Godmothered (2020, Directed by Sharon Maguire) English 6

Starring Isla Fisher, Jillian Bell, Jane Curtin, June Squibb, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Santiago Cabrera, Stephnie Weir, Utkarsh Ambudkar

Godmothered Trailer Looks Like A Spiritual Successor To Enchanted

(6-Good Film)

Pleasant. Amusing. Satisfying.

Tagline: Be careful who you wish for.

Inspired (quite conspicuously) by Disney’s earlier hit, Enchanted, and Will Ferrell’s Elf, Godmothered attempts to put a similarly modern touch on the classic Princess fairy tale formula. Jillian Bell plays Eleanor, a fairy godmother-in-training. Belief in magic has greatly diminished in recent years and the fairy godmothers aren’t doing too well. They’re running out of business and appear destined to close shop and restart as tooth fairies. Eleanor runs away on a last ditch effort to save fairy godmothers by helping a widowed mother, Mackenzie (Fisher), find her happily-ever-after. Godmothered has a solid foundation of sweetness and goodwill to carry it along. The cast is full of charming people. It’s a lovely, colorful film, but it’s light on laughs and fairly conventional even with its modern touches and ideas on relationships (again, because it’s so much like Elf). Ultimately, though, this is a nice movie and an enjoyable one.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Mulan (2020, Directed by Niki Caro) English 4

Starring Liu Yifei, Yoson An, Gong Li, Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee, Tzi Ma, Rosalind Chao, Ron Yuan

What Time Will Mulan Be on Disney Plus? How To Watch With Premiere Access

(4-Bad Film)

Inferior. Misguided. Dreary.

Mulan: Yes… I will bring honor to us all.

If you asked me ten years ago for one classic Disney animated film that could be interesting as a live-action remake, Mulan would likely have been my choice. The original is one of my favorites of all Disney films but I feel (or felt) that there was plenty of directions its story could go. It didn’t need to be a carbon-copy of the original to work. The folks at Disney obviously agreed and this new Mulan, Mulan 2020, is, in a lot of ways, a new film; its own film. Unfortunately, it’s not a very good film. Mulan 2020 starts out the same. She takes her aging father’s place in defending the country. The enemy is different, however. China’s facing Rouran warriors being manipulated by a vengeful witch (Li). Most people would have probably preferred that it recycle what worked so well in the animated version (catchy songs, colorful adventure, funny characters like Mushu, and light romance between Mulan and Li Sheng). I like the initiative to make something different, but every choice seems like a slap in the face to the original. It feels like the filmmakers were embarrassed by the original and spend the majority of this movie catering to China (turns out China hates it too). Everything is described as an effort to be “more historically accurate.” They forgot to make it entertaining. Everything that was fun about the first film is gone now. What’s left is dreary (and somehow still campy at the same time). There is nothing wrong with musical fantasies. I can’t believe Disney tried to make a fantasy “more realistic.”

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Quest for Camelot (1998, Directed by Frederik Du Chau) English 4

Voices of Cary Elwes, Jessalyn Gilsig, Gary Oldman, Pierce Brosnan, Eric idle, Don Rickles, Jane Seymour, Sir John Gielgud, Jaleel White, Gabriel Byrne

WarnerBros.com | Quest for Camelot | Movies

(4-Bad Film)

Smarmy. Unpolished. Cookie-Cutter.

King Arthur: You have reminded us that the strength of a kingdom is not based on the strength of the king, but on the strength of its people.

Even by the late ’90s, Disney still had a monopoly on mainstream animation. Competitors had cropped up. Don Bluth, mainly. Dreamworks was up and coming (they released the fantastic Prince of Egypt this same year), and Warner Bros. was trying their hand at reestablishing themselves as animation giants. Quest for Camelot comes off the heels of Cats Don’t Dance, a film I liked, and spins a fresh tale around the legend of King Arthur and his sword, Excalibur. Kayley’s (Gilsig) father is a knight of the famed round table-loyal and brave-but he dies trying to protect the king from a power-mad, Ruber (Oldman). Once Excalibur is lost, it’s up to Kayley to retrieve it with the help of a blind swordsman, Garrett (Elwes), and a double-headed dragon, Devon and Cornwall (Idle and Rickles). As a passionate fan of King Arthur’s tales, I believe there’s plenty of material here for a good film and I like many of the ideas floating through Quest for Camelot. So naturally with a movie this subpar, it’s all in the execution. Its chief sin? The music is god-awful. Beyond that, everything else is simply mediocre and a couple of notches below the immense standards Disney was setting at the time.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Cats (2019, Directed by Tom Hooper) English 4

Starring Judi Dench, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Jason Derulo, Francesca Hayward, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, James Corden, Rebel Wilson, Laurie Davidson, Ray Winstone, Robbie Fairchild

Cats review: The movie Cats doesn't even know what the musical is about -  Vox

(4-Bad Film)

Senseless. Unappealing. Puzzling.

