gavin-thelordofthefu-48-460297

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Reviews

Bicentennial Man
(1999)

A beautiful thought-provoking movie that explores life and human condition really well
Chris Columbus, director of the first two Home Alone and Harry Potter films, and the late Robin Williams teamed up to make Bicentennial Man, a coming-of-age story about a robot who tries to learn the meaning of life in order to be a human. It received mixed to negative reviews and became a box office flop upon release, but 20 years later, reviews from the audience has been more positive. I came across this film three years ago and to my surprise, it was a lot better than I thought. Sure, it has a very slow pace in certain areas, but everything else holds up.

The story is not only engaging, but it has some well handled emotional moments, the direction from Chris Columbus is nice, the visuals aesthetics and make up are well crafted, the music score from the late James Horner is beautiful with a memorable theme song from Celine Dion "Then You Look At Me", and the acting from everyone involved is superb. Sam Neill, Wendy Crewson, Oliver Platt and Stephen Root did very well with their supportive roles and Robin Williams and Embeth Davidtz did a great job with their lead roles with unique chemistry together.

Overall, Bicentennial Man isn't a masterpiece, I'll admit, but this is a unfairly maligned movie that deserved more of a chance back at 1999 and its recommended to those who haven't seen it yet.

Scream 2
(1997)

While lacking the spark of the original, Scream 2 still feels worthy enough as a continuation of the franchise
After the success of the original, the sequel entered development as quickly as possible. A year later, Scream 2 came out in theaters and turned a profit despite competition with James Cameron's blockbuster Titanic and while not as well received as the original, it's considered by many to be one of the best horror sequels as time went by.

A lot of time had passed since the events of Woodsboro, California, but a killer is on the loose once again only this time at a college in Ohio. Sidney, Randy, Dewey and the other college students including Cotton played by Liev Schreiber are being attacked and they must find out who the actual killer is before they'll end up being killed.

Scream 2 managed to be quite as good as the first although the original is still the best. However, before I can give this some praise there are some problems that brought the film down. First of all, the story is hit and miss. On a positive note, it does a nice job expanding on certain aspects of the first including having Billy Loomis's mother appear and it still managed to have some funny comedy and some scary chills that the original film offered. Also I like it's social commentary on sequels. Unfortunately, everything else is just a retread of the original with the killer reveal being not as fresh this time around. Even the pacing's not that good. Don't get me wrong. I liked the beginning and the climax of the film despite being somewhat predictable and cliched as it does bring some intensity when Sidney fights against Billy Loomis's mother and Mickey. Unfortunately, it's not very brisk enough and kind of dragged the film for a while.

That being said, everything else is still good. The acting, much like the original, is very good from all involved as Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courtney Cox, and others including Liev Schreiber, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Laurie Metcalf, Jada Pinkett Smith give some very good performances as well. The characters are still likeable and even the new additions despite having limited screen time are still interesting enough. The direction is really neat, the cinematography is well spent and Marco Beltrami's score, much like the original, suited the atmosphere, suspense, and tone really well.

Overall, while Scream 2 lacks the spark and retreads the first film, it's still a worthy enough sequel. Check it out and you won't regret it.

Scream
(1996)

A superbly chilling satirical commentary that compliments the horror tropes really well
To be honest with you all, I was only a kid at the 90s and wasn't allowed to watch Rated R movies (though I've only watched the Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th movies over my pre-teen years and I've seen a PG-13 Rated flick on VHS "The Mask"), but the moment I came across this and decided to do a marathon of all four of these films, I understand why this left an impact when it came out in 1996.

All the stuff it got right. The acting from everyone involved especially Neve Campbell (Sidney Prescott) who made an interesting protagonist along with other actors like Drew Barrymore (Casey Becker who gets killed in the most iconic opening of all time) and Matthew Lillard (Stu Macher) and Skeet Ulrich (Billy Loomis) along with Courtney Cox and David Arquette is great, the pacing is very brisk and doesn't feel dragged or overlong, the music score from Marco Beltrami fitted the atmosphere and tone of the film authentically, the writing is really thought-provoking, funny and chilling and the death scenes are so creative. Even the directing from Wes Craven (the guy who directed A Nightmare on Elm Street, another great horror movie) is really neat.

