Aladdin (2019) – Review

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3 STARS

Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Nasim Pedrad, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban

It’s pretty much a given now that Disney are going to keep recreating their best-loved classics into live-action (or not-so-live-action, in some cases) films, as long as there’s an audience for them. Judging by the amount of classic (and current) Disney fans there are in the world, there will always be an audience for them, and so keep coming they shall and we may as well give in to it. The latest Disney Renaissance movie to get the makeover is 1992’s Aladdin, a beloved animation that many of us still recall seeing when it came out on VHS (as well as the female, and probably some male, friends who adored the titular character on a more romantic level. Weird.) One of the best-loved aspects of 1992’s Aladdin was the late great Robin Williams’s performance as the Genie (not only did he voice the character, but animators also took note of his physicality and facial features when performing the script). It’s a risky performance to touch, let alone performances of the famous soundtrack, including the title track ‘A Whole New World’, or even performing as the terrifying villain of the piece. So is Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin one jump ahead, or less diamond and more rough?

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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – Review

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4 STARS

Director: Chad Stahelski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Asia Kate Dillon, Mark Dacascos

Movies based around hitmen and/or assassins are ten-a-penny. What could possibly be brought to this kind of action genre that we haven’t seen before? Perhaps this is a question director/stuntman Stahelski and story writer Derek Kolstad asked themselves before diving into John Wick’s world with the first instalment in 2014. Casting Reeves as the titular character was the right choice – he has the experience for leading-man action and stunt work, but it’s nothing new for Reeves. Perhaps the fresh take comes from Stahelski and Kolstad themselves, with Stahelski a trained stunt performer-turned-director and John Wick being Kolstad’s first mainstream screenplay of this kind. It’s something that certainly felt fresh through John Wick (which Stahelski co-directed with David Leitch) and John Wick: Chapter 2, with Stahelski’s eye as a stuntman proving to be the best weapon in his directorial arsenal and Kolstad’s character development for John being his, but does this continue through to Chapter 3, or has it gone down that familiar route of giving the audience more of the same intense action but letting story and/or character development fall by the wayside?

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Tolkien – Review

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4 STARS

Director: Dome Karukoski
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, Colm Meaney, Patrick Gibson, Anthony Boyle, Tom Glynn-Carney, Harry Gilby, Albie Marber, Ty Tennant, Adam Bregman, Mimi Keene, Derek Jacobi

Between 2001 and 2003, director Peter Jackson gave the world his masterful vision of author J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, and then between 2012 and 2014 Jackson gave us The Hobbit split into three films, bringing to life two of the most beloved stories the world has ever read. Thus, it was perhaps only a matter of time before someone decided to go behind the scenes and delve into the life of the author and discover who and what influenced his legendary stories. Enter Dome Karukoski, a Finnish-American director who has admired Tolkien since he was a young boy. Along with screenwriters David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford, Karukoski brings Tolkien’s story to the big screen. Does it provide a realistic glimpse into the mind of one of the world’s most famous authors, or is it just another blown-up biopic ‘loosely based’ on real events?

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What’s On – May 2019

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If April was all quiet on the cinematic front, May is all hands on deck for a jam-packed month of movies. With a range of genres represented there’s something for everyone, from the likes of Tolkien (a potentially eye-opening biopic for Lord of the Rings fans) and Vox Lux (with Natalie Portman’s performance being hailed as her best-ever) to Hotel Mumbai (about the 2008 shootings and bombings in Mumbai) and Rocketman (a glimpse into the life of Elton John). Even Godzilla is making a comeback in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. And that’s not all…

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Shazam! – Review

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Director: David F. Sandberg
Cast: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Hounsou, Grace Foulton, Faithe Herman, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews, Adam Brody, Michelle Borth, Meagan Goode, Ross Butler, D.J. Cotrona, John Glover

It feels like the world of cinema is being dominated by superhero movies. In fact, it’s been feeling that way for probably the past five years or so. And with the way things are going, this isn’t going to change any time soon. Whether we’re getting good, top-level action movies with heart or bottom-of-the-barrel, has-anyone-actually-heard-of-this-character-before scruff, studios will keep churning them out that way until the demand weakens (if it ever will). Shazam! Is DC’s latest cinematic offering, an official member of the DCEU that dares to make its debut just a couple of weeks before that of the MCU’s much anticipated (and now record-breaking) Avengers: Endgame. It goes without saying that most superhero movies, no matter what studio they’re from, will be compared to MCU movies, however with Shazam! being something rather tonally different to many superhero-based movies, does it stand on its own two feet in a universe all of its own, or does it fail to reach the heights expected from the genre?

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