Secret Society Of Second Born Royals (2020) and Ava (2020)

It follows Sam’s adventures at a top-secret training program for a new class of second-born royals tasked with saving the world.

Secret Society Of Second Born Royals is basically X-Men for a much younger audience mixed with a ton of Disney Channel original movie elements. There really isn’t a whole lot to comment on, the acting is what you would expect…terrible outside Peyton Elizabeth Lee which is hands down the best part about this movie. The writing plays way too safe to the point where it becomes predictable and really bad. It really doesn’t do anything besides repeating plots that’s been seen in far better movies. The third act feels very rushed, it feels like they had no more ideas so they went with the most predictable third act they possibly could. While the movie is very bad and I highly recommend not watching it…for the most part for a very young audience it’s harmless enough. The biggest problem with it is it really serves no purpose, it’s outclassed by X-Men and Sky High and is overall very forgettable. This could have honestly been so much worse but that doesn’t make it anything worth looking into.

3/10 D-

Ava is a deadly assassin who works for a black ops organization, traveling the globe specializing in high profile hits. When a job goes dangerously wrong she is forced to fight for her own survival.

Tate Taylor is a very unbalanced director it’s nice that he tries several different genres but most of the time his attempts turn out terrible. Sure he’s had some success with Get On Up (which is really great) and The Help (although I am not a fan of The Help but it is one of his better movies) but then you have stuff like Girl On The Train where it’s clear that creating a thrilling atmosphere is his struggle (Ma is at least fun and does a bunch of things right) Ava is one of those movies where if you have seen at least one action movie you have already seen this one. Jessica Chastain (for whatever reason is in this) is definitely the best part about it, but honestly she isn’t even that good in it either. Ava tries to copy off of almost every action movie that has been releasing in the last 3 years have a few recognizable stars and have one of them be the badass character. The problem is the action in this movie isn’t good, it does nothing to separate it from the crowd. The score consists of mostly one song just played over and over again in different styles, trust me it gets very annoying quickly. It would be one thing if the song was you know good..but that’s not the case here, it’s a piece of music that really isn’t that exciting or interesting. Ava is also yet another action movie trying to be John Wick but completely fails at it, mostly due to the action scenes which as I said before aren’t exciting at all and have no depth. The character development is barely in there and just filled with cliche characters and the writing just isn’t there to back the movie up. Overall Ava is a terrible action movie, give this one a pass.

1/10 F

Mulan (2020)

A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father.

Mulan is by far one of the better live action Disney remakes especially in awhile, the last couple Lady and the Tramp, The Lion King, Kim possible (if you count it), dumbo and a few others have really ranged from terrible to below average. Mulan does introduce a few things, such as a few new characters and does cut some things out as well. What Mulan does best at is the technical aspects, such as the cinematography, the sets, the action scenes and the music. It all comes together quite nicely and accomplishes what it’s set out to do. The acting is also fairly decent, sure there are moments that could have definitely been so much better but I do feel like the cast gets the job done. I feel like my biggest issue here was the writing, it falls in the exact same trap that a lot of these Disney live action remakes fall into. Having very safe writing and not really doing anything else, the original Mulan actually took a lot of risks (one of the main reasons it’s one of my favorite films of all time) this movie however didn’t. It’s very enjoyable luckily and as I said before it’s far better than a lot of the recent live action Disney remakes, but if you are a huge fan of the original do not expect this to be just as good. I do recommend giving it a watch though as it is a very decent movie!

7/10 B

Howard (2020)

The story of songwriter Howard Ashman who penned the lyrics for Little Shop of Horrors, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast before he died of AIDS at the height of the AIDS crisis in 1991.

Howard Ashman was one of the best lyricists of our time, this documentary about how an incredible of a human being he was really shows that. The documentary goes over quite a bit and really goes into many emotional aspects, plus what inspired him to write certain songs. Take “The Mob Song” from Beauty And The Beast for example, Howard Ashman had AIDS by the time he wrote this song, Ashman viewed the Beast’s curse as an allegory for AIDS. He was inspired to write this song from a public sentiment at the time that was against AIDS and the gay community. Which is honestly something I would never think that would be what the song’s inspiration was but it shows there’s a story even for songs you wouldn’t expect. He also wrote several classics Arabian Nights, Under The Sea, Belle, Prince Ali, Be Our Guest, Beauty and the Beast and several others. The man was a mastermind and really seemed passionate at what he does, then there’s the emotional parts of the documentary that almost made me cry. It’s honestly really sad and shows how much of a good person Howard Ashman was to everyone around him, it’s heartbreaking to watch. Overall what else is there to say really? It’s a very straightforward documentary yet something truly special and one of the best films I’ve seen so far this year, I highly recommend watching it as soon as you can!

