I was debating on whether or not to give the Beauty and the Beast 30th celebration but decided to since I love the original film so much, anyway this celebration isn’t exactly good. H.E.R. has her debut acting role here and she does quite a great job as Belle, her performance isn’t anything groundbreaking but she does capture some of the charm of the movie and makes it her own, Josh Groban has the excellent voice to back him up from the terrible Beast costume, Martin Short is fun as always, the songs are pretty great and stay quite true to the original movie. All the classics are here from Beauty and the Beast, to The Mob Song, Something There and heck even Evermore is here that one song that completely stole the show from the 2017 live action version that’s really neat! Everything else however is pretty rough, for starters I’m not entirely sure why they weren’t committed to making this into a complete live action stage show, half of the movie is just scenes from the animated film. We miss out on a lot of moments that I’m sure the cast would have nailed had they been given the opportunity, it’s just sort of that moment where if I wanted to watch the animated film I would put on the animated film. It’s nice to see Rita Moreno here and she tells a little history about Beauty and the Beast however all of it is common knowledge that can be easily looked up with Wikipedia articles, the storyboard art was at least pretty interesting and not something you see everyday. As for the rest it plays out the story we all know and love, I wouldn’t say this was bad but this was a very lacking 30th celebration that could have went a lot harder.
Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration is available on Disney+
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.
Lightyear is Pixar’s newest film which the whole idea of the movie is it is about who the toy Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story films is based on. An idea that sadly doesn’t get fully utilized, but let’s go over the positives first. First off the animation is stunning, it compliments the whole space theme really well and is the very definition of having a sci-fi feel. The voice acting all around was really strong as well, particularly Keke Palmer, Chris Evans, Uzo Aduba and Peter Sohn. Speaking of which Sox the cat is hands down the best animal sidekick in recent memory, usually I’m not a fan of the usual modern Disney sidekick who’s just there for selling toys and making unfunny jokes. But Sox was a genuinely fun character who had a lot of charm and feels a lot more than a dollar sign, the first half of Lightyear felt a lot like what you would expect from Pixar…the first 30 minutes to be exact. There’s some genuinely touching scenes with a lot of emotions mixed in that really paint an interesting story about blaming yourself and trying to do everything you can to fix a situation. The major problem with Lightyear is what follows after that, the movie quickly becomes a very generic sci-fi story filled to the brim with cliches. A huge part of this is what they decided to do with Zurg, which was a very puzzling choice that really did not add much to the movie. There are some decent bits here and there in the second half, but it’s not enough to put this movie back to where it was in the first half. It’s a lot of sci-fi elements that don’t blend together very well. Overall Lightyear is definitely not a bad film (far from it) it just could have taken it’s ideas from the first half of the movie and pushed them even further.
Better Nate Than Ever is another case of a Disney Channel original movie disguised as a Disney+ Original. While it’s definitely not bad and overall pretty harmless, the plot is just way too generic and plays out exactly how you think it’s going to. The cast is at least decent giving some pretty entertaining performances as well as Rueby Wood’s singing which is honestly not bad, but do not go in expecting a musical. There’s only about 4 songs all of which are pretty solid in their own right, it’s just calling this a musical is a bit of a stretch. The main criticism comes down to the plot being really nothing special as well as some of the jokes, there’s a few jokes that might get a chuckle out of you. However there’s a ton of jokes that really make you question “who thought this was a good idea?” As far as the plot it’s very basic family movie stuff that feels a bit too familiar. Better Nate Than Ever is definitely better than expected but it’s not something I would recommend watching.
