The Lion King (2019) Review

The Lion King (2019) movie posterSynopsis
Simba (JD McCrary/Donald Glover) is the prince of the Pride Lands. When his father, Mufasa (James Earl Jones) dies in a tragic accident, Simba flees until his responsibilities to his pride draw him back.

As a kid, I watched a lot of the animated The Lion King, not nearly as much as Aladdin or Toy Story, but still quite a bit. Of the three live-action remakes Disney released this year, this was the one I was most worried about. How can you add to an already amazing story? The answer is apparently you can’t. I mentioned in my review of the live-action Aladdin that the remakes of the more recent films remain largely the same as the animated versions and this film is the biggest culprit of that. While the film itself runs an extra half hour longer than the 1994 version, the story and characters are exact mirrors of their animated counterparts. One of my criteria for a remake being worthwhile is if it brings something new. Usually I’m referring to the story or characters but this movie does bring something new: showcasing the realism possible with animation today.

I hesitate to call this film β€œlive-action” because it is all computer generated. If a movie tries to use a lot of CGI and it’s not great CGI, it can take the audience out of it. However, despite every character being CGI, it never once took me out of the experience. Everything seemed so real and life-like I’m very impressed. This film will have you questioning whether or not you are watching live animals and not computer generated ones. While this being seeped in this level of realism is breathtaking, it unfortunately comes with some downsides. For one, it is really difficult to tell the lion characters apart. Like the animated version, the characters have different shades of fur but this time, they are so similar, it can be hard to discern them apart, particularly during any kind of fast movement. Another downside is the CGI animals are also less expressive than what 2D animation provided their predecessors. Animal faces naturally don’t have the same range of displaying emotions as human faces. Cartoon can circumvent this pitfall but such a realistic looking movie such as this cannot get around this shortcoming so easily.

I thought The Lion King was GOOD πŸ™‚ Much like the Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin live-action remakes, this remake follows the story of the animated version very closely, even more so than the others. That being said, it is a good story and this film does show off beautiful life-like animation. But the lack of individuality prevents it from receiving my same rating as the original.


Cast & Crew
Jon Favreau – Director
Jeff Nathanson – Screenplay
Hans Zimmer – Composer

Donald Glover – Simba (voice)
Beyonce – Nala (voice)
James Earl Jones – Mufasa (voice)
Chiwetel Ejiofor – Scar (voice)
John Kani – Rafiki (voice)
John Oliver – Zazu (voice)
Billy Eichner – Timon (voice)
Seth Rogen – Pumbaa (voice)
Alfre Woodard – Sarabi (voice)
Florence Kasumba – Shenzi (voice)
Keegan-Michael Key – Kamari (voice)
Eric Andre – Azizi (voice)
JD McCrary – Young Simba (voice)
Shahadi Wright Joseph – Young Nala (voice)

Drew’s Movie Reviews Turns 6! My Fave Five New Movies I Watched in Year 6

Hello, friends!

Today is a special day. Today is my the sixth blogiversary! I celebrated the occasion by reviewing Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. If you missed any of those reviews, here they are:

Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man 3

Since “Year 5” was a bit extended due to my six month hiatus last year, I haven’t seen as many movies during Year Six as normal. However, I still did see some pretty fantastic films during that time. Here are my fave five films I watched during my sixth year of blogging.

Aquaman movie poster5) Aquaman

The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) doesn’t have the best track record. I think Warner Bros. recognized that directors should have the freedom to make their movies their way, even if they exist within the larger universe, which is exactly what James Wan is allowed to do withΒ Aquaman and it payed off. This movie has its share of problems but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a ton of fun. Wan injects a blend of humor and action with a sprinkle of his signature horror elements in the right spots to create an enjoyable action adventure, leaving me actually excited for a DCEU sequel.

Juno movie poster4) Juno

I’ve heard of Juno and how good it was for years but it was one of those films that I never watched for one reason or another. When discussing this year’s Ultimate Decades blogathon with my co-host, she recommended this 2007 film to me and I figured “what the heck?” After watching it I was saying to myself “what the heck!? Why didn’t I watch this sooner?” It is extremely heartfelt and way more captivating than I expected it to be. Ellen Page and Michael Cera were phenomenal, playing off each other’s senses of humorΒ  wonderfully. Dramas are hit or miss with me but this was a definite hit!

