Summary: A kind-hearted street urchin and a power-hungry Grand Vizier vie for a magic lamp that has the power to make their deepest wishes come true.
I think it needs to be said as I’ve seen a lot of negative reviews compare it to the animated version. YOU CAN’T COMPARE THE MERITS OF A MOVIE OFF OF IT’S PREDECESSOR! It’s destined to fail regardless if you do that. Yes, it’s a remake but it’s still its own movie and should be judged as such. As I’ve said before, I’ve been very optimistic about these remakes and I had such high hopes for this one. Probably even more so than the others.
I’m making sure not to have spoilers, at least nothing that will ruin the movie, or at least nothing that you don’t already know from being familiar with the animated film or that’s in the trailers.
Cast and Characters.
Mena Massoud as Aladdin. He is an impoverished Agrabah thief and “street rat” whose been doing his thing for years. He steals because he must, but we see just how selfless he can be when he gets some food after a pretty good score and gives his food to a kid and his family. When he meets Jasmine and they go on their adventure in the city, he falls for her because she seems to understand him and vice versa. They have a connection and he’s interested in pursuing it. He believes that he might have a chance at something he might not have had before. He then gets mixed up in a task from Jafar and starts to think of how he can impress a princess as he doesn’t want to let their connection go. Aladdin is a pure character, very sincere in the beginning. He’s smart, he understands how the world works and while he might wish things were different, he isn’t mad at the world. I’ve always liked that about him. His situation is the situation and when he gets the chance to make it better, he isn’t automatically thinking of “I want riches”, “I want power”, he just wants to be with the girl he fell for. It’s naive but it’s innocent. He never intentionally sets out to be a liar. We see that about him. As the film goes on, we see him start to fall into the lie he’s created, and he gets punished for it in different ways and then must find a way to come back from all of that. Mena Massoud is my age, I think about 27 but he has a youthful energy about him in this movie which I really loved. I loved watching him play one of my favorite characters and one of my first crushes lol. He’s very handsome with a smile to die for and big brown eyes which helps the charm that Aladdin has. He has some great facial expressions he gives in certain parts of the movie and The Genie is right in saying “kid, is it just me or does everything surprise you?” and even Mena Massoud says that the best emoji face for Aladdin is the “surprised emoji” because his reaction to things he’s not used to is just so pure. I think he has a nice singing voice and I wonder just how much of the stunts he does because Aladdin does a TON of stunts in this movie. Whether he’s jumping off buildings, falling out of windows, hanging off walls/cliffs etc. I also love to see just how good of a thief Aladdin is. He is REALLY good at his job and I was so impressed at how much I liked him in the role. Great job Mena! I can’t wait to see you reprise this role in the SEQUEL! I AM CLAIMING IT NOW! Also, any future projects. I will be keeping my eye on you.
Will Smith as Genie. The genie is a being who has been stuck inside of a lamp for 1000 years, but he is surprisingly chill about it. Obviously, he wants to get out more, be outside and everything but he’s not like cranky. He is kind, eccentric and just a lot of fun. He has the power to grant the three wishes of anyone who possesses his magic lamp. He is an all-powerful being. He is a bit of a trickster in ways, but he becomes a great mentor figure to Aladdin. He comes to care for the kid and wants to see him be true and honest to himself. He seems to not want him to fall into any issues that he might have seen previous masters fall into. The Genie sees the greatness within Aladdin and he wants him to be more confident in the power he has inside of himself. He even says to him (which is the trailer) “I changed what you looked like on the outside, but I didn’t change anything on the inside” and I think that’s one of his best lines because that’s so true and he wants Aladdin to see that for himself. Will Smith did have big shoes to fill thanks to Robin Williams iconic and memorable performance, but I worked hard to not compare it, but I think he manages to pay homage to what Robin Williams did while also making the role his own. Just like Robin Williams pretty much played Robin Williams, Will Smith plays Will Smith as the Genie. He had great chemistry with Mena Massoud. He really felt like a father/brother figure to him and he was very energetic and clearly had fun while playing the part. I think he managed to make the role his own and while he might not be as memorable, I think what he did deserves praise. His jokes were funny, particularly the “brass” one. I don’t know why but I cackled each time I saw it at that part. Smith said he pulled from a lot of his earlier characters for the role and in certain places you can see that. I also liked a lot of his emotional and more serious moments, like at the Harvest Festival when he’s telling Aladdin that he didn’t change anything on the inside. Or the part where he finds out Aladdin probably won’t use his third wish to set him free. I thought he did very well in both of those parts and I loved his dialogue in the serious moments. Great job Will Smith! I was a little nervous, but I really enjoyed him!
Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine. She is the Sultan’s daughter who is feisty and wants to have control over her life. When we first meet her, it’s in the city where she’s already out there seeing how he people live. She’s young and there’s a lot that she must learn but at the same time, she smart and quick on her feet. She wants to be Sultan because she feels like she knows her kingdom and people more than any outsider Prince would. She has more than just “I don’t want to marry someone I don’t love” but that she can’t rule because she’s a woman. I know some people complain about “forced feminism” but I think that’s just ridiculous because it gives her more reason to turn down these Princes. She goes through more than just trying to decide who she’ll marry. She also must find her voice and the courage to speak out for her people and herself, whether it’s against her father or Jafar. I’ve always liked Jasmine, but I feel like she’s given more of a personality in this. In the animated version, she’s pretty one dimensional and we get to know her more in sequels and the TV show, but we know a lot of her here and I think you root for her more because of that. She loves her city and feels some type of way that she isn’t allowed to go out and experience it more, she really wants to be someone who can lead. Naomi Scott does all this well. I think she is the stand out in the film. She is a great reactionary actress. I love how expressive her eyes are. Whenever someone is saying something that is really affecting her, her eyes grow large and if she’s trying to hold back tears, you see that in her entire body. I was really impressed, and I really liked her. Great job Naomi! Plus, she absolutely KILLS her new song “Speechless”. I get chills every time I hear it. She also has great chemistry with Mena Massoud and I think their chemistry really elevates the story between Jasmine and Aladdin.
Marwan Kenzari as Jafar. In this he is a young man, the Grand Vizier of Agrabah and the Sultan’s chief advisor. He is frustrated with how the Sultan rules and wants to overthrow him once he acquires the Genie’s lamp. We get to know more about him in this movie. We learn a bit about his childhood and he even relate to Aladdin in some ways, he’s honest about that. I think because he’s a young man he comes off way more desperate. He may have played the patient game but it’s not like he’s an older man whose been biding his time for years. He’s somehow made it high up in the ranks to be closer to the Sultan and give him advice. Plus, he seems to have a penchant for war as he advises him on that in some areas. I quite liked Jafar in this. I don’t think he’s as scary or intimidating as he is in the animated film (which is one of the few times I compared the two) but that’s part of the interesting thing in his character. He’s not really intimidating but he tries to be, and he even has this crazy thing about him. There’s a place where Jafar calls out to Aladdin (as Prince Ali) and when Aladdin kind of dismisses him, he almost yells but tries to compose himself because they were in public. I love that lol. Also, later when he gets the lamp, his reaction is so great. I was okay with him not being this oily kind of man but a desperate young man. I think Marwan Kenzari was good and dynamic in the role. He’s almost a bit tragic, in a pitiful way. I hope there’s a sequel “Return of Jafar” because I would love to see him return with bigger intentions. He threatened Aladdin big time and I want to see them face off!
Navid Negahban as The Sultan. He doesn’t have this large role, but he is wise and noble and he’s very eager to find a capable husband for his daughter. He is kind but not goofy and aloof. He wants the best for his daughter and everything he does is to secure the future for Jasmine. He has a few active moments towards the end of the film. Navid Negahban is good in the role, he has a commanding presence which fit the world they created in this film. I was glad he wasn’t silly and easily manipulated.
Nasim Pedrad as Dalia. She is Jasmine’s loyal handmaiden and confidante. She clearly has been by Jasmine’s side for a long time and I liked her. Dalia was funny and sure she was comedic relief, but it wasn’t in your face and annoying, at least not to me. I just loved that Jasmine had someone to talk to and bounce her thoughts, dreams and feelings off of, because Rajah is great, but he can’t talk back to her ya know? Nasim Pedrad has great facial expressions, especially when she’s talking to the Genie in later scenes or even reacting to things between Aladdin and Jasmine.
Character Chemistry. There are a few interesting relationships we get in this film where the chemistry between the actors is strong.
Aladdin and Abu. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to include this one because Abu isn’t a human but the friendship between Aladdin and Abu is important because they’ve been living together for X amount of years. They have a routine of how they do things, how they steal and all of that. Plus, I’m not sure how often Abu is a CGI monkey, but Mena Massoud really made it seem like he was best friends with his monkey, friend and partner.
