Dora and the Lost City of Gold and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by James Bobin
You know that they already did an aged up Dora series? Sure she was only ten years old in that one instead of going to high school, but she moved to the city and made some human friends instead of talking to a monkey all day. That’s… about all I know about Dora the Explorer outside of it being… a thing for a while there. Well that’s a bit dismissive; it was actually a HUGE success for Nickelodeon and was broadcast worldwide in various languages, so I guess there HAS to be a market out there for more Dora stuff which is why we’re getting this film in the first place; though not as a straight up adaptation of the material but instead as a reimagining of the concept. Less Spanish lessons and more Bowie knives if the trailer is anything to go by, which at least caught my and many others’ attention a few months ago. Can this spin on the beloved children’s character become a cross generational hit that will keep Dora in the public consciousness for decades to come, or will this be as bad a miscalculation as that M Night version of The Last Airbender? Let’s find out!!
Dora (Isabela Moner), whose last name has been lost to time, is your typical teenaged jungle explorer. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of everything that could kill her in there, she’s made friends with the native animals including a monkey named Boots, and she can apparently fall from great heights without breaking any of her bones! Truly a Lara Croft in the making as long as she gets her gun permit, but her parents (Michael Peña and Eva Longoria) have other plans for her. See, they’re about to go on a trip to find THE LOST CITY OF PARAPATA (which is apparently full of gold), but instead of taking their highly competent and well trained daughter with them, they’re gonna send her to “the city” to stay with her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg) and attend the most fearsome jungle of them all; HIGH SCHOOL!! Like most cartoon characters brought to life, her biggest problem is that she’s just too earnest for this cynical world which wants to sap all the idealism right out of her, but darn it she won’t be deterred! She does end up being a bit of a laughing stock though for… being nice I think, and she’s ends up hanging out with the other nobodies at the school; her cousin Diego for some reason, the class president (Madeleine Madden) for some reason, and the local nerd (Nicholas Coombe) for pretty obvious reasons. If only there was a way for her to show everyone that she’s ACTUALLY an awesome Indiana Jones knock off instead of some geek who likes to carry water purifies wherever she goes. Well she gets her monkey’s paw wish when during a field trip she and her “not friends” all get captured by mercenaries who take her back to “The Jungle” and demand she help them find her parents who have gone missing in search of that city full of gold. Fortunately a friend of her parents Alejandro (Eugenio Derbez) springs them free and wants to help them find her parents, so now it’s a race against time as Dora and her not so enthusiastic explorers have to track down her parents before the team of mercenaries (including Swiper the Fox for some reason) can hunt them down, take the gold, and gut them all like fish. Can Dora teach her friends to survive in such a harsh environment and gain their respect in the process? Why did her parents go missing in the first place, and is the lost city gold so hard to find for a very good reason? I wonder if this adventure will look good on their college applications…
Aquaman and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by James Wan
Well I guess this is one way to put 2018 to a close. It’s been over a year since the last DCCU film stumbled into theaters and failed to make back the ludicrous amount of money put into it, but since Warner Bros hasn’t given up just yet on turning their superheroes into box office gold (it worked for Wonder Woman at least!), we’re getting at least one more stab at making this initial run of movies work before moving onto what MIGHT be an entirely new continuity with Shazam next year along with another Wonder Woman movie. With nothing left in the tank and one more Hail Mary left to go, can Warner Bros and DC knock it out of the park as the year is coming to a close? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of Justice League, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) is just chilling with his dad (Temuera Morrison) and saving the occasional submarine from pirates. After a recent successful venture that left one particular pirate named David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) rather ticked off with our sub-nautical super hero, Arthur figured he’d just hang out at the bar for a bit before passing out somewhere. Sadly rest and booze is not in the cards at the moment as a fellow mer-person named Mera (Amber Heard) who we saw briefly in Justice League shows up to Warn Arthur that war is brewing and he’s the only one who can stop it. To explain this, we’ll need to do a bit of a FLASHBACK to the mid-eighties where his father Thomas and his mother first met. His mother JUST SO HAPPENED to be the runaway princess Atlanna of the Kingdom of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman) and fell in love with Thomas which eventually led to Arthur being born. However, after an attack from Atlantian soliders, Atlanna decides to go back to protect Arthur and become the bride of some dude who gets her pregnant and then chucks her into some dark hole in the sea after their son is born. Said son Orm (Patrick Wilson) is the current king of Atlantis and is consolidating power with the other mer-people tribes including the one that Mera belongs to which is ruled by her father Nereus (Dolph Lundgren). Did you get all that? Good, well Orm’s plan is to take over Surface World with an army of mer-people, but since Arthur is part of Atlantian Royalty by birthright, he can challenge Orm to the throne and turn around his expansionist policies before Surface World has to start nuking the ocean. Okay, so if Arthur wants to save the world (which he’s not too keen on but begrudgingly accepts) he has to stage a coup of some sort and convince the Atlantians of his right to rule. How the heck is he gonna do that!? Well, that’s where this other guy Nuidis (Willem Dafoe) comes in as he’s Orm’s head Vizier but has secretly been training Arthur this whole time and has a plan for him. Okay, MORE backstory. To sum it up, the first Atlantian King had a super powerful trident and if Arthur can find it, then his claim to rule will be that much more legitimate. Find the trident, avoid Orm’s army, and steer clear of that David guy who has a serious grudge now and may even have access to Atlantian technology to boot. Sounds reasonable enough, especially with Mera helping him out the whole time! Can Arthur solve the mysteries of his people’s past and find the one thing that will make him the ruler he was born to be? Even if he does find it, can he truly be a leader to these people given that he’s of both Surface World AND Water World lineage? Will he say MY MAN at least once in the movie!? Just once! It’s all I ask!!
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!?