Tag Archives: disney

Cinema Dispatch: Mary Poppins Returns

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Mary Poppins Returns and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Rob Marshall

Well this one has certainly been a long time coming, hasn’t it?  I mean with the pace at which Disney is cannibalizing its older properties to make billions at the box office, it was only a matter of time before one of their most iconic features gets a shiny coat of HD paint!  Just over the horizon, we still have The Lion King, Dumbo, Mulan, Aladdin, and the list will certainly keep growing from there.  Still, this isn’t quite a Beauty and the Beast shameless shot for shot retelling of an animated feature since this is an ACTUAL sequel that continues from the original film!  It’s been so long since I’ve seen the first Mary Poppins that I’m not sure what to expect here, but the cast is strong and Rob Marshall is made for this kind of material.  Will it be a fun and engaging experience for audiences of all ages who need a little bit of nonsense and silliness in their lives, or has modern Disney failed to understand what made that classic film so memorable for so many people?  Let’s find out!!

The movie picks up about twenty years after the first one where the Banks Children are now the Banks Adults.  Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) has had a particularly rough go of it as his wife had just died a year ago and he had to give up his dreams of being an artist to get a job at the bank, but he’s still go the house he grew up in and three perfect children (Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson); not to mention his sister Jane (Emily Mortimer) who helps around the house between labor protests, and their housekeeper Ellen (Julie Walters) who’s still cleaning up after them all these years later.  They’ve weathered a storm so things can only be looking up, right?  Well as it turns out, Michael took out a big loan at the bank to cover expenses this last year and now they’re gonna repossess the house unless he can pay the loan back in full within five days.  Well shoot!  If only they had a magical nanny who could make all this better with songs and animation!  Well it turns out that the Banks family is in luck because whatever mystical force is watching over them has sent Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) to once again fix their problems and watch the kids while Michael and Jane try to scramble to find their father’s old bank stock they could use to possibly pay off the loan.  With the help of a friendly lamplighter named Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and various colorful characters including her cousin Topsy (Meryl Streep), Mary Poppins is on a divine mission to introduce a bit of whimsy and discipline into these children’s lives, and maybe help Michael and Jane rediscover their childhoods along the way!  Will Michael and Jane find what they need to save their childhood home?  What can the kids do to help the situation, and can Mary Poppins be the key to it all?  Why the heck didn’t I get a flying magical nanny when I was a kid?  I don’t even think they had to pay her!

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“The price for my services is either two hundred dollars a week or you can just hand over your soul to empower the dark forces tucked away within me.”     “Well I’m already paying my student loans each month…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Ralph Breaks the Internet

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Ralph Breaks the Internet and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Rich Moore and Phil Johnston

I remember when the first Wreck-It-Ralph movie came out that I couldn’t wait for there to be a sequel!  However, as the years went on and the marketing pivoted from video games to him being ON THE INTERNET, I started to lose interest because the sequel that I would have wanted didn’t seem like it was going to manifest.  Now that’s not to say I thought it would be a BAD movie, but what I was seeing wasn’t getting me as excited as say a Disney version of Super Smash Bros or whatever where we got even MORE nostalgic characters (maybe even ones from Nintendo!?) that Ralph and crew could go on adventures with.  Now clearly NOTHING could have competed with the fan fiction I made up in my brain so even if the lead up to this movie wasn’t filling me with fanboy joy I wasn’t about to dismiss it out of hand for those reasons.  Does this manage to live up to maybe not quite MY expectations but REASONABLE ones for a sequel to a modern Disney class, or should they have gone with my idea of having Mario and Sonic fight zombies together while Ralph and Boswer play Yu-Gi-Oh… or something like that?  Let’s find out!!

