A genre that Netflix often struggles with is animation when it comes to films, every once and awhile you will get some really good ones like Klaus or The Sea Beast for example. But a lot of the time they really land on the forgettable territory.
I watched The Magician’s Elephant yesterday (at the time this was written) and I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly what happens, mainly due to just how forgettable it really was. The few good qualities come from the animation, which does have it’s issues with the human characters. But for everything else it’s smooth and is nicely done for the most part. The voice cast isn’t too bad, it’s clear everyone involved is trying their absolute hardest to make this work.
What really does this movie in is mostly in the writing department, there’s so much potential here that could be written thoughtfully and in a way that could even resonate with audiences. But unfortunately it’s written in the sort of way a lot of bad kid’s movies tend to be, focuses a bit too much on humor and relies on very bland character moments to tell a story. The movie really lacks the spark in it’s writing to get the audience engaged and ultimately leads down a forgettable path.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the newest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is the introduction to Phase Five. Phase Four was the very definition of a mixed bag leading towards the bad side (Wakanda Forever, Loki and a few others are exceptions.) so this was definitely the chance to start the new phase off strong…that did not happen unfortunately.
To be absolutely fair I do think Quantumania is a bit better than some of what phase four had to offer and it is definitely better than the last Ant-Man movie (Ant-Man and The Wasp), but that honestly does not mean much when it suffers a very common problem that a lot of the MCU has been facing lately. Before we get into that there are the positives.
Like everyone has said and will continue to say Jonathan Majors easily steals the show as Kang, he plays such a strong villain and puts his powerhouse acting ability into the role which leads to some quite fantastic moments, similarly Michelle Pfeiffer does a fantastic job here as well, she plays Janet Van Dyne who is actually decently written here, granted there are some scenes where had the writing been so much stronger the character could have improved. But from what was shown it wasn’t too bad, Pfeiffer and Majors are truly at their best when they share the screen together and are able to combine their talent.
Lastly there’s the father and daughter relationship that Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton) that while does come off a bit basic at times, it’s mainly due to Paul Rudd and Kathryn Newton being so likable as performers that really makes it work, because Cassie Lang as a character was just not exactly well written at all here. But as I said Newton takes what she’s given and makes the most of it.
Unfortunately everything else is a complete and total mess that just about sums up the main issues currently going on with the MCU, first off the movie is just the usual MCU formula again. Rather than tell a story the movie focuses on introducing the main villain of the new phase Kang, which while is nice it sacrifices writing, storytelling, character development and much more. Most of the other characters are given almost nothing to do especially Hope and Hank who are largely given a backseat this time around.
MODOK is unfortunately not used well at all, he only really serves as a sort of example I’ve used in the past with a lot of MCU films and that’s “the Dragon Ball Z movie henchmen effect) which basically means he’s given a few scenes and then gets written out of the movie. Darren Cross (played by Corey Stoll) makes a return from the first Ant-Man, what’s shocking is somehow this movie manages to make Cross even less interesting to the point where him as Yellowjacket was more investing than him as MODOK. But what really hurts MODOK is the stuff the movie decides to do with him towards the end, it’s the usual MCU humor that flat out makes very little sense given Darren Cross’s personality and the story.
Lastly Quantumania just doesn’t risk any stakes, which I imagine is going to be a huge problem with this phase given that it’s about the Multiverse. Which if you aren’t going to risk any stakes or do something out of the ordinary at least try and build interesting characters and story elements, which is what this movie really lacked. The Star Wars similarities are painfully obvious and really don’t serve any point other than for someone to point and say “hey isn’t this like Star Wars?”
Overall Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is basically an extended TV episode, it’s main purpose is to introduce the main villain which as I said Majors is one of the best parts. But doing just that sacrifices just about everything else.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is available in theaters.
