Aladdin - A Whole World of Fun
The story - we all know Aladdin, and while there will be a few surprises along the way, this story stays true to the original. What it does best is expand on the original in regards to Jasmine. Already one of the strongest Disney princesses with a defiance toward being treated as a side-character, Jasmine has long been a feminist icon. Disney charges forward, giving Jasmine (played by the incredible Naomi Scott) more screen time, more music, and more chances to rebel against the man.
Jasmine is the best part of this movie, but she isn't alone. Aladdin, Genie, Carpet, Abu, and all the rest are along for the ride, and the story had a few minor twists and turns to keep things fresh.
The acting - Naomi Scott is queen of the screen, but Mena Massoud is another up-and-comer who cannot be ignored. His turn as Aladdin is charming, delightful, and has just enough of a rough edge to make him real. Together, Massoud and Scott are dazzling on the screen as the young couple.
Will Smith may have seemed controversial to some as Guy Richie's choice for The Genie, but he does a fantastic job honoring Robin Williams and creating something all his own.
Marwan Kenzari has been called "Hot Jafar," and I wondered how he'd work on the screen as the maniacal, unhinged, evil Jafar. After all, can someone so lovely really play someone so dark?
The answer is yes. Yes he can. Kenzari brings a craziness to Jafar that defies his good looks and brings the same squirm-ish sense of "no" that we got from the original.
The feels - this movie isn't perfect. It isn't the greatest movie ever made. But it DID make me feel great. It gave me childhood and adulthood rolled in one, and I think it's perfect for everyone in the family.
The directing - the music, dancing, color and life were fantastic. Choosing to use a cast of people of color who fit the world Agrabah lives in was brilliant. I loved the casting choices and shots Richie chose to use...for the most part.
No movie is perfect (though plenty come close).
The acting - I really wasn't sure what to do with the handmaiden Dahlia, played by the hilarious Nasim Pedrad. When she was on point, it was hilarious, but getting used to her strange way of talking took me a few scenes.
The story - I love they they honored the original so well in all ways except one: the second wish. I'm fine with how it was done - it was even updated and improved upon. Yet I wish they'd gone a different way. I wish (hah) that they'd made a different choice simply to freshen up the plot. There are so many wishes that can be made, but that one, I think, could have changed.
The directing - I have a love/hate relationship with Guy Richie. He's done some incredible things (Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and some boring things (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword). Unfortunately, there are a few scenes in Aladdin that aren't quite there, and it's because of a choice Richie made in filming these scenes. These scenes, I'd bet my hat, were sped up in post, and it feels just a *smidgen* forced. It's the little movements we make in real time that make these moments glaring for the trained eye, but, in the end, I don't think most will notice.
4 solid, strong feathers (4.5 even).
Don't you know? Go see Aladdin! In fact, take me with you.
I've Been Hustled
Alongside Rebel, Alex Sharp takes a stand in a positive light. He's a fantastic actor (don't take my word for it, the boy has a Tony), and he appears much younger than his thirty years would suggest. As the perfect mark for the competing lady cons, he carries the audience through the film, making us love him and care about him far more than either Hathaway or Wilson. The twist at the end, though slightly clumsy in execution (I blame the writing), made me love him all the more.
Most everything else.
Not only were lines taken directly from the original to pad the sad and sorry script, but the limping attempt to recreate something wonderful with a feminine twist fell flat on its face.
The story - The story has been done, as it was a remake. The clever thing to do would be to change up the script. Not just a gender-swap remake, but a whole new take on the story. They didn't even bother, recycling some scenes shot for shot, line by line, and disappointing the masses.
The areas where they did stray didn't hit the mark - Hathaway training Wilson how to be a violent but classy lady never came into the story. It was a useless montage that managed two laughs from my decently-filled-for-a-matinee theater. They also went for a vomit-worthy "gag" involving a french fry and a toilet. Pointless, gross, and a waste of precious minutes - not to mention a quick way to kill suspension of disbelief. In that moment I fell out of the story, gagged a few times, and struggled to find my way back in.
I read an article from a movie critique lamenting modern comedy - what happened?
I'll tell you what happened.
Most attempts at comedy these days are remakes, but almost none of them are clever. Instead of making an effort to do something new, they rehash old lines and old jokes, but expect audiences old and new to take them in without question. Between The Hustle, Overboard, and Arthur (and many others even outside the comedy genre), we have stale attempts to redo classics. They're the worst bits about Hollywood paraded before us.
Who cares if it's new, interesting, or worthwhile? Churn something out and expect the people to turn up.
In case Hollywood hasn't noticed, movies are down. People aren't flocking to the theaters like they used to, and this is why.
When Hollywood treats its viewers as intelligent consumers, they get good results: Endgame, Logan Lucky, Oceans 11, 22 Jump Street - some of these are remakes and some are brand new, but all did well on Rotten Tomatoes and at the box office.
The Marvel team and the Russo brothers knew Endgame was a game changer. They knew nothing else would ever be like it. They took their time, made an effort, and completed an enormous goal.
