Showing posts with label Walt Disney Studios. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Walt Disney Studios. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Watch Two Versions of "STEAMBOAT WILLIE" Here

Steamboat Willie is a 1928 American animated short film directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks.[2] It was produced in black and white by Walt Disney Studios.  It is considered the debut of both "Mickey Mouse" and "Minnie Mouse," although both characters appeared several months earlier in a test screening of Plane Crazy, an animated silent short film.  Steamboat Willie was the third of Mickey's films to be produced, but it was the first to be distributed.

Steamboat Willie entered the public domain on Monday, January 1, 2024 because its copyright expired.

Top: the edited seven-minute and twenty-two seconds (7:22) version. Bottom: the seven-minute and forty-six seconds (7:46) version.




Amazon wants me to inform you that the affiliate link below is a PAID AD, but I technically only get paid (eventually) if you click on the affiliate link below AND buy something(s).

Amazon has a Steamboat Willie page.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Review: "THE MARVELS" is a Fun-Filled Marvel

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 49 of 2023 (No. 1938) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Marvels (2023)
Running time:  105 minutes (1 hour, 45 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for action/violence and brief language
DIRECTOR:  Nia DaCosta
WRITERS:  Nia DaCosta, Megan McDonnell, and Elissa Karasik
PRODUCER:  Kevin Feige
EDITORS:  Catrin Hedström and Evan Schiff
COMPOSER:  Laura Karpman

SUPERHERO/SCI-FI/ACTION with elements of comedy

Starring:  Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Zawe Ashton, Gary Lewis, Park See-joon, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Saagar Shaikh, Leila Farzad, Abraham Popoola, Lashana Lynch, and Samuel L. Jackson, Tessa Thompson, Hailee Steinfeld, and Kelsey Grammer

  • The Marvels is a direct sequel to the film, Captain Marvel (2019), and a continuation of the Disney+ miniseries, “Ms. Marvel” (2022).
  • The story brings Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau, and Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel together to stop a Kree warrior named Dar-Benn from destroying several worlds in a bid to save the Kree home world, Hala.
  • The film is short and sweet and is also a quirky and weird science fiction superhero film that is similar in tone to Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and to the Marvel film, Thor: Ragnarok (2017).
  • The Marvels' plot is a bit scattershot, but the fight and action scenes are highly energetic, resulting in a fun Marvel film full of likable characters.

The Marvels is a 2023 superhero film directed by Nia DaCosta and produced by Marvel Studios.  The film is the 33rd entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and is also a direct sequel to 2019's Captain Marvel.  The Marvels is also a continuation of the Disney+/Marvel Studios television miniseries, "Ms. Marvel" (2022).

The film is headlined by the Marvel Comics character, Carol Danvers, who first appeared in the comic book, Marvel Super-Heroes #13 (cover dated: March 1968), and who later became Captain Marvel.  In The Marvels, Captain Marvel gets her powers entangled with two other similarly-powered individuals, forcing the trio to work together to save the universe.

The Marvels opens with a focus on Hala, the capital planet of the Kree Empire.  The collapse of the empire's “Supreme Intelligence” leads to a civil war among the Kree on their home world of Hala.  The result is that the planet is becoming barren as it loses its natural resources and its sun is rapidly going dark.  Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), the new leader of the Kree, retrieves one of two “Quantum Bands.”  She hopes to harness its power and to pair it with her staff, “the Universal Weapon,” as part of her scheme to save Hala.

On Earth, specifically in a home in Jersey City, New Jersey, teenager Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), who is also the superhero, “Ms. Marvel,” is dealing with teenage and family issues.  Kamala also happens to possess the other half of the Quantum Bands.

Meanwhile, above the Earth, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), now residing at the S.A.B.E.R. space station, has detected a “jump point” (which allows for hyperspace travel) anomaly caused by Dar-Benn.  Nick Fury calls in Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), an astronaut who has the ability to manipulate all wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, to investigate the jump point anomaly near S.A.B.E.R.

When Monica touches the jump point at the same time as Captain Marvel, it causes a reaction in which Monica, Carol, and Kamala switch places through teleportation.  Now, this reaction brings the three young women together in order to stop Dar-Benn from destroying several worlds in order to save her home world, Hala.  And Kamala thinks that she, Carol, and Monica can best do this as a team, a super-team she names “The Marvels.

In addition to being a sequel to the 2019 film, Captain Marvel, and being a continuation of the Ms. Marvel TV series, The Marvels includes story elements that appear in the Disney+ Marvel Studios miniseries, “WandaVision” (2021) and “Secret Invasion” (2023).  There are also elements from Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019).  At this point, I wonder if watching Marvel movies means having to be familiar with what has happened in too many previous films and television series.  There is also a scene that runs in the middle of the end credits that references other movies based on Marvel Comics characters.

Still, I love The Marvels.  I have not subscribed to Disney+, and I only saw the fifth and sixth episodes of the Ms. Marvels miniseries when it was aired on the ABC broadcast network in early September (2023).  I love The Marvels because I can figure out what is going on without having seen everything else it references.  If I really want to know more, I can read Wikipedia summaries of the Disney+ series that I have not seen.

The Marvels is marvelously enjoyable.  It is a science fiction adventure comedy that makes a comedy of physical errors out of every fight.  It's more like Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Thor: Ragnarok (2017) than it is like any other Marvel film.  Director Nia DaCosta and her co-writers take time to develop the relationship between Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau, and Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel.  Also, giving so much time to Kamala family:  her mother, Muneeba Khan (Zenobia Shroff); her father, Yusuf Khan (Mohan Kapur); and her older brother, Aamir Khan (Saagar Shaikh), gives the film a human element that keeps the sci-fi, outer space weirdness of The Marvels from entirely taking over the narrative.  Yes, the plot is a bit scattershot, but The Marvels is kinetic and packs a lot energy in its fight and action scenes.

The Marvels also gives us a lighter, funnier side of Nick Fury, and, the delights of Goose, the cat-like “Flerken” alien is multiplied this time.  Dar-Benn turns out to be one of the more ruthless and interesting of the MCU's recent villains.  And if that isn't enough, The Marvels has one of the MCU's best (if not the best) extra credit scenes.  The Marvels is refreshingly short, and while it is more loose than cohesive, it does remind me of one thing.  Every trip to the world of Marvel Studios' films is an out of this world experience.

[The film includes one extra-credits scenes that takes place during the middle of the credits (mid-credits).]

8 of 10
★★★★ out of 4 stars

Friday, November 10, 2023

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



Monday, October 16, 2023

A "Star Wars" Link-o-Rama 2023 by Negromancer - Update #22

by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

You can support Leroy via Paypal or on Patreon.


WILLOW - From Deadline:  Warwick Davis, star of the (maybe) cancelled Disney+ series, "Willow," is embarrassed that the series has been removed from Disney+.  The series is based on the beloved 1988 Ron Howard film, Willow.

FRANCHISE - From Deadline:  In a new licensing deal, all 11 live-action "Star Wars" movies will be available on Disney's linear networks, including ABC (broadcast) and FX nets and Freeform (cable).  Warner Bros. Discovery's Turner networks will also continue to carry the movies.

ROGUE ONE - From THRGareth Edwards, the director of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, says that there is so much inaccuracy on the Internet about its making.  For instance, Edwards says that HE directed the Darth Vader corridor scenes that comes at the end of the film's last act.

