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Encanto (2021)

Encanto (2021)


 

7/10


 

Starring the voices of

Stephanie Beatriz

María Cecilia Botero

John Leguizamo

Mauro Castillo

 

Directed by Jared Bush and Byron Howard

 

 

I must be honest it has been a while that I watched a Disney animated musical and enjoyed the songs, in that area Lin-Manuel Miranda delivered. Encanto is Disney’s 60th animated production and it does not try to set itself apart from familiar fantasy stories we all seem to have grown to know. The way Frozen sets its own story a little bit different from the regular. Or the comedy masterpiece that Zootopia delivered. Encanto has an average production with an easy-going story which makes it easy to enjoy as Disney continue to deliver family fun.

The movie is set in South America, and it tells the story of the Madrigal family, which is led by Alma. She suffered a casualty during their refugee run when their town was attacked. Pedro, Alma’s husband died protecting her and their three children. His sacrifice opened a magical door which blessed Alma with a magical home and a magical candle. The candle then blessed the three children with magical powers and Alma’s grandchildren. Well, that hit a little snitch when it was Mirabel’s turn. She did not get any magical gift and in a way, you can sense where the movie is going from here.

From this point the movie fell into the regular formula we know, the one person not blessed will be the one tasked with saving everyone. What you will expect happens, even though the family loves her and the new society which they live adore her for being so cheerful, she was treated differently. She was excluded from a lot of things, and she had to deal with it, being left out of things because she was different. There was a certain fear in the air, since Mirabel never got powers, it was time for her nephew Antonio, so they were worries that he may not get too, but he did get his and Mirabel was cut out of the separation, it was then she saw it. The magic in the home was failing.

She is now tasked with figuring out why, (tasked by no one mind you). In her search she comes across her uncle who has been set aside from the family. He left them behind because his powers were to see the future and people did not like what his predictions brought.

With his help, she must now sort out the reason why the magic is failing and then stop it before the family loses their magic.

Encanto is good, a fun family movie with musical numbers that are easy to digest. It is not going to break any ground financially is why it is now available on Disney+ and didn’t dominate the box-office. The way it is set is also a little disappointing as the story could have been much more, but instead they settled for the conventional plot.

Disney may have delivered a musical wonder with a super easy story, but what breaks the bank in the box office is the unconventional. But you should see this and know why we do not talk about Bruno.

 

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)


 9/10


 Starring

Tom Holland

Zendaya

Benedict Cumberbatch

Jacob Batalon

 

Directed by Jon Watts

 

There were numerous leaks of different casts being part of this movie and numerous leaks on what the script is all about. Well, I have finally seen the movie and so as not to drop any spoilers, I will ask you to go see it yourself to discover if any of the leaks were true.

No Way Home is one of the best Marvel productions out there and a bright light is the dark tunnel of lack of truly solid blockbusters. This is the third Sony/Marvel Spider-Man production in the MCU and this is the 27th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

This movie thrives so much on the chemistry of its casts, the emotional weight it bares (which made me cry at a scene) and the fantastic writing.

The action and the way they blended all the different characters will make you weak in the knees. The movie does not waste any time trying to clog your brain with theories, we just have Doctor Strange and Spider-Man mess up big time. We see a multiverse come to play where characters from the different Spider-Man movies show up in this universe and we learn a lot.

 

Spoilers Ahead

Each of the iterations of Sony’s Spider-Man as we have known has a different back story and even that came to play here and their villains which broke into this Spider-Man’s world. What was cool to know is that the Avengers only exist in this Tom Holland Spider-Man.

The villains and characters that show up in this movie are, Dr. Octopus, Electro, Sandman, Green Goblin, Lizard, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield).

I guess they had a numbers thing, because Electro (Jamie Foxx) in this movie was just a waste. Even Lizard’s presence made more sense than his impact in the whole bottom line.

When these villains get into this universe, they can tell the difference and are willing to do anything they can to stay here and not go back to their universe. The reason is, they were all dragged into this universe moments before they die.

How did this great mess up happen, well remember in the end of Far From Home (2019), the world comes to know that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. Peter (Tom Holland) life is a mess and it is affecting the lives of his friends and Aunt May. He visits Doctor Strange and ask him for help to make a spell where everyone forgets that he is Spider-Man. As you can guess, everything does not go as planned. Because the more caveat that Peter tried to put into the spell the more complex it was for Strange to control the spell which he had already began to cast, and everything collapses. The repercussion is that it sucked characters from the first two Spider-Man iterations (Tobey Maguire: Spider-Man Trilogy by Raimi and Andrew Garfield: The Amazing Spider-Man by Webb).

