I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown (2003)

I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown Review

I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown Review

 I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown is a 2003 animated television special and the 43th entry in the Peanuts series. It is a very weak special.

Rerun wants a pet of his own and eventually gets him but realizes that dogs are too much work. I do not get the point of this special whatsoever and it is one of the most troublesome, pointless and overly pessimistic Peanuts specials and that says a lot. Rerun is a fine, but forgettable character and it is a big problem that none of the other characters appear here aside from a couple of good scenes with Lucy and Schroeder.

I liked that it was a dog-centric episode, but other than that and the fact that some scenes are very good, most of the other scenes are either boring or lack any meaning to them plus the special is over forty minutes long and there just weren’t any need for that as the plot is overly simplistic. It truly is one of the weakest Peanuts specials.

I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown has its moments, but it is overlong, pointless and boring.

 My Rating – 3

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Bosko’s Dizzy Date (1932)

Bosko's Dizzy Date ReviewBosko’s Dizzy Date Review

Bosko’s Dizzy Date is a 1932 animated short film from the Looney Tunes series. It is a solid, yet quite forgettable Bosko/Honey outing.

As these two go, I’ve seen much better films. It is still solid and it has some really funny scenes, but overall it is never as hilarious or as entertaining or as charming as you would come to expect from the duo. I found the entire first third or so quite dull, uninspired and uneventful as the core lies in the second half.

I loved the scene where Wilbur the cat mocks Honey’s singing. That was absolutely hilarious. Again the film lacks focus and there is a lot going on towards the end, but most of that action was fun such as the ending where Honey is quite amusing. Bosko is likable here and the two are fun, but never as charming as they usually are.

Bosko’s Dizzy Date has a couple of excellent scenes, but mostly doesn’t utilize its pairing particularly well.

 My Rating – 3.5

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Super Mario 64 (1996)

Super Mario 64 Game Review……………………………………………………………..

Super Mario 64 Game Review

Super Mario 64 is a 1996 platform game created by Shigeru Miyamoto by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 console. It is an important, influential game which is still very good to this day.

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Super Mario 64 Game Review……………………………………………………………..

It’s a me, Mario!

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So this is a pretty revolutionary game in the video game history as it is one of the first 3D games ever and it influenced the medium of 3D platformers being the granddaddy to them all. It is also one of the first to employ open world exploration in it and non-linear and vast levels and stages. Not everything in Super Mario 64 aged well and more on that later, but the 3D graphics and the overall level designs and gameplay did age stupendously well as they are impressive.

Of course the plot here is pretty simplistic as it has Mario trying to save Princess Peach who is held in her castle by Bowser. But as platformers go, the plot is fine and the characters are surprisingly well utilized with Mario being memorable and very funny with his Italian speech impediment being amusing. Some of his lines here were just hilarious and they made me laugh almost every time.

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Super Mario 64 Game Review……………………………………………………………..

Now let’s talk about the gameplay. It has fifteen courses and in each one of them there is a possibility to get seven stars and when you get seventy stars, you can unlock the final boss. This star system was incredibly advanced for its time and works so well and proved to be naturally influential. I liked it as it gave you room to explore a lot, but you didn’t have to get all the stars if you didn’t want to. I loved that they gave you that choice. But because you basically have to get seventy starts in the entire game and for each star you have to complete a task of which at least half are quite demanding, the game ended up being very satisfying in terms of longevity. I played it for weeks until finally finishing it.

But another reason why I played it for so long lies in the difficulty level which is tremendously high. It is actually not one of the hardest games I’ve played, but a couple of tasks and levels were some of the most demanding and frustrating I’ve played so far in any game, that’s for sure. Admittedly some tasks felt too irritating in their apparent masochistic tendencies, but mostly its incredible difficulty proved to be a rewarding experience.

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Super Mario 64 Game Review……………………………………………………………..