10/10 A+

The One And Only Ivan (2020)

A gorilla named Ivan tries to piece together his past with the help of an elephant named Ruby as they hatch a plan to escape from captivity.

The One and Only Ivan is a movie I was not expecting to like as much as I did, based on a true story we have a pretty interesting story. The acting and voice acting were both really solid, Bryan Cranston, Sam Rockwell, Brooklyn Prince, Ariana Greenblatt and Danny DeVito were definitely the standouts. The writing was overall not too bad, it did have it’s hiccups at times (a few fart jokes) but otherwise there was some genuinely meaningful dialogue in the movie that was heartwarming. The movie does start off slow but picks up quickly as it goes on, the score I thought was overall well done and matched the tone of the movie. The original song from this movie “Free” by Charlie Puth and written by Diane Warren was excellent and matches the movie really well. There are some sad moments that add to this movie that are actually well done, The One and Only Ivan is a huge crowd pleaser and is definitely one of the better Disney+ Original movies!

7/10 B

Magic Camp (2020)

Andy, at the urging of his former mentor and Magic Camp owner Roy Preston, returns as a counselor to the camp of his youth hoping to reignite his career.

Mark Waters continues down a terrible path, it’s unbelievable that he is the same guy who directed Mean Girls and Freaky Friday (2003) lately he’s been struggling to make a good film Vampire Academy, Mr Popper’s Penguins, Bad Santa 2 and now this movie are truly awful. Magic Camp is something that would have been on the Disney channel back in the early 2000s, there is absolutely nothing to this movie that tries anything different. It’s a very below average underdog team movie but with a magic theme, the only thing going for this movie is Adam Devine which is strange considering how much I don’t like him. But here he is actually giving it his all, the rest of the movie is filled with terrible jokes that aren’t funny, poor acting and way too many predictable moments. It’s worth noting that this movie was shot back in 2017 this was back when Josie Totah didn’t come out as transgender (who has since come out) something that really did not age well at all was Jeffrey Tambor..who in 2017 was accused of sexual harassment and verbal abuse (which explains why it took so long for this to release). Making a lot of scenes in this movie extremely awkward, the direction of the movie is very uninspired it really doesn’t have any identity to it. Magic Camp could easily be mistaken for some other underdog team movie Disney has done, if you have seen any other underdog team movie you have already seen Magic Camp. I really don’t know what else to say, it’s a terrible movie that nobody is going to remember by the end of the month.

3/10 D-

Artemis Fowl (2020)

Artemis Fowl, a young criminal prodigy, hunts down a secret society of fairies to find his missing father.

To say Artemis Fowl is a disaster is the understatement of the year, this movie is the next level of bad. First off let’s talk about the cast, while yes the cast does seem pretty good they are all wasted or just give downright awful performances! One in particular that stood out from being terrible was Josh Gad, why on earth did he look like a cross between Aragon from Lord Of The Rings and Hagrid from Harry Potter? Can somebody please explain that to me?? Alright moving on…the writing was garbage, I genuinely can’t believe someone actually sat down and wrote this. A lot of it makes little to no sense, feels like it was written in less then two seconds and it just feels like the writers didn’t give a crap. The director of this movie is Kenneth Branagh who previously worked on Murder On the Orient Express (2017), Cinderella (2015), Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit, Thor and a few others. Which is baffling because some of the films I mentioned I quite enjoy, but the direction with this movie was just horrendous. Again it feels like there was no amount of effort at all, in fact that pretty much sums up this movie. Effort is nonexistent in Artemis Fowl, at least with some bad movies you can see that the people working on them at least tried. You don’t get that here with Artemis Fowl, it’s one of Disney’s biggest disasters in recent memory if not THE biggest disaster in recent memory with Disney. In terms of the story there is not a whole lot to say here, but from what I’ve heard that got fans of the book really angry was that they completely changed the story…and turned it into uninspired Sci-Fi story because of course they did. The story is just not interesting at the slightest, it’s a story that has been done to death numerous times and has been done better as well. Overall Artemis Fowl is a horrendous movie which I have to say is so far THE worst film of 2020

Disgrace To Cinema F

Big Time Adolescent and Star Girl (2020)

A suburban teenager comes of age under the destructive guidance of his best friend, an aimless college dropout.

Big Time Adolescence is a movie I’ve been waiting to watch since last year, luckily the wait was worth it. It’s a coming of age story that is a really solid one, it has a lot of heart and emotion put into it. With some really well written characters and meaningful ones as well, the movie also has some very well written drama that leads to some pretty memorable scenes that standout among the rest. The direction is quite great from Jason Orley, Griffin Gluck and the rest of the cast are fantastic and the overall movie is just really solid! If you need a new coming of age movie to watch check this one out!