And most importantly, it complimented on the horror tropes really well. The way it satirizes the clichés from horror movies alike such as Halloween and others in which a female character becomes the final girl and sole survivor against a horror killer only this time to let a female character fight back against the horror killer is done perfectly.

Overall, Scream is another example of a 90s movie that stood the test of time, but not only that. It's without a doubt one of the best horror movies ever made since Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street. With my recommendation to those who haven't seen it yet, give this one a go. It's worth it! :)

The Nuttiest Nutcracker
(1999)

What was once a childhood memory now a film that doesn't hold up as an adult
I was just a little kid when my family and I bought this. I still remember the songs and the unforgettable voice work from Debi Derryberry, Cam Clarke, Jim Cummings, Cheech Marin, the late Phyllis Diller, and Jim Belushi, but as an adult, the film doesn't hold up as I thought.

The story had a nice premise but it pretty much skipped along and only ran for nearly 50 minutes. Not to mention the character animation movements are too robotic you can easily laugh at them throughout the whole film (particularly the motion capture movements on the later half of the film). Also, Marie as a character is pretty bland and dull which is a shame because Debi Derryberry is a very talented voice actress.

I'll admit, though, the side characters, particularly the nuts, had some entertaining moments despite being somewhat annoying at times. The Nutcracker Prince was alright though not given much to do other than fighting the mouse king and his mice soldiers. The best character, however, is Reginald who had the right balance of evil and comedy and thanks to Jim Belushi's superb voice work.

Also, the music is serviceable enough with snippets from the Tchaikovsky Nutcracker music used effectively and the songs, while not in the same league as Disney, are still a lot of fun.

Overall, The Nuttiest Nutcracker had some merits, but now that I'm an adult, it's a watchable yet very forgettable movie.

The Shannara Chronicles: Pykon
(2016)
Episode 6, Season 1

A decent enough episode, but not exactly the best
Pykon continues the story in the first season when King Eventine gets killed by the Changeling after Will, Amberle, Eretria, and Allanon leave the elven kingdom to embark on a quest and this time, it does get a little bit intense and action packed when they get attacked in Pykon by the Reaper. This episode is decent enough, but it's not exactly in the same league as earlier episodes and is more in the same league as episode 2, which had some improvements, but still had the standard clichés and only the dialog in here is somewhat stilted. Also, the pacing felt quite uneven in some areas particularly in the beginning. That being said, there are still some good things about the episode.

I love how it got more intense and action packed and the characters, the best being Allanon, have been getting interesting so far with Will and Amberle getting even better than before. Even the story is getting a bit interesting by expanding on the world that was established in the previous episodes. The CGI/visuals are still beautiful and the music score, while not a classic, is still atmospheric and the acting, while not oscar-worthy, is still decent enough with the best coming from Manu Bennett and John Rhys Davies, who plays the Changeling disguised as the King Eventine.

So, overall, a decent, albeit somewhat flawed episode that has some merits.

The Shannara Chronicles: Reaper
(2016)
Episode 5, Season 1

Another good episode for the show, although not exactly perfect
The previous four episodes of the show to me ranged from decent to pretty good. Episode 2 wasn't without it's problems although it had some improvements while the first, third, and fourth episodes, despite the standard clichés, had an interesting world building and the acting, while not oscar-worthy, is by far decent enough with only Manu Bennett and John Rhys Davies giving solid performances as two interesting characters. Reaper is another pretty good episode that has only the standard clichés in the script and a love triangle that seemed out of place.

However, it still has the same good aspects including the atmospheric music score, the CGI/visuals, and like I said, the decent acting. But not only that. The story so far has been getting a bit interesting despite the forced love triangle and Will and Amberle, aside from Allanon and Eventine, are getting quite better as they plan to help the Elven clan fight against the demons who have returned from the ancient tree called the Ellcrys. The directing is also really good and the production design continues to be very impressive with some nice costumes the well designed elven kingdom.

