When “Hansel & Gretel” were Ass kicking Witch Hunters

Hollywood loves to look for new angles on public domain fairy tales and intellectual properties. They’re always looking for a platform for a brand new franchise, and they either go the horror route or the action route. If one fails, they automatically revert to the other a few years later. “Cinderella” and “Snow White” have been brought to the big and small screen as pseudo-horror movies and action bonanzas, with varying degrees of success. The one fairy tale that hasn’t dodged the massive overhaul for a new generation is “Hansel and Gretel.”

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White Snake (Bái Shé: Yuán Qǐ) (2019) [Blu-ray/DVD]

I originally checked out “White Snake” when it was at the Fantasia Film Festival last year, and it’s not what I’d call the best anime movie to open 2020 with. While I love and appreciate the brilliant animation, “White Snake” is somewhat of a shallow and dull anime epic that packs in a lot of sub-genres and themes involving demons, war, the supernatural, dragons, and a very exhaustive reliance on ancient mythology. It would probably help the experience of “White Snake,” but having to do research to enjoy a movie is not appealing, even for movies that garner my interest.

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Joker (2019) [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

I think that when the smoke clears, director Todd Phillips’ “Joker” is going to be a lesson to Hollywood that—people want dark, violent comic book movies… which shouldn’t be what’s learned, if you ask me. “Joker” lends credence to the long held opinion that comic books are art and not just pop fodder for adults that refuse to grow up. Comic book movies, much like comic books, can be compelling art, and “Joker” proves that, even in spite of its inherent flaws. “Joker” is a shockingly good movie, even though it really wants to be a Scorsese film.

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The 10 Best Films of 2019

2019 was a surprisingly very good (and busy!) year for pop culture and film. Everything was so breakneck and speedily delivered that it was impossible to keep up. I wish I could have watched all the films I had planned for this list, That said, I did manage to see so much that I had a tough time compiling a definitive top ten. 2019 had so many surprises for movie fans of all kinds and these are ten films from 2019 that made the cut of the top ten for me.

What were some of your favorites? Let us know.

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The 5 Worst Films of 2019

I spend a lot more of my time looking for movies I want to see these days, so admittedly I was able to dodge a lot of awful films in 2019. With the abundance of avenues to new movies it’s nearly impossible for one person to view it all, so out of the movies I was able to catch in 2019, these are five of the absolute worst that were unleashed on movie goers and movie buffs. Excluded but genuinely considered for the list were The Reliant, Men in Black: International, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, Netflix’s Rim of the World, The Haunting of Sharon Tate, Long Shot, Kiss Kiss, and Dark Phoenix.

What were some of the worst from 2019 for you?

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001): Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray]

The thing about cinema is that it’s an often very literal art form that takes what is often very metaphorical or performance art about stage productions and has a hard time supplanting it for the audience. For “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” it’s a very good cult rock film that often feels like it has to be seen on stage in order to soak in the true experience. I’m not trying to take away what a cult classic John Cameron Mitchell’s musical drama is, but I couldn’t quite help but feel that “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” could have been much more appreciated as a live show.

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The Reliant (2019)

“The Reliant” is that movie you watch when you thought that 1984’s “Red Dawn” wasn’t jingoistic enough and well–just didn’t preach enough about the love for guns and God, dagnabit. What we get is post-apocalyptic clap trap where a group of wholesome, blonde, upper class, white kids and their guns survive an economic collapse as they are relentlessly hunted by evil, gun toting atheists. “The Reliant” is based on a book that is perfect fodder for Kevin Sorbo and his increasing library of movies that preach about Christianity, and the danger of not being Christian.

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Cats (2019)

Twenty five years too late, “Cats” is that kind of Broadway hit that may have worked wonders on the stage but fails spectacularly when it’s given a very literal adaptation on screen (e.g. “Jersey Boys”). I say that as someone that’s never liked “Cats” or really ever seen the big deal behind it. I barely stayed awake during a production airing on PBS back in the mid-nineties, and I only fondly remember it thanks to a classic TV ad that played around the clock in the eighties and nineties. “Cats” has always been that production I hope studios would stop trying to put on to the big screen.

And sadly, here we are. Oh the horror.

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