Aladdin and Jasmine. Obviously, the main relationship of the film and it’s important that they have a good relationship and chemistry with each other. I love the fact that she’s with him while he’s singing “One Jump” which allows both us and Jasmine to see how well he knows the city. They have a connection from the first moment he saves her from the accusing vendor and says, “Do you trust me?” they have a moment. Later, in his home, they have a chance to talk and get to know each other a bit more before she ends up going back home, even with a negative thought in her mind about him. He likes her so much that he even attempts to see her again. He even willingly goes into the Cave to hopefully find a way to impress her. As Prince Ali, he’s awkward with her and it makes for a lot of endearing and humorous moments. I think the movie hits a lot of important beats for these two where their romance is young and innocent, and you root for them. Plus, Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott have great chemistry!! Even watching them in interviews I’m like “O. O”.
Aladdin and Genie. Their friendship is one of the crux of the movie. They meet in the cave when Aladdin releases him from the lamp and at first, it’s weird because Aladdin isn’t what the Genie thought would be the master, but then they build this friendship to the point where Aladdin trusts the Genie and vice versa. It’s a brotherhood and we see it grow as the movie continues. We see how much the Genie grows to care about this kid and how Aladdin looks up to him and even feels some type of way whenever the Genie seems disappointed in them. You get invested in their relationship. Will Smith and Mena Massoud have great chemistry together as well. They play off each other well and I was invested in their friendship.
Jasmine and Dahlia. Dahlia is Jasmine’s handmaiden and her friend. This relationship gave Jasmine another person, who understood her and believed in her, to talk too. Sure, she had Rajah, but he can’t talk back to her so giving her a friend I think, worked out. Dahlia is protective of Jasmine and vice versa, she encourages her, and I think Naomi Scott and Nasim Pedrad played off each other well.
Aladdin and Jafar. Aladdin and Jafar meet when they go to the Cave of Wonders. There is a tension being built between the two. Jafar clearly sees a bit of himself in Aladdin and he even has an honest conversation with him in some ways. As the film goes on and they meet again later when he’s Prince Ali, there’s a suspicion and dislike there from Jafar and of course Aladdin remembers him. So, there’s a tension that builds between the two whenever they’re in a scene together. I’ll mention their ending a bit later, but I was hoping for this tension to clash big time.
Production Design. Gemma Jackson who did production design work on Game of Thrones led the design here. I love the design of the world. In the opening credits while Will Smith is singing “Arabian Nights”, we go through Agrabah, through the marketplace and the palace. We pretty much get a quick look at what all the main characters are doing in that moment. Agrabah looks so realistic, crowded and like a thriving port city. Plus, we get to see that Aladdin really knows the city, I mean during “One Jump” he really goes through a lot of areas in the city and it allows us to see just how cast Agrabah is. When we see Aladdin’s home, it looks like something he would be able to throw together being someone of poor means. We don’t get to see a ton of inside the palace, but we do get very nice shots of the outside of the palace which is beautiful and the designs in some of the rooms we do visit are also beautiful. The Cave of Wonders also looks cool. The tiger face is put into the side of the mountain, which makes more sense. I liked that it looks like the inside of a mountain and that Aladdin had to really climb up this rock pillar (I mean he did a lot of climbing in this movie lol) to reach the lamp. I do think it looks like a set in some areas but once I got into the movie, which happened quickly, it doesn’t stand out as being a set that much.
Costume Design. Michael Wilkinson oversees the costumes, and these are some of my favorite costumes in the live action Disney movie spectrum. I love all of Jasmine’s outfits. I mean, most of them I’d seen before in the trailers and in promo photos but seeing them in the movie, like when she first walks down the stairs in that pink dress, like omg it’s so beautiful. Seeing her iconic blue outfit during the Harvest Ball and the “Whole New World” sequence is so beautiful! The attention to detail on her costumes. Just WOW! Also, Aladdin’s Prince Ali look is also a fantastic take on his iconic look and the color, while it was always white, it just looks so great on Mena and of course I like how he got a close shave and a haircut to add to the look. I also liked that he didn’t walk around wearing a giant turban lol. The Genie’s human look is based off the Broadway show which I thought when I saw it, but it’s also great. I love the colors on Will Smith’s skin. Aladdin’s “street thief” look is also nice. I know some people were upset because he’s wearing a shirt, and sure, I get it, especially since Mena Massoud is a gym guy (I follow him on IG) and he has a nice physique but I didn’t mind that he actually wore clothes because with all the stuff he’s doing, all the stealing what not, if he’s not wearing clothes that can fit his lifestyle then why have that lifestyle ya know? Like his red hoodie vest thing is great, all the pockets in that thing. I love how he uses it in the beginning when he’s stealing. GAH! I love the costumes.
The Soundtrack. Okay, every song from the animated film is in the movie. Will Smith starts us off singing “Arabian Nights” and there are different words in there. I was a little shocked at first when Will Smith started singing because I don’t think I ever really heard him sing, I’ve heard him rap, but the singing shocked me, and I think he sounds good. The arrangement of the music is also nice, I really got into the flow of it. Mena Massoud sings both “One Jump” and the reprise of that “Riff raff, street rat… I don’t buy that” that one and I think he sounds rather nice. “Friend Like Me” also gets a funky upgrade which I also like and its Will Smith in his element of the music he used to rap but it is still what you remember. He throws his own Will Smith flavor into it. “A Whole New World” is lovely and I think Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud sound good together. He almost sounds like Brad Kane sometimes. “Prince Ali” also gets a bit of an upgrade in the flavor of the song. Now, Jasmine gets a solo song “Speechless” which I knew about, and you hear it twice. The first time, it’s like a pep talk to herself and it’s only a few bars. Later, she sings it again as more of her anthem and I really like this song. It does feel out of place in terms of the arrangement and the “pop-like” sound it has, but Naomi Scott really kills it vocally and the arrangement doesn’t even matter to me because the lyrics make sense for her character.
Big Spectacle Sequences. Some of the songs have a smaller moment happening while they’re being performed on screen, like the first “Speechless” is just a quiet moment for Jasmine. “Arabian Nights” is the song for the opening so we get introduced into the world during that. But “Friend Like Me”, “Prince Ali” and “One Jump” are probably the ones that have a lot going on. “Friend Like Me” and “Prince Ali” are the Genie’s songs, so he gets to use his magic to show Aladdin what to expect and he goes all out. “Friend Like Me” is probably my favorite out of the two sequences we get from The Genie. It’s what “Be Our Guest” in Beauty and the Beast should have been. Plus, Aladdin gets to dance during this scene and I don’t know how much Mena Massoud did, but it was fun to watch Aladdin and the Genie get down. “Prince Ali” is probably the bigger of the two spectacles in theory, but it was very subdued to me and it was fun. I mostly liked watching Aladdin be all awkward up there as people are looking at him in awe.
It’s Really Funny. The first time I saw it, I had a good crowd, there was a lot of people laughing in places and sometimes people laughing is funnier than what’s happening on screen. When I saw it again later, there was a couple next to me who were super cute laughing at stuff. BUT the movie is funny. Aladdin in this is confident in ways but he’s also a young man. I’m not sure his age exactly, but he has some great dialogue. One of my favorite moments, is when he gets caught by some guards and the big one says “Evening” in his deep timbre and Aladdin says “evening” but it’s all high pitched and he clears his throat to sound more confident. Cute and funny. Mena Massoud has some nice comedic timing. Abu gets some laughs. The Genie got a lot of laughs from me. I mean, it’s Will Smith being Will Smith. Some of my favorite stuff for him is during the Harvest Festival scene. Jafar has some moments. Iago does as well. He talks but it’s like full blown conversations, he sounds like a parrot, but he’ll say shady stuff. Dahlia also has some good comedic moments as well. It’s lighthearted fun.
Guy Ritchie’s Style. This will be both here and in the con section. Guy Ritchie was an odd choice to film this movie, but I understand it because he films action well and while there isn’t like huge action sequences, there are smaller moments where we have action. During “One Jump” it’s a whole action piece of Aladdin and Jasmine running through the city. When Aladdin goes into the Cave of Wonders, he slides down a sandy hill, he gets pushed out of a window… Aladdin goes through a lot in this movie lol. In the pushed-out window scene, you see it in the trailer, not a spoiler, it does get slowed down and I like it in that moment. It slows down so you can see the terror on his face and then it speeds up in time to see him hit that water and boy… PAINFUL lol. Then of course the chase scene at the end, Ritchie loves chase scenes lol. I would like to see the movie in someone else’s hands who may have more experience in doing a movie like this, but I think his style is fine.