COMICS - From BleedingCool:  Marvel Comics "Star Wars" comic book solicitations for December 2023

LANDO - From Variety:  The "Lando" TV series that Donald Glover (who played Lando Calrissian in the film, "Solo: A Star Wars Story") and his brother, Stephen Glover, are developing will now be a film.

LUCASFILM - From Variety:  Disney-owned Lucasfilm/ Industrial Light & Magic is to close its VFX and animation facility in Singapore, where more than 300 people are employed.

EMMYS - From StarWars:  At the 2023 / 75th Primetime Emmy Awards, four Disney+ Lucasfilm series received a total of 23 nominations in 21 total categories:  the dramas: "Andor," "Obi-Wan Kenobi," and "The Mandalorian," and the documentary series, "Light & Magic." The winners will be announced Monday, September 18th.

BOBA FETT - From CBR:  According to inside sources, a season two of the Lucasfilm Disney+ series, "The Book of Boba Fett," is not happening.

AHSOKA - From Deadline:  The Lucasfilm series, "Star Wars: Ahsoka," will begin streaming on Disney+ August 23rd.

OBI-WAN - From CBR:  Fellow cast member, Vivien Lyra Blair (young "Princess Leia") says that actor Ewan McGregor is begging for a second season of the Lucasfilm Disney+ series, "Obi-Wan."

SKELETON CREW - From CBR:  The Disney+ series, "Star Wars: Skeleton Crew," will supposedly have 8 episodes.  This series may debut in November or December of 2023.

OBIT - From THR:  There has been a death in the "Star Wars" family.  Irish film and television actor, Ray Stevenson, has died at the age of 58.  He provided the voice of the animated character, "Gar Saxon," in two episodes of Season 3 episodes of "Star Wars: Rebels" (2016-17) and two episodes in Season 7 of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" (2020). He is scheduled to appear posthumously in the Lucasfilm Disney+ series, "Ahsoka."

ROGUE ONE - From CBR: "Andor" showrunner, Tony Gilroy, says that there is no "director's cut" or alternate version of "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story."

STAR WARS CELEBRATION - From Deadline:  The "Star Wars Celebration" event hits London with big news, including a new series of films set 15 years after "The Rise of Skywalker" with Daisy Ridley in the lead.

AHSOKA - From THR:  The Disney+/Lucasfilm series, "Ahsoka," has its first trailer.  The series debuts August 2023.

SECRET PROJECT - From Deadline: Lucasfilm’s top-secret Star Wars movie to be directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy has lost its screenwriters Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.

From DeadlineSteven Knight is the new screenwriter on Lucasfilm’s top-secret "Star Wars" movie to be directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, which lost its original screenwriters Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.

SKELETON CREW - From THRDaniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, who won three Oscars for their film, "Everything Everywhere All at Once," have reportedly directed at least one episode of the Jude Law-led "Star Wars" series, "Star Wars: Skeleton Crew."

COMICS - From BleedingCool:  A list and information on all the "Star Wars" comic books coming from Marvel Comics in June 2023.

ORIGINAL TRILOGY - From CBRJon Favreau, executive producer and creator of Disney+/Lucasfilm's "The Mandalorian," says that he believes that there is not enough demand for a theatrical re-release of the original theatrical versions of "Star Wars," "The Empire Strikes Back," and "Return of the Jedi."

FUTURE - From Variety:  The planned "Star Wars" films by Marvel Studios boss, Kevin Feige, and "Wonder Woman" director, Patty Jenkins, are no longer in active development.

ANDOR - From Variety: Star Diego Luna talks about the final season of the Disney+ series, "Andor, "and about his possible future in the "Star Wars" universe.

COMICS - From BleedingCool:  Arrving May 2023, "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi - Lando #1" is a one-shot that finds Lando Calrissian working for Jabba the Hutt.


STAR WARS Movie Reviews:

From Negromancer:  "Star Wars"
From Negromancer:  "The Empire Strikes Back"
From Negromancer:  "Return of the Jedi"

From Negromancer:   "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace"

From Negromancer:  "Star Wars: The Force Awakens
From Negromancer:  "Star Wars: The Last Jedi"
From Negromancer:  "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker"

From Negromancer:  "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" (2008 animated film)
From Negromancer:  "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"
From Negromancer:  "Solo: A Star Wars Story" 

I Reads You "Star Wars Central" comics and graphic novel review page is here.


Amazon wants me to inform you that the link below is a PAID AD, but I technically only get paid (eventually) if you click on the ad below AND buy something(s).

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Review: Walt Disney's "ROBIN HOOD" is the Non-Classic Disney Classic

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 44 of 2023 (No. 1933) by Leroy Douresseaux

Robin Hood (1973) – animation
Running time:  83 minutes (1 hour, 23 minutes)
PRODUCER/DIRECTOR:  Wolfgang Reitherman
WRITERS:  Larry Clemons; based on story and character concepts by Ken Anderson
EDITORS:  Tom Acosta and Jim Melton
COMPOSER:  George Bruns
Academy Award nominee


Starring:  (voices) Brian Bedford, Phil Harris, Roger Miller, Peter Ustinov, Terry-Thomas, Monica Evans, Andy Devine, Carole Shelley, Pat Buttram, George Lindsey, and Ken Curtis

Robin Hood is a 1973 animated musical-comedy and fantasy-adventure film produced and directed by Wolfgang Reitherman.  It is also the twenty-first feature-length animated film from Walt Disney Productions, part of a line also known as the “Disney Classics.”  The film is based on the English folklore character, Robin Hood, and the stories that have grown around the character.  Disney's 1953 Robin Hood film depicts the legendary outlaw and the cast of characters around his legend as anthropomorphic animals (animals that talk and act like humans)

Robin Hood opens with the story's narrator, Alan-a-Dale – The Rooster (Roger Miller), saying that there are many stories of Robin Hood, but that the one he is about to tell takes place in the world of animals.  He introduces Robin Hood – A Fox (Brian Bedford) and Little John – A Brown Bear (Phil Harris).  They are outlaws and live in Sherwood Forest.  They rob from the rich in order to give gold coins to the overtaxed citizens of the town of Nottingham.

The Sheriff of Nottingham – A Wolf (Pat Buttram) tries to catch the two, but he fails every time.  The sheriff's failure to capture the outlaws irritates Prince John – A Lion (Peter Ustinov).  John is the “Prince Regent” of England while his older brother, King Richard – A Lion (Peter Ustinov), is out of the country fighting in the Third Crusade.  Prince John and his advisor, Sir Hiss – A Snake (Terry-Thomas), plot to end the nuisance of Robin Hood.  Prince John also demands that the Sheriff tax the poor townsfolk of Nottingham excessively, driving many to abject poverty.

Meanwhile, Robin's attention is not entirely focused on robbing the rich.  He wishes to reunite with his love interest, Maid Marian – A Vixen (Monica Evans), who is also the niece of King Richard.  And Prince John's latest plot to catch Robin Hood may just reunite Robin and Marian.  Can their love survive an increasingly enraged Prince John?

As “DVD Netflix” prepares to shutdown, I've been racing to catch up on certain films that I have never seen or have not seen in a long time.  I recently decided to sample some films in which 2023 is the fiftieth anniversary of their original theatrical releases.  That includes such films as Woody Allen's Sleeper, George Lucas' American Graffiti, and the Bruce Lee classic, Enter the Dragon.

