Surprisingly, it had more than just the bare necessities. The voice performances (a menacing Idris Elba, a regal Ben Kingsley, and a singing Christopher Walken) were just top-notch. Bring the kids.
(Originally published April 10, 2016.)
Similar to Beauty and the Beast (2017), this was a decent live action remake of a beloved Disney classic.
• 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.
• 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?
My notes on Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb:
1. Let me get this one out of the way: I watched it in a theater full of kids and they actually enjoyed it. I guess I was too old for monkey pee jokes.
2. The glorious cast included Ben Stiller, the late Robin Williams, Ben Kingsley, Owen Wilson, Rebel Wilson, Steve Coogan, and Ricky Gervais, among others and yet they didn’t bring much to the movie. Each one of them could be in a one-man comedy show and bring the house down but here as a group, they were just good for a very few chuckles.
3. The said chuckles came from a reference to a Counting Crows singer and a throwaway punchline about wax and polyurethane.
4. As I said earlier, this was a family film so if your idea of fun was a Neanderthal using a defibrillator on himself, then go ahead and enjoy.
5. Rebel Wilson was Rebel Wilson was Rebel Wilson.
6. Why were the jokes too repetitive? How many more times did they have to milk the Huge Ackman joke?
7. Robin Williams’ final scenes in the movie did make me tear up a bit. He bid farewell and asked Ben (and the audience) to smile. This would be perfect for the Oscars’ In Memoriam segment. We will miss you, Mister.
(Originally published January 13, 2015.)
Sometimes it’s hard to explain why one loves the movies. Personally, it’s the magic of filmmaking that I adore. And nothing is more appropriate than the word “magical” to describe Hugo.
Here’s a film that proudly shows its love for cinema while disguised as a story about a young boy finding his place in this world. There are so many moments here where you just sit and stare at the screen enthralled by what you’re seeing. Some scenes are not even designed to make you cry, but the mere power of the images engulf you and you find yourself tearing up.
With excellent performances by Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Ben direction of the Martin Scorsese, this is truly one of the best films of 2011.