Hilda and the Mountain King review

Unless you’ve just started following my blog you should know how much I love Hilda. Hilda and the Mountain King is based on the 6th graphic novel in the Hilda series and the first full length animated movie in the series. It begins right where season 2 left off. Hilda wakes up as a troll and a baby troll named Baba has taken her place at home, and now she must find a way to turn back into a human and reunite with her mum.

As usual the animation is amazing and the color pallets and lightning really do make this world feel so cozy. I also liked the animation in the opening credits. This is also the most emotional outing in the series since season 2 episode 9 The Deerfox. There’s one scene that shocked me where Johanna yells at Baba for accidently knocking over a snow globe that Hilda got her for the Trolberg Winter Festival (clever call back) and makes her cry. You really want to see Hilda and Johanna reunite and when they do it’s well worth the struggles they’ve gone through. What also helps are the performances particularly Bella Ramsey as Hilda and Daisy Haggard as Johanna. They really are at their best here and it’s really hard to picture them being played by other people that shows how good they are.

Unlike most man vs nature stories where nature is good and humans are bad this movie shows that some humans are both good and bad and the same goes for trolls too. Something I found refreshing was when Frida and David stand up to Erik Ahlberg, the teacher (who you’d think would support Erik and in other stories would) is actually proud of the kid’s cause and supports them. Both sides do find common ground in the end but I think it’s done well here. There is kind of a twist villain involving a troll that tricks Hilda into helping him that felt kind of obvious especially if your read the graphic novel and like most twist villains doesn’t have much time to be a villain.

A third and final season has been confirmed for happen later but if it wasn’t Hilda and the Mountain King would still work for a great series finale for our favorite blue haired adventurer and a great way to end 2021. Everything from the worldbuilding, the animation, the characters and the music that made Hilda not just one of the best Netflix cartoons but one of the best cartoons ever is all right here.

Verdict:

+Animation

+Emotional

+Humans vs trolls

+The performances

-Obvious twist villain

Score: A+

Spider-Man: No Way Home review

Spider Man: No Way Home is the third Spider Man movie in the MCU. Far From Home used the Multiverse premise as red herring for Mysterio’s backstory. The sequel No Way Home however confirmed that the Multiverse is real. The film starts at the end of the previous film where everyone now knows Peter Parker is Spiderman and it really takes a toll on his friend’s lives. So, he goes to Doctor Strange to cast a spell to make everyone forget him which goes wrong and now villains from other dimensions show up. I will admit the first half isn’t as fun as the rest of the movie but that’s really a nitpick that’s cancelled out by every other amazing thing about this movie.

SPOILER WARNING for this paragraph: It’s was so fun seeing the old villains from the previous movies and their actors return. Each have their own personalities and moments where they really shine. They have such great chemistry not just with the villains themselves but also with the Peter Ned and MJ. I also like how Peter actually tries to help them instead of fighting. In the last half, the Raimi and Webb versions of Spider Man show up with Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield reprising their roles and they pretty much steal the show. Both the old Spider-Men have funny but also emotional moments that tie into there arcs from there movies and all three Spider-Men of them have great chemistry and great banter.  

The action scenes are some of the best of any Spider Man movie. The fight between Peter and Dr. Strange in Mirror World is really imaginative and visually amazing. The fights with the other villains are great too and the climax involving all the Spider Men and villains on the Statue of Liberty is awesome. The movie is so brutal, unrelentless and harsh toward Peter. It reminds me a lot of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The ending also pulls no punches, not only does May Parker die but everyone ends up forgetting Peter Parker including his friends so now he’s all alone. I’ve never seen any hero in the MCU that has lost so much.

The MCU had always been an ambitious movie series but this movie might just be there most ambitious movie ever. Spider Man: No Way Home is not only the best MCU movie of 2021 it is also the best “live action” Spider-Man movie, no contest. While Spider Verse was a love letter to the Spider Man character, No Way Home was a love letter to the Spider Man movies. Its funny emotional and a great way to pay respect to all of the Spider Man movies.