Walt Disney's Robin Hood is one of those films celebrating a 50th anniversary, and it is one of the Disney animated classics that I had never seen prior to now.  I am a fan of Robin Hood films, especially the 1991 Kevin Costner vehicle, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.  I also like Ridley Scott's 2010 film, Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe in the title role.  I found some enjoyment in Tom and Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Mouse, a 2012 direct-to-DVD film.  [Robin Hood makes a small appearance in director Richard Thorpe's “Best Picture” Oscar nominee, Ivanhoe (1952), which I have seen a few times on Turner Classic Movies.]

Disney's Robin Hood is an odd film.  First, it isn't an origin story, and takes place, apparently, well into Robin's career as an outlaw.  While Alan-o-Dale mentions “the Merry Men,” Robin's legendary band of outlaws, Little John is the only one that appears in this film.  Friar Tuck – A Badger (Andy Devine) does appear, but he seems to be purely the priest of Nottingham – more a beneficiary of Robin's outlaw activities than a participant.  For me, this makes the film seem under-developed, as if it we are getting half of the intended story.

Apparently, using the the American “Deep South” as a setting for this film was considered, but ultimately the chosen locale was Robin Hood's traditional English setting.  However, Roger Miller, who provides the talking and singing voice of Alan-o-Dale, is best known for his honky-tonk inflected country music and novelty songs, so much of Miller's performance here seems out of place.  Miller's Alan-o-Dale has the flavors of America's rural South, which somewhat clashes with the English setting.  Still, I tend to like Miller's narrating and singing in Robin Hood, although this film's best song is the Oscar-nominated “Love,” written by George Bruns and Floyd Huddleston.

To begin, Robin Hood feels muddled, and it really does not find its narrative flow until about 37 minutes into the film.  At that point, the characters really emerge as they take their places within the story.  The action turns lively, and the animation and animation effects start to stand out.  The voice performances overall are good, but not great – nothing that I would call memorable in the context of the great performances in other Disney animated classics.  Walt Disney's Robin Hood does not exactly miss the mark, but it does not hit the bullseye, either.

6 of 10
★★★ out of 4 stars

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

1974 Academy Awards, USA:  1 nomination: “Best Music, Original Song” (George Bruns-music and Floyd Huddleston-lyrics for the song “Love”)

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Amazon wants me to inform you that the affiliate link below is a PAID AD, but I technically only get paid (eventually) if you click on the affiliate link below AND buy something(s).

Friday, June 30, 2023

Review: "INDIANA JONES and the Dial of Destiny" is a Wonderful Final Adventure

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 29 of 2023 (No. 1918) by Leroy Douresseaux

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (1989)
Running time:  154 minutes (2 hours, 34 minutes)
MPA – PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, language and smoking
DIRECTOR:  James Mangold
WRITERS:  Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth and David Koepp & James Mangold (based on characters created by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman)
PRODUCERS:  Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, and Simon Emanuel
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Phedon Papamichael (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Andrew Buckland, Michael McCusker, and Dick Westervelt
COMPOSER:  John Williams


Starring:  Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen, Antonino Banderas, Shaunette Renée Wilson, Thomas Kretschmann, Toby Jones, Boyd Holbrook, Olivier Richters, Ethann Isidore, Nasser Memarzia, Karen Allen, and John Rhys-Davies, 

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is a 2023 action-adventure film directed by James Mangold.  It is the fifth entry in the “Indiana Jones” film franchise that began with the 1981 film, Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Dial of Destiny finds Indiana Jones racing to retrieve a legendary artifact from a Nazi who wants change the course of history.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny opens in 1944, deep inside Europe during the Allied liberation of World War II.  Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr. (Harrison Ford) and his colleague and fellow archaeologist, Basil Shaw (Toby Jones), are both captured by Nazis while attempting to retrieve “the Lance of Longinus.”  This relic is also known as the “Spear of Destiny,” the lance that is alleged to have pierced the side of Jesus Christ.  Adolf Hitler believes it can save him and his dying Third Reich.

However, Nazi scientist Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) believes that he has found part of the relic that can save the Nazis, the “Antikythera”or “Archimedes's Dial,” a device created by the ancient Greek mathematician, Archimedes,  Voller believes that if he can make the device whole it is capable of locating fissures in time.  As usual, Indiana Jones foils the Nazis.

A quarter-century later, in August 1969, Jones is retiring from his position as a professor and instructor at Hunter College.  He is approached by Helena “Wombat” Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Jones' goddaughter and Basil Shaw's daughter.  She has come looking for the Dial, but she isn't the only one.  A Nazi ghost from Indiana Jones' past also wants to retrieve the Dial and to find its missing half.  Can Indiana Jones, now an old man, find the will for one more adventure to save the world from Nazi machinations?  Can he really trust his own goddaughter's motivations?

In preparation for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, I recently watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in its entirety for the first time in over two decades.  I have seen the first film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, countless times, and I re-watched its follow-up, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), in November of last year (2022).  I have watched the fourth film in the series, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), many times since its release.

I am happy to report that Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is the best Indiana Jones since Temple of Doom.  It is a bit long and drags in the middle, but when it is time to deliver the old-fashioned Indiana Jones thrills, this film brings it with renewed freshness.  The two street chases, one in New York and one in Tangier, Morocco, kept me on the edge of my seat.  Indiana Jones on a horse tearing through the streets and subways of NYC is every bit as good as it could be.

Dial of Destiny is also blessed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Helena Shaw.  The script presents a very well conceived and executed character, and Bridge turns her into a character that can match Indiana Jones step for step.  Hers is not the only high-quality supporting character, but this film could not work without Waller-Bridge playing Shaw the way she does.

The best Indiana Jones villains are the Nazis, and Mads Mikkelsen as Voller and Boyd Holbrook as Klaber, Voller's crazy and homicidal lackey, gives us Nazis worthy of not only being punched, but also of being killed.  It's good to see that the Indiana Jones franchise makes Nazis plainly and clearly evil.  There isn't any “good people on both sides here” double talk in this movie.

No, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas do not return for Dial of Destiny, being listed in the credits as “executive producers.”  James Mangold has replaced Spielberg as director, and he does a much better job with this film than I expected.  Lucas has co-written the story for the previous films doesn't for this one, but the spirit of adventure and mystery he first imagined decades ago is strong in Dial of Destiny.

I understand that some viewers may be put off by the age of Dial of Destiny's star and title character.  I like that Dial of Destiny does not hesitate to grapple with Indiana Jones' age and about the grief and regret that have become a big part of his life.  It is nice to see returning supporting characters, Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) and Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), although it is a bit off-putting not seeing them so much older.  Still, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, with its themes of time and tide, of change, of new eras, of aging, of a hero in the sunset of his life, offers a perfect good-bye to a beloved hero.  It says that there is still a story to tell, but the story we followed for so long … well, that's over.

7 of 10
★★★½ out of 4 stars

Friday, June 30, 2023

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site or blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



Saturday, June 17, 2023

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from June 11th to 17th, 2023 - Update #18

By Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

You can support Leroy via Paypal or on Patreon:


TELEVISION - From Deadline:  NBC has passed on a third season of its sitcom, "American Auto."

MOVIES - From Deadline Martyn Ford is among four new cast members added to New Line's "Mortal Kombat 2."

SCANDAL - From THR:  Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey says that if he is found "not guilty" in his U.K. sexual assault trial people are ready to hire him again.  He is set to appear in court June 16th and he is facing four counts of sexual assault against three men.

