The Circle of Life means that Every Old Movie is New Again!
This is the summer of sequels and remakes with Disney jumping on the bandwagon with its remake of the cartoon hit- The Lion King. This time around the animals are “real” and the cinematography is outstanding. It will make you want to visit Africa to see the breathtaking area up close and personal.
Featuring an amazing cast with the likes of Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Oliver, James Earl Jones, Alfre Woodard, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogan and Beyonce and many of the original songs by Elton John, The Lion King has star power galore. However, the only returning cast member from the cartoon is James Earl Jones.
Since most of us have seen the original so many times that there’s little surprise or new entertainment value in this movie. Unlike The Jungle Book remake, The Lion King was a recent hit so it’s not really new to audiences. Most of the kids who fell in love with the cartoon don’t have children old enough yet to enjoy this new one. In fact, it’s one of the complaints from critics, this Lion King doesn’t feel fresh and lacks the sparkle of the original. Arguably it is hard to make the animals sing the songs. Their mouths just don’t move that way. Also contrary to what the cartoon showed, lion cubs don’t dance. Many of the songs feature animals walking around the Savannah rather than dancing.
Like with the original movie, the characters of Timon and Pumba steal the movie with their antics but additionally there are some pretty funny moments among a couple of the hyenas. With the real animals, the violence might be too much for young children. There were a few small children who left the movie before the movie was finished. As with any movie, know your children and what they are able to handle. Death is a part of the circle of life and seeing Mufasa die can leave a lasting impression.
Directed and produced by Jon Favreau, the director of Ironman, The Jungle Book remake as well as the actor who played Happy in the Avengers’ and Ironman movies. Jon’s success with The Jungle Book made him seem like the perfect choice for this movie. And it’s been announced that he will direct and produce The Jungle Book 2.
The Lion King is a great family movie and one which will have you wishing you could travel to the Sahara and visit with some real lion cubs!
In a summer of sequels and remakes, Stuber tries a fresh approach.
This buddy comedy pits a grizzled detective, Vic (Dave Batista) against an Uber driver, Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) who is trying to earn extra cash and keep a five star rating. Vic sets out to bring down the drug kingpin who murdered his partner, no matter what. Along the way, mild-mannered Stu must keep his wits and stay alive against international drug dealers.
The comedy is a combination of raunchy slapstick intermixed with violence with Stu often the butt of jokes. Reminiscent of the old buddy comedies of the 80’s and 90’s, we have two very different people put together in a do or die situation, each learning to be a better person because of their team-up.
Featuring Mira Sorvino, Natalie Morales, and Natalie Morales (who starred with Batista in Guardians of the Galaxy), but written and directed by relative unknowns, Stuber relies on the strength of Batista and Nanjiani to draw the viewers in. While it’s nice to see Batista doing comedy, many of the jokes rely on his physical appearance (tough guy, body builder, tats) rather than actual comedy. In some ways it feels a lot like his character from Guardians.
With some laugh out loud moments, the movie is just okay. While we are hollering for Hollywood to come up with some new movies, rather than sequels or reboots, viewers want quality movies as well. If you are looking for a bit of humor with the action, or a chance to escape the heat, Stuber will have you laughing, just don’t spend the big bucks.
Will Spiderman become the next Tony Stark?
Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and his classmates are navigating a new reality after the snap. There’s a void left by the death of Tony Stark and the absence of the Avengers. However, Peter only wants to tell MJ about his feelings for her. He creates an elaborate plan to make it happen during a Science trip to Europe but things go wrong from the start, when elemental beings destroy Venice. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) enlists Spiderman’s help and hijacks Peter’s trip.
After the sad feelings of Endgame, Spiderman: Far From Home is a fun movie which reminds moviegoers about what’s important—doing the right thing. With the normal teenage angst of your first kiss to spending time with friends, Peter comes off as likeable and viewers will recall their own awkwardness.
The key theme of the movie is that things aren’t what they seem. Surprises galore and two extra credit scenes. So be sure to stay to the VERY end. Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Quentin Beck/Mysterio is a fan favorite. Without giving anything away, his story arc follows the comics but fits in as well with the larger Avenger storyline. I loved how Happy and Peter connect and hope that the two of them go forward together in future movies.
Spiderman: Far From Home is a movie that fans of all ages will enjoy, but there are a few more adult moments and violence. Just keep that in mind for younger children. I’m excited to see what the future holds for Peter and Marvel!
What if the World changed in an instant?
One moment the world goes black and Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is hit by a bus. When he wakes up some things have changed. There’s no more cigarettes. No Coke. No Harry Potter and No Beatles. They never existed.
