Sundance Review: WHITE FANG is a Modern Animated Classic

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I'll say this. I'm sick of sarcastic animated films with fast-talking "cool" characters. It seems like the go-to thing to do nowadays. I remember when animated characters were innocent and noble, and now it's just a matter of who can have the silliest talking animals showing off. Well, no more, I'm looking forward to more movies like White Fang.

White Fang is a CGI animated film based on the classic Jack London novel, and it is beautiful. The art is so spectacular. While the movie is CG, the models look like the color is painted on giving it a look that seems both hand-painted and CG. It looks stunning on the animals and the scenery even more so. I could watch many of the scenes go by and just be in awe of the art. 

The other thing this movie has going for it is its simplicity. It focuses on the story of White Fang through the eyes of White Fang. He doesn't talk. You don't hear any narration, or thoughts in his head. You just watch the story of this wolf grow up in the wilderness and around humanity and its relationship between the two. White Fang doesn't have to tell you how it's feeling through a witty one-liner because you see it on his face. I feel like I can't give this movie enough credit. It manages to tell a story without overcomplicating it. 

The voice acting was nice but nothing spectacular. The talent they brought in for it, like Paul Giamatti, is solid. The real props go to the animation though. The facial expressions of the animals make seem so realistic, that you sometimes forget you are watching a fictional character. By the end of the movie, I wanted a wolf all my own. I recommend this film for anyone with kids or want to feel like a kid again. This will do it for you.

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Sundance Review: PRIVATE LIFE is a Perfect Sundance Film, But Not For Casual Movie Goers

When I heard Paul Giamatti was in a Indy film at Sundance, I was astonished. That sort of thing NEVER happens. He only does big blockbuster films. For those of you who can’t tell, I was being sarcastic just then. Yeah. Sarcasm. Well, this year, he’s in a few Indy films at Sundance, and one of the first ones they revealed was Private Lives.

Private Lives stars Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn as a couple who really wants to have kids either through fertility therapies or adoption. Sounds hilarious right? What sort of Hijinx are they gonna get into? Kidnap a kid? Eat a Watermelon seed? Nah. Mostly it’s them trying something and it not working and then trying something else. Like a really depressing version of Tom and Jerry.

There is some solid acting, and it really shows the drama chops of the actors involved, but if you get squeamish around people making choices that you know will make other people upset and you’re just waiting for something to go wrong, this is not the movie for you. There were many times I wanted to leave because I couldn’t bear the empathic stress! 

The movie itself is a little long. There are many things that could have been cut that would have made the film move along a little quicker, but the movie does manage to do something interesting that makes watching the movie almost like an experience. They go through many different ways to try to have children and sacrifice a lot. So much so, that whenever they get their hopes up and fail, you feel it with them. I have had family members go through experiences similar, and the feeling of loss and hopelessness can seem very real. The movie sets itself up in such a way that by the end they’ve had so much taken away that you just want something good to happen, and you just end up waiting with them. Hoping for a good future despite the rough present. 

It has a good message overall with some powerful performances and scenes throughout. It makes me realize that it’s not always to dwell in the moment but rather live in the hope of the future. If you like an indy drama that makes you contemplate life with a couple of laughs, check it out. If you are looking for something to make you relax and have fun, maybe skip this one.

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Sundance Review: Daisy Ridley’s OPHELIA is an Unexpected Masterpiece

When I go to Sundance, I expect to see lots of low budget movies filmed with incredible acting and decent storytelling. I don't expect anything too mind-blowing though. Which is why when I saw Ophelia, I was incredibly surprised by how great of a film it was.

Now, I understand that I am somewhat biased for this film, not only does it star Daisy Ridley, who I absolutely adore, but it also revolves around the Shakespearean story of Hamlet. And if there is one thing I love more than comic books, it's Shakespeare. So, I'll try to be as unbiased as possible while giving this review. Even though the film is based on Hamlet, it is told from the perspective of Ophelia and gives hints to a hidden narrative beyond Hamlet.

The film was beautifully shot and was filled with stunning visuals. The very first frame was gorgeous and then it only got better from there. It was like every frame was a work of art. All the actors were fantastic in their roles. Each character was given so much more depth than the original play they are based on.

