequence that came before it is so wonderfully romantic, but this scene is phenomenal, so well filmed and with great imagery. It is such a perfect vehicle for Meg and it wonderfully propelled her character forward, but it is as a song just awesome. It is a Disney ballad turned upside down with an added feminist twist of sorts as the girl doesn’t want to fall in love this time around, but can’t help it. Its lyrics are so good and the song is so catchy and instantly memorable.

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Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

I liked the action sequences here, but they still could have been a bit more majestic. The pacing is totally off and the entire third act just felt rushed which is weird as the material there is so good and it had the potential to be much better executed and much grander. The ending is so wonderful, but those scenes that came before it were admittedly rushed. The film is moving at times and always charming and the humor and dialogue are definitely strong, but it is never ambitious or particularly memorable in any way which is its main problem. It is fun and funny, but never great and always just good. And even though it wouldn’t stack up pretty high on the Disney list, it is still a very fun ride when watched singularly.

Hercules definitely lacks ambition, the pacing is totally off as the third act is rushed and even abrupt plus some of the songs and scenes were subpar, but the film is a fun and funny ride with solid humor and such phenomenal, memorable characters with Meg being one of Disney’s finest heroines. It also has an interesting animation style to it, it is moving at times, very charming and it has a very good soundtrack with Zero to Hero and I Won’t Say I’m in Love being the highlights.

My Rating – 4

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Ghost (1990)

Ghost Movie Review…………………………………………………………

Ghost Movie Review

Ghost is a 1990 romantic fantasy thriller film directed by Jerry Zucker and starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. It is a pleasant, authentic blockbuster film.

It follows the woman in jeopardy, the ghost of her murdered lover and a reluctant psychic who assists him in saving her. The plot here is incredibly original and never have I seen something like this in a movie before. Basically it is a romance, it has a chick flick gene to it, but it is also a thriller in most of its parts while being a fantasy and even a comedy and horror in the process. Needless to say, the film’s very diverse genre mix makes it very unique.

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I love you. I really love you.

Ditto.

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Ghost Movie Reviews…………………………………………………………

Now of course it doesn’t always work and it is stronger in some genres than in others. For example, not every fantasy element here worked and truly the object moving could have been better utilized with the Subway Ghost becoming ridiculous whereas he was before pleasantly creepy in the only horror scene in the movie. As for its thriller elements, they are solid and are definitely well executed, but that is the element that reveals its age the most.

The romance here is strong, not as strong as it needed to be because they couldn’t quite develop their relationship with the little time they got. But it was still pretty moving and epic. What I didn’t like was its ending, the previous scenes leading to it were pleasant and romantic, but the ending itself I found to be overly emotional in a typical romantic comedy manner.

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Ghost Movie Review…………………………………………………………

Ghost surprisingly enough succeeds as a laugh riot the most as it is just so funny and so inherently amusing in many of its scenes. Whoopi Goldberg and her Oda Mae Brown are the reason why this movie is so good and so incredibly entertaining. She is absolutely fantastic and deservedly got an Oscar for this wonderful role. She is much better than both Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze and much more memorable. The relationship between her and Sam Wheat is excellent and I just loved their scenes and her character who is so funny while still being caring.

Ghost has solid effects for its time, but now some of them are admittedly cheesy. The mythology here is solid. It is never as explained as I wished them to have been, but still for a blockbuster like this, the plot is actually really well crafted. The editing I found to be exceptional as the movie is never rushed and never boring. It is actually the most purely entertaining film I have seen in a long time. Its screenplay isn’t as sophisticated and some of the physical humor and action was over-the-top, but most of it was fun and charming instead of obnoxious.

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Ghost Movie Review…………………………………………………………

The characters are strong. The villain reveal was expected, but he was still a solid villain. And I found the tone to be really good as the film is definitely very lightweight and humorous, but never too much and it knows when to be serious and sad. The score is absolutely fantastic and that theme that was repeated throughout was really beautiful. The dialogue is solid, but in the romance department, it can be too maudlin. And the romance between the two is definitely solid, but never as great as the script demanded it to be. But the film is so good in so many areas that I’ve had a great time watching it.

