Wonder Park (2019) – Wonder Meh

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

Wonder Park Info

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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