ALADDIN (Guy Ritchie, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Similar to Beauty and the Beast (2017), this was a decent live action remake of a beloved Disney classic.

Pros:

• Except for Will Smith (who although was no Robin Williams still gave a fine performance), we got fresh faces instead of commercial picks. And the leads could sing really well. (Acting-wise, they were okay.)

• The updated musical numbers captured the magic of the animated film. It was quite fun to watch the A Whole New World sequence in 4DX. Para akong malalaglag sa magic carpet any time.

• A more feminist Jasmine (albeit her new songs weren’t memorable). Naomi Scott was really charming and reminded me of a younger Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Cons:

• Terrible, terrible choice for Jafar. Did he have to be that serious? Completely drained one of the best Disney villains of any personality. (Ben Kingsley wasn’t available?)

• Several changes made this version too sanitized and oh-so-politically-correct. One of the funniest moments in the cartoon was when Aladdin said that Jasmine was his sister and that she was a little crazy. Her googly eyes bit was completely hilarious. Didn’t find it here. And why did they skip the first condition that one couldn’t wish for Genie to kill someone. Sensitive much?

• It was weird that Abu, Iago, and even Rajah were more alive and “human” in the cartoon version. Here they were just being animal sidekicks.

• Arabian Nights, right? Why the Bollywood production?

• “Genie, you’re free” was a highlight in the original. Where was that touching line here? And wasn’t it bad enough that Genie had abs? Did he really need to be human and have a lovelife?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

 

BUMBLEBEE (Travis Knight, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Bumblebee:

1. Never thought l’d see the day that I would actually like a Transformers movie from the Michael Bay Non-Biodegradable Universe. How could I not be that pessimistic when this was the most revered film series in Razzie history? Revenge of the Fallen as Worst Picture? Definitely! Bay as Worst Director for Age of Extinction? Well-deserved! I only watched most of them out of pure nostalgia (and a self-diagnosed masochism, of course!). Unsurprisingly, the best entry (so far) only needed a director not named Michael Bay.

2. Although it still contained a huge amount of robot on robot action (that reminded me so much of the 4D ride in Universal Studios Singapore), more time was spent on the blossoming friendship between Bumblebee and Charlie Watson (Academy Award nominee and certified #PinoyFried Hailee Steinfeld). Who knew that beneath all the metal exterior lay the heart of this awesome prequel? (More than meets the eye? Take that, Star Wars!!)

3. If you immediately fell in love with the terrific Steinfeld as soon as she started air drumming here (and you had only seen her in the Pitch Perfect sequels), now would be a good time to catch up on her much better films like True Grit and The Edge of Seventeen.

(And yes, I still think she would have made a better Belle in the Beauty and the Beast live-action remake.)

4. One of my favorite moments was when Bumblebee first transformed in the garage. He got himself all tangled up with a kite, stumbled over, and then cowered in fear while sitting in one corner. More than just looking really cute (in an aww shucks way you would feel towards a scared child), he had never looked and felt more human.

There was also a lot of effective (intentional) humor in this movie that included him stomping on a car or doing a radical impression of Judd Nelson’s fist pump in The Breakfast Club (which was just as funny as Kimmy’s in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). Cue the classic Don’t You Forget About Me.

And speaking of classic songs, I was happy that Bumblebee eventually learned to like The Smiths (although it was still unforgivable that he hated Kuya Dick’s Never Gonna Give You Up).

5. Happy to see Pamela Adlon on the big screen as Charlie’s mother. I wish they could find a way to incorporate this in Better Things with Sam getting her big break as a supporting actress in a huge Hollywood production.

6. Alf and Miami Vice references. A picture of then-President Ronald Reagan. Posters for The Thing and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Yet the biggest giveaway for me that this took place in the 80’s was the noisy dot matrix printer.

(Also, did they suggest that the Decepticons actually invented the internet?)

7. So Charlie started the Bird Box Challenge? (Kids, do not try this on the road unless you own Bumblebee.)

8. Ahh, so that was the Camaro explanation. Goodbye pendong peace!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