Jungle Cruise (2021) Film Review

Rating 12
Length 2h07
Release 30.7.2021
Director Jaume Collet-Serra
About Dr. Lily Houghton enlists the aid of wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff to take her down the Amazon in his ramshackle boat. Together, they search for an ancient tree that holds the power to heal — a discovery that will change the future of medicine.
Moon: Waxing crescent (I think) that is part of the plot
Where to Watch: Cinema and Premire Access on Disney Plus
Trailer:


The Good

  • The Rock is owning this role. He’s hamming it up like he does in Jumanji, but with a little Disney flare. His chemistry with Emily Blunt is on a par with Fraser and Weis in The Mummy (1999) and I’ve not enjoyed a romance plot as much in a long while.
  • The effects are quite impressive. More so when you compare them to that of Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • There are some zinger lines and funny puns to keep all entertained, or groaning in their seat.
  • The film’s score plays like a love letter to all the films that came before. I think it was about half way through I’d have sworn it was composed by the great John Williams. You know, if it wasn’t for the fact that the film was utter nonsense.

The Bad

  • The plot is as if a computer programme had been fed Indiana Jones, George of the Jungle, The Mummy, National Treasure and Pirates of the Caribbean to spit out… this. The shame of it really is the fact that there’s a good film in here. Somewhere.

The Ugly

  • Jack Whitehall. He’s one note and insincere to the core. The only nice thing I can say about his presence is that at least it wasn’t James Corden.
  • Staying on the problematic Whitehall and his character MacGregor; I normally have no issue when it comes to straight men taking on gay roles I do find this choice dumbfounding. If it’s a box checking exercise, that only *really* works if the representation is on AND off the screen. As it stands, the story required the character to be gay, the audience are presented with a rather poor stereotype.

Final Thoughts

It’s a hot mess of a film, saved by the chemistry of Emily Blunt and The Rock. It’s not going to be top of anyone’s list of rewatch films, however you can’t leave it unwatched.

The Big Year (2011) Film Review

Rating PG
Length 1h40
Release 2.12.2011
Director David Frankel
About Three avid bird-watchers pursue the winner’s title to achieve the world record of spotting the highest number of birds during the Big Year event as the title holds a special meaning for each one.
Moon: full moon spotting just before the closing of the film
Where to Watch: Disney+ (Star)
Trailer:


The Good

  • It is a charming film, from start to finish. For me, it’s on par with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013), Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014) and the wonderful Simon Birch (1998).
  • It’s so hard to describe, but there’s a sincerity in this film that I wasn’t expecting. This film surprised me, and that does not happen very often. I think part of that is having three men well known for their comedy and stripping that away while also putting the viewer in a position of uncertainty.
  • The biggest win this film has for me, is how you have the plot revolve around a competition, yet the plot does not go down the route of having them sabotage each other. I must admit, I put it on expecting Bride Wars (2009) of the birding world. Instead, what we get is a healthy competition, exploration of dreams, deconstruction and reconstruction of relationships and an uplifting feeling.
  • The music, while cheesy, is perfect. So many songs about birds; who knew? It wasn’t overwhelming; it fit the storytelling.
  • The cast in this film is incredible. You have the main three; Wilson, Martin and Black. I cannot tell you how much I loved these three together. Each had their moment to shine and they are the perfect example of an ensemble. However, it doesn’t stop there, the supporting cast is full to bursting with people that will have you reaching for IMDB.

The Bad

  • This is a very personal thing, but I could have done with less Rosamund Pike. it’s not that I don’t like her, I just don’t like her playing an American. Her accent is okay, but because I know she’s English, my ears register it as a cringe-worthy fake.
  • On a similar note, I find it a travesty that Anjelica Huston and Jim Parsons were not used more.
  • There was a visual cue to any flash-backs that occurred early in the film, however it was discarded near the hour mark. This was a shame , as it was used so little that it felt less like an artistic choice and more of an error in filming.

The Ugly

  • There will be tears for those who leak at pulled heartstrings. Quite a few points in each of the three men’s lives will most certainly have a lump in the throat, if not a hand reaching for the tissues.

Final Thoughts

This is a lazy Sunday afternoon film that will leave your heart warm, your eyes wet and a smile on your face.

The Mighty Ducks (1992)

Rating PG
Length 1h 44
Release 2.6.1993
Director Steven Herek
About Gordon reminisces the day he lost a crucial game for his team, but life gives him a second chance to redeem himself and find new glory, only this time as a coach of a weak hockey team.