Guy Ritchie’s Style. I don’t think this is wholly a con, but there are some instances where it seems weird. Guy Ritchie has his style when it comes to action. I’ve only seen a couple of his movies, but he has a style and it’s evident in this movie at times. During “One Jump” there is a part where Aladdin and Jasmine are walking away from the guards and they are oddly sped up in that moment. Like, they look like they’re walking normally, but it’s like two seconds faster. It’s just a bit weird. He also loves to do the slow-mo. moments that then go back into the action. It doesn’t happen a lot but if you don’t like when people do that in actions movies then it might get on your nerves.
Inconsistent CGI. There are times when I think Abu and Rajah look a little weird. I mean, I know Disney can do CGI well because Jungle Book is beautiful and so seamless but it’s just a few times where it doesn’t look the best. Same can be said of The Genie. I don’t think he looked as jarring as he looked when we first saw him in the teaser where it was like “Ummm” it fits much better in the movie. HOWEVER, there are plenty of times where his face looked really CGI and it wasn’t as seamless and it should have been. I think Will Smith did motion capture for the role and sometimes it doesn’t always translate well. It looks very uncanny valley. I don’t mind how his body looks, or any of that, I mean harping on him being “jacked” is just childish because he’s a Genie, so what? lol the CGI is just odd at times.
Anti-climactic Face Off. At the end of the film where Jafar has the lamp and all that stuff and Aladdin is trying to save Agrabah from him, I was into the chase scene (something that Guy Ritchie does well) but I was hoping for a faceoff between Aladdin and Jafar that was more than just a conversation. I think it was well acted by everyone in the scene, particularly Marwan Kenzari but they built up this tension between Aladdin and Jafar the entire movie and not much came of it, at least not the way I think it should have. They left it open for a sequel and I’m hoping for a sequel. “Return of Jafar” sure, but make sure it’s like good and stuff because I don’t really like the animated movie lol. I just wish that the climax held the same energy that the movie held in other places. It doesn’t quite stick the triumph of Jafar’s defeat the way it should/could have.
Overall, I LOVED Aladdin. I knew I was probably going to like it, but I loved it. I think all the acting is good and they all fit into their character roles well. I do believe Naomi Scott really shines in the film, Will Smith does a great job with the Genie and newcomer Mena Massoud really holds his own and I can’t wait to watch everything he does next. We see what we’re familiar with but also with some updated personality traits I think work for the film. The production design is amazing and Agrabah looks great. The costume design is BEAUTIFUL and one of my favorite things about the movie. The soundtrack has an updated sound to it and still maintains the upbeat and catchy sounds it’s known for. I love the chemistry built up between different characters and the tension we get between Aladdin and Jafar as they seemed to be cut from the same cloth just had different destinies thrust upon them. I think Guy Ritchie’s style of directing works in the film for the most part. This movie isn’t perfect no matter how much I seem to be singing its praises. Ritchie’s style comes off awkward at different points in the film, just as the CGI doesn’t always hold up, particularly on the Genie at times. I also wish the climax was much bigger because there was plenty of potential for that and it just doesn’t hit the way it should have. With all that said. I’m probably one of the few critics who wrote a review and absolutely loved it.
SOOOOO take that as you will.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Aladdin? What are your thoughts on the film? What is your favorite of the live action Disney remakes so far? Which one are you most looking forward to?
Cast and Characters. We meet some other characters just barely, like Natasha’s family (though her brother never talks) and Daniel’s family. Also, a friend of Daniel’s and a lawyer but as they’re not really that important in the movie I’m not going to go into them.
Charles Melton as Daniel Bae.Daniel is preparing for his interview with Dartmouth as his parents want him to become a doctor as he is first generation in America and a lot is expected of him. However, he wants to be a poet because he’s a hopeless romantic and puts his feelings out through his words. He feels an enormous amount of pressure but when he sees Natasha in the train station, he is immediately taken and believes in destiny. Once they meet, he works to prove to her that love exists and that she could fall in love with him in that one day. I like Daniel a lot, he’s just a kind person who is trying to figure out what he wants but he also thinks of his family because he knows what his choices means for them. Charles Melton is too old to play Daniel, I thought so when he was cast and I thought so while watching the movie, however, I actually liked him. I clearly loved this girl from the moment he laid eyes on her and I truly believed that throughout the film. If there’s anything he can do well, is be in love lol. He also has a natural charisma that works for the character but he just registers too old for the part.
Yara Shahidi as Natasha Kingsley.I will have some other things to say about her later, but Yara Shahidi has an uneven performance. I know she was the first choice but she was also miscast but sure. Natasha is desperate to stay in America as she has spent most of her life here and she doesn’t want to get deported for something they can’t control. ICE did a random check and all that. So, she’s really stressed out, desperate and emotional but when she meets Daniel, she manages to find some break from all that. When they’re playing off each other, she does well. All the scientific stuff that Natasha talks about and when she’s sharing her thoughts on those things, it works for her. She’s also so beautiful. They zoom in on her face a lot and I’m just like “This girl is gorgeous” lol.
Beautiful Cinematography. Autumn Durald does the cinematography and I think the movie has a very nice look to it. It has this dreamy quality to it which fits for the nature of the story. There a LOT of shots of New York and it’s beautiful to look at while the movie was basically transitioning.
Character Chemistry. I could tell from the trailers that Shahidi and Melton had nice chemistry and I think that’s one of the highlights of the movie is that while I have issue with the acting and other things, they managed to make me believe they were really falling for each other.
Idea of the Story. As I love the book, I love the story and I do not normally like romance novels. In the movie, Natasha has a day to try and prevent her family from being deported while Daniel is supposed to going to his interview for college. He ends up saving her from being hit by a car (*rolls eyes*) and they go sit down and they talk about love once she finds out he’s a poet. He declares he can get her to fall in love with him and he has a scientific way to prove it, since she’s very much into science and facts and love cannot be proven. I like the idea of their separate stories as they both have the future to think about, albeit different futures, but the future nonetheless and I like the idea of it stressing them both out but they have found a moment to be free from that worry. All of that is nice.
The Karaoke Sequence. One of my favorite sequences from the movie is the karaoke scene. Daniel takes Natasha to this Asian karaoke bar and he sings for her and we get a flash forward of Natasha thinking of what their life could be like if she gives in to this feeling. I thought it was really sweet, especially with the music choice.
Inconsistent Acting. I was already skeptical because I wasn’t really into this casting for either of the lead characters. Natasha is Jamaican and Yara Shahidi does not even look like the rest of her family. I thought it was a bit weird and a missed opportunity to cast a darker skinned actress in a leading role, especially for a YA movie. As for Charles Melton, I’d only see him in Riverdale and he’s fine as Reggie (he doesn’t get much to do anyway) but I just thought he was too old and seemed to physically fit Daniel’s brother more than Daniel. Sorry, I got off topic lol, but I think the acting isn’t that great mostly from Shahidi. I don’t watch either of the shows she’s been on so this was my first time seeing her act and I don’t think she’s that great, particularly at the emotional scenes. Natasha has a lot going on in this one day, a lot of emotions she’s going through and I don’t think they hit the way they should have due to her not seeming to make it convincing.
Too Long. This movie is 100 minutes long, which isn’t really that long but this movie felt so long which is a problem. I think I read the book in a day, so I would imagine that with this movie being about an hour and some change would be fine, but it felt like nothing was really happening for the movie to be taking as long as it was. I checked my watch a few times. It has a lot of shots of New York and people doing New York things while some kind of pop song is playing and it just felt like padding.
Movie Flow. I was trying to think of why I found myself not liking the movie the way I wanted to. The movie has a lot of padding and it seems like there isn’t really a story with how they shoot it. It’s like we have moments of them separately, then a lot of shots of New York and music, then they meet and some dialogue then again, more shots of New York and its people and the music. The movie just feels like they didn’t have enough plot to show so they filled it in with transitional shots and music.
