Hello, everyone, and welcome to a brand new episode of moviemanMDG’s Movie Talk, where I talk about everything film-related. This is a special kind of episode because I will be talking about something that doesn’t relate to any film or television show. Today, I will be talking about my personal journey to where I am today. Five years ago, there was an idea to bring together two different groups of people: one that is interested in movie reviews and one that enjoys fan-fiction stories featuring some of their favorite characters. That idea became a reality and that reality’s name is moviemanMDG, which describes not just my brand, but also the website that I created. Despite a few setbacks here and there, my site has been going strong for five years, and I have you guys, the readers, to thank for inspiring me to keep on going. But how did I get to this point, you may ask? What inspired me to create this astounding website that’s filled with reviews and crossovers? All of these questions will be answered right now as we take a look at the rise of moviemanMDG.
Every legend has an origin story, so it would make sense that I should have one as well. Now, we’re not going back to when I was born because that will take all week. We’re actually going back to the time when I first started my non-paying career on Youtube, which was 2010. I was on the verge of attending junior year at high school when I decided to have some fun uploading my own videos onto Youtube. I went with the name “moviemanMDG” for two reasons. The first reason is that I’m a big fan of watching movies, obviously, and the second reason is that I thought it would sound cool. Now, this is when I first started making crossovers, right? Well, not really. I actually started my Youtube career with a couple of “let’s play” videos, in which I showcased my video game playing skills to the world. Because I didn’t have the proper technology at the time, I just used my video camera to record the games I played on my television. Those “let’s play” videos consist of “SpongeBob SquarePants: Lights, Camera, Pants” for the Playstation 2, “SpongeBob’s Boating Bash”, and “Megamind: Mega Team Unite”, both of which are on the Wii. I also did a “let’s play” of one of my favorite PS2 games of all time, “Kingdom Hearts”, for the channel, but I wound up putting it in the trash halfway through because to be honest, I wasn’t really comfortable with that run. Later on, I went from doing “let’s plays” to editing different clips of some of my favorite movies and shows with my trustworthy Sony Vegas editing software. During that time, I created some “Youtube Poop” videos, which were pretty inferior to the ones that were made by the other Youtube users, as well as some crossover projects, which were inspired by the “Pooh’s Adventures” videos during the early years of Youtube. Before I went forward with “Ed, Edd n Eddy: The Ultimate Ed-Chronicles”, I made a couple of crossovers that involve one of the recent shows from Disney, “Phineas and Ferb”. If you’ve been following my Youtube channel since the beginning, you might have remembered watching the videos that have Phineas and Ferb crossing over with the likes of “The Lion King”, “Peter Pan”, and “Return to Neverland” before they were sent to the great beyond sometime later. If you guys are still wondering why I deleted them in the first place, it’s because I believed that I could do a lot better with my fan-fiction storytelling. Plus, Youtube wouldn’t stop harassing me with its copyright notices. Every crossover maker’s worse nightmare. Fast forward to the year 2014 when I first decided to pursue my career as a film critic during my college years. I noticed that my friends and family have enjoyed hearing my personal thoughts on the films I’ve seen, resulting in my mother convincing me that I should share them with the world on the internet. So, I did just that, but with a twist. I made it my goal to post movie reviews that are light-hearted and funny whether a film is excellent or terrible, and have fun writing them. I want to be a critic that people can depend on and doesn’t go out of the way to shred a certain film (or the people that are involved) to pieces if they don’t like it because that’s what most of them do nowadays to provide some entertainment, which I found nowadays to be highly annoying and just plain sad. I want to be a critic that explains what they like and what they don’t like about a film in the most mature and humorous way possible because in a world that’s filled with negativity and violence, we all need some happiness in our lives. I got started writing my reviews by using Facebook, but it didn’t quite work out since I keep losing them to the old Facebook junk pile. So, I went with the next best thing a year later, which is Letterboxd, a website that allows users to share their list of films they’ve seen as well as their reviews. They might not be as informative or creative as the reviews by the professional critics, but to me, they work as a reminder of how much I improved as the years went by. Say what you want about my older reviews. I’m proud of them, no ifs, ands, or big old buts about them. Thanks to my reviews, I was able to join a Facebook group that loves movies and respects other people’s opinions. Well, okay, two Facebook groups, one of which is called “Movie Magic Mesmerize Me”. I didn’t last very long with the second Facebook movie group because it’s full of disgusting bullies who wasted their time posting despicable comments towards others and I didn’t want to deal with that type of stuff. 