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James Berardinelli review - ** 1/2 out of **** James Berardinelli review - ** out of **** James Berardinelli review - *** out of **** James Berardinelli review - ** out of **** James Berardinelli review - *** out of **** James Berardinelli review - **1/2 out of **** James Berardinelli review - *** out of **** James Berardinelli review - ***1/2 out of **** James Berardinelli review - *** out of **** James Berardinelli review - **1/2 out of **** View all posts >


[quote]The two songs skipped over from the animated movie (“Daughters of Triton” and “Les Poissons”) aren’t missed. The three new ones are a mixed bag; this isn’t Lin-Manuel Miranda in top form. (Judging by his work in two other Disney collaborations, Moana and Encanto, I expected better.) “Wild Uncharted Waters,” sung by Eric, has a bland, generic sound – no one will be humming this one on the way home from theaters. Ariel’s “For the First Time” is quite good – a solid addition to the soundtrack and the likely Oscar nominee. (One reason to have new songs in a remake is because the classic tunes can’t be re-nominated.) Then there’s “The Scuttlebut” (a rap featuring Sebastian and Scuttle) that could charitably be called forgettable. It’s awkward and feels like a proverbial square peg in a round hole. To the extent that the music of The Little Mermaid has generated controversy, it’s because of changes to the lyrics of “Poor Unfortunate Soul” and “Kiss the Girl.” Although the stated reasoning for changing the words is dubious, the actual changes are fine. Miranda makes sure the new material fuses well with Howard Ashman’s classic lyrics and it’s doubtful anyone without a political agenda will notice (or care). 2023’s The Little Mermaid in no way replaces 1989’s edition, nor is it likely to go down in history as the “preferred” version. For a story like this, there’s something about a purely animated approach that can’t be replicated in a live-action repetition. Nevertheless, as an alternate telling with a more mature point-of-view and a greater focus on narrative over music, Rob Marshall’s The Little Mermaid leaves its mark and Halle Bailey’s Ariel can stand alongside Jodi Benson’s.[/quote] You clearly didn't read the final paragraph of the review. [quote]This is one of those reviews where I feel like throwing up my hands and saying “Why bother?” With these movies, people no longer expect a good film; they just want to see over-the-top action scenes and catch up with familiar characters, even if those characters are just going through the motions. Rumor has it that Fast X is intended to be the first volume of a three-part story designed to bring the franchise to an end. That’s plenty of time for these old dogs (star Vin Diesel, director Louis Leterrier, co-screenwriter Justin Lin) to learn new tricks but, judging by how close the movies are coming to self-parody, I’m not holding my breath.[/quote] [quote]Appreciating Lynn’s music isn’t a prerequisite for enjoying Coal Miner’s Daughter. The characters are well-delineated and the story is sufficiently engaging for the motion picture to stand on its own merits irrespective of a viewer’s affinity for the main character’s song catalog. It goes without saying, however, that those with a warm spot for country music (and Lynn’s work in particular) will get more out of the film. It could be argued that Coal Miner’s Daughter developed a template for the modern musical biopic – one that has gotten extensive use in the last half-dozen years with an increasing number of entries into the genre. The simplicity and lack of excess sets Coal Miner’s Daughter apart and gives it a stronger dramatic backbone than many of the movies to follow it.[/quote] [quote]Although the movie’s end credits proudly announce the return of at least one of the Guardians characters, it’s unclear whether there will be any more chapters to this franchise. Creative maestro Gunn has packed up his bags and become DC’s Kevin Feige, so he’s likely out for a potential Guardians 4. Additionally, at least two of the actors have “retired” from their roles, although that’s less of an impediment considering how superhero team rosters are always seemingly in flux. My sense is that there’s not much more these characters can give and it might be best to let them fade away. But the ultimate arbiter of whether or not there will be another sequel – the almighty box office – may feel differently. That’s why we keep getting diminished and devalued franchises and, sadly, the trend is already evident in Guardians of the Galaxy. This isn’t a bad movie but by no means is it worthy of booking an opening-night appointment.[/quote] [quote]Air feels less like an Oscar contender (hence the April release) than something designed to provide a solid two hours of nostalgic entertainment. It features strong acting and a well-written screenplay and the tone is kept on the light side. There are serious aspects but Affleck never delves too deeply into them. After a short theatrical release window, it will be headed to Prime Video, which seems like a good match for a movie like this one. It doesn’t need to be seen in a theater but it is worth seeing in some capacity or venue.