Jumanji – The Complete Animated Series (DVD)

In 1995, “Jumanji” was the big blockbuster that managed to take America by storm for just a little while. Like everything in the nineties, that meant it deserved an animated series, prompting an unusual but pretty okay series in 1996. Originally premiering on the American channel UPN, I really don’t recall ever seeing this series. I never cared for “Jumanji” honestly (I prefer “Zathura,” personally), but the animated series does a good job capturing the spirit of the movie and even garners some unique animation style.

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Sheena: Queen of the Jungle Collection – The Original Movie and Complete Series (DVD)

Sheena fans are in for a treat when Mill Creek releases a collection of Sheena entertainment on DVD. Are there Sheena fans? Are there enough to warrant a big crowd surrounding the TV hoping for Sheena? In either case, for fans of pulp comics and just all around good old fashioned camp, the “Sheena: Queen of the Jungle Collection” packs a ton of content in to a small package, and spans a pretty hefty time period where Sheena was portrayed in various mediums beyond the comics. The 1984 movie “Sheena: Queen of the Jungle” is a camp and cult classic that’s managed to re-emerge over the years mainly for being such a weird and awful movie.

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Mune: Guardian of the Moon (2015)

“Mune: Guardian of the Moon” draws obvious influences from the likes of Studio Ghibli and Laika, and it’s a rather entertaining gem of an animated fantasy that I couldn’t help but enjoy with a wide smile. After “The Emoji Movie,” it’s very calming to know that there are still studios out there trying to deliver quality family animated entertainment. Dubbed over from the original French track, “Mune” translates well for domestic audiences, and I didn’t have a very tough time following what is a pretty nifty premise based around mysticism, nature, and the like. It also sports the classic hero’s journey trope, which isn’t so bad when it’s handled subtly.

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The Emoji Movie (2017)

What I’m sure was going to set the platform for a Sony movie/ad universe following up with a The “Tic Tac Toe Movie,” The “Peek a Boo Movie,” and “The Jingle car keys in front our Faces Movie,” “The Emoji Movie” (aka “The Sony Press Kit”) is the height of laziness to the point where the script was probably written on a napkin at a some overpriced coffee shop in Beverly Hills. “The Emoji Movie” is not just bad, but it’s offensively boring, and tedious. It’s “Doogal” bad. It’s “A Shark Tale” bad. There are just so many bafflingly stupid and moronic moments in “The Emoji Movie,” that I can’t believe any actual writer put all of this down on page with sincerity or the goal of turning any of this in to a pop culture craze.

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Overdrive (2017) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

A duo of car thief brothers runs into trouble after making a deal with a local crime boss in the South of France.

Written by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas and directed by Antonio Negret, Overdrive is a fun car heist film with exhilarating chases, twists, turns, and beautiful vintage cars.  It takes a few cues from The Fast and the Furious, Gone in 60 Seconds, the Transporter series, etc and makes them all its own.  The use of the car is definitely a plot device, but it works quite well here.  The characters are not particularly deep, but as the film is mostly action car porn, it doesn’t really matter in the end.  What matters is that they are believable enough to take the viewer through the story and its twists and turns while being entertaining and fun to watch.  This film is one of those that is made for the fun of it and not to pass on some kind of grand message, something that is perfectly fine and well done here.

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Pilgrimage (2017)

A group of monks is sent to escort a sacred relic across the land in 13th century Ireland.  Along the way enemies and friends alike try to derail their mission.

Written by Jamie Hannigan and directed by Brendan Muldowney, Pilgrimage is a period piece peppered with action sequences that make logical sense within the confines of its story.  Here the monks are working with knights and others to battle enemies and bring the sacred relic their guard to a higher Catholic Church power.  The story is simple at its based, but the characters added, including a mute stranger helping the monks, create a mystery and help the tension along with the twists that take their time to come and be revealed.  This way of developing the story works well with the time period its set in and the group of characters involved.  The characters created here have some background in terms of their archetypes, but not that much information on who they are as people and where they come from or what their goals are besides keeping the relic safe or obtaining the relic.

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Vampire Cleanup Department (Gao geung jing dou fu) (2017) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

The Vampire Cleanup Department is a task force that deals with Goeng Si, Chinese vampires, while being disguised as a regular trash and cleanup department.  Not long after Tim Cheung joins his uncle on the force, he meets with a sweet vampire named Summer who changes how he wants to do things.

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Broken Sword Hero (Thong Dee Fun Khao) (2017) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

A young fighter goes on a quest to learn as much as he can to perfect his fighting skills following a hard loss.  He travels his province in search of many masters to learn from and makes friends along the way.

Written by Suwan Takongkaew and Preayaporn Boonpa and directed by Bin Bunluerit, Broken Sword Hero is an action film with a quest at it center and a philosophical angle to how it approaches some of the fights and the learning the lead does during his travels.  The way this is approached is interesting here but ultimately feels a bit long.  The story around the fights makes this a film about more than just the fights, but also about the different techniques and the human element.  Unfortunately, the film feels a bit uneven between the fighting being very strong and entertaining and the story parts feeling a bit slow and a lot less entertaining.  This leads to the whole of the film feeling a touch long with some pacing issues.

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