Verdict:

+Action scenes

+Brutal

+The Spider Men

+The villains

-First half

Score: A

Ghostbusters: Afterlife review

For Harold

It had been five years since the last Ghostbusters movie and now we have a proper sequel to the orignal. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is about the daughter and grandchildren of the late Ghostbusters member Egon moving into his house in Summerville. His grandchildren come across his Ghostbusting tech and warnings that Gozer is coming back so they prepare for her return. The best way to describe this movie is that it’s sort of a mix between Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Stranger Things (Finn Wolfhand has pretty much worn that Ghostbusters outfit twice now).

The cast in this movie is really good. Phoebe is kind of a like a younger female version of her grandfather Egon. Both Gary Grooberson played by Paul Rudd and Podcast were very funny and likable. I also enjoyed seeing Bill Murry, Dan Akloyd and Erin Hudson as the original ghostbusters again even though they only show up near the end. I also liked the score composed by Rob Simonsen. It has the same vibe as original Ghostbusters composer Elmer Bernstein with a little dash of John Williams (who coincidently composed Force Awakens). There’s one specific piece of music that almost made me cry but I’ll get to that soon.

I will admit much like Force Awakens this film suffers from rehashing some of the same story beats from the original. We have them capturing a fat eating ghost, face off against Zuul and Gozer again and even the scenes with the ghosts attacking the town are similar to the first one. However, it’s all worth it for what I think is the best thing about this movie, the ending. Spoiler warning: In the climax Egon’s ghost shows up to help Phoebe and the rest trap Gozer. Before he leaves, he reconciles with his team and family and gives his daughter one last hug. The music that plays here is so beautiful and while I almost cried, I am certain that any fan of the original definitely bawled their eyes out during this. It’s a bittersweet farewell and a wonderful tribute to the late Harold Ramis.

Honestly if this were the final film in the series, I think they really went out on a high note. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is the best Ghostbusters movie since the original. It’s definitely better than the 2016 version. It is a perfect love letter to the original 1984 film and honestly works as a perfect sequel to the first one and conclusion to the series. When you want Nostalgia and frights, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!

Verdict:

+The cast

+The ending

+The score

-Rehashes the original

Score: A-

Encanto review

Before I start I want to say the short released with this Far From the Tree is really adorable with great animation and heart. Encanto is about a family in Columbia that lives in a magical house and each member has a special power given by a magic candle, unfortunately our main protagonist Mirabel is the only one (besides the Dads) who doesn’t have a special power. So, she ends up being the black sheep. Basically, it’s kind of a mix between My Hero Academia and Pixar’s Coco with Hamilton music sprinkled on it. Did I mention this is also the 60th movie in the Disney canon because it is more on that at the end of the review.

Encanto for a movie about a magic house surprisingly has a more down to earth and personal story compared to the other recent Disney movies. Unlike most recent Disney movies, there’s no twist villain or force of nature villain, the conflict comes from the consequences of family expectations and how much it can damage your family. It also only takes place at their house named Casita. Speaking of which I love how Casita has its own personality and is treated like its own character. It reminds me a lot of the carpet from Aladdin, the ocean from Moana, and even Doctor Strange’s cape. Disney really nails those silent but alive objects. Spoiler Theory: I think Casita is actually the spirit of Alma’s deceased husband who sacrificed himself to save her.

Mirabel played by Stephanie Beatriz is very quirky and likable. Even though she doesn’t have a power and the whole world is against her at times, she still cares about her family and I found her relationship with the youngest child Antonio very sweet. The other family members though not hugely developed were very likable with unique powers and personalities. I felt they were more memorable than the family from Meet the Robinsons. I also enjoyed the other black sheep Bruno played by John Leguizamo who brought a lot of humor to this movie. I will be honest the songs in this movie are kind of weak compared to Lin Manual Riranda’s songs in Hamilton and Moana. Most of the songs have too much exposition and it feels weird. My favorite song though was probably We Don’t Talk about Bruno.

Encanto may not have been strong in terms of songs but it is strong in the characters and story. Of the two Disney movies that came out this year I personally liked Encanto more than Raya and the Last Dragon. It’s one of the more down to earth Disney movies that perfect for the whole family.

Verdict:

+Casita

+Grounded story

+Madrigal family

+Mirabel

-Weak songs

Score: A

I now want to give you a special surprise: Now that we have reached 60 Disney movies, I’ll will be ranking the entire Disney canon throughout December so be on the lookout for my list coming soon.

