Toy Story 4
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X-Men Dark Phoenix
Initial Reaction: As supposed to "Light Phoenix"
Charles Xavier, Jean Grey, Beast: Three mutants and members of the X-Men. They are played by James McAvoy, Sophie Turner and Nicolas Hoult.
It starts off a young Jean Grey riding in a car with her parents. There's an accident, and it's clear Jean has supernatural powers.
Professor Xavier shows up and gets Jean to go to his school to hone her powers.
Many years later, a grown up Jean goes into space with several other members of the X-Men (students at the school). They are there to rescue some stranded astronauts from some unknown entity.
The whole mission goes awry and that entity consumes Jean, making her a much more powerful mutant.
She finds out that Charles has lied to her about her parents – he says her father died in the accident, but truth is, he's still alive. Jean becomes furious and find her father.
The others go after her to try to calm her down, but that mission goes very badly – and it's just the start in a journey that just might tear the X-Men apart.
I want to like these three, but Jean's the only one that stands out. Xavier just felt like too much of an egotist to get behind and the Beast just came across as flat. SCORE: 6
We get an appearance from Magneto as well as some other X-Men – which is fine. But a main antagonist – the woman in the white dress – doesn't get introduced or developed in the film (She's Emma Frost, the White Queen). This really makes the story confusing. SCORE: 3
The film was fine up to the point where Jean leaves to find her father. After that, it felt like it was going all over the place with no real sense of direction or cause/effect. SCORE: 3
This does feel like your standard superhero film – one that relied on the audience's knowledge of X-Men lore too much. SCORE: 4
One of the X-Men gets killed during a fight, and one more gets badly hurt – and that's it. Watching the fights got tedious because of how almost indestructible these superheroes are. SCORE: 3
Other Moral Issues
It's really annoying how many times films use the "I lied to protect him/her from the truth." Sooner or later, that person is going to find out about "the truth", so just tell him/her as soon as you can. SCORE: 3
Final Score (out of 60): 22 % Score: 36.67%
This could've been a great film – if they told us who that woman in white was – and toned down the melodrama.
The Secret Life of Pets 2
Initial Reaction: How do they keep it a secret?
Snowball, Max, Gidget: Three ordinary pets boiced by Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart and Jenny Slate
It starts off as average day for the pets. Max's owner has fallen in love and has a new kid, Liam. One day they decide to visit family on the farm and take Max with them.
Once there, he learns about how to be brave.
Meanwhile (in another plotline), Snowball helps another dog break a tiger cub out of a circus.
And in yet another plotline, Gidget has to venture into a house filled with cats in order to get back a precious ball toy.
These characters are not really developed in this film because there are so many of them. It would've been much better to concentrate on one or two of them and let them shine. SCORE: 4
The rest of the cast doesn't add much to the mix, and most of them are just cardboard cutouts (including the main villain who has almost no personality and backstory.) SCORE: 2
This film bounces between the three plotlines, making for an experience that feels incomplete. Themes and plot points are brought up only to be tossed aside due to lack of time. SCORE: 3
This film is just like almost any other film with talking animals in it – but they don't invest much into the characters or the stories. SCORE: 2
Most of the action sequences jump out of nowhere (namely the one where Max has to save a lamb stuck on a cliff). And the heroes win more on luck than anything else. SCORE: 4
Other Moral Issues
This film tires to talk about how to be brave in an uncertain world, but the plotline becomes so scatterbrained and fragmented that the message totally gets lost. SCORE: 3
Final Score (out of 60): 18 % Score: 30%
This film has three plot lines – it needed to stick to just one.
A Dog's Journey
Initial Reaction: Where to?
CJ: She's an ordinary girl/woman played by Kathryn Prescott
Baily: He's an ordinary dog voiced by Josh Gad
This movie picks up not to much after the last one left off. Ethan and his dog are enjoying the life, and Ethan's granddaughter, CJ.
However, CJ's mother becomes suspicious of her father and mother-in-laws intentions and takes CJ away from them. (CJ's father died in an automobile accident)
Ethan worries that CJ will be in a lot of danger and needs protection and he asks Baily to keep an eye on him on his next life.
And when Bailey does die, he reincarnates as another dog who just happens to be adopted by CJ.
This is the first of several lifetimes Bailey undertakes. He dies, comes back as another dog and runs into CJ at different points in her life (at first, CJ is 10 years old, but the next time, she's a teenager, and the next time she's a young adult)
And every time Bailey meets up with CJ, he tries to help her out in any way he can.
` Main Characters
I like Bailey a lot – he has some spunk in him and has a lot of quirks (for being a dog that can talk).
But CJ just comes across as your way to typical girl growing up to become a musical star on her own terms. SCORE: 5
Nothing really stands out from the rest of the group. There's the neighborhood boy/best friend, a jerk of a guy, and CJ's mother. All these characters feel like they're there to push a plot point. SCORE: 3
This film suffers from way too many conveniences. Every single time Bailey comes back as a different dog, Bailey just happens to run into CJ (and we're talking at least four times).