2014 is also the same year when I try the crossover route again, this time with the assistance of another crossover lover, Andrew St. Germain (aka “B-Master Animation”), and my personal favorite cartoon from my childhood, “Ed, Edd n Eddy”. After making my first crossover with the show, “Ed, Edd n Eddy: The Rise of Maleficent”, I formed an idea of making a crossover series based on it, which would pay homage to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that idea is called, you guessed it, “Ed, Edd n Eddy: The Ultimate Ed-Chronicles”. Starting with “Transformers: Legend of the Black Cauldron”, I make projects that combine themselves to make several big story arcs, or “sagas” as I would like to call them. My personal mission with my creations is to create compelling fictional stories and pay respect to the source materials I’m using. So far, I have been doing quite well despite suffering a bit from a few creative differences with my partner Andrew. These two things I had done have already created a path to a better future for me despite having to balance them with my personal stuff in life like school, college, taking care of my family, and my job at the cinema. Gotta earn some money somehow. After finally graduating from college in 2015, my real journey begins.
The summer of 2015 saw another success in my crossover business in the form of “Transformers: Legend of the Black Cauldron”. Sure, I still had to deal with my job, my family, my reviews, and Youtube constantly striking me with copyright claims, but in the end, it turned out as well as I hoped it would. But after that, things started to get more…problematic. Remember when I mentioned that Youtube keeps bothering me with the copyright claims? Well, it didn’t seem like a major issue with my first two “Ed, Ed n Eddy” crossovers, but for the ones afterwards, it was starting to become more of a threat. It started with the third installment in the “Ultimate Ed-Chronicles” series, “Ed, Edd n Eddy meets the Penguins of Madagascar”, which is a crossover that’s based on the “Madagascar” spin-off film. After making the first few parts of the project, I attempted to upload the first part onto Youtube and, surprise! It was blocked worldwide the second it became available. I tried everything like shortening the clips and shortening the length of the part, and I still couldn’t get it to stay on the website. It’s like me playing basketball with Youtube. Every attempt I made to get a good shot, Youtube kept getting in my way and blocked it. It’s unfair, but it’s also fair at the same time because personally, I didn’t want to get in trouble with the law. Because of this, I was certain that I would place my focus only on my reviews in order to pursue my long-time goal of being a professional film critic. Sometime later, my mother mentioned an idea of creating a blog for me to store my reviews and get recognized more easily. I thought about it for a while and soon after, I decided to do just that in early October. Using a blog-creating website known as Weebly, I created a site that allows me to share not only the most friendly reviews on the planet, but also my crossover creations. I tested things out by posting my review of Guillermo del Toro’s “Crimson Peak” on my blog, and I immediately realized how simple it was to insert words and photos on the post. That’s when I decided to use my blog as my main source for movie reviews. I also decided to share my posted reviews via Letterboxd, Facebook, and Twitter in order to reach a wider audience. Posting reviews on my blog proved to be an easy task for me, but posting my crossovers? That’s the true challenge. I gave myself a test to see if Weebly would accept the videos I made, and believe it or not, I actually passed. I haven’t gotten a single email from the website in terms of copyright (well, not yet, at least), so I proclaimed that my blog will also be the official home of “The Ultimate Ed-Chronicles”, and the rest is history. As the years went by, I was able to improve myself not just with writing reviews, but also with editing. They might not be on a professional level, but who cares? As long as I’m proud of my style, that’s all that matters.
