Archive for December, 2016

That’s Entertainment, part II

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , on December 31, 2016 by Mystery Man


Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire present more golden moments from the MGM film library, this time including comedy and drama as well as classic musical numbers.

What people are saying:

“Probably the most impressive opening cast credits in the history of cinema – other than Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, they’re all in recycled clips though for this sequel that isn’t just musicals this time. The two hosts do offer something new though with original singing and dancing interludes between the repeats which are a mix of song left on the cutting room floor from the first That’s Entertainment, and other famous scenes from the Hollywood period of filmmaking that is no more. It’s not a bad celebration of what’s come before.” 3 stars

“The organization and hosting by Astaire and Kelly is lacking, but the clips, as always, are priceless. These movies always bring tears to my eyes.” 3 1/2 stars

“Some splendid clips, but the best had already been used up for the first movie. And seeing Astaire and Kelly together again is nice, but a bit unsettling given their ages – especially Astaire who looks like he might snap like a twig if a stiff breeze turns up.” 4 stars

“I enjoyed seeing some classic clips, but I didn’t feel that the movie itself was very good. It’s randomly thrown together with no rhyme or reason. Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire are legends and it is nice to see them clowning around, but a movie like this works better with several people taking turns sharing memories.” 2 1/2 stars

“What a joy to see Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly dancing and singing together again… They are definitely my 2 favorite dancers. If you like musicals this is the movie to watch to find the best of those times… Great continuation to “That’s Entertainment”” 4 stars

That’s Entertainment!

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , on December 31, 2016 by Mystery Man


MGM musical numbers from the introduction of sound in the late ’20s through to the 1950s, possibly with Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Judy Garland getting the most coverage. Linked by some of the stars who worked at MGM handing the commentary on one to another.

What people are saying:

“‘Boy, do we need it now’ was catchphrase when this MGM musical salute was first released–and it stands even more today.” 5 stars

“That’s entertainment indeed! I do not particularly care for musicals, but when some of the best musical numbers ever made are all pieced together, it is phenomenal. Incredibly interesting and fascinating. Historically important film. Great narration.” 4 stars

“I liked all the compiliations of musicals but it’s pretty much a marathon of shows. I would rather see musicals with plots. ” 1 1/2 stars

“The MGM musical equivalent of a clip show. Some of the edited down sequences make me sad (take note, MGM special edition gnomes), but the overall breadth of material is awesome.” 4 stars

“Sure, it’s just a video compilation piece, no different than something the History Channel might’ve produced, but if one has grown up watching the films in this compilation it transforms before your eyes, assuming the teary qualities of a deathbed goodbye of a hypochondriac, weakly whispering “remember the good times when …” into your ear. You know that they’re not dying, but nonetheless feel the strings of your heart pulled anyway and have to admire the work of a master manipulator despite yourself.” 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 12/29

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on December 29, 2016 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Today’s trailer honors a true Hollywood legend, Debbie Reynolds, who passed away this morning, barely 24 hours after the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher, a legend in her own right.

Take a moment and check out the trailer for The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Hail, Caesar!

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2016 by Mystery Man


Four-time Oscar (R)-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Fargo) write and direct Hail, Caesar!, an all-star comedy set during the latter years of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum, Hail, Caesar! follows a single day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix.

What people are saying:

“The Coen brothers transcend genre, from noir to thriller to dark comedy, they can nail it. But I particularly enjoy their takes on farce (especially when George Clooney is involved). This movie is not perfect, but I laughed out loud throughout, particularly when everyone embraced the silliness of the story as part of the whole point. It may not be the Coen brothers’ best ever, but it doesn’t have to be to be enjoyable.” 3 1/2 stars

“Hail, Caesar! is great fun. Lively jabs at organized religion, Hollywood and the power structure. The cast must have had a blast during filming. Anyone who is interested in Hollywood in the 50″s blacklist era should enjoy. ” 4 stars

