At the beginning of 2022 (January 6th to be exact) Sidney Poitier a huge star from the Golden Age of Hollywood, the first black man to win an academy award and major activist for representation for black people in film sadly passed away. For the most part Sidney does a fantastic job of telling the legacy of Sidney Poitier and his impact on the film industry, there’s tons of insightful interviews, really strong narration from Sidney Poitier himself and his thoughts of his career, his life and his actions during his career. It’s such a beautifully put together tribute to a iconic actor that really left an inspirational mark on the industry and audiences, the main criticism mostly stems from being a bit too generic at times, there’s some interviews that aren’t as good as others. Having that said it’s very easy to look past when you have such a nicely done tribute. Sidney is a very strong way to start if you want to get a nice introduction to Sidney Poitier!
Blue’s Big City Adventure is basically the Blue’s Clues version of Spider-Man: No Way Home! Joking aside this was genuinely really charming, I grew up watching Blue’s Clues as a kid so this really brought back a ton of memories. All three of the hosts throughout the show’s life are here Joshua Dela Cruz who plays Josh, Donovan Patten who plays Joe and Steve Burns who plays Steve. All three of which do really solid job in their roles capturing each of the characters and what made the show so iconic in the first place, the movie itself is a musical a very entertaining too. The songs are very catchy and actually well choreographed from the dancers and filled to the brim with energy, there’s a huge level of charm here that is absolutely appealing to the viewer and makes it known the movie hasn’t forgotten the spirit of the show. The story being simple as Josh and Blue traveling to New York City in order to get to in audition to be in a musical is exactly the type of thing you would want in a Blue’s Clues movie, combining Blue’s Clues with the musical genre is like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They both blend together incredibly well and end with very entertaining results which is exactly what you get here.
Blue’s Big City Adventure is available on Paramount+
Mickey: A Story Of a Mouse for the most part is a lot of common knowledge, of course it goes through how the mouse came to be, what Walt Disney himself was thinking while creating Mickey, what his goals were with Disney as an animation studio and we even get the story of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and the whole battle over the character. Something that did surprise me is the documentary goes over Mickey Mouse doing blackface in the old cartoons and other issues as well, it’s a bit surprising due to Disney having the tendency to avoid talking about their past that even some fans of the cartoons want to address. There’s a very strong approach towards the topic that the documentary takes here especially with the interviewers, while the interviewers are fans of Disney they are very open to talking about the very rough history of the cartoons. Plus the documentary really hammers it in that the past should be open for discussion as well as being addressed, a lot of other Disney documentaries tend to avoid the topic of blackface being used in some of the old cartoons so I give credit where credit is due. There’s genuine heart out into the documentary and doesn’t feel manufactured which is again refreshing, there’s charming interviews and some engaging bits that have heart in them. Mickey: A Story Of a Mouse isn’t anything groundbreaking but it is refreshing when it comes to Disney documentaries.
Mickey: The Story of a Mouse 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.
The Friendship Game is basically if somebody said “hey remember that movie Truth Or Dare (2018) that was terrible and almost everyone forgot about? What if we somehow made an even worse version of that?” That’s what you get here and if that was the intention well then they succeeded because The Friendship Game is a incoherent mess that is so bafflingly bad, the mix of teen melodrama with the horror elements is painfully dull and puts the movie at a complete stop pacing wise. By far the worst part of the movie is the editing, it’s not so much of how bad it really is it’s that scenes are edited out of order leading to the story making very little sense at all and looking like a broken down vehicle. The characters are the most cliched teen horror characters you could come up with, Peyton List and the rest of the cast are not given enough to work with leading to all the performances being painfully wooden. By far one of the worst movies of the year.
The Friendship Game is available on all VOD platforms.
Fantasy Football just sort of exists, this is something you would have saw back in the early 2000s, with a premise like a daughter finds out she can magically control her dad who plays football through a video game console just oozes early 2000s family movie antics. And to this movie’s credit at times it is a lot of fun, Marsai Martin and Omari Hardwick are very fun in the leading roles and actually have father and daughter bonding moments that are genuinely very cute. Kelly Rowland isn’t too bad either so there’s a lot of family moments that are genuinely sweet, everything else however is very stale. The rest of the movie really doesn’t take advantage of how bizarre the plot really is and the it remains in the “play it way too safe” area which is a bit unfortunate, as there was a lot of potential to be very creative here but the movie spends a little too much time on family drama that ultimately does feel a bit more of the same from other movies.
The People We Hate At The Wedding is a whole lot of nothing, outside of Kristen Bell and a few moments this just does not do much at all, the premise sounds fine enough but plays out like something that might have been passable 10 years ago, now it just fits in with a lot of bad comedies that just aren’t funny at all. Despite this being released on Amazon Prime Video out of all the movies they have released and from what I’ve reviewed and seen, this one feels the most like a Lifetime/Hallmark movie. It plays out exactly how you expect it’s going to and just doesn’t give any of the characters some sort of personality outside of cliches, Kristen Bell is great here because she’s Kristen Bell and definitely tries her best. Otherwise this is just huge release date fodder.
The People We Hate At The Wedding is available on Amazon Prime Video.
I definitely think A Christmas Mystery is a lot better than it could have been, as there are a few things to like about it the standout being Violet McGraw who gives a very delightful performance. She easily steals every single scene she’s in and is even able to carry the movie on her own pretty well, the rest of the cast do a fine enough job, unfortunately what does hold this movie back is it’s way too predictable. While yes it is a kids movie and does play out like a kids mystery movie that really doesn’t change how it’s very predictable and the viewer could easily figure out who stole the bells within the first 20 minutes or so, there just isn’t enough mystery to it and the cast of characters truly make it a bit too obvious who did the crime. Having that said it’s a very non-offensive kids movie that I think kids will enjoy, it’s forgettable but it’s definitely one of the better Christmas movies to come out so far this year (although that’s not saying much).
A Christmas Mystery is available on HBO Max
Holiday Harmony is like if you took any Hallmark Christmas movie and mixed it with a bad fanfiction on Wattpad, outside of Annelise Cepero who gives a decent enough performance and actually has a decent singing voice. The rest of the movie is way too predictable and is the very definition of a Hallmark Christmas movie, including bad writing, terrible pacing, nonsensical story beats and way too drawn out. I think the most surprising thing about this is it’s a HBO Max original, before this I can’t really think of an original from HBO Max that felt like something from the Hallmark channel but I guess nobody is safe. The movie is also a huge product placement for iHeart Radio even when it hurts Gail’s (Annelise Cepero) music label the movie still remains positive to iHeart Radio which completely takes the viewer out of the movie. The movie ends exactly how you expect it to, there’s definitely some cute moments but those appear during the third act which is around the time someone might turn this off. It’s definitely not the worst Christmas movie out there but it is one of the most forgettable.
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.