The relentless Disney train stops by in Africa for the latest remake from their archives. We go back to 1994, as The Lion King gets the 4k remake! With exceptional animations and a stunning cast, can it deliver?
Directed by Jon Favreau
Starring Donald Glover, Beyonce, Chiwetel Ejiofor, James Earl Jones
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It’s been almost 10 years since the last instalment, but the latest release of Pixars’ crown jewel is still just as good as ever. Acting as an epilogue to the Andy trilogy, Toy Story 4 closes things well, yet still , leaves the door open for more fun down the road.
Directed by Josh Cooley
Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Christina Hendricks
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Pixar have a habit of constantly releasing critically acclaimed hits, and their latest venture, could prove to be their greatest triumph yet. It’s taken Coco a few months to arrive on these shores, but the wait has been worth it.
The Day of the Dead, is our main focus here, the Mexican holiday in which people come together to celebrate the lives of the members of their family who have passed away. Miguel, our young protagonist, yearns to be a musician, but due to a complicated family history, the art of music, in any form, has been prohibited in the family. But in his attempts to emulate his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz,, the greatest musician of his time, Miguel finds himself trapped in the Land of the Dead, seeking his hero for a way out.
Considering the theme of film is pretty morbid, the movie itself is surprisingly vivid! It is probably one of the most resplendent settings in any Pixar movie, with the festival ambiance providing a fantastic backdrop to the story. The visuals are stunning, and has some of the best animation the studio have produced.
Pixar movies are always an emotional ride, and Coco delivers. The recurring themes of death, grief and family are mentioned throughout the film. So it’s not too much of a surprise that there is a certain level of poignancy to the plot. But the final third of Coco is so well done, it should move most people to some degree! Without spoiling, it packs a punch!
The cast are thoroughly enjoyable. Hector, a charming, witty trickster who accompanies Miguel on his journey is a wonderful character, he’s just not there for comic relief though, his story arc plays out to perfection. Ernesto, our pompous superstar, is just about the right level of irritation & arrogance! Considering there are two sets of families, one alive, one passed away, there is an abundance of names and faces, not all of whom are important to the plot. But it plays a vital role in pushing through its message about family.
With it being a Disney production, the musical score will always be a crucial factor. With Coco, the soundtrack delivers a wonderful blend of music, will the effervescent flamenco/latino party rhymes, to the sombre melodies. ‘Remember Me’, the recurring track that plays throughout, not only carries a great level of poignancy, it also plays a vital role within the film.
Regarding negatives, there really isn’t much to say against it, but if you were to knit pick, the opening 1/3 is rather slow to kick on. It’s really not too clear where the movie is going with things, but the remainder of Coco is so good, you’ll let that go. Also, there really isn’t a villain in the film, it doesn’t really hurt the enjoyment, but if you like a movie with a clear antagonist, this may bug you a bit.
That being said, these are very minor flaws in what is already one of the candidate for film of the year! A sure winner for the Oscar for best animation!
The Force Awakens was a nostalgic action packed throwback, that helped the franchise get back on track, following the thoroughly underwhelming Prequel trilogy from the Early 00’s. Since then, we’ve also had the well acclaimed spin-off, Rogue One. So expectations were sky high for the latest instalment in the saga, Episode VIII, The Last Jedi.
One of the biggest criticism of TFA was the fact it stuck pretty close to its guns, and essentially, it was a rehash of the story from A New Hope, with a fresh coat of paint. In all fairness, it was a safety first approach, but it payed off, but with the sequel, the studio would have to be brave and shake things up. To keep this spoiler free, this review will be pretty concise!
TLJ carries on straight after the end of TFA, as Rey (Daisy Ridley) tracks down the reclusive Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). In search for the guidance she requires to help the resistance fight off the imminent threat of the First Order, led by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), and a bemused Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), having suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Rey last time around.