“A silly, jumbled, yet consistently entertaining chapter in the Coen Brother’s directorial saga, “Hail, Caesar!” commends the golden age of Hollywood with a star studded cast and an eye for historical detail. ” 3 1/2 stars

“If you love montages of old films(specifically from the 50’s) -this is perfect. Between Ethel Merman and Will Rodgers, to the creation of a scene of Ten Commandments. It is funny. I agree that it can be hard to follow at times. But, putting political satire in a movie is not new. Still, the scene with the Soviet submarine is hysterical!!!” 4 stars

“Very intelligent film. The filmakers deal honestly with many subjects. If you are looking for the typical crass Coen Brothers film, this one falls short. It still is iconoclastic but the icons it looks at are those things that are worshiped by a typically disconnected 21st Century intellectual, Take a look and see which icons you would have preferred the filmmakers to have left alone.” 5 stars

Dirty Grandpa

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on December 26, 2016 by Mystery Man


Jason Kelly [Zac Efron] is one week away from marrying his boss’s uber-controlling daughter, putting him on the fast track for a partnership at the law firm. However, when the straight-laced Jason is tricked into driving his foul-mouthed grandfather, Dick [Robert De Niro], to Daytona for spring break, his pending nuptials are suddenly in jeopardy. Between riotous frat parties, bar fights, and an epic night of karaoke, Dick is on a quest to live his life to the fullest and bring Jason along for the ride. Ultimately, on the wildest journey of their lives, “dirty” Grandpa and his uptight grandson discover they can learn from one another

What people are saying:

“The 1980’s called. They want their plot line back. That is the level of humor you will find in this comedy. Great cast, but what were they thinking? Surely at some point during principal photography Rober DeNiro pulled Dan Mazer aside and said, “are you sure we can’t afford a rewrite?” 2 stars

“One of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. I thought DiNiro had a lot of money and could choose whatever project he cared to do. I have to believe that none of that is true because this was utter and contemptible trash. Not funny and talking dirty doesn’t make up for a lack of talent. I have to believe that both Efron and DeNiro were broke and needed whatever money was given to them for this trash….” 1 star

“I love Zac Efron, and there is plenty of eye candy in this movie as he constantly shows off his bare chest and abs and butt. Unfortunately for Zac this is a very bad movie. I felt uncomfortable the entire movie. Attempts at humor were just vulgar or mean, and there is conflict everywhere. I would have rated it lower, but my husband actually liked the movie, so maybe there is something there that I didn’t see.” 2 stars

“This movie isn’t as bad as so many say it is. It’s plenty raunchy, but just be prepared for that. As some say, plenty of eye-candy in this movie. ” 3 stars

“While the vulgarity of its humor sure as hell won’t appeal to all tastes but for those who’re okay with it, Dirty Grandpa is a funny film which offers a fresh change of pace for Robert De Niro and has more of Zac Efron departing from his typical Disney-boy style performances following Bad Neighbours. It won’t be a film which everyone is going to have a smile on their faces after they’ve watched it but in IMO, it boasts enough laughs to leave those who enjoy off-colour humour entertained throughout.” 3 1/2 stars

Hot Pursuit

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on December 26, 2016 by Mystery Man


Assigned to protect the sexy widow of a drug kingpin, a straitlaced Texas police detective is forced to take flight with her precious cargo when an assortment of bad cops and ruthless hit men start closing in on the pair.