In conclusion, the main reason why I got to this level of success in the first place is that I relied on three simple things: balance, determination, and support. I was able to find a way to balance what I love with living a normal life, ranging from taking care of my family to working at the cinema. If I focus more on one thing rather than the other, then everything will fall apart faster than building blocks. I always find the time to schedule my break times along with my work times so that I don’t get too stressed out with both of them. I also have a sense of determination that allowed me to use my interests to show my creativity to the entire world, whether it’s reviewing movies or working on my projects, and I wouldn’t have that much determination without the support of my friends, my family, and my fans. Without them, I wouldn’t have the strength to be where I am today. With that in mind, I want to express my thanks to those who are still inspiring me to keep on going, especially you, the reader. It has been an unusual journey for me so far, and I’m glad that I’m still taking it with you guys. Whatever obstacle we might face in the future, I’m sure that we can get through it together. Here’s to another five years of reviews, crossovers, and imagination.
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.
Welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG’s Movie Talk, where I talk about everything film-related. All right, it's time once again for my second-favorite part of the year. In my last episode, I counted down my personal winners of 2019. Now, it’s time to count down the biggest losers of 2019. This is where I name the films that failed to offer plenty of redeeming qualities to save themselves from disaster. I didn’t see a lot of bad films this year, so “The Fanatic”, “Arctic Dogs”, and “Playmobil: The Movie” are safe…for now. However, I saw enough stinkers for me to make this list. Let me remind you again that this list is subjective, so if you happen to like any of the films that are on there, that’s fine. Don’t let me stop you from having a different opinion on a specific film. This is just a list of films that I alone didn’t think were that great. All right, enough chit-chat, let’s get to that list. Yay…
There are plenty of films that center on action stars dealing with kids, like “The Pacifier” and “The Game Plan”, and they’re honestly quite tolerable despite their issues. This film, however, is not one of them. “Playing with Fire” sucks the fun out of its familiar formula and fills it with slapstick, poop jokes, and yelling. John Cena and the rest of the cast did their best to deliver the charm, but they’re not enough to contain its poorly-crafted plot, repetitive humor, and bland characters. This is one fire that’s difficult to put out.
This film could’ve been another great contender for the Oscars. Unfortunately, it wound up being the opposite. “The Goldfinch” has the makings of being an inspiring and emotional drama about life, but it fails to capitalize on those classifications, resulting in a dull and disappointing project that’s more Oscar bait than Oscar-worthy. Despite the cast and the cinematography being the saving graces of the film, it’s the type of painting that belongs in a trash instead of in a museum.
War movies tend to provide an emotional and action-driven experience that’ll make audiences feel like they’re part of the war themselves. Sadly, “Midway” struggled to be that type of war film. “Independence Day” director Roland Emmerich provided plenty of action scenes that were quite intense, but the film proved that he’s not a great choice when it comes to its narrative. The plot is uninspiring, the characters are bland and uninteresting, and the emotion is completely empty. It works fine as a tribute to the heroes that were involved in the Battle of Midway, but as a film in general, this is no “Saving Private Ryan”. Can I get “1917” now?
Like many pointless apps on a cell phone, “Countdown” is a waste of time and money. What could’ve been a fun horror experience that deals with death turns out to be a cheap and overly-cliched jump-scare bonanza that’s neither rewarding nor entertaining. It’s like being scammed by a game that promises to be great but in reality, it turns out to be poorly-designed. It’s frustrating. With its weak plot, mediocre characters, and an overabundance of horror cliches, this underwhelming mess makes the actual countdown app more enjoyable than the deadly countdown app in the film.
2019 hasn’t been too kind to Luc Besson. His latest film, “Anna” is a tedious and bland thriller that wasn’t able to capitalize on its interesting premise and its action sequences. Despite the tolerable performances from the cast, the film is filled to the brim with uneven pacing and a disappointing storyline. A forgettable action film from the guy who directed “The Fifth Element”.
Speaking of forgettable, “The Hustle” is a female-centered remake of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” that has no reason to exist in my memory. Aside from Anne Hathaway’s endurable performance, the film is lazy, foolish, and dull mostly due to its plot and the humor. It completely wasted the talents of Hathaway and Rebel Wilson and, more importantly, it wasted my time. That’s what happens when you con the wrong critic, Miss Hustler.
Before he redeemed himself with his police thriller “Black and Blue” back in October, filmmaker Deon Taylor directed another terrible film that’s worthy enough to make it into my list. “The Intruder” is another formulaic obsession thriller that’s dumb and unmemorable despite Dennis Quaid’s performance. This is actually the first film in a while that I didn’t watch in the theater all the way through due to personal reasons, and based on what I saw, I wasn’t sad about it at all.