The problems of Super Mario 64 are twofold and unfortunately both of these problems are so big that they prevented me from giving it a higher grade. One is the level design. It is mostly stupendous and well thought out, but some of the tasks were super frustrating nonetheless because there is no chance in hell anyone could find some secrets and stars and finish those small tricky tasks that felt overly specific and just ridiculous. Nobody could finish this game without looking at internet help and that was really problematic.

But an even bigger problem is the camera. Wow, what annoying camera movements. The game is important for having an advanced camera system for the time, but unfortunately now it is dated and definitely mediocre. They gave you the option to change the view for yourself, but it was horribly implemented so I never used it myself. And the camera moved as it deemed fit and sometimes the choices were horrible and actually could hurt your chances at finishing a particular quest at time and just right.

But there is no denying that the graphics is where the game shines and it truly is a groundbreaking achievement. The stages and courses are so well depicted owing to awesome world building and quite impressive level designs, but the game is fluid for its time with good colors and pretty good character designs too.

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Super Mario 64 Game Review……………………………………………………………..

The sound effects were top-notch and the score is actually very exciting, memorable and fun with many catchy and fittingly fun or dark tunes according to the stages themselves. The game is so well crafted on almost every level technically, discarding only the camera angles. I also really liked its boss fights. Most of the tasks were excellent and sometimes it was wonderful exploring the castle and its various courses, but the boss fights and levels that led to them were the highlights in their closed world, dangerous and demanding approach plus the Bowser fight was just fantastic. It took me a lot to beat him as the level is so hard and perfectly constructed and it was all the more rewarding watching those end credits afterwards. In the end, I really liked and respected this game despite its couple of flaws.

Super Mario 64 definitely felt dated and annoying in its horribly implemented camera angles and some tasks and quests were too specific, but other than that, the game is actually really respectable, groundbreaking in its graphics and so incredibly well crafted on almost every level with great sound effects and such memorable and amusing title character. The level designs were great, its 3D was awesome, the world building is impressive and the game is demanding, yet always fun and charming to play.

My Rating – 4.3

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A Great Big Bunch of You (1932)

A Great Big Bunch of You ReviewA Great Big Bunch of You Review

A Great Big Bunch of You is a 1932 animated short film from the Merry Melodies series. It is a weak short.

After a string of successful, excellent entries, A Great Big Bunch of You breaks that glorious turn with a very weak film with an interesting setting and characters, but they are dull and never well developed at all. I found the film good in terms of the technical aspects such as animation and of course score and sound effects, but it was slight in terms of the story and characters.

It is another one of those Merry Melodies that feature an interesting scenario and intriguing characters, but because it relies heavily on music and boring movements, they never did anything truly authentic or memorable with them so the film ended up being disappointing and quite boring to be honest

A Great Big Bunch of You is well made, but ultimately dull and disappointing in execution.

 My Rating – 3.2

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20th Century Women (2016)

20th Century Women Movie Review………………………………………………………..

20th Century Women Movie Review

20th Century Women is a 2016 comedy drama film directed by Mike Mills and starring Annette Bening, Elle Fanning and Greta Gerwig. It is such a peculiar film.

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Whatever you think your life is going to be like,

just know, it’s not gonna be anything like that.

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20th Century Women Movie Review………………………………………………………..

When I say peculiar, I mean to say that I just do not have a definite, clear opinion of it and that rarely happens to me. But there is just a lot to love and a lot to hate here. To me the story mostly falls in the latter category as the film felt aimless in my opinion with no statement or message present whatsoever. We just follow the lives of these people, but only in 1979 and that timeframe meant that the film was too narrow and it somehow tried to be more epic in scope, but it failed.

Dorothea is the best and most realistic character here, but all of the others were too weird. Jamie was to me quite annoying and plain unlikable, Abbie was a typical Greta Gerwig character and one of the rare instances where I found her just repeating herself and Julie is also quite familiar and actually also unlikable. That is definitely a problem here as all of these people are pretty annoying for most of the running time. But the acting is definitely quite good with Annette Bening stealing the show and delivering a strong performance in a demanding role.

I liked the dialogue quite a bit, but 20th Century Women still felt overly feminist to me personally as some lines were ridiculously aggressive. Some conversations were great, but others felt unrealistic and just plain silly.