It’s been several years since the events of the first film where Ralph and Vanellope (John C Reilly and Sarah Silverman) uncovered Turbo’s evil plan, and things have been going pretty well since then.  Vanellope has been racing, Ralph has been wrecking, and Fix-it Felix Jr and Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun (Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch) have been the most adorable couple ever six years running!  Still, things might be settling down a bit TOO much for Vanellope who’s time in the spotlight has turned a bit monotonous, but soon things go all Monkey’s Paw on her as her game breaks down and she and Ralph have to go online to see if they can find a replacement part before the kindly arcade owner (Ed O’Neill) sells the machine for scrap.  Once online using the arcade owner’s recently purchased modem, they discover all the fantabulous things THE INTERNET has to offer, including the part they need on eBay.  However, they don’t have any ACTUAL money and so need to find a way to score some cash through shady loot hunting in an online game with a bad ass NPC named Shank (Gal Gadot) and slightly less shady viral marketing through a trending video website run by an algorithm called Yesss (Taraji P Henson).  Oh, and they visit Disney’s website at one point just to make sure you remember things like Star Wars, Zootopia, and their ever expanding stable of princesses.  Will Ralph and Vanellope be able to buy the part and save her game before it’s too late?  What will Vanellope learn about herself by seeing all these new and exciting places, and will Ralph be able to adapt to these new experiences?  Where exactly did they manage to find such a clean and efficient version of THE INTERNET, and is there any way I can get on there!?

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“Wow!  Look at all this cool stuff!”     “I know, right!?”     “Wait, what’s that over there?  Did someone just call it a Pepe?”     “Yeah… maybe we should avoid that area.”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

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The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston

It’s not often that Disney just let’s something slide under the radar like this.  Every Marvel movie and Star Wars episode gets a HUGE marketing push (even the comparatively small Solo got more coverage than a lot of other movies), their animated films are almost always guaranteed to be at the top of the box office, even something as out there as A Wrinkle In Time was pretty omnipresent prior to its release.  With this film though it’s like they want to sneak it out as fast as possible which, given what we saw in the trailers, is probably a good call and even more reason for critics like me to make sure it gets it’s turn in the spotlight!  We may love Disney for a lot of things, but they’ve had their share of horrible mistakes and I’m not in a lenient mood this year!  Does this retelling of the classic tale turn out to be a Disney Blunder on the scale of Treasure Planet, or did they simply not know what to do with the greatness they had in front of them?  Let’s find out!!

Clara Stahlbaum (Mackenzie Foy) is the daughter of a wealthy English family who is not having a very good Christmas, mostly due to her mother (Anna Madeley) having died the previous year, and her father (Matthew Macfadyen) is insisting they at least put up appearances and go the Christmas ball as tradition dictates.  Oh and she has a brother and sister (Tom Sweet and Ellie Bamber), but who cares about them.  ANYWAY, Clara goes to the party in a rather dour mood and sees her kindly godfather Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman) who makes clockwork novelties and presumably lost one of his eyes when a cuckoo clock got too close, but more importantly he seems to be the only one who understands Clara as she too has an affinity for mechanical devices.  However, there’s one that still eludes her which is a locked mechanical egg that she got as the last gift from her mother, and when Drosselmeyer sees it it’s clear that SOMETHING must be done!  Okay, see if you can follow me on this.  First, he sets up an elaborate gift giving system for the kids where very long strings are tied to a pole in the courtyard with each child’s name on one of the strings, and they have to follow said string to the gift.  Clara’s string apparently winds all through the house which leads to a… magic door I guess that takes her to the fantasy world of THE FOUR REALMS that’s populated by nutcrackers, fairies, and mice.  Well it’s certainly a good thing that none of the other kids mistook her string for theirs, though even if I was dutifully following a string with my name on it, I’d AT LEAST start to question something when it starts snowing and we’re no longer in the middle of the city, but I guess I’m not young enough to get the whimsy of being out in the cold without a jacket.  The string by the way leads to a key which could be the one needed to unlock Clara’s mechanical egg thingy, but alas it is taken by a mouse that runs off into THE FOURTH REALM which is a place of fog, dead trees, and clowns.  After meeting up with a nutcracker solider (Jayden Fowora-Knight) and making a valiant effort to chase after the mouse who took her key, she eventually retreats back to the big castle just outside THE FOURTH REALM where all the rich people are partying, the guardians of the GOOD realms are residing (Keira Knightley, Eugenio Derbez, and Richard E. Grant), and Clara’s mom is apparently still crowned as queen despite being dead for over a year which we soon learn is even LONGER in Fantasy World Time!  So with that, Clara is given the royal treatment but has to take on great responsibility in her mother’s absence to… I guess eradicate THE FOURTH REALM which is so obviously evil while also getting that key back and finally uncovering whatever secrets her mother left in that egg!  Will Clara be able to overcome whatever challenges face her once she goes back into THE FOURTH REALM?  What are the rulers of the other realms planning to do once Clara fulfils her duty, and will she be able to return to her old life?  Is it just me, or did almost NONE of that have to do with The Nutcracker!?