There’s a good chance that you probably didn’t realize this film existed. If that’s the case, let’s keep it that way. “Jexi” is another huge comedy misfire that wastes the talents of the cast and the filmmakers. Directed by the guys who brought us “The Hangover” and “Bad Moms”, the film has an important message to tell, but it was easily overshadowed by its repetitive adult jokes, uninteresting characters, an unlikable Siri-like character with the voice of Rose Byrne, and a sluggish screenplay. You’re better off looking at your own phone instead.
What a way to end your beloved franchise, Mr. Perry. At first, I thought “Boo 2!: A Madea Halloween” was the low point of the money-making film series about the loud-mouthed, but lovable, grandma. Then this film came along and made its way far below the low point. “A Madea Family Funeral” is the final nail on the franchise’s coffin as it ends the series with a very loud thud instead of a bang. Even with the return of the usual formula that was used from the earlier Madea films, the film still failed to deliver the laughs and the heart that the series is known for. Ranging from the mediocre acting to the inconsistent tone, this so-called “finale” made me wish that I was attending an actual funeral instead.
I’ve seen a lot of disappointing disasters in 2019, but none of them can reach the same level of disappointment as the one that was released back in January. “Replicas” starred Keanu Reeves in his first role outside of his “John Wick” franchise since his resurgence not too long ago. What seemed to be a thrilling sci-fi piece of entertainment that deals with using science to play God turned out to be an extremely underwhelming and poorly-directed experiment with little to no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The performances were okay for the most part, but other than that, there’s nothing in this film that made me want to revisit it again. Dull plot, bland script, hokey visuals, and a lack of strong thrills. These flaws make “Replicas”, in my opinion, the biggest disaster of 2019.
Well, that about does it with my top ten least favorite films of 2019. Glad we got that out of my system. On the bright side, I didn’t give one single film an F grade this year, so that’s something. This has been a pretty good decade for us when it comes to the movies. Sure, we had some ups and downs, but at the end of the day, the power of film still continues to bring us together and inspire us to strike up a conversation or two, whether the product is good or not. Here’s hoping that it will continue to do so in the 2020s. With that said, thank you all for reading and have yourself a happy new year.
Welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG’s Movie Talk, where I talk about everything film-related. We’re just about done with another year, but more importantly, we’re getting close to a new decade filled with movies and a bunch of other cool stuff we’ll be getting pretty soon. Before we get the 2020s started, it’s time for me to present my top ten favorite films of 2019. As always, this is my personal list of films that I thought were amazing or inspiring or thought-provoking or all of the above. This is not a professional top ten list, this is my own top ten list, so feel free to agree or disagree with my choices. Before I start, I would like to take a moment to apologize to you fellow readers for not checking out all of the other great movies that are out this year before I made this list, like “Parasite” and “Harriet”. I heard a lot of fantastic things about them, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find the right time to see them. I’m only human, you know. Now then, without further ado, let’s count down the winners.
Coming in at the top spot is a film that reimagines 1960s Hollywood in Quentin Tarantino’s own image. The result is “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, a sharp and delightfully appealing piece of cinema that pays tribute to the film business from the 60s and has fun with it. Even though its runtime and pacing are my main reasons why it’s higher on my list, I still find it to be a great trip back in time thanks to its cast, the production design, and Tarantino’s filmmaking skills. A must-see for Tarantino fans and people who appreciate the film industry.
There comes a time during the Christmas season when a family sits down together and watches a beloved holiday classic, whether it’s “Elf”, “The Polar Express”, or even “A Christmas Carol” (any version will do). This year, we got a new Christmas-themed film courtesy of Netflix, and based on what I saw, it deserves to be the next holiday tradition. “Klaus” is a beautiful and heartwarming original film that honors the legend of Santa Claus and Christmas in its own way. The story can come off as formulaic at times, but Sergio Pablos, the man behind the “Despicable Me” franchise and a former character designer for Disney, was able to make the formula endearing and, more importantly, clever. I thought the characters were likable, the humor was highly enjoyable, and the animation. My goodness, the animation. It proved that 2D animation can still make a comeback in the near future. Here’s hoping that more animated films like this will follow suit.
