Mary Poppins Returns Review


Mary Poppins is certainly a classic film that just about everyone as seen or at least heard of. The idea of it finally getting a sequel after all this time was certainly fun. It basically retreads the same ground as the original but it’s the kind of story that works well even more than once so this ended up being fun. I do think some characters don’t look great since their memories aren’t too good though.

The movie starts with Michael having a rather rough time of it. He has fallen behind on his payments. Despite getting a job as a teller, he hasn’t been able to make enough money to support his family. He took out a big loan with the house as collateral but forgot to make the payments on it so now the family is close to being evicted. Ever since his wife died things have just been tough and this adds another wrinkle to that. His sister Jane says they should find the stock certificate that their father had with the bank. If they can find it, William, the current chair of the bank, says that they won’t have to leave the house. The stakes are high but the 3 kids are a bit of a handful.

Fortunately, Mary Poppins has returned to be a housekeeper. She hasn’t aged a day since the characters saw her last but Michael and Jane are too busy to worry about such things. They figure that the events from the first film didn’t really happen anyway since it was all in their head. Mary is determined to show the kids what true imagination really is and along the way will try to help the main characters as well. Can she pull this off?

Of course she will be accompanied by a whole host of songs here. The music starts pretty much immediately in the film and never really lets up. You can expect song after song to be sure. Fortunately the songs chosen are pretty good. They may come out of nowhere at times and you feel like it slows the plot down but they could have been worse. For me the slowest part was when they went into the wonderland since I was ready to go back to the bank plot to see them take on William. That’s got to be the most intense part for sure.

I’ll give the film credit for allowing the kids to actually be useful this time around. Take Annabel for example, she’s a kid who is quite mature for her age. She helps with the chores and is always ready to jump in to help Michael out when she sees that things are a little overwhelming for him. Same with John who doesn’t mention that they don’t have enough money for groceries and tries to make do with what he has. The kids are young but they at least know how to improvise on their own and don’t really make things tougher on the others.

Georgie is the youngest of the kids and definitely isn’t as solid as the others. He runs off to grab a balloon despite the others warning him not to and runs on the grass as well. It’s a shame because the other two are so responsible but perhaps in time he should be able to match them. Then you have the caretaker Ellen who has a fairly small role but she’s a fun character. I would have liked her to have had a few more scenes but at least she didn’t back down to William’s minions.

There’s one subplot in the film about two sailors who fire off a cannon every hour. I admit that their plot may be the most forced as it’s a bit over the top so it’s hard to take seriously. It has an emotional end so at least the plot ends on a high note but I dare say you could have trimmed that plot out entirely. Instead we could have more scenes of Jack showing the world how talented he is. The guy is resourceful and definitely someone who likes to spread a lot of cheer around.

He’s certainly a reliable ally to have around and also works as Mary Poppins’ unofficial hype man. When the others are in doubt he just drives on through with his bike. He also has a knack for being at the right place at the right time. As for Mary Poppins, she is solid as usual. She has a lot of confidence and doesn’t really care when the other characters doubt her powers. She is very self assured of her abilities and that’s all that matters to her. Along the way she teaches the other characters how to have a good time in whatever they do. Alas, they will certainly miss all of her magical abilities.

We even meet one of Mary’s relatives in this film which was interesting. She can fix anything which is a nice magical spell of her own even if she has a weakness on 1 day a month. Now that the heroes helped her solve that she should be even more powerful in the future. Her role is very small but she was a fun supporting character. Then of course you have the villain William who was really good. I like how that guy really pretended to be a hero while manipulating people from the shadows. That’s certainly how you rise up the chains on the dark side. This guy took every opportunity possible and didn’t miss a beat.

His underlings are less memorable though. You have the mean one who is 100% on board and the nice one who wants the heroes to win but is worried that helping them out will cost him his job. Ultimately he steps up by the end though. Then you have the parents. Unfortunately Michael wasn’t a particularly strong character in this case. He panics far too often and always ends up taking it out on the kids by yelling at them for no good reason. He doesn’t even try to hear there side of the story and just forgetting to make a payment on the loan when he puts his house on it was pretty irresponsible. He’s generally a nice guy but folds too quickly.

Jane was holding it together much better in comparison as she was working her union job while helping out with this. It never broke her though so she was always around to lend a helping hand. The film also resisted the urge of setting her up with a romance plot here with Jack. She’s doing quite well for herself as it is and any kind of romance here would have been really rushed.

The writing and the effects are pretty good here so at the end of the day everything appears to be on point. The film will go by pretty quickly. They did a good job of making this film feel rather old school. There aren’t any giant explosions or anything and the characters talk in a rather distinguished manner like they did in the original film. It’s a very calm movie where you can just relax and watch the events proceed. Mainly my only gripe is just that the two parents look really bad thinking even for a second that everything was in their imagination. How could you possibly think that? Hopefully if we get a third film these kids don’t make the same mistake.

Overall, Mary Poppins Returns is a solid sequel and does a good job of bringing back all of the elements that made the first film good. In a lot of ways this is a film that is playing it super safe. It’s effectively a remake of the first film despite being a sequel so I’m sure they were banking on everyone enjoying it for that reason. It works well enough as it carries over the fact that there are no real negatives to be had in the film. If anything you might even feel sad for the main villain at the end since the film hits him with one last burn at the end. Of course when you consider how he was going to mess everyone over, you may just crack a grin instead. If you want to check out a nice little musical then this is a good movie to watch.

Overall 7/10

The Lion King (2019) Review


Time to look at the modern remake to the original Lion King. The original is definitely a classic with one of the most impactful deaths at the time. I don’t think anyone ever truly forgets Mufasa. Well, this remake is mostly beat for beat although it does add a new subplot of sorts which I liked. In the end it isn’t able to do anything as effectively as the original though and does lose the head to head. As a stand alone film it is good though.