Strange gets Peter to go round up all the characters that he can find, because each one in this universe are looking for him, he gave him what to use to catch and Strange was to send them back to their universe.

The moment Peter learns of the fate of the men when they get back to their universe, he comes up with a plan with the help of Aunt May. This was one of those stupid do-gooder plans that everyone warned will not work, but he went through with it anyways. The repercussion of their plan changed Peter’s life forever in the MCU and has a huge effect on the MCU.

Sony and Marvel are already in the works to produce a follow-up movie, and I very much look forward to seeing it, but this movie end—scene shows that the repercussion of this movie bleeds into the upcoming MCU second Doctor Strange movie.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

 


6/10


 Starring

Simu Liu

Awkwafina

Meng'er Zhang

Fala Chen

Michelle Yeoh

 

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton

 

Marvel has been experimenting lately with this new phase four, post infinity saga of their cinematic universe. We are getting to meet new lesser-known characters also get to see more character development on characters who never seem to get enough spotlight.

Shang-Chi is the 25th movie set in the MCU and what to appreciate is the diversity that Marvel is bringing into its world of characters. This is a total Asian setting, with predominant Asian cast with no white dude showing up to assist. Cool still the movie has an Asian director.

Now, for anyone going to see this movie I will say this is not one grand master story, even though the story was great and cool enough to keep you watching. Also, do not expect all the jokes we had with funny lines and very funny situations which we love in Marvel movies. Why I say do not expect that is, we are already familiar with this style so when they do happen, it does not strike you as hard as they used to. That said, the movies start like one mediocre Asian movie. Its tale starts with greed and evil, then out of nowhere comes romance and we are then dropped into the present day, left to try and fill in the missing pieces. Then fifteen minutes in, get ready for some cool Jackie Chan fight choreography, from there the Marvel magic takes over. We know that down the line some soliloquy will come with flashbacks to help us fill in the blanks. So, the long and short of the plot is: about a thousand years ago Wenwu discovers the powerful ten rings which give immortality and great power. His greed had the best of him and he setup the Ten Rings organization who in the background have been shaping the current world as we see it.

In 1996, he ventures to find a magical forest to seek the power of Ta Lo. He was stopped on his quest by a lady from Ta Lo named Li. They fall in love and Wenwu stopped his power craze and became a father and husband. But the death of Li brought back the old Wenwu and he raised his son Shang-Chi to be as great a fighter as he could ever be.

Jump to present day and we see Shang-Chi now calling himself Shawn working as a valet with his best friend Katy. They are attacked one day by the Ten Rings and Katy for the first time saw the real Shang-Chi in his element. The Ten Rings wanted a pendant Li gave Shang-Chi and his sister Xialing.

After their survival from the attack, Shang-Chi and Katy go looking for Xialing to protect her from the Ten Rings. Turns out the brother and sister have not been in contact for years and there are unresolved issues between them.

Their father wants the pendants to find his way back to Ta Lo so he can break down a gate there which he believes is holding him back from his desire. The siblings must work together along with Katy to stop Wenwu before he dooms us all.

Shang-Chi is now very much available to be viewed on Disney+.

Red Notice (2021)

Red Notice (2021)


4/10

Starring

Dwayne Johnson

Ryan Reynolds

Gal Gadot

 

Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber

 

I give Red Notice one thing, by taking the three of one of the coolest actors, it had me stuck and I saw this movie from start to finish. Did not see the first twist coming between the actors, the second one (if you can call that a twist) was expected. The ending of the movie was so dumb. I have seen better lay-ups for a part two than this crap package.

The movie was a five out of ten from the start. You will not believe it can get any shittier, then the first twist dropped between two of the characters and everything went horribly wrong from then on. The good thing about this is, when it starts to crash from its mediocre standpoint, you are already like ten minutes to the end, so you do not have long to endure.

The long and short of this is that Red Notice is a very nonsense film, that plays on the charisma of the actors. I have to be honest I have never been so keen to see Gal Gadot have more screentime as I did watching this film. There was just too much Ryan Reynolds and Dwyane Johnson that it needed her presence to just calm the flow. Yes, a sentence I never thought I would ever say, too much Ryan Reynolds.

The movie plot is not hard to put together, there is an Egyptian guy who is willing to pay a huge sum of money to anyone who can bring him the three gem eggs of Cleopatra. The international thief The Bishop (Gal Gadot) is wanted by everyone for her crimes, but second to her on the ranking is the thief Nolan (Ryan Reynolds). Nolan is going to go after one of the eggs in Italy and an American FBI agent Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) was being tipped by The Bishop to catch him. Hartley with the help of the Italian police were able to apprehend Nolan, but The Bishop double crosses Hartley and they both end up in prison together.

