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Movie Review: The Lion King (2019)
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The Lion King

The Lion King
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Jeff Nathanson
Cast: Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, James Earl Jones
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios
Rated PG | Minutes: 118
Release Date: July 19, 2019

When it comes to Disney animated films, The Lion King is considered to be one of the studio’s shining crown jewels. Released 25 years ago, the film raised the bar on animation and storytelling so high that it made it nearly impossible for any other animated feature from other studios to come close to its quality and standards. As such, there is no denying the film’s place within the Disney animation pantheon.

We then flash forward to 2019, when director Jon Favreau took the lessons that he learned from making the live-action The Jungle Book, and used tools and techniques to tell a beloved story in a new way that is visually bold and striking. Backed by a terrific voice cast including Donald Glover, Beyoncé Knowles, Billy Eichner, and Seth Rogen, The Lion King roars with astounding pride. But as great as it is and how respectful it is to honor the original, this reimagining’s major issue is that it takes too little risk to separate itself from its animated counterpart. This new take matches the story almost beat for beat. However, the new cast gives it a refreshing spin, and the visuals help audiences see the film from a completely new perspective. My full review below.

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Movie Review: Midsommar
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Midsommar

Midsommar
Director: Ari Aster
Writer: Ari Aster
Cast: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Archie Madekwe, Ellora Torchia, Will Poulter
Distributor: A24
Rated R | Minutes: 147
Release Date: July 3, 2019

Hereditary writer and director Ari Aster‘s Midsommar reminds us that, even though his films are redefining the genre, they aren’t for everybody. For his sophomore effort, he creates a world that on the surface looks bright and colorful, but deep down, hides something that is bizarre, strange, and visceral.

It is certainly a stark contrast to what he offered in his directorial debut in terms of vision and tone, but one that can be imbalanced because of its use of black comedy and an uneven narrative. Still, it is one trip that isn’t conventional and scares audiences to their core with the use of shocking imagery and terrific pacing. Check out my review below.

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Movie Review: Yesterday
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Yesterday

Yesterday
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Richard Curtis
Cast: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Kate McKinnon, Ed Sheeran
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Rated PG-13 | Minutes: 157
Release Date: June 28, 2019

A world where The Beatles do not exist would be a strange one. But it is one small part of the entire premise of the fantastical romantic comedy Yesterday. Directed by Danny Boyle and written by Richard Curtis, the film explores such a world where only one man remembers the music of The Beatles, and how his life will dramatically change. But underneath such a simple premise lies a sweet love story and a quandary of what would happen if you had all that knowledge yet you knew that it wasn’t truly your work.

Though it may be narratively flawed by not fully exploring an interesting concept and plays it safe at times with the rom-com aspects, Yesterday relies on the direction of Boyle and Curtis’s script – though their voices may inadvertently clash at times – along with Lily James‘ cheery performance to carry the film all the way to end. My full review below.

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Movie Review: Child’s Play (2019)
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Child's Play Reboot

Child’s Play (2019)
Directed by Lars Klevberg
Written by Tyler Burton Smith
Starring Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, Mark Hamill
Orion Pictures
Rated R | 90 minutes
Release date: June 21, 2019

The 1988 Tom Holland/Don Mancini Child’s Play took a ridiculous premise and elevated it to classic horror status thanks to a great cast, tremendous practical effects, and Brad Dourif’s iconic voice acting as Chucky. While that franchise continues to find new life on Blu-ray and TV, director Lars Klevberg and Orion rebooted the killer doll franchise with a movie that many hate and rip on general principle. Yet it’s perhaps thanks to having zero expectations that the updated Child’s Play is really freaking entertaining.

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Movie Review: Toy Story 4
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TOY STORY 4

Toy Story 4
Director: Josh Cooley
Writer: Stephany Folsom, Andrew Stanton
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Ally Maki, Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Rated G | Minutes: 100
Release Date: June 21, 2019

It has been an incredible journey for the Toy Story gang. Though Toy Story 3 is hailed as one of the best of the franchise, many questioned the need to have another sequel about Woody and Buzz. Well, everything seen and heard in Toy Story 4 validates that need.

An emotionally and visually beautiful epilogue to Pixar’s flagship films, Toy Story 4 takes some bold risks by inserting heavy themes and thrusts beloved characters into unfamiliar territory. By doing so, we get to see these treasured characters in a whole new light and are given even more reasons to continue loving them. Most importantly, the film continues to have all the heart and the humor that the franchise is known for. Check out my full review here below.

