Trailer Round-Up – 8/19/19

Dolemite Is My Name

A Hidden Life

The Kill Team

Little Women

Brian Banks

Last Christmas

Zeroville


Which of these films are you excited to see?

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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.

Review
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.

Trailer

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
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.

Review
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.

Trailer

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