Spider-Man: Far From Home movie poster3) Spider-Man: Far From Home

After the epicness that was Avengers: Endgame, we needed a more relaxed film. That’s not to say Spider-Man: Far From Home is a walk in the park but it does lack the scale of Endgame. Tom Holland has really come into the role of Peter since Captain America: Civil War, and has probably become my favorite Peter Parker between the three actors to have portrayed him since 2002. Jake Gyllenhaal has a unique take on Quentin Beck, adding to the relatively unimpressive comic book version of the character. The end of the film finally sees Spidey swinging through NYC, making me even more excited for Holland’s third solo Spider-Man film.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse movie poster2) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse immediately makes itself standout from other Spider-Man films with its truly one-of-a-kind animation style that makes you feel like you are watching a comic book come to life. We’ve seen plenty of big screen versions of Peter Parker so Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse takes a different approach and presents us Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man, for the first time. There is a lot to enjoy between the characters, story, and animation. Opening up the multiverse creates literally endless story possibilities and I can’t wait to see what they come up with for the inevitable sequel.

Avengers: Endgame movie poster1) Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame. Wow. What an emotional end to what is now being called the “Infinity Saga”. Marvel Studios crafted one of the finest pieces of pop-culture history. Where Avengers: Infinity War brought together story threads from all the previous Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films, Endgame wraps up those story threads in an emotional and exciting way, closing out the chapters of most of the Avengers we have followed since 2008. It is hard to believe we will see another cultural cinematic event like this anytime soon. Love you, 3000.

What a year for superhero films, huh? It’s probably good that we are getting a breather from the MCU for now, now that the Infinity Saga has finished. There were some pretty amazing announcements that came from the Marvel panel at San Diego Comic Con this year so I can’t wait to see what Phase Four brings. Unfortunately, the Fox’s X-Men series went out with a whimper with X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Hopefully under the Marvel Studios banner, the X-Men characters can return to their former glory. As for the DCEU, well they seemed to have distanced themselves from a shared universe and are focusing on stand alone stories, which honestly is probably their better option right now.

And that does it for another year at DMR! Thank you to all my followers, and anyone who has liked, commented, shared, or simply visited the site. You all make this worthwhile and an enjoyable experience. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next 12 months. πŸ™‚

Until next time, cheers!

Spider-Man 3 Review

Spider-Man 3 movie posterSynopsis
The life of Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is going great and Spider-Man is loved by the citizens of New York City. When an alien substance bonds with Peter making him more aggressive, his personal relationships begin to strain, meanwhile new information is revealed about his uncle’s killer.

With both Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 being critically acclaimed and financially successful, a third film was all but inevitable. This time, however, Sony intervened and forced Raimi to include the popular Spider-Man villain Venom into the story. This began a spiral of Raimi’s heart not being with the movie like it was before, as well as create a convoluted and excessive story that the series has avoided until this point. Spider-Man 3, despite all the greatness of Raimi’s previous Spider-Man films, failed to live up to the expectations of the series.

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films have done a fantastic job of showing how being Spider-Man affects Peter’s daily life, as well as exploring Peter’s relationships with Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), Aunt May (Rosemary Harris), and Harry Osborn (James Franco). Harry being the son of Norman Osborn, aka the Green Goblin and villain of Raimi’s first Spider-Man film, blames Spider-Man for the death of his father. After Harry finds out his best friend is also his worst enemy at the end of the previous film, it puts an obvious strain on their relationship, particularly when Harry takes his father’s villainous mantle as the New Goblin. This creates yet another layer in Harry and Peter’s relationship that we have seen develop over the last two films.

Also tying into Spider-Man’s history is Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), aka Sandman. Marko was present during Uncle Ben’s murder, the defining moment of Peter becoming Spider-Man. Again, this personal relationship is used to explore Peter’s character even more, giving him new emotional depth and growing on what has been seen from him in the series so far. Despite all the issues with this film, it did not fail to continue to grow and examine Peter’s character.