Overall, I wanted to like The Sun is Also a Star more than I did as I loved the book. I think it starts off really slow and it’s really only when Natasha and Daniel meet that it gets better, but not by that much. There are some positive things, like the characters are generally fine and the acting is okay, mostly with Charles Melton being the better out of the two leads. I really liked the karaoke scene and I think the two leads had great chemistry. Also, the idea of the story is fine. With that said, the acting is inconsistent throughout the film from almost everyone who gets to really talk but mostly from Shahidi. It’s too long, or it feels like it’s too long and the flow of the movie doesn’t work as it feels like it’s taking forever with NOTHING happening.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen The Sun is Also a Star? Did you read the book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Jessica Rothe as Tree Gelbman. So, Tree is back. The movie doesn’t even start off with her and I was a little shocked because she’s what made the first one so fun. However, we do get back to her as the main character after the first 20 minutes or so. She’s still great though. She got out of the loop in the first one but something going wrong with science makes her go back into it again and just her reaction to it repeating is the best thing. Also, the deaths she goes through are hilarious and I love her reactions to waking up and everything. Jessica Rothe is so fun to watch that as the movie is no longer a “horror/thriller” she just makes for great humor and reactionary acting. She also handles the emotional moments that Tree goes through, particularly when it comes to Carter and her parents, I think were strong.
Israel Broussard as Carter Davis. Carter is the boy-next-door and picking up where we left off, Tree and Carter are basically together. However, something happens that forces them apart and the Carter in most of the movie, is the Carter she first met, the one who doesn’t know her. He’s a sweet guy and even though they’re not together, he still is always willing to help her solve her problems. Israel Broussard does that kind, unassuming guy who is secretly brave quite well. He’s very likable too and you root for him and Tree as well.
Supporting Characters. We have some returning people and new people in the movie and everyone is funny, likable and fun to watch. Danielle is back and she’s over the top with some charm thrown in. We have two new characters who are friends with Ryan (Carter’s roommate) and Lori (Tree’s roommate) is back.
It’s funny. This movie is more of a comedy than it is a horror like the first film. It puts more emphasis on the science behind the time loops and allows Jessica Rothe to really kick it in high gear with how she reacts to what’s happening. One of my favorite parts is when she’s falling from high up and it slows down and what she’s doing made me crack up.
Interesting Premise. I am a sucker for time loop movies. I think they are usually so much fun and if it’s a serious drama, like Before I Fall, then it can be handled so well. Tree is forced back into the world of time loops when Ryan, Carter’s roommate seems to be stuck in one himself. Being that she is an expert, she tries to prepare him for what he might go through, but amid helping, she gets put back into a time loop herself. So now, it’s more than someone trying to kill her (as she thinks it’s the exact same story from before) but now more of what she wants to do with the rest of her life. Stay in the past that’s been granted to her or move on into the future. While it’s not as nuanced or interesting as the first one, it still manages to hold some weight.
Heartfelt. What’s interesting is that this movie puts Tree in a position where she must choose between her past and her future. I thought it was a nice choice to throw in there. It can be a little silly because her future is a boy and her past is her mother, but I think the lesson Tree learns to make her choice is a smart and mature one. I thought the movie handled that well and I give it it’s props for that. I didn’t tear up or anything, but it gave a nice and earned heartfelt moment.
Necessary? It’s hard to ever say a stand-alone movie needs a sequel and this is one of those that doesn’t need one. So, this movie seems a bit… random? While it’s still a good and fun movie, I don’t think it was necessary for what we were given in the first one.
The Science. I thought it was a little weird that someone was able to create a machine that affected time and then it put Tree into a time loop. I don’t know if that was always the case for them, but it seems weird that it chose her to be affected by this science. I also wonder just how much her day repeated for her to be able to memorize all those scientific equations, so they can relearn it and try to help her each time. It’s mostly because of this reason that it doesn’t seem the movie was needed but I very much enjoyed it.
Overall, I really liked Happy Death Day 2U as it was a fun experience and I laughed more than I thought I would. I wasn’t sure what it would entail since it seemed like the story ended in the first film, but I was happy to see Tree again, to see how her life is going and her relationship with Carter that I did find myself getting invested in. I think the movie is very funny and has an interesting premise that it continued to build from throughout the film. It was also very heartfelt in how Tree must face things that’s happened in her life. She’s such an endearing and fun character that you root for her no matter what she chooses. Either way the choice is love, ya know? My only true critiques are if this movie was truly necessary because it doesn’t seem like it in the long run. Not to mention, the science was a weird addition. I get it from a science standpoint, not that I understand the science itself, but that’s why I didn’t find the movie necessary even though I really liked it.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Happy Death Day 2U? What did you think about it? This one is a comedy compared to the first one which is more horror. Which would you prefer?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below and be sure to check out more reviews!
Summary: After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War, the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe.
I have worked on this review for a while now. It was hard to really write it without spoiling it. I haven’t decided if I’ll do a spoiler talk or not, but this review is going to be for me to get out my initial thoughts and feelings.
Cast and Characters.
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man. We know who Tony is. We’ve known him for ten years now and he has become such a staple in the MCU. He is the benefactor of the Avengers and he creates his suits of armor to become Iron Man. In this film, Tony is in a dark place, he’s with Nebula in space after the Snap in the last film. He feels broken because he failed to stop Thanos, plus with the fact that Peter faded away in his arms, he’s lost all hope. Obviously, he does make it back home though and he has found hope in the dark times, but he just cannot help himself but to help the rest of his team in trying to reverse what Thanos did. Tony has always been willing to do what he thinks needs to be done, and in this movie, he has his reasons for everything he does. I love that we have seen Tony evolve over the last 10 years. It’s been amazing, and no one can play him the way Robert Downey Jr. has. He has managed to make, at least for me, Tony likable in situations that I would not find him likable. He’s made him emotional when he needs to be, cool, suave but someone who has a vision for himself, someone who has hope for what things could be. He has been a great character. Love him or hate him.
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America. He is the leader of the Avengers and of course a WWII vet and a super soldier. We start off with him wanting to find where Thanos disappeared too because of what he has done. It’s important to Steve that they at least find him and take him down. As the film goes on, we see him continue to be a beacon of hope for some people as he runs a group in a church of people who are still affected by the Snap. I mean, people lost their loved ones, so it makes sense that he would try to help others move forward with their lives and fight for hope. I love that he’s doing that because that’s what he stood for as Captain America and that’s just who Steve is. I like that this is where we find him in this film. Not to mention, he’s battling with that himself. Someone who’s been optimistic and believes in saving people without risking lives, someone who has gone to bat for everyone all the time, he knows they must do it again because it just can’t be the end. Steve is such a strong and good man and I have always loved that his values have never been shaken. His belief system is part of who he is and that’s what makes him so compelling. He’s not just a boy scout but a man who searches for the best and fights for it too. Chris Evans has been great as Steve and I have always liked Evans, and I love that he plays Steve as someone who has always been a good man, but as the movies continue, he continues to fight for that every day. You can see it in the quiet moments he has. Ugh I just love him. Cap is my favorite and Evans is my favorite Chris lol. PLUS, IN THIS MOVIE HE ALMOST MADE ME COME OUT OF MY SEAT TWICE! Good reasons but I had to collect myself lol.
Chris Hemsworth as Thor. He is the King of Asgard, per his third movie. He now wields Stormbreaker, a mystical axe after his hammer was destroyed. The Snap seems to have affected Thor the most as he feels like he failed in not going for the head, or even cutting Thanos’ arm off. He had the axe created because he knew he needed something to help in the fight, but he believes people died because of him and it clearly still affects him. Without giving away where he stands in this film because it’s a great reveal, Thor must learn along the way that he is still worthy, he is still a hero and he still can do what needs to be done because he is needed. Hemsworth is extremely likable as Thor, especially in these last three movies. His character development, physically and everything else has been a great move for him. Makes him much more compelling and interesting as I never really cared for him as much as I do now. I really like Thor’s journey in the film, and I’m very interested to see what happens going forward.
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner / Hulk. Without giving too much away of what he’s doing since he’s not in any of the trailers lol, Bruce has managed to find a balance in his life that works for him. He basically does conclude his character arc that was started in Thor: Ragnarök and it’s been nice to see him have more to do than just be a brain and a Hulk. He gets to do another nuanced performance like what he could do in the Thor film. Mark Ruffalo is so likable in this role.
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow. I think overall, she’s underutilized in the film, but she makes some choices in the film that brings her character full circle. I’m still not happy about them but she does make the choices that make sense in the end, I guess. I’ve never really liked Johansson as an actress, but I like her enough as Natasha. I like the friendly chemistry she has with both Evans and Renner and I think her character has become extremely instrumental in what we have seen. She’s been such a key component that her choices really seem to spur some moments later. I really like the scene after she checks in with other characters and she has this silent moment to herself. That’s probably some of her best character moments and acting.
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton / Hawkeye. Another underutilized character even with the moments he’s had where he’s been great. He is a master archer and a former Avenger after the events of Captain America: Civil War. He lost his family in The Snap, so he has taken on the mantle of “Ronin”, someone who is basically wandering around lost because he wants to avenge his family but can’t, so he takes it out on thugs and what not. I like that this is where he is because he’s always been a cool-headed kind of guy, so it’s nice to see him in a dark place that he must fight against. Jeremy Renner is great in the role and I really like the chemistry he has with ScarJo in particular. They have many great scenes together.