So, overall, not a perfect episode, but still good nonetheless.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
(1999)

Happy 20 to the start of the prequel trilogy
Episode 1: The Phantom Menace isn't as strong as the original trilogy, sadly. The performances from Jake Lloyd and Ahmed Best as young Anakin Skywalker and Jar Jar Binks are not that good, the writing is very mediocre, and the pacing dragged on for a bit too long, but everything else makes up for it. The performances from Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, and the other actors were decent enough, the action sequences are spectacular, the visual effects while a bit dated still looks really solid even after it came out in 1999, and John Williams delivers a satisfying music score especially the cue "Duel of the Fates" in the epic lightsaber duel between Qui Gon Jinn, Obi Wan Kenobi, and Darth Maul. So, overall, not the best and I understand why some people hated it, but its a decent start to the prequel trilogy after twenty years.

Sleeping Beauty
(1959)

Happy 60th anniversary!
Hi everyone. Gavin.thelordofthefuture here and this is my review of Sleeping Beauty. Today is the 60th anniversary of the Disney film.

The story about aurora a beautiful princess who gets cursed by an evil witch named Maleficent. She predicts that on her sixteenth birthday she'll prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into a sleeping death. So the three good fairies Fauna Flora and Merryweather take her to a cottage to keep her safe. But once Aurora learns about her true heritage after meeting a handsome man named Prince Phillip she gets hypnotized by Maleficent Into pricking her own finger fulfilling the curse. Prince Phillip gets captured by Maleficent but the help of the three good fairies he conquers her and kisses Aurora and breaks the curse.

The film had mixed reviews when it first premiered and was a failure at the box office but a few decades later it has gotten more acclaim and is considered to be one of the best Disney films of all time. And does it hold up? Absolutely. Sure Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip are still really bland characters despite the solid voice work, singing, and the final battle revolving around Phillip (we'll get to that in a moment), but everything else is great.

The story is well executed with lots of charm heart and atmosphere, the music including the song Once Upon A Dream and the final battle music where Phillip fights against Maleficent in dragon form is both epic and memorable, the side characters are entertaining particularly the three good fairies and the two kings, the animation style that resembles a tapestry is still gorgeous to this day, and Maleficent is still one of the best animated Disney Villains of all time. The idea of having a female evil satan is great and the late Eleanor Audley gave a solid voice performance with the best line deliveries ever.

And last but not least the final battle between Phillip and Maleficent. It's epic it's intense it's unforgettable and with George Bruns dark and beautiful music score which fitted the terrifying moments really well including the part where Aurora gets hypnotized by Maleficent.

Overall, Sleeping Beauty still remains as one of the best Disney films ever made. To those who haven't seen it yet I suggest you check it out and you will be enchanted.

Game of Thrones: The Dragon and the Wolf
(2017)
Episode 7, Season 7

An improvement over Eastwatch and Beyond The Wall
I understand that some people didn't like this season finale despite being well received by critics when it premiered on tv, but for me, this is one of the best episodes even though the other season finales were much stronger. Yes the sex scene between Jon Snow and Daenerys felt out of place and the pacing was quite uneven this time around, but there are other things to like.

The scenery is still gorgeous, the visual effects are still beautiful, the directing and editing is sharp, and Ramon Djawadi continues to make more beautiful music. And most of all, the acting is still great with the best coming from Lena Heady, Peter Dinklage, and Aiden Gillen in great scenes including the conversation between Tyrion and Queen Cersei about what happened in the fourth season which and Littlefinger finally getting what he deserved ever since the first season where he manipulated everyone including the Stark family. With him gone, however, who else will survive in the battle against the White Walkers for all the seven kingdoms? That question will be answered when season 8 comes.

Overall, a great episode and while it's not as strong as the other season finales, it's still worthy for those who continue to love this show. Thumbs up!

The Lord of the Rings
(1978)

A flawed but ambitious adaptation that came out 40 years ago
I'll admit the way they mixed hand drawn with rotoscoping didn't work, the character Samwise Gamgee is very annoying compared to the books and the Peter Jackson version and the pacing felt a bit too sluggish, but there are other things to admire. The voice acting is good the best coming from the late John Hurt as Aragorn, it does a nice job being faithful to the first two books it was adapting despite some changes here and there, the action is really as good as the Peter Jackson version, and the music score from Leonard Rosenman is really good.