The last half of 2021 has really delivered a ton of surprises when it comes to film and Encanto is absolutely no exception. Before going into the film I was prepared for another nothing special about it Disney film that wouldn’t do anything interesting. Encanto is quite different, first off the characters are all actually really well done. The writing for this film feels much more grounded and feels like the writers wanted to give the characters their own personality and dive more into said personalities rather than just list them and that’s it. It really dives deep into family themes such as relationships and how families can be flawed, when you compare Encanto to a lot of other Disney films that have released over the last few years you can tell it’s very different. The world building is also quite incredible, it shows both the light and the dark side of the world and establishes early on how much the world means to the characters. The music is some of the best from a Disney film in quite awhile, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s choice of music is absolutely spot on and matches the tone, energy and style the film is going for. Which leads to the cast who have beautiful singing voices and completely hit it out of the park when it comes to emotions, each song really hits the viewer with a different emotion. As well as each song having it’s own identity with a lot of energy and strength put into them, overall Encanto is truly a charming film that surprised me. It’s one of the best films of the year make sure to watch this one.
Jungle Cruise is the type of movie where I was expecting to absolutely hate it, while the movie is heavily flawed I couldn’t help but have a lot of fun with it. I’ll start with what I really liked, what made this movie worth watching through the end for me was Emily Blunt. I might be biased because she’s my favorite actress but she really did a solid job in her role, she looked like she had a lot of fun in the role and was very entertaining throughout the movie. The Rock also does a really solid job as well, if there’s one thing that can be said about The Rock it’s that he knows how to sell a movie to the audience. He’s pretty great in front of the camera and always looks like he’s having the time of his life, which fit this movie quite well. The jokes had their moments of genuinely being funny which was mostly the puns (again I might be biased since I love puns) finally I liked that the movie kind of just goes nuts towards the end like yes there are some stylistic choices that were terrible (I’ll get to that) but there are the moments are genuinely enjoyable that make for a really fun movie. As I said before Jungle Cruise is heavily flawed and some of the stylistic choices are some of the major problems, at times the movie tries to be way too serious Jessie Plemons plays one of the villains and I feel like his character feels completely out of place. It also doesn’t help that he wasn’t very good either, other weird choices include going back and forth between being comedic and being serious. Which I’m not saying a movie can’t do that, the editing just sort of made it very awkward in this case. Everything else in the movie such as the writing weren’t bad by any means just nothing really noteworthy, it did the job and that was about it. Overall Jungle Cruise could have been a lot worse, it’s a fun movie to put on during a lazy afternoon. It got the job done and sometimes that’s all a movie needs to do.
Jungle Cruise is now available in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access!
Being who you are can be hard, coming out (in any given sense) and expressing who you are as a person is not easy. Luca is a film that does quite a fantastic job of showing just that, the animation is stunning and gives the characters, the environment and the interaction between the characters so much life. It gives off this raw feel to it which is actually not very common in a lot of animated films, the story is absolutely beautifully told. It’s told in this dreamlike feel to it that feels very real but also like a dream at the same time, it’s a very interesting approach and one that I definitely appreciated. As I said before Luca uses the theme of hiding who you really are and does it in such a clever way, as the movie goes on it uses the theme in a lot of interesting and clever ways. It is a common theme to use in a tv show or a movie but I would argue that Luca uses it in the most unique and far more interesting way. The character development is also spot on, instead of quickly rushing to meet several different characters the movie takes it’s time for the audience and the movie itself to get to know the characters. Luca gets more and more meaningful as it goes on which is truly something special, the writing has tons of powerful moments that did make me cry at times. Pixar really hit this one out of the park, Luca is one of my favorite films of the year! Definitely check this one out!!
