“Mulan” stars Ming-Na Wen, Eddie Murphy, BD Wong, Miguel Ferrer, June Foray, James Hong, Pat Morita, and George Takei. Released on June 19, 1998, the film is about a woman who takes her father’s place to serve the Imperial Army.
The film was directed by Barry Cook, the co-director of “Arthur Christmas” and “Walking with Dinosaurs”, and Tony Bancroft. It is based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, and it was the 36th animated film in the Walt Disney Animation Studios library. This weekend would’ve seen the release of Disney’s latest live-action adaptation of one of their animated classics. However, since it got delayed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, I had no choice but to go to the original source as a backup plan. The source I’m referring to is a small animated film about a Chinese woman who disguises herself as a man. This is one of the films that were released during the Disney Renaissance, the period during the 90s which saw the studio making a huge comeback after releasing hit after hit after hit. While it didn’t earn as much money as the likes of “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King”, it did manage to revive the studio’s winning streak by outgrossing the box office totals of the previous two films that came before it, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Hercules”. The film’s success resulted in the main character becoming a part of the Disney Princess lineup and inspired Disney to develop the 2004 direct-to-video follow-up, “Mulan II” and the just-mentioned live-action remake of the same name. Like my past experiences with the other Disney classics, I had some fond memories watching “Mulan”, including the characters and the songs, although I didn’t watch it as much as “The Lion King” during my childhood. I guess that’s what happens when I have a bunch of Disney films in my inventory. Now that I reached adulthood, it’s time to see if Disney’s take on the Chinese legend can hold up well in my critical eyes. For those who haven’t watched this film yet, I will try to keep this review as spoiler-free as I can.
The story takes place in China during the Han Dynasty, where the villainous Huns, lead by the ruthless Shan Yu (Ferrer), are invading the country. This lead the emperor (Morita) to order a mobilization to defend China from the invaders. The army requires one man from each family, including Fa Zhou (Soon-Tek Oh), an army veteran and father of Fa Mulan (Wen). Concerned about her father’s weakening health, Mulan decides to take her father’s place in the army by…wait for it…disguising herself as a man. With the help of a disgraced former guardian Mushu (Murphy), she must assist the army, under the command of Captain Li Shang (Wong), in defeating the Huns and bring honor to her family. The film followed the same plot as the poem it’s based on, Guo Maoqian’s The Ballad of Mulan, but offered a few changes to make it more appropriate for its target audience, which is undoubtedly families. So if you’re looking for a film adaptation that’s 100% accurate to the source material as well as its historical culture, Disney’s “Mulan” may not be the one that will bring honor to your needs. Disney is usually known for taking historic moments and classic stories and adapt them into animated features with some minor changes and a few doses of kid-friendly material to boot. When you get past some of their “inaccuracies”, these films have plenty of charm to impress almost everyone, including me. Some of them work well enough to be successful. Others, not so much. “Mulan” is a suitable example of the former. Following the traditional Disney formula, the film showcases fast-paced action, fun characters, and a plot that touches the hearts of kids and adults. In addition to exploring its themes of war and honor, “Mulan” also offered an inspiring and well-portrayed story that involves the main character’s journey to bring honor to her family and become her own person. What makes the story inspiring is that it represents two different traditions, one for the women and one for the men, and Mulan, who happens to follow the women’s tradition, was able to break that tradition in order to save her father’s life despite the consequences she’ll receive. It’s a film that says “be who you want to be, not what others think you should be”. Not only was Mulan a strong and fitting character for this scenario, but she was wonderfully voiced by Ming-Na Wen, who is also known for her role as Melinda May in the Marvel series, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” She brought a lot of depth and personality into this role much like the other voice actors for the Disney Princesses. My only minor issue with the story was the film’s antagonist, Shan Yu. I can admit that he’s an intimidating foe and Miguel Ferrer’s voice work was top notch, but he’s not something that I would call “Best Villain Material” compared to the other memorable Disney baddies like Scar from “The Lion King” and Gaston from “Beauty and the Beast”. Aside from that, the story has enough heart, humor, and action to successfully deliver its intended message to those who seek to be one’s self and provide some good, kid-friendly fun for the little ones. The animation also served as one of the strong qualities of the film, ranging from its vibrant background designs to the fluidity of its character designs and action scenes. Like “The Lion King”, “Mulan” has a couple of scenes that combine 2D animation with computer-generated imagery, including the snowy mountain showdown between the army and the Huns which, by the way, still looks amazing. If there’s one thing you should know about these types of animated films, it’s that Disney knows how to make quality animation, even in the 90s. Of course, it’s not a Disney animated film without some comical side characters. While the likes of Yao, Ling, Chien-Po, Chi-Fu, and Cri-Kee have plenty of humor to go around, the only main attraction of the show was none other than the mini dragon himself, Mushu. I really liked Mushu when I was younger, and I still like him today. With the combination of Eddie Murphy’s charismatic voice work and his endearing personality, Mushu is another Disney sidekick that kids will love and adults will find tolerable. The musical score by the late Jerry Goldsmith had the proper essence to capture the serenity of its Chinese scenery and the intensity of its action scenes, and the songs were quite lively, with “Reflection” and “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” being my personal highlights of the soundtrack.