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Movie Review: Ma
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Ma Trailer Header

Ma
Director: Tate Taylor
Writer: Scotty Landes, Tate Taylor
Cast: Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis, Diana Silvers, Luke Evans, McKaley Miller, Missi Pyle, Corey Fogelmanis, Marjay Ross, Gianni Paolo, Dante Brown
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Rated R | Minutes: 99
Release Date: May 31, 2019

Ma can be seen as a cautionary tale about horrible teens doing horrible things because they are horrible people whose actions will have dire repercussions. The reality of this is that when a bully’s actions go unpunished, it is only a matter of time before the sins of the past come back to haunt the person. It’s a pretty sound premise for a horror film.

The only problem is, Ma lacks structure, balance, and cannot figure out what exactly it wants to be because it feels like there are two separate films going on at once. Director Tate Taylor’s latest effort brings out the best in Octavia Spencer, who plays the titular character, but she’s surrounded by characters who lack depth. My full review below.

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Movie Review: Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
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Godzilla: King Of The Monsters

Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Director: Michael Dougherty
Writer: Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields
Cast: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, Zhang Ziyi
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Rated PG-13 | Minutes: 132
Release Date: May 31, 2019

No matter how many times Godzilla is rebooted, the Kaiju is revered as one of the most iconic cinematic characters in history. And despite his lack of presence in the 2014 westernized telling, his fame remained as powerful as ever. Mostly because Godzilla is much more than a giant reptile destroying cities with his giant footsteps and atomic flames, but he serves as a reminder of the dangers of what could happen should human arrogance transcend nature. It’s a theme that continues to echo in each new telling, no matter the generation.

Now those themes come into the picture once more in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, in which man’s arrogance and inability to comprehend what they are unleashing is a reflection of the times that we live in today. And yet, even with those dark and very human themes, the sequel still remembers that it is a giant monster movie that sees Godzilla clash with rivals and nemeses like Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah. Check out my full review below.

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Movie Review: Aladdin
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Aladdin

Aladdin
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writer: Guy Ritchie, John August
Cast: Will Smith, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Alan Tudyk, Billy Magnussen
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios
Rated PG | Runtime: 128 Minutes
Release Date: May 24, 2019

There is absolutely no room for error when it comes to adapting a Disney animated classic into a live-action film. The studio has recently found some modest critical and commercial success with some of their titles. But the one common thread that each of them shares is that all of them are a part of a legacy and each has a large existing fanbase. So the bar of expectation for a live-action take on Aladdin is pretty high. Especially when it comes to capturing the same spirit of the story, themes, and music. But most of all, the characters, like Aladdin, Jasmine, and the unforgettable Genie.

Luckily, Guy Ritchie‘s take on the film is something that stays true to the spirit of the animated original while still maintaining his style of filmmaking. A huge surprise at best, the film captures everything that we love about the animated original through its cast, especially with Will Smith‘s Genie and Naomi Scott‘s scene-stealing performance as Princess Jasmine. With some slight updates to the story and songs, along with a brand new song from Alan Menken, this version of Aladdin is an upbeat and fun contemporary take on the 1992 original.

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Movie Review: A Dog’s Journey
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A Dog's Journey

A Dog’s Journey
Director: Gail Mancuso
Writer: W. Bruce Cameron, Audrey Wells, Wallace Wolodarsky, Cathryn Michon, Maya Forbes
Cast: Josh Gad, Dennis Quaid, Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Kathryn Prescott, Henry Lau
Distributor: Universal Studios
Rated PG | Minutes: 108
Release Date: May 17, 2019

Going into a film like A Dog’s Journey, you can expect to be a little bit overcome with emotion and sentimentality. It’s going to be the kind of thing that plays well with dog owners as it speaks to the nature of how much they care for their beloved companions. A love letter to dog owners at best, its strength lies in presenting that care and love on screen. With the help of obvious manipulation and engineered emotional triggers, this sequel to 2017’s A Dog’s Purpose uses these canines to hit all the sweet spots that will have anyone, even the cynics, shed some tears.

Just don’t expect to share that some love or concern for some of its one-dimensional characters. Check out my full review below.

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Movie Review: Avengers: Endgame
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Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writer: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Rated PG-13 | Minutes: 181
Release Date: April 26, 2019

It wouldn’t be the least bit cliche to say that all good things must come to an end. For Marvel Studios, all roads that have been paved by the last 21 movies in the last 11 years have led up to Avengers: Endgame. What directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo have done is truly indescribable. It’s a true gift to the fans who have been a part of this journey since 2008. To put it simply, it is the epic conclusion to an 11-year story arc.

Filled with a wide range of emotions from joy, sorrow, laughter, and excitement, Avengers: Endgame will surely go down as one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. Check out my full review below.

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