Bradley Cooper as Rocket. He is the only surviving member of the Guardians. I love Rocket, he’s my favorite Guardian and he’s really sad because he’s lost the only family he’s ever known, especially Groot. Even though he’s a CGI character, he is very expressive. Between Sean Gunn posing for him and Bradley Cooper doing his voice, he’s such a great character. He works with the Avengers because he was with them on Wakanda obviously and he wants to get his family back just as much as the others want their loved ones back as well. He gets teamed up with Thor again on their mission and I really like them working together, they have great banter and Rocket gets a lot of nuggets of wisdom while speaking with Thor as well.
Karen Gillan as Nebula. Surprisingly enough, Nebula is a character who has grown on me a lot in the films she’s been in and she has a nice juicy role in this film. Obviously with Thanos being her adopted father and then the whole thing with Gamora, she knows a lot and is very helpful to the Avengers. She has a lot that she gets to do in this film, she’s working with them to avenge her sister, she’s working with them because I also believe she and Tony made a friendship connection while stuck in the ship in Space. Nebula has had the chance to make certain choices that allow for her character to really mature. Karen Gillan is great, I love the voice she has for the character and some of the emotional moments she gets throughout the film are handled well.
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang / Ant-Man. Following the events of Ant-Man and the Wasp, Scott comes back from the Quantum Realm and he’s missed everything that happened, so he’s coming into it brand new. He’s almost the audience members who might have forgotten what happened in Infinity War (if that’s you, what’s wrong with you?) as he gets to learn everything and be affected by it after the fact. I really like Scott, he’s just a cool guy and he’s very funny. I love how he reacts to things. Paul Rudd is a likable dude and Scott is endearing because of it. Also, their mission they go on in this film is Scott’s idea, so he gets to be super involved because he works it out himself before he takes it to Steve and Natasha.
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes / War Machine. He is a former Officer in the Air Force and he gets to do more in this film as well. Rhodey gets teamed up with Nebula during their mission and while we don’t spend a ton of time with them during their mission, they worked well together, surprisingly lol. Rhodey is always fine, he’s likable but he’s always just felt like Tony’s best friend who is the token black guy and he ways, he still feels that way, but I like that he gets to be more incorporated and he always manages to find humor in the situation even if he’s not trying to funny on purpose. Don Cheadle is always a win and he’s still good as Rhodey.
Supporting Characters. So, I really needed to separate the two brackets because we have the ones who are directly involved, and you have others who are sprinkled throughout the film.
Brie Larson as Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel. They really made it seem like she was going to be heavily involved and spoiler alert, she’s not. I’m sure some people will be happy about that apparently a lot of people don’t like her. But whatever. Anyways, Carol shows up after receiving the distress call from Fury during the end credit scene of Infinity War. If you watch her movie, you’ll see why she came when he called. She helps them in the beginning but then must return to space because there are other planets who are suffering as Earth is and she is someone who can help with that lol. I like Carol and I like Brie Larson as Carol and I like that she pops in when she’s needed and that she just gets integrated into the team.
Danai Gurira as Okoye. I was a little miffed that she is also not in the film much even though she’s on the poster and was in the trailers, but anyway, after the disappearance of T’Challa and whoever else in Wakanda, it seems that she has taken on the role of “leader” in their disappearance. She has a great entrance later in the film.
Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia “Pepper” Potts. She is Tony’s boo and, in this film, she’s with the Avengers while they’re trying to find Tony and then she and Tony manage to find a little slice of heaven in their corner of the world. I like Pepper and Tony’s relationship. She never takes any of his crap and always calls him out on his. I like her involvement as well.
Josh Brolin as Thanos. He is an intergalactic despot from Titan who collected the six Infinity Stones to inflict his will on all of reality. He’s retired because he did it. We get to see Thanos a bit more in the film than I expected and he’s still an interesting villain but he’s much more compelling in Infinity War lol. Josh Brolin still does a great job for him though.
Emotional Moments and Overall. Ya’ll I cried both times I saw this film. I cried harder the second time, but listen, it almost took me out and in a different way than Infinity War did. There is a lot of silent moments in the film that really allow us to sit with the characters in the aftermath of the Snap and how they have.
A Beautiful Ending. One of the biggest praises I think this film can receive is the fact that it manages to wrap up so many story lines and character arcs we have followed for ten years over a span of 22 films. I think that is a giant feat for this film. The characters we have come to love and admire, especially our original lineup of Avengers, really get to have great character moments, that allow us to see that while we’re coming to an end of their stories and journeys, they are still the people we have come to love and they deserve to have the world as they have given up so many things to save ours. I cried. I think mostly with the two characters who have spear-headed this universe. I think it’s beautiful, emotional, and while I still have my issues with some choices, I think for what was created, it was beautiful.
Character Arcs. Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, Thor, Natasha Romanov, Nebula and Scott Lang really get some nice moments for their characters in this film. A lot of these characters have arcs that spanned over many movies, which makes sense as people are always changing, always evolving, always learning and I love that we have seen this progress and they all progress even further in this film. We get to see Tony and Steve come face to face again after the events of Civil War. They must rebuild that trust and friendship again and I think it’s easy to see that Steve really wants to do that as soon as he sees Tony. Plus, Tony finally found something he’s been looking for all his life and he must make decisions on how best to keep that while also helping to save the world. Then there’s Thor with feeling unworthy because he thinks he failed. I mean there is so much good stuff and they still manage to juggle all of this. Some gets more than others, which I get but it still works!
It’s funny. I don’t think it’s like hilarious funny, but it has a lot of funny moments. I think with this new direction for Thor, he’s been funny as Chris Hemsworth has great comedic timing and the direction Thor takes in this movie is funny but also a little sad and I think it makes sense for where he ends up. Tony is funny when he needs to be as always, we know that Paul Rudd is in this one as Scott Lang and he’s great and even Chris Evans has some great moments. Everyone at least gets two or three humorous lines.
The Big Battle. Ya’ll, listen. This is the fight we’ve always wanted in terms of everyone who is involved. I can’t say it’s the best choreographed because that honor still goes to the Elevator Scene and the Highway Scene in Captain America: Winter Soldier. Honestly all the fights in that movie lol. But just the grand scale of it all, it’s so beautiful. It brought a tear to my eye. We really get to see Steve, Tony and Thor all shine in this fight as they are our “big three” from the first group of Avengers. We also get some other nice moments during this fight that I won’t spoil but listen, I almost jumped out of my seat the first go around when something happens with a character because IT IS GLORIOUS, AND IT WAS EVERYTHING TO ME AND I AM SO HAPPY.
Pacing Issues. This movie is long, and they have said that many times. It’s over three hours long and that’s not a problem for me, even though my body didn’t care, and I had to leave one the first time and TWICE the second time. So, upset. Anyways, there are times when the movie really slows down, and I get it, there’s a lot of introspection and what not, but it also feels like it’s long for the sake of being long. I don’t think that’s always a good thing. There are middle portions where it just feels like it could have been condensed or there could have been some more meat added to it. For example, Rhodey and Nebula’s scene was a set up for another plot point, but it didn’t have nearly as much meat as what Tony, Steve, Scott and Hulk had to do, or even what Natasha and Clint had to do. Plus, Scott must learn everything that happened and of course we already know that so it’s like, it’s necessary for the character but not really for the audience.
Some Character Choices. I obviously don’t want to spoil anything, but I didn’t really like how some characters ended up in the movie. I don’t know if I can charge that against the movie or not, but I know I didn’t really like it. I get it, I really do. I’m thinking of two specific things, but I was not happy with what happened and for the sake of the movie, I guess it works, for the sake of those characters, it works but I just did not like it! lol
Overall, I love Avengers: Endgame for what it was able to accomplish and basically for being the ending to a beautiful story. The biggest thing for me was the characters and the acting. Sure, the action is great, but the real selling point is the characters and their connections to each other, their arcs and their desperation to fix what’s been done. That’s the true selling point. Everyone is top notch in this film, particularly Downey Jr., Evans, Hemsworth, Gillan, Johansson (which is high praise for me lol). The emotional points are extremely important for the film and the characters. I think it’s funny with a lot of character reactions and great dialogue pieces. Also, the last battle sequence is fun! I think we get to see a lot of characters shine and of course, I jumped out of my seat and had to catch myself during that scene lol. And of course, the ending is beautiful and bittersweet. I have a few issues with the film but a lot of them get into spoiler territory, but I think the pacing was off, it probably didn’t need to be three hours long and I didn’t like some character choices. But I think Avengers: Endgame was worth the lead up for the 22 films if just for the characters. Watch this film to get the finality of this ten-year story we have experienced!
