Since Disney+ is the new hotness and so are the shows that Disney will be producing for it, I figured I’d check out the Star Wars show (which is set about five years after Return of the Jedi) and let you know if it’s worth your time and attention! It’s being made by Jon Faverau which is a good sign as even the movies I’m not too fond of like The Jungle Book and The Lion King are still notable for their technical achievements, and the amount of money Disney is putting into this show is absolutely ludicrous which means at least the visual side of things will be interesting to see unfold. Heck, if nothing else a production of THIS scale, if it’s destined to fail, can only fail in the most SPECTACULAR of ways, and I want a front row seat if it’s going to be one big hot mess! Does Disney’s latest venture into the Star Wars universe provide an intriguing introduction into a part of the universe we’ve yet to see on screen, or is this an underwhelming attempt to further cash in on their very expensive license? Let’s find out!!
I knew nothing about this series going into it, and by the end of the first episode it was kind of exactly what I never knew I wanted out of a Star Wars series. It’s almost childish in just how much it appeals to the basest of my tastes, and yet it never sinks into being crude or garish with it. It’s a fan film made by professionals; not wanting to subvert the source material to their own ends but to give us a glimpse at something we haven’t seen in this world before.
If there’s anything it reminds of specifically it’s Solo which has a similar stylistic bent to it as both of these draw from cowboy stories, old fashioned machismo, and plenty of gun play to satisfy your action cravings. Where this one differs though is that where Solo was about charm and wit, this is much more about stoicism and grit which is a valid approach to take as long as its handled well, and I think they do a fine job of it here. The opening scene of the episode where THE MANDALORIAN (Pedro Pascal) silently walks into a bar, immediately gets the heat from local tough guys, and then cleans house with barely any effort, is taken whole cloth from any number of cheesy B-movies or old school action anime, but seeing it in the Star Wars universe and done with a decent enough budget is definitely novel if nothing else. So why is it that THE MANDALORIAN is in this bar in the middle of nowhere in the first place? Well the tough guys were hassling this blue guy (Horatio Sanz) and after THE MANDALORIAN tears them to pieces, we find out that said blue guy is actually his target. He drags him back to wherever it is bounty hunters take their captives. This return trip includes a cameo from none other than Brian Posehn who drives them from the bar to their ship, and during this scene we learn that THE MANDALORIAN has a problem with droids that we’ll no doubt get further into in later episodes.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Joachim Rønning
If I was reviewing movies when the first Maleficient came out, it probably would have been in my top ten of that year; THAT’S how much I genuinely loved that movie, and I don’t think I’m in TOO big of a minority on this one! It didn’t get the BEST reviews, but I think it still managed to connect with a lot of people and certainly made quite a bit of money even with its enormous budget. Doing a sequel though, eh… that doesn’t sound like THE GREATEST IDEA EVER, but I’m willing to throw myself into it and hope for the best considering how good the first one was and Jolie’s continued involvement with the series since she was the best thing about that movie. Do they find an interesting way to continue the story after its revisionist Happily Ever After, or should they have left well enough alone after managing to catch lightening in a bottle already? Let’s find out!!
Queen Aurora (Elle Fanning) has been running the magic forest known as The Moors since her adoptive mother killed her biological father in the first movie. It’s cool though; the dude was a HUGE jerk and was played by Sharlto Copley, so he pretty much HAD to die! Someone who DIDN’T die though was Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson) who’s been dating Aurora for some time now (ACTUALLY dating; not rescuing her from a castle and getting a bride as a reward), but now is the time for him to pop the question and join their kingdoms under one big happy family. This is cause for celebration for just about everyone in The Moors… except for one woman who finds this arrangement utterly dreadful. Actually two women, but we’ll get to that soon enough; we’re of course talking about Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) at the moment who has obvious reservations because of the whole Sharlto Copley thing, but agrees meet Phillips parents for dinner which will SURELY go off without a hitch, right!? Well… that OTHER woman who’s not too please about all this is Phillip’s mother Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) who has a clear bias against all things magical and is not about to let those ghastly creatures crash on her kingdom’s metaphorical couch, and so she sets into motion her diabolical scheme to ruin the forest and turn Maleficent into a fearsome monster once again. At first it seems to succeed as Maleficent is more or less banished from the kingdom after being a particularly unpleasant dinner guest, but things take an unexpected turn when she learns that there are OTHER creatures just like her that call themselves Dark Feys and have lived in hiding all this time, but Queen Ingrith’s plans may just put an end to all that. Will Maleficent unmask Queen Ingrith’s evil plans and restore her place as a good guy once more, or will she embrace her outsider status and become the worst nightmare that Ingrith and the rest of the humans could ever face? What will the Dark Fey do to protect themselves, and will it be in the best interest of everyone else in this conflict; even Maleficent herself? Can we maybe get a movie where Queen Ingrith meets Queen Ravenna from Snow White and the Huntsman? I’m pretty sure that the combined efforts of Jolie and Thor wouldn’t be able to overcome THAT level of concentrated ham-tastic villainy.