Turns out The Bishop was also behind this arrangement and visited the couple and asked them to work with her, (specifically Nolan who only knows the whereabouts of the third egg). If they agree she will help Harley get his name cleared and give Nolan a cut. They turned her down and broke out of prison and decided to work together in a race to get the eggs before The Bishop does.

Like I said the movie has all the substance to make a good film but lacked the story and good directing to achieve that. The movie is written and directed poorly by Rawson Marshall Thurber.

When the three are together is the only time the movie seem to have any sort of entertainment package installed for you. You can catch this movie on Netflix.


Finch (2021)

Finch (2021)


7/10

Starring

Tom Hanks

 

Directed by Miguel Sapochnik

 

Finch is one of those movies that just cruises with the time. The calculated casting of Tom Hanks for this character is one of those casting director magic that goes by unnoticed by many and should be applauded. His acting prowess fitted this movie giving us the needed range of emotions that will carry this movie from its start to the very end.

In hindsight, I think this movie would have done better with much more diversity than keeping to the script of various science-fiction movies we have seen in the past. Some originality would have made things a bit better.

Finch’s post-apocalyptic vision of the future and the possible reaction of humans is something we have seen before. The ozone layer gets depleted, and the earth is unable to sustain the humans left alive. And the ones who happen to be alive turn into animals where they kill each other for food. Finch takes a solo man look at this future. Which when I come to think of it, is one of the only few possible outcomes that will be for us humans if the future comes with lack of food and infrastructure to keep us going.

Finch gives us the I am Legend feel, with him and his dog Goodyear scavenging about looking for food in places where other humans have long forgotten and moved on from.

Finch (Tom Hanks) has one problem, his love for his dog seems to have him drawn to a point of fatherly devotion. Finch is dying and he fears his dog will die also if there is no-one there to care for him. Being an engineer before the world turned to melted cheese, He came up with an idea to sae his dog. Finch, locked in his old workplace started working on the construction of a robot, in humanoid form which he will train to care for Goodyear. We see in this future that AI advancement is a thing and not just an idea. As Finch has created many robots in his old workplace to make his life very comfortable.

Our new addition is the robot Jeff which has one main directive which supersedes others, to care for the dog when he is gone.

The weather is changing where they are with the change comes death and possible starvation. This makes them leave their place of enclosure to journey west to the golden bridge of San-Francisco.

This is the journey where Finch teaches Jeff all the things he has to know about caring for the dog and avoiding possible calamities which could endanger the dog.

The movie for me suits the digital release format to which it was releases on Apple TV. Here is a movie that is easy to enjoy and follow as we wish for a miracle that will have Finch make it to see some form of civilization which he will feel comfortable staying with.

Clifford the Big Red Dog (2021)

Clifford the Big Red Dog (2021)

 


5/10

Starring

Jack Whitehall

Darby Camp

Tony Hale

Sienna Guillory



Directed by Walt Becker


First thing to note is, this is a children’s movie and it does not try at any point to be more than that. I have never seen any animation or read the source material so to me this was my first introduction to Clifford the big red dog. The movie will pass for younger audience, but for more matured viewers they could be some form of reservation in the way the movie develops. I for one, enjoyed how this comedy adventure movie changed course and became a chase film. We had Clifford, Emily and Casey just running about town trying to avoid being caught by the bad man. He like all children film bad men, just wants to have Clifford for his own so he can experiment on him.

Children do not need depth to enjoy this, but a typical adult will see the lack of depth in the characters and may not be cool with the transition from comedy to chase.

The acting was not grand and there is no showboating when it comes to the CGI used for Clifford. At times you can see it that the was not much put down for this, which is reasonable.

The movie has some magical elements introduced into it, guided by John Cleese who plays Mr. Bridwell. How Birdwell comes to make some magic happens, begins when he gives Emily a small red puppy. Emily lives with her mother (a single mum) who had to travel for work and got her jobless brother Casey to come babysit Emily until she gets back. Casey is not just jobless, he is very clueless and appears lazy. Their union alone was like leaving a twelve year-old in the care of a thirteen year-old. It was their walk one day that led them down the path to where Mr. Birdwell keeps his animals who are all looking for a home. We later come to understand that Birdwell seems to know the right pet for the right person and for Emily the right pet was Clifford.

How Clifford found his way into Emily’s backpack is one of the Birdwell magic that is not explained, but after meeting Clifford her uncle (Casey) had to turn down the idea of them keeping it as a pet, because Emily’s apartment do not allow pets.