I’m not going to pretend that the Night At The Museum movies were masterpieces, but the thing with those movies is they were genuinely a lot of fun and had so much charm to them. But I guess this series much like The Diary Of A Wimpy Kid series is getting the soulless animated movie treatment, Night at the Museum: Kahmunrah Rises Again is a sequel to the last movie (even though the series wrapped up actually pretty nicely but oh well) and any of the charm the live action movies had are completely absent here. What made Night at the Museum interesting in the first place was seeing the wax figures, animals, dinosaurs and others come to life in live action, trying to execute that in 2D animation completely takes that charm and excitement factor away. It’s worth noting that this is the first 2D animated film to be released under Disney since Winnie The Pooh. I love 2D animation and have nothing against it but the animation is just not good here, often times it comes off more like a rejected pilot from the early 2000s and less like something that was actually worked on and released. The voice cast just doesn’t have the magic that the cast from the other movies had, while nobody does a bad job here and they are definitely trying their hardest. There just isn’t anything memorable about the characters in this one. Combine that with a plot that’s another generic “evil villain wants to take over the world” plot and you have yourself a very forgettable movie that a lot of people will just say “oh hey that released” and then never talk about it again.
Night at the Museum: Kahmunrah Rises Again Is available on Disney+
I wish there was a lot to say about Slumberland a $150 million dollar budget Netflix original directed by Francis Lawrence, but to be quite honest there really isn’t. The movie at least looks a bit more appealing to the eye when compared to Red Notice and The Gray Man, but that’s mainly due to the fantasy elements here that actually do give the movie some sort of life. Jason Momoa puts on a very different type of performance here that is genuinely charming, Marlow Barkley also gives a charming performance as well, for a Netflix child actor performance this is definitely one of the better ones. The main issue comes in story wise where it plays out way too similarly to a lot of fantasy movies, the whole “person discovers a new land full of creatures” has been done far better before, what’s very unfortunate here is Francis Lawrence’s direction is just nonexistent here, maybe it’s because this is entirely different from what he usually does but a lot of what makes his direction interesting is just not here. The raw emotions in Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 2, the strong chemistry in Water For Elephants, the sense of building a strong atmosphere in I Am Legend and so on. It often times looks like the movie is going to try and do something interesting but quickly goes back to playing it way too safe. Every now and then you get some charming moments with Momoa and Barkley but otherwise this is very forgettable and definitely overstays it’s welcome with a nearly 2 hour running time. Overall despite my many complaints Slumberland isn’t exactly terrible it’s rather forgettable and just sits there as another addition to the forgettable Netflix movie pile.
Disenchanted is the long awaited sequel of 2007’s Enchanted a film that quickly gained a relatively big following including myself. Enchanted was genuinely really fun film filled with a lot of heart, passion, character and had a huge identity to it. It’s been one of those films where people have wanted a sequel for a long time, Disenchanted is the end result and they completely dropped the ball here. What’s sad is there just isn’t a whole lot to say about Disenchanted as it’s a forgettable movie that completely takes out all of the magic that made Enchanted so great. The positives come from Amy Adams who returns as Giselle, she’s clearly putting her heart into it and actually sings a lot of the songs very well, Idina Menzel is actually not bad here either a song she sings towards the end “Love Power” is actually quite great and beautifully sung. James Marsden who just isn’t given enough screen time here is truly charming and actually gives all the moments that made me laugh, you can’t help but smile whenever he’s on screen which is sadly just not enough. Everything else here is about as generic as you can get between a very typical disgruntled child or teen storyline that ends with learning a lesson, which really has the energy of something from the Disney channel in the early 90s it’s truly a huge missed opportunity to look at Morgan’s (played by Gabriella Baldacchino) character and her relationship with her mother Giselle in a way that could connect with the audience. But they just settled with the most generic way possible that is way too forgettable, Disenchanted is a frustrating movie because this is most definitely something you can make into a great movie, but the forgettable script, a lot of the basic original songs and the storytelling is severely lacking and loses the magic of the original.