What people are saying:

“The film relies far too heavily on the reputations of its two leads and there’s very little that surprises throughout the film and it never really even commits to the ‘odd-couple’ dynamic.” 2 stars

“LOVED IT AND DIDN”T hear the F WORD USE one time so refreshing!!! If you enjoy slapstick, odd couples stuff, and silliness, you will probably like this movie. Reese Witherspoon has shown her comic abilities in many earlier films, and she does it again here. Not the best comic I have seen but worth watching and leave you with a big smile at the end” 4 stars

“One of those wannabe-crazy comedies where you almost feel sorry for the stars as they get up to such loudly dorky shenanigans (or you would if they weren’t so annoying)” 2 1/2 stars

“What a huge disappointment. A massive waste of the usually brilliant Reese Witherspoon and further proof that Sofia Vergara has nothing going for her except looks. When she plays something other than than a loud, gobby Latino I might change my mind. But I don’t think subtle is in her repertoire. I had hoped this might be another ‘The Heat’ but clearly I was very much mistaken!” 1 star

“Disappointing as a movie and a comedy. How does the girl growing up in the back seat of her daddy’s cruiser become such a one dimensional, world is black and white idiot? The answer is lazy writing, and the result is the worst performance I have ever seen from Witherspoon. I would expect that girl to not only be an expert on police procedures, but also world-wise and savy to people. Not that she gets all the blame. Rather, her character typifies the rest of the film, which is a poorly written pile of trash that is barely watchable. Rather than comedy, it is more like nails on a chalkboard. If you must watch this, find a way to see it for free, because any money you spend on it is wasted.” 2 stars

Assassin’s Creed

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 24, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Convicted criminal Callum Lynch is rescued from his own execution by Abstergo Industries, the modern-day incarnation of the Templar Order, and learns that they are searching for the Apple of Eden, which seeded the first sin, in order to subjugate the human race and end its perceived corruption. The company’s head scientist, Dr. Sophia Rikkin, reveals that Callum is a descendant of Aguilar de Nerha, a member of a secret order of assassins that for centuries have opposed the Templar Order, and conscripts him to the Animus Project, in which Callum is connected to a machine that allows him to revive Aguilar’s memories so Abstergo can learn the current whereabouts of the Apple of Eden.

In Spain, 1492, Aguilar and his partner Maria are deployed to rescue Prince Ahmed de Granada, who has been kidnapped by the leader of the Templars, Tomas de Torquemada, to coerce Prince Ahmed’s father, Sultan Muhammad XII, to surrender the Apple of Eden. Aguilar and Maria intercept the chariot transporting Ahmed, but are then ambushed and captured by Torquemada’s enforcer, Ojeda, just as Callum is pulled out of the Animus by Sophia.

In captivity, Callum befriends other descendants of assassins, led by Moussa, and begins experiencing hallucinations of both Aguilar and his own father, Joseph Lynch, who murdered Callum’s mother while in assassin attire. Callum and Sophia build a rapport over their sessions, in which Sophia reveals herself as the daughter of Abstergo’s CEO Alan Rikkin, and confides with Callum that her mother was likewise murdered by an assassin.

Back in the Animus, Aguilar and Maria are scheduled for execution, but manage to escape, leading to a rooftop chase in which Aguilar performs a Leap of Faith, causing the Animus to malfunction. Callum is then extracted and placed back in captivity, where he learns from Joseph that his and Aguilar’s memories are merging, allowing Callum to tap into Aguilar’s combat abilities, and that Callum’s mother was an assassin and chose to die by Joseph’s hand rather than be subjected to the Animus by the Templars. Meanwhile, Alan is pressured by his superior Ellen Kaye to shut down the Animus Project due to its lack of results, leading Sophia to realize Alan cares more about the eradication of the assassins than using the Apple of Eden to rid the world of violence.

Callum is placed in the Animus once again, whereupon Aguilar and Maria ambush a meeting between Muhammad and Ojeda to exchange Ahmed for the Apple of Eden, killing the Templars and retrieving the Apple of Eden. Ojeda captures Maria to force Aguilar to surrender it, but Maria chooses death and Ojeda fatally stabs her before Aguilar kills him. He then hides the Apple of Eden in the tomb of Christopher Columbus, where it is found by Abstergo. Rikkin and his followers then converge on a Templar sanctuary in London to perform a ritual to harness its powers.