Rating: 4 out 5 stars.
Have you seen Avengers: Endgame? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments! Don’t forget to like and follow this blog for more Movie Reviews.
What is your favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe film?
Spoilers below this LINE!
I read this article that said the creators were really pushing Avengers: Endgame for Oscar nominations. I don’t think this is ridiculous to be honest, however, not for Best Picture. While I loved Endgame, what it represents and what it did, I don’t think compared to other MCU films that it’s the best one. For me, Captain America: Winter Soldier is still the best film and that one should have been nominated back in 2014. I would have even given Sebastian Stan a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his extremely tragic and nuanced performance as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier. Endgame could be a contender for a lot of technical awards and I would even say Robert Downey Jr. or even Chris Evans for Best Actor, would they win? Probably not but I think they both could get those awards.
Now, for the REAL spoilers. I have seen people talk about the “GIRL POWER” moment in Endgame where Captain Marvel shows up and Peter has the gauntlet and she’s going to try and take it back into the quantum thingy in Scott’s brown van. So, Carol has it and Peter’s like “I don’t know how you’ll get through that”, then Wanda shows up and says, “Don’t worry” and Okoye comes into the picture “she has help” or something like that and literally all the women from the movies come into the scene. Pepper in her iron armor, Valkyrie, Shuri, Okoye, Wanda, Mantis, Gamora, Nebula and the Wasp and they start clearing the way for Carol to make it through. I cheered as it was awesome. So, I’ve seen that people are saying it’s not an earned moment and that it was forced and what not, but I don’t think I agree. I get that, especially since Natasha wasn’t included as she sacrificed herself, so Clint could get the Soul stone. I know people are upset because they killed Natasha and there wasn’t a funeral for her like there was for Tony, not to mention, she’s the first female Avenger and HOW DARE THEY NOT HAVE IN THAT KIND OF MOMENT and I think the biggest thing is here is that Natasha gave her life to not only save her family, but to save Clint who was going down a dark path and he has a wife and children. She felt like she had to do it to save him, especially after he saved her way back when. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still upset about her death, but I see why they did it. She also paved the way for all these women to be in this fight and kick some ass. It could have happened sooner, but I think it’s fine that it happened in that moment. It was also a call back to when Natasha herself appeared with Okoye to help Wanda when fighting Proxima Midnight in Avengers: Infinity War. It was a legit callback to Natasha’s line “Don’t worry…” they even had Wanda say it.
Summary: Six strangers find themselves in a maze of deadly mystery rooms and must use their wits to survive.
I’m just mad at that fact that I am not going to be doing any escape rooms now lol. Unless I clearly see the group, who goes before us all come out unscathed, then I’ll go lol. Normally, I wouldn’t care and would spoil the mess out of this movie in this review, but full disclosure, I did enjoy it overall.
This is a short review.
The Escape Rooms. The biggest thing going for this movie is the format of the rooms. The first room is set up like a waiting room and when Ben tries to leave, the handle pops up and an oven dial pops up. The room is like a giant oven. We then have a Cabin room, then an Ice Room. My favorite room and the best one visually and dynamically was the Billiard/Bar room. That one was inverted so when the characters went inside, the pool table, bar, all that kind of stuff was on the ceiling and the characters were on the ground which looked like a ceiling. It was pretty dope and it allowed for some interesting stunts and it was tension filled. This is probably the best part in the movie. After this room is this Triage room filled with hospital beds, a Trippy Fingerprint weird room and then a library? These rooms are quite creative in how they’re handled and presented to the characters and the audience.
Some of the acting. I think Deborah Ann Woll as Amanda was the best actress in the group. Her character is also among the most likable. When we first met her, I was a little unsure about her, but she ended up growing on me. Logan Miller as Ben is also good. His character is meant to be unlikable but he also grew on me as the movie went on, which attests to the fact that Logan Miller is likable, (like I said in my Love, Simon review). Tyler Labine as Mike was fine, he seemed like a nice guy and Nik Dodani as Danny was also fine. He wasn’t terrible.
First Two Acts. Everything leading up to the conclusion worked enough. While you may not like or care about any of these people, you might find yourself invested in their backstories and why they were chosen for this experience. I think the movie is genuinely fun and enjoyable up until the Triage room. Its tension filled, it’s not scary but you do have to wonder what is going to happen in this room that might cause someone to get hurt or die lol. It’s kind of fascinating as well at how people work together and against each other for a common goal.
The Characters. So, we get to meet Jason, Zoey and Ben first in their respective lives before they all come together for the escape room. Once that happens, we meet three other people who have also been invited to the escape room and there’s just this negative feeling in the air. Danny says it perfectly “I’m playing the funnest game with the world’s meanest people” which was true. As the movie goes on, some of these people end up a bit more likable but I don’t think I have ever had a movie start where I have literally disliked every character in their introduction.
Cliché/Predictable. So, this movie is pretty cliché and predictable. I called everything. The film in ways reminds me of the Saw movies, in terms of the set up and execution, not that I have firsthand experience as I will not watch those movies. But as it went on I was like “oh, so this is basically Saw” just without the gore. I called the ending. I called the connections of the rooms with the character’s backstories. I mean, it’s not hard to get once things get going. I think the movie wanted to be clever, but it just felt like “meh”.
Stupid, Stupid Decisions. First, if someone I know sends me some mysterious puzzle box thing, I’m going to call them to thank them, or even verify that they sent it to me. Plus, they have these cryptic little notes, I mean COME ON! I also check everything for reviews, but I go beyond the company website because those are usually fake anyway. But outside of that, they just touch stuff without thinking about it, like at the beginning when Ben is in the library room, he sees that the door has this four-number lock and he goes “okay, there’s four numbers” and he proceeds to move the number one which causes the walls to start closing in on him. I’m like… bruh, you just said you needed four numbers, WHY WOULD YOU MOVE ONE OF THEM WITHOUT KNOWING THE CODE! Dumb. Then later in the Billiard room when three people are hanging on to the bookshelf… do y’all think it’s going to hold all three of y’all? There are other things to grab on to. In the waiting/oven room, when Zoey figures out the first official clue, everyone kind of freaks out at her about it and I’m like “but this is what you’re supposed to do and she’s the one who pretty much makes quick work of that first room” sooo chiiiiill.
The Last Act. After the Triage room, it just gets ridiculous and stupid and it no longer takes the time it was taking in the beginning. It just begins to speed towards the big finish that you’re like “whoa wait… stop!” The acting particularly from Jay Ellis and Taylor Russell gets worse as Jason continues to make decision after decision that is even proof of his horrible writing and Zoey… it was like a 180. Albeit, you could say for a reason, but ugh it was cringey. Then the way it ends! I mean are you KIDDING ME? That entire scene and the very last line completely pushed me away. I was kind of into it, it’s not that great but I was into it and that just ruined it completely. I think I even laughed and said “wow”. So, I watched the alternate ending and that would have been a much better ending than what we got. *sighs* Fail you guys. Major fail.
Overall, I think Escape Room is fun enough and passable enough in the first half to be enjoyable fun, especially with a group of people. Some of the acting is good and watching the characters explore and navigate these rooms, which is clearly where all the attention went too because surely, it’s not character development. The leading up to the final act and climax is kind of okay in terms of build-up, tension and entertainment. The rooms are the best part of the movie and Deborah Ann Woll stands out as the best actress in the film with probably the best character… with that said, I don’t think movie works the way it wants to by the end. The ending completely undercuts what it spent its time trying to build up, especially with the acting becoming over the top, particularly from Taylor Russell. Not to mention, the last five minutes…gosh. Don’t end your movie on a BAD NOTE otherwise that’s ALL THE AUDIENCE WILL REMEMBER! Anyways, check this one out if you like your January “horror films” or you’re just curious, it’s mostly harmless.
Rating: 2 out 5 stars.
Have you seen Escape Room? If so, what are your thoughts? Let me know down below! If you haven’t, are you even interested in seeing it?
Will you go to an actual Escape Room after this? I probably won’t lol.
Summary: A band of kids embark on an epic quest to thwart a medieval menace.
Cast and Characters.
