Onward Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Onward the magical tale of two teenage elf brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) Lightfoot, who embark on a journey to see if there is any magic left in their city, all while spending one last day with their late father. Ian finds out he has magical powers (like his father) and uses his father’s staff and a magical stone, to bring half of him back for one day. Writer and director Dan Scanlon wanted to create a film based off of his own experiences with his brother and the loss of his father. It had the right heart but not the right execution. Even though the film centered around finding magic, it was severely lacking the Pixar magic we all know and love.

This was the first Pixar movie that I’ve been seriously disappointed in because of how dull they made Ian and Barley. Chris Pratt’s whimsical voice and Tom Holland’s nerdy babbling couldn’t save this empty journey. The sentiment was there, two brothers wanting to spend one magical day with their deceased father but the simple journey they went on had no payoff at the end of this film. The entire film Ian and Barley spent time with only HALF of their father, the bottom half. They couldn’t talk to their own father for the entire day, they only communicated through touch and morse code. Again, the sentimental value was there because Barley had spent a couple of years with their father but Ian never got to know him.

The animation was also unimaginative and lacked the Pixar touch. I keep saying Pixar because their rendering technology was far superior, before Disney even picked them up. It just didn’t feel like a Pixar film and I can’t explain why, it just didn’t, I can’t put my finger on it. You just know that you’re watching a Pixar film, instead of a Disney film, you can’t explain it, you just know. Pixar’s animation was so incredibly special when it began all those years ago, but now with Disney’s influence, I’m afraid the type of calibre films that we are used to from Pixar, will begin to fade away. I know that Disney bought Pixar in 2006 and they gave us such incredible films, but the more powerful Disney gets, I’m afraid that the creative licensing with the acquired subsidiaries will suffer greatly.

Onward tries to make a heartfelt film between two brothers. The little brother Ian, realizes that even though he grew up without a father, he still shared his life with a father figure and he finds that in his older brother Barley. The simple quest they were on, was way too simple and nothing really exciting happened. The magic was basic and lacked flare. Also, there was no connection to the father, who also had these powers. Ian and his father had a connection through magic, yet he never had an emotional moment with his father. There was a disconnect because there was no conversation being had between father and son.

As you watch this film and sit through the dry humour, you wonder if Ian and Barley will eventually get to see the top half of their father. The ending left a bitter taste in my mouth and I’m not one for spoilers, but it was infuriating to watch what happens to these brothers and their father. It could have been such a beautiful moment but it was ruined by a very strange moral choice based off of a new realization.

I wanted this to be better but the story lacked direction and meaning. Yes, it’s sentimental but when you throw it together and try to interfere those key emotional moments with humour that is so dense, it just ends up being a forgettable film. Other than a half magical man walking around, Onward was just another film on the slate with two actors that should have had more chemistry than they did.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Review

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was a wonderful sequel and Angelina Jolie was born to play this role. 

The beauty of this sequel, is that the writers believed in the story they wanted to tell and the execution was flawless. This is why telling stories from the villains point of view is important. The villain is always seen as the wrong one BUT there could be more evil people out there, than the villains we all know and love. There is a reason villains become villains and I think, as storytellers, it’s important for filmmakers to tackle that kind of narrative. In this case Maleficent was cast as a villain but the real evil was in the kingdom. 

They made Maleficent so powerful and the love she had for Aurora was heartwarming. No one else could have played this role so well and it’s because Angelina Jolie embodies the fierce queen that Maleficent is and she naturally gives off a maternal energy. This story was beautifully written and definitely pulled at the heartstrings. 

The film is about unity and loving your neighbour. It was beautiful to see all the Dark Feys, from all over the world showing their different powers and characteristics. The production design and the special effects were lovely and the woodland creatures from the Moors were so adorable. The visuals were stunning and I’m happy I was able to watch this in IMAX!

Aladdin (2019) Review

This wasn’t as bad as people set it up to be.