The film uses language similar to Shakespeare, and even has some of the famous lines, but does not go into verse or rhyme. The story was filled with so much mystery and intrigue and I was hooked on every frame of the film.

The film stars Clive Owen as Claudius, who was deliciously evil, which was a delight to see, especially after seeing his poor performance in Valerian. The movie also stars Naomi Watts, who stole the show, giving levels and layers to the character Gertrude that is not often considered. Of course, Daisy Ridley was my favorite, though. She has such a charm on screen that it's hard to not like her. She plays the strong-willed heroine very well.

This movie is so great that I hope it gets littered with Oscar nominations next year. For something. ANYTHING. The costumes and sets felt so period but managed to stun. I find it hard to find fault in this movie. As a Shakespeare fan, this movie gave me so much to enjoy while also being able to see so much goodness as just a simple movie.

Ten out of Ten. This movie has reached the echelons of my top favorite movies of all times, and I hope to be able to have it remain there for awhile.

Sundance Review: Idris Elba’s YARDIE is an Intense Film About the Price of Revenge

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Ok, so we know that Idris Elba is a phenomenal actor with amazing charisma and charm that goes for miles, but can he direct? Survey says…. yes. He manages to give all these things to each of his actors in his film Yardie.

I went into this movie feeling unsure. I’ve seen plenty of crime movies and revenge movies, and I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from this that I hadn’t already seen done before. Well, I’ve seen the light. The actors are all incredibly talented with the lead actor Aml Ameen, having great turns of being both charming and stone cold. 

Everyone felt this way in the movie though, which was either an attribute to the great actors picked or the great direction… or both. The most remarkable thing that I noticed is that everyone in this movie knew how to give that thousand yard stare that stops folks in their tracks. You know the look. The look Idris Elba gives when he’s “serious”. The criminal does something wrong and Idris looks at him and says no and the criminal just bows down to the power of his stare. Well, he infused all his actors with this stare, even the young actors. These all seemed like people who have gone through hell and back.

It was beautifully shot, with incredible recurring themes and messages. I know revenge has been played out, but I felt the take was fresh and also not too blatant. The Jamaican culture mixed into the film also was so interesting to learn about. It gave the characters such depth and charm. The accents did occasionally get a little hard to understand EXACTLY what was said, I was never lost as to what the story was or what people’s intentions were.  Also, there is some great Reggae music throughout, which is big for me, because I don’t even care about Reggae, but the way it was put into the movie was smart and powerful.

Sincerity, Passion, and Heartbreak are all very present in this amazing film. I absolutely love this film. Although Idris Elba, himself, doesn't appear in it, you can feel his presence throughout. Each of the actors have that calm, cool, stoic demeanor he is known for. It's remarkable. It had great cinematography and sublime acting. I especially thought the story was done is such a creative and interesting way. It blended well with Reggae and the Jamaican culture that made what could be a by the books revenge story fresh and new. It is definitely one I'm glad I watched. While there were no huge action scenes that were overly memorable, the intensity of emotion each actor gives makes this movie feel so powerful. Check this out. Idris Elba, I don’t know where you sprung from, but it is obvious you have great powers, and I look forward to more movies both directed by and starring you.

Sundance Review: Mia Wasikowska’s PIERCINGS is a Violent Thriller and Comedic Farce

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Violent thrillers and comedic farces are not two things I would ever think would go well together. And while I still don’t think they are a match made in heaven, there is a certain charm that it adds to the movie Piercings.

It’s a movie about a guy, who is obviously mentally unwell (well, it’s obvious by the end at least) as he feels the need to kill someone. He is married and has a child and has the urge to kill them, so he decides he needs to let out these feelings of murder on a prostitute. Hilarity ensues when the prostitute thinks he is just a lonely guy who wants to have sex.

It isn’t a bad movie. In fact, I found myself finding it quite funny at many points, but others around me were more silently observant about the comedy. One scene that drove me crazy in particular was when he kept mentioning how he wanted to “do something” to her. He means stab and murder, but she interprets as stab with his PENIS AND SEX IT UP!! WOOT WOOT! Sorry. I won’t give away the ending, but things happen.

