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May 31, 2019

Godzilla (2014) --- “As The World Ends, Godzilla Begins. Prepare For A King.”

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
    In 1999 Japan the Janjira nuclear plant was mysteriously destroyed and most of its works lost as well, including Supervisor Technician Joe Brody's (Brian Cranston) colleague and wife, Sandra (Juliette Binoche). 15 years later, Joe is still obsessively searching for the truth behind the unexplained accident but when his estranged son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a US Navy ordnance disposal officer, comes to Japan to bail him out, the pair uncover the disastrous secret behind the accident. They and countless others witness the reawakening of a terrible monster that not only threatens all of humanity but also reveals to be part of a pair. Against impossible odds and what appears to be the end of the world, humanity’s only hope now lies with Godzilla, a legend that once thought lost. But the fight for the title of King of the Monsters will be far bigger than humanity realized nor will they ever fully understand the true nature of their newfound ally. While the world is beset by apocalyptic monsters, one of them may very well prove to be their only hope of survival. Will Godzilla succeed and be crowned the King of Monsters? Or will he doom all of humanity?
   Directed by Gareth Edwards (Rogue One, Monsters), written by Max Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla: King of Monsters) and Dave Callaham (Wonder Woman 2, Zombieland 2), Godzilla (2014) is a classic and epic monster film that will hold your attention till the very end. The story is inspired by the writings of Ishiro Honda, Takeo Murata, and Shigeru Kayama, and is probably one of the best monster films since Jurassic Park (1993). The 1998 version does not even come close to this film as it is more creative, more dramatic, and involves bigger fight scenes that you didn’t even think were possible. I do wish that there was a bit more focus more on the monsters than the humans. Humanity it witnessing the culmination of an ancient conflict that began more than millions of years ago. Subsequently, the monsters complete lack of acknowledgment concerning the humans further intensifies the drama by affirming just how insignificant humanity can be when faced with a much bigger prey. “The arrogance of man is to believe that he controls nature, not the other way around" -  Dr. Ishiro (Ken Watanabe - The Last Samurai, Memoirs of a Geisha).
   The film’s visual effects are incredible. The CGI of Godzilla and the MUTOs is pretty impressive, not to mention the sound effects make the monsters look even more believable. The action sequences effectively build up tension and thrill with moments of unpredictability that were in no way clich├ęd. The music by Alexandre Desplat (Argo) honors the eerie feel of the original soundtrack but also manages to be uniquely menacing with rich horns that complement the film’s tone throughout.
   The cast performances were just as good as the monsters themselves. Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, The Upside) and Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai, Memoirs of a Geisha) are great and steal the show in every scene they are in. Aaron Taylor Johnson (Age of Ultron) is admirable as the main character, his chemistry with Elizabeth Olsen (Age of Ultron, Infinity War, Endgame) is good but it could have been better. Perhaps, it is because they play a husband and wife here but play brother and sister in the Avengers films. Juliette Binoche (Chocolate, High Life) was only seen for a short time but she managed to leave an impressing, however, Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) was a bit forgettable.
   Overall, Godzilla (2014) is a classic and epic monster film that pays homage to the original but it also manages to stand on its own. The story is action-packed, dramatic, intense, and emotional in certain areas. The visual effects are incredible, the CGI is impressive, and the music is just as eerie as the original but also manages to be unique to this film. The cast performances were great, some were better than others but overall they managed to achieve what they set out to do. If you are a fan of Pacific Rim (2013 & 2018) and Kong: Skull Island (2017) then I recommend this film, especially if you are planning to see the upcoming film Godzilla: King of Monsters

Final Vote --- 7.8 of 10 stars
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Movies Similar
Battleship (2012)
Dawn of Planet of the Apes (2014)
Godzilla: King of Monsters (2019)
Godzilla v.s Kong (2020)
Independence Day (1996)
Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park: The Lost World (1997)
Jurassic Park III (2001)
Jurassic World (2015)
Jurassic World 2: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
King Kong (2005)
KONG: Skull Island (2017)
The MEG (2018)
Pacific Rim (2013)
Pacific Rim 2 (2018)
Rise of Planet of the Apes (2011)
War for Planet of the Apes (2017)

May 27, 2019

Aladdin (2019) --- "The Magic Comes To Life In This Rags To Wishes Story."