DISNEY - From Deadline: Director and Oscar-winning screenwriter, Sarah Polley, is in early talks to direct a live-action version of Disney's legendary animated feature film, "Bambi."

DISNEY - From VarietyDisney has shaken up its release date schedules, announcing delays and date changes for its Marvel Studios and "Avatar" films, with the final Avatar film, "Avatar 5," not arriving until 2031.

POLITICS - From TheAP:  Billionaire investor turned philanthropist George Soros is ceding control of his $25 billion empire to a younger son, Alexander "Alex" Soros.  Soros, who is Jewish, is frequently the target of right wing conspiracies because his donations to human rights causes and to organizations promoting democracy around the world.  The 37-year-old Alex plans to continues his father's work, but be "more policital" and also to broaden his father's "liberal aims" to include issues such as voting rights and abortion rights.

TELEVISION - From DeadlineFox News has sent a "cease and desist" letter to its former property, Tucker Carlson."  Although Fox fired him, he is still under contract through the end of 2024, and they don't want him doing a show on Twitter.  He has already completed at least two episodes of his "Tucker on Twitter" show.

TONY AWARDS - From Deadline:   The winners at the 2023 / 76th annual Tony Awards have been announced.  "Kimberly Akimbo" was the big winner, taking five awards, including "Best Musical" and "Lead Actress" for Victoria Clark.  "Leopoldstadt" won four Tonys, including "Best Play."

BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficePro:  The winner of the 6/9 to 6/11/2023 weekend box office is Paramount Pictures' "Transformers: Rise of the Beasts" with an estimated take of 60.5 million dollars.

From Here:  A review of "Transformers: Rise of the Beasts" by Leroy Douresseaux.

TELEVISION - From Deadline:  Actor Kelsey Grammar explains his choice of a British co-star, actor Nicholas Lyndhurst, for his reboot of his long-running, Emmy-winning NBC TV series, "Frasier."  The series is set for Paramount+ later this year.

MOVIES - From Variety:  In a new documentary about his career, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger says that he was embarrassed by the flop that was his 1993 action-fantasy-comedy film, "The Last Action Hero." In a phone call, his friend, director James Cameron, said Arnold sounded like he wanted to cry over the film's reception.

MUSIC/LGBTQ+ - From Deadline:  Grammy Award-winning country music legend, Garth Brooks, says that he will serve all beers, including "Bud Light," which is the subject of backlash and boycotts, at his new Nashville bar, "Friends in Low Places Bar & Honky Tonk."  Brooks says the bar will be welcoming to everyone and will be a safe space.

ANIMATION - From BloodyDisgustingEli Roth and author James Frey are teaming up with DreamWorks Animation on a new 2D animated series for "older teens" entitled "Fright Krewe."  Still early in development, the series will focus on a group of misfits teens in charge of saving New Orleans from a great demonic threat.  The first season of 10 episodes will debut on Hulu and Peacock.


From WashPost:  Former U.S. military analyst and American political activist and whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, has died at the age of 92, Friday, June 16, 2023.  Ellsberg is best known for leaking the "Pentagon Papers," a top-secret study and history commissioned by the U.S. Pentagon and concerning the U.S. government's decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War. He leaked the study first to "The New York Times" and then, to "The Washington Post."  Ellsberg's activities were the subject on the Oscar-nominated documentary film, "The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers," which also won a Peabody Award.  Ellsberg also appears in the 1974 Oscar-winning documentary film, "Hearts and Minds."

From Deadline:  English actress and politician, Glenda Jackson, has died at the age of 87, Thursday, June 15, 2023.  Jackson won two "Best Actress" Oscars, for "Women in Love" (1969) and "A Touch of Class" (1973), and was nominated twice more.  She also won two Primetime Emmy Awards and one Tony Award.  Jackson was also a member of the British Parliament from 1992 to 2015 as a member of the Labour Party.

From Variety:  American author, Cormac McCarthy, has died at the age of 89, Tuesday, June 13, 2023.  He is best known for his novels, "All the Pretty Horses" (1992), "No Country for Old Me," (2005), and "The Road" (2006), all of which were adapted into film.  The 2007 film adaptation of "No Country for Old Me" won four Academy Awards," including "Best Picture."  "The Road" won the 2007 "Pulitzer Prize for Fiction."

From Variety:  Stage, film, and television actor, Treat Williams, has died at the age of 71, Monday, June 12, 2023. Williams died as the result of motor vehicle accident near Dorset, Vermont.  Williams is best known for his roles in such films as the musical, "Hair" (1979), Steven Spielberg's WWII comedy, "1941" (1979), "Prince of the City" (1981), and the cult film, "Deep Rising" (1998), to name a few.  He played the lead road in The WB drama, "Everwood" (2002-06).  He received a Primetime Emmy nominations for his work in the 1996 TV movie, "The Late Shift" (HBO).

From Deadline:  The family of actor the late actor Treat Williams has released a statement regarding his passing.  Williams died Monday evening (Mon., June 12th) when a car hit the motorcycle he was riding.



From THR:  Studios won't give writers better pay, and now, are laying off janitors.

From Deadline:  The Directors Guild of America (DGA) has reached a tentative new three-year deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). So what does the Writers Guild (WGA), currently on strike and negotiating with the AMPTP, think of that deal.

From Deadline:  Netflix shareholders declined to support the 2023 pay packages of top executives during a non-binding vote at the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Thursday.  The vote won't prevent these execs from getting their loot (an total of $166 million), but this is a rare public rebuke.  The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has urged shareholders to vote "No" because the pay was "inappropriate" at this time.

From Deadline:  Warner Bros Discovery chief David Zaslav gave the commencement address at Boston University. There he was met with jeers and also chants of "pay your writers" from picketers and from some in the audience.

From Deadline:   President Joe Biden speaks on the Writers Guild of America strike.

From Deadline:  Retaliation! The studios have starting informing writer-producers who have "overall" and "first-look" deals that such deals are being suspended.

From Deadline:  Retaliation!  Prolific HBO creator, David Simon, who is best known for "The Wire," is one of the many writers who have had their overall deals suspended the studios due to the WGA strike.  Simon has been with HBO for 25 years.

From Deadline:  The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is on strike.

From Deadline:  Disney, HBO/HBO Max, and CBS have sent letters to showrunners (the TV equivalent of film directors) instructing them to return to work, inspite of the writer's strike.

From Deadline:  The WGA's chief negotiator, Ellen Stutzman, talks about the state of the writers' strike, including the lack of engagement on the part of the strike's other party, AMPTP.

From Deadline:  What went wrong between the WGA and AMPTP? What could they not agree on that led to a strike?

From Deadline:  The site explains the WGA strike: the issues, the stakes, movies and TV shows affected, and how long it might last.