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20th Century Women Movie Review………………………………………………………..

The movie is a dramedy, but to me nothing was funny here and it works much better as a drama. The emotion is problematically conveyed here. The first half in particular was overly sentimental and it just wasn’t earned back then when we hadn’t yet known the characters or their stories, but the second half is much better and it has some moving parts there. All in all, I liked this film to some degree, but it was mostly too weird and annoying for my taste.

20th Century Women is very strongly acted across the board plus it features some moving scenes and quite interesting conversations, but the first half was overly sentimental, most of the characters are very unlikable and so annoying and the film is mostly too aggressive in its themes, weird in its characters and ultimately somewhat aimless in plot.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Bears and the Bees (1932)

The Bears and the Bees ReviewThe Bears and the Bees Review

The Bears and the Bees is a 1932 Silly Symphony animated short film by Disney. It is one of the better entries of its time.

I really liked this cartoon as it is immensely endearing. We follow two mischievous bear cubs who play around and find honey, but upset the bees who thankfully turn their attention to another big bear and attack him instead. That final part was definitely troublesome. I wouldn’t punish the little bears either, but having them enjoy the honey all by themselves and the big innocent bear take the blame felt problematic. Such an odd choice from the writers.

But other than that, it was a great little film which is actually very underrated and one of the best Silly Symphonies of 1932 for sure. The animation is pretty good and the character designs were pleasing. But I loved how sweet the cubs looked and their playing around was wonderful. It is the kind of simplistic, yet very well crafted entry that I wish there more of them like this, without music and with an emphasis on humor, heart and characters.

The Bears and the Bees definitely has an odd ending, but fine animation, endearing characters and it is such a sweet little film and quite underrated.

 My Rating – 4

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The Subtle Knife (1997)

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Book Review…………………………………………………..

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Book Review

The Subtle Knife is a 1997 fantasy novel written by Philip Pullman. It is a very good sequel, yet never as great as the original novel.

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It’s like having to make a choice: a blessing or a curse.

The one thing you can’t do is choose neither.

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The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Book Review…………………………………………………..

As the second entry in the His Dark Materials trilogy, The Subtle Knife ultimately disappointed me as it just wasn’t as compelling nor as fantastical as its predecessors. Whereas ‘Northern Lights’ was magical and filled with memorable imagery, this one is set in a different and unfortunately much less interesting world.

Lyra ends up in the new realm and meets Will who came there accidentally after killing a man who chased him. His father has connections to Dust and Lyra’s scientists and he is after him and the two join forces in attaining the compass Lyra lost and later gaining the possession and power of the titular knife. That is the plot here and, needless to say, it is never really fascinating, albeit still very well told. I liked the ending and although abrupt and too much like a second part of a trilogy ending, it was still memorable, dark and tragic. Actually the entire second half of the novel was quite tragic and serious when you think about it.

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The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Book Review…………………………………………………..

The highlights were the first couple of chapters which were very well written and exciting. It was great meeting Will and this new world. Of course everything with the knife and alethiometer was also memorable and I really liked the character of Charles Latrom who was a compelling villain. And naturally Mrs. Coulter continues to be a strong, dangerous presence when villains are concerned.

I really disliked the fact that almost the third of the novel was told from the perspective of Lee, the witches, Gruman and others. Those chapters were very dull, uneventful and just never as interesting. I get the decision to have other points of view and other storylines on the side, but to me the villains should have gotten that spot along with this time entirely absent Lord Asriel and that would have been infinitely more interesting.

But I still really liked Gruman and his death was unexpected and very dark. Having Will lose his father just after he’s found him was a bold and ultimately admirable choice on the part of the author. And of course Lee’s death was just so immensely tragic. I really like him as he is such a sweet soul which is why his death felt heartbreaking and that emotion was very much earned.

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The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Book Review…………………………………………………..

