I’m no misanthrope, but it’s tough to find great new Christmas movies, even though Hollywood does keep trying no matter what. I went in with low expectations with “Let It Snow” but took the chance thanks to the great cast, and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s hard to remember a Christmas movie that feels so down to Earth and unassuming than “Let It Snow.” It has every chance to be so saccharine and cloying, but it instead insists on a very sweet and engaging tone with some genuinely engaging characters.
Taika Waititi has always been a filmmaker that’s managed to challenge conventions and deliver tales that are always completely out of the ordinary. With “Jojo Rabbit,” it’s another in a long line of tales about the male ego and the weird world that they belong to. In Waititi’s case, it’s the briefly controversial “Jojo Rabbit,” a movie that received a lot of buzz for its depiction of Adolf Hitler. Once you got down to the meat and potatoes of the narrative though, you learn that it’s the destruction of Hitler and how he’s so uncomplicated that he’s reduced to an imaginary friend of a young child.
In the nineties, many American movie studios were trying to beat Disney at their game by basically—mimicking everything that made their movies a hit. They didn’t try to rewrite the rules until the early aughts; before then we had a bunch of movies that were basically D grade copies of Disney hits. Richard Rich is a once Disney animator who tries his best to riff on Disney, taking a classic fairy tale and adding about every trope from the Disney list you can imagine, right down to funny talking animals. What he forgets is entertainment and a sense of life.
If anything, Deon Taylor’s crime thriller is a perfectly fine if somewhat overlong and derivative thriller that skates by mainly because of its charismatic cast including Mike Colter, Tyrese Gibson and Frank Grillo, respectively. It’s a shame because in a world where we’re discussing body cams, police corruption, and inner city crime, “Black and Blue” has the golden opportunity to tackle the issue head on. Instead it hits it briefly and doesn’t do much with the topic, instead building a thriller that feels oddly derivative of Antoine Fuqua’s “Training Day.”
For folks that loved the original 2009 “Wonder Woman” animated DC movie, Warner and DC have rebooted “Wonder Woman” in to the New 52 mold with a refresher on her origin and a twist on her relationship with Steve Trevor. I can’t say that I liked “Bloodlines” as much as I did “Wonder Woman,” but it’s a pretty good piece of action filler until the live action sequel arrives in theaters very soon. “Bloodlines” is interested in expanding on Wonder Woman’s world and that’s what it excels in, most of the time.
So far we’re about ten alternate time lines deep in to the “Terminator” series, a movie franchise that continues to chug on thanks to the good word from James Cameron. Methinks without Cameron, “Terminator” would and should be put to sleep as a limp IP that loses more and more fans every single year. The convoluted timeline doesn’t even want to try to explain its own concept and logic (and lack thereof) anymore. It’s now basically rebooted itself (once again), and takes off limping to the finish line. From a confusing (bold?) retcon, to an over arching theme with heavy social commentary, “Terminator: Dark Fate” incidentally makes an argument against its existence.
With their partnership with GKids, Shout Factory has managed to obtain a remarkable chunk of Studio Ghibli’s library and have given choice titles some truly deluxe treatment. Among some of Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpieces is the incredible “Spirited Away” a film that owes a lot to “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Wizard of Oz,” that also evokes subtle social commentary on child trafficking. In either case, “Spirited Away” is still a remarkable and stellar piece of art, with some of Miyazaki’s most memorable creations including No Face, and the Soot Sprites.
Linger on Youtube for a little while and you’ll likely find at least fifty toy collectors and or pop culture buffs that have a slew of videos looking back at classic toy lines and franchises. What makes “Toys That Made Us: Seasons 1 & 2” such a unique series is that it attempts to offer up much more than memories. Creator Brian Volk-Weiss’s series could very well have fallen back on pure nostalgia, but instead opens up the scope of these world changing toy lines. There’s deeper insight, stark truths about how and why these toys were created, and a look in to the business of it all.