watching, reading, and writing stories

Movie Reviews

Alright, I have been to the theater so many times in the last couple of weeks that I figured I should just cram all of my reviews into one post. So here we go, let’s review Arrival, Moana, Dr. Strange and Rogue One. We’ll start with the one I was most excited about: Moana.

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I love kid’s movies and whenever a new Disney movie comes out, I am eager to see it. This movie may not have become as huge a phenomenon as Frozen, but it still has a good story, and very good music. I enjoyed the visuals and the growth of the characters in this film. From the previews, I was not expecting Maui to be the antihero. But I actually liked it and I’m glad he gets a redeeming story-arch. Walking away from this movie, I wasn’t all that impressed, but since Disney has released some of the music onto YouTube, I’ve been getting all of it’s songs stuck in my head. And it’s not just the main theme song that gets repeated, all of the music is catchy and enjoyable. I get a new one stuck in my head each day. This probably comes from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s style, who also wrote music for the successful Hamilton show on Broadway. So, even though this wasn’t my favorite Disney movie, the music was well worth the cost of the movie ticket and I’d even consider going to see it again.

Here’s a clip of one of the songs in case you’re interested:

Next let’s go to Rogue One.

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This was a very highly anticipated addition to the Star Wars franchise and my sister wanted to see it so bad that we actually got our tickets early and saw it on opening day. Even though we were both excited to see it, there wasn’t an immediate “I love this movie!” feeling after leaving the theater. A lot of emotional things happened in this movie and honestly, some of it was a bit hard for me to follow. I enjoyed the movie and I think it blends in nicely to the series. I especially enjoyed the references to other characters in the Star Wars universe and the epic appearance of Darth Vader. But it was hard to get attached to the new characters. And I’m almost glad I didn’t get attached what with the ending we’re given. (Spoiler Alert) They all die. But even with that as the ending, it was still a good movie and I think most people will enjoy it.

Next we’ll dive into the Marvel Universe’s latest creation: Dr. Strange.

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I had no basis for this character and what his backstory should be as I came into the theater. All I knew was Benedict Cumberbatch was playing the lead. I do enjoy his acting, so I was looking forward to the movie. And it was pretty good for a superhero movie, though I think it wasn’t what I was hoping for from Marvel. Honestly he’s probably just not the type of superhero I enjoy watching. Every superhero should have a flaw but since his is arrogance, it’s just not as enjoyable for me to watch. Plus his whole powers thing is kind of weird and too magicy for my taste. I did enjoy the few comedic elements in the film, as Marvel always gives us. But I think I enjoyed Ant Man’s comedy style more and from the new Spider-man movie trailer that movie will probably be more my style.

And lastly, we’ll look at Arrival.

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This movie was not even on my radar but some of my family wanted to see it, so we headed to the theater and sat down to watch another alien movie. I am not a huge fan of alien movies, and I usually avoid them. But this one was more interesting. It focused more on the problem of communication and not on a kill the aliens and save the world set up that I’m used to seeing. Also, the film did a great job of staying realistic. I really could imagine my college shutting down because of the arrival, and everyone calling each other and freaking out while people in the army and government try to figure out what to do. The only downside I could see was it had some slow parts. And I wasn’t quite satisfied with the ending. There is a romantic relationship in the plot, but through the movie we’re shown that it won’t work out, and me and my girlfriends agreed the movie would have been much better if at the very end, we saw the two main characters getting back together.

So anyway, there’s my movie reviews so far. If you’re interested in any of these movies, go ahead and see them, I think they’re each worth it. But if you’re going to the theater for a fun family movie that everyone can enjoy together, I’d say go with Moana.

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What is the Best Cinderella Movie?

So last night I watched a classic movie from childhood: A Cinderella Story. I loved laughing at all the old jokes and reminiscing about what it was like to be in high school and watch movies like this. But I was thinking today that there are a ton of Cinderella movies out there. So I thought maybe I’d make a list of some of my favorites and rank them. I know not everyone will agree with me, this is strictly my opinion, but I thought it could be fun.