The movie starts with Simba finally being born. His father Mufasa is the strongest Lion in the land and resides as a King who was restored order to the world. The Hyenas don’t like this but everyone else enjoys the planet as it is. Animal Land would likely point out that this happiness cannot be sustained as even Simba points out that they have to eat their friends at times since the Lions are meat eaters. Mufasa explains they try not too eat too often like that though. Well, Mufasa’s brother Scar is not happy about this. He wants to be King and it’s implied he even liked the Queen but lost out. Well, he quickly murders Mufasa and tricks Simba into running away. Can Simba return to reclaim the throne or is it game over for him?

I suppose Mufasa’s role is rather small in the grand scheme of things but he’s always a fun character. One thing I really like about him is the amount of raw power he has at his disposal. He takes on a whole squad of Hyenas and is always ready. It’s a shame that he had to die here since the land had a bright future under him. I would enjoy an alternate reality path where we see what would happen if he stayed as King. That said, I do think he was a little too lenient on Scar the whole time. Ignoring obvious threats and such. I think at the very least he should have warned Simba a little more.

A good chunk of the film is the journey as Simba finds out what it is like to live in the wild. Pumbaa and Timon help him with this even if their advice isn’t always very helpful. They believe that life is meaningless which is…rather a depressing outlook when you think about it. They have a lot of fun scenes though and do have Simba’s back. Simba may have started out as being rather gullible and such but by the end of the film he’s definitely improved. I can see him being a fun character in the second film. I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan in this one.

The best character in this film has to be Zazu. You really feel for the guy the whole time because he’s trying his best to uphold the rules and keep everyone on the straight and narrow. At the end of the day the issue is that everyone rebels against him. Additionally Zazu’s really just a little bird when you think about it so it’s not like he can fight. That makes him even more brave. Especially when you have someone like Scar around. Scar’s a solid villain as well. He’s got a plan and knows how to execute it. The whole thing is handled really well as shown by how easily he took over without firing a shot. Scar has charisma even if he lacks brute power.

Then you have Nala who is Simba’s best friend. She didn’t get a big role in the original after finding Simba so that’s why I liked the inclusion of a Hyene leader with an actual personality. They got to go at it during the climax of the film and of course I won’t turn down an extra fight. It was a nice way to wrap things up. Nala’s also a solid character since she was pro actively trying to save the Lions the whole time. In general the climax is a lot of fun with solid action and a dramatic backdrop. It’s hard to really top that.

One thing I couldn’t help but think about though was why there weren’t really any other Male lions in the pack. Part of why Scar took over so easily is because there was nobody to resist him but why was that the case? If there had even been a handful of guys there they should have been able to take down Scar and his obvious rebellion. In fact, based on how few lions were around it seems to be like the Hyenas should have easily invaded long ago. Their numbers are far greater than the Lions and they could just pick them off at any time. there is a strength gap of course but nothing too crazy there either. I dunno, but it felt noticeable.

The graphics are definitely top notch. You could really think that this was live action at times which is really impressive. In terms of realism it’s hard to really say that any film can top this one. It helps that there are no humans around of course but it’s super impressive no matter how you slice it. Unfortunately it’s still not able to beat the original film in this category which came out over a decade ago. The reason being that realism will usually be crushed by an animation style that just goes all in. The original film has more color and life to it. I still remember the comparison videos popping up everywhere and it is true that the original just feels a lot more exciting and looks sharper. It’s to be expected since it was hand drawn but if you don’t compare this to the original then you should still be able to appreciate the look.

I wouldn’t say any of the songs in particular stand out to me but they’re solid enough. The songs have a nice up beat flavor to them and there’s always something happening in the background to pay attention to. As for the fact that the film revolves around animals fighting each other, the film had a good amount of restraint with not letting this go too far. You can still expect some of course and we even have a scene where Scar is eating an animal while subtly threatening the lions which is pretty intense. That was probably the most noteworthy scene to me. In part because you can totally cut it out and nothing changes. So this aspect doesn’t hurt the film as much as it potentially could have but I think it could have jumped another star otherwise.

Overall, The Lion King (2019) is a good remake. It’s fairly similar to the original one with the extra fight at the end being the only big change I would say. Even then calling it a “big” change is probably an exaggeration to be honest since it’s not like it affects a whole lot. If you haven’t seen the original or you saw it a long time ago and want a fresh version then this is a good one to check out. Otherwise there just isn’t any reason to recommend this over the original so I would say to just go and watch that one instead. It’s always the risk with remakes. If the original one was better then you may as well just watch it again instead of seeing the new version.

Overall 6/10

The Sound of Music


Time to look at one of the big musicals from a while back. It’s intense to think that it’s been more than 50 years since this classic came out. When you’re making a musical the key is to always have good songs but also a strong plot. If you fail at both of those aspects then you become the next Cats film. If you succeed with at least one area then you’ve at least got a good starting point. I would say that the story is solid and the music is good. The style of music isn’t necessarily my thing but it works well enough with the film’s context. In the end the most impressive thing here is that the film is quite long but does not end up feeling dragged out or slow paced.

The movie starts by introducing us to a Nun in training named Maria. She is a free spirit and just doesn’t care to be confined by rules and regulations. If she wants to do something then she’s just going to go ahead and do it. That ultimately ends up leaving the Nuns to send her off to the home of Captain Von Trapp where she will serve as a governess and look after the 7 kids. This will be a difficult task as the kids have already chased off many others before her arrival. Still, Maria isn’t scared and is in fact looking forward to the challenge. These kids won’t get the best of her or at least they won’t have an easy time of doing so. Adding to the drama though is that the Captain has decided to marry someone but now he is being distracted by Maria’s presence. As a Nun in training Maria is to stay away from romance but can she really do this? Additionally, the Nazi’s have begun their takeover of Austria so the main characters are going to have to make some tough decisions here.