If you are on board with the premise, then you might like this movie. It is very clever in its execution and had some amazing comic book-like visuals throughout. There are a couple scenes which seemed unnecessary altogether, but you can tell were very important to the director. I didn’t care for the main actor, Christopher Abbot. He was unlikable, which could be the point. Mia Wasikowska was both charming and wonderfully psychotic in her role and seemed to steal the show with everything she did. 

Altogether, it had some great parts and isn’t bad in the long run, but it does have a feel of disconnectedness, as if the director had a bunch of cool ideas for a movie, and decided to put them all in one but without really considering if he should. Check it out if you are in for a laugh… or you know… some brutal violence.

Sundance Review: DEATH OF STALIN is a Hilarious Satire With Great Performances

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Who knew Stalinism could be so fun? Am I right? Ok, but seriously, this Death of Stalin movie was very enjoyable. With an all-star cast who gave sincere if not bizarre performances, it is in my top three so far at Sundance. 

The movie is a satire about the Russia government right before and after the death of Stalin. Seeing how each person fears Stalin makes you realize how terrifying the man truly was. He abused his power to a great extent which can make for some great laughs in hindsight.

The movie has plenty of historical errors, but overall, it’s entertaining and funny. It reminded me of the current state of politics in many ways. Also highlighted in the film was the fact that each actor did not put on a silly Russian accent. They were themselves, more or less. They spoke as they would in real life. As it started, I thought it may be distracting, but instead it helped me relate to them even more! 

Many moments felt downright farcical while other moments had me severely concerned for the well being of the characters. The movie reminded me of Dr. Strangelove in its wacky performances that still felt grounded. A lot of the movie reminded me Dr. Strangelove actually. 

My favorite performance had to be Steve Buscemi, who I rooted for throughout much of the movie, thanks to the way the director set him to be a type of protagonist. Also of note was Rupert Friend. He was hilarious. I felt myself looking forward to each time he was onstage. He was the best part by far! The movie also starred Jason Isaacs, Jeffrey Tambor, and Michael Palin.

Overall, this is a very funny movie that makes you recognize how people can be affected and act in times of crisis. Director Armando Iannucci managed to walk the fine line between being too preachy and too silly while never going too far in either direction. I want to see his take on more political satires in the future. If you enjoy a good laugh or loved Dr. Strangelove, you Strangely Love this film. Tagline. There it is. 

Marvel Artist Andy Park Reveals Awesome Early THOR: RAGNAROK Concept Art of Hela and Thor

Tho:r Ragnarok has come and it's amazing. Everyone agrees... except for those who don't, and those are far and few. I thought it was amazing. I loved the characters and especially the whole look of the character designs. It's even cooler to see how they evolved over the process. Andy Park who worked on the pre-production concept art has recently shared some of his art on Twitter. And it's pretty rad.

One of the images features a worn down Thor. He looks tired, and beat. While it looks great, and very rustic, I really like that they cut his hair and made him more lively. I feel like Thor has evolved as a character from just a stupid bro, to a mopey bro, to a fully fleshed out friend. It's like a guy you can't stand in high school was humbled by the real world and became a cool guy who you hang out with now.

The other image is of Hela when the movie was going for something darker and boy does it look dark. I love what was done in the movie, but this is SUPER cool. I love how prickly it looks. It almost looks like I could cut myself on the picture. Hela was definitely a bit more leathery in the film, but I almost wish that there was more steel and sharp edges. It would have even been cool to see maybe a more war oriented Hela in the battle with the Valkyries scene.

Either way, Andy Park is a great artist. Check out his stuff below.

THE PUNISHER Showrunner Explains Why None of the Defenders Will Appear in The Series

The Punisher is Marvel's next big Netflix flagship series, and while everyone knows that they exist in the same universe, none of the big four Defenders will be making an appearance in the series. Marvel has made sure that they don't get tied together, but why?