Saturday, May 27, 2023

Review: Halle Bailey is the Heart of Disney's Eye-Popping "THE LITTLE MERMAID"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 23 of 2023 (No. 1912) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Little Mermaid (2023)
Running time: 135 minutes (2 hours, 15 minutes)
MPA – PG for action/peril and some scary images
DIRECTOR: Rob Marshall
WRITER: David Magee
PRODUCERS: John DeLuca, Rob Marshall, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Marc Platt
EDITOR: Wyatt Smith
COMPOSER: Alan Menken
SONGS: Howard Ashman (lyrics), Alan Menken (music), and Lin-Manuel Miranda (new lyrics)


Starring:  Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Norma Dumezweni, Art Malik, and Javier Bardem and Melissa McCarthy and the voices of Daveed Diggs, Jacob Tremblay, and Awkwafina

The Little Mermaid is a 2023 fantasy musical and drama film directed by Rob Marshall and released by Walt Disney Pictures.  It is a live-action remake of Disney's 1989, Oscar-winning, animated film, The Little Mermaid.  Both films are loosely based on “The Little Mermaid,” the literary fairy tale authored by Hans Christian Andersen and first published in 1837.  The Little Mermaid 2023 focuses on a young mermaid who longs to live in the human world and makes a terrible deal to do so.

The Little Mermaid introduces Ariel (Halle Bailey), a mermaid princess and the youngest daughter of King Triton (Javier Bardem), ruler of the merpeople.  Ariel is fascinated with the human world despite never having seen it, as Triton forbids all merfolk from going to the surface.  However, Ariel collects human objects that sink below the surface of the sea.  She hides them in a grotto with the support of her best friends, Flounder (voice of Jacob Tremblay), a fish, and Scuttle (voice of Awkwafina), a seabird.  Furious that Ariel has missed a meeting with him and her sisters, Triton commands Sebastian (Daveed Diggs), a crab, to watch over her.

Ariel eventually swims to the surface where she comes upon a human sea vessel.  The ship, from an isolated island kingdom, is commanded by kingdom's Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King).  Eric tells his confidant, Sir Grimsby (Art Malik), the kingdom's Prime Minister, that he wishes to explore the unknown seas in a bid to help his people, but he knows that his mother, Queen Selina (Norma Dumezweni), is against such exploration.  Hearing that, Ariel considers Eric a kindred spirit.

After she saves Eric's life, Ariel is determined to visit him on his island home, but as a mermaid, she does not have legs.  Fortunately … the sea witch, Ursula (Melissa McCarthy), says that she has the magic that can make Ariel human so that she can be with Prince Eric.  However, the price is Ariel's beautiful singing voice, and, unknown to her, the fates of her father, their kingdom, and Eric.

I was not sure how Disney would pull off creating the undersea world of The Little Mermaid, especially the merfolk and other sea creatures.  Silly me: in the wake of Avatar: The Way of Water, The Little Mermaid could certainly pull off a water world that isn't nearly as ambitious as Avatar's – and still look good.  Under the sea and on land, the production design, art direction, set decoration, costumes, and environments are all dazzling.  The result is a stunningly beautiful film in which the undersea world looks a real, but still magical environment.  The island kingdom of Queen Selina seems like a kind of Caribbean utopia-lite, but it is both fantastical and inviting.  I want to see more of it.

The computer imagery creates merpeople that are beautiful, although it is not until the end of the film that we see the full dazzling array of merfolk, no two looking alike.  The special effects that turn Halle Bailey into a mermaid is try cinematic magic; she is a flawless, beautiful creature.  Ariel's trio of animal friends and helpers: Sebastian, Flounder, and Scuttle resemble real animals, and I was surprised how good Sebastian looked.  I thought he'd be a disaster as a CGI animal.

The performances – both acting and voice roles – are one of the elements that really makes The Little Mermaid work.  Daveed Diggs, Jacob Tremblay, and Awkwafina give winning voice performances as Sebastian, Flounder, and Scuttle, respectively.  Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric holds his own next to Halle Bailey as Ariel, which is not easy.  Melissa McCarthy is shockingly good as Ursula, and I didn't expect that.  I was sure she could not pull it off, although I am a fan of her work.  Her performance, which takes inspiration from the late actor, singer, and drag queen legend, Divine, gives this film the dark fairy magic energy that it needs.

Screenwriter David Magee cleverly spins something new out of old sources, but he is also respectful of the original film.  What the new film lacks in the original's charm, it makes up for by seeming more consequential.  Magee also benefits from having the classic songs of the late lyricist, Howard Ashman (1950-1991), and composer, Alan Menken, from The Little Mermaid 1989.  Also, contrary to some complaints, Lin-Manuel Miranda's new songs and new lyrics for two of the original songs both serve this film quite well.

The true star of this film is Halle Bailey, however.  Rob Marshall makes the most of Halle's natural gifts, especially her soaring singing voice, photogenic looks, and winning personality.  The ads for this film are not lying; when Halle sings, the waters part.  With Halle as his star, Marshall delivers his version The Little Mermaid that can stand on its own, apart from the Walt Disney animated classic that is its source.  Yes, I find The Little Mermaid 2023 to be a tad bit too long, but I was surprised.  The Little Mermaid is much better than I expected, and it feels like a true Disney fairy tale film.

7 of 10
★★★½ out of 4 stars

Saturday, May 27, 2023

You may visit the Amazon LITTLE MERMAID page here.

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



Amazon wants me to inform you that the affiliate link below is a PAID AD, but I technically only get paid (eventually) if you click on the affiliate link below AND buy something(s).

Friday, May 5, 2023

Review: James Gunn Delivers a Series Best in the Great "GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 20 of 2023 (No. 1909) by Leroy Douresseaux

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)
Running time:  150 minutes (2 hours, 30 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, strong language, suggestive/drug references and thematic elements
DIRECTOR:  James Gunn
WRITERS:  James Gunn (based on the Marvel Comics characters)
PRODUCER:  Kevin Feige
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Henry Braham (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Fred Raskin and Greg D'Auria
COMPOSER:  John Murphy


Starring:  Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Chukwudi Iwuji, Sean Gunn, Will Poulter, Nico Santos, Miriam Shor, Elizabeth Debicki, Sylvester Stallone, Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker, Gregg Henry, and the voices of Linda Cardellini, Seth Green, Maria Bakalova, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a 2023 science fiction, comedy, and action-adventure film written and directed by James Gunn and produced by Marvel Studios.  It is the third film in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy film series, following 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy and 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.  It is also the 32nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).  Vol. 3 finds the Guardians fighting to save one of their members from his creator, a mission that may destroy the Guardians whether they are successful or not.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 opens on Knowhere, the strange space station where the Guardians of the Galaxy have established their headquarters.  Their leader, Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), mourns the loss of his girlfriend, Gamora (Zoe Saldana).  The alien warlord, Thanos, killed Gamora (as seen in Avengers: Infinity War), but an alternate universe version of her appeared (as seen in Avengers: Endgame).  This new Gamora does not love Peter, and she associates with The Ravagers, which was once essentially Peter's surrogate family.

The group has bigger troubles ahead.  The Guardians are being targeted by the “Sovereign” empress Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), someone with a grudge against them (as seen in Vol. 2).  She sends her son, Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), to attack the Guardians, and he grievously wounds Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper).  To save Rocket, Peter and his fellow Guardians:  Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Groot (voice of Vin Diesel), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Nebula (Karen Gillan), and a reluctant Gamora, must confront The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), the Counter-Earth scientist who created Rocket.

The original Guardians of the Galaxy was one of the surprise hits of 2014, if not the surprise hit of the year.  Vol. 2 was a fun sci-fi-action movie and a surprisingly thoughtful character melodrama.  Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 does everything the first two films did well and amplifies that.  Vol. 3 is the series' funniest film, and I found myself laughing throughout it.  That still surprises me because this movie has some pretty dark moments, especially concerning The High Evolutionary, who is superbly played with volcanic intensity and unremitting cruelty by the most excellent Chuckwudi Iwuji.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is one of Marvel Studios' best films in years.  I think it works for three reasons.  First, the film's production values and special effects are impressive.  The CGI-created environments, backdrops, sets (interiors and exteriors), space-ways, worlds, etc. are so dazzling in scope, color, and imagination that they surpass the impressive work of the first two films, especially the second film.  The entire entire “Orgoscope” sequence is an eye-popping collection of inventiveness.  Even the menagerie of people, creatures, and robots exceeds the first two film, probably combined.