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is the last film of phase 4 of the MCU (the last part of phase four is the Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special which is releasing next Friday) and it was a very strong way to close a rather very mixed phases. The first five minutes of the film alone is one of the best scenes Marvel has ever done, they really worked Chadwick Boseman’s passing into the story very respectfully and carefully which in the end gives plenty of incredibly strong moments. There’s a lot of character bits here this time around sort of like how Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 was more of a character piece, here it’s quite similar only that the themes are much more different. The themes here is loss and trying to cope with losing the people you looked up to most, the performances here absolutely compliment this well. Letitia Wright who plays Shuri is a very strong lead who really does a great job with her performance, Angela Bassett who plays Ramonda absolutely nails it she gives one of the best performances of the year and truly steals every single scene she’s in. Bassett has always been a powerhouse performer who really puts in so much passion in so many roles she’s in and here is no exception, Lupita Nyong’o who plays Nakia is really strong here as well, it’s great to see her character again after being absent for awhile and it’s also seeing that she gets a lot to do in the film. There’s tons of powerful moments with her character and gives a ton of development that’s quite investing. Finally there’s Tenoch Huerta who plays the villain of the film Namor, his character is refreshing to mainly due to actually having a well developed motive. He’s not the stereotypical “I want to take over the world” type of villain he actually has a short but very well done flashback scene that really develops his character and why he is doing certain actions and what’s the goal. All of this really blends together well that ends up creating some really emotional moments especially during the beginning and the very end of the film, the film does have it’s hiccups mostly with Martin Freeman and Julia Louis-Dreyfus who are just sort of there, they do a decent enough job with what they are given but it’s really not anything special. The tone is drastically different from the other scenes and has the energy of a CSI episode when it comes to the scenes with the two. Dominique Thorne who plays Ironheart is decent enough here and has pretty okay introduction, but it’s not anything particularly great either. Unfortunately Ironheart isn’t all that interesting here and ends up being there mostly for comedic relief, however when Thorne is given some strong moments she does quite a great job. Lastly there’s plenty of action scenes that are really strong one in particular that really steals the show, the major thing that really separates Black Panther: Wakanda Forever from a lot of the other phase four projects is that there were actual themes and high stakes for the characters, there was a sense of loss where anything could happen. It was an investing film that actually studied the characters and gave them their flaws rather than just not show any at all. Overall Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is by far one of the better parts of phase four, outside of the few hiccups as mentioned this is a entertaining yet character moment filled film.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is currently in theaters.
Pinocchio is the newest of the Disney Live Action Remakes and is by far one of the absolute worst ones, it’s truly baffling to me how badly they messed this up. The original Pinocchio is one of Disney’s absolute best films they have ever done, it’s a story that was both dark but also very charming as well. This remake however takes everything the original did perfectly and completely misses on what made it so well done, the only positive I can give here is Cynthia Ervio as The Blue Fairy and her performance of “When You Wish Upon A Star” she did a beautiful job and has a tremendous singing voice that captures the magic of the song. The rest of the movie is missing a key element that the original had a lot of…heart and magic, the original movie despite the dark nature of some of the story was also filled with so much heart in it that made the characters so lovable. In this movie Geppetto (Tom Hanks) and Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) have absolutely no connection between one another, which was a key part of the original movie. So that really defeats the purpose of the story the movie is trying to tell, the CGI is bafflingly cheap some of the movements from the characters are either delayed or just don’t match. Monstro was done horribly with this movie, which again brings this back to Geppetto and Pinocchio. Monstro was an important part of the original Pinocchio serving as bridge to Geppetto’s and Pinocchio’s chemistry, in this movie it is so poorly done and has no passion put into it at all. Which is the main issue here this movie has the biggest “we don’t care” attitude to it, nothing here other than Cynthia Ervio has no energy, heart or passion put into it. Which is exactly the problem with a lot of these remakes (outside of a few) they heavily rely on cheap nostalgia and don’t even do justice to the original movies, what’s unfortunate is this could have been decent, Robert Zemeckis who despite his last couple movies not exactly being that great. Is still a very talented filmmaker who’s given us tons of classics (Back To The Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Forrest Gump) I only have to assume that he wasn’t given the creative freedom because this a lifeless movie that is so horribly written is not the thing you think of when you think Robert Zemeckis.