As a failure of a singer/songwriter, Jack was about to walk away from music on that fateful day, but now he decides to bring the Beatles songs to a world which had never heard them before, sending him on a journey to stardom at the cost of his best friend and manager, Ellie (Lilly James).
This quirky love story features the Beatles music but isn’t a biopic on the songwriters. It is more about following your dreams, even if you can’t see the dream in front of your face. The music is outstanding but the story misses the mark of a movie like Bohemian Rhapsody. Also most of the songs are snippets played, not the whole song, so just as you get your feet tapping, the song ends. Written by the mind behind Love Actually, Yesterday features a similar message of love and what’s important.
Many of the laugh out loud moments come from Kate McKinnon (as the LA agent) being absurdly blunt. Each time she spoke was like nails on a chalkboard. Yesterday also featured Ed Sheeran as himself in his first acting role. Ed admitted in previous interviews that the Beatles were instrumental in his own songwriting style.
It was one of those just okay movies but is a movie for fans of the music and will be a good date night movie. And better yet, no zombies!
It’s the end of the world…
Fracking caused the Earth’s poles to reverse, sending the rotation out of whack. Daylight lasts longer and the animals run wild. And the dead rise from their graves as zombies. Small town Centerville’s police force (Bill Murray, Adam Driver and Chloë Sevigny) must deal with the feeding frenzy of their former friends and loved ones.
Indie film, The Dead Don’t Die brings together director, Jim Jarmusch (who also wrote the screenplay) with some of his favorite actors who have appeared over and over in his many iconic films. Featuring big names such as Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Selena Gomez, Rosie Perez, Carol Kane, and Tilda Swinton, the movie lacks the polish of a big release movie. Meticulously slow pacing and awkward dialogue, the movie pushes a harsh commentary on the choices humans have made, and show that they deserve the end of the world.
With so many Easter Eggs and nods to horror movies, Star Wars, and the director’s early life, viewers will want to watch closely and most will miss them. Only through seeing the movie more than once or even Googling the Easter Eggs, will you understand what you missed. The Dead Don’t Die is not a comedy, no matter how silly the trailer appeared. It is a tough movie to watch as Murray and Driver seem to improvise their lines, certain key phrases are repeated over and over or how they break the 4th wall to discuss why Driver knows the movie will end badly. I could have written a more exciting movie. Maybe it was in Daniel Craig’s best interest for him to not be able to fit his cameo in.
Looking for a unique movie, one not a sequel… The Dead Don’t Die shows what a low budget and a little help of your friends can accomplish.
It’s the summer of sequels…
As a child Molly (Tessa Thompson) witnesses an alien encounter. Her parents’ memories were wiped but not hers and she spent over two decades trying to find the truth about aliens and the universe. When she finds the secret headquarters of Men in Black, she’s offered a job, becoming Agent M. Her first assignment is in London where there’s a mole in the international organization.
Men in Black: International reunites Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth from Thor: Ragnarok, as they try to recreate their winning chemistry. With return appearances by Frank, the pug, the worm guys and Emma Thompson as Agent O, the movie doesn’t have any of the original actors from the first movie. There is a nod to the earlier Men in Black movies with a painting on the wall in the International Headquarters. But even with the star power and featuring Steven Spielberg as one of the producers, the movie falls flat.
The movie has all the aspects from the first movie, fast cars, strange aliens and big guns but it feels like a copy rather than a unique movie. The movie becomes more of a vehicle for Hemsworth and Thompson but lacks the buddy aspect of the first one. However, the new character, Pawnie, steals the show. He is a living pawn who gets all the snarky comments and tells things like it is.
With the numerous reboots and sequels, Hollywood needs to step up its game and add some new aspects to them in order to have them stand out. There are a lot of movies this summer to choose from, so avoid this one unless you are a Hemsworth fan. He does take his shirt off.
The last X-Men movie for a while…
When the X-Men are sent into space to rescue the space shuttle astronauts, something goes wrong and Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) becomes infected with an unknown power, which amplifies her abilities and makes her the most powerful thing on the planet. Now it’s up to her friends to help her before she destroys the world. Toss in a few evil aliens and some wild special effects…You’ve got a reason for “family” to come together! Too bad there’s no Wolverine cameo.
Bringing back the group from X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix wraps up the story arc for Jean and brings about some big changes to the X-Men franchise. We see where Erik/Magneto ( Michael Fassbender) has been and get another look at the rest of the gang- Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Nightcrawler, Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Storm, The Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Professor Xavier (James McAvoy).