The acting is quite good, and that makes me want to engage the characters even more.  Chris Pratt gives his best tern as Peter Quill/Star-Lord – drama, pathos, big emotions, and the sarcasm and quips are still here – but with edginess.  This is the first time that I really hoped that Star-Lord would be a long term MCU character.  It is so shocking that Zoe Saldana can convince me that she is a different Gamora.  Karen Gillan as Nebula and Pom Klementieff as Mantis do superb work with the character arcs that the story gives them.  As Drax the Destroyer, Dave Bautista makes the character seem not extraneous for the first time.  Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper as always are winning in their voice roles as Groot and Rocket, respectively, with Diesel bringing some extra to Groot this time.

The third reason Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is so damn good is writer-director James Gunn.  This is Gunn at the peak of his powers.  Honestly, I liked Vol. 2 so much that I didn't think he could top himself, but he does with this third film.  I did find Vol. 3 a little dry and too dark in the beginning, but once it grabbed me, it would not let go.

This film has a heart – a center that is about the struggle to help a friend or family member no matter how bad his or her troubles might be or even if he or she resists and rejects the help.  In Vol. 3, Gunn makes all the characters unique individuals with wants, needs, goals, conflicts, and melodrama.  However, the best thing that Gunn does is accept that even the most intense relationships change, so he lets some of the characters move on.  The result is a last act for the ages and a closing sequence that recalls the beginning of the original film and leaves the viewer with the warmest feelings.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 opens in the U.S. today, May 5, 2023.  That is 15 years and a few days after the release of the first MCU film, Iron Man (2008).  Vol. 3 exemplifies something that I just realize runs throughout Marvel Studios' film.  In almost all of them, a dominant theme is the formation of surrogate families.  Friends, enemies, heroes, and sometimes even the villains come together in a unit that is more than just a group of friends; they are family.  In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, James Gunn gives us the end of one version of the family as it evolves into something larger.  What makes Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 an amazing film is that it is as heartwarming as it is exciting and thrilling.  Yes, there are big, mesmerizing action set pieces, but by the end, I really believe that these guys love one another.  I could watch it forever.

9 of 10
★★★★+ out of 4 stars

Friday, May 5, 2023

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for syndication rights and fees.



Amazon wants me to inform you that the affiliate link below is a PAID AD, but I technically only get paid (eventually) if you click on the affiliate link below AND buy something(s).

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Review: Disney's "ENCANTO" Spins Its Own Special Magic

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 12 of 2023 (No. 1901) by Leroy Douresseaux

Encanto (2021)
Running time:  102 minutes (1 hour, 42 minutes)
MPAA – PG for some thematic elements and mild peril
DIRECTORS:  Jared Bush and Byron Howard with Charise Castro Smith (co-director)
WRITERS:  Jared Bush and Charise Castro Smith; from a story by Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Charise Castro Smith, Jason Hand, Nancy Kruse, and Lin-Manuel Miranda
PRODUCERS:  Clark Spencer and Yvett Merino
CINEMATOGRAPHERS:  Alessandro Jacomini, Daniel Rice, and Nathan Warner
EDITOR:  Jeremy Milton
ORIGINAL SONGS:  Lin-Manuel Miranda
COMPOSER:  Germaine Franco


Starring:  (voices) Stephanie Beatriz, María Cecilia Botero, John Leguizamo, Mauro Castillo, Jessica Darrow, Angie Cepeda, Carolina Gaitan, Diane Guerrero, Wilmer Valderrama, Rhenzy Feliz, Ravi Cabot-Conyers, Adassa, Maluma, Rose Portillo, Alan Tudyk, and Noemi Josefina Flores

Encanto is a 2021 computer-animated fantasy film from directors Jared Bush and Byron Howard and produced Walt Disney Animation Studios.  It is the 60th animated feature film in the “Walt Disney Animated Classics” line.  Encanto focuses on a teenage girl who must deal with being the only member of her family without magical powers even as the family's magic begins to fade.

Encanto introduces Mirabel Madrigal (Stephanie Beatriz), a teen girl who is part of the multi-generational "la familia Madrigal" (the Madrigal family).  Fifty years ago, her grandfather and grandmother, Pedro and Alma Madrigal (Maria Cecilia Botero), were forced to flee their home village in rural Columbia.  They took their infant triplets, Julieta, Pepa and Bruno, and escaped into the countryside, but their pursuers killed Pedro, but Alma had a candle that suddenly released magic and repelled the attackers.  The magic also created, “Casita,” a living or sentient house for Alma and her children.  The home is located in “Encanto,” a magical realm bordered by high mountains.  A village of newcomers now thrives under the candle's protection, shining its light from an upper room in the Madrigal home, “La Casa Madrigal.”

But all is not well.  The children and grandchildren of Abuela Alma were all granted magical gifts that each one uses to serve the villagers.  For instance, Mirabel's oldest sister, Isabela (Diane Guerrero), can make flowers grow anywhere, and her second oldest sister, Luisa (Jessica Darrow), has superhuman strength.  However, Mirabel did not receive any powers from the candle, and her Abuela Alma seems to act as if Mirabel is an obstacle in the way of the rest of the family.  Mirabel is almost as cursed as her mysterious uncle, Bruno (John Leguizamo), who disappeared years ago.  When Mirabel learns that her family members are losing their magic, she is determined to find out what is happening, although everyone else is in a state a denial about it.

I won't waste too much time telling you, dear readers, how beautiful Encanto looks.  That is standard for animated films produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios.  The art direction yields beautiful sets and environments, and the costume designs results in colorful costumes that are dazzling, colorful, and imaginative.  The visual effects go off like fireworks, and it makes the magic seem … well, really magical.  Even the character design stands out, making Encanto one of the few mainstream American films set in Latin American or are Latino-themed that actually recognize that there are dark-skinned and black Latinos.  Not every Latino has light skin tones, light enough to front as white.

Encanto plays with notions of “magical realism,” a story that is realistic, but is infused with magic and the supernatural.  However, the world of Encanto barely looks realistic, as many animation films don't.  In fact, Encanto is one of the most magically-infused Disney films in years.

However, Encanto is like many Disney animated films – a coming of age film that focuses on the lead character, in this case, Mirabel.  The film's first dominant theme involves the struggle between tradition and change, the former embodied by Alma, who holds onto Madrigals' tradition of magic, and the latter by Mirabel, who clearly and correctly senses that something is wrong.  The second main theme is the conflict between family obligations and individual desires.  I think audiences will enjoy that, through Mirabel, Encanto shows that the family and the individual can work together for the benefit of everyone and each one.

Lin-Manuel Miranda's lively song score makes Encanto's narrative flow like an energetic stream, and the hit, “We Don't Talk About Bruno,” isn't the only excellent song.  Encanto stands out because it celebrates people overcoming suffering and life's trials and tribulations.  Also, one should take notice of the film's diversity and representation.  That makes Encanto stand out as special and as a place worth visiting time and again.