Having assimilated all of Aguilar’s memories and abilities, Callum manages to escape and rallies Moussa and the other descendants to stop the Templars. They attack the sanctuary and Callum comes across Sophia, who has grown disillusioned with the Templars and reluctantly allows them to act. Callum confronts Rikkin and is forced to kill him to retrieve the Apple of Eden, whereupon the assassins depart, vowing to once again protect it. Horrified by her father’s death, Sophia vows revenge upon Callum.


One of my favorite video game franchises is Assassins Creed, so you can just about imagine how excited I was when this project was announced a few years back. As the years went on, I patiently waited, noting every bit of news that came out and now it is finally here. Was the wait worth it? Does it live up to the esteemed franchise? Is this the first good video game movie since Mortal Kombat? Let’s find out, shall we?

What is this about?

Through a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day.

What did I like?

Source material. With Ubisoft, the company behind the Assassins franchise behind this film, it should come as no surprise that the filmmakers adheres very closely to the source material. Not only do we get the basic plot from the games, but easter eggs later on in the film, and a film that judging by the first glance, feels like the game has come to life on the big screen!

Action. If there was something this game had to get right, it was the action. Anyone that has played these games has no doubt spent hours climbing buildings, fighting armies of guards, jumping off rooftops, etc. The filmmakers bring all that to life and then some, though, I argue it could have been more. Still, it was great to see they chose to give us some true assassin action and impressive parkour, things that the franchise is known for having.

Be your own man. I must applaud the choice to not go with Altaïr, Ezio, Edward, or any of the well-known assassins from the game. We’ve come to know these characters as one way in the games, seeing them portrayed differently would likely cause major waves in the internet troll community (as most everything does). I don’t have much to say about Callum Lynch, though, I’m afraid. Perhaps if the planned trilogy goes through and we get to know him better I can comment on his characteristics and such.

What didn’t I like?

No one wants your present. The worst part about playing the AC games is having to play the present day stuff. This stuff, with the exception of the original and maybe the following couple of sequels, is just useless prattle meant to drag out the time spent playing the game. Not really sure why they couldn’t just come up with more missions, rather than forcing us to spend time paying as the most uninteresting man in the world, Desmond Miles. Seriously, who puts in an Assassins Creed game to play in modern day?!? No one! We play these games to go hopping around bygone eras like Renaissance Italy or France during the Revolution. The same strategy applies to this film. 2/3 of it was spent in present day whereas the flashes to the past should have been the focal point, and the present day…well, that train wreck should have been seen as little as possible.

Confusion. One of the most confusing plot devices of the film is the Apple of Eden. Now, it needs to be understood, it took the at least 3 or 4 games to fully explain and develop this thing to the point that we, the player/audience knew what the hell was going on with this seeming unstoppable force, and I’m still not sure I fully got it. That being said, you can’t force that into a 2hr film, and it not be the major plot point, rather than just a device. More time needed to be spent explaining about the Apple, rather than a few mentions here and there followed by Jeremy Irons’ character doing something with it that looked like it would have been bad news for everyone, had that last event not happened (trying to not play spoiler).

You have failed this city. In the final scenes, we see Michael Fassbender’s character take on the skill and characteristics of his ancestor in the present day. Somehow this translates to him thinking he is Stephen Amell’s Green Arrow. Furthering this idea is the fact that he spends most of the film with no shirt on (enjoy ladies!) and, as the inmates escape Abstergo, he grabs a bow and arrow and starts shooting. I half expected him to put on a mask and start barking orders to everyone in a gravely voice, much like Amell does in Arrow.

