Director Destin Daniel Cretton’s adaptation of the 1973 action comic book is Marvel Studios in its wisest. Their inability to grab top tier superheroes from their stable has enabled them to lend a spotlight to some of the more obscure and less featured superheroes from their universe. Thankfully the focus slides over to “Shang-Chi” one of their most dynamic and down to Earth superheroes who has proven a mainstay since his inception in the seventies and is brought to life in a truly exciting cinematic debut.
Harry Potter came seemingly out of nowhere over twenty years ago. It was a fantasy series that quickly blasted off in to a cultural phenomenon and began to re-think the whole fantasy genre for a new generation. Say what you want about the “Harry Potter” series. I was never a fan. But the book series and its cultural influence is powerful, as is its long, long (read: long) series of movies that started twenty years ago.
I’m one of the traditionalists that think Studio Ghibli should have stuck to hand drawn animation, but sometimes there’s just no fighting change. With “Earwig and the Witch” there’s so much new, that you’re almost tricked in to forgetting that the movie almost has no real narrative. At all. This is one of Studio Ghibli’s more aimless movies that doesn’t have a whole lot to it. Substantially, the movie packs in some great animation, and it’s quite startling how some of the motion for some scenes looks so realistic. I’m not going to say that the movie is an accomplishment in regards to Ghibli because Pixar has pulled off so much better.
Hell, Dreamworks has accomplished so much more with this medium.
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.