But the kids are naturally the standout characters. It was odd that Lyra made so many mistakes this time around whereas she was such a heroic lead in the previous entry, but she was still realistic, tough and very likable in her flawed personality. And as for Will, he was too much of a flawless kid in my opinion, but I still rooted for him and I found the friendship that formed between the two very satisfying.

The Subtle Knife is very well written by Philip Pullman and the descriptive passages are excellent. The dialogue is also solid. But this time around the imagery was just not up to par with its predecessor. I found the fact that all of the worlds were different, yet mostly quite similar interesting, but ultimately a cheap method of storytelling and world building.

Cittagazze was intriguing at first, but the spectres were very typical creations in my opinion, unoriginal and not particularly interesting, at least not to me. The knife itself was, on the other hand, very interesting and I liked its usage and that it cut the portals to different worlds. That led to a lot of very interesting action.

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The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Book Review…………………………………………………..

Even though the book is great in many of its parts and quite suspenseful at times, it isn’t particularly sophisticated and it is never coherent or as well crafted as a whole and a sum of its admittedly very good parts. That is because the structure is odd and unappealing. The book consists of important parts, dialogues and action, but almost every one of them felt unnatural and more of a succeeding coincidence than a natural plot progression. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked this book a lot, but it just was never as great as ‘Northern Lights’ was.

The Subtle Knife has more than a couple of memorable and suspenseful parts, it is very dark and tragic at times, the character development is strong and it is mostly well crafted, but it isn’t great as a whole because the structure isn’t the greatest, some chapters were tedious and uneventful plus the world building is never as majestic or as magical as it was before leading to a good, yet a bit disappointing sequel.

My Rating – 4

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Bosko the Drawback (1932)

Bosko the Drawback ReviewBosko the Drawback Review

Bosko the Drawback is a 1932 animated short film from the Looney Tunes series. It if a flawed short not without its moments.

Whenever you have a sports-oriented cartoon, I am bound to get bored as I dislike them so much. And here we follow Bosko as he prepares for a big football match and the entire second half with the game itself was dull, too crowded and overloud. Nothing there was even remotely interesting to me and the ending isn’t the greatest too.

However, the film was pretty solid up to that game. The first half had a couple of comedic gems and surely enough the preparation was the real scene stealer here. I loved how that doctor or something prepared Bosko by kicking him in the legs and butt. I love the surreal, goofy humor of the Looney Tunes and that scene featured that in abundance.

Overall, it has its moments in the first half, but the second half is dull making Bosko the Drawback a disappointing cartoon.

 My Rating – 3.5

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Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Review…………………………………………………….

Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy is a 2014 superhero film directed by James Gunn and starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista. It is one of Marvel’s finest films.

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Nothing goes over my head.

My reflexes are too fast, I would catch it.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Review…………………………………………………….

I love this film. To me the film gets better with repeat viewings and truly after the third time I’ve seen it, I bumped the rating from 4 to 4.5 as it truly is one great blockbuster film that should go down in history as one of the best, certainly one of the best of its decade.

The story is pretty good. I still think that the infinity stones explanation is weak and not good enough as it should be better explained having in mind its importance for the entire MCU, but I loved how separate this film feels from the rest of the universe as it truly works as a standalone film. The story isn’t particularly original as it has typical building up team and motivational speech themes, but it presents those in comedic manner which is why even those clichéd scenes succeed. And because the settings are great, it succeeds as a pretty good space opera in its own right.

Star-Lord is great. He is the guy Indie should have been as he is both cocky and likable at the same time. Not to mention very funny at times. Gamora is dull and is the most boring and lifeless character here. But Drax the Destroyer is superb and one of the funniest characters here. His endlessly quotable stupid lines are hilarious.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Review…………………………………………………….

Groot is very good and of course endearing, but Rocket is very underrated as he is one of my favorites here – so memorable, funny and with a great backstory. I loved every backstory to each of the characters. Ronan the Accuser is actually one of the best Marvel villains so far as he actually posed some threat and was capable all around. And I didn’t have a problem with how he was beat as this is a comedy after all. All of the other characters are also solid and of course we finally got to see a bit of Thanos here.