Overall, not a classic but for those who read the books check it out.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
(2018)

With lots of heart, some of the action sequences and compelling characters, Spiderman: Into The Spider-Verse is Sony Pictures Animation's finest achievement!
When I saw the teaser at the end of 2017 after Spider-Man Homecoming came out, I became really interested as did my brother and later this year we saw it on its second weekend. To our surprise, we loved it so much I consider it the number one movie of the year. Even more so than Avengers Infinity War.

Not only does it pay homage to the Spider-Man legacy, but it also respects everything that made it so iconic since the 1960s. The writing from Phil Lord who directed the 21 Jump Street movies, The Lego Movie, and Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs with Christopher Miller is very good making for some nice humor and really solid emotion and drama and the idea of other spider people coming from other dimensions is done really well. Also the character arc for Miles Morales, a likeable character by the way, is really compelling as he struggles to find who he is.

The music score is atmospheric and beautiful and the song choices don't feel out of place which is very rare. The pacing is really good and there's not even a dull moment. The directing from three directors including Peter Ramsey (who directed DreamWorks Animation's Rise of the Guardians) is superb and the voice acting is entertaining with Shameik Moore Jake Johnson Hailee Steinfeld Mahershala Ali Brian Tyree Henry Lily Tomlin Luna Lauren Velez John Mulaney Nicolas Cage Chris Pine and Leiv Schreiber giving fantastic performances.

And last but not least the action sequences and the animation which is by far the best elements of the movie. The Spider-Men costumes and the Spider-Women costumes are well detailed and the choreography for the action revolving around them are some of the best I've seen in animation history since the Kung Fu Panda franchise. Especially the leap of faith sequence which I'm sure you've all seen from the teaser trailer which was the highlight of the film to me.

Anyway, Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse is for my perspective the best Spider-Man movie and one of the best animated movies of 2018. A sequel and spinoff is in the works and with that, this receives a LordoftheFuture seal of approval. Go see it!

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
(1968)

With unforgetable music, charming characters, and all the fun, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang remains scrumptious on its 50th anniversary
Back when I was a child, I watched many films that excited me. This was one of them. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang tells the story about an inventor who creates a magical car that flies and floats. Starring Dick Van Dyke from Mary Poppins and Sally Ann Howes, this movie still holds up on its 50th anniversary. Yes it drags on for too long in its two hour length and the kids singing in Truly Scrumptious is really bad, but there are lots of things to like.

The cinematography is gorgeous and imaginative especially the Baron's castle, the story is very imaginative it avoids having cliches in order to have characters that we can root for, and the characters are charming. Caractacus Potts is likeable and his chemistry with Truly Scrumptious, is really nice. Of course the film does have some dark moments especially with the Child Catcher who can easily frighten little kids and the world of Vulgaria has an atmospheric look when the idea of children being forbidden is mentioned. Also the other characters are charming too especially the kids Jeremy and Jemima, The Baron Bomburst, and the two spies who try to capture the car.

And last but not least the songs and by golly are they memorable. The main title is great, Toot Sweets, Lovely Lonely Man, and Truly Scrumptious are great thanks to creative and beautiful lyrics from the Sherman Brothers who did the songs for some of the Disney films in the 60s and later decades.

To those who haven't seen the film yet, check it out on Blu Ray or dvd and you'll have lots of fun! It has charm and magic that makes it recommended! :)

A Bug's Life
(1998)

After twenty years A Bug's Life's charm and heart remains intact!
While it does lack the social messages when compared to DreamWorks Animation's Antz, there's lots of things to like in this film after twenty years.

The animation may have aged poorly, but it still has some nice backgrounds. The characters are still charming especially Flik and the villain Hopper voiced spectacularly by Kevin Spacey remains interesting. The music score from Randy Newman is still good, the story is entertaining and even touching and the pacing never drags.

So overall, while I prefer the Toy Story trilogy, A Bug's Life still has enough charm and heart to make it stand out. Thumbs up and happy 20th anniversary! :)

Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny
(2018)

Thank you, Amazon Prime!
I wasn't expecting this show to be this extremely good! I mean, I love the first two movies and the third film despite it being the weakest to some people and even though the Legends of Awesomeness tv show wasn't canon it some ways, I still thought it was pretty good as it had some episodes that are canon to the movies.

Amazon Prime and DreamWorks Animation did a great job making another show and to my surprise, it's a lot better than Legends of Awesomeness. It didn't have any formulaic moments, it didn't have protagonists that are out of character, and it doesn't go into rehash territory.