While the movie also fits pretty well with the X-Men: Days of Future Past movies, however, it shatters the timeline for the three original movies-X-Men, X-Men 2 and X-Men: The Last Stand. But that’s often been a complaint about the X-Men movies… they don’t always make logical sense. So come for the action and another chance to see the characters but don’t put too much thought into it.
At times, Dark Phoenix feels like a lesser Captain Marvel movie, especially since Jean’s powers mimic Carol Danver’s. Unlike most of Marvel’s Avenger’s movies, there isn’t an extra credit scene. So no need to wait to see who was the hairdresser for Sophie Turner. But for fans of the series, they will enjoy seeing Jean’s whole storyline and since we know that nothing is truly ever gone… I’m sure there will be another X-Men movie in the future.
Coming off the success of last year’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman weaves musical numbers into the life of piano man, Elton John.
Told through the music and dance numbers we see Elton (Taron Egerton) in therapy for his many addictions sharing his story from his early years where he could hear a song and play it by ear to the height of his career, playing at Madison Square Garden.
This no holds barred look at Elton’s love life, suicide attempt, alcoholism and drug use paints a picture of a man looking for love. His childhood loneliness as he strives for his father’s attention to his search for a soul mate and the many bad choices he made. It pulls at your heartstrings as we see Elton come to grips with the mess he made in his life. Rocketman doesn’t skirt the issues, telling it as it is. With a sensual sex scene between Elton and John Reid and numerous instances of cocaine use, this movie isn’t for a young audience.
Not a true biography, Rocketman tells Elton’s story from his point of view, so there’s bound to be discrepancies between his version and other’s. Elton’s stepmother and half-brothers have contradicted the movie’s portrayal of Elton’s father. It also plays a little loose with how Elton determined his now famous name.
Taron Egerton becomes Elton, even doing his own singing in the movie. During the credits, the movie shows photos of Elton alongside Taron and it’s hard to tell the difference. Directed by the man (Dexter Fletcher) who jumped in to Bohemian Rhapsody when Bryan Singer went missing, Rocketman features all the feels and Elton’s popular songs but in a unique way.
A must for fans of the entertainer or his music.
Gotta Catch them All!
When Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) is informed of his detective father’s death, he travels to Ryme City, a place where Pokémon and humans live in harmony and meets his father’s Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds). Sadly, Pikachu has lost his memory but is able to speak to Tim and is determined to help him find his father because he’s convinced Harry is still alive.
Their search takes them all over town, while befriending a young intern with aspirations of being a hard-hitting reporter someday. One lead sends them to philanthropist, Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy) who made the city great. He shares that Tim’s father, Harry Goodman was undercover trying to get answers about what was really going on with a sinister purple gas.
Antics abound as Tim must face his feelings for his father who withdrew into his job after the death of Tim’s mother. The team encounters strange mutated Pokémon and learn that the legendary Pokémon, Mew Two may be behind Harry’s disappearance.
A blend of live action and CGI, the characters come to life on the big screen. Based off the video game by the same name, Detective Pikachu is the first non-cartoon movie from the Pokémon franchise. Ryan Reynolds voices the character of Pikachu with much of the exuberation of his Deadpool character. It is as if he has no filter. He says whatever comes to mind. A fun twist brings the movie full circle and will have the adults hugging their children.
Filled with action and so many Pokémon, the movie will appeal to fans of the series and children. Even my favorite Jigglypuff has a small cameo. But if you aren’t familiar with the characters, much of the movie will be over your head. And there’s plenty of fun family movies coming out later this summer!
Spoiler Free Review
After Thanos’ snap decimates half Earth’s population, the remaining Avengers must come to grips with their loss as they seek to find a way to reverse the outcome. Each of the Avengers deal with the loss of the team, family and world in a different way as they come to grips with not being able to save the world this time.
After Infinity War, people left the theater in shock. They couldn’t believe their favorite characters were gone. But hope sprang up. The Avengers would find a way to bring everyone back. They would defeat Thanos.
Endgame has a different feeling. Not one of shock but one of finality. As the last movie in this story arc which began with Ironman, Endgame feels like graduation or retirement day. You know you will see people again but it will never be the same. Everyone must go forward with their lives. With Stan Lee’s passing this past year, the movie becomes even more poignant as the characters of Ironman, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk and Hawkeye finish the sweeping storyline.
The movie hits all the right notes… nostalgia, sadness, hope and happiness. There are still pieces of humor thrown in, (usually by Ant Man or Thor) along with the history.
With great cameos from Joe Russo, Ken Jeong, and Taika Waititi, Endgame weaves together the past movies with this final one. The fact that there is no end credit scene (only a special sound clip at the very end) gives the movie even more of a final feeling, however, there is a feeling of where the next installment will go- into space and a hint at the future.
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