Overall, “Mulan” is honorable enough to join the ranks of the Disney Renaissance. Filled with a well-told story, likable characters, great animation, and a respectable soundtrack, the film has brought honor to its audience more than 20 years ago, and it will continue to do so for the next 20 years or so. It doesn’t rank as high as “The Lion King” and “Aladdin” in my opinion, but it’s still a worthy addition to the studio’s collection of animated treasures. It’s also something that will keep us occupied until the live-action remake finds its official release date. Hopefully it’ll find one sooner or later. The film is available on Disney+ right now, so if you have the streaming service and you’re one of the people who either haven’t seen it yet or haven’t seen it in a while, it’s worth checking out.
“Stargirl” stars Grace VanderWaal, Graham Verchere, Giancarlo Esposito, Karan Brar, Darby Stanchfield, and Maximiliano Hernandez. Released on Disney+ on March 13, 2020, the film is about a shy teen who befriends a unique free-spirited young woman.
The film is directed by Julia Hart, who also directed “Miss Stevens” and “Fast Color”, and it is based on the young adult novel of the same name by Jerry Spinelli. High school is one of the big steps of everyday life. It is full of teenage drama, tense emotions, and people judging others based on their differences. Sounds like something that Disney would put out on its streaming service instead of a television series based on “Love, Simon”. Since I’m stuck inside the house for a while due to a Coronavirus and almost all of the movies are getting delayed, I had to resort to plan B, which is to review some of the films that are available to stream at the comfort of my own home. It may not be easy for me to do, but it’s the only solution I have to keep my blog alive. Last month, I reviewed an original film from Disney+ known as “Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made”, and since I did all right talking about it, I decided to continue reviewing more films from the recent streaming service, starting with this peculiar film that coincidentally shares the same title as the DC Comics superhero. Even though I haven’t read the book myself or seen any of its trailers, I remained curious about it because of its relatable concept and the fact that it’s aiming towards families, which is good because kids need to learn this type of stuff. Question is, is it good enough for me to recommend it to its target audience?
Described as a musical drama, the story follows Leo Borlock (Verchere), a teen who moves to Arizona with his mother (Stanchfield) after his father passed away. During his year in high school, he encounters a free-spirited girl named Stargirl Caraway (VanderWaal) who quickly made a first impression on Leo and the entire school due to her personality. Together, they face the difficult challenges of high school while maintaining their relationship. If you’re wondering why I am calling it a musical drama, it’s because the film has several scenes of the two main characters singing songs from popular artists like The Beach Boys, the Go-Go’s, and the Cars, including VanderWaal, who I will talk about later on. If there’s one thing that I can appreciate while watching this film, it’s the message. We’re living in a world where people judge others based on their differences or their actions, especially the ones in high school, and they want them to act “normal", which is clearly impossible. This is one of the films that showcase the fact that being different is okay. If people can love themselves for who they really are, then the others will follow suit. I think this is a really good message to share with the kids who are sharing the same problem. But what about the film itself? Honestly, it’s not a perfect representation of the scenario, but its heart was in the right place. “Stargirl” followed a similar path that we’ve seen in the other coming-of-age films that came before it, and it didn’t quite hit all of the emotional notes that it was going for. Plus, its uneven pacing might become a nuisance to the younger viewers despite the film’s PG rating. However, those problematic flaws failed to distract me from Julia Hart’s subtle sense of direction and the film's kind-hearted nature. Singer-songwriter Grace VanderWaal made her acting debut in this film as the title character. For those who don’t know, she’s a young artist who sings original songs and covers and often accompanies herself on her trusted ukulele. The film marked the first time I experienced her myself, and I got to say, she’s the only reason why I liked this film. Not only was she superbly talented as a singer/ukulele player, but she also had the right amount of spunk and charisma in her performance to make her character shine as bright as a star. Graham Verchere was also good in his role as Leo, the teen who befriends Stargirl. It’s not an Oscar-worthy performance, but he did what he could to make himself likable onscreen.