Now Clifford is in the house, and they decided that next day they have to find a way to give him back. But when the next day came Emily awoke to find Clifford more than ten feet high. He had grown overnight and their problems seem to have too. Now they have to find Birdwell to either take Clifford and shrink him back. Their walk around town turned them into an internet sensation and a company who have been working for years to know how to make food huge, wanted to capture (by all means) Clifford and study him.

It is a children's movie and noting more than that.

Home Sweet Home Alone (2021)

Home Sweet Home Alone (2021)

 4/10

Starring

Ellie Kemper

Rob Delaney

Archie Yates

Aisling Bea


Directed by Dan Mazer


The best way to see this is with an open mind. There is no way this is anywhere as entertaining as the 1990’s John Hughes Home Alone, but it gets some points for the attempt at something new. The problem is that the attempt is so lacking in entertainment it feels like there was no point for them even trying.

Acting wise the adults in this movie seem to be hell-bent on making sure this movie becomes the new go to thing on Christmas. The new child actor who plays this movie’s version of Kelvin McCallister is Archie Yates. Yates plays Max Mercer, the child left at home by his mother Carol (Aisling Bea).

The leaving behind setup is similar to what we know, the family is joined by their extended counterparts and they planned a family get away together. Here is where the movie lost me. The total pure negligence of Carol in this film should be a crime in all countries.

In the original, Kelvin is left behind because he was being a pain and sent to stay in a room in the attic. The next morning one of his cousins was tasked with counting all the kids and making sure than none is left behind. Thanks to one nosy neighbor the cousin made an error, counting the neighbor as Kelvin and making everyone think all the kids were complete.

Here, the mother flies to Japan without her son and did not telling him about it either. She also did not leave a message to her husband that she has gone without their son. So he flies to Japan leaving him behind. Pure negligence on the mother’s side and the father was not innocent either.

Now as the movie starts we meet a couple who are struggling financially Jeff and Pam McKenzie (Rob Delaney and Ellie Kemper respectively). Carol took her son Max to their house while the couple were showing it off to potential buyers so that Max can use the opportunity to use the toilet there. It was there Max and Jeff met. Max liked a doll he saw, but Jeff seeing Max reach for it made it clear that the doll was not for sale or for Max to touch.

The next time we see Jeff having anything to do with that doll was when he check the value online to discover that the doll was now worth over $200,000. A sum which will save them from their financial troubles. He goes to where he kept the doll and it was missing and suspects that Max took it.

He traces Max to his home, saw the family traveling and decided to come back when they are gone.

He did with Pam and Max thinking that the pair have come to kidnap him decided to protect his home.

The movie like I said, had a new take on everything. It just was not funny and the damage to the adults looked more mean spirited than the craziness from the original. There was a part where Jeff woke up with a VR headset on him. That VR prank was heart breaking. I have heard of losing your glasses on your head, but not knowing that you have a VR headset on your eyes, that was too far for me to believe.

Well you can catch this movie on Disney+, I just do not expect to watch this anytime again in the future.


They Harder They Fall (2021)

The Harder They Fall (2021)

 


6/10 


Starring

Jonathan Majors

Idris Elba

Zazie Beetz

Regina King

Delroy Lindo

 

Directed by Jeymes Samuel

 

The surprise ending is the best part of this movie, the build up to it was ok. I liked the acting. Each character leaves a memorable taste, and they cover a wide range depiction. The story is something you have seen before, but the energy and the drive of the movie is what makes you want to sit through this movie.

When it comes to putting things like this together, the coolest thing needed to make it all work is a soundtrack that makes it each moment memorable, this movie had that. The setting and atmosphere where this movie is staged is cool, and you will notice and appreciate how they spliced the costume with modern and traditional cowboy gears, the movie is set in the 19th century.

The movie uses an old template to build its world setting, the main premise of the movie is one of revenge. We start out with a ten-year-old boy witnessing the brutal murder of his parents and the killer then scaring him for life, by drawing a cross on his forehead. He grows to a man (Nat) and starts down a path of revenge on the man (Rufus) who put a major dent in his life. Rufus is an outlaw whose crimes had him locked up for some time, he got out thanks to a pardon and returned to a town (Redwood) now ran by one of his former gang mates.

Rufus is informed that his gang had been robbed by a man named Nat who took their $25,000. Nat wanting revenge, got his own gang of outlaws together with a plan to get into the Redwood and kill Rufus. Field Nat’s love interest suggested the idea to go scout the town, but that did not go well as Rufus took her hostage.

