Turning Red


Viewed – 14 March 2022 Disney+

We’re certainly in a new era, with the ability to watch the latest Pixar movie directly on your TV, with the advent of streaming services such as Disney Plus. So when I noticed this latest effort had appeared, I decided to give it a watch. Mei-Lee is a young Chinese girl living in Canada who lives for life, her friends, school and her deeply traditional family. However one morning she wakes up to discover she’s transformed into a huge red panda.

That time of the month again…

As an exploration of puberty, growing from a child into adolescence, this is fairly obvious but done well, retaining a great deal of fun whilst exploring a delicate subject. Pixar’s animation is top notch as usual and this time seems to have a Japanese anime influence. Mei-Lee is initially a bit of an annoying character but quickly proves sympathetic and endearing. It perfectly captures superficiality of teen crushes, boy band obsession and friendship, complete with over-protective parents and breaking the rules in order to grow and develop. It also reminded me of Teen Wolf at times.

Voice acting throughout is decent despite lacking celeb names bar veteran James Hong as Mei-Lee’s grandfather. On a whole this also felt slightly low-key compared to the usual Pixar blockbuster, but was no less entertaining. Check it out.

Verdict: Good

Eternals


Viewed – 21 January 2022 Disney+

A group of immortal super beings who have lived amongst us for centuries, travel the planet seeking out and killing a race of creatures knows as deviants. Their mission is to aid mankind’s development through the ages. In the present day, an estranged Eternals have to regroup when a new threat endangers the planet.

The new Avengers?

This latest Marvel Studios effort introduces a new group of heroes, and after countless Avengers, Spider-Man and Captain America movies it was refreshing to see these newer characters (outside of the comics). Casting is decent, with names like Angelina Jolie and Salam Hayek being joined by Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden and Train to Busan’s Don Lee. What this generally is, is an epic saga following the lives of these characters over the ages, feeling at times like a pilot to a TV series. However under the direction of Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) a lot is crammed into an energetic 2hrs 38 minutes. The cinematography is often gorgeous, aided by not only a globe-trotting storyline but also the wealth of IMAX shots (yes I watched that version) and it certainly delivers a visual treat. Action is also plentiful and the various abilities of the characters make for some exciting and imaginative encounters.

The story is a bit ‘out there’ and doesn’t entirely add up, and an appearance by Game of Thrones’ Kit Harrington comes off as an after-thought. Yet with some good character melodrama amongst the action and spectacle, I must admit I enjoyed this. The CGI is decent and the various twists and turns definitely caught me off guard. Better than it’s lukewarm reputation may have you believe and I for one look forward to what we get next.

Verdict: Good+

Update


So I’ve had a break for a couple of weeks. To be honest I haven’t been that in the mood to watch movies and have mostly been focusing of playing games and watch TV shows. Over Christmas I purchased Resident Evil Village which I’m loving and is proving a worthy, atmospheric follow up to RE7. I also put in quite a bit of play on Halo Infinite both single player and multiplayer and consider it a return to form for a franchise which had seemed to lose its footing since developer 343 Industries took over from Bungie. I also finally finished A Plague Tale Innocence – a challenging game with a great premise and a genuinely powerful story. Oh, and I got the platinum on Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart but getting all 47 trophies! A first for me I might add.

Resident Evil Village

As for TV, I have mostly been watching Netflix and Disney+. I am nearly at the end of Hawkeye which is great, and I’m a bit addicted to The Big Bang Theory, which passed me by during its initial run. Desperate Housewives is also a guilty pleasure I’d say, and away from these services I’ve also been trying to finish the final season of Wentworth.

Hawkeye

That’s not to say I’ve not watched any movies. Over Christmas I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark, an undisputed classic which was part of a 4K Blu-ray box set I got as a present. Image quality was very good with lots of detail and overall it was fun to revisit the movie. Maybe I’ll check out the other movies in the set at some stage. For my birthday in November I received a Blu-ray box set of the Dirty Harry movies and am slowing watching all but for the first (which I’m overly familiar with) with my Dad who’s quite a fan of Clint Eastwood. So far Magnum Force was quite good, whilst The Enforcer was a bit rubbish.

I have a number of movies I want to check out and will be posting reviews as usual. So normal service should resume soon!

Craig.

Update


Well what have I been up to lately? For starters I’m still really enjoying PlayStation 5, and am currently loving Immortals: Fenyx Rising, an unashamed, yet highly polished Breath of the Wild clone, that uses Greek mythology to give the game its own identity outside of comparisons to Nintendo’s masterpiece. I also got my hands on Hitman III, this time for Xbox One X, and had forgotten just how fun and absorbing that franchise can be.

Hitman III

TV-wise, I recently finished Tin Star, the crime drama starring Tim Roth, and although I feel season 1&2 were superior in story and depth, the Liverpool set final season was really enjoyable, rather bizarre ending aside. I’m also still watching The Fall with Gillian Anderson (who, by the way was great as Margaret Thatcher in the latest season of The Crown), and just finished season two. I’m also watching WandaVision, Cobra Kai (TV bliss!) and to a lesser extent The Handmaid’s Tale.

To make future posts a bit more varied, and to increase the movies I am watching without the need to review ‘everything’ … I’ll be grouping some opinions together in updates like this. Two movies I’ve seen recently, are The Philadelphia Story, the 1940’s comedy drama with James Stewart, Cary Grant & Katherine Hepburn – a charming comedy of errors, revolving around a wealthy socialite’s impending wedding and how a local magazine want the scoop. The story wasn’t up to much but the banter and chemistry between the leads was fun, and child actress Virginia Weidler often stole the show. Verdict: Good.

The Birds

The other movie I watched recently was Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, starring the lovely Tippi Hedren. I’d never seen this but of course I had heard a lot. Well… it was instantly likeable due to the characters and quirky interactions, that although goes on for a good hour before we get any ‘bird action’ … yet when things do occur, Hitchcock’s direction is first class and very effective – especially the climactic bird’s attack on the house. An acclaimed classic worthy of it’s reputation. Verdict: Recommended.

That’s all from me for now.

Craig.

Mulan


Viewed – 08 September 2020 Disney+

I never got around to watching the animated original, yet it had always intrigued me … but unlike some other live action Disney remakes of late, I thought this would suit such a take better. Telling the tale of a young woman in ancient China who chooses to join the Emperors army disguised as a man, after an invading army declare war.

This is a gorgeous movie, awash with vibrant colours, beautiful costumes and stunning scenery and locations. Yes, there’s an overdose of CGI and occasionally the use of green screen for backgrounds is a bit obvious, but overall this was a treat for the eyes. Martial arts star Donnie Yen appears as a general who trains up the Emperors army, and an unrecognisable Jet Li appears as the Emperor himself. Jason Scott Lee’s vengeful leader of the invading army is good but he’s overshadowed by Gong Li’s brilliantly ruthless witch, who is definitely one of the movie’s stand out characters. Yet Liu Yifei as Mulan herself is very good, tough yet vulnerable and can handle the various elaborate fight sequences and carries the movie well. Yet the star here is the direction and visuals, Action scenes are plentiful and the camera work is often unique and stylish.

The story is nothing that special though and gets rather predictable. Some of the gravity-defying fantasy aspects can get a bit silly too. Also I found myself having to suspend belief when Mulan was disguised as a man, but still looked feminine to me. However, despite these things, I was still highly entertained from start to finish. One to check out.

Verdict: Recommended