It expands on the third movie while continuing it, the writing is really good (liked the idea of using the four constellations as Kung Fu masters. Great job, guys!), the villain Jindiao was interesting and Steve Blum's voice acting is spot on (it's been nine months since I've seen him and he's a great guy), Po is still a likeable protagonist, the four panda kids are great too, and the rest of the characters including Li Shan along with the new characters are great too.

My only quibble is that Master Shifu and the Furious Five don't appear in this and I would have loved to see them in action again, but hopefully they'll appear in the later seasons.

Anyway, the music score was beautiful (not in the same league as Hans Zimmer and John Powell did, but still good enough), the CGI Animation is more crisper than Legends of Awesomeness, the pacing doesn't drag and the action sequences are well done. Even the darkness is balanced with the lighter moments perfectly.

Overall, this is a great show and I'm recommending this to those who love the Kung Fu Panda franchise. Can't wait for season 2!

The Christmas Chronicles
(2018)

Now that was a very good Christmas flick!
I saw the trailer for this before it came out and when I found out that one of the producers who directed Home Alone and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was doing this film, I became interested and watched this Netflix film today.

To my surprise, it was much better than I expected. Yes I wish it could've been two hours longer, but there are lots of things to like.

The atmosphere, the production values that suited the imaginative moments really well, the visual effects, the music, and the humor. Also, the entire cast did a fine job.

The actors who played Kate and Teddy Pierce, the two children protagonists of the film, weren't that bad, but Kurt Russell made this film for me. He managed to bring energy, humor, and mythos to his role as Santa Claus and becomes the very heart of the film.

I understand the mixed reviews the film just got, but I'm totally recommending this to others who love Santa Claus! Yes it's far from being a masterpiece but as far as modern holiday films go, this is one of the best!

The Shannara Chronicles: Changeling
(2016)
Episode 4, Season 1

Not exactly perfect but still a very good episode in the first half
Having not read the books, I've watched the first season of this show. The first and third episodes were good and while not in the same league episode 2 had some improvements.

Episode 4 has the same problems as the last three. It does have the same standard fantasy cliches and the script could've used some fixing in some moments like the forced love triangle that could've been developed more.

However, there are still some things to like. Many Bennett and John Rhy Davies continue to impress and most importantly, the rest of the actors including the actor who played Will Ohmsford have been getting better with confidence. The production design is stylish and gorgeous, the CGI continues to be better, and the music score continues to be good as did the atmospheric moments this episode had.

Overall, not a classic episode but still very good though it still has a long way to go. :)

The Shannara Chronicles: Fury
(2016)
Episode 3, Season 1

An improvement over the previous episode, although not perfect
Having not read the books yet, I became interested and watched the first season. The first episode wasn't great but it had a great world introduction and some good casting choices while the second episode, while not in the same league as episode 1, had some improvements including better CGI and the actors for the main characters aside from Manu Bennett and John Rhy Davies did better performances.

Episode 3 is an improvement over the previous episode and is pretty good albeit not excellent. There are some problems like the forced love triangle that happened too soon and much like the last two episodes, it has some of the same standard fantasy cliches in the script.

However, there are lots of things to like. Many Bennett and John Rhy Davies continue to impress with their separate roles as Allanor and the Elven King and while the rest of the actors have a long way to go, they still have some good moments as the main characters. The production design looks stylish and gorgeous, the CGI is once again much better, the music score is still good, and the action moments aren't that bad at all particularly at the beginning where episode 2 left off.

Overall, not a classic episode, but hopefully the first season would get better. :)

Stranger Things: Chapter Six: The Monster
(2016)
Episode 6, Season 1

Another addictive episode to the entire first season
Chapter Six: The Monster continues the first season perfectly. Yes, it's not in the same complexity as the third and fourth episodes, but it's still addictive and shows that the execution of the concept can be done perfectly.

The story continues to be well written and retains the intensity of the previous episodes while advancing the characters in the situations they're still in right now. The continuous search for Will Byers while the scientists are trying to recapture El to use their experiment. Also, the scene where Mike and Dustin run from the bullies who held Dustin in knife point and forcing Mike to jump off the cliff until El shows up and saves them is well done. The writing is still superb, the pacing never drags, the performances are still great, and the music score is still respectful to the 1980s setting.

