After FBI Agent John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) captures the art theif Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds), he is framed by another thief known as The Bishop (Gal Gadot). To clear his name, Hartley must work with Booth to find the famed three eggs of Cleopatra before The Bishop can.
Review I don’t know whose bright idea it was to put Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot in the same movie, but they should get a raise! Johnson, Reynolds, and Gadot are three of the most charismatic actors today and together they do not disappoint. Their chemistry is impeccable, especially between Johnson and Reynolds. I cannot even begin to describe how much fun I had with this film. It’s simple and straightforward, while still containing a few fun and unexpected twists and turns. At just about 2 hours long, it has a good pace and never feels like it’s dragging or going too fast. Overall, the story is nothing special but the movie more than makes up for it with its leading trio and charm.
I thought Red Notice was GREAT 😀 It’s part heist film, part action film, part adventure film, and part comedy film. What more could I ask for?
Trivia The movie has a budget of around US $200 million which is Netflix’s biggest budget ever yet for a feature film. (via IMDb)
Cast & Crew
Rawson Marshall Thurber – Director / Writer
Steve Jablonsky – Composer
Dwayne Johnson – John Hartley
Ryan Reynolds – Nolan Booth
Gal Gadot – The Bishop
Ritu Arya – Inspector Urvashi Das
Chris Diamantopoulos – Soto Voce
Ivan Mbakop – Tambwe
Rafael Petardi – Security Chief Ricci
When Spencer (Alex Wolff) travels back into the game of Jumanji, Martha (Morgan Turner), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) and Bethany (Madison Iseman) go in to rescue him.
In an age of reboots and sequels, Sony decided to create a sequel to the beloved Robin Williams film Jumanji 20 years later with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. That film ended up being a heap of fun and another sequel was inevitable. Enter Jumanji: The Next Level. Jumanji: The Next Level brings back much of what made Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle so enjoyable mixed with just enough of something new.
The combination of Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, and Kevin Heart acting as avatars to teens and behaving as said teens was without a doubt the best part from the previous film. They are back at it again only this time they are acting as avatars for different “players,” except for Gillen who continues to behave like Martha. Rather than playing an awkward teen, Dwayne Johnson gets to do his best Danny DeVito interpretation and absolutely nails it, somehow being even funnier than last time. Kevin Hart gets to pretend to be Danny Glover to hilarious effect. Jack Black deserves all the recognitions for his acting. Previously, he was acting like a teenage white girl, now he is acting like a teenage black dude, and once again creates the biggest laughs of the film.
Awkwafina joins the crew this time around. She doesn’t come in until partway through the film and disappears what feels like shortly after she arrives. Which is a shame because she integrates with the rest of the cast well. Through some shenanigans she also gets to do her best Danny DeVito impression. Alex (Nick Jonas), the fifth avatar from Welcome to the Jungle, also joins the fun for a little bit but he also isn’t on the screen much. It is clear that the movie’s focus is on the characters of Johnson, Gillan, Black, and Hart. Which on one hand is great because they have great chemistry together but on the other hand causes the other characters to be sidelined for chunks of time.
Jumanji: The Next Level keeps with the video game motif and gives the avatars new abilities and a new villain to defeat. Just like Van Pelt from the previous film, Jurgen the Brutal (Rory McCann) is pretty flat and only acts as the villain because the movie says it needs one, much like video games themselves. There are also new environments for the team to explore. The sense of adventure returns bigger than before.
The concept of lives this time around isn’t taken as seriously. In Welcome to the Jungle, the movie makes the characters limited amount of lives important and a big part of the story later on, creating stakes towards the end of the film when the characters are down to their last lives. However, that sense of value isn’t found in this sequel. Characters lose lives quickly and unnecessarily. Excluding a couple acknowledgements of their importance, the concept lives does not play much into the story, which removes those stakes mentioned in the last film.
