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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Wonder Park (2019) – Wonder Meh

Released: 4th April
Seen: 31st March (Advance Screening)

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So, I’m not exactly a theme park enthusiast. I’ve tried to go to them before and never really enjoyed them. Maybe it’s the people, maybe it’s the food, maybe it’s the weight restrictions that basically tether my feet to the ground that I don’t want to walk on for four hours for three rides, I’ve just never been big on them. However, films about theme park rides? I… don’t care for those either, but only because they’ve never actually been good. With the notable exception of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie, a film based on a theme park never seems to work and only seems to irritate the audience that goes to see it. When a film was announced to be about a girl who builds a magical theme park, I was ready to be annoyed and irritated by it. I was prepared for it to be Emoji Movie level trash. I was ready to sit down and write almost 2000 words about why it was an abhorrent piece of cinematic sludge that will poison your children’s minds and render them mute with its awfulness… but that implies that what I saw had something in it that was interesting enough to elicit that reaction from me and the only reaction I really have is “Oh, that exists”.

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Dumbo (2019) – Dumb

Released: 28th March
Seen: 29th March

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In 1941 Disney released its fourth animated theatrical film. Dumbo holds a special place in Disney history. Clocking in at 64 minutes, the film was made to try and cover the losses brought on by Fantasia (Which at the time hadn’t turned a profit because WW2 cut off a large part of the market) and during its production, there was a five-week strike at Disney’s studio. On a budget of under a million dollars with a mandate to keep everything as simple as possible, Disney somehow did the impossible and created one of the most beautiful animated films of all time. The film still works today, with the notable exception of the crow sequence (one of the crows is called Jim… that should probably clue you into the problem), and it’s proof of just what Disney is capable of doing and is so truly beloved that it even earned a spot in the US National Film Registry in the Library of Congress, meaning it will be preserved forever as something culturally significant… and then Tim Burton said “WAIT! I HAVEN’T RUINED ENOUGH CLASSIC MOVIES YET!” and decided to remake it.

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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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Isn’t It Romantic (2019) – Heartwarming or Heartburn?

Released: 28th February
Seen: 5th March

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This review was going to start with a paragraph that would try to discuss the concept of postmodernism, originally I would go through the concept and throw out a few assorted examples like Duchamp’s “Fountain” or the movie Scream and then create this elaborate explanation about how it’s self-critical and how no one understands it. This is how a lot of my reviews begin, a tangential observation about the general concept of the film that is meant to provide context and to have something that appears before the “Read More” text on the main page. This allows me a chance to not only give a point of reference early but to make use of a stupidly expensive degree that I will probably never get to use in any other context… and that, my dear reader, is a postmodern version of the opening paragraph to a movie that clearly is trying to be a postmodern critique of romantic comedies.

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Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2019) – [SCREAMING INTENSIFIES]

Released: 24th January
Seen: 29th January

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In 1984, Akira Toriyama created the first Dragon Ball comic and started a multimedia franchise that has survived for three decades. Multiple TV series, specials, video games and manga comics have been made. It even got turned into a live-action film that we won’t talk about in any great detail because I can’t bring myself to acknowledge the existence of that film any more than I need to. This series is older than I am… and I am sad to say, I barely watched it. Sure, I watched a few episodes of the Dragon Ball Z series when it aired because it was usually on while I was eating breakfast before going to school and it was a bright colourful distraction but I was never really a huge fan of the show. My only memory of Dragon Ball Z is the theme tune that literally everyone in my generation had hammered violently into our heads because it was obscenely catchy.  In fact, I’m not even that big an anime fan. My limit with anime was watching Deathnote about 5 years after the TV series ended, and of High School Of The Dead, which is the stupidest zombie-related thing that I’ve ever seen in my entire life and I’m very much including (Insert topical political reference here). I am, in no way, the target audience for this film SO, this film presents an interesting question that I hope I’m able to address… can a person who doesn’t know anything about the series, or indeed this entire genre, still get something of value out of this film adaptation?

Oh, a major piece of info, I watched the dubbed version of this film. I do not know if a subbed version is showing near me so I cannot tell if that changes anything about it.

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The Kid Who Would Be King (2019) – All Hail The King

Released: 17th January
Seen: 27th January

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One of the most enduring stories of all time is the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It’s the kind of story that has been retold more times than I dare to count and in every form you can imagine. It’s a glorious story about a group of men brought together out of loyalty and friendship who fight to defend their country and the iconic imagery from it is a key element of our culture. The adaptations of this story can focus on anyone in it, from Merlin to Arthur or even one of the knights, it’s a great classic tale and we have another adaptation of it and, to the surprise of almost no one, the story still finds a way to resonate with the audience and capture our imagination.

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How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2018) – We Had Dragons!

Released: 3rd Janurary
Seen: 8th January

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How to Train Your Dragon is one of the best animated films of the decade. I know, starting on a subtle statement is a great way to open one of these things but it’s accurate. Even with so many years between the original How to Train Your Dragon and the sequel we’ll be talking about today it’s impossible to understate how amazing the original film is. Not only is the original film a visual marvel but it has one of the most touching stories put in a kid’s film, a story about a kid trying to get the respect of his father who believes in killing every dragon while the kid wants to be kind to the creatures. It’s a touching tale even without the part that is just the adventures of a young boy and his dragon (a night fury named Toothless). The film was an instant hit that was absolutely beloved by everyone who saw it, and then the sequel came out and was even better. The story got darker, the animation was some of the most glorious to be put on the screens and it didn’t seem like it was possible to top it. Now, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World has come out and… OK it’s not better than the second movie, but its close.

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Mary Poppins Returns (2019) – Practically Perfect In Almost Every Way

Released: 1st Janurary
Seen: 3rd January

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In 1964, the world was enchanted when a nanny flew in from high upon her cloud to the door of 17 Cherry Tree Lane and graced us all with her charm and wit. Mary Poppins remains one of the few movies that you can justifiably say “Everyone loves this one”. If you meet someone who doesn’t love Mary Poppins, I suggest running as fast as you can away from them because there is no time to be dealing with such nonsense. Mary Poppins is a movie that the main character herself might describe as “Practically perfect in every way”, which would possibly be the most accurate statement ever made… so, naturally, 54 years later is the perfect time to release a sequel to this beloved classic.

Right?

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Aquaman (2018) – It’s Better, Down Where It’s Wetter

Released: 26th December
Seen: 26th December

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DC has really had something of a bad time with their attempt at a cinematic universe. While the hardcore DC fan base have enjoyed the films so far, with general audiences they’ve been critically panned and have such a horrible reputation that the massive team up movie Justice League is the worst performing film in the franchise. That’s almost impossible to contemplate, the film where every major DC superhero was meant to team up in an event that we have been building too for four movies and it didn’t make as much money as Suicide Squad. The audience is effectively done with what the DC universe is offering now. There were serious talks for a while that the upcoming Flashpoint movie might be used just to try and erase the entire franchise and start again from scratch, it’s not looking good for the DCEU who not only have a failing franchise on their hands that can barely bring them a return on investment, but the franchise is now so far behind the juggernaut MCU that it seems unlikely they’ll ever catch up. For this franchise to still have legs it needs this film to be good. All they had to do was make something that didn’t hurt to watch and they might actually put themselves on the right track… and oh thank god they pulled it off.

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