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REVIEW: “Dumbo” 2019

dumbo posterDisney just keeps remaking their animated movies, huh? It all could be traced back to 2010’s Alice in Wonderland – fittingly directed by Tim Burton, the same director helming this latest live-action remake. From there, Disney just kept on going down the proverbial rabbit hole with remakes. Their latest trip down said rabbit hole – one of no less than three live-action remakes due to be released theatrically this year (with a fourth expected to premiere on the Disney + streaming service by the end of the year), Dumbo is a live-action remake of the classic 1941 Disney cartoon of the same name. This time, helmed by director Tim Burton and screenwriter Ehren Kruger, Dumbo expands that fairly short animated film into a nearly two-hour long Tim Burton extravaganza. The problem is: nobody was really asking for a Dumbo remake. So, is it actually any good, or is it just another mediocre film from Disney, a company that seems to specialize in releasing mediocre films all throughout their various film studios? Answer: it’s the latter.

From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, the all-new grand live-action adventure “Dumbo” expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight. Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.

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REVIEW: “Stranger Things: The Other Side”

Stranger Things - The Other SideStranger Things is massively successful. It’s probably Netflix’s biggest hit in the past five years, or so. So, it was only a matter of time before it started branching out into other mediums. Earlier last month, the first official novel – Gwenda Bond’s Suspicious Minds (my review of it here) – was released, but prior to that, Dark Horse Comics released a limited series – written by Jody Houser and illustrated by Stefano Martino – telling the unseen story of Will Byers during the events of season 1. It’s a great idea for a tie-in comic, but is the execution as good as the concept? Mostly, yeah.

When Will Byers finds himself in the Upside Down, an impossible dark parody of his own world, he’s understandably frightened. But that’s nothing compared with the fear that takes hold when he realizes what’s in that world with him!

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REVIEW: “The Umbrella Academy” – Season 1

umbrella academy posterI remember reading the first volume of Gerard Way’s comic, The Umbrella Academy, back when it first came out in 2008 and I adored it. It was this really weird, really unique little comic that was unlike anything else my little middle school mind had encountered. As I got older, I continued to adore the series – and was always sad as year after year passed with no sign of a third volume. Thankfully, that third volume eventually came, as did the announcement of a Netflix adaptation of the series. Of course, any time an adored property gets adapted, there’s a risk of that adaptation not being any good or not really respecting the source material. This is especially true with comic book adaptations, even more so with adaptations of weirder comic books. So, as The Umbrella Academy premiered last Friday, I approached it with a massive amount of trepidation. Happily, the show is very, very good. (THERE WILL BE MAJOR SPOILERS IN THIS ARTICLE)

Based on the popular, Eisner award-winning comics and graphic novels created and written by Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance) and illustrated by Gabriel Bá, The Umbrella Academy is a live-action series that follows the estranged members of a dysfunctional family of superheroes (The Umbrella Academy) — Sir Reginald Hargreeves/The Monocle (Colm Feore), No.1/Luther/Spaceboy (Tom Hopper), No.2/Diego/The Kraken (David Castañeda), No.3/Allison/The Rumor (Emmy Raver-Lampman), No.4/Klaus/The Séance (Robert Sheehan), Number Five/The Boy (Aidan Gallagher), No.6/Ben/The Horror (Justin H. Min), and No.7/Vanya/The White Violin (Ellen Page) — as they work together to solve their father’s mysterious death while coming apart at the seams due to their divergent personalities and abilities.

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REVIEW: “Stranger Things – Suspicious Minds” by Gwenda Bond

suspicious mindsMy biggest problem with Stranger Things is that there’s too much pre-teen drama and not enough spooky stuff/weird government conspiracy stuff. I find myself far more interested in what’s going on in Hawkins Lab than I am in what Dustin, Mike, Will, and Luke are up to. So, getting through the show is always a bit of an ordeal for me as I just want the weird, spooky stuff. So, when Suspicious Minds was announced as the first official Stranger Things tie-in novel, I was pretty excited. It sounded like I’d finally be getting my wish. I’m happy to report that this novel is full of weird, creepy government stuff and I adored every page of it.

A mysterious lab. A sinister scientist. A secret history. If you think you know the truth behind Eleven’s mother, prepare to have your mind turned Upside Down in this thrilling prequel to the hit show Stranger Things.

It’s the summer of 1969, and the shock of conflict reverberates through the youth of America, both at home and abroad. As a student at a quiet college campus in the heartland of Indiana, Terry Ives couldn’t be farther from the front lines of Vietnam or the incendiary protests in Washington.

But the world is changing, and Terry isn’t content to watch from the sidelines. When word gets around about an important government experiment in the small town of Hawkins, she signs on as a test subject for the project, code-named MKULTRA. Unmarked vans, a remote lab deep in the woods, mind-altering substances administered by tight-lipped researchers . . . and a mystery the young and restless Terry is determined to uncover.

But behind the walls of Hawkins National Laboratory—and the piercing gaze of its director, Dr. Martin Brenner—lurks a conspiracy greater than Terry could have ever imagined. To face it, she’ll need the help of her fellow test subjects, including one so mysterious the world doesn’t know she exists—a young girl with unexplainable superhuman powers and a number instead of a name: 008.