I thought Jumanji: The Next Level was GOOD 🙂 It brings back many of the elements that made Welcome to the Jungle so much fun but with a few twists. The new cast members are great but don’t have enough screen time to make much of an impression, at least not a lasting one. After two decently successful outings, I wonder how many good levels this franchise actually has left.
Cast & Crew
Jake Kasdan – Director / Writer
Jeff Pinkner – Writer
Scott Rosenberg – Writer
Henry Jackman – Composer
Dwayne Johnson – Dr. Smolder Bravestone
Karen Gillan – Ruby Roundhouse
Jack Black – Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon
Kevin Heart – Franklin “Mouse” Finbar
Nick Jonas – Jefferson “Seaplane” McDonough
Awkwafina – Ming Fleetfoot
Alex Wolff – Spencer Gulpin
Morgan Turner – Martha Kaply
Ser’Darius Blain – Anthony “Fridge” Johnson
Madison Iseman – Bethany Walker
Danny DeVito – Eddie Gilpin
Danny Glover – Milo Walker
Colin Hanks – Alex Vreeke
Rhys Darby – Nigel Billingsley
Rory McCann – Jurgen the Brutal
While serving detention, Spencer (Alex Wolff), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), Bethany (Madison Iseman) and Martha (Morgan Turner) come across a magical video game that transports them into the game itself. The four must embody their avatars and beat the game to return home.
When I first heard a Jumanji sequel was in the works, I was skeptical. Over the last few years, movie studios have been reviving/rebooting/remaking 20+ year-old franchises to ride a nostalgia wave that is sweeping through Hollywood right now, to mostly with negative results. Jumanji is one of my favorite Robin Williams movies and one of my favorites from my childhood in general, so seeing that tarnished was not something I wanted to see. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has managed to break the trend of terrible revived/rebooted/remake of a 20+ year-old franchise and actually provide a memorable and hilarious experience.
Really, the fun from this film all comes from the cast, their chemistry, and their overall enjoyment in their roles. Jack Black as a teenage girl is something I never knew I needed to see until this movie. He had the attitude, the tone of voice, the strut, everything. The scene where (s)he learns about going to the bathroom as a guy literally had me laughing in tears. Dwayne Johnson is one of my favorite actors right now so of course I thought he was brilliant, too. I’ve frequently said that he needs someone to bounce off of to truly hit his stride as a comedic actor and with both Jack Black and Kevin Hart, he is at the top of his game. Kevin Hart always makes me laugh and he riffs on his short stature wonderfully. His and Johnson’s moments are the next best thing in this film, behind anything from Jack Black of course. Karen Gillen is more of a recent favorite of mine but like the others, she did not disappoint.
I thought Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was GREAT 😀 I was worried that this movie would become another reviled sequel to a beloved film. Thankfully, the cast put their heart and soul into it and turned out one of the funniest movies of the year.
Cast & Crew
Jake Kasdan – Director
Chris McKenna – Screenplay / Story
Erik Sommers – Screenplay
Scott Rosenberg – Screenplay
Jeff Pinkner – Screenplay
Henry Jackman – Composer
Dwayne Johnson – Spencer
Kevin Hart – Fridge
Jack Black – Bethany
Karen Gillen – Martha
Rhys Darby – Nigel
Bobby Cannavale – Van Pelt
Nick Jonas – Alex
Alex Wolff – Young Spencer
Ser’Darius Blain – Young Fridge
Madison Iseman – Young Bethany
Morgan Turner – Young Martha
Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) and his team of lifeguards protect the beaches of Emerald Bay, Florida. When drugs start appearing on his beach, Buchannon and his team, including new recruit and former Olympic swimmer Matt Brody (Zac Efron), work to expose the criminal behind the drugs, Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra).