Ghost is overly emotional in its ending and sometimes a bit silly, but the film is such a terrific, one of a kind, hugely entertaining experience with such an intriguing mix of thriller, fantasy and romance, but its humor is also very strong and that is actually the best part here with Whoopi Goldberg being amazing and she easily steals every scene she’s in. 

My Rating – 4

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Topper (1937)

Topper Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………………

Topper Movie Review

Topper is a 1937 fantasy screwball comedy film directed by Norman Z. McLeod and starring Constance Bennett, Cary Grant and Roland Young. It is a disappointing comedy.

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I’ll be out before you can say Jack Robinson – only don’t say it for a few minutes.

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Topper Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………………

It follows a stuffy man who is haunted by the ghosts a fun-loving married couple who want to help him loosen up in order to get to heaven. The premise itself is marvelous and it really had potential for greatness, but the execution is weak and sometimes quite problematic leading to a disappointing movie that is just solid and never as great as it easily could have been.

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Topper Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………………

The acting is easily Topper’s biggest achievement. Everyone here did such a great job in excellent roles as the characters themselves are easy to define, but memorable and likable. Roland Young is the best and his Oscar nomination is very much deserved. Constance Bennett is also very good and quite charming and she steals every scene she’s in. But Cary Grant disappointed me. Not his performance as he is always great and is the same in this movie, but I expected his role to bigger as I am a big fan of his, but he is the least utilized of this threesome unfortunately.

Topper is well directed by Norman Z. McLeod and mostly really well paced and shot. I really liked its use of nature as that is always hard to come by in a 30s movie, but here it was all the more memorable for it. And I really liked the driving sequences which were of the most entertaining here. All of the characters are great and the wife of Cosmo is also really memorable and sometimes even quite funny.

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Topper Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………………

So what is the problem here? Well, that is the humor. Screwball comedies are my favorite subgenre of comedy as they are always charming and hilarious. But Topper is never hilarious and is in fact rarely genuinely funny which was so disappointing to witness. I don’t know why they didn’t utilize on this awesome premise, but somehow only the first act was quite funny at times and, as I said, those nature and driving sequences were excellent. But the second half is repetitive in its plot and humor and some of the humor as well as the supernatural aspects are very dated to be honest. Most of its supernatural aspects is solidly put together and the special effects are most definitely terrific for its time, but the rules here aren’t as well governed and the physical humor gets pretty repetitive and for a movie with ghosts in it, it is never inventive which was a real shame to see. Those are the reasons why the film left me unsatisfied in the end.

Topper is very well acted with Constance Bennett being very memorable in her role and Roland Young being deservedly nominated for an Oscar, the premise is terrific and some sequences here are charming and funny, but most of it isn’t as funny as it should have been and it is never as inventive or as entertaining as the premise demanded it leading to a disappointing screwball comedy.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Movie Review………………………………………………………

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Movie Review

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a 2010 fantasy adventure film which is the third installment in the Narnia franchise and undoubtedly the weakest one.

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You know, extraordinary things happen to extraordinary people.

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Movie Review………………………………………………………

I was immensely disappointed in this adaptation. I adore ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ and it is one of my favorite Narnia novels. But this movie adaptation fails on many levels and rarely succeeds at bringing this wonderful source material to the big screen. Now, the book is so wonderfully adventurous, but the movie isn’t. It is much more boring and slower than the novel and despite a couple of great sequences, most of it is uninspired and ruined.

The movie fails in terms of the character development. By bringing this ridiculous green mist, they sacrificed the true drama of the novel in favor of some stupid fantasy exposition. In the novel, all of the characters are on an ordeal and they have to conquer their worst tendencies and become better people in the progress. But here some of it is only present, but most of it is done in a supernatural manner which leads me to believe that the filmmakers didn’t even understand Lewis’s work.