8/10 B+

A boy becomes intrigued by a mysterious and quirky student named Stargirl and spends his time trying to know more about her.

I got to say the newest Disney Plus original film “Stargirl” is not too shabby, it might not be as good as “Togo” but it’s definitely better than Timmy Failure, Noelle and The Lady and The Tramp remake. First off Grace VanderWaal (winner of America’s Got Talent season 11) is actually pretty darn great, the songs in this movie are actually pretty good due to her singing. The movie does have a nice sense of style to it which is very surprising to see from a movie that feels a lot like a Disney channel film…..which then enters some of main issues with the film. While yes Grace VanderWaal is no doubt a great singer, the acting on the other hand is not too great, I understand this is her first actual performance (not counting the shorts) and for what it is it’s an okay start. Everyone else is about the same nothing that bad but nothing memorable at all. The writing does feel very basic at times but nothing really harmful. I feel like if I were a lot younger like maybe 10 or 11 I would enjoy this a lot more. But overall Stargirl isn’t a bad movie, it’s just a movie that I’m really not going to look back at. If you loved a lot of the Disney channel movies I think you will have a decent time with this one.

6/10 C+

Onward (2020)

Set in a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers embark on a quest to discover if there is still magic out there. Onward is definitely the movie that shocked me the most so far this year. Dan Scanlon who directed Monsters University which sadly I was not the biggest fan of. Plus I really think the advertising for Onward was not that great, however life is full of surprises and this movie turned out to be extremely great! First off the chemistry between Chris Pratt and Tom Holland was fantastic, I was really impressed with how well they both worked together, the animation was both stunning and really strong! It gave the movie it’s own unique feel which I really loved, one of the biggest reasons I was very skeptical about this movie at first was the character design and the style of the movie (adventure type) . I didn’t know if the movie could pull off something interesting with these types of characters, or pull off something new. However the movie takes a similar concept and turns it into it’s own, it throws in some Lord Of The Rings elements for the story and for the characters the movie gives them some great character development. Plus the movie does have it’s emotional moments which I will say almost made me cry, the final act is definitely worth the wait. It’s emotional, heartwarming and really well done, I had my doubts about this movie at the beginning but it proved me wrong which it ends up being one of my favorites of the year!

9/10 A

Color Out Of Space and Timmy Failure Mistakes Were Made (2020)

A secluded farm is struck by a strange meteorite which has apocalyptic consequences for the family living there and possibly the world.

This was definitely an interesting a little movie, I’ll start off by saying what I really felt was strong. Nicholas Cage was definitely the highlight, his performance was so well done and very strong too!! The cinematography was beautifully done, the direction I have to say was very strong too (for the most part) and the writing was very well done which also contained some very strong moments. Now unfortunately what holds this movie is back is it is a little messy at times, so the movie is not going to be for everyone. The first act does also drag a bit which is unfortunate, but if you can get passed that this movie is a very interesting one. 

7/10 B

An 11-year old boy who believes that he is the best detective in town runs the agency Total Failures with his best friend, an imaginary 1,200 pound polar bear. 

I think the most surprising thing about this movie is learning that the director is Tom McCarthy the same guy who directed Spotlight! Anyway I’ll keep this straight to the point if you are a fan of the books, you are most likely going to like this movie. I have never read the books or either hear of them up until watching this movie, as far as the movie itself it’s very below average. The acting is all over the place and the writing is very in the middle, sometimes there will be a good couple scenes and then other times there’s moments that are just bad. I’m sure kids will find it really enjoyable because it is very harmless and means well, but in terms of actual good filmmaking this really doesn’t do much. Also seeing a Polar Bear falling over multiple times isn’t really funny..

5/10 C

Togo (2019)

The story of the sled dog, Togo, who led the 1925 serum run, but was considered by most to be too small and weak to lead such an intense race.

See this is the kind of movies Disney should really focus on making, not make like 3 or 4 live action remakes a year. Anyway on to the movie itself, so everyone knows about Balto however this movie tells you the actual truth of what happened and Togo is actually the one who deserves all the credit, the movie does a fantastic job with explaining that. Willem Dafoe gives a really strong performance, the score is really beautiful and the setting combined with the cinematography is beautiful. Also using “The Swimmer” by Max Richter is always a plus the scene where it’s used is so beautiful and  absolutely well done. A lot of people may right this off as just okay, which I can perfectly understand why but something about this movie I just really liked! If you have been disappointed but Disney+’s original movies so far you certainly won’t be disappointed here!!

8/10 B+