Final verdict on Assassin’s Creed? There is good, there is bad, and there is ugly. This film has all three at varying points of its runtime. As I was telling the guy sitting next to me after the film ended, this film just took the worst parts of the game and forced it down our throats. That said, this is not without redeeming qualities. It is obvious they want to build a franchise out of this and I’m all for it, but they need to listen to what people want to see and not assume they know what we want to see or the studio will end up losing money. As long as they were working on the film, there is no reason it shouldn’t have been a total blockbuster smash, perhaps even rivaling Rogue One. Instead, we get a film that tried to be the next great video game movie, perhaps coming closer than most, but didn’t make it. My goodness, even with the game studio behind it, it couldn’t be done. *SIGH* So, do I recommend this? Believe it or not, yes I do. I think this is a film that needs to be seen twice, especially for fans of the game. Once, to just watch the film and a second viewing to bitch and moan about all of the things that are wrong with it. No need to rush out and see it, but check it out when you get the chance!

3 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 12/22

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on December 22, 2016 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Sunday is Christmas day, so let’s continue with the holiday themed trailer with a lesser known flick, Santa Claus: The Movie.

Does anyone remember this besides me?


Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2016 by Mystery Man


Keanu is no ordinary cat, but is the feline worth dying for? That’s the question two buddies find themselves pondering when they masquerade as drug dealers to infiltrate the criminal gang who snatched their kitty.

What people are saying:

“It’s a glorified episode of Key and Peele that has enough humor to cover up the pure nonsense. Keanu combines cute-kitty love & the quirky duo of its leads for a silly, wacky film that is senseless to its core but capable of a good number of laughs along the way. ” 3 1/2 stars

“More consistently funny, with a better plot, than I thought it would be. And absolutely must for Key & Peele fans!” 5 stars

“Original and very funny. Finally, a comedy with new jokes. Every time the kitten ran in slow motion it killed me. Smart and very funny without being crude or predictable. Thank you.” 5 stars

“I’m now a Key and Peele fan bigtime. Keanu pokes fun at urban cliches even while indulging in them. The characters however mean and tough all have a sympathetic human side. Like Nathan Jr in Raising Arizona, Keanu the cat is appealing to good guys and bad guys alike” 4 stars

“Funny and surprisingly good mix of action. 10 times better than those Kevin Hart movies. Geniunly funny and well written.” 3 stars

Trailer Thursday 12/15

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on December 15, 2016 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Christmas is getting closer, so I guess I should do some holiday trailers, huh? How about this forgotten gem, Prancer?

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

Posted in Chick Flicks, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2016 by Mystery Man


In this screwball sequel to the 2002 hit romantic comedy, there’s a new wedding on the horizon for the wacky Portokalos clan — and with it comes a new assortment of family crises and secrets.

What people are saying:

“A sequel as funny as the original. You’ll laugh out loud many times. The cast is all back and better than ever. Kudos to director Jones for a great effort. Vardalos is terrific but Lainie Kazan steals every scene she’s in. This is fun entertainment.” 5 stars

“Sequel to the popular hit comedy from the 90’s. The spark is not there anymore although the same characters are back this is inferior in every way” 2 stars

“Sweet-natured sequel gets the old gang together to answer questions nobody asked. Worth a rental, though, for old times’ sake.” 3 stars

“Sometimes no matter how much you want something you shouldn’t get it. This sequel is one shining example of that. The first movie was so funny and unexpected that a sequel, no matter how many years later, could never bring back the same joy.” 2 stars

“This was a pleasant enough film with a few mild chuckles, but if the Greeks invented comedy, there’s little evidence here. There seems to be a reason the Greek masters didn’t write sequels frequently.” 2 1/2 stars


Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the beginning, there was only ocean. Then Te Fiti, an island goddess, emerged. Te Fiti’s heart, a small pounamu stone, possessed the power to create life. It was stolen by the demigod Maui, who was planning to give it to humanity as a gift. But the lava demon Te Kā confronted him, causing the heart to become lost in the ocean along with Maui’s magical fishhook.