Not going to spend too long talking about this one simply because I haven’t seen the series it’s based on which is Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it’s one of the many incarnations the TMNT franchise has had (side note I grew up with the 2003 version). I knew of this version but knew very little about it, for what the movie is it’s pretty fun and genuinely charming as well. It definitely has a bit more humor than some of the other incarnations but it’s not enough to take out of the movie, there’s some genuinely good bits between the turtles and how they care about each other plus their brotherhood. The animation is actually very well done, it takes time to get use to especially if you haven’t seen the series before but there’s a lot of attention to detail here that brings the movie itself together quite well. Krang as the villain was quite great it’s refreshing to see another TMNT movie that doesn’t have The Shredder as the main villain for a change (as much as I like him). The action scenes are very well done and the build up to the final battle is quite great and surprisingly touching as well, the final act is very satisfying as well. There’s a ton of action combined with some character moments that wrap up the film very nicely, overall Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a very solid movie, even if you aren’t a fan on the incarnation of the show it’s based on I still recommend checking it out especially if you are a TMNT fan.
Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie is available on Netflix.
The Sea Beast is directed by Chris Williams who partly directed Big Hero 6 and Bolt, Netflix animated films have a huge tendency to go in a lot of different ways much more of the time not very good. While The Sea Beast is pretty much a How To Train Your Dragon clone it still manages to create a beautiful picture and makes some of the elements it’s own, for starters the animation is bright, colorful and very well detailed it adds a lot to the characters world and really makes the sea itself huge. The characters surprisingly get a lot of development, there’s some really interesting dialogue that points to a lot of interesting themes that are used. The scale of the movie completely matches the concept of sea monsters, pirates and the sea itself, it’s a huge world with so much to look at on screen. The film makes the viewer’s eyes go on an adventure which is something that I wish a lot of other films could do, the voice acting from the cast mainly Karl Urban, Zaris-Angel Hator, Jarred Harris and Marianne Jean-Baptiste is truly fantastic and really dives deep into their respective characters. Overall The Sea Beast is definitely a film that is going to be overlooked, so highly recommend checking this one out!!
Obi-Wan Kenobi is the newest Star Wars series that finished recently, the series takes place ten years after Revenge Of The Sith. We follow Obi-Wan Kenobi who’s went into hiding for awhile but is brought back up once a task to protect Princess Leia is given. I’ll start with what the series does right and the most obvious is the acting, everyone involved does a really solid job. Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan is once again brilliant, Vivien Lyra Blair as Princess Leia is actually pretty charming and captures some of the mannerisms that Leia would go on to have. Hayden Christensen as Darth Vader is fantastic and James Earl Jones doing his iconic voice for Vader is brilliant as ever, this series really makes Vader quite terrifying and shows just how intimidating he always has been as a villain. Lastly there’s Moses Ingram who does a solid job as Reva, the filming is quite nice combined with the atmosphere the film gives. If there’s a major thing the series lacked on is it doesn’t really feel complete, there’s some characters that could have easily gotten more development had it not been only 6 episodes. There’s definitely parts of the writing where they hint at the idea of diving a little deeper but never fully go through with it, the finale is definitely the standout as there is a very strong final battle that the series has been building up to. Some of the action scenes during the series are quite great, one notable one is Obi-Wan first meeting Darth Vader. That’s the one that truly made Vader terrifying, overall Obi-Wan Kenobi is not a bad series! It’s by far one of the better Star Wars TV series to come out and is pretty enjoyable for what it is.