This is another film that showcases Shia LaBeouf’s comeback in the best way. “The Peanut Butter Falcon” is a simple modern-day Mark Twain tale that has a near-perfect blend of thoughtfulness, charm, and humor. The cast was great, particularly LaBeouf and Zack Gottsagen, the direction was really good, the characters were lovable, and the story was effectively simplistic and cute. If you’re in a mood for a light-hearted film that doesn’t have any dark or depressing moments, “The Peanut Butter Falcon” has you covered.
What happens when you combine the gripping race sequences with the dramatized matchup between the two motor companies? You get “Ford v Ferrari”, a highly engaging and well-acted drama from “Logan” director James Mangold that nails the importance of the event and the intensity of the 24 Hours of Le Mans event. Ranging from the chemistry between Matt Damon and Christian Bale to Mangold’s direction, the film made its way past the finish line without running out of gas. It’s also one of the best films to watch with the best sound system. Just saying.
The superhero genre just went dark back in October when DC released a stand-alone film centering on Batman’s greatest enemy. Despite the controversy aimed towards it for its violence and its mixed reviews, it became a box office success, it earned several award nominations, and it earned the number six spot in my list. The film I’m talking about is “Joker”, a realistic and haunting take on the villain’s origin story. Rather than taking inspiration from the comics, the film’s director Todd Phillips took inspiration from some of Martin Scorsese’s films like “Taxi Driver” and mold them into a tale about a mentally unstable man who’s broken down by the negative influence of society. It’s a well-crafted and disturbingly stunning film that combines social commentary with a character-driven story. Joaquin Phoenix was incredible as Arthur Fleck, Phillips’ direction was marvelous, and the musical score was irresistible. A great way to show that superhero films are more than just people with superpowers saving the world.
If you’re going to make a film about a broken marriage, make it a great one. “Marriage Story” did just that. Noah Baumbach, the writer and director of the film, has created an incredible and emotional film that represents the frustrations of an upcoming divorce. Thanks to its cast, Baumbach’s script, and a beautiful score by Randy Newman, the film is a frustrating, yet satisfying, real-life experience from start to finish.
While everyone is busy being terrified by the character designs in “Cats”, I was busy recovering from the most terrifying film of the year. When it comes to getting underneath my skin, no film has done it better than “The Lighthouse”, a brilliantly-shot and horrifying psychological film that represents Robert Eggers’ art of horror filmmaking. Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson were great together as the two lighthouse keepers, the psychological elements were really nerve-wrecking, and the technical aspects were a sight to behold. This is one film I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Hey, look at that. Another Shia LaBeouf film has made it into my list. “Honey Boy” is a form of cinematic therapy that’s not only gorgeous and poetic, but also emotional and meaningful. It’s a film about coming to terms with your past and learning to forgive those who gave you a rough time. From its talented cast to its screenplay, the film not only showcases those themes wonderfully, but it also proves that LaBeouf is both a talented actor and an inspiring writer.
Last year, Hollywood reintroduced us to Fred Rogers with “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, a splendid documentary that reminds us of his kindness and how it affected the world. This year, Marielle Heller successfully continues the legacy with “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”, a kindhearted and passionate drama that honors Rogers’ spirit and the importance of forgiveness and understanding. Tom Hanks was brilliant as Fred Rogers, Matthew Rhys was great as the journalist who interviewed Rogers, the story had the right mixture of heart and serene, and the score was light-hearted and upbeat. This is another film that we all need in this day and age when people are constantly being stubborn to each other as well as others who don’t deserve this type of negativity. Make love, not hate.
