While not as fresh as the original, Vol. 2 surprises yet again with great banter and new characters
The first Guardians of the Galaxy surprised almost everybody watching. With a bunch of new characters, it shouldn’t have been that great but it was. Marvel found a way to make the viewers embark on a journey they had no idea where the destination would be. Let me tell you, they found gold. I fell in love with the ragtag team made up of a talking raccoon and a big tree that only knew three words. They didn’t pave an easy way for Vol. 2. Despite it not being as good as the original, the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is still loads of fun, packed with laughs and over abundantly cute.
Disney’s classic tale remake feels too cartoonish to be taken seriously
The new trend in Hollywood these days is to take flawless and beloved classics and remake them as big budget, over-produced, extravagant blockbusters. Cinderella got that treatment, The Jungle Book also got that same treatment, and now, Beauty And The Beast is forced to have this very treatment.
Being the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture will surely tell you that Beauty And The Beast doesn’t need remaking. However, did The Jungle Book deserve a remake? Of course not but Disney found a way to improve upon different aspects in a way that will speak to a modern audience. Beauty And The Beast surely does improve in places but sadly, downgrades in most parts leaving Disney’s latest remake with a chip in its cup.
Rogue One is enjoyable despite the lack of character development
Prequels are still a bad name around the Star Wars universe and that still lingers on everyone’s mind. Everyone who will sit in the theater waiting for Rogue One to start will have that tiny bit of doubt in the back of their minds. Is this prequel as bad as Episode I or II? No, but Rogue One has one serious flaw – a lack of interesting characters.
Opening to an already rough time in the Star Wars universe, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) teams up with a gang of Rebels to fight the Empire in the civil war. Their mission is to find the Death Star plan and give it to the Rebels. As we all know, that will be a young Princess Leia but what comes before is what ultimately is the story of Rogue One.
From the first shot, fans will know that this Star Wars story will be different from the Episodes. The beautiful cinematography first catches the eye. This is undeniably director Gareth Edwards’ (Godzilla) strength. Probably the most beautiful Star Wars film to date, Rogue One uses this strength to its full potential. The gang of Rebels visits various different locations, from a Normandy beach-like area to a Middle Eastern-like desert.
Jyn Erso isn’t the only newly introduced character. Others include Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), Chirrut Imre (Donnie Yen), Bohdi Rook (Riz Ahmed), Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) and K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). In a Guardians of the Galaxy type deal, Rogue One‘s task, right away, is to introduce us to each individual character and make them relevant to the audience. Unfortunately, the movie never fully achieves this. Standing before us are easily defined one trait characters with the exception of Jyn Erso. Her backstory and persona make her the more well-rounded character in the group and the only interesting one in the group.
Probably the most underused character is Bohdi Rook, Riz Ahmed’s character, in which he is barely in the movie. As the movie searches to make these characters relevant, it comes up with very little. Some small tasks are performed but nothing that special that would make them great heroes.
Darker and grittier than the previous Star Wars movies, Rogue One isn’t afraid to take big risks. From the start, the film shows you just how high the stakes are. Coming around to the third act, the movie shows you just how daring it is, and it does deliver quite a bit. Some of the more emotional parts weaved into the final act don’t always land, but the war scenes are a thing of pure beauty. Edwards rips a page from directly from Saving Private Ryan to deliver some suspenseful moments.
When the credits come rolling, either way, you’ll be in shock. The problem arises whether or not the characters’ were compelling enough to carry the movie. They pose the biggest problem for Rogue One, particularly in the more emotional parts. However, this is still a Star Wars film with plenty of beautiful and suspenseful action. If all else fails then at least, you will get the fan service, which is weaved in flawlessly.
Disney’s magnificent animation carries Moana through some rocky waters
Sticking close to Disney’s wheelhouse, Moana is something both different and very much the same. Still hitting the same beats and the same narrative style, Moana is far from the deep ocean. However, Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) delivers some sweet tunes, and there is still that Disney charm buried deep within.
The movie opens with a legend told by Moana’s grand-mother, Tala (Rachel House). The legend follows Maui (Dwayne Johnson), a demi-god, who stole the mother islands gem. This act awakens the villainous Te Ka, who attacks Maui only to let his magical stick and the gem fall deep underwater.
Moana (Ali’i Cravalho) is the princess chosen by the water itself. Her mission is to find Maui and deliver the gem back to the mother island. The only problem is that Te Ka stands in their way and prevents both from entering the mother island.
It may appeal to some that Moana is the same old Disney movie. However, with that comes both brilliance and tiresome. On the surface, Moana is filled with beautiful Hawaiian-like islands with the water being almost life-like. On the other hand, nothing in Moana is particularly original. You can describe Moana as being a hybrid of The Little Mermaid and Pocahontas with shades of Mulan. Her dream to see the open water is reminiscent of Ariel’s dream to see the land.
Unlike Ariel, Moana is fresh in the sense that her journey is not dependent on a prince. Being chief of her village, she needs to save her people from the harm that Maui caused. There is much riding around her character and Johnson does not prove to overshadow her. Moana gets her time shine, and both characters work together to get things done.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s magic successfully transcends to the big screen as Moana has the best soundtrack since The Little Mermaid. There are at least 2 songs that stand out from the rest. Johnson’s song is sure to be a hit. It is catchy and fun, while Cravalho’s song is sure to be the new “Part of Your World.”
However, even with all that Moana still had a hard time being engaging. The Disney tropes were a bit much to swallow, and the story arc has very predictable. Disney continues to copy itself without many consequences. However, there will be a time when the Disney princess formula will become tiring for everyone. For this reason, it was challenging to bring its viewers who are all familiar with their movies to get engaged with a story that was done in the past.
Though, Disney’s latest film still stands tall and has just enough to differentiate themselves from their previous works. If you are someone who enjoys the formula, then this won’t prove to be much of a bother. Disney still speaks to a wide audience, and Moana will definitely not be the movie that kills it.