Number 6 – Cinderella (1950)

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I know this one is the classic, it’s been around for over 60 years! But for some reason when I was growing up, the animated movie was never my favorite. Maybe the stepmother scared me too much or the mice weren’t as funny as Timon and Pumba. But I always seemed to watch some Disney movie besides Cinderella. So even though this is a classic, and I’m sure it’s at the top of some other Cinderella movie lists, it’s at the bottom of mine.


Number 5 – Another Cinderella Story (2008)

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This movie is not as well known as a lot of the other Cinderella movies out there. But I did enjoy watching Cinderella break out in dance moves and see a new adaptation of the classic Cinderella story. I remember liking how funny some of the side characters were. But compared to the others on this list, it’s more of a B film.


Number 4 Into the Woods (2014)

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Technically this movie is not solely a Cinderella movie. This movie adaptation of the musical revolves around several classic fairy tales. So even though I love the way Cinderella is portrayed in this film, I couldn’t rank it any higher that 4 because there are so many good movies that really are all about Cinderella. But boy can Anna Kendrick sing! I highly suggest watching this movie if you enjoy Cinderella.


Number 3 A Cinderella Story (2004)

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You might have seen this one coming. Since watching this movie sparked my idea of ranking Cinderella movies in the first place. Though I love A Cinderella Story, I cannot put it at the very top of the list. It’s a great modern telling of the classic story and I love how the stepmother is portrayed. She’s fun to hate but also makes you laugh with her obsession with salmon. All of the side characters add to this film’s fun, the quirky guy friend that keeps us laughing, the fairy-god-mother like waitress who is always looking out for Sam, and the rest of the cafe’s staff. I also realized that Simon Helberg (now famous on the Big Bang Theory show) made an appearance in this film. All in all this is a great movie. It’s funny and sweet to the very end.


Number 2 Ever After (1998)

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Many people put this movie at the top of their lists and it is very good. I love seeing Leonardo Da Vinci show up as the resident artist in the kingdom and seeing Cinderella and her Prince be more fully developed characters with ideals and dreams, not just the expected rags to riches story. I also enjoy seeing the disagreements between them which makes a lot more sense in a real world telling of this story and also brings a lot of humor to the story. Honestly this might be the better film, I’m just still really into the next one on my list because it came out more recently.

Number 1 Cinderella (2015)

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This live action remake of Cinderella was not at all what I expected. I’ve seen so many versions of Cinderella that I was sure this would be just one more on the pile and I was a little annoyed at Disney for making it. But then I watched it, and what can I say? I loved it! The Dilly Dilly song gets stuck in my head all the time and I love Lily James singing. She does an excellent job of portraying the kindhearted Cinderella that we all love. I also really like Kit, the prince in this film. Instead of being a bit of a spoiled brat, like in Ever After, or more of a cardboard cut out in some of the other films, he really comes across as relatable and sympathetic and I’m rooting for the two of them to be together from their first meeting.

So there you go, that’s my Top 6 of the Best Cinderella movies. Feel free to leave suggestions of other Cinderella movies you’ve liked. And if you haven’t seen some of these films, by all means rent them and enjoy.

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The Jungle Book and Community

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I was hanging out with some girlfriends this past Saturday and one of them mentioned seeing a movie. I suggested the Jungle Book, since I thought the remake looked interesting and I’d heard some good things about it. The suggestion was met with exclamations of “Yes!” So a few hours later I went with 3 close friends to the mall to see this remake of a childhood classic.

In many ways this movie holds true to the original animated Disney movie. Most of the characters are the same and they even have updated versions of the classic songs “The Bare Necessities” and “I Wanna Be Like You.” However, there are some noticeable changes, most of which I enjoy. For example, we get a lot more screen time and character development with Mowgli’s wolf family, especially his mother. This was sorely lacking in the original movie, and I appreciated seeing the pack or family mentality woven into the film.

The movie also has a darker tone than the original. There is a lot more action, fear, and a more developed villain. Sher Khan doesn’t just hunt Mowgli, he is the one who killed his father. And he even kills the wolf leader because they don’t hand Mowgli over to him. And Kaa isn’t a bumbling snake that easily loses his prey, instead she is a cleaver seductress that would have killed Mowgli if Baloo hadn’t shown up.