The first of many mistakes this film makes is casting Topher Grace as Eddie Brock. Eddie Brock is supposed to be a physically intimidating character, someone you don’t want to get into a fight with, even before he bonds with the symbiote. No offense to Topher Grace but I didn’t feel that; He didn’t have the build for the Eddie. Also, the way he was written did not fit the personality of the comic book version of the character. Not only was Eddie Brock / Venom miscast, but his character development was rushed as well. For a series that thus far had developed its characters and had deep and emotional back stories, it really dropped the ball on creating a truly terrifying version of one of Spider-Man’s best villains.

So far I’ve talked about three villains: New Goblin, Sandman, and Venom. Attempting to fit a trio of antagonists into a film like this only hurts all three. Harry spends most of the time in a with memory loss, only appearing as the New Goblin at the beginning and end of the film. Sandman gets an interesting story arc as a father who only wants to provide for his family, as well as ties into Peter’s history with Uncle Ben. He gets a few good moments before he disappears for a while before showing up for the final scenes. With the symbiote attached to Peter for the first two acts, Venom doesn’t appear until the final third of the film, stifling any significant development. There are just too many villains to successfully develop all of them.

While the first two films did a good job of using practical effects as much as possible, this movie fell into the same trap that many action films began falling into during this time period: it used CGI too heavily and was too reliant on it. Given the skill-set of the villains, it’s not surprising. I’m sure the CGI was good at the time, but it hasn’t aged well, especially scenes that required fully rendered people. Throughout the movie, Spider-Man has fight while falling through the air once with each villain. Not only does this feel repetitive but it showcases all the worst parts of the CGI of the film.

I thought Spider-Man 3 was OK 😐 Mark this as another case where studio intervention creates a sub-par film. With Raimi’s guidance, Sony’s Spider-Man series was on an upward trajectory. While it is doubtful Spider-Man 3 could have been a better film than Spider-Man 2, we will never know since its true potential was stifled.


Cast & Crew
Sam Raimi – Director / Writer
Ivan Raimi – Writer
Alvin Sargen – Writer
Christopher Young – Composer

Tobey Maguire – Spider-Man / Peter Parker
Kirsten Dunst – Mary Jane Watson
James Franco – New Goblin / Harry Osborn
Thomas Haden Church – Sandman / Flint Marko
Topher Grace – Venom / Eddie Brock
Rosemary Harris – May Parker
JK Simmons – J Jonah Hameson
Bryce Dallas Howard – Gwen Stacy
James Cromwell – Captain Stacy
Dylan Baker – Dr. Curt Connors
Bill Nunn – Joseph ‘Robbie’ Robertson
Bruce Campbell – Maitre D’
Ted Raimi – Hoffman
Elizabeth Banks – Betty Brant
Elya Baskin – Mr. Ditkovitch
Megeina Tovah – Ursula

Spider-Man 2 Review

Spider-Man 2 movie posterSynopsis
Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is having difficulties balancing his life as Spider-Man with his life as Peter Parker. Meanwhile, Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) is tasked by Harry Osborn (James Franco) to hunt Spider-Man for revenge for his father’s death.

After the success of Spider-Man, Sony didn’t waste any time getting into Spider-Man 2. As with X2, since the character introductions were out of the way, the film had the room to just jump right into the story. No need to set up the characters and no need to give exposition. Spider-Man 2 takes the best of its predecessor and makes it even better.

As I said in my review of Spider-Man, one of Peter Parker’s defining characteristics in the comics is his attempt to balance his duties as the wall crawler with his desire to maintain a personal life. This film showed Peter’s struggle to balance his two lives better than any Spider-Man movie before or since. It deeply explores what being Spider-Man means for Peter and the sacrifices he has to make to uphold his responsibilities. Not many other superhero movies truly explore what being a superhero means and its costs the way Spider-Man 2 does. To me, that is one of the many reasons that this is not only one of the best Spider-Man films but one of the best films in the genre.

Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus, is a terrific followup to Green Goblin. He is another one of Spider-Man’s biggest rogues, maybe even surpassing Green Goblin over the last several years. Alfred Molina played Otto wonderfully. Spider-Man’s best villains are the ones with tragic backgrounds. Otto doesn’t want to be the villain and actually has a noble heart, looking to use his brilliance to create for the benefit of mankind. After losing his wife and being bound to his mechanical arms in an accident, he goes crazy when the AI from his arms negatively influence his mind. Whether it is the innocent and cheerful Otto or the more sinister and villainous Doc Ock, Molina is brilliant. His acting elevates what is already a well-written character. Watching this and Spider-Man after the Batman movies of the 90s, I began noticing that when superhero films have only a single villain, it (usually) creates both an improved story and better villain.

Director Sam Raimi has a history in horror, so his pick to direct this action-oriented superhero series might have seemed like a strange choice (one that he has managed to prove was the right one). Throughout the film, Raimi had the chance to flex some of his horror roots. Several scenes contain sequences similar to something you might find in a horror film rather than a superhero one. The scene with where the doctors try to remove the metal arms after they fused with Otto in particular stands out as one where you can feel Raimi’s previous horror experience. It’s exciting to see him bring his own personal touch from other genres into this film.

When your hero can jump around doing all kind of aerial acrobatics and your villain has mechanical arms fused to his body, there’s going to be CGI in some capacity. However, where possible, this film uses practical effects. And it makes all the difference. Especially in the early 2000s, when films where just beginning to utilize the technology much more after the Star Wars prequels used it so prominently, it can not look the cleanest. So by using practical effects at every opportunity, the movie looks so much better and not nearly as fake as it could be for a film about superheroes.

I thought Spider-Man 2 was GREAT πŸ˜€ I wish I had a higher ranking than great because this movie is more than great. It’s fantastic, it’s spectacular, it’s amazing, it’s perfect. Not only is this one of my favorite superhero films but it is up there as one of my favorite films of all time.

Favorite Quote
Betty Brant: Boss, your wife’s on the line, she said she lost her checkbook.
J. Jonah Jameson: Thanks for the good news!

Favorite Scene


Cast & Crew
Sam Raimi – Director
Alfred Gough – Story
Miles Miller – Story
Michael Chabon – Story
Alvin Sargent – Screenplay
Danny Elfman – Composer

Tobey Maguire – Spider-Man / Peter Parker
Kirsten Dunst – Mary Jane Watson
James Franco – Harry Osborn
Alfred Molina – Doc Ock / Dr. Otto Octavius
Rosemary Harris – May Parker
JK Simmons – J. Jonah Jameson
Donna Murphy – Rosalie Octavius
Daniel Gillies – John Jameson
Dylan baker – Dr. Curt Connors
Bill Nunn – Joseph ‘Robbie’ Robertson
Ted Raimi – Hoffman
Elizabeth Banks – Betty Brant
Elya Baskin – Mr. Ditkovich
Megeina Tovah – Ursula
Bruce Campbell – Snooty Usher

Trailer Round-Up – 7/29/19

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood


Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark ‘Jangly Man’ trailer

Jojo Rabbit teaser trailer

The Goldfinch trailer #2

Gemini Man trailer #2

Zombieland: Double Tap

Angel Has Fallen trailer #2

Which of these films are you excited to see?

Spider-Man Review

Spider-Man movie posterSynopsis
On a school field trip, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is bitten by a genetically engineered spider causing him to develop spider-like powers. When the Green Goblin (Willen Dafoe) begin terrorizing New York City, Peter must step up with his newfound powers and stop him.

I grew up with Saturday morning cartoons. Moreover, I grew up with Spider-Man. The Spider-Man television series that aired in the 1990s (along with the X-Men and Batman animated series) was my gateway to superheroes and comic characters as a whole. There was just something about Peter Parker that intrigued me. I can’t say it was the everyday guy thing he had going because at the time, I was a kid and couldn’t relate on that level. The interesting rogues gallery, the cool powers, the exciting stories, it had me hooked. When I heard Spider-Man was going to have his own movie, I was completely on board, especially after how much I enjoyed X-Men. Spider-Man was exactly the superhero movie the genre needed to prove that X-Men was more than just a fluke and that superheroes besides Superman and Batman could have hit films.