The condition for her release was for Nat to return the money he stole from his gang with an additional $10,000. Which means Nat and his gang must go rob a bank to get this. They know all the cards are stacked against them, because there is no bank in their area with that kind of money. And even if they get the money., there is no guarantee that Rufus will let Field go.

You must watch the movie to find out how they manage to handle the situation before them.

The movie characters were life living people of the 19th century even though the movie plot is fictional. You can catch this movie on Netflix at the moment

 

Army of Thieves (2021)

 Army of Thieves (2021)


 

5/10

 


Starring           

Matthias Schweighöfer

Nathalie Emmanuel

Ruby O. Fee

Stuart Martin

Guz Khan

Jonathan Cohen

 

Directed by Matthias Schweighöfer

 

For a comedy heist film, I only laughed once when Sebastian wanted to do a manly thing and punch Brad in the face. Other than that, the comedy in the movie is like looking for a needle in a haystack. In the end the movie was an anticlimax. It serves as a prequel to another Netflix movie Army of the Dead.

I did not bother seeing Army of the Dead, the first movie in this Zack Snyder Army of the Dead franchise majorly because if you tell me anything has zombies in it, I technically don’t bother. So almost did not see this, until I got the full gist that this is more focused on the set of heists this crew were going to be pulling of.

In the end, for me if you never see this movie, you have not missed anything, the movie only had one high, when everything went to shit after the second heist then, it nosedived.

I do feel Snyder is a great writer, but this movie had so much fluff that like half of it can be cut out and the remaining hour of the movie will still make full sense. The movie did an over thirty minutes intro to everything and everyone, which almost made me turn off and go look for something better to do.

Then the first heist happens, and it was so easy, like a walk in the park. I was curious to know what will happen next in the second heist which according to Gwen, was going to be a lot harder.

The movie starts with us meeting Sebastian, who loves safes and safe cracking. He was recruited by Gwen to join her gang of international thieves who are wanted everywhere. In the crew we have, Sebastian the safe cracker. Korina the hacker (every crew in these present days always need a hacker to do some hacking things). Getaway driver Rolph (player by British comedian Guz Khan and the only reason I bothered to give this movie a chance.) and gunman Brad.

The team is set to commit three bank robberies with it getting harder as they proceed. The main catch for Sebastian is that one of the safe he always wanted to see, and crack is part of this list of crimes.

The first like I said was a walk in the park, the second not as much. It was then, things finally got pretty, but not for very long as the movie was unable to maintain that momentum and it ended in a very disappointing way.

You can catch this movie on Netflix.

Copshop (2021)

Copshop (2021)


 
6/10


 Starring

Gerard Butler

Frank Grillo

Alexis Louder

 

Directed by Joe Carnahan

 

I was so much in the mood for some old-time action thriller where the game is set from the start and the stack is against the protagonist and everything is lined up for a plain old shootout. The movie’s style is who will out last who, from the start we have pegged the protagonist rookie office Val as some who is way over her heads. She does the rookie officer good guy move of being very inquisitive which annoys all the old guys. So similar a character development to every rookie cop movie you have seen.

The movie’s plot is not one of those spectacular things that needs some deep thoughts to keep up. The movie is done in 80s style where we have an antihero whose job is to stop the bad guys who cross the men he works for. Cinematography style and directing style from Joe Carnahan is something you can find he seems to have knack for. If you have seen his other movies like Smokin' Aces, The A-Team, The Grey and Boss Level, you have basically set to see this one if you enjoyed the others.

Back to the movie, Val (and only Val) noticed something was up with today’s tally of two arrest. These men don’t just add up, we have Teddy (Frank Grillo) who punched her in the mouth so he can get arrested. Second there is Bob (Gerard Butler) who acted drunk and drove into parked police officer cars so he too will be arrested and placed in the same room as Teddy. Now in the same cop station is an officer who is in the books with the wrong people and has been tasked to assist with the Teddy situation.

So, what is the Teddy situation? Here is where the movie decided to disappoint.

His matter was not as complex enough to warrant all the fuss. It may have but the movie did not give enough insight. His crimes are said in a succinct short version to get back to the psychopath hitman who has broken into the station and wants to get the money on Teddy’s head. Our psychopath (Anthony) sees Bob is also on the case to kill Teddy and get the money placed on his head.

But Bob seems to be locked up and Anthony has killed all the cops in the station (with some help) and Val seems to be the only one alive who barred herself in the bulletproof prison where Teddy and Bob is being held.

Val is shut and she is bleeding, and Anthony has decided to get to them via a wall he intends to knock down. She needs assistance to stop these men and she does not know who to trust, Teddy the self-centered liar or Bob the hitman.

Copshop was a fun watch and will be one for the action loving people.