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Hello Movie Buffs!
    In the city of Agrabah, good-natured street thief Aladdin (Mena Massoud) is recruited by the power-hungry Royal Grand Vizier, Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), to search for a magical lamp inside a mysterious cave. However, when Aladdin is betrayed and left for dead in the cave, he inadvertently frees the eccentric Genie (Will Smith) from the lamp. The Genie declares Aladdin his new mater and that he now has three wishes that he can use to make his deepest wishes come true, which includes increasing his social status in order to impress and marry the Sultan's daughter Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott). However, he soon learns that his new popularity makes him an even bigger target for Jafar who is hot on his tail to steal the lamp for himself and rule all of Agrabah. Can Aladdin and his friends stop Jafar before it’s too late? Or will Jafar succeed in his endeavors?

May 24, 2019

Aladdin (1992) --- “Would You Like To Here The Tale About The Diamond In Rough?”

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
    When poor street rat Aladdin (Scott Weinger) frees a genie (Robin Williams) from a magical lamp, he finds his wishes to impress Agrabah’s own Princess Jasmine (Linda Larkin) are granted and the two fall madly in love. However, he soon discovers that a power-hungry Grand Vizier, Jafar (Jonathan Freeman), has evil other plans for both the lamp and Princess Jasmine. Can Aladdin find the strength within to stop Jafar as well as save those he loves and the Kingdom before it’s too late? Or will Jafar get away with his evil plans? Directed and co-written by the ones who brought us The Little Mermaid (1989), Hercules (1997),  Moana (2016), and more - Ron Clements and John Musker - Aladdin (1992) is a classic and colorful tale that takes audiences to a “whole new world.”
   Part of Disney’s Renaissance era - which began with The Little Mermaid (1989) and ended with Mulan (1998) - and emerging alongside many other well-done Disney films from the 90’s, Aladdin (1992) stands out as one of my favorite Disney film’s and one of Disney’s highest grossing films of 1992. The story is filled with magic and adventure that has charmed audiences from the last 27 years and will continue to do so in the years to come. Interestingly this is the only Disney Princess film that is not actually about the princess, but rather the film is both named after the “prince” and follows said “prince” for most of the film. This not only allows for a stronger story than if it had followed Princess Jasmine but it also allows for Disney to show that it can do a Princess film without having to focus only on the princess.
  Aside from the story, there are several other aspects that make Aladdin memorable. The first being the music by Alan Menken and Dennis McCarthy. The film opens with the unforgettable “Arabian Nights” followed by “One Jump Ahead” which introduces us to the film’s leading character, next is “Friend Like Me” and “Prince Ali” which provide two back-to-back big numbers, and then there's the Oscar-winning piece “A Whole New World.” The music is memorable from start to finish and lies at the heart of the entire film with top-notch vocal talents from Brad Kane, Lea Salonga, Regina Belle, and Peabo Bryson.
   The second most memorable aspect of Aladdin is the humor, when you have Robin Williams in any film it is bound to be filled to the brim with humor and that is exactly what we get here. Albeit there are a lot of adult innuendos but unless your an adult or you have been subject to more mature things then you won’t even notice that they are there.
   The final most memorable aspect of Aladdin is the voice acting. Obviously Robin Williams (Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb) stole the show with his impressions and humor that is sure to put a smile on your face. Scott Weinger (Full House, Fuller House), Linda Larkin (Ralph Breaks the Internet), Jonathan Freeman (The Producers), and Gilbert Gottfried (Beverly Hills Cop II) gave tremendous vocal performances that brought life to their respective characters.
   Overall, Aladdin (1992) is a must watch for Disney fans, young and old. The story is filled with magic and adventure, the music is unforgettable, and the voice acting is tremendous. It is the highest grossing Disney film of 1992 and it is also one of Disney’s more unique films as it chooses to follow the prince rather than the princess. All in all, this is a classic must-watch and I cannot wait to see what the live action version is going to be like. Will it live up to the original? Will it stand on its own? Or will it fail to measure up?

