‘Onward’ Film Review

  Grade: B+

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Ratzenberger, Tracey Ullman, Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna, Wilmer Valderrama, Catherine Apple, Sharon Calahan, Grey Griffin, Chris Pratt, Kori Rae, Mel Rodriguez, Dan Scanlon, Octavia Spencer, Keith Bunin, Kyle Bornheimer, Noah Klocek, Lena Waithe, Adam Habib, Jason Headley, Tom Holland, Ali Wong, and George Psarras in Onward (2020)   With the Coronavirus epidemic hitting the United States as of late, and movie theaters closing up shop as a result. Films that have been released in the past few weeks have made the move from big screens to smaller, digital formats. Pixar’s newest feature, ‘Onward’ is one of those films. However, it is streaming on Disney+ as of Friday, April 3rd, which means if you have a subscription, you do not have to purchase it on your phone. Families can sit around the TV and watch the tale of two elf brothers as they go on a quest to bring back their father for a day.

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‘Horse Girl’ Film Review

Grade: C-

Alison Brie in Horse Girl (2020)  After watching ‘Horse Girl’, there is no doubt that you will be filled with so many questions. What happened? What did it all mean? What did I get out of it? Then, you end up going on Youtube to find some analysis’s to see if anything made sense. It is clear that this is one of those independent features that makes you think in frustration, all while admiring its technique and an unhinged performance by Alison Brie.

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Ad Astra: an average review

Per ardua ad astra

(Through adversity to the stars)

– Motto of the British Royal Air Force

Ad Astra is a movie that I believe would be perfect to start with for a new reviewer of cinema. It is very well shot with many gorgeous vistas, serviceable dialogue that got the point of the movie across, and it was a good reminder that it doesn’t need to be a sequel in a long, drawn out franchise in order to be an excellent film. If I were to sum up the movie with two words, it would be these: beautifully boring. Allow me to elaborate with a spoiler filled review. Continue reading “Ad Astra: an average review”

‘Jojo Rabbit’ Film Review

Grade: A-                                                                                                          

Sam Rockwell, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, Rebel Wilson, Thomasin McKenzie, and Roman Griffin Davis in Jojo Rabbit (2019)     You would never believe that a movie like ‘Jojo Rabbit’ would ever be made today, let alone become an Academy Award nominee. Its subject matter is portrayed in tasteless form; something that Mel Brooks could make, yet what separates ‘Jojo Rabbit’ from all the offensive satires is its heart to counteract its goofy nature. One moment, we get a parody of one of the most chilling times in WWII history, the next, we get an emotional drama that challenges stereotypes with a tale of an unlikely friendship between a ten-year-old boy training to be a part of Hitler’s army, and a Jewish girl he discovers in his sister’s basement.

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‘Parasite’ Film Review

Grade: A

Kang-ho Song, Hyun-jun Jung, Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Jo, and Woo-sik Choi in Gisaengchung (2019)It is that time of year again where I talk about the Oscar nominees for ‘Best Picture’. As always, my favorite time of year is awards season, which gives me the opportunity to catch as many nominees as I can before the big night happens. One of the films I have seen over the weekend was ‘Parasite’, a South-Koran comedy-thriller, of sorts, directed by Bong Joon-Ho (‘The Host’, ‘Snowpiercer’, ‘Okja’). It is a twisted, albeit depraved, look at the clash between the rich and poor; a wickedly brilliant satire that welcomes you into its devilish delights. It doesn’t just shock you, it also makes sure you have a good time until you get there.

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Black Fox – Mini Review

Lot of Hype, Regrettably Average

While Black Fox wasn’t the first to receive the simulcast treatment, we got to see this the same time Japanese theaters had it, it is the first time I’ve watched one. Namely because it isn’t tied to an existing franchise and it did look really cool. So when it got a fair bit of hype, I felt confident enough in checking it out. Unfortunately for me, and for Black Fox, the film is the definition of average.

All I knew about this movie coming into it was that it seemed to be about ninjas. When it opened up on a girl being chased by one, and knowing that the girl was clearly the main character, it wasn’t hard to figure out this was some kind of training. The sequence is really good, and in some ways, the best part of the film.

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This part felt somewhat tense, even when you are aware of the context. It truly was the best part of the film if you ask me.

You learn that the girl, Rikka, is expected to take up her grandfather’s legacy and lead the Isurugi clan when she comes of age. However, she has other plans. Her father is a scientist who makes cools stuff like animal drones that have human-like AI. Rikka would like nothing more than to follow in her father’s footsteps.

Flash-forward and Rikka has taken the first major step to achieving her dreams, even if it is to the disappointment of her grandfather, getting into the same school her father attended. Now she’s coming home to share the good news AND celebrate her birthday. Unfortunately, the past has come to haunt Rikka’s father, and I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you where this is going…

In that moment Rikka abandons her aspirations and takes up the blade to seek revenge on the man and all who took her family from her. Which would be cool, except the film abandons this idea in favor of exploring some themes of forgiveness and becoming your own person.

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She will become…

From my summary, you can probably already sense a big problem with the film. It’s predictable. So much so, that it almost feels like a paint by numbers for how to make a successful blockbuster hit. There’s not a single thing you shouldn’t be able to see coming a mile away, and that’s one of the biggest problems I have with Black Fox.