I have to admit, thinking about my number one pick for the year was quite a challenge for me. In fact, it’s more challenging than last year and the year before that and the year before that. I’ve seen plenty of films in 2019 that were not only well-made, but were also filled with some moments that made my theatrical experiences unforgettable. After some careful consideration, I finally decided on a film that I believe works as both an unforgettable experience and an emotional cinematic journey, and that film, without a doubt, is…
That’s right, everyone, I have another superhero film as my top favorite film of the year, and not just any superhero film, oh no. It’s an event that concludes the 22-film story arc that began with “Iron Man” back in 2008. “Avengers: Endgame” is a groundbreaking and emotionally satisfying experience that flawlessly combines the breathtaking visuals and action with a deeply effective high-stakes plot. I saw this film in a packed theater during opening night, and it was quite possibly the best theatrical experience I ever had in my entire lifetime. Not only were they well-behaved, but they also laughed and cheered at the scenes that deserved those reactions, including the final battle. I too joined in on the fun, and it was awesome. The film was able to meet my personal expectations despite its three-hour runtime. The cast was great, the characters were great, the action was great, the story was great. Heck, even the finale was great. Everything about “Endgame” is perfect in my eyes. This is not only one of my favorite superhero films ever, but also my personal favorite film of 2019.
There you have it. Those are my personal picks of the best films of 2019. As always, feel free to agree or disagree with my list because at the end of the day, we all have different opinions on the films we watched. That’s what makes the world go round. Stay tuned for my picks of the worst films of 2019.
Welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG’s Movie Talk, where I talk about everything film-related. Today, I’ll be looking at something that involves the future of watching movies, which is in fact, a new streaming service. No, I’m not talking about Netflix. I’m talking about a streaming service that was just released a while ago, and no, it's not Apple TV+. I’m looking at a streaming service that I’ve been anticipating for quite a while, and that is Disney+. Disney+ is the latest addition to the “streaming service” collection that consists of everything Disney-related. If you’re wondering why I want to talk about Disney’s new service, well…it’s because I wanted to do something different for this section, and I happen to like Disney a lot, so…here you go. So far, I have been relying on Netflix and Amazon Prime to watch or review new films at the comfort of my own home without being bothered by people on their cell phones, and based on the information I read about Disney+, it looks like I’ll be adding at least one more service to that collection. For this episode of Movie Talk, I’ll be talking about my first impressions on Disney+ as well as its two original films that were released as launch titles and see if it’s worth the money. With that said, let’s put on our Mickey Mouse ears and get our magic on.
The first time I tried out Disney+ was obviously on its launch date, which was Tuesday November 12, and boy, was it something. What happened was that I got up in the morning, had some breakfast as usual, and downloaded the app on my phone, my Smart TV, and my family’s Smart TV. Yes, we have two Smart TVs. It makes watching movies very easy for us. Anyway, after I got the app downloaded, I attempted to create a couple of profiles for me and my family. One for me, one for my mother, and one for my sister. I didn’t make one for my father because he didn’t watch that many Disney films like the rest of us. Now, what’s nice about Disney+’s profile menu is that you can select a healthy amount of profile pictures that feature characters from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and even National Geographic. If you have a favorite Disney Princess or a favorite Marvel superhero, there’s a good chance that they’re on there. However, from what I saw, the profile picture selection menu doesn’t have every character, so if you don’t see one that you really want, my advice is to go with your second favorite character and hope that it’s on there. Now, here’s where things got a little…interesting. I was about to go into the “profile picture” menu so that I can change the picture of Iron Man to Princess Jasmine from “Aladdin” for my sister’s profile, and then all of a sudden, I got an error message. You read that right, I got blocked by an error message on my first day of using Disney+. I reseted the app and reentered the “profile picture” menu a few times, and I still got the same error message. After multiple attempts, I decided to leave it alone for now. I did some research on the streaming service during my lunch break at work and I found out that the reason why I kept getting the error message about the app not being able to connect was because it received some technical difficulties upon launch. That means that I wasn’t the only one who has that problem. The main source of those technical problems would have to be the high demand since it has already gathered more than ten million subscribers on its first day. That’s not too surprising to me given how popular the Disney brand is nowadays. When I got done with work, I went back to the app and tried the profile menu again. I didn’t get the error message that time, which means that they fixed the app. I successfully changed my sister’s profile picture to Jasmine, and I was finally able to explore Disney+. So let’s see what it has to offer.