8 of 10
★★★★ out of 4 stars

Thursday, March 9, 2023

2022 Academy Awards, USA:  1 win: “Best Animated Feature Film” (Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Yvett Merino, and Clark Spencer); 2 nominations: “Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures-Original Score” (Germaine Franco) and “Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures-Original Song” (Lin-Manuel Miranda-music and lyric for the song “Dos Oruguitas”)

2022 BAFTA Awards:  1 win: “Best Animated Feature Film” (Clark Spencer, Jared Bush, Byron Howard, and Yvett Merino)

2022 Golden Globes, USA:  1 win: “Best Motion Picture – Animated;” 2 nominations: “Best Original Score-Motion Picture” (Germaine Franco) and “Best Original Song - Motion Picture” (Lin-Manuel Miranda for the song “Dos Oruguitas”)

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



Friday, February 17, 2023

Review: "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" Takes Us on a Fantastic Voyage

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 8 of 2023 (No. 1897) by Leroy Douresseaux

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)
Running time:  125 minutes (2 hours, 5 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for violence/action, and language
DIRECTOR:  Peyton Reed
WRITER:  Jeff Loveness (based on the Marvel Comics characters)
PRODUCERS:  Kevin Feige and Stephen Broussard
EDITORS:  Adam Gerstel and Laura Jennings
COMPOSER:  Christophe Beck


Starring:  Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jonathan Majors, Kathryn Newton, Bill Murray, Katy M. O'Brian, William Jackson Harper, James Cutler, David Dastmalchian, Randall Park, and Corey Stoll

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a 2023 superhero and sci-fi action film directed by Peyton Reed and produced by Marvel Studios.  It is the 31st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and is also the third entry in the Ant-Man film series.  The film and the series are based on the Marvel Comics character, Ant-Man, who first appeared in Tales to Astonish #27 (cover date: September 1962) and was created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby.  Quantumania finds Ant-Man and the Wasp on an incredible adventure in a strange universe where they face a dangerous new foe.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania finds Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) living his best life after his most recent adventures with the Avengers (as seen in Avengers: Endgame).  He is a successful author and is happily living with his girlfriend, Hope van Dyne/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly).  However, there is some trouble at home.  Scott's daughter, Cassie (Kathryn Newton), has become an activist and has been recently arrested during a protest.

While they are visiting Hope's parents, her father, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the scientist who was the original Ant-Man; and her mother, Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), who was the original Wasp, Cassie reveals that she has created a device that can map the “Quantum Realm,” a subatomic dimension of the Multiverse.  However, the device can also send messages to the Quantum Realm, which freaks out Janet, who was trapped there for 30 years.  Before Janet can do shut it down, a portal appears and pulls Scott, Hope, Cassie, Hank, and Janet into the Quantum Realm, separating Scott and Cassie from Hope, Hank, and Janet.

Once the two groups begin to explore the Quantum Realm, they interact with strange creatures and embark on an adventure that goes beyond the limits of what they thought was possible.  There is also a dark side.  Janet fears they are all headed for an encounter with someone she met when she was first trapped in the Quantum Realm – a despot named “Kang” (Jonathan Majors).

Ant-Man was a D-list character as far as Marvel Comics superheroes go, especially where familiarity with the general entertainment-consuming public was concerned.  Marvel Studios chose the right actor to play Ant-Man, the irresistibly likable, Paul Rudd.  The addition of Hollywood legends like Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer and television star Evangeline Lilly as a new female superhero made Ant-Man A-list box office.  The result was two lovable, loopy, and imaginative superhero films, Ant-Man (2015) and Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), that seemed aimed at young viewers even more so than adult audiences.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is just as loopy, but is bigger than the previous two films.  If French film director, Luc Besson (The Fifth Element), made a Star Wars film, it would probably look like Quantumania.  This film's menagerie of people, beings, creatures, machines, tech, etc. are almost on the level of Avatar: The Way of Water.  Quantumania is a dazzling spectacle, and it is nothing like what I expected based on the earlier films.  Everyone from director Peyton Reed and writer Jeff Loveness to the craft and visual effects people did the damn thing and the results are mind-blowing.

The performances are excellent.  As usual, Paul Rudd comes across as the actor most perfect to be Scott Lang and Ant-Man.  Michael Douglas plays Hank Pym with a mix of spry comedy and pitch-perfect drama.  However, I must make way for the women in this film.  Quantumania allows Michelle Pfeiffer to let the dog in her out to play Janet van Dyne, in a way that she probably has not done since White Oleander (2002).  She left me wanting more of Janet.

Evangeline Lilly is once again great as The Wasp, and in Quantumania, she makes me believe that it is time for the Wasp to have a solo outing.  Also, Kathryn Newton makes it impossible to leave Cassie down on the superhero farm (so to speak).  Katy O'Brian also gives a fierce turn as the Quantum Realm freedom fighter, Jentorra.

Finally, I'm not sure that I have words to quite describe Jonathan Major's brilliant turn as Kang.  It is as if Majors has given flesh to James Earl Jones' Darth Vader voice.  He makes Kang own Quantumania, and I think it will be a blast going forward to watch Majors play this character.

You may have heard bad things about Quantumania, from film critics and reviewers and others.  But fuck 'em.  Quantumania is one of Marvel Studios' best films of the past few years, and I heartily recommend it to you, dear readers.  With its sense of the unexpected and of the future known, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the perfect start to what is called “Phase 5” of the MCU.

9 of 10
★★★★+ out of 4 stars

Friday, February 17, 2023

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint syndication rights and fees.



Sunday, October 2, 2022

Review: Original "HOCUS POCUS" Still Casts a Friendly Spell

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 56 of 2022 (No. 1868) by Leroy Douresseaux

Hocus Pocus (1993)
Running time: 96 minutes (1 hour, 36 minutes)
MPAA – PG for some scary sequences, and for language
DIRECTOR:  Kenny Ortega
WRITERS: Mick Garris and Neil Cuthbert (from a story by Mick Garris and David Kirschner)
PRODUCERS:  Steve Haft and David Kirschner
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Hiro Narita (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Peter E. Berger
COMPOSER:  John Debney


Starring:  Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Omri Katz, Thora Birch, Vinessa Shaw, Stephanie Faracy, Charles Rocket, Sean Murray, Amanda Shepherd, Larry Bagby III, Tobias Jelinek, Doug Jones, and Jason Marsden (voice) with Garry Marshall and Penny Marshall

Hocus Pocus is a 1993 fantasy, supernatural comedy, and Halloween film directed by Kenny Ortega.  The film focuses on the new boy in town who ignores local Halloween legend and lore and unwittingly awakens a trio of scheming witches who were executed 300 years earlier.

Hocus Pocus opens on October 31, 1693 (All Hallow's Eve), in Salem, Massachusetts.  A boy named Thackery Binx (Sean Murray) tries to save his little sister, Emily (Amanda Shepherd), from the schemes of Winifred “Winnie” Sanderson (Bette Midler) and her two sisters, Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mary (Kathy Najimy), who are all witches.  Thackery fails to save Emily, whose life force is drained in order to make the witch sisters young again.  The witches curse Thackery with eternal life and transform him into a black cat.  However, the vengeful townsfolk capture the Sanderson sisters and hang them, but not before Winifred casts a curse.  According to this curse, the Sanderson sisters will be resurrected during a full moon on All Hallows' Eve if a virgin lights the “Black Flame Candle” in their cottage.  Thackery, now a black cat, decides to guard the cottage in order to keep anyone from bringing the witches back to life.