As the film is around 3 hours there is a lot of content they are able to sift through. It’s why it makes sense for there to be so many different plots around. There’s even a romance plot with the eldest child who is in love with a delivery boy but gradually he succumbs to the Nazi ideology which transforms him and causes a rift to be formed. The film is definitely showing how quickly a person can change and it’s pretty realistic. In particular politics can cause rifts rather quickly and change people quite thoroughly. It’s a good thing she didn’t enter into that romance more or things could have been tricky.

For the most part the kids aren’t quite as rebellious as you would expect. They play pranks on Maria a little bit during the very first scenes of the film but from there they quickly lay off when they see that she’s actually a decent person. I was glad we pretty much zoomed over that plot because it makes sense that Maria would win them over. She was quite down to earth from the start and as a rebellious person herself, she would be able to deal with them fairly well. The scene of all the kids being scared of the thunderstorm was a bit cheesy though. Maria did a good job of covering for them though.

She’s quite the solid lead. I like Maria’s energy. While she may have surrendered a little too quickly in leaving the estate the first time, that’s the only scene where I’d say she didn’t look great. Beyond that she was on point from start to finish and excelled at being a governess. I also liked that she laid down the law right away that she would not be answering to a whistle. That was definitely a bit much and setting those boundaries from the start rather than trying to accept them is what separates her from what a weaker lead character would have done.

Meanwhile you have the Captain who starts out rather antagonistically but he does change. By the end of the film you could definitely say that he was a quality character. He was at least open to changing his mind even if he came very close to firing Maria. If that scene had played out differently then most likely he would have never quite had the character arc that he ended up getting. He is a bit wishy washy when it comes to romance though, the guy tends to rebound a little too quickly considering how close to marriage he was.

Then you have the Baroness Elsa and you already know that things aren’t going to end well for her the instant she appears. In fairness to her character, the film doesn’t portray her as someone who’s incredibly mean or anything like that. There is the clear contrast that she is not nearly as pleasant as Maria though. When the kids pick on Maria she has fun with them and turns the tables, but does so with no malicious intent. That’s why she becomes friends with them. When the kids start on Elsa she quickly decides to ship them off to school. It’s a very different approach that highlights how different the characters are. Then there’s Max who just wants to make a profit off of everything. He doesn’t like taking risks and will do whatever is the most profitable action. He never becomes a hero or anything like that and while he has a friendly disposition, you can never tell how genuine it is. He’s the kind of guy you can’t really trust.

As for the songs, as mentioned they are pretty decent. The songs all tend to have a lot of story thrown into them so it helps to give them some substance. The weakest song is definitely the romance one in the courtyard where the delivery boy is trying to win points. Even before knowing how that plot ends you just don’t think things will be so easy and the guy is just too nervous in general. The writing is also on point. The film tackles a lot of pretty serious themes and there’s a lot of great back and forth dialogue. One such scene for example is when the Captain’s escape plan is thwarted so he has to have a conversation with the cops. There’s a lot of double meanings throughout the whole conversation with obvious threats being thrown in as polite small talk.

The film has a nice sense of danger there. While it’s a pretty happy slice of life for the majority of the adventure, you can see background elements throughout the movie. If you’re caught up on your history then you’ll realize what is going on pretty early into the film but otherwise things will start clicking into place by the middle act. This makes for a solid climax and also helps develop the Captain’s character as someone who wouldn’t compromise on his ideals even through the very end. Other options would have been easier but he stayed true to his course of defying the Nazi’s and would rather die than serve them.

Overall, The Sound of Music is a solid musical. The film really covers a lot and this is the kind of super long film that feels earned. It’s not just padding for time and every scene feels pretty important. I’m sure there are places you could drill down to make this a shorter experience but since it didn’t drag on and solid throughout there is no need. I don’t know how accurate this would be to the events or if the drama may have been drummed up, but I can definitely say it’s a solid movie. I’d certainly recommend this to anyone who wants to watch a light hearted musical with good character development all throughout.

Cats Review


I remember this film getting a ton of buzz when it first came out but all in a negative way. The cat costume CGI looked really bad and the trailer did not look promising. The film does not disappoint in that it is pretty terrible. This movie just didn’t really have much of a chance from the beginning and it’s really not surprising. The whole concept of the film is about cats that look like people singing a lot of songs. It’s just not a very enticing storyline and the film doesn’t focus on story much at all anyway.

The movie starts off with someone throwing away their cat. Her name is Victoria and she doesn’t seem to know about much in life in general. She’s very confused and the neighborhood cats don’t seem to appreciate newcomers much. They start singing a lot of nonsense at her but eventually she’s able to glean a few things from their ramblings. Cats are supposed to all have 3 names yet all of these guys have only 1 name so Victoria safely disregards this useless information. Next up there is a competition where the Cats perform in the hopes of getting out of this place. The only way out is to be chosen as the winner so everyone does what they can to win. Victoria has been here 5 minutes and she’s ready to leave so she gets ready to enter. The only tricky part is that the rules are never really explained and there isn’t much of a bracket system either. Just run on stage and do what you can. It’s the only way to possibly win here.

Fortunately we do have a villain to give us some reasonable moments. His name is Macavity and he has the ability to turn people to dust and then transport them places. The teleportation seems to knock you out temporarily which is convenient for him. One by one he begins kidnapping all of the cats so it’ll be easier for him to win the tournament. He doesn’t have much of a point to his plan after this though. He was really hoping that they would suddenly make him the champion for doing this but unsurprisingly the cats aren’t sold. I would still have to put this guy as the best character though. He sings less than the others and makes the rest of the cats look like suckers a lot of the time which is always nice. They fall for every trap and the worst part is that Macavity can clearly just teleport you at any time. Yet he likes to troll the characters by pretending he needs an autograph and things like that.