Louis Ashbourne Serkis as Alexander “Alex” Elliot. He is our 12-year-old hero. He tries to stand up for his friend whenever he gets bullied, but he doesn’t always feel like he can make any difference in this world. He’s just a cog in a machine. However, one night things change for him when he manages to pull a sword from stone on a building yard. He begins to believe in this journey that is inspired from his storybook. He picks up on the myth quickly, it isn’t something he has to be introduced too. Of course like all Chosen Ones, he’s against it at first, he’s just a kid but he soon realizes that he can’t run from this and he’s all in. A bit too over his head but he’s ready for the challenge. He never backs down and even in his weakest moments, people still believe and root for him. Alex is a great character to add to the Chosen One list. He’s noble, wise and determined and I really liked him. First of all, Louis Serkis looks JUST LIKE HIS DADDY Andy Serkis. But this kid was great. His emotional moments were so pure and I really believed that he was a descendant of King Arthur. He’s a really dynamic lead actor.
Dean Chaumoo as Bedders. This kid was the cutest. He’s the sidekick who is often bullied more than the main character, and they may not feel as important or strong as the main character but Bedders never says any of this until he has to confront Alex himself. Bedders spends a lot of the movie following Alex, but he has his own interests, his own reasons for joining. It’s fun at first, but when stuff hits the fan, he’s ride or die and that’s really great. Plus, his interest in magic also allows him to gain even more experience that he may not have gotten otherwise. Dean Chaumoo seems like a really sweet and genuine kid and the way he plays Bedders, it comes through.
Tom Taylor as Lance. So he is the main bully of the film along with Kaye, which is funny since Lancelot is like Arthur’s right hand man for a time ya know before the whole love triangle thing lol. But, he’s mean and he only thinks about himself and what he wants, what he is supposed to be and have, and his journey is probably one of the bigger ones in the film. He’s one of those characters that you probably won’t like in the beginning but you grow to like him as he seems to grow up. This young actor is likable though, which I think is a good thing for this character. He also have some great line deliveries and facial expressions.
Rhianna Dorris as Kaye. I quite liked her, especially as she went on throughout the film. She starts out as this hard character, someone who is following the leader but not the right leader. She may be able to think quick on her feet but her word is “Callow” throughout the film, meaning she is inexperienced or naive and she is when it comes to dealing with people. However, as the movie goes on, I think she’s way more willing to on Alex’s side than Lance is but she doesn’t stand up for them to Lance the way she should. That’s her journey for the film. I believe this young actress is a newbie but I thought she did really well. She’s cute, I liked her style and I very much enjoyed watching her. Very dynamic.
Rebecca Ferguson as Morgana. An evil sorceress and old enemy of Merlin, her half-brother King Arthur, and all of Camelot. She’s not in the movie a lot, and I actually wish she was. Her design was pretty cool and I liked the look of when she was stuck in her banished place. She had this earthy thing going on, her dress looked like it was made of roots, and she had dominion over roots and branches and stuff and it was really nice aesthetically. The few times she was on screen, she did this weird voice when she talked but that was really all. I thought Rebecca Ferguson was wasted even though she was a good choice.
Angus Imrie as Merlin. He is a wizard who was an ally of King Arthur. Because Merlin ages backwards, he has the appearance of a teenager after centuries have passed. This kid was great! He’s probably my favorite in the entire movie because he’s zany and weird and he just exists. When he comes to find and protect Alex, he always manages to show up whenever he needs to. I wonder just how many times Angus did those hand motions before he got them all right and the speed and everything lol.
Patrick Stewart as Merlin. He is in his physically older form. We see him a few times throughout the film and the first time he shows up, it almost reminded me of when Gandalf snapped on Bilbo lol. He is great at giving great advice and he was so dishelved it was great lol.
Magic Use. I loved how Merlin did his spells. The amount of hand motions, snapping, clapping, fist pounding stuff he would do was just great. When he first did it to spell a few policemen, I was like “what in the world is he doing?” but it’s charming and funny each time he does it. Not to mention, when he sneezes to turn into a bird or to turn into his older self. It’s really great.
Character Arcs. Each of our main characters have character arcs they must go through in order to fulfill their destiny. Kaye and Lance have to learn how to work with other people who they might not have otherwise. Kaye has to learn to stand up for what she believes in and stop just following Lance because that’s how it’s always been. Lance has to learn how to not think it’s all about him and that he’s the one whose supposed to do all this stuff when he’s a right hand man. Bedders has to learn to be brave and to even at times, stand up to Alex and remind him that he has a voice too. Alex has to learn to let go of his fantasies and remember and love what is right in front of him. Plus, be able to stand up and lead others. Each character, even if their arc is small, they all manage to make it to the end of their arc and it’s great to see.
Friendly Chemistry. Alex and Bedders are best friends at the start and they have a great relationship. Mostly. There is always one friend who is “meeker” than the other and that’s Bedders. Alex tries to come to his rescue when he can but Alex also doesn’t want to put himself in anymore bullies way. Bedders believes in Alex, he might be scared, but he wants to be involved, and have something to believe in. Then you have Lance and Kaye, who are roll dogs and it’s clear that Lance is in charge which is why Kaye’s word is callow, she’s clever but she goes along with him. They trust each other but their friendship isn’t the healthiest but as the movie goes along, and they are knighted by Alex and have to learn to work with the kids they bullied, and also for Alex and Bedders to work with their bullies, it’s a lot to take in but it’s a learning experience and they do learn. They all work really well together when they are able to fall into it. It’s not easy but it’s great to watch. Plus, the young actors also work really well together.
Strong Story.This is inspired by Arthurian legends but it’s placed into the hands of a child and in modern times. This is something I haven’t seen before, at least not done well. Avalon High could have been that but the movie version completely butchered the charm of the novel. Anyways, lol I like that you have these kids who are the embodiments of the legendary heroes, tough start or not, and they all have to realize who they are in themselves, while also doing their part to fulfill the prophecy put forth by Morgana and Arthur in the past. Lance is greedy, Kaye is callow, Bedders is meek and Alex is lost in the myths. It’s something that is said throughout the film, it’s who they start out as and they have to allow this journey, this quest, to help them change into the heroes, the good people they are supposed to be. I like that while there is an overarching quest, they each had their own quest to go on.
Great Music. This films has a great soundtrack. It is full of whimsical music, triumphant sounds, cascading melodies, intensity. Lol. I think it all works to elevate what is going on in this film.
Main Climax. So obviously our people have to fight our main villain and in the trailers, we see that Alex has to get his schoolmates to fight with him. Listen, it’s great and Alex gets to be a true king, a true leader, and his friends trust themselves enough, they believe in themselves enough to lead their own battalions. It was great. It was like Home Alone but with actual war. It was such great fun to watch.
Use of the Villain. Rebecca Ferguson plays Morgana which I thought was an interesting choice and I was really interested in seeing what she would do. The problem I have is that I think she is pretty wasted. She spends a lot of time banished in the underworld and she does a lot of whispered talking to her minions and when things happen later, she turns into this big CGI creature that I was like meh and I never really got the impending doom from her that they were building up. It was a letdown.
Overall, I really enjoyed this movie. When I saw the trailers, I thought “That looks cute” but I didn’t expect it to be as good as it is. It’s really good and the kids are great. Every single one of them are great in their roles. Their characters are interesting and we get to see a genuine arc from each other them that makes sense for their characters. Merlin was of course my favorite. The music is great and really fits the film. I thought the friendship built between the four main characters and even building on the two separate ones was handled really well. I really like how the magic was used, it was weird and different but very charming. I also really liked the story. It’s something we are familiar with but it’s told in a completely different way then we’re used to seeing and I think that’s what helps it stand apart and always makes it such a strong film. Also, without giving anything away, the main climax of the film is so much fun that I think I smiled throughout the entire film and I wish I could be part of it as a kid. My one main gripe is that the villain is underwhelming. I guess in the end she was just a catalyst as the real story is about the kids overcoming their own demons, but it sucks that Rebecca Ferguson was wasted and even when she was a true foe, she was an ugly CGI creature. Otherwise, check this one out. It’s a really charming and pure film.
Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen The Kid Who Would Be King? If so, what did you think about it? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!
Thanks for reading! Keep an eye out for more reviews coming up! I have lots in the queue.
Summary: We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s case, by shouting out one word – SHAZAM. – this streetwise fourteen-year-old foster kid can turn into the grown-up superhero Shazam.
Full disclosure. This is the only “DCEU” movie I have whole heartedly enjoyed. This is the only one I have to say I enjoyed from start to finish.
Cast and Characters.