What TLJ does right, it does supremely well. The space battles as always are stunning to watch, the opening scenes of the resistance taking down a dreadnought, not only shows us the underdog nature of this war, but also the morbid consequences that follow even after the battle has been won. The final act, that takes place on the salt plains of Crait is a visual treat. Star Wars is a franchise that rarely uses blood, so the red marks left on the surface of the plains makes it a great method to show the brutality of the situation without resorting to the red stuff!
The dynamic between Rey & Kylo is intriguing throughout the film, both of our characters are conflicted in their own ways, and seeing them try to understand each others motivations adds a new layer to a story trying to play it different. Luke is also another highlight of the show, Mark Hamill has always been the one who engages the most with his fans regarding Star Wars, even to this day he still loves the fact he is Luke Skywalker! The battle scenes are as strong as ever, though the light-saber action is a bit on the downside here, the show down in Snoke’s throne room is wonderfully choreographed and shot. There is also a surprising cameo from a well loved character from Star Wars past, which will have the fans smiling.
This movie has been controversial to say the least, with fans having a far more scathing assessment than the largely positive critic reviews. To be honest, there are several flaws that really do effect the enjoyment of the movie. To avoid any big spoilers, these will be listed in a vague way, to avoid revealing too much of the story! The whole Finn & Rose arch feels very unnecessary, a way to simply pad out the already bloated run time. Finn is also reduced to very much a side character, which is a shame, considering how charismatic John Boyega is. There are several plot points from TFA that just seem to disappear, Rian Johnson, taking over from J J Abrams, seems to have struggled to weave the two movies together seamlessly. There are also decisions made by the some characters that really make no sense, seemingly only done to create another plot narrative, such as Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), whose peculiar decision making serves no real purpose apart from creating tension.
Overall, I found TLJ a bit disappointing, The usual Star Wars shine is there, with its outlandish characters, charm and familiarity. TFA may have been some more of the same, but it still provided the audience with enjoyment, and a tidy plot. TLJ is unfortunately riddled with plot holes, character motivations and frankly some bizarre scenes (to be discussed in the spoiler review!).
Here’s the podcast for the latest episode, you can listen to it on the player below. We hope to have this all up on iTunes soon as well! On the agenda this show, Fast 8 storms to the top, the controversial Ghost in the Shell, and another Disney behemoth, Beauty & The Beast.
It’s a box office bonanza this episode! We look at two of the biggest grossing films of the year so far, Disney’s Beauty & The Beast has already broken the magical $1 billion mark, and Fast 8 is well on course to follow it. We also cross examine one of the most controversial movies of the year, Ghost In The Shell.
2016 has been a tremendous year for Disney. The top 4 highest grossing films of the year all have ties with the studio. Zootropolis & The Jungle Book both sit in the Top 4. Along with Captain America: Civil War & Finding Dory, with both Marvel & Pixar having affiliation with Disney, making it a dominant year for the company. There was still time in the year for one more release; can Moana match the sensational Zootropolis from earlier in the year?
Simply put, yes! What we get is a story that is as refreshing as Mulan, which breaks away from most traditional Disney themes.
The film follows the journey of our title heroine, Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), the daughter of the island chief, who rules the tribe on a Polynesian tropical paradise. Although she is warned by her father several times to not venture beyond the island reefs, she longs for adventure, eager to see what lies beyond the horizon. Moana is tasked to return a sacred gem, back to its original resting place. In order to fulfil this, she must search for demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson), who stole the gem in the first place and now must aid her to take it back, otherwise without the gem returning, her island will eventually perish.
What makes the movie great is the perseverance of our heroine. Even after she meets the charming Maui, she still wants to prove herself. It would have been easy to let her take the back seat, and let the muscle do all the work! Maui also proves a big hit, with Dwayne Johnson bringing all his enduring charisma to the part. His role in Central Intelligence was abit awkward, but here, his act is perfect, Maui wasn’t bad, he was simply trying to help humans by gifting them the gem, unaware of its consequences, he has no ulterior motive. All he wanted was the adulation from the people he serves. Plus, his humour is on point, and the interactions with Moana are one of the brightest points of the film. Speaking of humour, Moana’s pet rooster, Heihei, provides plenty of laughs, he is the smartest of animals, even the creators have called him the stupidest character in any Disney film!