The best part was when he is talking to Victoria and naturally she doesn’t know who he is. He drops some hints like talking about how scary he looks but she has that same puzzled expression on her face that is present for 85% of the movie. He has to literally point at the wall of wanted posters with his face on it. Keep in mind that this was present for the entirety of the scene. The gears finally click into motion for Victoria and she runs away while Macavity laughs. At least that part was funny although I’m not even sure how intentional that scene was.

When you boil it down to what’s wrong with the film, a lot of it comes back to the cat costumes. If you’re going to do a film about cats then use CGI ones or something but not people acting like cats. The whole thing is disturbing from the start and never gets any better. You’ll be wanting to roll your eyes throughout. There just doesn’t seem to be a point to most of the scenes beyond just being surreal. The designs are all rather unpleasant to look at and the backgrounds during the songs aren’t great either. So you’ve got some of the worst character designs I’ve ever seen and even the songs are weak? That’s a recipe for disaster.

The film goes for some crude scenes with the cats eating roaches and such during the early songs. Did the film really need to go there? All the scenes of them eating stuff can be pretty grotesque. For the songs the most tragic part of the whole thing may be that at times the background music isn’t all that bad. Sometimes the tunes can actually be fast and catchy. Usually it’s the lyrics that just don’t work. This musical is just a flop even as a musical because the songs won’t keep your interest. It’s all like a super long music video that isn’t interesting and the “story” of the music video doesn’t do it any favors either. That’s a really bad combination.

Cats is also just a very boring movie. With no characters to actually get invested in that already puts the movie at a huge disadvantage. Macavity doesn’t appear a whole lot compared to most so he can’t hold things up. Veronica has no real character to speak of and all the other cats seem rather shallow and mean spirited the whole time. They basically forced one cat to stay outside the whole time until Veronica saved her and helped her have a happy end to that subplot. The cats would probably be a lot happier in this place if they actually did something to improve the conditions. Instead they seem happy to mess everything up and there’s even a song about how they sabotage one family’s dinner every night. How heroic of them….

Overall, Cats is a terrible film. There’s really no question about that. The music is no good and the story is basically nonexistent. It’s a pretty basic plot. You have to win the competition and there’s a villain who wants to cheat his way to the top. There’s not much to it but the songs are the only thing keeping this from being a 20 minute film. It’s just hard to believe that this is actually a real movie, it’s no wonder that the movie lost so much money. I guess it just be like that sometimes. I would recommend watching just about any other musical over this one. Check out High School Musical instead and you’ll have a much better time.

Overall 1/10

The Goddess of Spring Review


It’s time to look at a Disney short based on a very dark Greek myth. I remember having to read that myth over and over again as part of a deconstruction and it’s definitely super twisted the way most of those myths are. I never liked the Greek Myths because they all go way over the top on being gritty and unnecessarily mean spirited. Fortunately you can always count on Disney to shake things up and make the experience a lot more wholesome. That is exactly the case with The Goddess of Spring. It’s a fun little adventure you can just enjoy without any worry. The main character is a bit iffy though.

The special starts with the goddess singing as her creatures make her a crown. She’s ready to have a good day but this is interrupted when Hades shows up and kidnaps her. She doesn’t really put up much of a fight and her creatures get bullied by the demons. After being in the Underworld for a while Hades is upset that the goddess isn’t enjoying the scenery. He decides to grant her one wish. She wants to go home so he compromises and says that she can be home for 6 months and at his place for the other 6 months. She agrees to these terms and heads back home for more singing and cheer.

It’s definitely a little disappointing to see her creatures back away so quickly when Hades shows up. What happened to standard loyalty and defending your friends when the going gets tough? Now the goddess knows that she can’t count on these people for beans when it really counts. She didn’t do much better herself though. She should have tried to fight since she has godly abilities. Then once she is in the Underworld she doesn’t even try to say anything until Hades asks her what’s up. She didn’t really have a whole lot of agency in this special and was way too passive the whole time.

Meanwhile Hades is carrying this film as he belts out song after song and hatches plans. It’s quite fortunate for the goddess that Hades was a very reasonable character in this special. He’s not portrayed as a good guy since he still did kidnap her, but at least he is portrayed as someone who actually cares what she thinks. Relenting to her going home for half a year was certainly a surprising compromise.

This special is part musical so there are a lot of songs. I can’t say that any of them were quite my style. It’s going for a certain kind of style to which I’m not really a fan. The songs are more loud than engaging without any nice beats to accompany them. The animation holds up pretty well though considering how old this is. The animations are very fluid with nice backgrounds and it all looks very consistent.

Overall, The Goddess of Spring is a nice enough story. I don’t think you’ll end up re watching this one for a while but there’s no reason not to check it out. It’s only about 5 minutes and if you are ever curious about the old legends then getting introduced to them by Disney is the best way to do it. You get to the heart of the story without all of the extra details.

Overall 5/10

A Star is Born (1976) Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

It’s time to look at another take on the A Star is Born story. Unfortunately this is the weakest one and it’s not even close. This version tries to take things on a darker path with the characters not being nearly as good as in the old ones. There’s not a whole lot of fun to be had here and the movie relies on edge over substance. Sometimes you just shouldn’t remake a film over and over because you’re going to be tempted to change things. Well, this one definitely changed things all right, but they didn’t do it for the better.

The film starts off with a bunch of guys waiting for the main singer to arrive so they can start the concert off. Unfortunately he appears to be late as always and is holding everything up. He eventually shows up, but is drunk out of his mind as usual and messes things up. He decides to go to a club at night instead of practicing for the gig the next day and meets up with Esther. He convinces her to come along with him to the next show and eventually she starts to get some gigs of her own. Before he knows it more people want to hear Esther sing than him. As John’s career continues to slip hers continues to rise and he doesn’t take it well. Can John clean up his act long enough to be a reasonable character or will he just keep on sinking?

