The Lion King (2019) Movie Review

When the first trailer for this ‘live action’ remake of The Lion King dropped, I was extremely excited, especially so due the amazing voice cast and how much I had enjoyed Jon Favreau’s previous effort with The Jungle Book, which was a vivid re-imagination of the Disney classic that went about telling the tale in a new, creative way. This is not like the Jungle Book.

This version of the Lion King is essentially a by-the-book remake, with updated visuals and a new voice cast. The voice cast bring mixed performances, with Beyoncé and Donald Glover obviously being great, but those two are going to perform annoying well with anything they are given. John Oliver brings little to the role of Zazu and the usually eccentric and off the wall Eric Andre is underutilised.

Image result for kimba the white lion comparisonThe songs and set pieces of the 2D animated Lion King relied heavily on exaggerated, colourful scenes, with the likes of ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’ and ‘Hakuna Matata’ being full of life. In this version, due to the commitment to extreme realism, these scenes seem sapped of all the life and excitement they originally had. The scene in ‘Hakuna Matata’ where Simba, Pumba and Timon where Simba ages as they walk along dancing together is now replaced with them just walking along.

The visuals are amazingly detailed, with the animals and environments all looking incredible and the this is definitely some of the most advanced, prettiest CGI ever and the animation team should be applauded but it just isn’t right for this story. The characters needed to be able to show emotions rather than just looking exactly like a real lion.

The soundtrack is way too good for the film it accompanies and is so obviously just another money-grab from Disney and it makes me angry. The original Lion King is just a rip-off of Japanese cartoon ‘Kimba the White Lion’ anyway so looks like they rarely have any original ideas anyway.

Don’t bother watching this in the cinema, just watch the original. Also, for some reason ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ takes place completely in daylight. Yeah.

30%

 

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Pokémon: Detective Pikachu Movie Review

The vast majority, if not all video game movies, are awful. Luckily, all it took was a little detective work to fix that.

Detective Pikachu centres around Tim Goodman, a miserable young lad (which is fair enough because his dad has just died in a horrific accident) who discovers a talking Pikachu in his late father’s apartment. It quickly becomes apparent that not all is as it seems, and Tim and Pikachu team up with local reporter Lucy to crack the case.

The majority of the movie takes place in and around Ryme City, a city where humans and Pokémon live in harmony. The way that director Rob Letterman has built this world is really convincing, with the ways that the Pokémon interact with their humans and engage in society is really charming and adds to the immersion, making you really feel like this could be the real world, or at least a version of it that you’d probably want to live in.

The movie is visually stunning, from all the little details and Easter eggs that will please long-time fans of the games in Ryme City to the beautiful outdoor scenery, this is a video game movie that not only has a good plot, but also looks great. The realistic Pokémon may have looked jarring in the trailers when they were first revealed, but in this world they really do work, with the designs of Psyduck and Bulbasaur looking exceptionally good.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

The casting of Ryan Reynolds as Detective Pikachu turned a few heads when it was first announced, but his brand of humour is perfect for this movie, and the chemistry between him and Justice Smith who plays Tim feels genuine and charming, even though he is talking to a Pikachu at the end of the day. Kathryn Newton does a great job as Lucy, and Bill Nighy as Howard Clifford, the visionary mind who created Ryme City, is another great choice.

Kathryn Newton in Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Ryan Reynolds, Kathryn Newton, and Justice Smith in Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Detective Pikachu should catch (haha) the attention of all fans of Pokémon, and should be a fun movie for anyone who even has a very passing knowledge of the franchise. Very easily the best game to movie adaptation ever made, and I’d welcome a whole series of films set in this world.

85%

Alita: Battle Angel Movie Review

More like Bad-tle Angel; the new Robert Rodriguez is a classic case of style over substance as the impressive visuals fail to overshadow an over-ambitious, messy attempt at adapting the source material.

Rosa Salazar stars as the titular Alita, and the supporting cast includes Christoph Waltz and Mahershala Ali, and for the most part they do the best with the script they have been given; Rosa is great as Alita under all those CG effects on her face (those eyes never get any less distracting) and Mahershala is suitably menacing as the evil Vector.

The plot of Alita is very, very predictable, with Alita being ‘the last of her kind’ and slowly begins to recover her memories after she is awoken from a long sleep. You get the drill. There are some really beautiful scenes and a few touching moments as well as soe gritty action scenes but none of it really gripped me.

Once you get past the visuals, which again it must be said are really spectacular at times, the movie comes across as a bit like a grown up, less funny Spy Kids with a bit of Wall-E and Real Steel thrown in for good measure. Disappointing.

40%

 

The Lego Movie 2 Review

The sequel to the surprisingly good Lego Movie builds (haha) on the original in every way; it’s still charming, funny and beautiful and feels like a proper sequel with a real story to tell rather than a money grab (Looking at you, Ralph.)