Steve Lightfoot, who is the showrunner on the show, recently told Syfy Wire the reason for the separation, and it makes a little sense:

"I think it's something that you need to talk to someone in Marvel about that because when I came in to take the show on, it was always very clear to me that they wanted it to sort of tell its own story and run on its own track and not really intersect with what was happening in The Defenders. That was part of the brief.
"I guess I could speculate on the reasons for that, but I think from what I understand the original concept for the four characters that became The Defenders was always the plan and the Punisher spun out of that. But very much certainly when I came in the brief was always that it was to be its own show and its own thing separate from that."

So, from the sounds of it, they've had some big Defenders plans from the beginning and even though people want Punisher, he was never part of the plan. This almost feels like when Daredevil wasn't going to have any crossover with the Avengers movies, but it's still a "connected universe". I know I'm complaining a lot, but The Punisher played such an interesting role in Daredevil, that I guess I'd love to see him interact with the other Defenders as well. 

Maybe Punisher could start his own crew-niverse. I mean, we already have the Defenders being street heroes, who's to say we can't see Punisher put together some Thunderbolts. He won't have to deal with the Defenders, maybe he gets a crew of people who are the worst, like Elektra, Blade, and Ghostrider. Each of them get their own Netflix series and they all team up for Thunderbolts series. Do it! 

It seems Marvel has a lot of plans for the Defenders. I can't wait to see what happens next. I just hope they take two steps forward without the step back. 

Artist Combines X-MEN and STRANGER THINGS and It’s Everything I’ve Ever Wanted

I love X-Men. I love Stranger Things. What would it be like if you were to combine the two? Well, gee, I'd have to say I'd love that so much my head might fall off. Well... somebody please hold on to my head.

Bosslogic, an artist who shares much of his work on social media has been doing some AWESOME mash-up art featuring the characters from Stranger Things as classic X-Men characters. He picks pretty solid choices for each one.

Lucas is Bishop, Mike is Cyclops, Eleven is Phoenix, Will is Iceman, and Dustin is Beast. It's so cool, and so perfect and now he's made some more with the adults and teens. Steve is Gambit, Nancy is Rogue, Hopper is Sabretooth, and Jonathan is Cannonball, because that's who he'll be in the upcoming New Mutants movie.

All of this is so amazing, and now I want Natalie Dyer to play Rogue more than I've wanted anyone to play anything. It's such a perfect fit. Check out a few of the images below and Bosslogic's Twitter for updates. Seriously, he's got some amazing stuff!

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Adventurous New Trailer and Character Posters For JUMANJI 2: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

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I've had a change of heart recently when it comes to sequels. After seeing Blade Runner 2049, I really believe sequels can be a good thing when done right. Even when the sequel is decades after the original. And in the spirit of believing, I really believe the new Jumanji movie is going to be great.

The new trailer for Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle doesn't show too much of anything new. It feels mostly like it's focusing on showing off the Rock as much as possible. "Wow, isn't the Rock strong?", "The Rock is so handsome", "The Rock doesn't take anything from anybody". We get it, Dwayne, you are great! Even with all the focus on the Rock, it still is pretty cool. It gives a better idea of how this Jumanji is connected to the first. 

In a brand new Jumanji adventure, the tables are turned as four teenagers are sucked into Jumanji’s world – pitted against rhinos, black mambas and an endless variety of jungle traps and puzzles. To survive, they’ll play as characters from the game: meek Spencer becomes a braveexplorer (Dwayne Johnson); hulky jock Fridge becomes a tiny genius (Kevin Hart); It-girl Bethany becomes a bookworm professor (Jack Black); and unathletic Martha becomes an amazonian warrior (Karen Gillan). To beat the game and return to the real world with their lives, they’ll have to start seeing things in an entirely different way.

I'm pumped about the film. All of these actors are funny and strong personalities that I think will be very interesting to see how they bounce off of each other. Especially considering they are all playing against type, which has to be a dream for many of them. Check out the new trailer below along with some new character posters!

Jumanji 2: Welcome to the Jungle was directed by Jake Kasdan (Walk Hard, Bad Teacher, and Sex Tape) and it will be released in theaters on December 22nd.

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