Cats and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Tom Hooper
I know next to nothing about Cats the stage show or the TS Eliot book it’s based on. I know it ends with a sad song that earns the cat another life and I know the band Mungo Jerry took its name after a character in it, but other than I don’t have the first clue; not to the narrative, what the famous songs are, or why it’s so popular that a studio sunk a bajillion dollars into making good actors look like creatures from The Island of Dr. Moreau to bring it to the big screen. Yeah, those trailers weren’t doing this film a lot of favors as the odd cat suits were all anyone was talking about and it certainly wasn’t selling a newbie like me on the CATS experience. Still, even if the effects are strange there could be an engaging and heartfelt story beating underneath that’ll make up for all tht which if nothing else will explain why the stage show is still popular after all this time. Is this the cinematic dance party of 2019 that The Greatest Showman was for 2018, or will this sit right alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber’s other missteps like Love Never Dies and Gerard Butler? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Victoria (Francesca Hayward) being dumped in an alley by her human owner (a very disturbing sight by the way coupled with these shrunken cat humanoids) and she is greeted by the Jellicle Cats. What’s a Jellicle Cat? I have no idea, but I think it involves three years of ballet and two years of tap. The Jellicle Cats led by Munkustrap (Robbie Fairchild) take Victoria through the streets of London to meet other Jellicle Cats like Jennyanydots, Bustopher Jones, and Rum Tum Tugger (Rebel Wilson, James Cordon, and Jason Derulo), and eventually to the Jellicle Ball which is some sort of talent show where even MORE cats show up to strut their stuff in the hopes of winning a new life. I’m not sure if this is some reincarnation deal or if they get a tenth life tacked to the end of their ninth, but regardless there are a lot of cats trying to impress the leader of the Jellicle Cats, Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench), who is the one that will ultimately make the decision. Some cats like Gus and Skimbleshanks (Ian McKellen and Steven McRae) will simply try to do their best, while others like Macavity (Idris Elba) will use underhanded means to try and while, and others still like Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson) are excluded entirely, for… reasons. Will Victoria find a place among the Jellicle Cats now that she no longer has a home with the humans? Who will be chosen to receive the ultimate prize this night, and how far will Macavity go to try and secure it? Does anyone know if this is all one big joke? Who looked at those faces and thought, YUP! THAT’S WHAT WE WANT TO SPEND OUR MONEY ON!!
Beauty and the Beast and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios
Directed by Bill Condon
So Maleficent was good, as were the two Alice in Wonderland movies (WHAT!? THEY ARE!!), but what exactly is Disney’s end goal in trying to burn through their entire catalog in search of reigniting nostalgic fans to spend money on these stories once again? Sure, Mulan seems like a good idea, but they’ve got plans for live action adaptations of The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and even a Dumbo movie that’s been in development for almost three years now! Before all that though, we’ve got this remake of the classic 1991 film which seems to be the most… shall we say FAITHFUL, of the bunch so far as the trailers seem to imply that it’s basically shot for shot. Then again, they did bring Bill Condon on hand to direct who’s work includes Dream Girls and Chicago, as well as the ONE decent Twilight movie (*cough* Breaking Dawn Part 2 *cough*), so maybe there’s a bit more inspiration and creative flourish on hand than what we’ve been lead to believe from the marketing. Is this the yet another success for the Mouse House and the new direction they’re taking with their non-Marvel and Non-Star Wars films, or is this just a lazy cash grab for a studio that can do much better? Let’s find out!!
The movie is… well it’s Beauty and the Beast. Do you NEED me to tell you what it’s about? Ugh… fine. There once was a prince (Dan Stevens) who was total jerk. He rejected a beggar woman at his door which seems to be standard protocol in the Aristocracy, but this beggar was the one in ten thousand that you do not mess with as she turns out to be an Enchantress who puts a curse on the prince, his castle, and all of his servants. The prince, who is now a furry, has to find true love before time runs out which is determined by a magic rose slowly dying in his room or else the curse will be permanent and he will have to live as his fursona for all time! Now I wouldn’t think that would be TOO bad of an outcome (buff as all hell, no summer heat because the castle is in a perpetual winter, you don’t have to pay your servants anymore), but I guess it’ll do for a redemption arc. More important than that though is the story of Belle (Emma Watson) herself who is a bright young woman from the local village that can’t wait to live a life of excitement, adventure, and proper bathing habits; none of which she can find as long as she stays there. The village thinks she’s strange because she can read and stuff which makes her a bit of an outcast, but that doesn’t avert the local hottie Gaston (Luke Evans) from pursuing her with all his M’lady charms; backed up of course by his friend LeFou (Josh Gad) who’s just happy to be spending time with the big lug the same way Smithers finds working with Mr. Burns to be so rewarding! When disaster strikes and Belle’s father (Kevin Kline) is locked up by The Beast for trespassing on his land, Belle agrees to take his place and stay in the castle… FOREVER!! Admittedly not the BEST way to start a relationship, but maybe he can learn to stop acting like an uncouth animal from her example and maybe she can finally experience some of that adventure and wonder that has eluded her for so long. I mean… she’s STILL a prisoner, but it is at least a really nice prison! Will The Beast learn his lesson about giving poor people food (or was it finding love?) before it’s too late? What will Belle do now that she’s trapped in a magical castle with talking furniture, and will she find a way to escape her captor? Does anyone else think Ron Perlman should have been cast in this? Thirty years later, and he can STILL pull it off!
Mr. Holmes and all the images you see in this review are owned by Miramax and Roadside Attractions
Directed by Bill Condon
What is this!? A movie in the summer with explosions!? A period piece right in the middle of this year’s boom-a-thon!? Well this actually has a bit going for it that might explain why it’s being released now instead of in a couple of months, other than trying not to get crowded out during the Oscar months. It’s about Sherlock Holmes who couldn’t be bigger right now what with the BBC and CBS shows still kicking around. Not only that, we have genre super star Ian McKellen in the title role and it’s being directed by Bill Condon who has a BIT of a shaky career (he directed the best AND worst Twilight movies) but still has a lot of credibility for earlier works like God and Monsters and Dreamgirls. So either it’s get a jump start on Oscar season by trying to muscle in with the big boys, or it’s hoping to come out before any less than stellar comparisons can be made once the summer ends. Which one is it? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) who is getting up in years (ninety-three and counting!) and has spent quite a few of his twilight years in seclusion from the rest of the world. After just arriving home from a trip to Japan (it’s 1947 so it’s not that long after the bombs dropped), he begins to form a bond with the son of his housekeeper and they grow to enjoy each other company as Sherlock is looking for someone to spend his final days with and the young boy (Roger) is looking for a father figure since his own died in World War 2. Along with his growing friendship with young Roger (Milo Parker), he also tries some remedies he brought back from Japan in order to help his memory which has been fading recently and he wishes to recall more details about the final case which apparently went unsolved and caused him to retire. What were the circumstances surrounding this case? Will he find joy in his remaining time on Earth through Roger who seems to be quite quick witted like himself? Will solving this final case finally bring about the peace that has been absent from his life for so very long?