Drew’s Movie Reviews Turns 4! Anniversary Celebration: My Fave Five New Movies I Watched in Year 4

Hello, friends!

I’m happy to see you could make it to my blogiversary celebration! Four years ago today, I took the plunge and started this little blog of mine. To celebrate this milestone, I have reviewed all three of the Brendan Frasier Mummy films.  If you missed any of them, here they are:

The Mummy
The Mummy Returns
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

I have seen some great, and not so great, films over the past 365 days.  Per tradition, here are my five favorite films I watched during my fourth year of blogging.

Wonder Woman movie poster5) Wonder Woman

I had a hard time deciding what movie was going to fill this fifth spot. This slot also could have gone to Spider-Man: Homecoming or Atomic Blonde. Instead, I chose Wonder Woman for several reasons. First of which, Gal Gadot makes for the perfect Wonder Woman. Also, it gives girls a female superhero they can look up to. But finally, DC finally made a good superhero movie as part of their Extended Universe (DCEU). The final act left a lot to be desired and turned into your hero vs villain slug fest. However, I think the first two-thirds made up for it easily.

John Wick: Chapter 2 movie poster4) John Wick: Chapter 2

John Wick made my top films of Year 2 and I rated Chapter 2 higher so it should come as no surprise this made the list again this year. Chapter 2 does everything that a good sequel should do: ups the stakes for the the main character, develop the main character more, and build the world around them. John Wick definitely had a lot more to deal with but we also learned a lot more about his past. My favorite thing about these movies is the assassin underworld it created. In the first film, only the surface was explored. Like Wick’s past, we learn much more about this assassin world.  Going into the film, I wasn’t sure that I wanted a second John Wick movie but now I can’t wait for the third.

Moana movie poster3) Moana

Disney has been on an awesome trend lately of making great films and Moana keeps the trend going. Auli’i Cravalho, a first-time actress, does wonderfully as the titular character. Dwayne Johnson has quickly become one of my favorite actors at the moment and Maui was the role he was born to play.  I could honestly go on and on about how much I love this film but you can just read my review for all that. 😛

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story movie poster2) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I honestly wasn’t a big fan of Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens. As a result, I was a little more weary going into Rogue One than I would have expected. This movie seems to be one of the more polarizing films among Star Wars fans but I greatly enjoyed it. Several characters did not get the development the deserved, mostly the movie saw them as expendable. However, this is one of the most action-heavy chapters of the Star Wars saga. The final third of the film was one giant action scene that eclipses the last third of The Return of the Jedi. It also gave fans one of the most badass Darth Vader scenes. What more could you ask for?

Your Name movie poster1) Your Name

Not to sound like an insensitive jerk, but I have never been so happy for someone to have gotten sick than when my buddy’s wife got sick, leaving him with an extra ticket to the limited theatrical release of Your Name. Because had she been healthy, I would have missed this wonderful film. The best word to describe this film is gorgeous. And the story is equally as beautiful and engaging. It’s funny to see interviews with the director saying he doesn’t feel this film should be getting all the praise it has because I think it deserves all that praise and then some. Your Name isn’t only one of the best films I have seen in the last year, it is one of the best films I have seen ever.


And that’s it! I have finished another year at DMR. I can’t thank all of you enough. Every like and comment remind me why I’m still blogging. Your love and support means the world to me and I would not be here without you. Thank you all so much! Let’s make year five even more memorable. 😀

Until next time, cheers!

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Movie Quote of the Week 5/26/17

Answer to MWL 5/24/17: Maui (Dwayne Johnson (voice)) – Moana

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.

Moana Review

Moana movie posterSynopsis
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.

Review
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.

You can read my sister’s review of Moana here.

Trailer

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)

Drew’s Samantha’s Movie Reviews: Moana

Happy holidays! I hope everyone is in the holiday spirit because I have a very special gift for you.  Today, my little sister is making her blogging debut in the feature Samantha’s Movie Reviews! Samantha was one of my movie buddies when seeing Moana in the theaters and is a fellow Disney movie fanatic. I have said before that a love for Disney runs in my family and my sister is no exception.  Samantha is the sister who watched Mulan the way I watched Aladdin (read: all the time), not to be confused with the sister who was obsessed with The Little Mermaid (see, we are a Disney family). We saw Moana last weekend and after discussing the film with her, I asked her if she wanted to write her own review for it. And wouldn’t you know it, see agreed! She does discuss spoilers so consider yourself warned. Now, without further ado, here is Samantha’s review of Moana. Enjoy!