Eternals review

Eternals is about in a cosmic way (pun intended) the very first MCU heroes in history since they were created thousands of years ago. Eternals is also the 2nd longest Marvel movie next to Avengers Endgame with a runtime of 157 minutes. Unfortunately, this is one of the gripes I have. Unlike No Time to Die which only started to feel long in the third half, this felt long throughout. I guess you could say this movie felt like an “eternity” LOL.

This movie does have some good stuff in it. Some of the locations especially in the flashbacks are visually really nice to look at. Considering that the director Chloé Zhao just came off of directing Nomadland which earned her the Academy Award for Best Director it’s not surprising that her directing skills were put to good use here. Spoilers: The reason the eternals were created were to help the earth population so a new celestial can hatch. Who would’ve though Thanos also stopped this? I kind of like that this movie makes the heroes question what’s the right or wrong thing to do though it would’ve been better if the characters were more interesting.  

The Eternals themselves are a mix bag. Some of them were pretty good like the tech expert Phastos and super speeder Makkari who’s the first deaf MCU hero. Her use of American Sign Language was a great touch. My favorite has to be Kingo played by Kumail Nanjiani who brings a lot of humor to this otherwise bleak story. I really like how his film crew supports him being an eternal and even the dynamic between him and his manager Karun is really fun to watch. The rest of the eternals are either bland or boring. There’s also a weird sex scene with the two leads in one of the flashbacks that felt unnecessary. I think what also doesn’t help is that these two characters are not that interesting. Though I did like Sersi’s power of manipulating and transforming matter.

Eternals feels more like a Superman movie (specifically Man of Steel) than a Marvel movie. It has some nice visuals but the long runtime and boring characters do hurt the film. While this wasn’t the worst MCU movie it’s still one of the weakest entries in the series in recent memory.

Verdict:

+ Morality Questioning

+ Visually nice sometimes

+/- Eternals

-Long runtime

-Sex scene

Score: C+

No Time To Die review

Spoilers Shaken not Stirred

I feel bad for not talking about James Bond on my blog much due to the long gap between movies and being delayed by COVID19. James Bond is probably the most famous fictional superspy ever. He was the inspiration to one of my favorite childhood games Spy Fox and Kingsman. No Time To Die is the 25th James Bond movie and also the 5th and last movie to star Daniel Craig as 007. This is also the longest James Bond movie (163 min) and while it doesn’t seem like it at first, the third half is where I felt like it was taking too long. That’s actually my only real problem with this movie.

Daniel Craig is and will always be my James Bond. He has so much charm, funny one liners, and is such as badass. Yet out of all the actors who have played James Bond, Daniel Craig is probably the most human 007 has ever been. The villain Safin played by Rami Malek is very threatening and very reministic of early James Bond villains even though he’s not on screen that much. I also think his revenge plot is odd because why does he want to kill the entire population even though he already got revenge on Spectre for killing his parents. I do like his lair that we see in the third half which feels like a love letter to James Bond villain lairs.  

The opening credits and song sung by Billie Eilish are really good, even if it didn’t have the epicness of my favorite James Bond song Skyfall (which is also my favorite James Bond movie). The action like most of the James Bond movies are great. Some of the best ones include the beginning car chase, the Spectre party fight with Paloma (fun minor character) and the forest fight. This part of the review contains the hugest SPOILERS on the ending of this movie. No Time to Die did what no James Bond movie has ever done or had the guts to do before……this movie killed James Bond. It’s made perfectly clear that he’s dead. I knew this would be Daniel’s last film but I was surprised that they did something so ballsy and I think it paid off very well.

No Time to Die is a great and bittersweet swan song for Danial Craig’s James Bond and one of the best James Bond movies. It has the charm that made the James Bond movies so enjoyable for over 60 years. I know we might not get another 007 movie for a while but honestly this movie works as a great finale for the whole series and would be satisfied if it was. Still we all know one thing……..James Bond Will Return.