If that stare gets any icier, we’re liable to start a new Ice Age; either the massive shift in global temperature or the movie franchise. Both would be equally devastating…
Ad Astra and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by James Gray
We already sent Matt Damon into space and couldn’t get rid of him, so I guess its Brad Pitt’s turn on the intergalactic chopping block. Space movies, especially ones that try to reflect our current understanding of outer space and an approximation of our current technology have been a great way to explore our own humanity as well as the stars themselves with 2001: A Space Odyssey still being the gold standard that these kinds of films try to aspire to. Does this newest sci-fi drama about Brad Pitt IN SPACE prove to be a worthy contemporary of the genre, or will the only favorable comparisons be to Plan 9 From Outer Space? Let’s find out!!
Major Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is an astronaut in the near future where that’s back to being a viable career and NASA has morphed into the SpaceCom which has put bases on the moon, on Mars, and they even sent a space ship out to Neptune to look for life beyond what they can see back on Earth. That space ship was part of the “Lima Project” which was launched sixteen years ago with Roy’s dad Clifford (Tommy Lee Jones) and hasn’t been heard from in years and is presumed lost forever. That is until weird electrical pulses start to reach Earth that knock out power in a lot of places and even causes a giant space antenna to come crashing down that Roy just so happened to be working on at the time, and SpaceCom thinks that it might be the… super science generator (something to do with dark matter maybe?) that they stuck on Clifford’s ship all those years ago. On the off chance that this is the case, they want Roy to get his butt to Mars and use their super science broadcasting antenna (basically pirate radio IN SPACE) to get a message out to Neptune and hopefully to his dad. Things get complicated right away however as there seems to be more going on than SpaceCom is telling him, and on top of that he’s got some unresolved issues with the old man, what with him leaving his family to never return, that may or may not complicate things even if they DO get a message to him. Will Roy come to terms with the decisions his father made as well as finally get the closure he’s looking for? What challenges will he face and what secrets will he uncover during the rather long voyage from Earth to Mars? How do you pack for kind of trip anyway? A lot of protein bars I guess?
Ready or Not and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Has it been a bad year for horror films? There have certainly been quite a few misses like the Child’s Play remake, Ma, and whatever the heck Brightburn was supposed to be, but we also had fun stuff like The Intruder and even a genuinely great horror film like Us, so the year isn’t a TOTAL miss as far for these kinds of films. Still, we could always use a few more quality flicks here and there since it’s becoming one of the few reliably bankable genres now that Disney Remake has become its own ginormous slice of the pie and pretty much everything else is heading towards the streaming model to stay afloat. Wait a minute… this is a Fox Searchlight movie which means it’s STILL DISNEY! HORROR SHOCK!! Anyway! Does this grotesque spin on the children’s game of Hide and Seek end up being a new classic for the genre, or will we regret ever looking for it in the first place? Let’s find out!!
Grace (Samara Weaving), who I can only assume plays a professional Margot Robbie impersonator in this movie, is getting married to Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien) who is an heir to the VAST Le Domas fortune which was made through board games and other such ventures. The family seems pleasant enough despite being a collection of old money weirdos, but things take an… interesting turn when on their wedding night at the gigantic Le Domas estate, the family requests that Grace take part in a tradition of their where the newest member of the family has to play a game at the stroke of midnight. The head of the family Tony (Henry Czerny) explains that this MYSTERIOUS box given to his great grandfather by their original benefactor will spit out a card with a game printed on it, and they will play that game which will officially bring her into the family. Will it be chess? Parcheesi? Do the Urkel? No, the game turns out to be Hide and Seek which seems a bit childish, but Grace is up for it if it means getting along with her new family who mysteriously went quiet just now. Anyway, she runs and hides, gets bored and starts wandering the halls, and then Alex brings her into a room to explain that the rest of those mo-fos are going to kill her if they find her because of reasons that… well he doesn’t quite explain there and I’m not about to spoil it here. The point is that she’s got to find a way to avoid detection and even fight back if the need arises while Alex tries to find a way for them to escape, and as the night goes on the family starts to get more and more desperate as there seems to be quite a bit at stake here. Can Grace manage to escape this house with her internal organs, as well as her marriage, intact? What is the family hiding that could possibly explain why a game of hide and seek has turned into the home version of The Most Dangerous Game? Is it just me, or do these rich jerks seem WOEFULLY unprepared for this?