In The Lego Movie 2, we are shown a post-apocalyptic version of the city from the first film, now fittingly dubbed ‘Apocalypseburg’, where everything is decidedly not awesome after it was viciously attacked by Duplo creatures from the Sis-tar system.  Batman, alongside Lucy & the gang, is abducted so he can be married to Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (brilliantly voiced by Tiffany Haddish), and it is up to Emmet to save him from the Sis-tar system. Along the way, Emmet meets Rex Dangervest (also voiced by Chris Pratt) who attempts to get Emmet to toughen up his act so he can take down the evil Queen.

The extended voice cast is brilliant again, with the likes of Richard Ayoade, Ralph Fiennes and Jason Momoa popping up throughout, and there are plenty of off-the-wall cameos too.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have done it again with the story; the big twist in the plot actually got me, all of the new characters are great and likeable and the way they implement the real world into the narrative really works, and really plays with your emotions. This time the screen is not overloaded with pop-culture references but the ones that are here are genuinely, funny and have more impact.

80%

Green Book – Movie Review

Green Book is a movie about master pianist Don Shirley and how he negotiated a tour of the deep south of the U.S.A in 1962. Don is played by Mahershala Ali, and his newly recruited driver/road manager Viggo Mortensen. The two of them are simply brilliant on-screen together.

Green Book is nominated for several Oscars, and it’s clear to see why. It manages to be funny, charming and tackle the issue of segregation in the deep south without the movie ever becoming too preachy or patronising to the viewer. The titular Green Book is

Both Viggo and Mahershala shine in their respective roles and are fully believable as their characters. The surrounding cast are also brilliant, with none of the characters seeming one-dimensional or shoehorned in; you can believe everybody shown has their own story.

Throughout the film, you witness Tony Lip’s character development while seeing Dr Shirley slowly warm up to his ways, and this slow-burn friendship is genuinely heartwarming, and seeing the chemistry between the two characters grow is the real heart of Green Book.

A truly great movie.

95%

Vice – Movie Review

Christian Bale stars as Vice President Dick Cheney in a movie that manages to be genuinely funny, while still openly angry and dismayed at it’s main star.

The whole cast put in brilliant performances, with the central couple of Christian Bale and Amy Adams as Dick and Lynne Cheney being exceptional, alongside Sam Rockwell being perfect as George W Bush.

Vice is a very angry movie, (rightly so) but it funnels this anger at times through humour and light-heartedness, meaning some of the cuts between scenes almost give you whiplash; at one moment you’re laughing at witty text on the screen then suddenly you’re looking at graphic scenes of torture.

The way the story of Dick is told is very clever; I was gripped throughout – from his early alcohol troubled years all through his rise to become the most powerful Vice President in history, and it was very interesting and disheartening to see how he manipulated and took advantage of those around him to gain more power.

A must-see for anyone remotely interested in politics, and it might be even more important for those who aren’t.

85%

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Movie Review

‘Into The Spider-Verse’ is straight-up the best superhero movie I have seen in a long time; it’s a frantic, beautiful breath of fresh air.

The latest Marvel & Sony release is a fully animated affair that follows Miles Morales and his journey to become Spider-Man. However, it is immediately apparent that this is no ordinary origin story; this is by no means another movie you already feel you have seen time and time again.  This time, Spider-Man isn’t the only Spider-Person around to fight evil. 

Big baldy Kingpin sets off a large collider under the city, which messes with the fabric of the universe, bringing together a wild and varied bunch of Spideys together. When these iterations such as Spider-Gwen and Peni Parker interact on-screen, the writing really shines alongside the great voice acting from the likes of Hailee Steinfeld, Nicolas Cage and John Mulaney. Shameik Moore is great throughout as Miles, and a perfect pick.

I learnt that this movie came from the team behind The Lego Movie & Lego Batman after I had watched it, and it made complete sense, with the way everyone interacts and the self-referential humour really mirroring that of the blocky worlds, and that’s not a bad thing at all.  The screening I was in had the whole cinema laughing out loud at parts.

Seeing Miles gradually transform into a fully fledged Spider-Man, and his chemistry with the other spiders especially Gwen and Peter is a real joy and the movie does a brilliant job of getting you invested in the characters and making them believable in the space of one film, with every person in Peter’s family and inner circle seeming really fleshed out.

The animation in Spider-Verse is astounding, with every single scene being filled with detail and eye-popping colour, but at the same time it is never overwhelming, which is no mean feat considering the sheer amount of content crammed into locations like Miles’ bedroom and New York City. The visual style really makes it feel like you are watching a comic book come to life, with snappy, precise shots that all really flow into one another, but it never really feels like you are watching an animated movie due to the depth of world building that has been put into this project. There are more than one properly breath-taking shots here. 

This isn’t just the best animated movie of the year, it’s one of the best outright. Into the Spider-Verse is charming, visually stunning, genuinely funny and emotionally gripping is not something I would expect from a movie starring John Mulaney as ‘Spider-Ham’, but they really manage it, in a stunning way. 

99%