White Snake (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2019]

I don’t know what Warner are planning for a domestic release, but “White Snake” (Warner Bros. first animated feature made completely in China) is far too complex and adult for a family friendly audience or broader crowd, and way too briskly paced for movie fans that appreciate the more subtle tone of Pixar and Studio Ghibli. As someone genuinely looking forward to “White Snake” I loved the animation and genuine sentiment behind it, I just wish I wasn’t so bored by it half the time.

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Away (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2019]

Gints Zilbalodis’s “Away” is one of the most dazzling and fantastic animated movies I’ve seen in years, and I’d be stunned if it isn’t appreciated as a masterpiece down the line. Zilbalodis spent years on this work of love committing to every facet of the production himself, and completing what is a tightly packed and briskly paced epic adventure film that is also deceptively simple in its presentation and delivery.

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Lake Michigan Monster (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2019]

Some indie films are like inside jokes that you almost have to have some knowledge about to get. I get “Lake Michigan Monster.” I do. It has the best of intentions, it’s a home grown bare bones budgeted action monster movie, and it pays tribute to Michigan the best that it can. But in the end I was happier that “Lake Michigan Monster” was barely eighty minutes in length than I was watching the movie altogether.

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The Lion King (2019)

Jon Favreau’s “The Lion King” is very much like Gus Van Sant’s “Psycho.” It’s a glossy, new setting, with a bold new cast, but when you cut right through the nostalgia lenses, it’s basically the same movie all over again. “The Lion King” doesn’t leave a lot of room to surprise its audience, as it basically plays it safe and copies the original film almost verbatim. Why watch a remake of “The Lion King” when you can simply stay home and watch the 1994 original? I can’t think of much of a reason, save for the all star cast.

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Shazam! (2019) [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

One of the most family friendly and outright entertaining superhero features of the year, “Shazam!” is a movie that will appeal to children of all walks of life. It’s a movie that promotes the power of family, promotes the appeal of adopted families, and explores the effects of bullying and toxic masculinity. “Shazam!” is one of the bigger surprises of 2019 as the DCEU keeps delivering on entertaining and bright action features that spotlight the lesser explored and rarely discovered characters from the DC Comics stable.

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Weird Science (1985): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

“Weird Science” is the film from John Hughes that’s managed to age the worst from his repertoire. Even “Dutch” can be considered somewhat more accessible than what “Weird Science” doles out. While it’s not a bad movie at all, “Weird Science” has gradually become an eighties comedy that has to be taken in the context of its decade. This is still a very strong air of misogyny and chauvinism within “Weird Science,” but it still works as a fun eighties romp with banner performances by its collective cast.

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Rim of the World (2019)

I’d love to know what the thought process was behind “Rim of the World.” Directed by McG, it’s much too crude and violent for kids, but much too juvenile for anyone looking for a good action horror movie. Netflix and McG obviously had in mind the “Stranger Things” crowd when they concocted this unpleasant, long, obnoxious film. It wants to be mentioned in the same conversation as “The Goonies”, Amblin, and “It,” but I doubt in a few years it’ll even be mentioned in the same favor as “Mac and Me.”

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Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Spider-Man entrance in to the MCU has been a god send as Marvel had managed to touch on areas of the character that we haven’t seen before, while also fleshing out much if his universe and world. After the epics of “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers: Endgame,” Jon Watts’ “Far from Home” is a nice detour in to the MCU where the studio is able to book end their biggest event thus far. Closing out phase three of the MCU, “Far From Home” is a vastly superior film to “Homecoming” that benefits from the lack of Iron Man, believe it or not.

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