Overall, another addictive episode to the first season and shows that things are getting better so far. :)

Stranger Things: Chapter Five: The Flea and the Acrobat
(2016)
Episode 5, Season 1

Another addictive episode to the first season
While Chapter Five: The Flea and the Acrobat may not be in the same league as the third and fourth episodes, it's still another great episode and shows a sign that things are getting better.

The story, while not in the same complexity as the previous episodes, is still well-written in a scene where Mike and Lucas argue whether or not El is reliable or not that she's still helping them find Will, the writing continues to be superb, the production values are well spent, the performances are still great and the child actors have been getting better each episode thanks to their chemistry while Hooper and Joyce continue to be interesting adult characters, the pacing never drags and the music score continues to respect the 1980s perfectly.

Overall, not in the same complexity as the third and fourth episodes, but still an addictive episode of the first season.

Stranger Things: Chapter Four: The Body
(2016)
Episode 4, Season 1

Stranger Things gets even more complex and this episode is a sign of better things to come
Chapter Four: The Body is another solid episode and one of the best in the first season. Not only does it get more complex in the best way, but it's a sign that things are getting better.

The story, which revolves around Nancy and Jonathan trying to discover the disappearance of Nancy while Joyce thinks that Will is still alive as she tries to communicate with him by using the Christmas lights and El helping Mike, Dustin, and Lucas find Will, is another example of a plot in a Netflix show done right. The emotion, the atmosphere, the depth, and the pacing done perfectly. The situations are once again interesting, you feel for the characters and what they're going through to find Will. The performances are still spot on and Oscar-worthy the best coming from Winona Ryder and Millie Bobby Brown, the directing from Shawn Levy is great, and the music score continues to be neat by once again paying tribute to the 1980s respectfully.

Overall, another great episode and one of the best episodes of season 1. :)

Game of Thrones: Beyond the Wall
(2017)
Episode 6, Season 7

While not exactly a terrible episode, Beyond the Wall lacks the complexity of last few seasons and it's my second least favorite of the seventh season
Beyond the Wall isn't exactly a terrible episode. In fact, there are some things that saved it. As usual, the visuals/scenery is gorgeous, the performances are still good though not in the same league as in the previous seasons, the character interaction is nice, and some of the sequences particularly the White Walkers and the dragons along with Jon Snow and the others fighting the White Walkers are well done and Ramin Djawadi continues to compose some beautiful music.

Unfortunately, there are some problems that made the episode more disappointing and my least favorite episode of the season next to Eastwatch. That episode was my least favorite too along with the sixth season episode No One, but at least they tried to do something interesting and while Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken is also my least favorite, it was from my standpoint marginally better thanks to it's intensity and atmosphere. Sadly, the same thing can't be said here. The writing is bland and lacks the complexity that made the previous seasons so interesting, the pacing dragged on a bit too longer, the dialog isn't as fresh as the previous episodes, and most importantly, there weren't many surprises and plot twists.

Now, this review isn't going be popular in the next few years and i'm very sorry to disagree with the rating on this website and the critical acclaim this episode received, but Beyond the Wall, despite some good moments, is my fourth least favorite (I might re-review No One from the sixth season someday to see if it holds up or now because many people didn't like it) and a disappointment to the seventh season. Hopefully the season finale might improve in my next review.

The Mummy Returns
(2001)

A guilty pleasure sequel that's more of the same, but still fun
Now some of you have remembered my review of the first Mummy film. While it may not be a classic, I'm one of the few people who liked it due to the likeable cast, the sets, action sequences, great music from the late Jerry Goldsmith, and atmosphere. Then when I heard that they made two sequels to this, I became interested and watched the former, this one, to see if it would be as good as the first.

From what I've got, it's nothing spectacular, but for what it is, this sequel is a guilty pleasure. Ok there are some problems like the story being a carbon copy of the first like some sequels, a few inconsistencies with the script and some of the effects looked great when the film came out in theaters but they don't hold up very well.