A millennium later, Moana Waialiki, the daughter and heir of a chief on the small Polynesian island of Motunui, is chosen by the ocean to receive the heart as she is collecting shells on the shore. Her father, Chief Tui, insists the island provides everything the villagers might need, but when fish become scarce, coconuts begin to spoil, and the island’s vegetation begins to die, Moana proposes going beyond the reef to find more fish. Tui angrily rejects her request, as sailing beyond the reef is forbidden. Moana’s mother Sina confesses Tui fears the ocean because he lost his best friend when he attempted to sail beyond the reef.

Moana’s grandmother Tala finds Moana on the beach after a failed attempt to sail past the reef and shows Moana a secret cave hidden behind a waterfall. Inside is a fleet of outrigger sailing canoes, revealing that the island’s ancestors were seafaring voyagers. Tala gives Moana the heart of Te Fiti, which she has kept safe for her granddaughter ever since she was chosen by the ocean, and shows her that the darkness unleashed by Maui’s theft is now consuming the island.

Tala suddenly falls ill and with her dying breaths tells Moana to set sail. Moana departs to find Maui with her pet rooster Heihei, who has accidentally stowed away on the sailboat. A manta ray, implied to be Tala’s reincarnation, follows Moana. Moana follows a constellation that looks like Maui’s fishhook, but a huge wave caused by a typhoon flips her sailboat and knocks her unconscious. She wakes up the next morning on a small island inhabited by Maui, who distracts Moana by boasting of his exploits, traps her in a cave and steals her sailboat. After escaping the cave, Moana tries to convince Maui to return the heart, but Maui refuses, fearing other dark creatures will be attracted to its power.

Pygmy pirates called Kakamora surround the boat and manage to steal the heart, but Maui is able to get their massive sailboats to collide just as Moana retrieves the heart. Maui agrees to help bring the heart back to Te Fiti, but in order to do so, he needs his hook, which is hidden in Lalotai, the Realm of Monsters and held by a giant coconut crab named Tamatoa. The two journey to Lalotai, where they manage to retrieve the hook by tricking Tamatoa into singing of his glamour. Back on the sailboat, Maui teaches Moana how to sail and to navigate by the stars and, with Moana’s encouragement, reacquaints himself with the transformational powers of his magical hook. Moana learns that Maui was a human raised by gods after being abandoned by his parents.

They arrive at Te Fiti, where Te Kā appears and tries to destroy them. Maui tries to fight back, but Te Kā is too strong and he tells Moana to turn back. She ignores him, believing that they can use Te Kā’s aversion to water to their advantage, and Te Kā severely damages Maui’s hook and repels their boat out to sea. Maui leaves Moana stranded, fearing that going back to fight Te Kā will permanently destroy his hook. He tells her that the ocean chose the wrong person to save her people.

Moana, distraught at her failure, begs the ocean to take the heart and choose another person to return it to Te Fiti. The spirit of Tala appears and encourages Moana to find her true calling within herself. Moana swims down to retrieve the heart and returns to Te Fiti to return the heart. She is nearly killed by Te Kā, but Maui, having had a change of heart, returns to distract the lava demon, though his hook is destroyed in the battle. Moana, reaching the top of the mountain, realizes that the island is gone and that Te Kā is actually Te Fiti without her heart. Moana asks the ocean to clear a path so Te Kā can approach her. Moana sings a song to Te Kā to calm her and remembering what she truly was she is able to restore her heart and Te Fiti returns. In gratitude, Te Fiti gifts Moana a new canoe and Maui (who apologizes to her for stealing her heart a long time ago) a new hook before slumbering at peace. Maui and Moana bid each other a fond farewell.

Moana returns to her island and later sets sail with the rest of the villagers in search of new islands as Maui accompanies them in his hawk form.

In a post-credits scene, Tamatoa, who has been stranded on his back during Moana and Maui’s escape, wonders if people would care more for him if he was a Jamaican crab named Sebastian.


Disney heads to the Polynesian islands for Moana, a film that has been controversial ever since the first teaser trailer was released. You know what they say, though, sometimes controversy is the best thing for a film, as it turns into publicity. Question is, though, how is the film, despite people complaining about this, that, and everything else?