Besides, the main plot glosses over several main conflicts (domestic abuse, alcoholism, and cancer) as if they were nothing. SCORE: 2
This feels like a typical dog film that has a few too many dogs in it. SCORE: 3
There's one scene where a guy attacks CJ and tries to rip her clothes off – and it's not followed up by any means. Really? SCORE: 2
Other Moral Issues
This film is supposed to be about how a dog can be helpful, but the whole thing just felt too contrived and unbelievable for me to enjoy. SCORE: 2
Final Score (out of 60): 17 % Score: 28.33%
This has to be one of the most insufferable films I've seen in a long time.
Godzilla: King of Monsters
Initial Reaction: How do they get a crown big enough for this guy?
Mark Russell, Emma Russell, Madison Russell: A family of scientists played by Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown
This movie takes place shortly after the 2014 Godzilla movie. Scientists are looking into the discovery of several large creatures that lie dormant all over the world. But Emma wants to revive some of them because of her scientific vision.
However, more of the creatures come to life than at first thought, and they start fighting against one another to see who is the strongest of the bunch.
One particular monster has everyone talking – the large lizard creature known as Godzilla. Many believe that he is the one that can protect humanity from all the other kaiju creatures that are running rampant all over the world.
These three are really bland and boring – just take any three scientists and plug them together and you get these three. What's even worse is that I have to root for the teenage girl (Madision) because she's a teenage girl. SCORE: 4
The action should've centered around these guys – the kaIju monsters like Godzilla and Mothra. When they are on screen, they are fun to watch. But that's not for very long. SCORE: 8
All the kaiju action sequences are a joy to watch, but to get to those scenes, you'll have to slog your way through more than an hour of boring scientists doing boring science-stuff with a tripped out tablet. SCORE: 5
The humans in the film come straight out of any disaster movie – they are that bland. But the kaiju creatures are interesting enough to give it a bit of freshness. SCORE: 7
There is a whole lot of destruction created by the kaiju monsters, and Madison survives an attack on Boston while she's in Boston is because – she's a main character. Really? SCORE: 6
Other Moral Issues
This film tries to talk about how humans are destroying the world and must be contained, but I found it really annoying why anyone would unleash really powerful, really large creatures that are there only to unleash mass death and destruction.
And I found it odd that they tried to make Godzilla and Mothra a romantic couple. What do they do on a date? SCORE: 5
Final Score (out of 60): 35 % Score: 58.33%
Love the kaiju – hated the humans.
Aladdin (Live Action)
Initial Reaction: Yet another live action from Disney
Aladdin: He's that street rat. He's played by Mena Massoud.
Princess Jasmine: Yes, that Jasmine. She's played by Naomi Scott
Jafar: He's the second in command. He's played by Marwan Kenzari
Genie: He's the powerful guy in a small lamp. He's played by Will Smith.
Plot Summary (If you haven't seen the animated version)
Jafar is looking for the "diamond in the rough" so he can get his hands on the Genie's Lamp. But everyone he sends in there gets swallowed up by the Cave of Wonders (the spot where the lamp is).
But he comes across someone who could fit the bill – a streetrat named Aladdin. He has Aladdin imprisoned, but makes him a deal. If Aladdin gets Jafar the lamp, Jafar will give Aladdin enough riches to win the love of his heart (Jasmine.)
But being a bad guy, Jafar double crosses Aladdin at the first opportunity. However, Jafar doesn't get the lamp (Aladdin does.)
And Aladdin finds the Genie in the lamp and wishes to become a prince so he has a chance of marrying Jasmine.
However, keeping up the princely appearance is tougher than Aladdin had hped for. And Jafar is looking to get his hands on that lamp.
These four do a really good job of filling in for some iconic characters. But the best of the four has to be Aladdin – he really is a street rat who has no knowledge about being a prince. SCORE: 9
The rest of the cast is okay (we've got Jasmine's father and the parrot, Iago). Not great, but not terrible either. SCORE: 7
I enjoyed the trip almost as much as the animated version. They added a few new subplots – which were okay.
But the scene where Aladdin tries to wow over Jasmine for the first time is really good – as in really funny. SCORE: 8
This is a true retelling of the story, but they added a bit to the characters. SCORE: 8
There's a bit of destruction near the end of the film that felt unneeded, but other than that, nothing too bad. SCORE: 8
Other Moral Issues
This film is all about being yourself – but I still wonder why Aladdin is the "diamond in the rough" and why does he fall so hard for Princess Jasmine (other than the fact that she's the most beautiful girl in Agribah.) SCORE: 6
Final Score (out of 60): 46 % Score: 76.67%
It's almost as good as the original.