One of the main differences here compared to the other versions is that John actually was still pretty popular at the beginning of the film. In the others John had already started to be on the decline. I’d also argue that this version of him was more irresponsible than the others. John is already doing drugs in his first scene and spends over half of his screen time drunk. It’s really hard to come back from something like that and you can’t blame anyone but himself for his falling out of the limelight. Every scene John is in is pretty annoying especially because he never even tries to improve himself. The guy is given tons of opportunities to do just that until those chances are finally exhausted. He even had more of a solid network of friends compared to previous versions of the character and he still blew it. I couldn’t deal with him after that.

That’s not even taking into account that he randomly cheats on her near the end of the film. This really felt like the writers were trying to make the guy as unlikable as possible and that wasn’t needed with how bad he was. The whole scene was just very mean spirited and I feel like there should have been no coming back for him from there.

As for Esther, she’s a reasonable lead although not quite as nice as the first two. Part of why her character isn’t as good is how quick she is to get together with John when they don’t even know each other. If anything you’d think that he would have made a bad impression on her since his first appearance is wrecking her show and getting into a drunk fight with some random guy. He also very quickly tried to get into her house. She seems to dismiss this as just being quirky and then they get together, but the whole romance plot made no sense. The romance happens very quickly and without any build up. At least the older films tried in this area.

Esther tries to handle the situation as best she can so she doesn’t do a bad job there. If she was dealing with a reasonable man then I dare say that she would have been quite successful. Unfortunately John is anything but reasonable. If he could have tried to work with her at all then this all could have been avoided, but at this point I’m just re-hashing the same point. John’s terrible, we get it. Lets move on. Esther does her best to get through all of this to the point where she is too forgiving and takes away from her strength as a lead. If anything her manager/John’s old manager is a more balanced character as he isn’t afraid to call John out each time and doesn’t reward his bad behavior.

Unfortunately the writing is also pretty bad here which doesn’t help matters. There’s a ton of language since John’s pretty vulgar most of the time. The characters aren’t written in a way where you can root for them. Some of the songs aren’t bad, but overall they’re weaker than the older versions as well. You can really see why John fell out of favor here even aside from the off the stage issues because his songs aren’t that interesting. Esther easily had the best tunes here and comparing their songs were like night and day.

Overall, A Star Is Born is a story that has had some good adaptions, but this is not one of them. I’d recommend staying far away from this film as it’ll just wind up being a big disappointment if you liked the older ones. This film focuses too much on making the characters unlikable and not enough on actually telling a good story. Even the “little” things like everyone doing drugs sets the characters back quite a bit. It’s certainly trying for a gritty look at the story, but that combination doesn’t work. It’s a lot harder to try and forgive John when he is unlikable and gritty. I’d say that the film had potential but it didn’t even start off on a good note so that idea dried up pretty quick. Definitely just stick to watching the original adaptions instead, you’ll be glad that you did.

Overall 3/10

Pitch Perfect 2 Review


It’s definitely been a while since I saw the first Pitch Perfect. The series definitely goes for a very “Bring it On” vibe throughout and this sequel is no exception. A film being about A Capella is definitely still pretty original since that’s not the most popular form of entertainment out there and the movies consistently make you aware of this fact as everyone comments on it. Unfortunately I can’t say that this film was a success, it makes pretty much all of the mistakes you would expect.

The movie starts with the Bellas performing on another grand stage. Unfortunately there ends up being a mishap involving Amy which shames the group and puts them in a global controversy. Their group is now about to be disbanded. Fortunately, due to some quick thinking on the group’s part they are going to get a second chance. If they want to keep the group alive then they are going to have to win the world tournament. The problem is that America has never won it before and the commentators mention that nobody likes the U.S. so it’ll never happen. Still, at least now they have something to fight for!

The group isn’t in perfect sync at the moment though. Beca still enjoys this competition, but she is ready to move on with her life and has begun an internship at a big music recording studio. She is actually having some success here, but keeping this big secret is threatening to ruin the group forever. Meanwhile a new girl named Emily has shown up and she really wants to be a Bella. Her Mom was one and always mentioned that it was the best time of her life. Emily is doing her best to fit in, but the only issue is that the others are giving her a hard time and the group may not even exist soon. Still, she is ready to give it her all. Can the girls find a way to win this tournament against the German favorites DSM?

Well, I guess we should get into the positives first because they are outnumbered. Some of the songs can still be catchy. I always like the idea of a Capella battle which is just really cool. One group starts a song and then when the judge gives the queue the next team has to immediately jump in with a different song, but tuned to the same beat. In a sense this means the first team will always have the advantage, but since they’re starting they need to pick a song that picks up right away. This film has a bigger song battle than the first film as it is around 4-5 groups all going at it. It’s easily the best part of the film and really should have been the climax.

I also liked Sammy. He’s Beca’s boss at the studio and is really a scene stealer. He’s definitely a bit on the rude side, but definitely does know what he is doing. He’s got a real quick wit when it comes to music even if he is considerably slower on the take when it comes to learning someone’s name. That’s one thing he couldn’t wrap his head around. His dynamic with one of the interns was also pretty fun as the guy kept on throwing ideas, but Sammy really didn’t like any of them. Honestly I didn’t think that the guy’s ideas were all that bad. At least he was trying right? This is exactly why some people don’t volunteer ideas because you don’t want to get shut down like that. I think part of what makes these scenes work though is the intern never loses his nerve and keeps trying to talk anyway. He certainly doesn’t take it personally and it takes a lot of fortitude to keep getting back up.

I thought Emily was also a reasonable character. She wasn’t as strong as Sammy, but at least she had a lot of enthusiasm and wanted to help make the Bellas better. It’s hard to excuse her for messing up in the music battle since that was a bit selfish, but otherwise I don’t think she made any mistakes. She felt more like the main character than Beca this time around with how much of a focus she got. Without her in the squad ironically not much may have really changed, but I’m sure her optimism helped the group out a lot off screen as well.