Oceans 11 is a remake that outshines the original, and like Logan Lucky (both directed by Soderberg) mixes comedy with heist intrigue.
22 Jump Street is a sequel, yet manages to outshine its predecessor by being smart.
Even Disney has found a way to (almost always) shine in a remake. With the exception of a few (Dumbo, Maleficent), they've been delightful, new, and exciting - a way for adults to relive their childhood and for children to experience something beautiful.
Cleverness, creativity, and passion go a long way, and until the studios realize they can't just keep handing over remade trash and expecting us to be excited.
I know many clever writers who have told fantastic stories - go read their books and make THOSE into movies.
The acting - Oh heaven help Anne Hathaway and her sad, strange accent. I'm not sure where she found it, but I would return it as soon as possible. It didn't help that she's playing a revamped Michael Caine, who is actually British, posh, and capable of an array of accents. Hathaway struggled all the way through the film, donning some odd, Vaudevillian voice and calling it Dutch halfway through the film. Between the two accents I struggled to take anything she said as funny.
None of Hathaway's jokes landed. It was painful to watch someone so talented struggle so much - especially when I know she's capable of comedy.
It was painful to watch, to listen to, and to yawn through. Michael Caine plays a likable character in the original, but Anne Hathaway quickly became a villain. Her character wasn't handled in any way that could create sympathy, and while Wilson's character was meant to be the most sympathetic, there should have been SOMETHING for Hathaway's to make the ending worthwhile.
The directing - The timing started off and remained off all throughout the lagging hour and a half run time. Every joke took a second too long to say (unless it was Rebel Wilson, who can handle herself just fine), leaving most of the jokes stale and flat by the time they arrived. Chris Addison didn't know how to handle these two powerhouse women or Alex Sharp, and he didn't deserve them.
2 feathers (One for Wilson and one for Sharp)
Go watch Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and if you're still curious, wait for The Hustle to be on streaming.
Run away from Baywatch
22 Jump Street managed to outdo its predecessor by doing exactly what it had done the first time, but in one of the most wildly hilarious, clever ways imaginable.
Baywatch was raunchy for raunchiness sake. There was little humor (unless you're a 12-year-old boy, though I wouldn't want a child that young watching this filth). The attempts fell flat, and with a film 2-hours long playing the same jokes over and over again, boredom set in faster than Matt Brody's swim record.
By the middle of the film, I was watching in skim. You know, skipping every 15 seconds until something interesting caught my eye.
Which was almost never.
At the very end of the film, the main characters slow-motion run down the beach. Efron trips and it caught me so funny I laughed for several minutes - the first and only genuine laugh of the whole movie. It *almost* made the fact that I'd wasted 2 hours of my time...not worth it...but not as upsetting.
The actors are pros, so even with the crap they're working with, they themselves stayed in character and on cue. They committed, and I can't fault them for that.
Everything else. It wasn't funny. It was insulting and disgusting. I wish I had something better to say - I hate negative reviews.
Skip Baywatch unless you enjoy vapid, shallow, empty attempts at humor from a skilled cast that is far too good for the source material.
I wasn't a huge Pokemon fan - I had the Gameboy Blue game, but I never got into the cards. Because of this, I didn't know a lot of the names of the pokemon. This never seemed to be a problem, and I had a great time.
The acting - Ryan Reynolds is always fantastic. There's something about his irreverent humor that goes well with everything. Even as a fluffy, CGI pikachu he's cracking jokes and adorable. I have to admit that the pokemon were my favorite part of the film, not the humans. Justice Smith won me over eventually with his heart.
The story - Pokemon make things unique. The story isn't technically anything new - a parent dies, the child follows the clues to solve the mystery, all is not as it seems. I've been watching a lot of detective movies lately, so I had the ending pegged pretty early on, but there was still a twist or two I didn't see coming that made it fun. The ending was sweet and touching, and it tugged at all the heart strings.
I wasn't sure if this was for adults or for kids, but I will throw out that Pikachu says a few curse words and adult jokes, so if that makes you uncomfortable for your kids, don't go.
However, if you're comfortable, it's very bright and colorful - kids will love how fun it is.
There are also a few scary Pokemon, but unless you have a very sensitive kiddo, you should be fine.
The acting - Lucy. Wow. I don't even know how to begin. I'm not sure if her character was just poorly written, if the director rushed a few of her earlier scenes, or what, but I was instantly antagonized by Lucy's character. She rubbed me the wrong way in all manners. She felt forced, silly, and shallow. I didn't see Tim's attraction to her, but I liked her psyduck.
The story - There were a few moments where the story lagged and my mind started to wander. I think they could have tightened it up as opposed to throwing in pointless scenes (and especially Lucy scenes) for the sake of scenes. However, this may go over better with true fans who love everything Pokemon.
If you love Pokemon, Ryan Reynolds, or silly fun, go see Detective Pikachu. If you're lukewarm on any of these things, wait for Netflix.
If you have kids, be aware that there's cursing and some adult humor coming from Pikachu. While the jokes will go over your kids' heads, the cursing likely won't. If you're sensitive to that, you've been warned.
Ranting, raving, loving every minute of it - let's talk movies.