[/quote] I checked out his review of the 2000 film to make sure, and no, he is not kidding. [url][/url] [quote]The hallmark of Dungeons & Dragons is the special effects. They're actually pretty impressive - certainly the best we've seen in a fantasy film to date (although, judging by the rumors, Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings will make the visuals in Dungeons & Dragons look clumsy). There's a certain majesty in seeing dragon armies war against one another in the skies high above a great city. The set design, while not approaching that of Conan the Barbarian, is also a plus. The world of Dungeons & Dragons looks like a vast, untamed place of unexpected dangers and exotic creatures. If only the filmmakers had bothered to populate it with real characters...[/quote] [quote]Visually, Honor Among Thieves is as impressive as one might hope from a fantasy movie made in 2023. The 2000 Dungeons & Dragons, for all its failings, boasted solid special effects, but the new movie takes several notable steps forward. Set design is solid, with the Underdark offering some of the most impressive set pieces. The creatures are effectively rendered with a full menagerie of Monster Manual denizens on display (including a red dragon, shown in the trailer, that isn’t going to challenge Smaug for the title of Most Ferocious Winged Lizard). World-building is limited; the film’s geography is based on established D&D maps (The Forgotten Realms) and doesn’t do the best job of showing how all the locales relate to one another. It's hard to imagine a D&D-branded movie doing a better job than this one of bringing the game to a cinematic platform. It remains to be seen whether Honor Among Thieves represents a one-off “best try” or the beginning of a D&DCU. If the former, then at least players can look at this campaign with some degree of affection because, although it lacks the interactive aspect of gameplay, it does what that designers have been unsuccessfully attempting since Gary Gygax made his first pitch to Hollywood forty years ago.[/quote] [quote]Keanu Reeves is what he always been in the John Wick movies: a relatable touchstone – the ultimate laid-back actor playing a ruthless killer. What might seem like a disaster on paper nevertheless works. Any doubts about the casting were nixed as soon as the first movie was released. He is once again joined by former Matrix cohort Laurence Fishburne, scene-stealing Ian McShane, and the late, lamented Lance Reddick (who has less screen time here than in any of the previous John Wick movies). Newcomers to the franchise include the legendary Hiroyuki Sanda and Donnie Yen, Shamier Anderson (who might be on tap for a spin-off), and veteran heavy Clancy Brown. Bill Skarsgard proves that he doesn’t have to dress as a clown and live in sewer to play someone totally evil. Soon after the release of John Wick, Stahelski revealed that plans were afoot for a trilogy. Over time, the franchise’s growing box office prowess argued for an extension of the trilogy into a tetralogy. Although this may have enriched the coffers of everyone involved, it came at the expense of storytelling. John Wick Chapter 4 has its high points, including a well-earned ending, but it’s characterized by an exhaustive repetitiveness that diminishes what was so good and unique about the first two installments of the series. The time has come to put John Wick to rest.[/quote] [quote]Chapter 4 opens a short time after the conclusion of Chapter 3. John Wick has recovered from the injuries sustained from falling off the Continental Hotel’s rooftop (after being shot). He is being “cared for” by the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), who has also returned to health after being brutalized by The Adjudicator (who strangely does not make a return appearance in Chapter 4, despite that being foreshadowed at the end of the previous installment). John’s raison d’etre is revenge upon everyone who has wronged him, including every member of The Table and The Elder (George Georgiou). The mercurial Winston once again becomes an ally when The Marquis (Bill Skarsgard), having been granted unlimited powers by The Table, takes action against The Continental. In Japan, John seeks out one of his few remaining allies, the Manager of the Osaka Continental, Shimazu (Hiroyuki Sanda). Meanwhile, he is the target of two elite assassins – former friend Caine (Donnie Yen) and the mysterious Tracker (Shamier Anderson), who goes by the name of “Nobody.” Also on the hunt is The Marquis’ right-hand man, Chidi (Marko Zaror). John’s end-game involves challenging The Marquis to a duel; if it’s handled according to Table rules, victory could grant him freedom. (While a loss would grant him another form of it.)[/quote] View all replies >