The Good

  • Emilio Estevez. It is the Gin-named embittered lawyer who makes this film and its Emilio Estevez that makes Gordon Bombay. While the role may have initially been offered to his brother, Charlie Sheen, I’m not sure Charlie holds the same vulnerbility or disarmed charm that Emilio does. If Charlie, or Bill Murray for that matter (yes, he was on the short list), had uttered the words “I hate hockey and I hate kids.”, I’d have believed him and declared ‘curtains’.
  • The kid cast is brilliant. Some you’ll have an itch of familiarity. Others, not so much. However, they all give their everything to ensure that it doesn’t matter if its your first, or fiftith, time watching this film; you root for them.
  • There’s a girl on the team, from the very beginning. At no point is it questioned or suggest she doesn’t belong. This, of all the sports is one of the more physical, heated and volitile. Yet, there’s no toxicity or glass ceiling. Maybe 2021 needs to learn a thing or two from 1992?!
  • That puck-cam! Damn, its cheesy. However, I love it. Who doesn’t feel utterly joyful when you see that puck flying?!

The Bad

  • It takes a long while to get going. I do wonder if we could get rid of the opening scenes and start the film with the young boys setting the thief trap. You know, given that we flash back to young Gordon quite a few times through the film. That way, we have an immediate connection with characters in the present day and perhaps an immediate engagement with the target demographic of the film.
  • There’s one thing that Gordon does that is so shitty, it almost undoes the entire film. What appears to be an original plot point from a much darker, and less Disney-fied, version of the film sees Bombay bring the boundrey lines to the attention of the league so that Adam Banks has to join The Ducks. Not only is it unbelieveably shitty, any mindful person would know that it would cause issues in your own team.
    For me, the only way this works is if its a team member. Either team; The Ducks or The Hawks. Hell, have them blame Bombay and The Ducks believe it. Just don’t have Bombay do it.

The Ugly

  • Oreo Line?! Its clearly used as a racial slur when its first uttered. It shocked me. It didn’t sit comfortably that it wasn’t challenged. however, I accepted it for what it was. However, Bombay (who wasn’t there when it was first used) starts to use it to describe a lineup of the same three people on the ice. No! Not cool.
    Unless you show some way of those children taking ownership, or some fucking commentary on it, its not okay to casually throw it in. Why? It’s not me being a snowflake. Its seeing the two ways of it being used and wondering how a young kid could interpret that today. If you use slurs without context or commentary, they will get repeated out in every day life.

Final Thoughts

QUACK, QUACK, QUACK

101 Dalmatians (1996)

Rating: U
Length: 1hr 43
Release: 13.12.1996
Dir: Stephen Herek
About: Anita, a fashion designer, and Roger, a computer game writer, have to rescue the puppies of their dalmatians from Cruella De Vil, an insane woman, who wants to use their fur to make a coat.


The Good

  • In a world where Disney are churning out ‘live action remakes’ in much the same fashion the 90s gave us direct-to-VHS sequels, its hard to recall this as the Mouse House’s first attempt. Given the public’s outcry if casting is deemed ‘wrong’, we must talk about how perfect Jeff, Joey and Glenn are as the live action counterparts to a classic animation. To a fault almost, they do at times keep the outdated views too. However, for the most part, they are perfect. I certainly couldn’t think of anyone better now, or then.
  • I love the direction they went with the animals of the film and how they communicate. Babe had paved the way for talking animals in a live action, but thankfully Disney didn’t see the benefit of this frightening approach. Instead the film uses barks and other audible cues from other animals to imply a conversation. It’s best seen at the stable and the result is rather charming. It’s something that people of all ages can gain a level of understanding from and I love it.

The Bad

  • While I do like the change of careers for our leads, I do wish they had committed a little more to Roger’s computer game designer. It’s implied that he’s freelance and works from home. Yet nothing is really seen of him working outside showing less than 30 seconds of game play.
  • While I find the pairing of Hugh Laurie and Mark Williams delightful, the trouble they find themselves in does stray a little visually into Home Alone territory; it’s a little too big and the response feels a little trademarked to the Wet Bandits.
  • Some of the CGI puppies are showing their age. It’s a shame because it’s only used in odd scenes, but it shows way too much.

The Ugly

  • As an adult, the last 10 minutes or so bug the fuck out of me. At the value of up to £2,000 per pup, there is no way on earth that you’re getting that fairytale ending where:
    1. No one else has reported stolen dogs.
    2. Even if the officer believes they *know* that no other reports have come in, they would not be able to just hand over what is essentially ‘evidence’.
    3. It’s 101 growing DALMATIANS, not handbag sized chihuahuas. There is no way you have the room to humanely keep the pups for even a day.
    4. All the puppies, and subsequent litters, are kept.
    5. I’d say that they couldn’t afford the property they end up in, however that’s moot given the property they *magically* own anyway. Seriously, was one of them a secret billionaire?!
    Essentially, my ageing ass has lived in London and now has an understanding of money. I’m calling bullshit on this ending.

Final Thoughts