Outside the minor deviation from this just being a ninja movie to becoming something closer to a Spider-Man film, the whole thing is just one trope after another. While none of them are bad or hurt the integrity of the film, the lack of risk or innovation is sorely felt here.

My other gripe is that the whole “revenge” aspect of the film is completely abandoned. It makes sense when Rikka doesn’t kill the first guy she interacts with, but as time goes on, it gets harder to accept that she would give up on it because her robot pets told her to. On the one hand, forgiveness is powerful, and the people she ultimately does forgive, do ultimately deserve it. Though, on the other hand, having it completely removed from the table didn’t feel good, especially as events unfold.

An example is likely needed here. Toward the end of the movie, the bad guy from the evil company (which is so obviously evil it is hilarious) sends an evil drone based on stolen technology from Rikka’s dad after her. It destroys a bunch of the city and everybody can clearly tell the corporation made it. I find it hard to believe that Rikka is going to somehow resolve this peacefully with no casualties.

Furthermore, as an aside, can I just say that it is so stupid that when the people confront the corporation about the evil robots that all the doubts and outrage is dispelled because the corporation says they’ll pay for all the damages, help rebuild, etc… Then the CEO or whatever he is also announces that they are changing the name of the city to be his name. It’s so stupid, I honestly don’t get this part at all.

This is probably an issue more specific to me, but it all felt incredibly cheesy. Perhaps this wouldn’t have stuck with me as such a big deal if Black Fox actually had any resolution. That’s right folks, the film doesn’t have an ending. It “resolves” an arc of a much bigger story, but it also doesn’t seem like the movie will be getting a continuation as one hasn’t been announced (at least to my knowledge).

After doing a bit of research, it seems like this was the product of a failed TV show, which is likely why this occurs. But then, I have to ask, why was this even released? I just can’t help but feel that this is a half-baked product that teases more that may never come. Perhaps the popularity of the film, as it was pretty well received in general, will get it there, though I can’t say I’m looking forward to more.

Look, it’s not like Black Fox is a bad movie. The animation is really good and the story it tells is tried and true. It just needed more, and I don’t just mean the runtime, I mean this in almost every respect. That’s why I can’t ultimately recommend the film. While you may enjoy it, the experience ultimately feels lacking.


That’s it for Black Fox. How did you enjoy it? I know that I wasn’t the only one who felt a bit baffled by this, but maybe you saw something I didn’t. I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you want to support my efforts here, please click one of my donation buttons below as the support is appreciated. Thank you so much for reading and I hope to see you again soon!

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‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Film Review

Grade: C+

Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Keri Russell, Oscar Isaac, Jimmy Vee, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, Daisy Ridley, and Naomi Ackie in Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Three decades. Nine movies (not counting the anthology films). One epic franchise. We have finally reached the end of what has been called “The Skywalker Saga”. With its popularity, there is no doubt that more characters and worlds will be explored in the form of shows and spin-offs (There is reportedly a Kylo Ren prequel series in the works, but with so much news, how can you trust the internet anymore?), yet somehow, this truly feels like the end of a much-beloved franchise. As perfect as it seems, the journey, however, can be a long and winding road filled with so many paths and choices that, as you go, you start to wonder if you have taken the right turn.

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‘The Addams Family’ Film Review

Grade: B+

Charlize Theron, Bette Midler, Snoop Dogg, Conrad Vernon, Oscar Isaac, Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Kroll, and Finn Wolfhard in The Addams Family (2019)

It is easy to dismiss ‘The Addams Family’ as yet another unnecessary reboot since so many people are more familiar with Barry Sonnenfeld’s 1991 film and its 1993 sequel; yet, in actuality, this “creepy, kooky, mysterious, spooky, and all-together ooky” family has been around since cartoonist Charles Addams brought them to the comic pages in 1938. Though nothing is more familiar than the 1964 television series with Carolyn Jones as vampiric matriarch Morticia and John Astin as the suave and debonair Gomez and its theme song which still causes fingers to snap along every time it plays. No matter which version you prefer, it is clear that the legacy of the Addams’ still lives on.

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‘Frozen II’ Film Review

Grade: C+

Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, and Jonathan Groff in Frozen II (2019)

Even after six years, “Frozen Fever” has never really died down. Just like a snowstorm from Elsa’s ice powers, a sequel to Disney’s gargantuan hit was inevitable. You would think that another feature would be dished out as soon as the iron struck hot (or in this case, cold), yet being Disney, time has to be taken to improve a craft to make sure that their newest moneymaker is better. In a way, it shows here. Not only does the animation look gorgeous and lifelike, the adventure seems to be more treacherous and the stakes are higher. Sadly, that is all I can say about this attempt to make snow fall twice.

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‘Doctor Sleep’ Film Review

Grade: A-

Ewan McGregor in Doctor Sleep (2019)

When it came time to adapt ‘Doctor Sleep’; Stephen King’s sequel novel to ‘The Shining’, Mike Flanagan seemed to be faced with some tough decisions when writing and directing. Not only were King’s original novel and Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation two different beasts, but they were so dissimilar that the author famously hated Kubrick’s take on his work. However, it seems that Flanagan has succeeded in crafting not only a worthy sequel nearly four decades after the original, yet a movie that seems to work on its own terms (Hey, if it is enough to please the “King”, then I am sure it will work for modern audiences).

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