The Lion King and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Jon Favreau
Didn’t I just do this a month ago? Seriously Disney, I know you own basically all of entertainment now, but can you at least change it up a bit from month to month? We JUST got done making fun of the genie in Aladdin; we don’t need another remake this soon! Seriously, if they keep burning through their renaissance films like this they’re gonna have to take another stab at Treasure Planet before 2030, and if they thought that one sunk like a lead balloon LAST TIME… oh who am I kidding? We’ll give it a billion dollars at the box office without a second thought! So until those bleak times are upon us, does this latest remake of a beloved nineties classic live up to the original, or is this a worse idea than Lion King 1.5? Let’s find out!!
Now stop me if you’ve heard this one before! Simba (Donald Glover) is the son of Mustafa (James Earl Jones); king of the Pride Lands and brother of Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who conveniently has a scar on his face to go with the name. Now if the name wasn’t enough to convince you, scar is one EVIL lion that wants the throne for himself but now has to wait behind the little brat for his shot. That is unless he pulls a Hamlet and MURDERS THE KING IN COLD BLOOD, albeit with a stampede instead of a jug of ear poison. Convincing young Simba that he is responsible, he runs off to live in exile while Scar takes the Pride Lands for himself, and the young prince runs into two free spirited do nothings called Timon and Pumbaa (Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen). While Simba is living his carefree life as a slacker, things are not going so well in the Pride Lands under Scar’s quasi fascist rule with the help of the hyenas and so Simba’s childhood friend Nala (Beyoncé Knowles-Carter) runs off to find help, and believing Simba to be dead this whole time… well let’s just say there’s an awkward conversation very soon in their future. Can Simba find the courage to face his fear and his guilt that have defined him for so long? Just how far will Scar go to stay seated on his throne, and does Simba have a chance of defeating him after all this time? Did Disney listen to that “everything the light touches” line again recently and consider that a challenge?
“Everything the light touches is our Kingdom.” “Yeah, but the Earth revolves around the sun, so pretty much everywhere gets hit by sunlight at SOME point throughout the day.” “Look, we’re lions, alright!? We can’t draw border maps! WE DON’T HAVE OPPOSABLE THUMBS!!”
Spider-Man: Far From Home and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Jon Watts
Well now that we’re FINALLY done with Thanos (and James Gunn is back on Guardians 3), we can finally get things back on track, right? I mean sure, we needed a nice big climatic sendoff for the big stars that helped bring this franchise to life, but now that the party’s over things have got to keep going without them and the MCU, if they’ve done NOTHING else, have managed to create something that can go on even after closing the book on some of its biggest characters. Still, there’s a big ol’ elephant in the room (or perhaps SPIDER-PIG in the room!) called Into the Spider-Verse that came out between the last Tom Holland film and this one which frankly blew Homecoming out of the water. Homecoming is still great, but Into the Spider-Verse? Woo boy is that a hard act to follow! Can this Post Thanos and Post Spider-Verse entry into the MCU cement itself as the first step to the future of this franchise, or have we already seen the best this version of the hero has to offer and will be left wanting for something more? Let’s find out!!
