Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sing Review: Illumination's Latest Film is a Typical yet Stellar Musical Comedy!

Illumination Entertainment has certainly made a name for itself over the years. With hits such as the Despicable Me series, the animation studio has become a major player in its genre, and continues to do so for every movie season. Illumination has had one film in 2016 with The Secret Life of Pets, but it would not the studio's only appearance this year as in theaters this holiday season is Sing. Written and directed by Garth Jennings Sing centers on the concept of anthropomorphic characters competing in a singing contest. Although seeing animals dealing with human situations is nothing new (even for this year) there was something about this animated flick that I found compelling. So does Sing steal the spotlight or does this animated musical miss a few notes?

Sing tells the story of Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey): a down on his luck Koala who seeks to keep his dream alive by saving his theater from being repossessed. In one final scheme Buster decides to hold a singing competition for $1,000, which turns into a $100,000 contest after a mishap. Because of this prospect many of the city inhabitants head to the theater to perform: which includes the domestic pig Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), the young gorilla Johnny (Taron Egerton), the shy elephant Meena (Tori Kelly), the enthusiastic pig Gunter (Nick Kroll), the aspiring rock star porcupine Ash (Scarlett Johnasson) and the smooth talking mouse Mike (Seth McFarlane). After making through the auditions each of the contestants put together their acts while trying to balance the complications of their lives. As the singers have their issues to deal with, Buster does everything in his power to raise the $100,000 and make sure the show is a hit.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Rogue One A Star Wars Story Review: A Worthy Successor To The Name Star Wars!

Not so long ago in a galaxy nearby Star Wars returned to the silver screen.  Last year the acclaimed franchise came to theaters everywhere with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. No matter what attendees thought about the film there was no denying that Episode VII made a statement and left moviegoers pondering of what was to come next. Viewers will get those answers in Star Wars Episode VIII, but that chapter won't be arriving until next Christmas. However just because the Saga does not returned until 2018 does not mean the franchise is taking a break as hitting theaters this season is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Directed by Gareth Edwards Rogue One begins a new series of Star Wars films that tells standalone tales in the franchise. In the case of Rogue One it takes place between Episode III and Episode IV and tells the story of how the Rebels stole the Death Star plans. So with Star Wars taking a new direction in the celluloid system does Rogue One keep the franchise in hyper drive or us this mission a failure?

The story to Rogue One centers on Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones): an outcast who fights to survive. After being imprisoned by the Empire, Jyn is rescued by the Rebel Alliance who task with a mission to find her missing father Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelson): whom is responsible for constructing the Empire's super weapon known The Death Star. With the help of Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and his droid K-2S0 (Alan Tudyk), Jyn travels to find Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) who abducted Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed): a former Imperial pilot who knows the whereabouts of Galen. With the help of guardians Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen), the unlikely crew set off on adventure that leads them to steal to the Death Star plans from Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) and the rest of the Empire.

La La Land Review: A Stylish Musical and A Triumphant Film!

Coming to the end of the year we have now entered the pivotal season for film known as Oscar Season. This is the time where all the so-called great movies start hitting the scenes in order for them to see if they have what it takes to be best picture of the year. Among these movies is a little film known as La La Land. Directed by Damien Chazelle La La Land is a musical of all things that centers on two people trying to live their dreams in Hollywood. The film has received praise from many critics and has done fairly well in the film festival circuit. However I am not most critics-so does La La Land have me singing its praise?

La La Land centers on two people: an aspiring named actress Mia (Emma Stone) and the musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). After a series of events the two cross paths where they get to know each other's dreams. Mia wants to become a major actress in Hollywood while Sebastian wants to open his very own Jazz Club. Eventually through song and dance the two fall in love and set out to live out their dreams together. However Mia and Sebastian realize how difficult it is to live their dreams as the complications of life leads to conflict between the lovers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Moana Review: Sets Sail with Great Performances, Music and Adventure!

Disney has been on a roll when it comes to their animated features. Since 2010 Walt Disney Animations Studios has had hit after hit as movies like Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen have become new names to carry the title of Disney. This year has already seen one Disney animated feature with Zootopia, but it would not be the last as in theaters this holiday season is Moana. Directed by the team of John Musker and Ron Clements, Moana centers itself on the ancient legends of Maui. Seeing early content on Moana made the film look like a big time adventure, and the trailers for the movie only further this point; but can this holiday blockbuster continue momentum for Disney or does animated feature get lost at sea?