If you boil it down, the single most thing that makes this film work is its superb casting. Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, and Willem Dafoe all just glide right into their parts. Maguire captures the more science-y side of Peter, as well as the awkwardness of the character. Dunst was born to play the girl-next-door archetype. Franco has great chemistry with the entire cast and Dafoe absolutely seeths deranged villain. Of course, I can’t talk about the Raimi Spider-Man films without bringing up one of the most perfectly cast parts in any movie ever made. I’m talking more perfect than Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, more perfect than Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, and even more perfect than Tony Stark as Iron Man. I am of course talking about JK Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. He steals every scene he’s in. Hell, he steals the entire movie. Simmons gobbles up the part with his quick talking and spot on interpretation of JJJ. Once I saw Simmons in the part, I could not imagine anyone else in the role.

The Green Goblin was a great villain to start with in the first Spider-man film. He is an iconic Spider-Man villain, being the center of many major and popular Spider-Man stories. Also, Norman Osborn has a personal connection to Peter, being the father of Peter’s best friend Harry and serving as a surrogate father of sorts for Peter. With Harry being a prominent supporting character throughout the Sam Raimi films, his hatred of Spider-Man but closeness to Peter makes for an interesting dynamic between Harry and Peter that gets explored throughout the entire series.

Before Marvel Studios perfected their movie formula, there was Spider-Man. Spider-Man shares similarities with films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). I’ve been of the belief that there aren’t too many ways to effectively do an origin story so it’s no surprise that it doesn’t differ too much from Iron Man or Wonder Woman. One thing you won’t find though is a CGI slugfest between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin at the end. This was released before CGI took over Hollywood, at least to a large extent, after all. The final showdown is mostly done with practical effects. Better yet, it isn’t a simple fight between the hero and villain. Since Norman Osborn is an important figure in Peter’s life, there was a lot of sentiment during their battle. It wasn’t just a physical battle, it was an emotional battle as well.

Part of Peter’s character that makes him so endearing is his desire to balance his personal life with his hero duties. Unfortunately, it usually doesn’t balance out and his hero duties often gets in the way of his personal life. This movie doesn’t delve too deep into the struggle between Peter’s two lives (this is an origin movie after all) but it does show glimpses at how the two conflict and also sow seeds about how this can become a larger issue for Peter down the line.

In the comics, Spider-Man is always cracking jokes and is overall very chatty, particularly during fights with his rogues. However, that aspect of the character isn’t captured very well in this film. During his cage match with Bonesaw (Randy Savage), he made a few quips… but that was it. I wouldn’t call Peter’s demeanor β€œserious,” but it definitely lacked the playfulness and wit of the comics version.

I thought Spider-Man was GREAT πŸ˜€ I can’t express the joy of seeing my favorite superhero finally on the big screen back in 2002. Director Sam Raimi and writer David Koepp skillfully bring the wallcrawler to life and capture many important aspects of the character. An excellent cast complements Koepp’s script and Raimi’s direction. Modern day superhero films can look towards this film as an inspiration on how to successfully translate a character from comics to film.

SpiderMan was the first film to gross $100 million in its opening weekend alone. At the time, no movie had done so, even when adjusted for inflation. (via IMDb)


Cast & Crew
Sam Raimi – Director
David Koepp – Writer
Danny Elfman – Comoser

Tobey Maguire – Spider-Man / Peter Parker
Willem Dafoe – Green Goblin / Norman Osborn
Kirsten Dunst – Mary Jane Watson
James Franco – Harry Osborn
Cliff Robertson – Ben Parker
Rosemary Harris – May Parker
Jk Simmons – J. Jonah Jameson
Joe Manganiello – Flash Thompson
Bull Nunn – Joseph ‘Robbie’ Robertson
Ted Raimi – Hoffman
Elizabeth Banks – Betty Brant
Michael Papajohn – Carjacker
Randy Savage – Bonesaw