Asher Angel and Zachary Levi as William “Billy” Batson / Shazam. So, this character is played by two people obviously. Billy is a troubled orphaned boy who is searching for his mother. As a child, he was lost at a fair and has searched for his mother ever since. He has a hard time fitting in with his foster families (even if they do want him) because he’s so hell bent on finding his birth mother that this current family really wants to make things work with him. When he meets the new family, he still has a hard time connecting to the kids because he’s so ready to leave. However, Billy isn’t mean though. I mean, he’s hard to connect to and he does do some mean things, but he isn’t like spiteful. He’s sad and really wants to find where he belongs. I quite liked Asher Angel. I’ve never seen him in anything, but he handles that one particular emotional moment really well, I really felt for him. I also think he has good comedic timing when he needed to have it and I wish we got to see more of him, but I guess people go for Shazam! As for Levi who is Shazam, he is basically Billy just physically an adult. He has the Wisdom of Solomon, the Strength of Hercules, the Stamina of Atlas, the Power of Zeus, the Courage of Achilles and the Speed of Mercury. He learns these powers along the way but also, he’s a 14-year-old so he’s having fun. I like Zachary Levi, he has a nice charm to him that makes him fun to watch. He isn’t who I would have pictured when I thought of Shazam but he’s clearly having fun and he does a good job. My only problem is I think Asher Angel kind of has this coolness to him and Zachary Levi, as his adult version, didn’t have that same coolness. Otherwise, I believed they were the same person.
Mark Strong as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana. He is a physicist who is pretty much the black sheep of his family. His dad is played by Lionel Luther from Smallville! lol, Thad was a kid, he was summoned by the Wizard Shazam but was not chosen so he has dedicated his life to finding out a way to get back there. He’s obsessive and clearly won’t stop at anything to get what he wants. When he does get the powers he gets, he uses them for his goals, which was mostly to get back at his family. Later, he decides he also wants the Champion’s powers, so he goes after Shazam. I mean, Mark Strong is a good actor and Sivana is an interesting character, but I didn’t really care that much about him to see what kind of trouble he might cause. I mostly just loved him physically fighting Shazam. Mark Strong is always imposing though.
Jack Dylan Grazer as Frederick “Freddy” Freeman. Freddy is the first person in the new foster family that Billy connects to. He is disabled but he does his own thing because he doesn’t care. He’s a superhero enthusiast and of course becomes the only person who knows about Shazam. It’s his idea to test out what his powers are, among other things. Freddy is likable, but I think that has a lot to do with Jack Dylan Grazer who is very likable himself. He just truly enjoys life and it’s great to have a character, with his circumstances who is like that without feeling forced or annoying.
The Foster Family. So, the foster family that Billy is “adopted” into has a lot of people floating around. They’re all likable and I won’t go through them all, but I think it’s important to mention them.
Faithe Herman as Darla Dudley. Billy’s youngest foster sibling at his new home, an energetic and effusive little girl. She’s very sweet and just pure innocence. I’m so impressed at how much Faithe was close both physically and characteristically to the comic version of her.
Grace Fulton as Mary Bromfield. Billy’s foster sister at his new home, the “den mother” who helps take care of the other kids and is debating attending college in California. Mary is the oldest, so she takes on the role of making sure everyone does what they’re supposed to and making sure they’re okay at school. She’s also very smart, so she’s thinking about what she might do for college. She’s likable and though her role isn’t large, she seems to be a protector and a kind of ‘go get ’em’ kind of girl.
Ian Chen as Eugene Choi. Billy’s foster brother at his new home, an obsessive gaming enthusiast and budding techie. He’s a smarty-pants, as there always needs to be one. We really don’t see a ton from him but he’s cute and likable and you get to know him enough.
Jovan Armand as Pedro Peña. Billy’s foster brother at his new home, a shy, sensitive kid who has trouble opening up. We don’t see a lot from him, but I like his willingness to help at the end.
Marta Milans as Rosa Vasquez and Cooper Andrews as Victor Vasquez. The foster mother and father of the group home where Billy and his friends live. He is a beautiful man lol. But anyways, they’re fine, they do what they’re supposed to, and they have great chemistry. They’re cute.
Superhero Aspect. I like that the powers of Shazam had to be given to someone who was worthy and while Billy may not be the perfect kid, he is a good kid and he has potential to be great. I liked that that was something that didn’t just happen to him, he was chosen, even if he wasn’t the first choice. That was pretty cool. Plus, he’s a kid who is magically aged up to an adult (I used to think that Shazam inhabited Billy Batson’s body and whenever he said his name, they like switched places, not that Shazam is the aged-up version of whoever has his power) but he’s still a kid. That’s a neat idea. Plus, going on the journey to find out what his powers are, it’s always fun to see a person discover their new abilities along the way. Plus, Billy learns a lot of lessons in there as well.
Awesome Action. The action, especially in the latter half of the film is handled so well. I like the choreography of the fights between Shazam and his villain. I also really liked how Billy was quick enough on his feet to understand how he could use his powers to an even bigger use. Like when he gets smart and “SHAZAM” to evade the fight for a moment, or to make the villain lose him in the crowd. I thought that was handled well. Also, the big battle at the end, was fun. Good job movie.
Fun, Energetic and Hilarious. I didn’t expect much but I laughed quite a bit throughout the movie. It has a light nature to it even with its darker elements. It doesn’t try too hard, it just is. Jack Dylan Grazer and Zachary Levi, and by extension Asher Angel have good chemistry and whenever they’re on screen together, it really builds like a friendship into perhaps a brotherhood. There are some pop culture references, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with the jokes nor does it feel forced. It’s also just a lighthearted movie so it doesn’t feel like a long slog.
Nice Story. In the end, this movie is about family and being true to who you are. Billy’s entire journey is him discovering himself and just how important family is but it’s not always going to be the family you expect. It’s a sweet message and it also makes Billy relatable because sometimes you find family in the places you expected the least. Not to mention, it’s all about who you are on the inside. That is what allows Billy to be chosen and become Shazam and realize his fully powers.
Pacing Issues. I think the pacing of the movie is inconsistent. There are some slow moments, or moments where the movie slows down to the point where it begins to feel too long. I think the climax at the end, while cool, took too long to happen.
The Designs of the Deadly Sins. In the comics, these characters have a look that makes them stand out from each other. In the film, they’re all rock creatures and while they seem to have their own design, we never know which sin they are. I guessed throughout the film who might be. Gluttony at least had an obvious design. He looked like Gluttony from Fullmetal Alchemist. I also know Envy because he was the smallest, other than that, no idea. I just wish they had more of a unique look to them. Plus, they reminded me of the rock generals from TMNT.
Freddy and Billy’s Argument. So, they have an argument about midpoint through the movie, while Billy is full Shazam. People record it, but I thought it was a little left field. I mean, Freddy knows the secret and they’ve been training for a good amount of the movie to test his powers, but then Freddy says something at school that Billy does not agree too but I guess he decided he would do it anyway but Billy forgets about it and Freddy is all upset because Billy didn’t do the thing that Billy never said he would do anyway. So, Freddy calls him out on the things THEY WERE DOING TOGETHER! If anything, I believe what Freddy was accusing Billy of doing was Freddy’s idea first and Billy just went along with it and furthered it. So, I thought, while this argument served its purpose, it came out of nowhere to me. Like Freddy, you aren’t a victim here.
One Dimensional Villain. So, spoiler alert but Mark Strong plays the villain in this movie. I mean, he always does lol, I was surprised when his character in Kingsman was a good guy and remained so lol. Anyways, while I think Mark Strong is a good actor and he looks like his comic book counterpart (from the New 52 anyway), his character left a lot to be desired. I did not care about what he wanted to do at all. I didn’t think he was that much of a threat. After he did what he’s wanted to do for years, his story was really kind of over. They combined his plot in the comics with Black Adam from the first Shazam! (New 52). I don’t mind that, but I just think he was very cookie cutter and I feel like he could have been more sinister than he was. He looked cool but that was about it for me.
Overall, I really liked this movie A LOT. Like I said, this is the only DCEU (is that still a thing these days?) film that I have liked from beginning to end. The main characters are all interesting and I really liked the chemistry between Billy (Both versions) and Freddy. I thought Asher Angel had a coolness about him while also maintaining a kind of tragic feeling considering his background. Zachary Levi, I felt was a little different than Asher Angel, like he had way more childlike glee than Asher did. The superhero aspect was fun in how it was handled and how Billy and Freddy worked it out together. It was fun and energetic, and quite funny. The action is also handled well. I was into it. The story is also nice and has a sweet and relatable message. Now, for a few of the cons, I think the villain was one dimensional even though he was imposing physically, I don’t think he was that interesting once he completes one of his ultimate goals. The is a bit of a pacing issue and I didn’t care for the Seven Sins’ design nor did I think the argument between Freddy and Billy that prompts a lot of the third act was founded. BUT Shazam! is a great movie and I think everyone should give it a chance.
Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Shazam! What did you think about it? Tell me your thoughts down below!