Aladdin (2019) – Friend Like Meh

Released: 23rd May
Seen:23rd May

When we think of the Disney Renaissance we think of this brief period between 1989 and 1999 when Disney was putting out hit after hit, some of the best films that appear in their catalogue. Right in the front end of that list, dropping in 1992 is the film Aladdin. Based on the Arabic folktale, Aladdin remains one of Disney’s most beloved films. It’s a simple love story, enchanting tunes and, of course, its legendary performance by the late Robin Williams has cemented it into cinema history. Even today the original film holds up with great comedy and award-winning songs that everyone knows. A Whole New World, Friend Like Me, Prince Ali, these are some of the best songs ever put on film. The movie was such a hit it led to two direct-to-video sequels (one of them is actually good) and a TV series that everyone who was a child in the 90s watched. There’s even an adaptation of the show on Broadway but one thing that there will never be is a live-action film remake… at least, that’s what I thought until we inexplicably let Disney think that it would be acceptable to plunder their vaults and turn their classic animated films into subpar live action drivel, but apparently we’re allowing that now so guess what I have to do right now? That’s right, weep and cry because I had to watch this bland lifeless thing that alleges to be a movie.

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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019) – The Wickening

Released: 16th May
Seen: 13th May (Advance Screening)

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The John Wick movie series is THE action franchise of the 2010s, if no one has already made that claim then allow me to be the first to state it. A series about vengeance and how it can destroy a life, every movie has put us right beside the assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) as he searches for the men who killed his puppy. That sentence alone is almost farcical, isn’t it? An endless amount of wanton bloodshed because of a puppy being killed? Well, since the puppy was the last reminder of John’s wife and the people who killed his dog used to be the people he worked for, it’s a little more complicated than that. Since his need for vengeance has grown and grown, he’s angered people who have more than enough resources to make his life a living nightmare and now we’re in the third chapter of this tale and while it continues to be expansive, how does this chapter hold up in comparison to those that have come before it.

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Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019) – Gotta Watch ‘Em All!

Released: 9th May
Seen: 9th May

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When I was growing up, the biggest games in the world were Pokémon Red and Blue. Every single person I knew had one of them; some people had both of them. I was always a Pokémon Red kind of guy who would happily pick Bulbasaur first because he would make it easier to get through the first two gyms (I know Charmander is cooler, but he’s also weak against the first two gyms and I played that game to win. Come at me). I also have vivid memories of when Pokémon Yellow came out and completing that game within a single sitting, only pausing to remove the batteries from my oversized clear Gameboy and clearing the gyms and elite four. It’s fair to say that a large chunk of my childhood included a monster that could be located in a pocket and then I did a very stupid thing… I grew up. I had less and less time to pull out a Gameboy and play whatever new Pokémon game was available; I didn’t keep up with the anime. I just kind of stopped caring about trying to Catch ‘Em All because I hit this time in life when it felt appropriate to put away childish things. I did recently pick up Pokémon Go because it’d be on the phone and a time waster but I kind of figured my love of Pokémon was dead. Then the trailer for Detective Pikachu dropped and a tiny little voice deep inside me screamed “I’m not quite dead… I’m getting better”

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Avengers: Endgame (2019) – No Spoiler Zone

Released: 24th April
Seen: 24th April

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On the 25th of April 2018, celebrating a decade as a cinematic universe, Marvel released Avengers: Infinity War. A true box office smash, the film broke records and defied expectations and at the 2-hour 5-minute and 41-second mark, Thanos snapped his fingers and eradicated half of the MCU in a sequence that was instantly one of the most iconic things in modern cinema. It was meme’d into oblivion; it was a moment of cultural shock that is easily the ballsiest thing that a movie studio has done in a long time. They made us love every single character, and then they killed them in front of us in a 3 minute sequence that was designed intentionally to destroy the audience… and then they said “Come back in a year, we’re not done tearing you apart yet” and sure enough, they came back and they were not even close to done tearing us apart.

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Hellboy (2019) – Aww, Hell!

Released: 11th April
Seen: 11th April

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In 1993 the comic book artist Mike Mignola created the character of Hellboy for Dark Horse comics. A demon-human hybrid, the character became a big enough hit with readers to get an adaptation in 2004 with the movie Hellboy that was written and directed by Guillermo del Toro who managed to turn it into a minor box office hit, pulling in almost 100 million worldwide on a 66 million budget. It got enough critical praise and a cult following to get Universal to shell out for a sequel with the same cast and same creative team, 4 years later letting out Hellboy 2: The Golden Army which fared even better, netting almost 160 million on an 85 million budget and (at least as far as I’m concerned) was just a better movie all around. Now it’s a decade later and rebooting old franchises is all the rage, and Guillermo Del Toro is coming off of two Oscar wins for his beloved film The Shape of Water so now would be the perfect time to get him to come back, drag Ron Perlman with him to don the red latex again and knock everyone out with an amazing Hellboy movie… or you could just get a bunch of completely different people to try and make money off the name alone and hope to god no one actually cares about being entertained, that’s a valid option.

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SHAZAM! (2019) – Hot Damn!

Released: 4th April
Seen: 4th April

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I’ve previously talked on this blog about how nervous I get walking into DC films. After their attempt at an expanded universe netted exactly one good film (Wonder Woman, for the record) and got them a resounding box office failure with their massive team-up film… let’s just say that I get nervous when I walk into these things. Then Aquaman happened and it was above any expectation. I dare say that I should’ve probably given it an even 4 out of 5 now that I look back on it because it was a genuinely fun playful movie that understood that the material was not meant to be dark and so it didn’t bother being pointlessly grim. With the advertisements for Shazam! I was admittedly a little more excited, there was a brighter tone that excited me and made me hopeful that they were going to get this right… oh my god, oh my god you guys!

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The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) – Everything Is Almost Awesome

Released: 28th February
Seen: 10th March

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In 2014, the movie The Lego Movie came out and shocked everyone. Sure, Lego had released parody movies before straight to DVD and had little joke sketches made but a full-length original feature-length film that was just generally about Lego? That sounded like it was destined for disaster. And yet, stunningly, it wasn’t. The Lego Movie fast became a monster hit, the 5th highest grossing film of 2014, it got an Oscar nomination for the deliriously catchy song “Everything Is Awesome”, a song so catchy that me typing that sentence has forced that song back into the heads of everyone who heard it. It also managed to surprise everyone with an emotional story about someone’s imagination being restrained by the attitude of their distant father. It’s genuinely one of the greatest animated films of the last decade and I will gleefully die upon this hill… so, when they announced that there was a sequel coming out, I was incredibly nervous because there aren’t exactly many sequels to great animated films that are as good as the original. Lucky me then that The Lego Movie series just enjoys surprising me with how good it actually is.

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