Dragonball: Evolution (2009, Directed by James Wong) English 3

Starring Justin Chatwin, Jamie Chung, Emmy Rossum, Chow Yun-fat, James Marsters, Joon Park, Randall Duk Kim, Ernie Hudson, Megumi Seki

15 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Dragonball Evolution – IFC

(3-Horrible Film)

Inept. Lame. Childish.

Goku: Teach me, how to talk to a girl. I mean, I’m different, and everyone at school can see that, teach me how to get a girl, how to be smooth… how to be normal!

Evil Lord Piccolo returns to Earth after millenniums emprisoned. He seeks the seven magic Dragonballs that grant the owner one wish. The young, powerful hero, Goku (Chatwin), teams up with Bulma (Rossum), Chi-Chi (Chung), Yamcha (Park), and Master Roshi (Yun-fat) to unite the Dragonballs before Lord Piccolo can get to them and unleash his minion, Ōzaru. This is not a good film. The immediate comparison is The Last Airbender because the two movies vie for worst adaptation of something great in film history. Like The Last Airbender, Dragonball: Evolution feels like it was made by people who didn’t even like the source material. They hack it to bits. Here, at least, the characters’ names are the same (this much is not true of The Last Airbender). It’s not a painful watch, unlike a number of terrible films, but it’s consistently poor, juvenile, and unexciting.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(948)

The Tai Chi Master (1993, Directed by Yuen Woo-ping) Cantonese 6

Starring Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, Chin Siu-ho, Fennie Yuen, Yuen Cheung-yan, Lau Shun, Yu Hai

Tai Chi Master 1993 – Enter the Dragon

(6-Good Film)

Action-packed. Uneven. Frenetic.

Junbao: The past is what makes up who we are. Don’t let it become your burden.

Junbao (Li) and Tienbo (Siu-ho) grow up together as brothers in a Shaolin Temple studying as monks in the ways of martial arts. After the generally misbehaving pair are expelled, they move out into the world and see first-hand their new town’s rampant corruption. Junbao joins a group of rebels in response, while Tienbo lusts for power and joins the soldiers. Shocked by Tienbo’s betrayal, Junbao loses his mind and it’s up to his new friends, Siu-lin (Yeoh), for one, to help him find himself in time to master Tai Chi and save the people. This is a fast, fun action flick with a heavy dose of legend and history mixed in. There’s always a bit of a bizarre acclimation process that goes on when I watch these Hong Kong action epics-the flying, the defying of physics, what-have-you. I know we, of course, have fantasy in western culture but I’m never quite prepared for it. I think maybe because films like this one look so grounded in history and reality. The action scenes are well-done, showing off the impossible speed of its performers, particularly its star Jet Li, naturally. The story, however, falls short of the epicness it strives for and underuses its supporting cast.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(945)

Onward (2020, Directed by Dan Scanlon) English 6

Voices of Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Octavia Spencer, Ali Wong, John Ratzenberger, Tracey Ullman, Wilmer Valderrama

Pixar's 'Onward' on Disney Plus: The perfect family film to stream ...

(6-Good Film)

Reliable. Promising. Disappointing.

Wilden Lightfoot: Long ago, the world was full of wonder. It was adventurous. It was exciting. And most of all, there was magic.

In an alternate universe closely resembling our own, mythical creatures like elves, pixies, and dwarves have let magic go from the world and are instead reliant on technology and modern invention to get them through their lives. Brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot (voiced by Holland and Pratt), live in a suburban corner of this world. They have very relatable problems. Barley’s out of high school and seems reluctant to leave the nest, still living with his mother. Ian lacks confidence. When they discover a magical object that could have the power to bring their deceased father back (for one day), they set out on a quest to find a rare gem needed to complete the process. Onward is solid, sure-footed filmmaking with an ending that strikes the right note. It’s more than anything a film about two brothers bonding, and succeeds in that respect, but I don’t love this film. Full marks for an original premise but the animation giant that is Pixar usually shoots for the moon and Onward doesn’t. It’s more than happy to follow the well-trodden path of family pictures that have come before it.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(928)

Holes (2003, Directed by Andrew Davis) English 7

Starring Shia LaBeouf, Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voigt, Tim Blake Nelson, Khleo Thomas, Patricia Arquette, Henry Winkler, Dulé Hill, Eartha Kitt, Roma Maffia, Rick Fox, Siobhan Fallon Hogan

Holes is a Cinematic Masterpiece – The Blue & Gold

(7-Very Good Film)

Idiosyncratic. Faithful. Rich.

