It is hard to believe that after twenty-two years, a sequel to ‘Jumanji’ exists (especially since star Robin Williams passed away three years ago). At one time, this was supposed to be a straight “re-imagining”, until fan backlash over the announcement coming after Williams’ passing caused Sony Pictures to hire Scott Rosenberg to re-write the script as both a reboot and a sequel (Think that is impossible? Look at ‘Vacation’ (2015)). For those still skeptical about whether this should exist, you have nothing to fear; ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ is not another ‘Ghostbusters’ (2016), nor is it another ‘Emoji Movie’. This movie is as fun and thrilling as expected from the trailer. The only worry is that ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ could have been annoying. Yes, at times, it can feel tiresome, but with its never-ending energy and fast performances, the journey is worth the hour and fifty-nine minute run time.
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Contrary to how critics have felt about David Ayer’s ‘Bright’ (Netflix’s newest attempt at a movie), I honestly felt that it was better than what it was given credit for. Though, beneath its visual splendor and thrilling action lies social commentary we have been exposed to before with the same reluctant-detective-teaming-up-with-a-different-species-to-right-a-wrong premise we have seen in ‘Zootopia’, ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, and many others. Only this time, it feels more like ‘The Lord of the Rings’ as a crime drama set in present day Los Angeles (If Netflix did not step up to the plate, the film could have been distributed by Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, and MGM). There are orcs, elves, fairies, and dwarves (Maybe we will see hobbits in the sequel?) all living side by side with humans.
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Like most comedy sequels, ‘Pitch Perfect 3’ has no reason to exist. The money that the previous films in this now trilogy received could have been used to plant a tree, donate to a charity, or whatever Elizabeth Banks and company set their hearts to, instead of funding for this forced, contrived, and nonsensical swan song. (Let’s hope!) I really liked Jason Moore’s ‘Pitch Perfect’; It had a charm to its female power and its A Capella moments were a romp. After the not-so-surprising success at the box office in 2012 came ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ three years later (which Banks – who also appeared in the first film – took on directing duties for). I had mixed feelings about the first sequel; in a way, it felt like an imbalanced roller coaster; one joke I was laughing, the next: not so funny. I never expected ‘Pitch Perfect 3’ (now directed by ‘Step Up: All In’/ OK Go music video director Trish Sie) to be good; in fact, a second sequel at this point sounded unnecessary, but I just could not resist!
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Alexander Payne’s ‘Downsizing’ is a film that has so much potential; a seemingly original premise, social commentary, and promising visuals. A surefire contender for the Oscars! Payne (who also did ‘Election’, ‘Sideways’, and ‘The Descendants’) even tries his damnedest to get the look and feel of a world this small right; yet sadly, there are so many missed opportunities, making it seem like your average everyday drama about breathing in life, and enjoying the little moments before they are gone forever. (No pun intended on the “little”.)
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There are many ways to describe ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ without revealing too much of the story; it is humorous, well-choreographed with amazing direction by Rian Johnson, (‘Looper’) exciting, and fun as a ‘Star Wars’ movie should be. It could also be described is having way too much, or not enough to focus on; which could be a bad thing if you want the most epic movie-going experience; or way too long. (‘The Last Jedi’ clocks in at 2 hours and 34 minutes, making it the longest in the franchise by far) Thankfully, Johnson and the crew at the Walt Disney Studios know how to keep audiences invested, no matter how ridiculous or over-the-top things are, even if he does not match the awe and wonder of J. J. Abrams’ ‘The Force Awakens’, which felt more like fan service. I guess you could say that Disney has been on a role with Marvel Studios and LucasFilm in terms of comedy and action.
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When it comes to my personality, two of my biggest influences are: Jim Carrey, and Andy Kaufman! These two stars in the comedy business were not afraid to be themselves, no matter how controversial (or offensive) their antics were! Weird in both their own way. It was quite a perfect decision for Director Milos Forman to cast Carrey as the always quirky comedian in ‘Man on the Moon’; and Carrey adopted Kaufman’s persona — almost too literally!
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Disney and Pixar’s newest effort ‘Coco’ was everything I wanted (and expected) from the moneymaking animation studio. It is, at times, funny, well-animated in every detail, bright, colorful, and even heartbreaking. Not since 2015’s ‘Inside Out’ has Pixar made quite an impact on my movie-going experience to the point where I want to revisit its bright and beautiful world; it seemed that after that animated masterpiece, the studio has not seemed to match ‘Inside Out’ in terms of quality storytelling, even if they have not lost the stroke of the brush; ‘The Good Dinosaur’ was near forgettable and felt like other animated movies that have come before it; ‘Finding Dory’ did not live up to its emotional potential when compared to ‘Finding Nemo’; and ‘Cars 3’ was quite fine, but nothing to write home about. With ‘Coco’, it looks like Pixar is back in business; proving once again that they have what it takes to be the top dog in computer animation.
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I understand how hard it is to bring everyone’s favorite superheroes together in one movie; but if Joss Whedon can make a superhero crossover fun in Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’, I am sure Zack Snyder could do it too with ‘Justice League’. When compared to ‘Man of Steel’, or ‘Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice’, ‘JL’ is way more light-hearted in tone and just as brightly colored as ‘Wonder Woman’; yet as the days go by, I find myself forgetting almost every detail due to its jumbled ability to find the right story. It takes a while to put these heroes together, because Snyder wants to expand the universe and re-introduce us to the characters we all know. Obviously The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg have not had their own movies yet, and we only got to see glimpses of them in ‘Batman V. Superman’. Now we get to see them together in one movie! The result is a fun film, yet a convoluted mess.
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Believe it or not, ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is the seventeenth movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; and the franchise does not seem to be slowing down. However, since 2014’s surprise hit ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, Marvel Studios has felt the need to fuse the action genre with more comedic elements. That does not seem to be a bad thing, since audiences still seem to have a blast at the movies every time. I even enjoyed ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ with all the jokes and some of the spectacle it had to offer, more so than the previous ‘Thor’ movies. While ‘Thor’ and ‘Thor: The Dark World’ had spectacular visuals and humor to even the tension, those movies were quite fine with what they gave us. I will go so far as to say that ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is a fast-paced, humorous, and somewhat epic ride, thanks to director Taika Waititi’s energy and Mark Mothersbaugh’s score.
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I have never expected ‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ to be a slight improvement over last year’s sleeper hit. (which made a lot more money than it should have.) As far as comedies set during Christmas go, this stand-alone sequel rises above ‘Bad Santa’ and its sequel, yet cannot reach the watch-ability of ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’. I am aware that these movies were not made for me, as I am a 23-year-old male that had no experience of being a parent. Instead, they serve as escapist fantasies for mothers who need a break. As horribly written as ‘Bad Moms’ was, it still had the heart to speak to mothers who were tired of the stress put upon them. ‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ has that same understanding its predecessor had, only relating to the holiday season when Christmas shopping is stressful and family comes over; add to the fact that it restrains its elements of debauchery and mommy mischief, and I am content; though it cannot help but to inject some cringe-worthy humor just because.
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