I liked the performances and Chris Pratt is truly very charismatic and likable in the main role. It is easy to see why this jumpstarted his career. Dave Bautista is silly and unprofessional, but he works in the context of the character. And Bradley Cooper did a surprisingly good job in his voice performance. The film is also quite well directed by James Gunn and so well edited.

Guardians of the Galaxy also looks cool with a good use of dark and colorful imagery. I liked its various planets and the special effects are pretty good. But of course the score is superb as it utilizes on the seventies hits so well with a couple of scenes being so entertaining.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Review…………………………………………………….

The action is certainly overwhelming and the third act once again succumbs to the usual blockbuster, grandiose territory, but for the most part, the action is pretty good with good fighting scenes, although not the best that Marvel has done so far. The humor is naturally so good with almost all of its characters being very funny and memorable. They work great as a team as they are so cool and infectiously dynamic together. Drax, Rocket and Star-Lord got the biggest laughs out of me, but even the smaller characters such as the one played by John C. Reilly got some big laughs here and there. In the end, Guardians of the Galaxy is Marvel’s best film after ‘Doctor Strange’.

Guardians of the Galaxy is one of Marvel’s finest films with the third act not being the greatest, but it is mostly superb and so incredibly entertaining leading to one of the best blockbusters of the decade. The characters are unforgettable, they work great as a team, the humor is fantastic with many hilarious lines, the action is solid and the movie works great both as a comedy and as a space opera.

My Rating – 4.5

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Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

Beauty and the Beast is a 2017 musical romance film directed by Bill Condon and produced by Disney. It stars Emma Watson, Luke Evans and Dan Stevens.

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My dear Belle, you’re so ahead of your time.

This is a small village, and it’s small-minded, as well.

But small also means safe.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

This 2017 version is a remake of the 1991 classic Disney animated film which is regularly cited as one of the best animated movies ever made. So naturally this adaptation was a risky venture and some may say even unnecessary. However, the end result is quite good so to me it was worth it. I liked most of the things and I truly hated just a couple of aspects so I ended up liking the film overall despite it being naturally inferior to its predecessor.

The plot isn’t as rehashed as everyone has been saying. Definitely some scenes are just way too repeated, but because those are classic scenes, you basically couldn’t do it any other way. So I am here only going to talk about those different plot points as we all know the overall story from the original film.

The beginning was a nice idea as it showed us how the prince was turned into a beast. However, they didn’t do it in the best way possible and the scene felt too safe and tame as is the whole flick, but more on that later. I have to say that I almost disliked the first act of the movie as it was mostly just repeated from the original with nothing new added to the table.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

What I liked is that we got too hear the backstory for the Beast, but the highlight was Belle’s backstory. That entire Paris sequence was beautifully conceived and executed. It was emotional and a perfect way to both progress their relationship and reveal to Belle what happened to her mother. That explanation was definitely good, but more often than not, I actually really disliked the film’s talkative, explanatory approach as they had the need to spoon-feed to their audience literally everything (how the two learned how to dance for example) and thus they lost the simplicity and sophistication of this tale and the original movie.

How Maurice got blamed and proclaimed a madman was changed and actually for the better as it was much more believable. The same goes for Agathe as I really liked her mysterious presence throughout the whole film. And the objects turning into anthropomorphic state was another good idea well executed. Overall, I liked these changes, but they were too minor and I would have liked to have seen more sophisticated additions and themes.

The characters are great. Belle is as great as before and the same goes for Gaston who is even funnier and more memorable here. Sometimes the feminist approach with Belle was too on-the-nose, but she was mostly too likable to dismiss. Beast to me was the only truly weaker character as I thought he was too timid and his design was thoroughly unappealing to me personally. Quite poor CGI there. But I have to say that the various romantic scenes that they added for the two were great and they helped strengthen their relationship even more.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

Maurice is different than in the original film, but still quite good and likable. LeFou being gay is an interesting and fitting choice, but it backfired as they didn’t do anything with it. They raised the roof for him being the first gay Disney character and I thought that those elements here were too much played for laughs and ultimately disappointing. But I liked his relationship with Gaston and how he eventually turned to the good side, that was great.