I don’t know much about the Baywatch television series, other than it starred Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff as lifeguards, as well as gratuitous amounts of slow-motion running. Based on the cast of Baywatch and the tone of the trailers, I figured this movie would have little to do with the show its characters come from. So while I can’t make any comparisons to the source material, I can tell you how it stacked up as a movie: it was hilarious. Both Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron can be very comedic actors. Yet, if they don’t have a good person to bounce off of, their one-liners can only do so much. These two together have fantastic chemistry and are absolutely side-splitting. Every scene had jokes flying rapid fire and while not all of them stuck, they were onto the next one before you could really process it.
Most of the jokes between Johnson and Efron consist of crude and insulting jokes and one-liners. Like all humor, it is subjective, so it might not be your cup of tea but if you’ve read any of my other comedy reviews, you’ll know that this my kind of comedy. Of course, the rest of the cast was good as well, particularly Yahya Abdul-Mateen and Pryanka Chopra. Abdul-Mateen has some funny lines as a local police officer exhausted of the lifeguards trying to be investigators. Last summer I binged season one of the show Quantico, which stars Chopra as the protagonist. It was fun to see her on the other side as the antagonist. Since the setting for this movie is on a beach, there are a lot of shirtless men and bikini-clad women. No matter your preference, there is plenty of eye candy for everyone. 😉
I thought Baywatch was GREAT 😀 I’m sure that if compared to the original Baywatch television series, these two have nothing in common. However, as a film taken on its own merit, it is fun and humorous. In the next few years, it will be interesting to see how the film and the jokes hold up. It feels like a generic action-comedy you would expect these days, but it is a generic action-comedy I enjoyed from start to finish.
Cast & Crew
Seth Gordon – Director
Jay Scherick – Story
David Ronn – Story
Thomas Lennon – Story
Robert Ben Garant – Story
Damian Shannon – Screenplay
Mark Swift – Screenplay
Christopher Lennertz – Composer
Dwayne Johnson – Mitch Buchannon
Zac Efron – Matt Brody
Alexandra Daddario – Summer Quinn
Kelly Rohrbach – CJ Parker
Ilfenesh Hadera – Stephanie Holden
Jon Bass – Ronnie Greenbaum
Rob Huebel – Captain Thorpe
Pryanka Chopra – Victoria Leeds
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II – Sgt. Garner Ellerbee
Amim Joseph – Frankie
Jack Kesy – Leon
Hannibul Buress – Dave the Tech
Oscar Nuñez – Councilman Rodriguez
Clem Cheung – Murray Chen
Moana: Maui, shapshifter, demigod of the wind and sea, I am Moana of – Maui: Hero of men. Moana: What? Maui: It’s actually, Maui, shapshifter, demigod of the wind and sea, hero of men. I interrupted. From the top. Hero of Men. Go. Moana: Uh… I am – Maui: Sorry, sorry, sorry. And women. Men and woman. Both. All. Not a guy, girl thing. You know, Maui is a hero to all. You’re doing great. [Clicks tongue] Moana: What? No! [Points oar at Maui] I’m here to – Maui: Oh, of course. Of course. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Maui always has time for his fans. [Takes Moana’s oar and picks up Heihei] When you use a bird to write with, it’s called tweeting.
Thanks for everyone’s submissions and one seafaring boat to Jackie for answering correctly.
On the island of Motunui, Moana (Auli’i Cravalho (voice)) is chosen by the ocean to receive the heart of Te Fiti, an island goddess. When a curse caused by the missing heart reaches Motunui, Moana sets out to find the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson (voice)) and return the heart to its rightful place to lift the curse.
With Zootopia having been released earlier this year, Moana marks the first time since 2002 that Disney has released two animated feature films the same year (Lilo & Stitch and Treasure Planet were that year for those who are curious). And man, what a year it has been for Disney animation. Zootopia is an extraordinarily hard act to follow, being what could be considered the best film of what has become known as the Disney Revival Era. At least until now.