Overall, “Stargirl” doesn’t transcend beyond its genre, but it was able to work its way around its formula, resulting in an inspiring feel-good drama that represents appreciating one’s own differences. VanderWaal’s acting debut was impressive, Julia Hart’s direction was respectable in terms of its concept, and its heartwarming nature was hard to ignore. This is another film that should definitely serve as a reminder to respect others despite their differences so that Earth can be a perfect place to live in. It’s a decent watch for those who are into this type of genre, especially families.
Welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG’s Movie Talk, where I talk about everything film-related. Well, we pretty much knew that this would happen sooner or later. The Coronavirus is continuing to spread all over the world, and we are all forced to stay in our homes in order to prevent the situation from getting worse. Social gatherings are banned, restaurants are closed, a lot of bars have been shut down, and more importantly, movie theaters have been blocked off. For the latter, this means that several movies are being delayed until further notice, especially the most anticipated ones like “A Quiet Place Part II”, “Black Widow”, and “F9”. This also means that I won’t be reviewing any new theatrical films for the next couple of weeks (or possibly longer). Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that my website is going on a hiatus as well. I am still going to be working on my crossovers, and I might plan on reviewing some films from the past as well as some films that are released straight-to-DVD or streaming. So if you have any suggestions on what film I should review, don’t be afraid to let me know. Anyway, let’s start off this episode by talking about what we should watch with our families while we’re stuck in quarantine. Since we’re going to be stuck at our homes for a while, I think now is the best time for us to rely on our streaming services to keep us company, whether it’s Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or Disney+. There are a ton of films and shows for us to choose from, but for this episode, I will be choosing the best ones from Netflix and Disney+ that are made for kids and their parents or teachers because these two streaming services are usually the best places for family-friendly content. Kids are out of school because of the Coronavirus, so we got to have something to keep them from being bored out of their minds. This request comes from my mother’s friend, who is an elementary school teacher. She wanted me to talk about the films that are made for entertainment purposes or educational purposes since her students are off of school for a couple of weeks. So if you’re reading this right now, Margret, this episode’s for you. Just to make this clear, I will only be listing the films that I already saw. I’m not going to be talking about every family-friendly film that is available to stream because my mental capacity isn’t big enough to take them all in. Also, this list is not a top ten list. These are just the films that I believe are good enough for me to recommend to kids and their parents during this unfortunate time. Now then, let’s get to it.
Let’s start things off with Netflix, which has a lot of family-friendly content that we either watched a thousand times or haven’t even heard of. Believe me, there are plenty of lesser-known stuff on there that left me scratching my head in disbelief, but I don’t want to go into full detail about them because I am not a time waster. Here are the four films from Netflix that I would definitely recommend to families in no particular order.
Kung Fu Panda 2
One of the most common elements that we notice from Hollywood is that they made sequels that didn’t quite capture the same impact as their predecessors. Some of them are mostly enjoyable and some of them made us question their existence in a bad way. However, there are some sequels that happened to be just as good as the originals. If not, better. Take DreamWorks Animation, for example. With the exception of “Shrek the Third” and “Shrek Forever After”, DreamWorks has been pretty consistent with making sequels that were as good as or better than their predecessors. “Shrek 2”, “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa”, “How to Train Your Dragon 2”, the list goes on, but there is one sequel that I loved the most out of all of them, and it’s available to watch on Netflix as of this writing. That, my friends, is “Kung Fu Panda 2”, the second chapter in the “Kung Fu Panda” trilogy. Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, who went on to helm “Kung Fu Panda 3” and “The Darkest Minds”, this 2011 sequel continues the adventures of Po (voiced by Jack Black), who goes on a perilous journey with the Furious Five to prevent a villainous peacock named Lord Shen (voiced by Gary Oldman) from using a powerful weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. During this journey, Po must solve the mysteries of his past in order to accomplish this dangerous mission. There are plenty of reasons why “Kung Fu Panda” is one of my favorite trilogies of all time, such as the lovable characters, the animation, the Chinese culture, its perfect mixture of martial arts action and comedy, and its well-developed story arc, which depicts Po’s journey of self-discovery. While I loved both “Kung Fu Panda” and “Kung Fu Panda 3” for different reasons, I have to classify this one as my favorite film of the trilogy and as one of the animated sequels that I think should fuel the families’ desire for some pure awesomeness while they’re stuck at home. “Kung Fu Panda 2” took advantage of the materials that made the first film work and made them better, such as the characters and the animation. More importantly, it had a story that consistently blends its dark tone and emotional themes with its kid-friendly energy, making this one of the suitable options for both kids and adults who grew up with animation. It’s like “How to Train Your Dragon 2”, but with anthropomorphic Chinese animals who learn kung fu. If you like the first “Kung Fu Panda” film, but haven’t seen this one, now’s your chance to do so. Great story, fun characters, fantastic animation, and of course, a formidable antagonist who is still one of my favorite villains that DreamWorks Animation has created.