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Movie Review………………………………………………………

It was absolutely ridiculous to me that Edmund of all people gets to battle his inner demons the most when he should be the calmest and most sane person of the group as he had already conquered those doubts and fears in the first book and movie. Lucy is better developed, but even she isn’t as great as she was in the book. Caspian has his moments, but is boring. The only ones who weren’t destroyed here were Eustace and Reepicheep who are both terrific. Eustace is excellent and, though most of the actors were weak, Will Poulter was pretty good and was brilliantly cast. All of the drama surrounding him was very well put to use and he remained a dragon much more in this movie and that is the only change that is done even for the better as it strengthened his relationship with the mouse who was here as memorable as in the book.

The ending was emotional as in the novel and I loved Aslan’s role and how everything ended. The movie also starts well, but everything in the middle is very unfortunate as it tended to focus on action instead of adventure. Yes, the sea serpent is memorable, but that action sequence is awfully prolonged and boring and to me they ruined this material and presented it is in the worst blockbuster fashion. Almost none of it is as magical as it should have been and even Coriakin and Dufflepuds were too me weakly put to use.

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Movie Review………………………………………………………

Now frankly, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader does look good. I imagined it even better as the descriptions were so vivid, but they mostly managed to make it right with good special effects and some pretty solid scenery. The ending and the boat in particular looked fine. I liked that the running time wasn’t as extended this time around and although somewhat slow, the film isn’t boring and is even more engaging than sometimes pretty dull ‘Prince Caspian’. But having in mind how the book was simply magical, the charm was lost in this very disappointing adaptation.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader does look good, Eustace and Reepicheep are very well utilized and some scenes are moving and great, but this is mostly a very disappointing and weak adaptation that is more likely to please those not familiar with the source material, but to me it was such a problematic adaptation of a great novel with a poor focus, very badly interpreted message and a tendency to focus more on action instead of adventure. It is okay as it has its moments, but it is never as magical as it should have been.

My Rating – 3

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Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Pete's Dragon Movie Review………………………………………………………

Pete’s Dragon Movie Review

Pete’s Dragon is a 2016 family fantasy adventure film directed by David Lowery and it is the newest Disney live-action remake. It is a solid, but typical endeavor.

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You can’t say ‘dragon’ over the radio

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Pete's Dragon Movie Review………………………………………………………

The film tells the story of an orphaned boy who befriends a dragon in the forest and the ensuing repercussions of their discovery by the town’s local residents. It is the remake of the 1977 eponymous movie and it succeeds as a remake for two reasons. One is that the original itself is one of the weakest, if not the weakest, live-action animated Disney feature so it was pretty easy to top it which this one did. And the second reason is that it abandons the original’s storyline in pursuit of its own.

And that latter approach is done for better and for worse. On the one hand, it certainly works better to have a live-action adaptation that isn’t a cheesy, overlong musical and is rather a straightforward adventure movie. But the problem here lies in its familiarity. We’ve seen this countless times before. Just in this movie you can see the influences of ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘How to Train Your Dragon’. It is never original and it never has anything truly unique or interesting in it.

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Pete's Dragon Movie Review………………………………………………………

Pete’s Dragon is still done really well despite its tired plot. The execution is so good that it is actually one of the better kids’ flicks of this type. I particularly liked its third act which featured some pretty good action scenes and a very good conclusion with a strong emotional payoff.

But the characters and their actors are not the greatest. All of the characters are as typical and as forgettable as you would expect from this type of family film. And by the way, the entire film is incredibly forgettable, both the remake and the original, which is something that this property never managed to overcome. And the actors are very weak or they gave weak performances. The child performances are solid, but Bryce Dallas Howard was much better and much more memorable in ‘Jurassic World’ and Robert Redford is… well, let’s just say that he seemed like he didn’t want to be there. That is his performance in a nutshell.