The Disney+ homepage looks exactly like what you would expect from a streaming service menu in terms of the display and how they list its selection of films and shows in different categories. Speaking of which, the search menu in Disney+ not only lets you search for something, but it also has an "Explore" section, which has a list of special categories that filter specific films and television shows based on the selected category. For example, the “Princess” collection has a list of films and shows that involve Disney Princesses and the “Star Wars” collection has everything that’s related to “Star Wars”. I found that to be a nice touch. The app menus were easy to navigate similar to Netflix, and so far, I didn’t have any buffering issues while I was watching some content. I did receive an error message once while browsing, but it’s nothing too serious. So it looks like the presentation and the playback are both passable, but what about the app’s library, AKA the main reason why everyone wants Disney+? Well, from my personal perspective, it’s definitely a match made in heaven for Disney fans. Disney+ has a buttload of content that features films and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, and National Geographic, ranging from the classics to the most recent ones. Yes, even the ones that have cultural stereotype moments that were now deemed insensitive, except “Song of the South”. For those types of films such as “Dumbo” and “Peter Pan”, Disney+ has put out disclaimers warning viewers about those topics. It also contains specific content from 20th Century Fox since it was purchased by Disney back in March as well as select titles from Fox Searchlight Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Disney Channel, and Freeform. Oh, and it also has 30 seasons of “The Simpsons”, in case you’re wondering. Of course, a streaming service just isn’t complete without its own list of original content, and this one is no exception. So far, we have two original films (which I will get to later), the live-action “Lady and the Tramp” remake and “Noelle”, and a few original shows like “The Mandalorian” (which I thought was pretty good so far), “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”, and “The World According to Jeff Goldblum”. So if you want to revisit the films and shows from your childhood or get caught up on the ones you missed, Disney+ has you covered. It has everything that you could ever want from a Disney-themed streaming service. Well, almost everything. There were actually a couple of setbacks when it comes to the library. First off, Disney+ is only created to provide family-friendly titles that are G-rated, PG-rated, and PG-13-rated, so if you’re hoping that it will also have some adult content like “Alien” or “Deadpool”, I’m sad to say that Disney doesn’t roll like that. You’re better off using Netflix or Hulu or even cable. Another setback I would like to address is that due to some licensing deals, Disney+ won’t be able to have certain films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars until later on, except for “The Incredible Hulk” and the first two “Spider-Man” MCU solo films, which were still owned by Universal and Sony Pictures respectively. Unless Disney has enough money to fully purchase Universal and Sony, the MCU collection is sadly still incomplete. On the bright side, we got the original “Star Wars” trilogy. I also want to point out that Disney+ doesn’t act like any other streaming service as it ditches the binge-watching idea and have the new episodes of its original shows appear weekly instead of all at once. You know, like any other network on cable. I’m used to the binge-watching scenario since I had Netflix and Amazon Prime for a couple of years, so it’s going to be a while for me to get used to its new strategy. There were also some other issues that I read about, including the presentation of the non-HD episodes of “The Simpsons”, but since I haven’t gotten to them yet, I can’t say that much about them. Other than that, Disney+ has a respectable collection of films and shows that will surely make any fan happy. Now that that’s out of the way, it’s time for me to share my brief thoughts on the two films that were released exclusively on the streaming service.