First off, the voice casting is amazingly spot-on. First-timer Auli’i Cravalho does an astonishing job. The range of emotion that she is able to portray with simply her voice makes it hard to believe this is her first acting credit. You would think she was a seasoned veteran, just like Dwayne Johnson. Speakin of, I know that often animators will try to bring some part of the voice actor’s likeness to a character but Maui is the spitting image of Johnson. Pretty much a caricature of him. Not only does Maui look like Johnson but he moves like him too. He even does the eyebrow thing! And the “pec muscle thing” as my sister so elegantly put it. But besides his looks, Johnson has the perfect voice for Maui.
I am beginning to feel like a broken record when it comes to reviewing animated films. With every film released, the animation gets better and better and the gets more and more beautiful. The film takes place on the open water and on sandy beaches and in lush forests. The water glistens and sparkles and flows extremely life-like. This is probably the best water animation since Finding Nemo. One animation aspect that really surprised me was the characters’ hair. Given the characters are sailing on the water for most of the movie, they were bound to get wet eventually. The way it looks heavier and bunches together and shimmers is, again, very life-like. I give the animators big kudos for getting something that can be easily overlooked to look so accurate.
Like any Disney princess, Moana has her animal sidekicks. The one that steals the cake, however, is her dimwitted chicken Heihei, voiced by the versatile Alan Tadyk. When I say “voiced” I mean he makes sounds, he doesn’t actually talk. Heihei is much like Maximus and Pascal from Tangled, well like most animal sidekicks really, where his humor comes from his actions. In a movie that is already filled with a decent amount of humor, Heihei added a unique touch that garnered laughs from every scene he was in.
Like every Disney movie ever, there is a message to be found in Moana. What I like best about the message in this film is that both Moana and Maui deal with the same problem of doubt but they deal with it from different sources. Maui has self doubt, struggling internally with events from his past. Moana, on the other hand, deals with doubt from others, mainly her father, about whether she is truly ready to be chief of her tribe. They find strength in each other and both overcome those doubts. It was a crafty way for Disney to bring their message across.
In recent years, Disney has become more focused on releasing films containing messages of self-empowerment, as seen in movies like Maleficent and Frozen. But where Moana differs from something like Frozen is that there is no prince or male love interest at all. Moana focuses on exactly that: Moana. It is all about her and finding finding power and confidence within herself to complete her journey to save her people.
It wouldn’t be a Disney princess movie without some musical numbers. Two songs that stood out to me the most were “You’re Welcome,” sung by the surprising musical Johnson, and “How Far I’ll Go,” sung by Cravalho. As much as I enjoyed the soundtrack, I will admit it is one of the weaker soundtracks of late from Disney animation. I don’t think it will become as popular as some of their more recent films have become, such as Frozen, or have the longevity as several of Disney’s other classic animated features, like The Lion King, but I wouldn’t mind to be proven wrong on that.
I thought Moana was GREAT :-D. Although the score might not be as catchy as other Disney favorites, it fits the setting beautifully, the same way Dwayne Johnson and Auli’i Cravalho completely embody Maui and Moana. I have really enjoyed the last several years of Disney animation, very reminiscent of the quality of films from when I was a kid. I wouldn’t expect anything less from the directors who brought me my favorite Disney animated film.
Cast & Crew
Ron Clements – Director / Story
Jon Musker – Director / Story
Don Hall – Co-Director / Story
Chris Williams – Co-Director / Story
Jared Bush – Screenplay
Pamela Ribon – Story
Aaron Kandell – Story
Jordan Kandell – Story
Mark Mancina – Composer (Score)
Opetaia Foa’i – Composer (Original Songs)
Lin-Manuel Miranda – Composer (Original Songs)
Auli’i Cravalho – Moana (voice)
Dwayne Johnson – Maui (voice)
Rachel House – Gramma Tala (voice)
Temuera Morrison – Chief Tui (voice)
Jemaine Clement – Tamatoa (voice)
Nicole Scherzinger – Sina (voice)
Alan Tadyk – Heihei (voice)