Now lets get into the bad parts of the film. First off, the writing is pretty terrible. Almost every line is someone making a dirty joke or just saying something super offensive for no real reason. The latter kind of humor can work if handled perfectly like in Airplane, but you really have to have talented writers to pull it off. Otherwise everyone just ends up being unlikable and you’re always getting ready to cringe at what’s about to be said next. There is really no safe point where you can just wait for it to all go away.

The romance plots in the film are all handled poorly as well. This is to be expected, but they all move very fast with no realistic development. You’ve got the magician who likes Emily but can’t even form a coherent sentence together. Then you have Amy and the other guy whose romance goes from being completely shut down to then they are back in biz. If I were the guy I’d be a little worried since Amy constantly hints that she will have a hard time sticking to one guy so that really does not bode well.

Meanwhile Beca isn’t quite as good as she used to be. Her keeping the massive internship secret was not a good idea. She also gets overly defensive about it when pushed which is just playing the blame game at this point. Beca also gets completely defeated by the leader of DSM in every single confrontation they have, which was not a good look. She may not be the leader of the team or anything, but she is a senior member so you would expect her to stay strong and at least have some kind of retort to the antagonists. By losing each time she really lost her chance of being a capable member.

Then you have Amy whose gimmick revolves around constantly using self deprecating humor on herself and also leads the charge for most of the iffy jokes. She’s the one who gets the group into trouble at the very beginning of the film and doesn’t really stop from there. Her character is definitely the most extreme from the group but it doesn’t always work out in a good way.

There are other characters on the Bellas and some of them have a good sized role but not to the same extent as the big 3. Mostly they’re just here for humor scenes and the leader is the only one who gets a role. She has good reason to be upset since none of the others seem to be taking the team seriously at times. She did invest multiple years on the team so to watch it go down like this is tragic.

The film did a good job of picking commentators who really sound like professional ones in real life. The humor there is supposed to be in how crude they are while announcing. I’ll grant the film that the voices are on point and sometimes they land a good joke but usually the guy goes a little too far. Both of them constantly walk into the insults and then throw some more of them out there.

As for the climax, that one was underwhelming. I didn’t mind the songs in general. Using a competition to end off the film is a good finale. It’s just that the film really gave the Bellas a bad song to end things off with. DSM’s song completely blew theirs out of the water so it’s hard to see how the heroes won that match. I suppose going for a brand new song is a pretty bold tactic, but not one that would win you the world championships. Of course music is completely subjective, but for me it was one of the weakest songs in the whole film so ending off with that was…interesting. It really didn’t have energy compared to DSM’s.

Overall, Pitch Perfect 2 is not a sequel that takes the series to new heights. It makes all the mistakes it possibly can. The plot makes sense for a sequel as you can’t get bigger than the world championships and adding a new main character was good since she was better than most of the established ones. That being said, she couldn’t help carry the film. More scenes with Sammy would have been great since he was definitely entertaining. This is the kind of film that may be fun as you are watching it, but ultimately falls well short of being a good title. If you want a better musical film you should check out Camp Rock or High School Musical.

Overall 3/10

West Side Story Review


It’s time to look at another popular musical from back in the day. This one has not aged nearly as well as Footloose and ends up being a pretty bad film. It has some interesting storylines and characters, but ultimately the movie falls apart because it is lacking in true heroes. There really isn’t anyone to root for by the end and while the film left the door open to a team up in the second half, it ultimately never happened. The ending isn’t really satisfying for any of the characters.

The movie starts by introducing us to two gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. These two do not get along and have been fighting over turf for a very long time. Both groups are roughly equal in power so nothing ever changes. One day the leaders of both gangs decide to end things once and for all with a big fight. Bernardo and Riff shake on it and prepare for battle. A wrinkle to this is that Tony has fallen in love with Maria and they are both in different gangs. Maria pleads with Tony to put an end to this fight and he decides to do so, but it won’t be so easy. In trying to stop this confrontation he may just end up making it worse.

I mentioned that there aren’t any characters to really root for. This is because they tend to be corrupt or make terrible decisions, but one solid character was Riff. He’s the leader of the Jets and seemed to be a lot more capable than the others. He was ready to fight at any time and always kept his cool. If not for Tony’s meddling he definitely had the win pretty decisively. He actually looked a lot like a younger captain Kirk and fought like him as well. His long skit which poked fun at the justice system was also solid and one of the best songs in the movie. It’s a shame that he didn’t get to appear more since I also think he would have kept his gang from crossing the line with Anita later on.

There’s little reason to root for the Jets because of that scene. There’s a moment later on in the film when Anita is sent by Maria to deliver a message to Tony. She is stopped by the gang though and while it is reasonable for them to stop her from meeting with him, they also decide to attack her. It’s basically 10 vs 1 and very quickly gets into downright villain territory with how they try to degrade her. There’s just no coming back from that especially since everyone was in on it. So, that means that not a single one of the remaining Jets was a decent human being.

The film also gives you reason to root for the Sharks if anything as the dialogue implies that the Jets started the fight with them just because the Sharks are outsiders. The cops are also more on the Jets side even if they just don’t like teens in general. The deck is stacked against the Sharks. Bernardo also seemed reasonable at times even if he definitely was not when Tony showed up. At that point he wasn’t helping matters and that’s why Riff had to step in. The rest of the gang doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time.

We’ve got Tony who is the pacifist, but he comes across as more annoying than anything else. I never liked the trope of the character holding back his ally from fighting while allowing the villain to get a cheap shot in. If you’re going to try and stop a fight then you’ve also got to make sure you stop the other side from attacking as well. Tony’s final move to try and get himself destroyed is also not a good one. You’d expect him to at least try and avenge Maria instead.

As for Maria, she was giving Tony a lot of pretty unreasonable demands the whole time. Ultimately she is the one who is getting him into all of this trouble. Why should it be his responsibility to stop two gangs single handily? That’s just very hard to do and so she definitely takes some of the blame for the ending as well. Anita was a more selfless character if anything as she put aside her feelings to help Maria time and time again despite knowing that this was a bad idea. Her character arc is definitely one of the most tragic ones as she ends up losing almost everything with nothing to gain.