Verdict:

+ Action scenes

+ Billie Eilish song

+ Daniel Craig

+ Killing off James Bond

+/- Safin

-Long runtime in the third half

Score: A

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings review

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to have an Asian lead. I admit I wasn’t that excited for this like some of the other MCU movies because this looked too similar to martial arts movies that came out this year like Mortal Kombat or Snake Eyes. But as a MCU fan I went and saw this and I was actually surprised that I liked this movie more than I thought.

Shang-Chi played by Simu Liu while not the most complex MCU protagonist is still likable. I like that his relationship with Katy played by Awkwafina is more of a friendship than a romance (for now). The most complex character of the movie is his father Xu Wenwu or the Mandarin. He’s one of the most tragic villains in the series because unlike most Marvel villains all he wants is his wife and his children’s mother back. Yes, he’s doing terrible things to achieve this but you understand why. I also liked seeing returning characters like Abomination from The Incredible Hulk, Wong from Doctor Strange and especially Trevor Slattery played again by Ben Kingsley. Considering this movie technically has the real Mandarin it would’ve been a huge missed opportunity not to have him return.  

Shang-Chi does suffer from the typical story beats used in a lot in the Marvel origin formula.  Spoilers: There’s even a generic evil monster that shows up in the climax that has been manipulating Xu Wenwu into freeing it. There isn’t really much buildup or mention of this monster and felt like the movie wanted a giant monster action climax. Speaking of action scenes, like most Marvel movies Shang-Chi has great action scenes. Since this is a martial arts movie the action scenes would have a lot of it and the choreography is very impressive. The highlight to me was the bus action scene. It’s intense, funny and thrilling.

This isn’t really a huge flaw but it’s just a funny thought. The end credits and song look and sound more like a shaving cream commercial and doesn’t fit with the movie’s tone. That said Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was a simple but fun addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a likable hero and a sympathetic villain. It was a nice way to introduce martial arts into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a nice introduction to a new MCU Superhero.

Verdict:

+ Action scenes

+ Returning characters

+ Xu Shang-Chi

+ Xu Wenwu

-End credits

-Generic villain monster

-Similar Marvel formula

Score: B+

The Suicide Squad review

The Suicide Squad is the 10th movie in the DCEU and was directed by James Gunn who also directed the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. This is sort of a sequel to Suicide Squad from 2016 but it’s more stand alone and honestly you don’t have to watch the original film and you would miss nothing. The Suicide Squad is about a team of anti-heroes/villains being sent to stop Project Starfish and things get a lot crazy after that. This review does contain SPOILERS especially about the opening scene so big warning.

The members of Squad Team A you meet at the beginning are immediately killed off gruesomely and humorously. They don’t really have interesting abilities and we don’t get much time to care about them but that’s really my only gripe with the movie. It tunrs out they were decoys for the real stars of the movie, Squad Team B. These guys are the highlight of the movie. They all have unique abilities, great personalities, great dynamics and great performances from their actors. Peacekeeper is like a jerky Captain America, Ratcatcher 2 and King Shark have a sweet bond and Polka-Dot Man is both tragic and hilarious. I also liked Harley Quinn who I think always brings her A game whenever she’s in a rated R property such as the Harley Quinn show, Birds of Prey, and this. I even like Starro who is a much more silly but appropriate villain in a suicide squad movie than that stupid Enchantress.

There’s a reason this movie has a R rating and that because of the action. Every action scene is violent, bloody, hilarious, and fun. My favorite action scene is when Bloodshot and Peacemaker one up each other killing a bunch of soldiers. I like the 2d animated flowers during Harley Quinn’s escape scene and the climax with Starro is both epic and hilarious. It also ends with a great punchline which I won’t give away. What helps is James Gunn’s always amazing directing. It definitely has the same feel of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies while also being colorful and vibrant as his previous work at Marvel. I also like the title cards sprinkled throughout the movie and how there placed in the environments such as blood in the water, fire and even metal scraps.

The Suicide Squad is better than the 2016 version in every possible way and without a doubt the best DCEU movie now. It’s characters while villains are likable enough to make you care for them and even feel sad when they die. Its action scenes are a perfect mix of violent and fun. It’s pretty much what the original should have been and proof that the DCEU can make films just as good as the MCU.