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“And THEN we signed the peace treaty with the dragons of marshmallow mountain which allowed trade ships to travel down the chocolate milk river.”     “uh huh.  That’s nice…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Christopher Robin

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Christopher Robin and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Marc Forster

Disney’s recent attempts to cannibalize its previous properties into live action features have been decidedly mixed, and more so with me than with other critics it seems.  Maleficent was one of the best movies that came out that year, but with The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast following it up… well let’s just say that this latest outing isn’t coming out with the highest of expectations from me.  Still, there’s a lot of talent involved and like Maleficent it’s not a simple remake of another film; rather it’s a reimagining of the material to fit with modern sensibilities and current societal issues.  That may sound pretentious, but kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for and if Disney wants to make something that’s at least SOMEWHAT challenging for its core demographics, I’m sure not gonna stop them from trying!  Does this story about a grown Christopher Robin manage to get us to the heart of what made Winnie the Pooh such a timeless classic, or is this movie just as cynical and jaded as the man they’re telling the story of?  Let’s find out!!

Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) is a young boy who spends many afternoons playing the Hundred Acre woods with his friends Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, and Owl (Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Nick Mohammed, Peter Capaldi, Sophie Okonedo, Sara Sheen, and Toby Jones) and of course, Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings as well).  However, these idyllic summer days must ultimately come to an end as life has a way of pushing you away from childish things and he heads off to live his life; going to boarding school, dealing with loss, fighting in World War 2, and eventually marrying the love of his life Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and having a child they name Madeline (Bronte Carmichael).  All this time however, The Hundred Acre Woods has managed to go on with him; albeit a bit more gloomy from time to time with Pooh still waiting to see if his best friend will ever come back.  Well he might have to wait a bit longer as Christopher has to deal with problems at work and with his sniveling boss (Mark Gatiss) who’s forcing him to make ridiculous cuts which could include the jobs of a lot of people if he doesn’t find places to make them elsewhere.  Things come to a head as he’s forced to work over the weekend that he had already scheduled to spend with his family in his childhood home and after even more stress and heartache he finds himself in a small park outside his house… where a familiar bear managed to somehow wander into.  Will Winnie the Pooh manage to help Christopher Robin find a modicum of peace in his life?  Can Christopher learn what’s REALLY important in life before he loses everything?  Just how much honey does Pooh need to eat!?  He doesn’t even have a digestive system!!

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“I can read your mind.”     “You can!?”     “Yes.  You’re thinking of giving me more honey.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Ant-Man and the Wasp

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Ant-Man and the Wasp and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Peyton Reed