Those of you who know me or have followed me for awhile now know I am not a fan of what Disney has been doing with these live action remakes/other movies like Maleficent. The last live action remake I remember actually really liking was The Jungle Book, everything else has really ranged from terrible to just passable (I really don’t count Christopher Robin I feel like that is entirely different movie on it’s own it’s a fantastic movie by the way) and seeing how not so good Maleficent was I had very little faith in Cruella….that was until more and more came out about it. Such as the director of I, Tonya and the writer of The Favourite being involved it then started to become very promising and I really have to say they pulled it off. First off let’s start with the cast because that’s one of Cruella’s strongest areas. Emma Stone does a fantastic job as Cruella when it was first announced she would be taking the role it sounded like a very odd choice but she really made it work. She does a fantastic job of bringing the character to life it’s quite fascinating, Emma Thompson does a really good job as The Baroness sure it might be sort of a generic role but she really makes it work, Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser I have to say were both fantastic they were genuinely funny and were really into their roles they played a very different take on Horace and Jasper which keeps things interesting and fresh! The costumes, production design and cinematography are all absolutely beautiful and definitely some of the strongest parts of the movie, it shows unlike a lot of the other live action disney movies Cruella actually has style to it and it’s own personality where as the other movies have a lot of the exact same style and have nothing to differentiate from one another. The writing does have it’s flaws such as having some incredibly stupid moments, however there are the campy moments that the movie fully embraces that I can’t help but love. It’s a ton of fun to see a movie embracing the campy feel in certain scenes combine that with Emma Stone’s energetic performance as Cruella and you have yourself a truly fun movie that is surprisingly really great! Cruella is something I highly recommend watching, I truly hope Disney keeps this up and from this point forward tries to give the future live action remakes or villain origin stories their own identity.
Cruella is now in Theaters and on Disney+ (premier access)
Raya And The Last Dragon is a brilliant film, that showcases so many strong elements in one film. For starters Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina are both incredible especially their chemistry. The both of them work so well together and go all out with their talent, the animation is absolutely stunning. Combine the animation with the world building and you get something truly beautiful, speaking of which the world building is brilliant it really displays the culture and is very respectful of it as well. The score is flawless it combines so many different types of incredible sounds and instruments together such as exotic strings, and hand drums with synths and a booming bass. Truly some beautiful music that completely fits this movie, the story is emotional, powerful and just overall a joy to listen to. The directors Carlos López Estrada (Blindspotting) and Don Hall (Big Hero 6) both did an incredible, they truly brought so much to the film. Seeing Disney tackle a different culture and doing it respectfully is a breath of fresh air that I most certainly would not mind seeing them do it again. The writing is also top notch, it’s quite honestly some of the most beautiful writing I’ve seen in a Disney animated movie in awhile (not counting Pixar). Finally there’s the characters which are fantastic, they are given so much character development and are given so much care to the point where you fall for the characters. Overall Raya And The Last Dragon is one of the strongest films so far this year, truly a beautiful film that I highly recommend.
Soul is once again another beautiful film by Pixar, there is so much here to talk about it’s overwhelming so let’s just work our way down! First we have the characters which are pretty great, we explore a lot about our main character Joe who is a man that is obsessed about Jazz music, Soul takes a very simple premise and manages to do something extremely beautiful with it. You also have some simple but gorgeous writing, there’s some genuine great humor in there that really works. Then you have a ton of moments where the movie hits you with a ton of bricks that are full of emotions, the film itself makes you ask a lot of questions about yourself such as “what is my passion?” “What do I see myself doing 10 years” this is some of the most real questions Pixar has asked in quite awhile, which says something considering a lot of their other films. The animation is stunning there is no other way to put it, it has this photorealistic look to it and the characters look incredible as well, the storytelling is magical it really hits you with question after question while throwing in some genuine comedic moments as well. Which leads me to my next point the film balances comedic moments with the serious moments, it’s the type of balance where you really appreciate it to the point where it feels like a very real film. I think that’s part of the reason why Pete Doctor’s previous film “Inside Out” didn’t work as well as it did for many others, it was a great film but a lot of the comedic moments really took away a from the film. In Soul that doesn’t happen anywhere in the film, it truly delivers on every single level. The barbershop scene is a huge highlight of the movie showing genuine conversations in the film, something you don’t see very often in a lot of animated movies. With a lot of animated films it’s always about being over the top and making 20 different variations of the same joke. But luckily Pixar (they have messed up in the past) strives to create some of the most beautiful and meaningful films out there and Soul just might be one of their crowning achievements. The film feels like a very human movie like it was made for the audience, which is a very beautiful film and quite special as well. Overall Soul is one of the most beautiful films of the year and truly a fantastic way to finish 2020! I highly recommend giving this one a watch! Just be prepared to cry your eyes out because it is a very emotional film!