Moana movie poster
Disney always has had a wide variety of movies they produce. It seems that all the newer princess films are more tied with girl power rather than needing a prince. This is important to young children to show that they should be themselves to be happy. Moana sets a good example and is another strong character from Disney, along side other heroines including Mulan and Ana.

This movie definitely had its fair share of characters. However, there were a few characters that stood out to me. Moana is one of these characters and not just because she is the main character. For a Disney princess, I found her to be kind of relatable. Not only do we share a love for the sea, but we also have ambition. Moana knew in her heart that she needed to travel outside the reef to find what was waiting for her. She is a determined teenager who isn’t afraid to show her true personality. From early on in Moana’s life, her Gramma Tala seemed to understand her better than anyone on the island. She was the person who also believed that Moana was destined to travel and be a voyager. It was Gramma Tala that showed Moana the large ships that their people used to travel on. This is what pushed her to go out and find Maui.

moana-with-mother

I also like the character of Moana’s mother. In the very beginning of the movie, she took her husband’s side when it came to the water. However, those feelings changed. As Moana was packing supplies for her trip, her mother walks in. One may think that she was coming to stop her daughter from going, but in reality, she came to help her. I found that almost touching because she knew this is something Moana really wanted and needed to do to save her people.

While on her voyage, Moana tries to find the great demigod, Maui. This is the fourth character that stood out to me. I enjoyed how much that animation resembled Dwayne Johnson. An example of these resemblances is during Maui’s song “You’re Welcome.” During this song, Maui does the classic “pec muscle thing” that Dwayne does in the majority of this movies. I thought this was a good way to bring his personality into his character.

Maui eyebrow raise

Don’t forget about the patented Dwayne Johnson one-eyebrow raise. -Drew

Moana had numerous memorable scenes and a couple that had tears filling up everyone’s eyes. One of these tear-jerker moments was as Gramma Tala was dying. As her time was coming to an end, she pulled her granddaughter in close to convince her to go pass the reef and that she would always be with her. Even though this was one of the emotional scenes, Disney managed to add a little punch line. She explained that in another life, she hoped to be a ray otherwise she chose the wrong tattoo. Shortly after Moana set out on her boat, the directors showed Gramma Tala’s death in a different way; they showed a giant ray swimming under Moana’s boat. I found this to be a very clever way to show the death without specifically showing her dying.

As always, a demigod has to have something to show their achievements. In Maui’s case, that was through his tattoos. I enjoyed the fact that he had to earn the tattoos on his body. Towards the end of the movie, once the Heart of the Te Fiti was restored, Maui received a new tattoo to represent the voyage that he and Moana had traveled. I thought this was a good touch on the writer’s part because now Maui will always remember the fascinating journey he had been on.

Most people don’t actually pay attention to the credits as they are rolling, but if you did, you may have noticed that there was a separate animation team just for hair and water. This shows just how much effort the creators put into the little details. I personally enjoyed the hair and water very much. I found Moana’s hair to be almost life like. After Maui tossed her into the water multiple times, her hair looked wet like normal hair would. I thought that was a good touch because in a way, it made the movie more realistic. In real life, women definitely do not come out of the water with luscious hair like many early Disney princesses did. The water was obviously mainly where this movie took place so it definitely needed to be perfect. It always seemed to be sparkling in some way in both the noon and sunlight. I found both these aspects to make the movie more visual to the audience.

Moana had to have a lot of girl power to survive on her voyage, especially after Maui gave up on her. She didn’t quit when her father told her not to go beyond the reef or when Maui refused to assist her. Her mother and grandmother encouraged her to go on the voyage, giving her the support to follow her heart. Moana gives girls another inspiring Disney role model who isn’t afraid to be herself.


Pretty impressive, eh? Besides proofreading and answering questions, I had nothing to do with this review. It is all her writing. Thank you for writing this for me Sam, a little for giving me an extra day to get my review together but mostly because it was great to have you. Hopefully you will be back again!

My review for Moana can be read here.

Cheers!

Trailer Round-Up – 9/19/16

Fifty Shades Darker

Miss Sloane teaser trailer

Trolls trailer 2

Nocturnal Animals teaser trailer

Moana

The Bye Bye Man

Annabelle 2 announcement trailer

Bastards

Urge trailer 2

Flock of Dudes

Ordinary World


Which of these films are you excited to see?