The first Ant-Man is easily one of my favorite Marvel films and has always felt like an outlier in the MCU because (incoming pun VERY much intended) it knew the value of going small.  The fate of the world wasn’t at stake, it didn’t involve Gods, Kings, or vast armies of convenient cannon fodder; rather it was a heist film about a guy who basically just needed a job and got wrapped up in a while bunch of sci-fi nonsense!  It was fun, it was light, and it didn’t have the weight of a dozen other films dragging it down which, given my lukewarm reception to the more recent BIG TEAM UP MOVIES, is just the kind of Marvel film I could really use right about now.  Seriously, I couldn’t IMAGINE a better time to make a goofy palate cleanser than in the wake of Infinity Bore which I’m STILL feeling rather grumpy about and could certainly use something like this to take my mind off of it.  Does this manage to be the perfect antidote to the overly serious and bombastic Avengers film that preceded it, or does the specter of that film loom large enough over the MCU that even THIS series cannot escape from its massive shadow?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins in that period between Civil War and Infinity War where The Avengers are basically split up but no one is all that freaked out about it.  Spider-Man is doing his thing on the East Coast, Black Panther is dealing with his kingly duties in Wakanda, and it turns out that Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has been doing… nothing.  Yeah, it turns out that after helping Captain America in Civil War and taking a plea deal with the US government, he’s under house arrest and hasn’t been doing his Ant-Man thing in a while; especially since the Sokovia Accords (ugh…) have an odd stipulation that the people who MADE the tech he used are JUST as responsible as he is and need to face similar punishments.  Well jeez, I kinda wish we ACTUALLY had that with gun manufacturers, but what it means here is that Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne (Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly) are on the run and decidedly not talking to Scott for putting them in this situation in the first place… not that they could considering he’s under house arrest.  Jeez, kind of a downer way to start the movie, BUT things get better once Scott starts having night terrors about the Quantum Realm and Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) who is the mother of Hope and the wife of Hank, and manages to get this message to those two who swiftly kidnap him MERE DAYS BEFORE HIS HOUSE ARREST IS UP!  It turns out that the two of them have been continuing their research while running from the law (pretty easy to do when you have the ability to shrink) and they’re VERY close to making a tunnel to the Quantum Realm (that place you go to if you shrink TOO SMALL and where Janet ended up after doing so on a mission) but apparently Scott has some connection to it and potentially to Janet due to him somehow escaping it in the first film.  Okay, so Scott helps them with the Tunnel and with any clues he may have about Janet from his dreams, and then they just drop him off at his house before the cops realize he’s gone!  Easy enough, right!?  Well… not exactly.  Throw in some wannabe gangsters looking to snag their research for profit (led by professional scumbag Walton Goggins), a mysterious woman who has bad ass phasing powers (Hanna John-Kamen) trying to steal their research for reasons OTHER than profit, and all of a sudden it looks like Scott might end up going to jail for twenty years because he got caught up in some giant caper yet again and could get caught out of the house at any moment by FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) who is just itching to put him away for good!  Can Scott, Hope, and Hank find out what happened to Janet and maybe save her from the Quantum Realm?  What exactly is the mystery phasing lady after, and just how far will she go to get her hands on their research?  When they get that glove away from Thanos, can we use the Time Stone to go back and make EVERY Marvel movie about Ant-Man and The Wasp?

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“Captain Ant-merica!  Guardians of the Colony!  Thor; Ragna-wasp!”     “Yeah, I’m sure Paul Feig is gonna put those on a marque.”     “Well you won’t know until you ask him!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Incredibles 2

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Incredibles 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Brad Bird

So it’s time to once again return the Pixar well, isn’t it?  After the underwhelming sequel to Finding Nemo which was then followed by the much more interesting and engaging Coco, you’d think that Pixar would have leaned into new properties they can exploit down the road rather than relying so heavily on sequelizing their back catalog, but this one is a little bit different than say Monsters University or yet another Toy Story movie.  People have been clamoring for a new Incredibles movie since the first one came out which is particularly exasperating considering it’s been well over a decade since then, but Brad Bird finally came back to the company that made him and is finally giving us the movie we’ve all been anxiously anticipating for all that time!  Was it actually worth the wait, or should Pixar left well enough alone?  Let’s find out!!

