It: Chapter Two (2019)

Stephen King is an author that never goes away even when he’s experienced something of a renaissance in pop culture. King’s “It” remains one of his most iconic and easily digestible novels, but peculiarly a book that needs drastic alterations to make it more palatable for film. Andy Muschietti had a bonafide challenge on his hands to deliver a two part film that confronted the terror of loss of innocence, and confronting the demons of the past. It all invariably comes dropping down on the Losers Club with the help of the mercilessly vile Pennywise the Dancing Clown.

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Aladdin (2019): Ultimate Collector’s Edition [4K UHD/Blu-Ray/Digital]

Disney remaking their loose adaptations of classic fairy tales and folklore is their newest confusing trend, and as a behemoth of a corporation they’ll keep churning them out. Because they know audiences will go see them. “Aladdin” banks heavily on the nostalgia of the nineties much like previous Disney efforts. And like previous Disney remakes, “Aladdin” is fine. It’s just fine. I’ve yet to see a Disney live action remake that has completely outshone their original effort; compared to “The Lion King,” Guy Ritchie’s remake is mediocre, time filling fodder and that’s about the best compliment I can give it.

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Aladdin (1992): Ultimate Collector’s Edition [4K UHD/Blu-Ray/Digital]

Over twenty five years later, “Aladdin” is still one of the best animated films of the Disney golden age of the late eighties and nineties. Whether it’s on the big screen or the small screen, Jon Musker and Ron Clements’ adaptation of the original series of fantasy tales is engaging, and fun, but also excels in its simplicity and accessibility. Aladdin is also one of the most underrated Disney heroes in their staple, it’s a shame he doesn’t get mentioned too often.

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Batman: Hush (2019) [4K Ultra HD/Blu-Ray/Digital]

It’s not often I sit down to watch a DCAU movie and want to immediately desire the original source material instead. I’ve never read “Batman Hush” but from what I originally gathered it was an iconic storyline that made waves in the aughts. The movie however is a disappointing, half baked and painfully boring Batman adventure that never really goes anywhere. Rather than treading new ground or giving us something completely different, “Batman Hush” just feels forced and never quite rises above the anemic energy.

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Millennium Actress (Sennen joyû) (2001)

Satoshi Kon’s contribution to the animation medium was nothing short of absolutely breathtaking, as the director created films that blurred the lines of fantasy and reality and placed great emphases on the feminine energy. After the mind blowing “Perfect Blue,” Kon delivered what is arguably one of the best animated films ever conceived. Now bring granted a limited run in theaters nationwide, “Millennium Actress” is a wonderful experience you have to see for yourself, as it’s stunning, and absolutely surprising in the way Kon celebrates the adventure that is life.

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Riot Girls (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2019]

I wasn’t too interested in the premise of “Riot Girls” upon first glance, but it inevitably won me over with its execution and I came to appreciate (and kind of love) how fun and unique it was. The whole idea of high school cliques becoming the tribes of the post-apocalypse is rife for satire, and Jovanka Vuckovic has a great time with her concept. “Riot Girls” is both a teen drama comedy, and a fun bit of post apocalyptic fodder that you could easily digest right down to the last bite. I loved the whole punk rock, pulp comic book aesthetic, and the way it embraces its fantasy trappings like “The Warriors” did long ago.

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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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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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