Here’s the thing…. everyone goes into these live action films wanting them to be as magical as the original animated version and none of them will ever live up to that standard. People failed to understand that there was also a Broadway version that was adapted and that’s where Guy Ritchie got most of the direction from because IT IS a musical.

I went into this with low expectations. Then I saw Will Smith at the beginning of this film and all the expectations floated away. The reason is because I forgot that I was watching Aladdin in that exact moment. Will Smith brought his own version of the genie and having him set up the story was a very smart choice.

Mena Massoud as the street rat with a heart of gold, Aladdin, and Will Smith as the larger-than-life Genie in Disney’s ALADDIN, directed by Guy Ritchie.

The only issue I had with this film was that it dragged on at times but overall it was a pretty good live action. I didn’t expect it to be that good because of the reception it got. The cast was pretty strong and they all had great chemistry, especially Will Smith and Mena Massoud!

I enjoyed the fact that they added a song for Naomi Scott to sing as Jasmine AND that they changed the story a bit for her in order to modernize the tale.

Courtesy of PopSugar

Aladdin is by far one of the more fun live action Disney films to come out in the past couple of years. I really enjoyed Guy Ritchie’s direction and Will Smith completely stole the show. I’m actually happy that this generation of children can grow up knowing that Will Smith is their genie because he was that incredible!

The Disney – 20th Century Fox Merger

Mark your calendars.

Today is the day.

At midnight tonight, Disney will become an untouchable monopoly in the film industry.

Disney has finally closed the deal with 20th Century Fox. At the surface many comic book fans are excited because heroes like The X-Men, Deadpool and Fantastic Four are returning “home” to Marvel.

Ryan Reynolds confirmed the merger this morning on Twitter. Posting this photo with the tweet – @VancityReynolds: “Feels like the first day of ‘Pool”

However, what does this mean for the other content in the 20th Century Fox library? What else has Disney acquired in this merger?

Well 20th Century Fox also has television programming. It will pick up Fox Animation titles such as The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bob’s Burger’s. This also allows Disney to pick up Fox 21, which has The Americans, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and American Horror Story. No one realizes the amount of shows that the Fox library consists of and now Disney even owns series like Mash, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and 24. Disney made this move with the streaming service in mind. The company just added major television series to their library ahead of its release.

Yeah sure, it’s great that Marvel is getting their characters back but it also destroys a lot of what they worked on for the past 14 years. Do we really want a fresh cast for the X-Men? How can you replace actors like Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Hugh Jackman? It’s too soon. 20th Century Fox treated the X-Men so well and now all of that will be replaced in the next 10 years.

Disney has become a massive corporation that everyone should be afraid of. They will eventually own 70% of media consumption and will continuously knock down the competition. This merger means that there will be massive job cuts, unemployment and more control over creativity. Forget about the product for a moment and think about the thousands of workers who have worked for 20th Century Fox for years… where are they going?

Disney has become the production company bully and it feels like everyone has to love whatever they put out. The online critics are incredibly biased and have turned criticism and the average moviegoing experience into an unpleasant one. Disney used the excuse to buy back the X-Men for Marvel to cover up the fact that they were aiming for Fox’s TV catalogue for their own streaming service.

Disney will control creativity. Prepare for remakes and reboots in the next 10 years with the magical Disney touch. Prepare yourselves for a Deadpool that is marketed to children. Prepare for The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bob’s Burger’s to change their brand. Disney also owns Avatar now, so be prepared for overly marketed sequels that NO ONE cares about.

This is where smaller production companies step in and take control of original content. Companies like Anna Purna, A24, EOne, NEON and Focus Features to name a few, all have to pay closer attention to the films they pick up. That’s why we as a film community need to appreciate and fight for Netflix as a streaming service because eventually Disney will buy it out too. Once Disney has steadied their streaming service, it will buyout the competition.

There’s going to be a massive shift in film content in the next decade and this merger is the start of something that could potentially ruin the industry as we know it.