Old Deuteronomy: [to Victoria] I believe you truly are a Jellicle cat, a dellicle cat.

Oscar-winning director, Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), brings Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking musical, Cats, to the big-screen with an A-list cast and the budget of a blockbuster epic. How did this go so wrong? As someone who has never seen Cats on stage, I admit that it’s unfair to judge it based on this universally-panned adaptation, but I couldn’t see any appeal in this material. A house cat, Victoria (Hayward), wanders out into the streets to find a strange world of cats, known as “Jellicles,” competing for the distinction of being named “the Jellicle Choice” at the annual “Jellicle Ball.” This amounts to a lot of random characters introducing themselves through song and dance. A lot of the blame and criticism went to Hooper, as the director (goes with the job), but what is Cats about? What is the point of this bizarre spectacle? The characters are hard to distinguish, the music is repetitive, and it’s one of the most nonsensical works I have ever seen.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Over the Moon (2020, Directed by Glen Keane) English 5

Voices of Phillipa Soo, Ken Jeong, Sandra Oh, John Cho, Kimiko Glenn, Cathy Ang, Margaret Cho, Ruthie Ann Miles

Netflix's 'Over the Moon' is an animated musical from Glen Keane - Insider

(5-Okay Film)

Pleasant. Diverting. Derivative.

Fei Fei: When she cries, her tears turn to stardust.

Fei Fei is a young Chinese girl whose mother died and is now upset to find her father (John Cho) remarried. Smitten with the tale of the moon goddess, Chang’e (Soo), that was told to her by her late mother, and eager to escape her home life that now involves a step-mother and brother, Fei Fei builds a rocket that will take her to the moon, where she can hopefully meet the goddess. Positives first: this is a nicely animated film with a culture we rarely see in American films. On top of that, a young girl dealing with the death of her mother and learning to love her new family is a good foundation for a film. I’m surprised, however, that no one seems to notice how similar Over the Moon is to the vastly superior film, Up. I don’t consider it a deadly sin for a movie to borrow from another, but it does lose a great deal of its power by not being fresh. Look at the broad strokes of both films: the main character is in mourning, builds a home-made aircraft, meets and gets disappointed by his/her idol, has an annoying stowaway, meets a friendly, overly chatty dog along the way. It’s blatant to me. This story and its elements aren’t as interesting the second time around.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009, Directed by David Yates) English 8

Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith, David Thewlis, Julie Walters, Timothy Spall, Jim Broadbent

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - (500) Days of Summer - Death in  Love -- New York Magazine Movie Review - Nymag

(8-Exceptional Film)

Exciting. Intriguing. Satisfying.

Professor Minerva McGonagall: [to Harry, Ron, & Hermione] Why is it, when something happens, it is always you three?

After all that Harry’s done and been through, you would think his friends could give him the benefit of the doubt. I thought about this through most of The Half-Blood Prince, the sixth installment, as Harry (Radcliffe) tries to warn anyone who will listen that Draco Malfoy is now a Death Eater and planning something. His warnings fall on deaf ears. Elsewhere, Harry deals with his blossoming feelings for Ron’s sister, Ginny, and is given the difficult task from Dumbledore (Gambon) of prying into Hogwart’s new Potions teacher, Professor Slughorn’s past. This is one of the most entertaining Harry Potter films with a healthy dose of humor, thanks in large part to Jim Broadbent’s Slughorn, and an abundance of romantic intrigue. I do wonder if certain plot points make sense to those who haven’t read the books. Certain elements feel rushed (it’s unavoidable having to condense such a lengthy novel into a film of reasonable length), but, overall, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a job well-done.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Bao (2018, Directed by Domee Shi) English 5

In need of some Christmas feels? You can watch Pixar's 'Bao ...