Three hundred years later, it is October 31, 1993 – Halloween.  Teenager Max Dennison (Omri Katz) is the new kid in Salem, where he has moved from Los Angeles with his sister, Dani (Thora Birch), and their mother (Stephanie Faracy) and father (Charles Rocket).  Max's parents force him to take Dani out trick-or-treating.  One of the houses they visit is the home of Allison (Vinessa Shaw), Max's classmate at Jacob Bailey High School and a beautiful teen girl upon whom he has a crush.

Looking to do something different on Halloween, Max, Allison and Dani visit the former Sanderson cottage, which became a museum before it was shut down.  There, Max, a virgin, lights the Black Flame Candle which, in turn, resurrects, Winnifred, Sarah, and Mary.  Now, the three children join the still alive Thackery the black cat (voice of James Marsden), and William “Billy” Butcherson (Doug Jones) the zombie in a bid to stop the Sanderson sisters from sucking the souls out of all the children of Salem, which would give them eternal youth and immortality.

I remember that Walt Disney did mount a somewhat strong marketing campaign for Hocus Pocus upon it original release in 1993, but the film under-performed at the theatrical box office.  [I won't describe it as a box office bomb, as some do.]  In the 1990s, I worked at a video store and our VHS copy of Hocus Pocus was frequently rented, especially during Halloween.  During the last decade and a half, Hocus Pocus has exploded in a popularity due to repeated shows on “The Disney Channel” and what is now known as “Freeform.”  That popularity resulted in the production of a recently released sequel, Hocus Pocus 2 (via the “Disney+” streaming service).  The arrival of the sequel was the impetus I needed to finally watch the original Hocus Pocus from beginning to end, which I had never done, although I had been putting it off literally for decades.

Having finally seen it, I really like it.  Honestly, despite my best attempts, I can't find anything to dislike about it.  Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy are a riot as the Sanderson sisters, even if Midler is a little too over the top … here and there.  The sisters' costumes and the Halloween costumes worn by the townsfolk are impressive and imaginative, especially the sisters garb.  The sets and art direction are visually perfect, creating a pop Gothic mood and playful macabre sensibility that are pitch-perfect for a family-oriented Halloween film.

The child actors: Omri Katz as Max, Thora Birch as Dani, and Vinessa Shaw as Allison are quite good, and Max ably carries the film.  I do find the emphasis on Max's virginity to be a bit odd.  Billy the zombie and Thackery the black cat are pitch perfect supporting characters for this film.  Hocus Pocus is an impressive bit of directing on the part of Kenny Ortega and also smooth editing on the part of Peter E. Berger.  Hocus Pocus never stops moving; it has a brisk and appealing pace that can make the viewer lose track of time.  I certainly did.

I highly recommend Hocus Pocus for a family viewing night.  It is not a masterpiece of American cinema, but it is simply as perfect and as effective as it can be.  The critics who initially panned Hocus Pocus were sourpusses, and may still be sourpusses … dead or alive.

8 of 10
★★★★ out of 4 stars

Sunday, October 2, 2022

The text is copyright © 2022 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved.  Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



Friday, June 17, 2022

Review: "LIGHTYEAR" Works Hard, But the Robot Cat Steals the Show

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 37 of 2022 (No. 1849) by Leroy Douresseaux

Lightyear (2022)
Running time:  100 minutes (1 hour, 40 minutes)
MPAA –  PG for action/peril
DIRECTOR:  Angus MacLane
WRITERS:  Angus MacLane and Jason Headley; from a story by Angus MacLane, Matthew Aldrich, and Jason Headley
PRODUCER:  Galyn Susman
CINEMATOGRAPHERS:  Jeremy Lasky (D.o.P.) and Ian Megibben (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Anthony J. Greenberg
COMPOSER: Michael Giacchino


Starring:  (voices) Chris Evans, Peter Sohn, Keke Palmer, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, Uzo Aduba, Mary McDonald-Lewis, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Angus MacLane, Bill Hader, Efren Ramirez, Keira Hairston, and James Brolin

Lightyear is a 2022 computer-animated, science fiction, action-adventure film directed by Angus MacLane, produced by Pixar Animation Studios, and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.  The film is based on the character and story surrounding the character, Buzz Lightyear, that first appeared in the 1995 film, Toy Story.  Lightyear focuses on a marooned space ranger who takes on an army of robots with only an inexperienced group of recruits to help him.

In 1995, a young Andy Davis (of Toy Story) saw the film that inspired the “Buzz Lightyear” toy line that he loves so much.  Lightyear is that film.

Lightyear introduces Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans), a “Space Ranger” in Star Command and the pilot of “the Turnip,” a space exploration vessel.  Buzz and his commanding officer, Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), are exploring the habitable planet, Tikana Prime, when a series of accidents occur.  Now, the Turnip is stranded on Tikana, marooning the entire crew.

Lightyear spends the next several decades experimenting with hyperspace crystalline fuel in a bid to get the marooned crew off the planet.  Eventually, he is mostly a forgotten outcast, with only SOX (Peter Sohn), his robotic cat his only companion.  Buzz meets another group of misfits:  Izzy Hawthorne (Keke Palmer), Alisha's granddaughter; Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi), a clumsy recruit in the colonial defense forces; and Darby Steel (Dale Soules), an elderly paroled convict conscripted into the defense forces.  Together, they will take on a ruthless army of robots and their mysterious leader, Emperor Zurg (James Brolin), who has a shocking connection to Buzz Lightyear.

Lightyear is the first Pixar Animation Studios film to receive a wide theatrical release in North America in over two years, the last being 2020's Oscar-nominated Onward.  In that time, among the Pixar films that Disney released on its streaming service, Disney+, is one almost perfect Pixar film, Soul (2020), and one perfect film, Luca (2021).

Lightyear is a good, but not great Pixar film.  Yes, it follows the formula of Pixar films of having likable and lovable characters with engaging story arcs.  The characters have to overcome flaws, such as Buzz's insistence that he go-it-alone; Izzy's determination to be just like her grandmother; and Mo's clumsiness that is always endangering the mission and his compatriots.  Like many Pixar films, Lightyear has a last act filled with peril and near-disaster, if not near-death.  That is the problem with Lightyear, however; it is simply too formulaic.

Lightyear is not a particularly imaginative science fiction film.  Tikana Prime's aggressive plant vines and killer bugs are generic elements that can be found in American comic books, Japanese manga, sci-fi cartoons, etc.  Lightyear does have one great character, the robotic cat, Sox, who is in the great tradition of both Walt Disney and Pixar's memorable and lovable animal and animal-like sidekicks.  Sox is the reason that Lightyear does not fall into mediocrity.  Also, Peter Sohn, the actor who voices Sox, sounds like actor Jason Bateman (which is a good thing), at least, to me.

After seeing it, I realize that Lightyear is the kind of animated film that I usually wait to watch via the home media release instead of going to a movie theater to see it.  But Sox makes the trip to the theater worth it, and he is the reason for the grade I am giving the film.  While the last act is a nice reward for watching the entire film, Lightyear is not a Disney “instant classic,” and that's all there is to it.

7 of 10
★★★½ out of 4 stars

[This film has three post-credit scenes.]

Friday, June 17, 2022

The text is copyright © 2022 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved.  Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.