Lady and the Tramp (2019)
The first of the two Disney+ original movies is the latest addition to Disney’s collection of “live-action remake” cash grabs, “Lady and the Tramp”. Directed by Charlie Bean, who is known for directing “The Lego Ninjago Movie”, “Lady and the Tramp” is the live-action adaptation of the 1955 animated film of the same name, which was based on the Cosmopolitan magazine story titled “Happy Dan, The Cynical Dog” by Ward Greene. It tells the story of Lady (voiced by Tessa Thompson), an upper-middle-class dog whose joyous life gets turned upside down when her owners have a baby in their lives. She then meets a stray Schnauzer known as the Tramp (voiced by Justin Theroux), who shows her the world that is beyond her home. This is one of the few Disney movies that I haven’t watched that often compared to many others. My mom, on the other hand, adores the heck out of it since she’s a massive dog lover. So, I decided to take the opportunity and experience the remake with my mother. Like much of the other Disney remakes, “Lady and the Tramp” follows the same plot and themes as the original, but it made a few changes to make it stand out on its own, such as the Siamese Cats because racial stereotyping. The end result is obviously what you would expect from a live-action remake from Disney: a charming, yet imperfect, treat. Because it followed the original’s plot, the story can come across as predictable and formulaic, but it did its part in delivering the type of charm that you would normally find in any romance film thanks to its likable cast and the two furry leads. Thompson and Theroux delivered some pretty good vocal performances as Lady and Tramp, respectively, and the two dogs who portrayed them were unsurprisingly adorable. The film used CGI to animate the dogs’ facial expressions and, to be honest, they don’t look too bad. The dog characters were nicely expressive without suffering from its uncanny valley effect. For those who aren’t fans of how the animals express their feelings in the “Lion King” remake, this one is a nice return to form in terms of live-action films with talking animals. The film did happen to rely on nostalgia from time to time rather than provide stronger storytelling, which is basically the main concern in any live-action Disney remake. Just because it worked well in the original, it doesn’t always mean that it will work again in the remake. I mean, it’s nice to see some classic moments being remade into live-action, but for some reason, they don’t always have the same appeal and wonder as the moments in animation form. Overall, the live-action remake of “Lady and the Tramp” is a cute and watchable film for those who are curious. While the story has the same issues as the other Disney remakes, it still has the charm and enjoyability that made the original a cuddly classic thanks to its cast and some decent CGI. I would give this one a B-.
The second original film from the streaming service is already getting us into the holiday spirit, even though we’re not finished with Thanksgiving yet. “Noelle” is the latest Christmas-themed film from Disney that’s set to become the next holiday tradition. Written and directed by Marc Lawrence, who worked on such films as “Two Weeks Notice”, “Music and Lyrics”, and “Miss Congeniality”, the film follows the title character (played by Anna Kendrick), the daughter of Santa Claus, as she attempts to journey beyond the North Pole and find her brother (played by Bill Hader), who is destined to become the next Santa Claus. There are many films that literally scream “holiday movie tradition”. Some are classics like “Home Alone”, “The Santa Clause” and “A Christmas Carol”, while others are watchable enough to spread some holiday cheer. “Noelle” pretty much falls towards the latter. It’s a pleasant, if uneven, holiday gift that offered a good amount of Christmas cheer despite its plot being a bit too on-the-nose with itself. Anna Kendrick once again delivered plenty of goodwill in her role as Noelle with her chirpy attitude and her unique sense of energy. Whether you like the film or not, you have to admit that Kendrick has the right spark to keep it away from the naughty list. Bill Hader was also good as Nick Kringle, Noelle’s brother, and Shirley MacLaine had some decent moments as Elf Polly, Noelle’s nanny. Along with its charm, the film also provided some thoughtful and effective messages that’ll help teach young kids about the true meaning of Christmas. As for its flaws, the story did feel painfully predictable and there were a couple of scenes that dragged a bit. The film’s humor is also a hit-and-miss for me. It had some humorous moments that were passable, mostly due to Kendrick’s performance, but the rest of them weren’t memorable enough to make me laugh as hard as the big man in red himself. Overall, “Noelle” has enough Christmas spirit to make itself a watchable holiday film for the whole family. It’s not as inspiring or endearing as Disney’s other Christmas classics from the past, but in terms of the cast and its enjoyable sense of charm, it’s a fine watch for those who are in need of some holiday cheer. I would give it a C+.
In conclusion, Disney+ has plenty of stuff to offer for Disney fans young and old in terms of the library and its presentation. Sure, it has some setbacks and it doesn’t have every film available from Disney (not yet, anyway), but it has enough interest to serve as a respectable (and cheap) competitor to the other streaming services like Netflix. I’m quite impressed with how it handles so far, and I can’t wait to see what Disney+ will deliver next in the future. If you want to check it out for yourself, it costs $6.99 a month, which is my personal recommendation, and $69.99 a year, or if you’re feeling feisty today, you can get the bundle that consists of Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for just $12.99 a month. That about does it with this latest episode of Movie Talk. Thank you all for reading and have yourself a glorious Disney-filled day.