This next film on the list won’t be coming to Disney+ until later on, but you can still catch this adorable piece of nostalgia on Netflix. “Christopher Robin” is another reimagining of one of Disney’s animated treasures, and it involves the title character as an adult who attempts to reconnect with his child-like sense of wonder with the help of Winnie the Pooh and his animal friends. Directed by Marc Forster, the film is an innocent and family-friendly reintroduction of the franchise to a new generation of kids with a valuable message about the importance of family and having a bit of childhood-like wonder in your lives. It doesn’t have a lot of high-stakes action and a buttload of CGI like the studio’s other live-action remakes of their animated classics, but that’s what makes it stand out above those reimaginings. With its charming cast and a well-told story that’s somehow equivalent to Steven Spielberg’s “Hook”, this is one of the better live-action remakes that Disney has to offer during this era and one of the more harmless films for families who need a break from the big-budget action and the mindless cartoon shenanigans.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
You kids want a Marvel film that doesn’t involve Thanos wiping out half of the entire population? Netflix has got you covered. In 2018, Sony Pictures Animation made a humongous comeback after suffering from a huge critical misfire that was “The Emoji Movie”. It did the impossible that could set a new path for the animation studio (hopefully). It made a fantastic animated Spider-Man film that also became an Oscar winner. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is a visually immersive and action-packed superhero experience that consists of heart and a lot of Spider-people. This is my favorite film of 2018 for many reasons: the characters, the action, the story, its message about heroism, and its original animation style. Everything about this film is sheer perfection. So if you and your kids want a Spider-Man film that doesn’t have a lot of PG-13 rated material, “Into the Spider-Verse” is your best choice.
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Now here’s another sequel on Netflix that managed to be just as good as the original, and it’s from Disney. “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is not only an impressive sequel that’s filled with lovable characters and stellar animation, but it is also a great learning tool for kids who want to try out the Internet for the first time. In addition to its bold story about friendship, the film uses its classic Disney quality and its witty humor to explore the aspects of the Internet in a family-friendly matter, such as Internet memes, online games, social media, and clickbait pop-ups. It also didn’t shy away from displaying the pros and cons of the Internet, mostly the cons, because let’s face it, the Internet is not a perfect place to live in. There’s a scene that involves Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) reading plenty of negative comments about him from the users on “BuzzzTube”, and there’s also a scene that has Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman) exploring the dark web. To me, these scenes work in exploring the bad side of the Internet without alienating its target audience. They’re not too dark, and they’re not too goofy. They have the right amount of charm and intelligence to entertain both kids and adults alike as well as educate newcomers about the wonders of the Internet. So, teachers, if you want to teach your students about the Internet via film, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is my absolute recommendation. It is also another animated sequel that’s worth watching with the family during quarantine hours.
Now that we got Netflix out of the way, let’s focus on my biggest challenge: Disney+. Disney+ is the home of all things Disney…and Fox…and National Geographic, and since I loved almost all of the films that are on there, it was hard for me to pick the ones that I would recommend the most. So I did the best I could and chose at least four films on the streaming service that I think are insightful and entertaining enough to please the kids. Let me remind you again that this is in no particular order.