(5-Okay Film)

Bizarre. Original. Confusing.

Back in the summer of 2018, I eagerly went to see The Incredibles 2 the first opportunity I had. Anxiously, I ran into the theater 15 minutes late, hoping I hadn’t missed any of the movie. I hadn’t, but I did miss the first half of this insane Pixar short called Bao. If you’ve seen Bao, imagine only seeing the second half, and how confusing that would be. Rewatching it, or finally watching it in its entirety, I discovered it does actually make sense, though it’s still rather bizarre. A middle-aged Chinese woman living in Canada cooks dumplings and watches as one comes to life, which she in turn raises as her son. The years pass and the dumpling grows up and has its own life, causing hard feelings between the over-protective mother and her dumpling son. I spent so much time focusing on whether Bao would make sense or have a point (it does, on both counts) that I wasn’t able to enjoy the ride, if you will. It’s all very strange, from the animation to the story. Perhaps this demonstrates a lack of empathy on my part, but this isn’t my story, and a mother sad that her son is moving on didn’t resonate with me, at least, the way it’s told here.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(998)

Naked Lunch (1991, Directed by David Cronenberg) English 5

Starring Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Roy Scheider, Julian Sands, Monique Mercure, Nicholas Campbell

(5-Okay Film)

Grimy. Disturbing. Superficial.

Bill Lee: Exterminate all rational thought. That is the conclusion I have come to.

With this adaptation of William S. Burrough’s drug-influenced classic, I’m not sure where brilliant ends and pointless begins. The author’s alter ego, William Lee (Weller), an exterminator with an insecticide addled mind, drifts in and out of Interzone on a top secret mission delivered to him by a talking typewriter. Bizarre, shocking, always interesting, there is greatness on display scattered throughout this film. That it is wholly unenjoyable is, to some, beside the point. Cronenberg is a master at effects, but this film falls short in terms of affect. There are some truly horrific, memorable moments, and yet, I felt nothing.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(990)

I’ll Never Forget You (1951, Directed by Roy Ward Baker) English 6

Starring Tyrone Power, Ann Blyth, Michael Rennie, Irene Browne, Dennis Price, Beatrice Campbell, Kathleen Byron

Screenshots - I'll Never Forget You

(6-Good Film)

Romantic. Sentimental. Imaginative.

Roger Forsyth: You’re sort of a mystery man even to your friends.

Peter Standish (Power) is a brilliant scientist. Unhappy in his own time, he dedicates his life and research to traveling back through the centuries to the 1700s, just after the revolutionary war, specifically. Eventually, he succeeds but finds that life in 18th century England is not at all what he expected, and his love life is complicated by the kind, understanding Helen Pettigrew (Blyth). It’s beyond me why anyone would think that life would be better in the 18th century, but this is a romantic fantasy not meant to be analyzed to death. The conceit is more or less an excuse to turn the film into a costume drama. Tyrone Power, matinee idol for the ages, is convincing as the fish out of water and romantic lead. The romance is sweet if treacly, and the story is light and compelling.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(986)

Ice Age: Collision Course (2016, Directed by Mike Thurmeier) English 5

Voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Keke Palmer, Adam Devine, Jessie J, Simon Pegg, Wanda Sykes, Nick Offerman, Seann William Scott, Max Greenfield, Stephanie Beatriz, Michael Strahan, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jennifer Lopez

Ice Age Collision Course – Animated, Comedy, F, UncategorizedTexas ...

(5-Okay Film)

Stale. Mediocre. Uninteresting.

Buck: The mother of all asteroids, screaming towards us. But I got a plan! Who’s with me?

Ice Age is the epitome of milking a franchise until the well runs dry. After the first one, which was charming and felt fresh at the time, each inevitable sequel has been about the same basic quality; not painful, but mediocre. Instead of fresh new ideas, Ice Age returns each time with one or two new characters voiced by some celebrity earning an easy payday (how much did Jennifer Lopez get paid for her three lines in this movie?). This, the fifth installment, follows Manny, Sid, Diego, and company as their world around them collapses (didn’t this happen already? I forget). Meteors are coming. Their unconventional herd looks to Buck (Pegg) and his eccentric plan to save them.  It’s a pretty busy but nondescript 1hour and 20 minutes. Not a miserable time but not a good time either.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(984)