Madame Zeroni: If you forget to come back for Madame Zeroni, you and your family will be cursed for always and eternity!

Stanley Yelnats IV (LaBeouf) has been cursed since the day he was born. His whole family bears the curse, or at least the men, ever since Elya Yelnats failed to fulfill his end of a bargain with Madame Zeroni (Kitt) back in the old country. Now the youngest Stanley is headed to Camp Green Lake, an ironic name for a hellish juvenile delinquent program, where he’ll have to dig a hole (5 feet by 5 feet) every day for the next 18 months, and did I mention he didn’t even commit the crime that he’s sentenced for? Holes is a faithful adaptation of a classic novel I read as a child. I was enchanted with its sense of mystery, foreshadowing, adventure, dark humor and thrills. It’s certainly a favorite of mine and the movie absolutely does it justice. Shia LaBeouf is a very natural performer and he’s surrounded by a tremendous cast of veteran actors.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Bedazzled (2000, Directed by Harold Ramis) English 5

Starring Brendan Fraser, Elizabeth Hurley, Frances O’Connor, Orlando Jones, Paul Adelstein, Toby Huss, Brian Doyle-Murray

Bedazzled (2000) – MUBI

(5-Okay Film)

Energetic. Wild. Amusing.

The Devil: I am the Devil! Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, the Prince of Darkness! Well, the Princ-ess of Darkness, anyway.

In true Faustian fashion, lonely, lovelorn Elliot Richards (Fraser) makes a deal with the devil; a very attractive devil portrayed by Elizabeth Hurley in various outfits. He gets seven wishes and she gets his soul. Pushing theology aside, and of course, this is a fantasy, the setup still doesn’t make a lot of sense. That’s mostly okay because it proves to be a good deal of fun. It’s more like W.W Jacob’s famous short story, The Monkey’s Paw. Elliot makes a wish and The Devil finds a way to make it horrible. The story unfolds episodically with each wish becoming its own chapter and the way in which The Devil ruins it being like a punchline to a joke. These episodes are pretty fun with Brendan Fraser playing a different absurd character in each one. All in all, Bedazzled is fun, often amusing, but not hilarious, and what does it say about me that I couldn’t help wanting Elliot Richards to romance The Devil? I wonder.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(919)

Muppet Treasure Island (1996, Directed by Brian Henson) English 6

Starring Tim Curry, Jennifer Saunders, Billy Connolly, Frank Oz, Steve Whitmire, Kevin Bishop

Muppet Treasure Island (1996) - Titlovi.com

(6-Good Film)

Irreverant. Vibrant. Enjoyable.

Rizzo: He died? And this is supposed to be a kids’ movie

Legendary creator, Jim Henson, had already been dead for several years but The Muppets were in good hands with his son Brian Henson. Muppet Treasure Island is a fun romp and musical mixed in with Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel. A young boy, Jim Hawkins (Bishop), sets sail on an adventure to find a long lost treasure with the help of his newly acquired map. The problem is, when there’s treasure involved, it’s hard to know whom you can trust. Along for the voyage are Long John Silver (Curry) and the crew he recommended. Kermit the Frog plays the ship’s captain. It’s all a lot of fun. If you love the characters of both the Muppets and Treasure Island as I do, then Muppet Treasure Island is a slam dunk. Not to be outdone, Tim Curry never holds back no matter how ridiculous the material.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(914)

Around the World in 80 Days (2004, Directed by Frank Coraci) English 6

Starring Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, Cécile de France, Jim Broadbent, Kathy Bates, Ian McNeice, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Rob Schneider, Ewen Bremner, Mark Addy, Will Forte

Around the World in 80 Days (Review) | Tars Tarkas.NET

(6-Good Film)

Goofy. Fun. Spectacle.

Phileas Fogg: One day, I will build a machine that will allow a man to fly!

Hollywood’s first big-budget adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic novel came in 1956 and boasted over 40 cameos from major stars including: Frank Sinatra, Buster Keaton, Red Skelton, and Marlene Dietrich, to name a few.  Hollywood’s second adaptation came in 2004 and may not come anywhere near its predecessor in terms of cameos, or success for that matter, but I think it’s better. Instead, it weaves in a goofy plot involving Chinese mercenaries so Jackie Chan can be the star and I say, “yes.” I love Jackie Chan and all of his adventures including his lesser, sillier exploits although I do think Around the World has some merit apart from any Chan devotion on my end. It’s a big-budget adventure with lots of colorful settings for one thing and it might not have made me laugh but I smiled throughout.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(913)