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.
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.
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.
David Sanberg makes the leap from solid horror chillers to blockbusters with what is surprisingly one of DC/Warner’s most modest superhero movie to date. While “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman” had massive epic plots about world wars and societies in peril, “Shazam!” is a more personal and down to Earth tale with very relevant overtones about bullies and the damage they can inflict on the people they victimize, as well as the environment around them. Sure, “Shazam!” is a superhero movie, but it’s also one worth watching for its positive ideas, and fantastic energy.
Not since “The Witch’s Ghost” has there been a “Scooby Doo” adventure so deeply rooted in Halloween that it qualifies as automatic viewing for the holiday. While it is a change in pace for the Mystery Inc. crew, it’s a fun adventure in to the magic and supernatural element, along with some pretty stellar animation, and a pretty awesome surprise ending that I admittedly didn’t see coming.
Well if anything “Casper Meets Wendy” is much better than “A Spirited Beginning” despite offering no big surprises. Unless you consider that the only cast member that’s been in most “Casper” movies so far is Pauly Shore. In the former film he played a bad ghost, and here he plays a fortune telling magical mirror. As with most of these movies, there is a whole cast of D list celebrities, and the adaptation of Harvey Comics’ “Wendy The Good Little Witch” is an excuse to introduce future teen star Hilary Duff. To her credit Duff is adorable.
Eli Roth has always been a better horror fan and film lover than actual filmmaker, and he’s proven it time and time again. After the embarrassing bomb that was “Death Wish,” I had hope that “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” would be a win and Roth would kind of re-invent himself. While not as awful as “Death Wish,” Roth proves once again he’s not too good at handling tone, pacing, and general direction. Without the thick icing of blood, grue, and torture to cover up the thinly layered cake that is “The House with a Clock in Its Walls,” Roth once again proves he’s a filmmaker that has so much to learn, and so much evolving to do.
It’s ironic, and perhaps not incidental, that Vestron would release the entire movie series for “Wishmaster” and “Warlock.” They’re two weak attempts at movie maniacs in a pretty stale decade for horror, and deep down while they have potential to be menacing and terrifying horror villains, they’re poorly realized, and potentially trail off in to absolute nothingness. “Warlock” is not as bad a slope as “Wishmaster,” as it managed to gain some momentum in the nineties, even sporting a Sega Genesis video game in 1995 which involved platforming, and fighting off zombies and demonic beasts with magic spells. 1989’s “Warlock” is a tonally confused movie that wants sorely to be a horror film, but ends up sliding in to dark fantasy territory by the time it draws to a close.