There are quite a few songs here, but they aren’t very catchy in comparison to other musicals. The “Keep it cool” song was very surreal though and was fun in an ironic way. It was cool to see the characters dancing around silently in the garage. The dancing was handled pretty well in general. The opening scene might have been a little slow with all of the clicking and silent moving, but it did ultimately lead to a fun little confrontation. The film is at its best when it tries to throw a little humor around like with the skit that I mentioned earlier.

The serious moments don’t work nearly as well. This includes the romance which ends up being more annoying than anything. One such scene is when the characters are meeting by the balcony. Both of them make a lot of noise considering that they are supposed to be doing this in total secrecy. Then you have the ending which definitely doesn’t work for me either. At the very least you would expect Maria to take a shot. Knocking out both gangs would have been very interesting.

Really, this film wasn’t very good from start to finish, but what really made it cross the line into distasteful territory was the scene of the gang attacking Anita. It’s the straw that broke the film’s back so to speak. This is just a very mean spirited film which is almost surprising after you’ve seen the first few scenes since you would expect it to be fairly happy. The tone just shifts throughout which is impressive, but ultimately it did not work in the movie’s favor this time.

Overall, I would recommend staying away from West Side Story. Not only is it a fairly bad film, but it really drags on. The run time is incredibly long and that’s mainly because the pacing is so slow. You can go through long periods of the film with absolutely nothing happening and that’s never a good sign. If you want to go watch a good musical then I recommend watching Footloose. At least that one has the iconic hero song which works well to this day.

Overall 1/10

Footloose Review


It’s time to look at one of the most influential musicals of the old days. This film redefined the genre as we know it and brought in some good tunes. It’s a little better than I would have expected although it still does make enough wrong turns to keep it from being real solid. Fans of the musical genre should get a kick out of it and at the very least you will enjoy the soundtrack.

The film starts off with a kid named Ren who moves into a new town with his mother. This town is pretty well insulated from the rest of society as they have decided to come up with their own rules. One of them is that dancing is now banned within town limits and everyone must only do things that are deemed acceptable by the adults. The council is only made up of old adults so these limitations end up being quite strict on the town including a curfew although this is just a “suggestion” and not a law unlike the dancing one. Ren is quickly shown the fact that he is not wanted in the town as everyone bands against him and he decides that he can save the town with dancing. He will have to endure a lot of oppression both physically and emotionally as the town bands together against him, but he does have one friend in Willard and that will have to be enough.

The town definitely appears to be quite corrupt and unfair to Ren right from the start. I’m not too surprised at this though because I feel like a lot of towns probably would not have liked newcomers back in the day. It does get to be a bit much though when they start framing him for drugs, fights, broken property, etc. It seems like the teens were already rebellious before Ren showed up so I don’t see why his presence accelerated it so much. Take the early scene where Ariel and the other kids went to the fast food place and got caught by her father Shaw. They were all rebelling and dancing and this was completely without Ren’s influence. They always seemed a bit rowdy and Ren just took the fall for this.

I suppose they just wanted a scape goat though and in that sense this did work out. Ren’s a pretty reasonable character for the most part. One thing I do like a lot is the fact that he stands up for himself. A lot of other characters would have simply retreated or tried to move out, but Ren confronts the bullies directly. He doesn’t back down and I suppose it does help that he is physically fit which is why he can’t be intimidated so easily. He does really well in the final fight and he did ace the game of chicken even if the situation was forced on him. The guy’s a solid lead.

Then you have Shaw who is the main antagonist. He starts out as a preacher who seems to have the town’s best interests at heart, but slowly it seems to become more of an issue of pride, which his wife exposes. I like the idea of the character, but by the end you definitely won’t be on his side even a little bit. For the most part he keeps his emotions in check, but he does lose it with Ariel once and isn’t always all that open to dialogue. I would argue that a lot of this is also Ariel’s fault for the lack of communication, but she is the kid in this context so it is really up to Shaw to take the high road. Striking Ariel under any circumstance was not that right path.

Then you have Ariel who is the main heroine, but I can’t say that I liked her all that much. She seems to be playing the field with everyone in the village so right away she doesn’t seem very faithful. She is very quick to try to get together with various people and that’s why I’m glad Ren played hard to get for a little while at least. I don’t think they should have gotten together at all to be honest as that romance just didn’t work. By the end of the film Ariel starts to get a little better and this is all clearly rebellion against her father, but it does happen at the expense of her character. After a while your motivation becomes less important and you just have to consider how much damage you’re doing.

Her early scene was already a red flag as she nearly gets a few other teens murdered by pulling a really dumb stunt with a few cars. She definitely had no regard for their safety and I feel like their friendship should have ended after that. The characters never really appear again after that so maybe they did distance themselves a bit. It’s hard to say though.

Then you’ve got her current boyfriend who is the bully of the school. The guy’s just not a good person and relishes his various power trips. He definitely gets a beating by the end of the film in the solid action scene. Considering how skilled Ren appears to be it isn’t surprising that he claimed the win. Bullies usually spend a lot of time talking and likely don’t have the discipline to stick with a professional fighting style for long.

Willard is Ren’s main friend and he does pretty good. He may not know how to dance, but Ren works on fixing that pretty quick. He also does good to stick to his deal of no fighting for as long as possible, but depending on the situation that simply isn’t possible. If a group of guys are attacking you then you’ve simply got to make a move. Ren certainly didn’t hesitate and Willard quickly joined him there. Fights can be defensive and if the heroes didn’t fight back things would have gotten ugly.

