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.
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!!
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.
Jurassic World: Dominion is the final film of the Jurassic World trilogy, while Dominion is definitely better than Fallen Kingdom by a lot that is really not saying much at all. The few positives come from DeWanda Wise and Jeff Goldblum (who’s actually a main character unlike in Fallen Kingdom) who try to give this movie as much life as possible, lastly there’s a few fun chase/action scenes that are serviceable but nothing to write home about. The rest of the movie however is one gigantic mess that is a very weak way to close the trilogy, the performances from everyone other than Wise and Goldblum are either terrible or soulless, it’s nice to see Laura Dern and Sam Neil return but they are restricted to a very weak script that becomes a gigantic mess and strangely don’t feel as important as they did in the first Jurassic Park. The “villain” is played by Campbell Scott who is honestly very forgettable, the villain serves little to no purpose outside of being included for the sake of being included. We know very little about him and the I guess twist of him being the villain is so predictable that the movie doesn’t even try to hide it from the first scene he’s introduced. The performance Scott is terrible and way too over the top, I’m not exactly sure what they were trying to go for here but whatever it was it did not work. Another huge issue with Dominion is that it’s an unfocused mess that can’t decide what it wants to be, does it want to actually be about the dinosaurs or does it want to be about these collection of characters rescuing Maisie? Which leads into my next point the movie is very formulaic as in it basically runs down like this…chase scene, dialogue, chase scene, dialogue until the movie decides to wrap things up and end. The writing combined with it being formulaic is incredibly tiring and becomes way too repetitive for it’s own good, overall Jurassic World: Dominion is a very weak movie to close the trilogy with. Between being way too unfocused and forgettable there’s nothing here that comes together and is just another addition to the terrible sequels of this series.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is surprisingly not too bad, what could have been an unfunny IP and cameo fest turns out to be a movie that has some pretty decent jokes and solid voice work. John Mulaney and Andy Samberg work very well together and truly hit it out of the park with some of the delivery from the jokes, J.K. Simmons is also pretty entertaining as well. The cameos are luckily very limited and the movie itself doesn’t spend too much time on them, plus they don’t over stay their welcome. What does stop this movie from being anything really strong however is mostly the villain Sweet Pete and third act, if you are aware of Bobby Driscoll’s story (actor who voiced Peter Pan in the original) Sweet Pete’s backstory has some very noticeable similarities, which lead to a controversy. While it may seem not a huge deal at first the more you read into Driscoll’s story and how he was treated the more uncomfortable this decision really becomes. Even if you took away this controversy Sweet Pete as a character still falls flat, he’s a very run of the mill villain to the point where his henchmen are actually more interesting. Then there’s the third act which while it’s not exactly bad it’s just not anything noteworthy and does feel like the movie ran out of steam. Overall Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is a decent movie that definitely could have been a lot better had their been some better decisions and a stronger third act.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is available on Disney+
Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness is the newest film of the MCU, without beating around the bush a major problem that myself and many others have had with some of these movies is they rarely feel like the directors are given the creative freedom. There’s definitely the exceptions such as the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies, while some of the other movies are still great I wish the directors had more creative freedom. Luckily Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness allows Sam Rami to go absolutely wild with this one, for starters the acting all around was really strong particularly Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong (who’s finally given a lot to do since his debut in the first Doctor Strange) and lastly Xochitl Gomez who plays America Chavez. While America Chavez definitely needs to get a lot more development from what was presented the movie gets your interest in her character and I’m very interested to see where they go with her. The Sam Rami style kicks in with just about everything else, there’s a lot of callbacks to The Evil Dead films with a few particular scenes using close up shots that are wildly entertaining. There’s a few body horror elements that work very well, the writing has a lot of that Sam Rami style to it. Even if the writing isn’t always the strongest in some areas there is this sense of it bringing you more into the film than a lot of the other films in the MCU, plus the build up was incredibly worth it and does finish the film off with a complete bang. Doctor Strange’s character is a lot more fleshed out here than he was in the first movie, we get to see a lot more of his relationship with Christine (Rachel McAdams) and how he feels about it, (the way their relationship is handled here heavily reminds me of Peter Parker and Mary Jane from Rami’s Spider Man films) Wanda is also done really well here, it’s a great continuation of Wandavision and wraps up a few plot lines very nicely as well. The action scenes are some of the most detailed and entertaining of the franchise to date, there’s a whole lot of different directions the action decides to go so it’s refreshing to see something a bit different with each action scene. Lastly it’s the most I’ve been entertained from a film from the MCU in quite awhile (besides No away Home) while at the same time trying something completely different and not following the exact formula of these movies. Overall Doctor Strange in The Multiverse Of Madness is a ton of fun and shows that the franchise can evolve quite well, if the franchise takes this approach there can be truly some great films ahead.
Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness is available in theaters!
I’ve said this numerous times before but I think it needs to be repeated, I like to give every film a chance to impress, surprise or disappoint. It’s a huge part of why I absolutely love watching and reviewing films, The Bad Guys is an example of a fantastic surprise. First off the voice cast are really strong from Sam Rockwell to Zazie Beetz to Marc Maron plus Craig Robinson and Anthony Ramos everyone has their time to shine and take full advantage of it. The chemistry between all of them is really great as well it really adds to the film and gives it such a fun atmosphere, the jokes are actually quite great as well. Sure some don’t land but It surprised me how well written a lot of the jokes actually were, the film itself is not only a really strong animated film but it’s also a really good crime/heist film as well. It uses a lot of elements you see in the genre but still feels fresh at the same time, the animation is absolutely stunning there’s so much detail and personality in the animation with every scene. The characters have so much expressions, it’s fast paced, the editing energetic and the animation is very electrifying. The characters are absolutely well done, not every character gets a huge amount of development however what remains consistent is that each of them are very fun. They have their own personalities and the voice work makes them that much stronger. Overall Dreamworks hit it out of the park, The Bad Guys is hands down Dreamworks’s best film in awhile and it’s something you should absolutely check out!!
Robert Eggers continues to show he can take what seems like straightforward concepts but adds so much to it that his films become an experience. The Witch and The Lighthouse were some of the best films of the 2010s and highlight a completely different type of horror as well. The Northman has a lot of elements that The Witch and The Lighthouse did but also has it’s own identity as well, for starters the film is a lot bigger with it’s scale plus the world itself is completely massive. Yet it still feels focused on a few characters like Eggers’s previous films, which is truly incredible. The performances are all fantastic here Alexander Skarsgård is phenomenal in the leading role who plays a Viking that seeks revenge, who also gets a ton of character development. The Northman is one of those films where even the little details matter quite a lot because they add so much to the film and give it so much personality and character, Anya Taylor-Joy is absolutely incredible here and continues to show that she’s one of the best actresses working today. Nicole Kidman and Willem Dafoe are both terrifyingly great, there’s handful of scenes where they are terrifying and add to the atmosphere of the film. It was also great to see Björk in another film again, the atmosphere is masterfully done not only does it have a brutal type atmosphere where the gore and kills are incredibly raw. But there’s plenty of horror in the atmosphere, Willem Dafoe is only in the film for a few scenes but those scenes absolutely stick with you throughout the film, so it really adds a haunting type atmosphere. The film is also hauntingly beautiful it’s an absolutely well shot film that truly feels massive with lots to explore in each scene, the writing is completely well done and really takes a straightforward revenge type story and pushes it into something quite terrifying but beautiful at the same time. It comes down to how well presented the story was told and Eggers absolutely nails it every time when it comes to presentation. Sure the revenge story might not seem like anything new but the execution, writing, acting, filming and presentation all make it truly something special and engaging. Lastly there’s the direction which like the rest of the film is masterfully done, Robert Eggers truly hit it out of the park in all categories and created something unique when it comes to how these types of stories are presented, overall The Northman is a film I highly recommend checking out as it is one of the best films of the year so far!