What is this about?

Moana Waialiki is a sea voyaging enthusiast and the only daughter of a chief in a long line of navigators. When her island’s fisherman can’t catch any fish and the crops fail, she learns that the demigod Maui caused the blight by stealing the heart of the goddess Te Fiti. The only way to heal the island is to persuade Maui to return Te Fiti’s heart, so Moana sets off on an epic journey across the Pacific. The film is based on stories from Polynesian mythology.

What did I like?

Can you smell….what Maui is hooking? Dwayne Johnson, better known to some of us as “The Rock”, lends his voice, charm, charisma…and ego to Maui, the demigod. Johnson has been pretty busy the past few years with his exploding movie career and all. I think the last time he did a voice for a feature length animated movie was Planet 51, and that didn’t work out so well for him. Maui seems to have all the qualities that made The Rock likable (or hateable), but he even does the “People’s eyebrow”. I feel I should also mention his tattoo which, like the ocean is a character all its own, much in the same way the magic carpet is in Aladdin.

Music. Compared to Frozen, I think the songs are less catchy, with a couple of exceptions. That being said, the heavy use of percussion really drives the music and captures the audience’s ear. Not to mention it is also a good way to honor and respect the islands for which this film is set. I do guarantee, though, that there is one song, which is pretty early on that you will be singing for days. As a matter of fact, I think I’m going to download the soundtrack to my Spotify player as soon as I finish this review

Pre-show. Two things. First off, baby Moana is cute as a button! Second, the short before the film, which seemed like a failed attempt at mixing Up and Inside Out at first, turned out to be pretty solid. Why did I mention Up? Well, all the guys in the office have the same head as the old man. It was a nice lead in to this film, though some would say this short and the one in front of Inside Out could have been switched, due to subject matter and the films they were preceding.

What didn’t I like?

Animal encounters. Early on, when Moana meets Maui, he calls her “princess” and says she has an animal sidekick. The audience got a chuckle out of that, and why not? It is true, with the exception of Tiana, who was turned into a frog, and the actual animal princesses; Nala, Maid Marian, etc. So what is my issue? Well, these animals, specifically the chicken, aren’t useful or funny. it is just there. Hell, that giant crab that thinks its David Bowie and seems to be jealous of Sebastian would’ve made a better sidekick!

Daddy issues. There is a little incontinuity with Moana’s dad that I picked up on. In the whole first part of the film he foaming at the mouth with anger trying to keep her from going out past the reef. In some scenes, it seems like he doesn’t even want her to go near the water! At the film’s end, when she comes back, he doesn’t seem to give a damn. I understand people can change, and that’s well and good, but this was an about face that leaves me scratching my head.

Danger! Maui says that the Heart of Te Fiti will bring out all sorts of danger. Well, the only danger that came after them were the Kakamora and then when they had to face Te Ka. The rest fo the time, they were too busy fighting amongst themselves or diving into the realm of Monsters after Maui’s hook to deal with any dangers. Still, it would have been nice to get some more perils, even if was the return of the Kakamora.

Final thoughts on Moana? Disney has outdone themselves with this one. Not only did they make a film with a great story, but this is one of those rare films that isn’t necessarily aimed at the girls or boys, though you make arguments for and against for both. I do have a few small issues with the film, but they are really just small nitpicky stuff. The animation in this flick is gorgeous. I know we all can’t live in the Polynesian islands, but it does make one want to at least drive to the beach…maybe when it isn’t 43 degrees outside! Do I recommend this? Yes, very highly! Moana is sure to bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart!

4 3/4 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 12/8

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on December 8, 2016 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Kirk Douglas turns 100 this week. With major and minor celebrities falling left and right to the grim reaper this year, I’ll be honest, I was expecting to hear of his passing. To honor this man’s birthday, what say we check out the trailer for one of his best known films, Spartacus (not to be confused with the Starz TV series)