The movie picks up right after the events of the first film with the Parr family fighting the sinister UNDERMINER (John Ratzenberger) and in doing so reaffirming their strong familial bond!  Actually, they barely manage to stop anything and the city is pretty ticked off that they got involved in the first place; particularly since the dude was just robbing a bank and the money in there is insured anyway.  Heck, they could probably just trace the bills that were in there and arrest the UNDERMINER when he actually tries to spend it, unless of course he’ll convert it into bitcoins or something ridiculous like that.  Anyway, the Parr family is let out of custody, but are forced to lay low once again to avoid raising the ire of the authorities who are still enforcing a strict NO SUPER HERO policy despite seemingly unprepared for dudes with giant drill vehicles tearing up the city.  Things look particularly grim right now as Agent Dicker (Jonathan Banks) is retiring and can’t keep covering their butts on this, but a ray of hope comes through as Lucious Best AKA Frozone (Samuel L Jackson) arrives to give the parents Robert and Helen (Craig T Nelson and Holly Hunter) some news of an eccentric business man ready to offer them a deal.  The man’s name is Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and he wants to bring Super Heroes back into public favor, so with the help of his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener), they plan on using one of them to solve a few low level crimes on camera so that people can actually see a Super Hero in action instead of just witnessing the aftermath of their fights.  The duo feels that Helen AKA Elastagirl is gonna be the best choice which incenses Robert AKA Mr. Incredible, but he capitulates and stays home to watch the kids Dash, Violet, and Jack-Jack (Huck Milner, Sarah Vowell, and Eli Fucile) until they can get Super Heroes legalized once again!  THEN he’ll be able to don the spandex once again and fight criminals instead of helping with math homework or reading bedtime stories!  It’s not as easy as it sounds though for either Robert OR Helen as the former has to deal with the evolving and terrifying powers of their youngest child Jack-Jack while the latter all of a sudden finds herself an arch nemesis called The Screenslaver (Bill Wise) that’s ready to stop her crime fighting ways before she even has a chance to really make a difference.  Will Robert manage to be a good dad while dealing with all these Mr. Mom shenanigans?  What can Helen do to stop this latest threat, and is there more to the story that she’ll need to uncover?  Wait, didn’t we already go through most of this the last time around!?

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“Can we have just ONE meal without property damage!?  IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Solo: A Star Wars Story

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Solo: A Star Wars Story and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Ron Howard

Well I guess we were destined to get one of these sooner than later, and all I can say is… I’m glad we at least aren’t starting with Boba Fett.  I mean it looks like we’re getting one of those no matter what, but out of all the characters to get a prequel… Han isn’t dead last?  Eh… look.  Han Solo is FINE, but what exactly do we need to know about him that isn’t made readily apparent the first time we see him Mos Eisley Cantina?  Then again, him being a smuggler almost makes him a perfect candidate for a decent action film as smugglers tend to get in more gun fights than say… a farm boy on Tatooine, but is that enough to sustain a Star Wars movie?  Probably, at least for me, but let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Han (Alden Ehrenreich), who will soon be taking the surname Solo, on the planet Corellia hustling for his meals and dodging fellow street rats to keep himself alive.  The only thing that keeps him going are his dreams of owning his own ship as well as his one true love Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) who is similarly stuck running con games in the back alleys of this crap hole planet, but fortune soon finds its way to them as Han finds something JUST valuable enough to get them both a one way ticket off this planet and to a new life!  The good news is he manages to escape, but the bad news is that Qi’ra gets caught JUST at the last second which means that Han has to get a jump start on that whole “getting a ship and making boat loads of cash” thing so that he can come back for Qi’ra and they can live happily ever after!  Hm… but what’s the best way to GET a spaceship in an Empire controlled section of the galaxy?  Oh hey!  Aren’t they CONSTANTLY recruiting new red shirts to take bullets and fail to hit their targets!  Sounds like a good way to at least take the first step to earning a livable wage and get the training he needs to survive on his own!  From there things get complicated as Han is not what you’d call a MODEL solider, and ends up with a band of smugglers (Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, and Jon Favreau) as well as a new Wookie friend of his named Chewbacca (Joonas Suotama).  Funny story how they met, but I won’t spoil it here!  So now that he has a crew to run with (after deserting the Empire) and a way to FINALLY make all that sweet cash he needs, he can set his sights on going back to save Qi’ra from whatever fate has befallen her in the years that he’s been gone, right?  Well not exactly as things are ALWAYS more complicated than they seem, which includes a SUPER gangster named Dryden (Paul Bettany) who has a bone to pick with this little band of misfits, the ultimate fate of Qi’ra which is VERY different from what Han had imagined, and even a slick hot shot named Lando (Donald Glover) who’s always one step ahead and laughing about it the whole time!  Can Han survive in this world of backstabbers, sharpshooters, and expert gamblers long enough to get his own ship and start a life with the woman he loves?  Just what did the smugglers do to Dryden, and what chances do they have of ACTUALLY making it right again?  How the heck do you even play holo-chess anyway!?

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THE SECRETS OF STAR WARS YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW!!

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