Mowgli is also shown to be a very unique and likable character. He realizes he is not like the other creatures around him and develops his own solutions or “tricks” to problems, such as making a scoop to collect water. He gets in trouble for these “tricks” at first, but later it is seen to be his strength. He also is very aware of other’s needs and wants to help. When he sees how his staying with the wolves is causing a conflict, he decides to leave, and when he sees a baby elephant stuck in the mud, he helps it out.

I also love how Sher Khan is defeated in this film. Instead of Mowgli tying a burning stick to his tail, all of the animals of the jungle pitch in to help Mowgli. Ultimately Mowgli is the one who has to trick the tiger into his death, but I really loved seeing all of the other creatures taking part in the action. It reinforced the importance of the pack, or community. I especially enjoyed this because I love the message for us as well.

If we try to face our problems on our own, it’s hard and we probably won’t make it. But when we look out for each other and care for each other, we can overcome huge things. I’ve seen this firsthand with how my city has gone through disastrous flooding over and over again. If we just let our neighbors deal with their own issues and don’t offer to help, the whole community suffers. But when we come together to bless each other, it strengthens everyone.

We all need friendship and community to get through life’s personal or communal tragedies. And this movie does a good job of showing that. At the end of the film, I expected Mowgli to go back to live in the man village, just as he does in the old movie. But he doesn’t, instead he stays with his real community, his jungle friends who he’s helped and who have helped him. They really have become his family.

So I hope you take the time to go see this film, I really enjoyed it and I think you will too.

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Zootopia and Discrimination

Well, I got to see Zootopia today and boy was that a great movie. I love any movie with an animated world and a good story. And Disney has done a phenomenal job with this one. Not only were the characters well developed, likable, and the story intricate, believable, and entertaining, but this movie strikes a cord with our own current reality. Just as in Zootopia, we cannot help but look at people’s appearances, whether it’s their height, weight, skin color, how they dress, or whatever. We stereotype and discriminate based on people’s appearances. Until we actually stop and get to know someone for who they are, it’s hard to move past these first observations.

Zootopia is able to deal with these adult themes and issues of discrimination and prejudice by creating an animal world that mimics our own. Instead of “white” and “black” or “wealthy” and “poor” we get “predator” and “prey.” But just as in our own world, what you look like on the outside is not what makes you who you are. The villain could be a predator or could just as easily be prey. It isn’t just what you look like, or how you’re treated that defines you, it’s what you do, what you say, how you react, and how you live.

Our heroine Judy Hopps doesn’t give up, even when everyone around her says she can’t be a cop. She doesn’t let other’s discrimination keep her from being who she is. But even though she tries her best to be unbiased towards others and even does noble things like stepping in to make sure a fox gets fair treatment, her own prejudices are still evident. Seeing a person and not just outward appearances is something that she, like everyone, has to learn throughout her life.

I love how this movie takes complicated issues like stereotyping and discrimination and deals with them. There are plenty of surprises in this movie, and several jokes where Disney pokes fun at itself. (Hint: keep a look out for Frozen references). So I highly suggest checking out Zootopia, it’s a great movie for the whole family.

I’ll leave you with some fun photos from the cardboard set up they had at the theater:

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Classics from Childhood

So a lot of people from my generation grew up with the classic Disney movies like Pocahontas and The Lion King. But one movie I also loved growing up is not a Disney movie at all, it’s a Dreamworks movie. I hadn’t realized how much this movie really stuck with me, because until a few days ago, I had never owned it. But through renting it multiple times, I learned its plot line by heart, not to mention several awesome quotes that I still use today.

Here are a few of them:

“Well don’t blame me!”
“I blame you!”

“You’re not a god? You lied to me!”

“Both is good.”

“What trail?”
“The trail we blaze… That trail we blaze!”

“You fight like my sister.”
“Ah, I’ve fought your sister, that is a compliment.”

Can you guess which movie it is?

Well here’s a few pictures to help you out:

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cartoon miguel road to el dorado tulio

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If this stirs up some memories for you too, let me know. And maybe if you’re feeling nostalgic go re-watch the movie.

And if you’ve never seen it, it’s called The Road to El Dorado. And it’s one of my favorites. There are unforgettable characters, an awesome storyline, great music from Elton John, and it makes me laugh every time I watch it.

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