Lumiere and Cogsworth and solid and they provide some quite good laughs, Mrs. Potts is also solid albeit infinitely inferior to the original version and Madame de Garderobe and Maestro Cadenza were good new additions.

The acting in Beauty and the Beast is superb. The casting is top-notch as everyone looks the part, even Dan Stevens who is too physically unappealing for the prince, but he was like that in the original too and he gave a good performance. I love Emma Watson, I always have and I am glad that her career is as strong as ever nowadays. To me she was weaker at first, but as the film progressed, she became much more confident and ended up being great in the role. She blended in this movie beautifully as she was just born to play this role. She became Belle and I adored her.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

But Luke Evans is great as well. He managed to bring both the comedic and the serious to the role and he both looked the part and played it superbly. All of the other actors and actresses did a very good job with the exception of Ewan McGregor whose French accent is just horrible.

Now is the perfect time to talk about the songs. This is the first movie in this live-action adaptation era for Disney that is a true musical and I liked that, but to some extent. Musically speaking, it is infinitely inferior to the original and it just makes you appreciate the 1991 film even more. But I still liked that the songs were there as it was pleasant to experience them again and in live-action treatment.

Belle to me felt somehow too long and Emma Watson’s singing, although good for an actress, is ultimately subpar and I missed Paige O’Hara here. Belle Reprise is never as grandiose as it was before. Be Our Guest is actually pretty solid, although definitely too muted. I never liked Gaston so I didn’t like it here either, but The Mob Song is quite good and serves its purpose well. Something There was pretty good and quite comedic which I liked.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

All of these songs from the original are actually rather fine, but the titular song is just so bad that it thoroughly took me out of the movie. Not only did they change the song and added new instruments, they also slowed it down significantly and the entire sequence was just so poorly filmed that it was totally ruined in my opinion. I was actually quite mad for what they did here.

As for those new songs, How Does a Moment Last Forever is brief and effective and Days in the Sun features mediocre lyrics, but is a solid and somewhat catchy tune, although ultimately too forgettable. Evermore isn’t great, but it is perfectly solid with good lyrics and excellent singing. It is also accompanied by memorable castle imagery. All three of these new songs are far from great, but still turned out better than I expected.

Beauty and the Beast is a visual feast for the eyes and that is where the film shines completely. It becomes such a magical experience and you witness a fairy tale unfold right in front of you. Even the 3D was pretty solid with some good, popping moments. I loved the costumes despite Belle’s iconic dress which felt cheap, but all of the others were great and they transported you to its time period wonderfully. The same goes for the imagery and the special effects, both terrific. The score is also very good and I thought that the pacing is solid. The film is long, but it never felt like it which is a testament to how entertaining it is.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

As I said, the Beast didn’t look terrifying and was even scarier in the animated film and that was so disappointing. They should have gone with a much darker and atmospheric tone. But if there is one thing the film does better than the original, it has to be the humor which is so great. I laughed out loud quite a lot as more than a couple of lines were so clever and hilarious. The comic delivery from the actors was excellent. I actually held a smile on my face throughout the whole running time as I was having such a great time and despite its many shortcomings, I think the critics were too harsh to this movie and it is actually quite good, if far from great.

The 2017 Beauty and the Beast is a magical experience despite it being expectedly inferior to the original. Of the songs, the new ones were pretty solid in my opinion with Evermore being the best; both Belle and Be Our Guest were solid, but the titular song was totally ruined with so many incredibly poor choices being made. The characters are great, the casting is top-notch with Luke Evans delivering a strong performance and I adored Emma Watson here. She became Belle which was awesome to witness. The plot changes were minor, but quite good and even though the film should have been darker, I liked its improved humor with many funny lines and the film is a visual feast for the eyes with great costumes and effects. It is ultimately far from great, but still a satisfactory and pleasant remake.

My Rating – 4

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