Beauty and the Beast (2017)

It’s surprising how well Disney adapts their own version of the shockingly beloved fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast.” While their Oscar winning animated version reigns supreme, Bill Condon manages to deliver his own interpretation that tweaks the tale here and there for new audiences with a great effect. I was quite stunned at how enjoyable “Beauty and the Beast” ended up being. While it has the familiarity of the 1991 movie, it’s also a unique experience that allows for a new angle on songs that are now deemed legendary. Condon approaches the live action remake/adaptation with a well balanced tone of whimsy and dread, allowing for a very subtle romance between Belle and the Beast.

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Bambi (1942): Anniversary Edition [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

“Bambi” is less a narrative with a lot of characters and morals and more about the hazards of life and the loss of innocence. “Bambi” somewhat celebrates the tradition of “Dumbo” to where we watch the beginning of a young life and his journey to grow up in a very dangerous and unforgiving world. Despite the time it was made, “Bambi” is still a technically impressive drama that paints the wildlife landscape so vividly with a dream like aura that can be inviting and harrowing. The film itself is based on highs and lows centered on the music and turn of events that unfold for young Bambi.

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Mighty Joe Young (1998)

It’s really hard to stack up to the original “Mighty Joe Young” which itself was kind of a simpler take on the giant ape tale. While the original remains untouched, it’s really hard not to enjoy the 1998 remake by Disney and director Ron Underwood. While it can occasionally be silly, it’s still a strong new take on the original film with a great cast, great direction and still very good special effects. This new version from director Ron Underwood strays from the original which was kind of a “King Kong” riff, and transforms it more in to a tale of a woman who watches over a humongous ape named Joe. The writers aim to tackle themes about poaching and wildlife preservation within the fun adventure tale, and most times it allows for an engaging tale of friendship and love.

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A Second Glance at 2016’s Oscar Animated Shorts

Time seems to be the central theme of the animated shorts for the Oscars this year, as all of the animated shorts have some semblance of the theme of time. Most of the shorts spend their story examining the beauty of the past and the present, while others examine the tragedy of the past, the present, and the future. As with most years at the Oscars, you won’t always find typical animated entries, but this year’s crop have been quite special and incredibly thought provoking. I take a second glance at the shorts this year, and what I am voting to win come February 26th.

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Five Great Alan Tudyk Performances

Alan Tudyk has, for years, been the working man’s character actor. He’s pulled in performances from all sorts of mediums, voicing characters in animated series, and animated movies, he’s played side characters in comedies like “Dodgeball,” did a bang up job as a supporting character in the sitcom “Suburgatory” and is still going strong today, beginning his new show “Conman” and continuing to work on various modern hit films. Though you may not know he’s there, he’s been in many hit films, playing the Duke in the monster hit “Frozen,” the weasel in the monster hit “Zootopia,” and oh yes, he played one of more interesting rebel heroes in 2016’s “Rogue One,” yet another monster hit movie.

Here are five great performances from Tudyk’s large resume. If you haven’t seen these, be sure to give them a shot. If you have, check them out again, since Tudyk is scary talented and very funny.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Warning: Spoilery and long review by a self-admitted Star Wars fan (with Stormtrooper tattoo to prove it).

A small group of rebels sets off to go retrieve the plans to the Death Star after receiving a communication that seems to indicate that they will be the downfall of the Empire in this sequel/prequel/side story to the Star Wars prequels/original trilogy.  Touted as the first standalone Star Wars, Rogue One is heavily entrenched in the Star Wars lore and fills in gaps and what could have been considered plot holes in the past.  The story here is easily to follow for people who may have never seen a Star Wars film, but it feels like a story built for the fans of the franchise.  The story feels like a Star Wars one and the characters feel like they belong in the universe with many cameos and full presences by some very familiar faces and names.  This leads the story to feel familiar and yet the changes, the connections that could have been or the additions or who knows make it feel like something is missing to the story.  Rogue One is a hard one for this review to fully embrace while wanting to, which is an odd place to find one’s fan brain in.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

While I wasn’t keen on Disney and Lucasfilm approaching the prequel so quick in to the rebooting of the series, “Rogue One” really serves us one of the most important chapters in the fall of the Empire beautifully. While “Rogue One” certainly isn’t a perfect film, it sure is a fantastic action adventure that attempts to break the mold. Gareth Edwards transforms his tale of the stealing of the plans of the Death Star in to a last stand mission in the vein of “Saving Private Ryan” and “Inglorious Basterds.” Though director Edwards offers up the usual nods to “Episode IV: A New Hope,” thankfully “Rogue One” also manages to stand firmly on its own. It’s a compelling tale of the rebellion, and pure evil trying to maintain its strangle hold on the galaxy.

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Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell (2016)

hulk-wheremonstersdwellYou can’t get anymore Halloween than teaming up Marvel’s monstrous Hulk alongside the Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange. On Halloween Night, demons begin wreaking havoc in New York City, prompting Doctor Strange to do everything he can to slay them and bring them in to his holding cell in his temple. Thankfully he calls upon the Incredible Hulk to help him, and Hulk is more than happy to oblige in stomping some demons. Little does Hulk know that the demons are manifestations of human victims that are being held hostage by the villainous Nightmare who has kept them held in their own dream plains. Strange ventures in to the dream dimension to save Bruce Banner when Nightmare begins using the Hulk to hurt Strange.

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