In times like this, we all need a reminder that we need to respect one another regardless of their race and sex. We have many films that deal with this type of subject matter, but none of them seem to be acceptable enough for kid-friendly viewing. None of them except “Zootopia”, of course. Like “Ralph Breaks the Internet”, “Zootopia” serves as both a smart and hilarious animated film and a fantastic learning tool for kids. The main reason why I would recommend this 2016 film is because it offered many themes that are similar to what we’re dealing with right now, such as diversity and racial discrimination, without dumbing them down for the little ones. With the world still not learning their lesson, I think now is a good time for parents and teachers to use this film to teach their kids about this type of stuff. Plus, it’s a great buddy cop movie that consists of likable characters and splendid animation.
It’s highly inevitable that I have to include this film on my list. I’ve been saying it a lot before, and I will say it again in case you forgot. “Inside Out” is the best thing that came out of Pixar’s think tank. If you haven’t seen this yet, then stop reading and go watch it with your kids immediately. Everything about this film is pure Pixar poetry, ranging from its clever storytelling to its imaginative animation. It is still the only film so far that I have seen seven times in the theater. Yeah, it’s that good. The film’s producers had to consult a lot of psychologists in order to make this concept relatable to adults and their kids, and based on the results, their hard work paid off extremely well. This is also another great learning tool for the teachers to use because it helps the students learn about the importance of every emotion in our lives. Kids need to learn that it’s okay to feel happy or sad or angry or scared or disgusted because these emotions make us who we are as a whole. There’s really nothing else I could say about it that hasn’t been said before. It is another Pixar classic and a helpful way to teach the young children about emotions.
We have another Pixar film that I would highly recommend if you haven’t watched it yet. “Coco” is a creative and thought-provoking depiction of the Mexican holiday, Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), that is backed up by its well-detailed animation and emotional depth. Not only that, but it is also a suitable film for teachers to use if they’re teaching their students about the Mexican culture and the holiday tradition. Yes, there’s also “The Book of Life”, which is another animated film that deals with Day of the Dead, but I think “Coco” is a better option for families and teachers to watch when it comes to the story and the representation of the culture. Plus, it’s a film about the importance of family, so it makes sense why I included this film on my list.
The Lion King
Another obvious choice from yours truly. I know that we all saw it a thousand times before, but considering the fact that “The Lion King” is an animated gem, there’s no doubt that we want to see it a thousand more while we’re stuck in our homes for a couple of weeks. Packed with a captivating story about adolescence, gorgeous animation, memorable characters, and songs that get stuck in your head after a while, it’s no wonder that this 1994 animated classic still holds up today. The 2019 remake is also available to watch on Disney+, but as much as I liked it for staying true to its story and its amazing visuals, it doesn’t quite hold a candle to what the original version offered more than 20 years ago. Kids will be able to enjoy this one for its flawless animation and its lovable characters like Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa, while the parents and teachers will appreciate it for teaching kids about not letting the past define who they are.
So there you have it. Those are the films from Netflix and Disney+ that I think will satisfy the families’ needs during the quarantine hours. It may not be much, but I think they’re enough to keep them and their kids busy until this whole thing blows over and everything goes back to normal. If you have any more suggestions as to what they should watch at home, make sure you leave a comment below, and remember to stay safe, keep yourself healthy, and enjoy the show.
“Bloodshot” stars Vin Diesel, Eiza González, Sam Heughan, Toby Kebbell, and Guy Pearce. Released on March 13, 2020, the film is about a marine who is equipped with enhanced nanotechnology.
The film features the directorial debut of David S. F. Wilson, and it is based on the Valiant Comics character of the same name created by Kevin VanHook, Don Perlin, and Bob Layton. The thing about being created with superpowers is that you can either use them to help people or use them for devious purposes. When you’re working for someone who makes that choice for you, it might’ve been time for you to start rethinking about your career as a superhero. Before we see Vin Diesel behind the wheel once again in the upcoming “Fast & Furious 9”, or “F9” as they like to call it, the action star is heading back into superhero territory this weekend, but not as a talking tree. This film introduces a new kind of superhero that’s neither Marvel nor DC, which might not bode well for kids who grew up with these comic book giants, but it might do wonders for those who like to read any type of comic book during their spare time. Long story short, this superhero appeared in a series of comic books that were published by Valiant Comics in the early 90s. Haven’t heard of it? Neither did I. I haven’t heard of this character nor Valiant Comics until I read that they’re making a film based on “Bloodshot” and that Diesel is starring in it as the title character, and there’s no denying the fact that I would see anything that this guy is involved in. He’s got “Fast & Furious”, “Riddick”, and “xXx” under his belt, so let’s see if he’s able to make another action franchise out of this.