If Frozen had the theme of Ice & Snow, than the essence here is Water & Ocean. This allows the production team to use some amazing animation, especially with all the water that’s around! Zootropolis may have been incredibly detailed, but this movie is unbelievably beautiful at times. The Ocean itself is a sentient being, and has its occasional moments of banter with the audience! The subject of the film is sailing and exploration, anyone who has played the Zelda video game, The Wind Waker, will have a comforting feeling! We see Moana go from a rookie, to a master navigator, with the help of our Demigod!
With this being a Disney film, means that of course, you’ll have your fair share of song and dance. The film even makes a joke referring to the ‘breaking out in song’ troupe! The main recurring song though, sang by Cravalho, is a rather powerful melody, which will leave you humming it even after you’ve left the cinema!
The film still has a few clichés, we have the usual death of a character, which pushes our heroine to start her quest. The departing character also comes back in spirit, when our protagonist is at her lowest. The song that follows seemed a bit abrupt and ill-fitting of the situation. It would have been like Mufasa going into a song when he returned to talk to Simba! We also have the predictable moment when the two heroes fall out, which happens in most films, so can’t take away too many points for that!
With the Christmas break coming up, I would highly recommend you check this out with friends and family! The film has not received the same level of marketing and hype as previous films here in the UK, which is a tad disappointing. With is blend of gorgeous visuals, engaging story and plentiful humour, it’s one of the best Disney animations to come in the few few decades.
Another month down, another episode wrapped up! In this episode we take a look at the biggest release so far this year, Captain America : Civil War. It’s a Marvel double with X-Men : Apocalypse also coming out this month. Comedy sequels never really hold up, will Bad Neighbours 2 prove us wrong? Also a small word for a rare Bollywood flick getting a mainstream release, with Fan.
This month we take a look at the big release of the month, ”Batman v Superman, Dawn of Justice”. Was all the hype worth it? ”Zootropolis” is the latest animation from Disney, will it reach the heights of previous releases like Big Hero 6 & Frozen? Finally we discuss one of the films that have flew in under the radar, the wonderfully suspenseful ”10 Cloverfield Lane”.
Starring Neel Sethi, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson
I can’t even remember the last time I watched the original 1967 animated version of The Jungle Book, so it was great to see that their would be a CGI remake to bring back those childhood memories!
The story follows a similar pattern to the original. in which Mowgli (Sethi) is escorted by his mentor, Bagheera the Panther (Kingsley) to go live with his fellow humans in the village. Baloo (Murray), King Louie (Walken), Shere Khan (Elba) & Kaa (Johansson) once again all feature along with the addition of a few other characters.
In what could have just been a quick cash in for Disney, has turned out to be already one of the films of the year. With director Jon Favreau doing an excellent job in the pacing the story, with some incredible action scenes.
The CGI was always going to make or break the film, especially as 12-year-old Neel Sethi would have to act the entire film on his own, in front of a green screen, as he is the only human character in the entire movie! It cannot have been easy to act on your own for the entire film at such a young age, but the kid did well. The CGI shown here is by far some of the best we have seen, Disney did a fantastic job with all the animals, and never at any point during the film does the quality drop.
The voice casting is near perfect. Bill Murray absolutely nails it with his role as Baloo, and Ben Kingsley provides the calm assurance as Bagheera. Idris Elba does a wonderful job as the villainous Khan. Lupita Nyong’o takes up the role of Mowgli’s adopted Wolf mother Raksha, who does well to voice the pained mother who has to give up her child. One gripe would be the role of Scarlett Johansson as Kaa the Snake, who only features in the film for a brief moment. It would have been nice to the more of the deceptive snake!
The nostalgia factor will play a huge role in the enjoyment of the movie, you cant help but smile when the music for ‘Bare Necessities’ starts to fire up, and the homage to the Lion King with a stampede scene was a lovely touch. Younger members of the audience will find this the definitive version of The Jungle Book, and maybe even for some Adults! It’s no wonder a sequel is already in the works.