Amid the rising tensions of the new decade, Terry Ives and Martin Brenner have begun a different kind of war—one where the human mind is the battlefield.

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REVIEW: “A Series of Unfortunate Events” – Season 3

asoue-posterAll good things must come to an end. The same remains true for unfortunate things, too. Even A Series of Unfortunate Events must come to an end. With season 3, that’s exactly what the Netflix adaptation on the Lemony Snicket series does. The books are pretty notorious for their lack of any kind of real resolution or concrete answers to the mysteries presented throughout the series. So, with that in mind, how does the show handle the ending? The answer: much the same, but a bit different. Featuring a bit more resolution than what was found in the books, season 3 of A Series of Unfortunate Events brings the somewhat uneven series to a satisfying conclusion.

Season 3 of A Series of Unfortunate Events adapts the final four novels of Lemony Snicket’s acclaimed novels. The series follows the Baudelaire orphans – Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes), and Sunny (Presley Smith / Tara Strong (voice)) – after they’ve suffered a terrible tragedy: the deaths of their parents and the destruction of their home. The orphans are sent to live with Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris), a villain who will stop at nothing to obtain their fortune. Their journey will take then into the wilderness of a snowy mountain, to the depths of the ocean, to a mysterious hotel, and all the way to a deserted island. There are no happy endings in this story, so what will become of the Baudelaire orphans?

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REVIEW: “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”

BM_Bandersnatch_Vertical-Main_PRE_RGBChoose-Your-Own-Adventures books are always a lot of fun. You’re able to explore multiple different endings to a story, some ridiculous, some serious, and you’re able to replay that story countless times to explore each different branch of the story. It’s a method of storytelling that’s never really been tried in film or TV before. Before Bandersnatch, that is. Bandersnatch is the first film in the Black Mirror series. Written by Charlie Brooker and directed by David Slade, Bandersnatch is a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure film that allows audiences to choose how the story of Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead) plays out. It’s a whole lot of fun and genuinely impressive to watch (and participate in). (NOTE: There will be spoilers for Bandersnatch. I will try to keep them minor, but it’s hard to talk about this film without spoiling some things.)

In 1984, a young programmer begins to question reality as he adapts a sprawling fantasy novel into a video game and soon faces a mind-mangling challenge.

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REVIEW – Death Note (2017)

mv5byzk5zjfhztutyzflmy00mdq0lwe5ogqtztk0ywq3yjdkn2u2xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymzgzmju4njm-_v1_sy1000_cr006661000_al_On the bright side, it’s not awful. It’s not really all that good, either, though. Which is a shame since there’s really a lot of potential in the movie. And it’s even more frustrating since the movie is clearly set up for sequels that I’m not sure it’s gonna get considering the quality of this film. Death Note is Netflix’s latest original movie and is a somewhat loose adaptation of the Manga of the same name written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. In Netflix’s adaptation (written by Charles Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides, and Jeremy Slater and directed by Adam Wingard), the action is moved from Japan to Seattle and follows Light Turner (Nat Wolff), a bright student, stumbles across a mystical notebook (and the god of death that accompanies it, Ryuk (voice and facial motion capture by William Dafoe, physical actions by Jason Liles)) that has the power to kill any person whose name he writes in it. Light decides to launch a secret crusade to rid the streets of criminals. Soon, the student-turned-vigilante finds himself pursued by a famous detective known only by the alias L (Lakeith Stanfield). (As always, this will contain spoilers.) 

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REVIEW: MST3K Season 11 (and a detailed reaction to the Host Segments)

mst3k the return

Mystery Science Theater 3000 has finally returned to our screens! Today, Netflix debuted the new season of MST3K subtitled The Return. In celebration of the new episodes, I’ll be reviewing the host segments of each episode of the season! Obviously, there will be spoilers ahead for the season, so don’t read this if you don’t want the Host Segments spoiled for you!

As this will end up being a long post, let me start off by talking about my impressions of the season as a whole. (more…)

REVIEW: MST3K – Experiment 1101

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Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return is the continuation of the cult favorite Mystery Science Theater 3000, a show that lampooned cheesy B-movies and aired for 10 seasons on Comedy Central and SciFi (Now SyFy). The reboot follows the same premise as the original: two mad scientists, Kinga Forrester (Felicia Day), daughter of Dr. Clayton Forrester, and TV’s Son of TV’s Frank (Patton Oswalt) capture a young worker from Gizmonic Institute, Jonah Heston (Jonah Ray) and force him to watch cheesy movies in order to find the perfect movie for them to take over the world with. To keep his sanity, Jonah enlists the help of some robots on the Satellite of Love, Tom Servo (Baron Vaughn) and Crow T Robot (Hampton Yount), to riff the movies with him.

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Netflix Releases First Trailer for "Death Note" film

Netflix has released the first trailer for its adaptation of Death Note and I gotta say that I am pumped. I’m fine with any changes they make, as long as it works in the context of the movie and makes the movie stronger. I always felt like the anime and manga didn’t explore the concept quite in depth enough. So much of it was about L trying to catch Light and not enough was put into exploring how the death note impacts someone who uses it, and the utter damage they can cause. It looks like this movie might explore that some, and if that’s the case, color me excited.

Bring on August 25 when Death Note premieres on Netflix!