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Pete's Dragon Movie Review………………………………………………………

But even though I criticize it too much, Pete’s Dragon is actually a good or solid at least movie with especially good CGI. I did find it typical for today’s movie to have an animal that acts like a dog, but Elliot was otherwise really solid both in his look and in his personality. And the relationship between the two is been there, done that, but at least it is very well done and sometimes actually quite moving and warm. The soundtrack is good and definitely fitting in its country genre, but it still had way too many songs in it. The structure of the movie is good, but it is sometimes a bit too slow and uninvolving. And the beginning was weird as it just kind of started, but the other parts are all good with the entire third act being a real winner. All in all, it is a solid live-action adaptation, but both ‘Cinderella and ‘The Jungle Book’ were much better in my opinion.

Pete’s Dragon is sometimes uninvolving, definitely forgettable, weakly acted and overly familiar in its storyline, but it is also pretty heartwarming at times, its third act is very good, the special effects are solid and the movie succeeds as a remake because they took a different approach that worked in its favor and it ended up being much better than the original which was very weak.

My Rating – 3.5

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The BFG (2016)

The BFG Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG is a 2016 family fantasy film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill. It is a very good, underappreciated family flick.

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Why did you take me?

Because I hears your lonely heart,

in all the secret whisperings of the world

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The BFG Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

An orphan human girl befriends a benevolent giant who takes her to Giant Country where they attempt to stop the man-eating giants that are invading the human world. I really enjoyed this movie and I found the plot to be mostly very good, which is expected from a Roald Dahl material. It is such a wonderful, old-fashioned family fantasy adventure that it is such a shame that it did poorly at the box office. My appreciation for Spielberg’s lesser valued movies over those more well liked ones continues with The BFG.

The first half is splendid, magical and just wonderful to behold. I loved how fantastical it is, but also adventurous. And I admired its childlike approach with less darkness and more light. That was unexpected for this age which is why I found it pleasant and quite welcome. And yes, the second half is silly. The protagonist coming with the giant to see the Queen of England naturally leads to silliness. However, even though it was a bit too silly, I still liked it as I found the humor there to be pretty funny and charming, if admittedly juvenile.

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The BFG Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

I loved the characters. Yes, the girl could be a bit annoying at times, buts she is mostly likable and the relationship between the two drives the movie as it is simply beautiful and so effervescent. This movie is the best Disney film that Disney has never made, that is the best way to describe it and to explain why I dug it so much. The titular Big Friendly Giant is absolutely magnificent and such a wonderful creation. All of the other giants are typically malicious, but memorable and I liked the queen quite a bit.

Mark Rylance destroyed this movie and he made it totally his own. It is amazing to behold how wonderfully they mixed his performance within motion-capture and he truly gave one heck of a performance. His smile is infectious and the look in his eyes is so warm and just wonderful to behold how he achieved a lot with just his looks. He is easily the best part of the movie and it is such a shame that he received an Oscar for his not so great performance in ‘Bridge of Spies’ when he is obviously so much better here. Infinitely better.

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The BFG is well directed by Spielberg, but also very well shot and exquisitely looking in special effects. Some of it was a bit too like an animated movie, but most of it was pretty good and the highlights were those dream making sequences as they were filled with wonderful colors and such beautiful visuals. The film is awkwardly paced and a bit too long, but it is mostly very engaging which was great. Ruby Barnhill was quite weak at times and she was a problem in a movie which needed her great performance just as much as it needed Rylance. But she is a child actor which is why I am not holding much against her. Overall, the movie is definitely flawed, but it is so good for the most part that I found it to be wonderful.

The BFG is an obviously flawed movie with a weak child performance at its center, somewhat problematic pacing and a silly second half, but that second half is funny and entertaining, the entire movie is wonderfully old-fashioned and childlike, it is visually pleasant, the relationship at the center of it is so moving and it benefits from a particularly inspired performance from Mark Rylance who carried the entire movie on his shoulders. Such an underrated film.

My Rating – 4

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