Following the basic superhero origin formula, the film focuses on Ray Garrison (Diesel), a marine who returns home from the war to spend some quality time with his wife (Talulah Riley). However, their lives quickly came to a tragic end when they were suddenly killed by an assassin. Luckily, a team of scientists from a mysterious organization was able to bring Ray back to life, but here’s the catch. He’s now equipped with nanotechnology that gives him superhuman abilities and regeneration. However, he’s having a hard time recalling the events that happened before he died. When he suddenly remembers the person responsible for the death of him and his wife, he sets out to bring that person to justice. His quest for revenge will soon lead him to discover the organization’s true purpose. This is another superhero film that attempts to follow in the same footsteps as Marvel and DC when it comes to introducing their characters to newcomers via film. Based on my experience with these films, there are multiple things that make them work for me. You got to have characters that are interesting, fun, and relatable, you got to have the high-stakes action that puts the main character’s powers to the test, and more importantly, you got to have a story that provides entertainment and heart. Unfortunately for me, “Bloodshot” didn’t even come close to achieving those qualities. Without comparing it to the other superhero films from Marvel and DC, the film had a few entertaining moments that prevented it from being unwatchable, but other than that, it’s another generic action B-movie that might impress a fair amount of people who want to see Vin Diesel beat people up and hear his deep, manly voice for over an hour and a half. If you go into this film expecting it to be like “Iron Man” or “Wonder Woman”, there’s a big chance that you’ll be unsatisfied with its test results. As I mentioned before, the film had a simplistic superhero origin formula that helped popularize the genre. While the formula itself did a fine job at introducing the title character and what he’s capable of, it felt like the film was only using the formula to create another superhero franchise instead of combining it with a well-earned story. In addition to its predictable formula, the story was also filled with one-dimensional characters, jokes that put a damper on its intended tone, and dialogue that will make some film critics want to have regeneration powers themselves so they can shoot themselves repeatedly in the head without dying. Why is it like this, you ask? Two words: Jeff Wadlow. He didn’t serve as a director this time as that role belonged to David S. F. Wilson, the co-founder of visual effects house Blur Studio, but he did serve as one of the film’s screenwriters. I can clearly tell that his fingerprints were all over this film based on the things I mentioned earlier. Now I’m not going to be like the snobby film critics and bully the guy because I don’t want to be that type of critic. Plus it’s extremely hurtful. I am only judging on how he did and what he can improve on. Much like Wadlow’s last two films, he had some ideas that could’ve worked in “Bloodshot”, but he didn’t do a lot to expand on those ideas in terms of developing the characters and the story. It’s a bit more tolerable than his adaptation of “Fantasy Island”, but it’s not enough to keep me from questioning his role as both a director and a screenwriter. As for its pros, I will give the actors credit for delivering some tolerable performances. Vin Diesel’s performance as the title character was exactly what I expected from him, charming and manly, which might satisfy some fans of the actor. Whether you like him or not, this is how he acts in his films, and I am okay with that. The only supporting actor that I surprisingly enjoyed the most was Lamorne Morris as Wilfred Wigans, the tech guy who assists Ray. Even though the jokes were a bit forced at times, Morris was able to make some of his amusing moments…well, amusing. The action sequences in “Bloodshot” were also the reason why it became slightly watchable. On the one hand, it’s got a few scenes that worked well with its Snyder-like slo-mo shots and some bearable use of CGI. On the other hand, it’s got several scenes that utilized its shaky-cam and quick-edit maneuvers like the other generic action films that came before it. They’re not complete eye-sores like the ones in “Mile 22”, but they can be a bit distracting for those who want the cameraman and the editor to focus clearly on the action.
Overall, aside from the noticeable amount of tolerability and entertainment value in its bloodstream, “Bloodshot” is a mediocre attempt at generating another action franchise for Vin Diesel. Despite some passable performances from the cast and its fun action scenes, the film fails to regenerate itself from its painful wounds, such as its generic formula, uninteresting characters, and weak dialogue. It’s not a superhero masterpiece like “Wonder Woman” and “The Avengers”, but it’s also not a super-powered disaster like “Catwoman” and “Batman & Robin”. I would say that it’s somewhere in-between those two things. This is another film that I would watch at home whenever I have nothing else to do and not feel any regret while watching it because it’s Vin flipping Diesel. He can make any action film tolerable in my eyes when he’s involved in them even though they’re not award-winning gems. If you like Vin Diesel in his other films, you might be okay watching this one, but you might not love it as much as you love the “Fast & Furious” films and “xXx”.
