With Disney remaking their remakes of classic fairy tales and adventure novels, stories like “The Jungle Book” are all the rage these days. For folks that want to branch out from the Disney umbrella and check out what other companies have adapted these classic stories, Mill Creek Entertainment releases a collection of animated adaptations of legendary adventures and fantasies. It’s especially good if you’re looking to save a few bucks while expanding your animated horizons beyond the House of Mouse.
Nickelodeon has been in a tricky scenario over the last five years, in where the audience that once watched their hit shows is now becoming adults. Now they’ve scrambled for ways to appeal to a new generation, even aging their banner characters a bit. With “Dora the Explorer,” Nickelodeon has taken great pains in allowing her to blossom with her audience, and then revert back to the original formula that made her such a hit. With this feature film adaptation, they manage to pull off what is a loving tribute, a fun action adventure film, an adaptation that is never afraid to poke fun at itself every now and then, and a spotlight for latinx movie heroes we can root for.
By 1997 the “Power Rangers” had reached the nadir of their popularity and with the appeal of the franchise dying down as fans grew older, “Turbo” was a last gasp cash grab. It didn’t just bring the old and new Rangers (for the most part, anyway) to the big screen, but it also rebooted the Power Rangers in to a auto-centric kind of Power Rangers team that would do nothing but go downhill from here.
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.
Before 1994 our only real animated Spider-Man fix was the 1981 series “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.” Intent on rethinking the Spider-Man mold for the nineties, FOX forked over a ton of money to New World Corporation (and then Saban) to create Spider-Man: The Animated Series. With a completely different animation style, and small uses of computer animation, “Spider-Man: The Animated Series” premiered in 1994 with the episode “Night of the Lizard” and managed to take off as a ratings boom for FOX in the wake of similar successes like “X-Men” and “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.”
With fans of Mighty Morphin complaining that they could only get the 1995 movie on DVD when it was released as part of a complete box set, Shout! Factory finally releases the big feature film on Blu-Ray for collectors. “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie” admittedly has a ton of nostalgic and sentimental value for me, so I’m not even going to pretend to thumb my nose up at it. All I know is it’s a damn fun movie, and one you can watch the equally underrated “Power Rangers” from 2017.
I was more than a little surprised when “The LEGO Movie” ended up being one of the best movies of its year. Lord and Miller managed to take what could have been a glorified commercial for LEGO and ended up building a unique universe, and a heartfelt, hilarious adventure about reaching deep to find what makes us so special, and appreciating the child within us. I even loved the meta-climax, which with other creative minds behind it, might have destroyed everything we saw before it.
Directors Gustavo Steinberg, André Catoto, and Gabriel Bitar deliver an interesting and original animated adventure with “Tito and the Birds” that’s based around very relevant social and political themes. Audiences will find some fascinating messages to be mined from “Tito and the Birds,” as the writers explore the idea of prejudice and hate the potential for disease and misery to be exploited by fascism and greed.