When it comes to fantasy the realms of magic have been defined with the likes of elves, trolls and dragons; and these beings have continuously played a role in stories for many years be it in novels or movies. So what happens when you take these mythical creatures and you modernize them? That is the question that surrounds the latest film from Pixar: Onward. Directed by Dan Scanlon, Onward takes a fantasy world and puts a modern spin on it by having the likes of elves and gnomes in an urban society. While this idea is not original, this new animated film still managed to peak my curiosity with its promising adventure. I ventured to the theater to see this magical quest for myself, and while it may not enchant Onward is indeed one of Pixar’s more enlightening films in recent years.
Adventure comes in many forms. Concepts such as grand scale journeys and personal quests are the backbone of storytelling and it continues to be effective for the adventure film genre. In this case the latest adventure to hit the silver screen is one that deals with a dog’s odyssey throughout the wilderness; which many may know as The Call of the Wild. The Call of the Wild is based on the acclaimed novel by Jack London and has been depicted on several occasions. The latest rendition is directed by Chris Sanders and brings the story to life in a live action film that is heavy on visual effects. The trailer teased an adventurous movie but it also appeared to be a journey that was a little too straightforward for my liking. After seeing it for myself I can say this adaptation falls under the saying of “what you see is what you get”, but in this case that was not a bad thing.
When it comes to new anime, none may have gained notoriety like My Hero Academia. The work of Kohei Horikoshi has become a prominent title for both manga and anime and the series continually makes its mark in pop culture. In 2018 the series made its cinematic debut with the film My Hero Academia: Two Heroes. While the movie had some issues, Two Heroes was an enjoyable experience and accomplished in bringing the series to the silver screen. Two Heroes was a success with the movie doing surprisingly well in the US market to the point where its limited release was extended. For this reason it came to no surprise that Two Heroes would not be the only cinematic adventure for Midoriya and the rest of Class 1-A, and sure enough the next installment for the anime has come in the form of My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising. Directed by Kenji Nagasaki, Heroes Rising was released in Japan on December 20, 2019 but now the movie has made its way to American theaters. Because of how impressed I was with the first film, and the fact that I am a fan of the series, I knew I had to see the new film for myself; and just like its predecessor Heroes Rising lives up to the series by being an exciting film filled with heroism.
When it comes to video games there have been many characters to define the medium; from a plumber saving a princess to an adventurer raiding tombs. Among these icons is a blue hedgehog who redefines the meaning of going fast. Since 1991, Sonic the Hedgehog has been a major franchise in the video game industry and, despite the series having its ups and downs, the high speed rodent continues to be a major player in video games with his various titles. Sonic has been no stranger to pop culture as he has had several comics and television series to his name, but now the blue hedgehog takes a new leap as he runs onto the silver screen. Directed by Jeff Fowler, Sonic the Hedgehog was originally going to be released last year but, due to controversy surrounding the character’s design, the movie was pushed back to the winter season. Now the film has hit theaters and as a fan of the series I knew that I had to see this adaptation for myself. There were a number of ways that this movie could have gone, but what came to theaters was a blockbuster that was as much a worthy adaptation as it was an entertaining experience.
The worlds of DC continues to expand. The DC Films (or DC Extended Universe) has had its ups and downs, but it continues to make a name for itself with recent releases such as Aquaman and Shazam. The latest film from the shared universe takes a step on the wild side by centering on the one and only Harley Quinn. Since her debut in Batman: The Animated Series, the supervillain has become a major player for DC by being part of numerous comics and making her cinematic debut in 2016’s Suicide Sqaud. Now the anti hero breaks away from the Joker and the Squad to star in her own movie: Birds of Prey (aka Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn or Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey). Directed by Cathy Yan, Birds of Prey is both a spin off to Suicide Squad as well as an introduction to DC’s team of superheroines. Despite the notoriety of its central character, this film looked to be a gamble in more ways than one. While it took me some time to see it, I ventured to experience the new superhero film and when it came right down to it: Birds of Prey was an enjoyable film.
