Tag Archives: Lin-Manuel Miranda

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: Moana

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

Directed by John Musker and Ron Clements

Well it certainly took Disney long enough to realize Dwayne Johnson was tailor made for kids movies, but then again he hasn’t had a very strong track record with those which is kind of baffling.  His previous Disney outings include the Race to Witch Mountain Remake as well as The Game Plan (ugh…) and the only other animated film he’s done is that awful Planet 51 where he played the whitest of white dudes mugging his ass off.  Hopefully being a part of one of Disney’s biggest films of the year is not only gonna prove that he’s perfect for this kind of material when used correctly, but may even open up new doors for better roles in better movies aimed at a younger audience.  Not only that, but it’d be nice if all of our mythological films didn’t keep circling the Greek and Norse well and that we can start integrating other culture’s heroes and legends into the pop culture lexicon which seems to be this films primary goal; even more so than cashing in on People Magazine’s Sexiest Man of the Year!  Is this movie yet another hit for the resurgent Walt Disney Animation Studios, or are we staring down the barrel of another Pocahontas level disappointment?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with the legend of Maui (Dwayne Johnson); world famous demigod and creator The People’s Elbow.  The guy was basically the Hercules of this culture as he had super strength and did lots of heroic deeds throughout the Polynesian Islands with the help of his giant fish hook that let him turn into any creature he wanted and was also pretty good for bashing things. , Maui takes his heroic antics one step too far and manages to steal The Heart of Te Fiti (essentially Gaia) and is attacked by some bad mo-fo lava creature which ends with him losing his magic hook and getting stranded on an island; the heart of course getting lost forever in the ocean during the confrontation.  Without her heart, Te Fiti can’t control the darkness or whatever that evil stuff is called, and over time it starts to spread to all the islands; killing the crops and making the seas very unfriendly to boats.  One such island is the home of Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) who’s basically Jim Carrey from the Truman Show where all she wants is to go out exploring, but her father the chief (Temuera Morrison) doesn’t want her going out on the terrible ocean and instead trains her for a life of politics as she will inherit the throne at some point.  That all changes however when the darkness finally reaches their shores, and Moana’s grandma (Rachel House) reveals that she’s been holding onto the Heart of Te Fiti (basically a glowing rock) for years now as the ocean chose her and has been waiting for Moana to be ready to take on a quest to find Maui and have him return The Heart to Te Fiti.  Despite her parents’ protestations against her leaving the village, she must go out and carve her own path like any good Disney protagonist and sails the oceans in search of Maui.  Will Moana eventually find the island that Maui was stranded on?  Okay… well that’s a given, but will they be able to work together to return the heart to its rightful owner, or will they bicker the whole journey as any good Disney pairing does for the first two thirds of their movie?  Who else is after the heart and just how far are they willing to go to get it?  Will these pursuers give Maui PLENTY of chances to polish his ass kicking skills after such a long hiatus!?

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“Just curious.  Do you think you can take ALL of them out, or should we run for it?”     “I’m a bit rusty after spending a thousand years on rock island.  Do you know how hard it is to train with just a rock!?”

 

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