Final Vote --- 8.5 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar

Brave (2012)
Frozen (2013)
The Incredibles (2004)
The Incredibles 2 (2018)
The Little Mermaid (1989)
Mulan (1998)
The Princess and the Frog (2009)
Tangled (2010)

May 22, 2019

John Wick 3 (2019) --- “If You Want Peace, Prepare For War”

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
    Legendary assassin, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) has been excommunicated by the high table after killing one of their own on sacred grounds. With a $14 M. bounty on his head and an army of assassins are on his tail, John Wick must fight for his life if he has any hope of turning his luck around. Can he survive long enough to speak with a member of the high table and remove the bounty? Or will the Boogeyman finally meet his end?
    Directed by Chad Stahelski (John Wick 1 & 2) and written by Derek Kolstad (John Wick 1 & 2), Shay Hatten, Chad Collins, and Marc Abrams, John Wick 3: Parabellum (2019) is the third and if you thought Chapter 1 and 2 were entertaining then you have another thing coming with Chapter 3.  Parabellum is Latin for “prepare for war” and considering what has transpired over the last 2, now 3 films, preparing for war is exactly what John Wick does here. However, the war he prepares for in this film is unlike anything we have seen before.
    Compared to most action films, John Wick stands out as one of the best action series in its genre. The series never fails to showcase action sequences based on a solid foundation of groundwork and actual tactical training that is realistically brutal. The story expands more on the world of assassins and the high table that rules over it, which gives John a reason to meet new characters and allows for the prospect of future installments into the series. This dive into a largely unknown world comes as no surprise, considering that there is a T.V show called the Continental Hotel on the horizon. The pace of this film is cut-throat to say the least, from the frantic opening 15 minutes to the brutality of the final showdown there is not a moment to lose or a second that drags by. In addition to the action and cut-throat pace, there is also a substantial amount of humor laced throughout the film and it worked for the film overall.
    No other actor could have embodied John Wick better than Keanu Reeves (Replicas, 47 Ronin) and he comes back with a vengeance. He has essentially prepared for war in this film by undergoing extensive and brutal training that has paid off phenomenally here. Ian McShane (Hellboy 2019), Lance Reddick (Bosch), and Laurence Fishburne (Ant-Man & the Wasp) all return with good performances, especially McShane and Reddick who deliver some good humor despite the seriousness of certain moments. By expanding the story the film introduces new characters like  Sophie (Halle Berry - Kingsmen: The Golden Circle), the Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon - Orange is the New Black), the Elder (Said Taghmaoui - Wonder Woman), the Director (Anjelica Huston - Addams Family, Ever After, Transparent), and an assassin known as Zero (Mark Dacascos - Hawaii Five-O, Wu Assassins).
    Overall, John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum (2019) is an intense and thrilling action film that is one of the best in the genre. The story expands upon the world of assassins and raises the action to a whole new level of brutality and violence. The cast performances were incredible, especially from Keanu Reeves - who clearly prepares for war for this film -, Ian McShane, and Lance Reddick. All in all, if you thought Chapter 1 and 2 were entertaining then you have another thing coming with Chapter 3, prepare for war. I highly recommend that you check this film out in theaters and see it in IMAX if you can as you won’t be disappointed.

Final Vote --- 9 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar

3 Days to Kill (2014)
The Accountant (2016)
Colombiana (2011)
Collied (2016)
The Equalizer (2014)
John Wick (2014)
Jack Reacher (2012)
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)
John Wick (2014)
John Wick 2 (2017)
Miss Bala (2019)
Pepermint (2018)
Taken (2009)
Taken 2 (2012)
Taken 3 (2015)
Transporter (2002)
Transporter 2 (2005)
Transporter 3 (2008)
Transporter Refueled (2015)

May 20, 2019

Running for Grace (2018) --- "A Tale of Love, Friendship, and Adventure."

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
   Set against the backdrop of the coffee fields in 1920s Hawaii, the lines between the Japanese immigrant laborers and the members of the predominantly-white power structure are rigidly maintained. Jo (Cole Takiue & Ryan Potter), an orphan of mixed-race lineage, finds himself ostracized by both groups. Then comes Doc (Matt Dillon), a white doctor from the mainland who is hired as a physician by the autocratic and racist Danielson (Nick Boraine), for his plantation workers. Doc unofficially adopts Jo, because the racial integrity laws prevent him from officially adopting the boy, and employs him as a runner to deliver medicine to his patients, especially the more remote ones. Through the years Jo grows into a young man, he starts taking on more responsibilities as well as learning how to be a doctor from Doc. Now he feels sufficiently competent to fill in for Doc’s absence when Danielson’s lovely daughter, Grace (Olivia Ritchie), conveniently sprains her ankle. All it takes is for one house call to spark a star-crossed romance. Fortunately, Danielson is too preoccupied with stressing over his failing finances to notice the new romance. Unfortunately, as a way to stave off bankruptcy, Danielson plots to have Grace marry the aggressively smarmy and evil Dr. Reyes (Jim Caviezel), who is twice her age. Can these star-crossed lovers ever get together? Or will the racist and autocratic population keep them apart?