That being said, everything else stood out fine. The cast is still likeable especially Brendan Fraser and Arnold Vosloo (to those who don't know, kid actor Freddie Boath, who played the son of Brendan Fraser and Rachel Wiesz's characters Rick and Evelyn, chose to audition for this role instead of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's (Sorcerer's in USA) Stone. Which is a shame really, but that's life I guess), the sets are very unique, the action sequences are even better and while Alan Silversti's score may not be as strong as Jerry Goldsmith's in the original, the guy did a serviceable job providing some of the best action music in years.

Overall, The Mummy Returns isn't a classic, but it's still a guilty pleasure sequel and to those who haven't seen it yet, check it out!

Kung Fu Panda 3
(2016)

With beautiful visuals, good comedy, thrilling action, and nice heritage lessons, Kung Fu Panda 3 is a worthy addition to the franchise
In 2008, DreamWorks Animation attempted to make an animal wuxia martial arts action comedy with more focus on story and character development. That movie was Kung Fu Panda, the story about Po, an overweight fanboy who gets chosen as the Dragon Warrior improbably by Master Oogway to defend the Valley of Peace from Tai Lung. The Furious Five and Master Shifu doubted him at first and tried to kick him out, but Po managed to embrace himself and defeated Tai Lung. The movie was well-recieved both critcally and financially in USA and China and launched a new franchise for DreamWorks.

Three years later, Kung Fu Panda 2 came out, continuing the story from the first by exploring Po's origins and having him fight against Lord Shen, an evil peacock, who had a connection to the panda. It dealt with themes such as genocide and adoption which gave the film a much darker tone. Despite it's underperformance domestically due to it's competition with The Hangover Part II on the same year, it did better in China and other countries and was also well-recieved by critics and audiences. Later, a tv show called "Legends of Awesomeness" arrived and despite receiving mixed reviews, it lasted for three seasons.

With the first two films being critically acclaimed hits, a third film was in the works and later, in 2016, Kung Fu Panda 3 arrived. It continues where the second film left off with Po having a hard time taking the role of teacher after Master Shifu retires. Later, Po's biological father, Li Shan, finds him and reunites with him. Meanwhile, an adversary of Master Oogway named Kai plots to take the chi of all the kung fu masters. Po has to master chi and save the world once again while trying to learn more about his true heritage.

Now, this review is based on my perspective of the film itself. I understand that it's considered by many to be the weakest of the franchise and prefered the first two better, but coming across as a fan who loved those films and other DreamWorks Animation films as well, I think that this was not only as good as the first two, but also an underrated film from 2016. Yes, I'll admit, it's not a perfect film and again, I understand why it's considered to be the weakest, but as a third entry of a very successful franchise, it's a solid continuation.

Before I give this film some praise, there are some problems that could've been fixed, starting with the tone. There are some funny moments that were amusing, but the first two films were mature and balanced the drama with the comedy, whereas in this one, the rest of the silliness jars with the tense moments, which makes the tone very uneven. Next is the villain Kai voiced by J.K. Simmons. Now, to be fair, J.K. Simmons did a superb job with his vocal performance with a mix of funny and threatening and the action sequences involving him are amazing to watch, but his sympathetic detail was lacking in comparision to Tai Lung and Lord Shen, which had plenty of detail and made them very engaging and relatable. Not a terrible villain, mind you, but could've been so much better.

And last but not least, the development of Furious Five and Master Shifu. Now we all now in the first film, Shifu had a connection to Tai Lung which really fleshed out his character and while he had little to do in the second film, at least he decided to help Po and the others in the climax. Unfortunately, he seemed to be underused here, and The Furious Five are once again underdeveloped, which is the same problem I had with the first film. Now, people can argue that they weren't given much to do in the second film, but at least they contributed more to the plot. Here, they even have less screentime. Only Tigress was the least wasted and the subplot revolving her and the little panda was cute, but unfortunately, her role was very minor compared to the second film, which gave her vulnerability especially when she comforted Po after he told her about his connection to Lord Shen. It would've been better if she and the other Furious Five members went with Po and his biological father so they can interact with the pandas. If DreamWorks Animation makes a fourth film, they better put them back into action.

That's it for my problems and again, this is based on my perspective. Now, here are my praises for the film.