“The Hunt” stars Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts, and Hilary Swank. Released on March 13, 2020, the film has a group of strangers fighting for survival against the elite hunters who kill them for sport.
The film is directed by Craig Zobel, who also directed “Great World of Sound”, “Compliance”, and “Z for Zachariah”. It is loosely based on the 1924 short story, The Most Dangerous Game, by Richard Connell. Remember when movies like this can be enjoyed as sources of entertainment despite their representation of real-life violence? Yep. Those were the days. This is one of those situations that got me scratching my head to no end not just because of its concept, but also because of the controversy surrounding it. It was originally set to hit theaters back in September, but because of the mass shootings at Dayton and El Paso and the massive criticism towards its portrayal, the studio decided to shelve the film until the controversy died down a bit. Here’s what funny about this scenario. We have the “Purge” films that offer a similar concept, yet no one batted an eye. When they try to release something like this and “Joker”, everyone lost their flipping minds. Society is confusing sometimes. As someone who’s not an expert on politics, I believe that the uproar towards something like this was completely unnecessary, but I bet you didn’t click on this review just to read my rant about the controversy. You’re here to read my thoughts on the most “talked-about film” that I haven’t seen until now. In case you haven’t noticed, this film comes from the same production company that bounced back with its modern (and very thrilling) adaptation of “The Invisible Man” two weeks ago and is looking to keep the trend going with a political showdown between predator and prey. With that said, let’s see if it's really as controversial as people made it out to be.
In case you skipped the second sentence in my second paragraph, the film is loosely inspired by Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game, and it tells the story of a group of survivors, including a young woman named Crystal (Gilpin), who wake up in the middle of nowhere with no memory of how they even got there. They soon discover that they are pawns of a cat-and-mouse game designed by a group of elitists who hunt them for sport. The film also serves as a satire of a political divide between the supporters and the liberal elites, so if you’re easily offended by this type of stuff, my best advice is to not watch it and not make a big deal out of it. I’m serious, there are other problems in the world that are worth complaining about right now. However, if you really don’t care about all of that stuff and just want to see a fun and crazy adult-rated thrill ride that’s filled with bad language and bloody violence, I can easily say that this film will mostly please your thrill-seeking nerves for about an hour and a half. “The Hunt” had plenty of enjoyable moments that can also be described as twisted, humorous, and gory, but it struggled to be more than just a tasteless and violent political satire. The story was able to introduce its concept right off the bat during its first few minutes, and it never stopped to take a breather until the very end, which is good for those who want to get the fun started right away. Unfortunately, for those who wanted character development and stronger storytelling in this film, it can get a bit tiresome rather quickly. This is another case of “style over substance”, in which the film has a nicely-executed style to go along with its action, but lacks an in-depth narrative to go along with that style. Does that make it a bad movie in my eyes? Of course not. While I wished that the film would explore this concept a bit more without making it too long, I thought it did a nice job at delivering what it promised and having a bit of fun with its violent nature. The film’s central focus is Crystal, who is obviously the only character who lasts longer than the other survivors, mostly because she knows her way around the elitists’ traps. Her main objective is to kill off every single one of the hunters and escape with her life. It’s a simple mission, but it’s a fun one regardless. I had a swell time seeing Crystal beat the snot out of the hunters, and Betty Gilpin’s performance made the experience a lot better. I already mentioned that the film is about an hour and a half long, which isn’t too bad for something like this, but I think they could’ve expand the storyline a bit without overstaying its welcome. Maybe add in some more interactions between the survivors and focus a bit more on its social commentary. I don’t know, just throwing it out there.
Overall, “The Hunt” is a violent, yet watchable, satire that delivers on the gore and nothing else, for better or for worse. Despite a well-deserved performance from Gilpin and the film’s entertaining sequences, the film’s ability to provide a timely story that combines dark humor with social themes kept getting overshadowed by its twisted mind. It’s not a perfect satire, and it’s not something that’s worth getting so mad about. It’s a tolerable film that’s meant to entertain its audience. That’s all. While I did find some enjoyment out of it, I thought there were a few things that they could’ve fixed to make it better, like the story. Regardless of its flaws, I had no problems with the film, and I hope this type of controversy does not happen again.