Murder Mysteries can be an enticing concept. The idea of solving an unsolvable murder has been a captivating story that has been proven effective in a number of mediums; from the novels of Agatha Christie to the various crime dramas seen on television. However, while the idea endures, murder mysteries can be a dime and a dozen and if you have seen one then there is a chance that you have seen them all. However that may not be the case for the newest mystery sleuthing its way to the big screen: Knives Out. Directed by Rian Johnson, Knives Out looked to be an intriguing crime as the trailers put a spin on the concept of murder mysteries. The movie has received an array of positive reviews but could this new mystery steal the respect of this Film Adventurer? Well after seeing it for myself I must admit that while the film gets a little tangled, Knives Out is indeed an homage to its genre.
Disney has had many animated hits over the years like the enchanted spectacle of Beauty and the Beast, or the adventurous appeal of The Lion King. However, in recent years, one title has dominated the scene and become a household name in the House of Mouse, and that film is none other than Frozen. Based on the fairytale of the Snow Queen, Frozen took the world by storm with its adventurous tale, memorable characters and catchy songs. Needless to say Frozen became a success and naturally, when this kind of thing happens to a movie, a sequel is put in the works; though when it pertains to Disney, their animated sequel tend not to get follow ups (at least not on the big screen). However that is not the case for Frozen as now in theater is the highly anticipated Frozen 2. Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, Frozen 2 continues to tale of two sisters who embark on another adventure. To say this movie had a blistering battle ahead of itself may be the understatement of the year as Frozen 2 not only had to live up to this year’s array of blockbusters, but its predecessor as well. The end result was the latter as while Frozen 2 may not have been as impactful as the 2013 film, it was certainly an enjoyable experience.
When it comes to Disney’s live action adaptations this year has certainly been crazy. The trend of Disney recreating their animated classics has been going on for several years now, but this year has certainly been the epitome of the trend. From Dumbo to The Lion King, this year has featured an array of titles from Disney’s vault and it is hard to imagine that studio what could come up with next. Well as it turns out there was one more film to take center stage and that would be none other than Lady and the Tramp. The 1955 film receives a new take with Charlie Bean in the director’s chair, but this adaptation comes not to the big screen but one of a more variable scale as the new movie is featured on Disney’s streaming service: Disney+. With Disney bringing new movies to this services, and the fact that I have watched the four previous adaptations from the year, I had to see this new take for myself. Truth be told Lady and the Tramp has never been a cherished classic to me so I was not expecting much from this new adaptation. However, while the film does not break new ground, I must admit Lady and the Tramp was quite enjoyable.
In 1980 a film by the name of The Shining crept into theaters and the movie world was forever changed. The adaptation of Steven Kings’ novel has been heralded as not just one of the best horror movies of all time but also one of the best films to ever grace the silver screen. Now in 2019, a year that has seen an array of Stephen King films, the holiday season gets a little eerie with the release of Doctor Sleep. The 2013 novel continues to the events of The Shining with Danny all grown up and the new film, directed by Mike Flanagan, is as much an adaption to the book as it is a sequel in the 1980 classic. Living up to The Shining is certainly no easy feat but Doctor Sleep certainly looked promising with its impressive trailers. Naturally, I was curious to see what was in store for this suspenseful looking adaptation; so on a dark and stormy night I ventured to this new movie and I must say Doctor Sleep did not disappoint.
The concept of superheroes continues to be captivating in the world of pop culture. The idea of heroes fighting crime is one that has been told many times in a variety of ways. However heroes are only as good as the villains they face, and in the case of Batman (while the Dark Knight has many foes) the one rogue that truly defines him is none other than the Joker. For years the Clown Prince of Crimes has been an iconic character in not just comic books but other mediums such as film as the Joker has been depicted five different times on the silver screen. With the superhero genre continuing to thrive, it was only a matter of time that this notorious villain would receive his very own own movie; and that movie has at last come to theaters in the form of Joker. Directed by Todd Phillips, Joker is a unique take on both the character and the Batman mythos as this standalone film creates its origin story for the sadistic clown. With cinematic universes playing such a major role for comic book movies these days, it can be difficult for a movie such as this one to stand out; and there is also the obstacle of interpreting Joker correctly to deal with. However what transpired was not just a movie that did the character justice, but shook the very foundation of comic book and superhero movies alike.