So hey! That whole… dead for five years thing was pretty rough, wasn’t it? Well the world keeps on turning I suppose and that’s definitely true for Peter Parker (Tom Holland) as well as the entire cast from the first Spider-Man movie who JUST SO HAPPENED to be blinked out of existence as well which makes sense to me because this is a movie and everyone liked the cast from the first film. This includes Ned (Jacob Batalon), Mary Jane (Zendaya), and even Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori); all of whom as well as a couple of other students from Peter’s school are going on a European field trip. Frankly, Peter could use the time off considering how much he’s had to go through in the past… I guess it’s only been a few months for him, and after… well ENDGAME SPOILERS WILL BE IN THE REST OF THIS REVIEW SO LOOK AWAY NOW, Tony died saving the universe, he’s been having trouble coping with this whole “superhero” thing which has gotten a lot more real than just being a dude doing back flips on roofs and stopping two bit muggers. Of course nothing can be that easy for good ol’ Peter Parker because Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) along with Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) are trying to pull him into this “save the world” situation where elemental monsters from another dimension are tearing up cities all over the world, and with the Avengers kinda doing their own thing (the ones who aren’t dead at least) all they’ve got to work with is this kid and some dude named Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) who claims to have come from the same alternate dimension as the elementals and wants to help us stop them. Oh, and at some point people start calling him “Mysterio” for some reason, but I’m sure that’s fine. This is all WAY more than Peter was ready to handle so soon, but then again if he’s not ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice and save the world, was he ever truly worth of being Tony’s protégé and a possible future Avenger? Can the world possibly get along fine with the new guys out there like the square jawed and overly capable Mysterio fellow to let Peter just be a kid for once? Seriously, considering where he ends up in Into the Spider-Verse, he might as well quit now. Yes, EITHER version of Peter in that movie!
“So what’s it like having already done this already? When you look back on what you’ve accomplished, was it worth the years of sacrifice?” “What? No, that wasn’t… I’M NOT TOBEY MAGUIRE!!”
Toy Story 4 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Pixar and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Josh Cooley
Sigh… I THOUGHT I WAS DONE!! I thought that after the third film we’d reached the perfect end point for this series, but instead of coming up with a new idea or even rebooting the franchise entirely, here we are again with the same cast, the same toys, and even more Randy Newman. I’ve been pretty down on Pixar recently with Incredibles 2 being a HUGE disappointment for me and being rather lukewarm on Inside Out, but they can still do great films like Coco when they put their mind to it and that fact only makes me even more tired that we’re dipping into the same well one more time. Who knows though, right? I mean, they managed to make Toy Story 2 one of the best sequels of all time and even made the third film a perfect closure for these characters and this world! Can they somehow pull it off a third time by making this beating of a dead horse not nearly as horrific as that metaphor implies? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of the third film, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), and all their pals (Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, Don Rickles and Estelle Harris) are living with Bonnie and her toys (Kristen Schaal, Timothy Dalton, and Jeff Garlin); enjoying their new lease on life having avoided both the garbage dump and the day care of infinite horrors. Still, Woody isn’t quite as happy as the ending of the last movie would have indicated because he is no longer the top toy in the room which is led up by Dolly (Bonnie Hunt) instead. Feeling out of place and probably more than a little bored, he sneaks into Bonnie’s backpack for her first day of kindergarten orientation where he slyly helps Bonnie through the emotionally turmoil and even gets her to make a new toy out of trash and craft materials. The new toy named Forky (Tony Hale) does indeed come to life which comes to a surprise to Woody and everyone else, and what’s even MORE surprising for a kids movie is that this little bugger is determined to throw himself in the garbage because he’s aware he’s an unholy abomination unto the world and needs to return to the trash from whence he came! So the good news for Woody is that he now has a new lease on life being Bonnie’s protector by way of protecting Forky, but the bad news is that Forky turns out to be a HUGE handful and he manages to escape out the window during the family road trip. Woody goes after him, slowly trudges to the town the family is staying at, but as it would JUST SO HAPPEN, Bo Peep (Annie Potts) who went missing between Toy Story 2 and 3 is in this town as a lost toy; helping other lost toys find kids to play with in the park and living her life to the fullest as a STRONG INDEPENDENT badass! Seems like a perfect little reunion if it wasn’t for the fact that Forky is kidnapped by the EVIL Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) who is a doll in an antique store looking to replace her broken voice box and wants the one embedded in Woody’s toy guts. Can Woody and Bo save Forky from whatever maniacal machinations Gabby has in store for him? Will the rest of the toys be able to distract the family long enough so that Woody and Forky can return in one piece? Seriously, how has a porcelain doll managed to last this long out in the wilderness? Is she ACTUALLY made out of Adamantium!?
“When you’re out in the world, you either get chipped or you do the chipping…” “Okay…” “HAVE YOU EVER SEEN YOURSELF IN FOUR DIFFERENT PIECES!?” “Well my arm came off that one time…”