Verdict:

+ Brutal and fun action

+ James Gunn’s directing

+ Squad Team B…and Harley

+ Starro

+ Title cards

-Squad Team A

Score: A

Jungle Cruise review

Welcome aboard the world-famous Jungle Cruise I am your skipper Bryce and I’m gonna be your guide on this review of Disney’s the Jungle Cruise. Please remain seated keeping your hands arms feet and legs inside the boat and watch your children.

The Jungle Cruise was one of the opening day attractions at Disneyland back in 1955 and is still one of Disney’s most famous attractions with its corny dad jokes and of course the 8th wonder of the world, the back side of water. Disney movies based one Disney rides range from good (Pirates 1-2) to bad (Haunted Mansion, Country Bears) and now Jungle Cruise has become the fourth movie to be based on a ride. This movie really captures that feeling of adventure that’s very reminisced of swash buckling/adventure films like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Mummy. I think what helps is that this movie is gorgeous to look at. The colors of the jungle are so vibrant and I like that this movie takes place in 1916. Something about a movie taking place in a past time period makes the movie look more visually interesting such as Tim Burton’s Dumbo or Captain America: the first Avenger.

The main trio of the movie have great a fun dynamic and work great off each other. Captain Frank Wolf played by Dwayne Johnson is sort of the Han Solo of the group with also the con artistry and tragic secrets of Grunkle Stan from Gravity Falls. He’s a lot of fun. While I do like Emily Blunt as Lily, I’ll admit I’m not a fan of this running gag where throughout the movie Frank keeps calling Lily “Pants”. I know it’s odd to see woman where pants in that time period but it really overstays it’s welcome. I also like Jack Whitehall as Lily’s brother MacGregor who brings a lot comic relief to the movie. I really like the designs of the conquistadors. snakes, branches, mud, and even bees. However, the camera work during their action scenes makes it hard to tells who’s fighting.

Jungle Cruise is absolute popcorn fun. People who enjoyed movies in the adventure genre or the original Disney attraction will be in for a fun river tour. Now we have come the most dangerous part of the review, the return to civilization. Be sure the gather up all your personal belongings and exit to your right.  

Verdict:

+ Adventure feel

+ The Jungle trio

+ Visually pleasing setting

+/- Conquistadors

-Camera work

-Pants running gag

Score: B+

Black Widow review

Does it seem too coincidental that every female superhero movie (Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel and this) are prequels?  Black Widow is the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to release since Spider Man Far from Home two years ago. Its former release date would’ve been in time for the 10th anniversary of Iron Man 2 and Natasha’s debut if it wasn’t for Covid. Unlike the others this isn’t an origin story (except the beginning). With the exception of the post credit scene, this movie feels like it should’ve released between Civil War and Infinity War. You can technically watch this between the two and nothing would really change.

The character of Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow honestly feels more like a superspy than a superhero but that said her solo outing managed to capture the tone of a spy thriller perfectly. This really feels like something you’d see in James Bond or Mission Impossible or even Kingsman. The opening dinner scene, the plane chase and the opening credits perfectly establishes the tone this movie has. Though with the exception of the plane chase, I will admit the action here seems a bit familiar and standard compared to other actions scenes in the MCU and they don’t really stand out.

Scarlett Johansson always brings her A-game as Natasha and I really enjoyed the “dysfunctional family” type of dynamic between the cast. I especially really liked the Red Guardian who brings a lot of comedy and heart to the film. The villains are sort of a mixed bag. Dreykovmight be the most unlikable (not bland) villain in the MCU yet he one of those villains you enjoy to hate and look forward to seeing him get comeuppance thanks to Ray Winstone’s performance. While I like the idea that Taskmaster uses weapons similar to the Avengers “she” just feels like another version of the Winter Soldier or Ghost from Ant Man and the Wasp.

Is Black Widow one of the strongest entries in the MCU? No. Was is worth the one-year delay? Sure. People waited so long for a movie about Black Widow and this movie gave us exactly what we wanted and it didn’t disappoint. It was a good start to phase four of the MCU and a well-done send off to our favorite female superspy/superhero.

Verdict:

+ Spy thriller tone

+ The opening

+ The performances

+/- The villains

-Misplaced entry

-Typical Marvel action

Score: B