Yes, the story does have too much siliness and it lacks the maturity of the last two, but it does a fine job answering the question fans have asked since the second film ended: Will Po finally meet his biological father?. Also, it balances the drama with the comedy well and gives plenty of heart to the film particularly to a scene where Li Shan mentions Po's deceased mom and that makes for a very tear-jerking moment. It also does a nice job continuing the progression of Po's character growth how he's going from student to master. Even the interaction between Mr. Ping and Li Shan is well done and it doesn't go into the rivalry cliche.

The action sequences, much like the last two films, are very exciting and thrilling with some solid choreography. And although I do miss John Powell, Hans Zimmer does a great job representing the themes he did for the last two films.

The characters are still likeable as they were. Po is still a lovable panda who remains relatable as each film progresses, Mr. Ping continues to bring a heartwarming side when he interacts with Po and in a scene where he interacts with Li Shan. And while Shifu and the Furious Five didn't get much to do, they're fine just the way they are. Also, Li Shan brings heart and sincerity while some of the panda villagers are one note, they're cute and so is Mei Mei. And then there's the animation and sweet heavens above it's gorgeous. The backgrounds are lush especially the panda village which I absolutely appreciate the most and the character animation is superb with expressive details on their feeling and reactions. Other stuff including snow, sand, grass, and rocks are greatly detailed. Even the Spirit Realm is so beautiful to look at.

Overall, Kung Fu Panda 3 isn't a masterpiece and yes there are some things tha could've been fixed, but as a third movie, this deserves my recommendation. It's gorgeously animated, thrilling, heartwarming, and most of all, a solid addition to the franchise. Thumbs up! :)

P.S. Happy 10th anniversary, Kung Fu Panda 1! June 6, 2018

Coco
(2017)

With deeper themes, colorful visuals, and the right amount of heart, Coco understands the mexican culture perfectly!
When I saw the previews of the movie, I became interested at the concept of a Pixar film exploring the Mexican culture and Dia de Muertos (AKA The Day of the Dead) and to my surprise back at late 2017, it lived up to my expectations and became one of the best films of that year (including Dunkirk, Wonder Woman, War for the Planet of the Apes, etc.) Sure, it has a cliché about music being forbidden (nothing negative to say about it), but once we got to the Land of the Dead, the rest of the film got a whole lot better.

Not only does it have a great plot full of heart and emotion that explores the themes of culture, family, life, and death brilliantly, but the characters motivations made them believable most notably Miguel and Hector. Also, there is a plot twist which I'm not going to spoil to those who haven't seen the film yet. The pacing is really good, the directing is really strong, Michael Giacchino's score is brilliant thanks to it being authentic to the setting the movie takes place, and last but not least the animation. Not only from the expressive character designs on the humans and skeletons on the Land of the Dead, but the visuals themselves which are just as gorgeous as Brave's Scottish setting.

I've found myself another favorite Pixar film (heck it's also my favorite CGI animated movie). It's just as good as the Toy Story trilogy, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, and Inside Out. This deserves a LordoftheFuture seal of approval. Recommended! :)

Trolls Holiday
(2017)

Not exactly memorable, but cute and charming enough
I'll admit, when I saw Trolls on Netflix last year, I thought it would end up being a disappointment, but it turned out to be much better than the trailers. Sure, it didn't do anything new with it's story and the villain was pretty forgettable, but the main leads were likeable enough, the animation was cute, and the songs were good too.

So, when I heard that DreamWorks was going to make a holiday short, I was interested and hoped that it would be as good as the other holiday shorts like Gift of the Night Fury and the Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special. From what I got, it was decent enough and it's cute and charming in places. However, it's not exactly memorable as there are some problems that held Trolls Holiday back.

The story did feel predictable and at times a bit repetitive at parts, although I do admire it's attempt to stick to the holiday theme. Then, there's the pacing, which felt a bit rushed there wasn't enough time to breath and there's one song number that felt quite unnecessary (I'm not going to spoil to those who haven't seen it yet).

That being said, everything else is good. The animation is even more cute, the most of the song numbers are fine, the characters are charming like they were in the movie, and the voice work is spot on with Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake continuing to shine with their chemistry. Oh, and there are some funny moments which gave me a chuckle or two.

So, overall, not exactly as strong as Gift of the Night Fury and the Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special, but still cute and charming for kids to see. :)

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