The film centers on Moana (Auil’i Cravalho): a young girl from the Motunui Island. All her life, as she is raised to be the next chieftain of her tribe, Moana constantly thinks about journeying the seas. However when a darkness begins to plague the Motunui Island Moana discovers the cause of it to be a 1000 year curse when the Heart of Te Fiti was stolen by the demigod Maui (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). To save her island Moana travels the seas to find Maui so he can help her put the Heart of Te Fiti back in its rightful place. After a harsh meeting, Maui reluctantly helps Moana on her mission as they travel the ocean to restore peace to the world.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review: Magic Returns in a Fantastic Way!

In 2001 moviegoers were introduced to the world of Harry Potter. For ten years the JK Rowling’s novels were adapted to the silver screen and managed to find success with both critics and audiences. Then in 2011 the franchise came to end with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. As audiences said goodbye to Harry Potter and his friend, it seemed as though Warner Bros would close the door on this fantasy franchise; but that is not the case as now playing in theaters is the next chapter in the Wizarding World films: Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Directed by David Yates and written by JK Rowling herself, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them takes moviegoers on a new adventure as it begins another set of films based in the Wizarding World. Seeing the all too familiar magic of Harry Potter in a new light made this movie hard not to be excited for, but could Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them conjure its way to glory?

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them centers on Newt Schamander (Eddie Redmayne): a Magizoologist who travels to America to get more research for his book. Upon his arrival, Newt finds himself in all sorts of trouble when his briefcase gets swapped with one owned by a “No-Maj” named Jake Kowalski (Dan Folger). Because of this several creatures from Newt’s case are inadvertently released. With the help of a former Auror named Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston),her sister Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Jake, Newt sets off to find his creatures before any of them get hurt; but that is easier said than done as Percival Graves(Colin Farrell) and the MACUSA(Magical Congress of the United States of America)  are on their trail after Newt gets caught in the middle of a conspiracy that deals with Second Salemers and a creature known as an Obscurial.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Doctor Strange Review: Redefines Movie Magic!

Since 2008 the Marvel Cinematic Universe has taken moviegoers on many adventures. We have seen heroes unite in the likes of The Avengers and have gone to the far reaches of space in Guardians of the Galaxy. At this point it is hard to imagine that there is any new concept that can be brought to the MCU, but that may not be the case thanks to the anticipated fall blockbuster: Doctor Strange. Directed by Scott Derrickson Doctor Strange brings something new to Marvel by dealing with the concept of magic and the mystic arts. Along with new ideas Doctor Strange looked to be a must see this year thanks to its sense of spectacle; but could this Marvel film enchant its way to success or is this blockbuster a poor magic trick?

The Marvel film centers on Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch): a egotistical neurosurgeon who loses the use of his hands after a car accident. Using all of his resources Stephen tries to find a way to fix the damage in his hands, but no procedure can be done to fix his nerves. In a final attempt Strange travels to Kathmandu after hearing that someone there can heal his hands. Sure enough Strange finds the  person he is looking for in a being known as the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), Rather than healing his hands the Ancient One shows Strange the mystics arts and the role it plays in the universe. After witnessing the astral plane for himself, Strange seeks to learn from the Ancient One which she reluctantly agrees to. With the help of Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Wong (Benedict Wong) Stephen Strange becomes prevalent in a way of mystic arts, but the doctor soon discovers the role the sorcerers play as the world is threatened by Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelson); who seeks to release the being Dormammu from the dark realm.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Inferno Review: More Puzzling Than Gripping

In 2006 the movie world was introduced to Robert Langdon in the thriller The Da Vinci Code. Based on the novel by Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code blended the likes of history and religion with a major conspiracy, and I for one found the thriller to be enjoyable. Then in 2009 the story of Robert Langdon continued in Angel & Demons which dealt with a conspiracy in the church. Personally I found the 2009 sequel to be just as good as its predecessor. Now the mystery franchise continues with the third installment in the Robert Langdon series: Inferno. Once again directed by Ron Howard Inferno brings a mystery that surrounds the work of Dante. The previews for the film showcased both the mystery and the action behind this thriller, and it looked to be a decent time at the movies. Yet could Inferno be another exciting adventure for Robert Langdon, or is this film a puzzle better left unsolved.

Inferno finds Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) in a another mystery as the professor is on the run from several parties looking for him. After getting help from a doctor named Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) Langdon discovers a Faraday Pointer that shows Sandro Botticeli’s Map of Hell. Upon his investigation of the map Robert discovers that billionaire Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) created a plague called Inferno which will wipe out half of Earth’s population in a matter of days. Aided by Sienna, Robert sets out to find clues about the plague’s whereabouts before it is release as well as get it out of the hands of those who would use it for their own purposes.