Beauty and the Beast (2017) – Review

Review: I once wrote an abridged history of Beauty and the Beast roots on my review of Christophe Gans’ La Belle et La Bête. How this beautiful French lore has evolved, added more insight and backstories, and represented social issues from time to time alone has already made an intriguing tale. While adaptations and re-imaginings have altered it from the root, there’s one thing that never fades: the magic.

I can’t still see ‘the whys’ of Disney’s decision to remake their Renaissance animation with a live-action feature; yet, I can put aside that concerns. They’ve done it well with Cinderella (2014) by having courage and being kind and staying true to its root; and The Jungle Book (2016) by fulfilling the bare necessities. And for Beauty and the Beast, I can say that this live-action re-telling is not a must, but it’s necessary. Continue reading “Beauty and the Beast (2017) – Review”


Moana (2016) – Review

Review: Sailing over idyllic seas with tropical islands as background, our self-proclaimed non-princess Disney Princess is going out of her comfort zone fulfilling her lifetime obsession and, most importantly, saving her world from famine. She is Moana—daughter of a Polynesian chieftain—who voyages to the wilderness to find a demigod Maui and restore what-so-called diamond of Te Fiti back for a quest of a lifetime.

In short, Moana manifests Disney’s commitment into stripping off their Disney princesses’ stereotype. The ‘princess’ character is versatile; she even embodies the ‘sense of empowerment’, shooing away the sexism commentary about prince-charming-centered characters from the golden era. Moana is not an interpersonal love story; it’s more than that; and it’s what makes it unravel a completely new era for Disney. Continue reading “Moana (2016) – Review”

Pete’s Dragon (2016) – Review

Review: It’s not too surprising when Disney decided to give its retro property a remake with CGI treatment. What surprised more is the choice of source material – a musical which blends animation with live action, Pete’s Dragon (1977) – which is considered as a classic flop. Things get more alluring when David Lowery – helmer of cinema poetry, Ain’t Them Bodies Saint – is announced to get into directorial responsibility.

Yet, that’s where the magic begins. When Lowery’s penchant for visual poetry transliterates the bond between orphan boy with a surprisingly furry dragon combined with little family elements, the result is a less-blockbuster summer blockbuster. A visually enchanting classic with heart and magic.  Continue reading “Pete’s Dragon (2016) – Review”

The Jungle Book (2016) – Review

The Jungle Book takes CGI into a whole new level—with idyllic details and awe-inspiring depth—without leaving the heart and the faith of Disney classic behind. The details of the ready-made theme-park wilderness as well as the perfect blend of voice-over and animal sounds are juxtaposed exotically with Louis Prima’s spirit.

Review: Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book really takes audiences for a tour de force to CGI-laden wilderness of a subcontinental jungle. The best part is, the CGI fiesta does not serve as gimmicks instead it translate the whole picture into life.

Not only it captures the inner spirit of Rudyard Kipling’s children literature, it also paints the idyllic jungle life with heart and faith of Disney’s 1967 classic. It is a story of a jungle—along with the rules and the logic; the green, dark, and moist of the jungle juxtapose with the groovy life of its inhabitants.  Continue reading “The Jungle Book (2016) – Review”

Zootopia (2016) – Review

Review: Wreck-It Ralph director, Rich Moore, is teaming up with Tangled director, Byron Howard, to vivify a literal urban jungle or animal kingdom in Disney’s vibrant, jive, and uplifting Zootopia.

As hinted in the title—which is a coinage of the word ‘zoo’ and ‘utopia’, Zootopia is a high-tech metropolis where arthropomorphic animals of various kinds—mostly mammals—inhabits in peace. Not only they live in one spirit of kinship, they embrace an idea that ‘everyone can be whatever they want.’ Continue reading “Zootopia (2016) – Review”

The Good Dinosaur (2015) – Review

Review: In this year zero of newly-established Pixar’s one year two features campaign, those savvies have already made differences with the patient zero, the Psychology 101 for family, Inside Out—which got released previously and immediately overshadows the second feature, The Good Dinosaur.

As implied by the title, The Good Dinosaur is another animated take on these pre-historic reptiles, which apparently is a familiar face to cinema as seen in Dinosaur or The Land Before Time or most recently Ice Age. Even when handled by Pixar’s veteran helmer and first-time director, Peter Sohn, it’s a surprisingly formulaic straight-forward family-friendly drama with nothing even close to Pixar inventive storytelling. However, it got serious penchant on visuals and cinematography, even with Pixar standards, it’s still an innovation.  Continue reading “The Good Dinosaur (2015) – Review”

Tomorrowland (2015) – Review

There are two wolves who are always fighting. One is darkness and despair. The other is light and hope. The question is… which wolf wins?” Casey encouraged.

I always trust Brad Bird for his keen, inventive storytelling; and mostly for his compact vision to the story he directs, like in his animation features (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille). When it came to his first live-action feature (see MI4: Ghost Protocol), I begin to admire his stylish blockbuster action directing, with excellent action choreography and visual spectacles that projects grand designs. Yet, his latest collaboration with Disney in Tomorrowland is something different; it has all Bird’s live-action qualities minus his trademark keen storytelling. Continue reading “Tomorrowland (2015) – Review”