There are quite a few songs here but the big one is definitely the “I need a hero” song. There are a ton of “Hero” songs out there and originally I thought that the skillet version was just a remix or vice verse as opposed to being totally different. It’s definitely got a retro vibe to it and the song she’s well to this day. It definitely makes the tractor scene a little more hype then it would have been otherwise. I do prefer the song selection here to Dirty Dancing and in general I would say that the film was a big improvement. I know these tend to be rivals and I’ve definitely got my pick here.

The film can be pretty surreal and the characters are fun, but ultimately the romance does hurt it quite a bit. It doesn’t help that I really didn’t like Ariel, but the whole town basically being villains was also annoying after a while. A missed opportunity here was not seeing more of the Mom. I imagine she was feeling a lot of the backlash as well and this is hinted at when she is fired from her job which was likely the latest instance of this. Surprisingly she has no presence in the film and I would have liked to have seen her defend Ren more. Why they even moved in with these other guys is beyond me. I think the film briefly touched on it at the beginning, but none of them seem particularly nice so it’s a rough situation.

I’m also not sold on the writing. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but it came across as a little cheesy in some areas, but half heartedly. It wasn’t exactly Adam West Batman or the old creature feature films. The character lines just felt like something nobody would say at times like when Ren tried to explain why he is doing this in the first place. It was all pretty vague.

Overall, Footloose has its moments and is definitely a powerful musical title. I did like some of the songs (particularly Hero) and it also had a solid character cast to back it up. The heroine and some of the supporting characters hold it back along with some missed opportunities on the film’s part, but if you like musicals a lot then this is for you. I’d be interesting to see a remake of this. I could see big improvements in some areas, but some would be hard to top. You don’t really see floaty fight scenes like these quite as much anymore. The film struck a good balance between being realistic and quick without being too gritty or drawn out. It was a dancing fight scene to an extent although not as dramatic as West Side Story which I will get onto pretty soon.

Overall 5/10

It’s A Bikini World Review


It’s time to look at another beach movie. These don’t tend to be all that good so I don’t think you’ll be surprised to hear that this one didn’t exactly hit it out of the park. Interesting the main plot is something that I’ve already seen twice recently so that didn’t really help matters either. I suppose it’s the kind of plot that all of the writers want to take a shot at during their careers, but you really don’t need to give it a try. Having the movie take place on the beach doesn’t help much either.

The film starts off with the characters hanging out on the beach as per usual. They’re surfing and all until a new girl arrives on the beach for a visit. Her name is Delilah and Mike decides that he wants to hang with her. She won’t give him the time of day though because he is generally not a great guy and is always going from one girl to the next. He’s currently with 5-6 different girls as it is. Mike won’t take no for an answer though and decides to pretend that he’s a kid named Herbert who happens to be Mike’s nerdy brother. In this form he gets along with Delilah, but things get complicated when Delilah decides to try and compete with Mike in a lot of big competitions. Can Mike manage to be in two places at once and also keep the deception up? It’ll be difficult, but the main thing is that we’ll be rooting against him.

That’s the tough part with these beach movies. How can the film work when you’re actively rooting against the main character? Mike is everything that’s wrong with the beach movies. He’s always going from girl to girl and has no sense of loyalty about him. Even by the end he starts a big montage about how he’s free once his secret is out and it seems like he’ll be going back to his old roots. Hopefully Delilah doesn’t actually fall for this and gets out as soon as possible. It’s just a bad idea to hang out with Mike for very long.

As for Delilah, she’s a nice character but you kind of know how her plot will end from the start which is a bit of a damper. Really Delilah should be able to stay by her lonesome without having to get a partner and it’d be nice if she could actually beat Mike. Unfortunately that never happens and Mike just keeps on winning throughout the film. It does make sense since a few days of training won’t be able to stop years of it, but you end up feeling bad for Delilah. Nobody seems all that sympathetic either since everyone else likes Mike. It is his home field court so that makes sense I suppose.

Then you’ve got Woody who is the exaggerated comic relief character. He’s basically around to keep getting Mike in trouble. The guy can’t pick up a hint, but at the same time I wonder why Mike would even be remotely surprised because he’s surely been living with this for years by now right? He’s got to know what kind of guy Woody is and I think he didn’t plan things out right. Meanwhile Woody’s friend doesn’t like that he keeps having her cook the meals and pay the bill, but the way their plot ends is pretty bad. Woody’s just not the kind of guy you want to have around and while his silly type of humor can be decent, in this case it ended up falling flat.

As per usual the film also loses a bunch of points due to the poor writing, bad romance, and fanservice throughout the film. As far as beach movies go it isn’t nearly as bad in the last area as some others, but I ultimately still gotta give it a thumbs down here. There’s not a whole lot of substance to the film so it can’t really hold its own for very long at all. The film could and should have ended way sooner than it did.

One such instance of this is seen in the final challenge exhibition. There are like 15 rounds and it’s the characters doing everything from driving to hitchhiking to swimming. There’s no rhyme or reason to the sports though and winning each individual segment doesn’t even seem to matter. It should at least give you a head start to the next event or something, but that didn’t seem to be the case. I don’t think the film thought that part through and probably should have done something else for the climax.

The subplot of the photographer and the editor helping in the event also didn’t really matter at all. They don’t impact the plot one way or the other and were likely just here to set up the final race. The grownups in these films are rarely all that good but I guess that’s not saying much since the whole cast is pretty suspect in general. What the film needs is a bunch of other supporting characters in a New York subplot far away from the Beach. Something to distract you from what’s actually happening.

Overall, It’s a Bikini World basically checks all of the boxes for a beach movie and that’s not a good thing in this case. There’s nothing particularly compelling about this movie nor is there any reason to actually stick around. It’s just a movie that feels very long and will remind you why people don’t go to the beach very often anymore. I’ve gone once, but opted not to go into the water because of that virus going around lately. Sometimes it’s best to just play it safe and dodge the risks much like you’ll want to dodge this film. I guarantee that you’ll have a better time with just about any other title.

Overall 2/10