REVIEW: WELCOME TO MARWEN

Starring

Steve Carell (Date Night)
Leslie Mann (The Change-Up)
Diane Kruger (The Host).
Merritt Wever (Birdman)
Janelle Monáe (Rio 2)
Eiza González (Alita: Battle Angel)
Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones)
Leslie Zemeckis (The Polar Express)
Siobhan Williams (Deadly Class)
Neil Jackson (Blade: The Series)
Falk Hentschel (Legends of Tomorrow)
Matt O’Leary (Brick)
Stefanie von Pfetten (Cracked)
Eric Keenleyside (Godzilla)
Veena Sood (Away)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)

Leslie Zemeckis, Merritt Wever, Janelle Monáe, Eiza González, and Gwendoline Christie in Welcome to Marwen (2018)A World War II warplane piloted by a doll-like figure is hit by enemy fire and forced to ditch. The pilot’s shoes are burned in the landing and he finds women’s shoes, which he wears instead. The pilot is confronted by doll-like German soldiers, who taunt him for wearing women’s shoes. The Germans threaten to emasculate him, but are killed by a group of doll-like women who come to the pilot’s rescue and protect him.Steve Carell in Welcome to Marwen (2018)It is revealed that the scenario is part of an elaborate fantasy created by Mark Hogancamp, using modified fashion dolls in a model village named Marwen. Mark imagines that the dolls are alive and photographs his fantasies to help him cope with acute memory loss and posttraumatic stress disorder from a brutal attack he suffered some time earlier, when he drunkenly told a group of white supremacists about his fetish for wearing women’s shoes.[6] The dolls correspond to people that he knows in real life: himself as “Cap’n Hogie”, the pilot; various female friends as his protectors; and his attackers as German Nazi soldiers. A green-haired doll named Deja Thoris is a Belgian Witch who prevents Cap’n Hogie from becoming too close with any woman.Welcome to Marwen (2018)Mark finally agrees to appear in court to deliver a victim impact statement after much coaxing from his attorney and friends, but upon seeing his attackers, he imagines them as Nazi soldiers shooting at him, and becomes terrified and flees, causing Judge Martha J. Harter to postpone the hearing.Welcome to Marwen (2018)Mark falls in love with a woman named Nicol who has just moved in across the street, whom he has added to his fantasy. Mark imagines that the doll Nicol is in love with Cap’n Hogie, and that they get married. In real life, Mark proposes marriage to Nicol, who tells him she wishes to remain only friends. Mark is distraught and contemplates suicide. In his fantasies, Nicol is shot by a Nazi, who in turn is killed by Cap’n Hogie but brought back to life, along with other Nazi soldiers, by Deja Thoris. Cap’n Hogie realizes that Deja Thoris is a Nazi spy, and Mark realizes that the pills that he thought were helping him were actually hurting him. Mark pours the pills down the sink and vows to break his addiction to them.Welcome to Marwen (2018)Mark attends the rescheduled hearing and delivers his statement. That evening Mark attends the exhibition of his work and makes a date with his friend Roberta, who is a sales clerk at the hobby store where he is a frequent customer. The film ends with a photograph of the real Mark Hogancamp, who has a successful career as a photographer.Welcome to Marwen (2018)All in all this is a severely underrated film. Its originality is its weakness in the modern film goers eyes as it doesn’t check the boxes of modern film-making. It’s not a superhero film, not a sequel and doesn’t actively beat you over the head with a socio-political agenda. It’s a film that brings you into the broken world of a flawed man and asks you to live his recovery with him warts and all. This film is definitely worth a watch but is sadly going to be buried under the negative press. Originality is a lost art but the team behind Welcome to Marwen get kudos for trying something different.

REVIEW: RIO 2

RIO 2

CAST (VOICES)

Jesse Eisenberg (Batman v Superman)
Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises)
Jermaine Clement (Legion)
Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daises)
Will.i.am (The Cleveland Show)
George Lopez (Valentine’s Day)
Bruno Mars (Honeymoon in Vegas)
Leslie Mann (This is 40)
Rodrigo Santoro (300)
Rita Moreno (Jane The Virgin)
Tracy Morgan (Cop Out)
Jake T. Austin (The Fosters)
Andy Garcia (Ghostbusters)
Jamie Foxx (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Kate Micucci (The Big Bang Theory)
Janelle Monáe (Welcoem To Marwen)

George Lopez, Tracy Morgan, Will.i.am, and Rachel Crow in Rio 2 (2014)Spix’s Macaws Blu and Jewel and their three children—Bia, Carla, and Tiago—are living happily in the city until Jewel realizes that her children are becoming more like humans. Meanwhile, Blu’s former owner, Linda Gunderson and her ornithologist husband, Tulio are on an expedition in the Amazon and, after a fall down a waterfall, discover a quick-flying Spix’s macaw that loses one of its feathers. When word gets out about this through television, Jewel believes that they should go to the Amazon to help find the blue macaws. While the kids are ecstatic, Blu is uncertain, but he is pressured into going along. Rafael, Nico and Pedro decide to come along. Luiz attempts to follow but fails. Blu brings a fanny pack full of supplies, one of which he uses mostly is a GPS, much to Jewel’s displeasure.Rio 2 (2014)Meanwhile, the leader of a group in a line of illegal logging named Big Boss, discovers Linda and Tulio’s expedition to find the macaws and orders his henchmen to hunt them down to avoid disruptions to their work. Also, Blu and Jewel’s old nemesis, Nigel the cockatoo, has survived the plane crash from the first film, but he is now unable to fly and is working as a fortune teller/con artist. When he sees Blu and his family flying overhead, he immediately decides to seek revenge on them. He enlists two minions to help him in his plans; a silent anteater named Charlie and a poison dart frog named Gabi, who is in love with Nigel. Blu and his family use a boat to get to the jungle (with Nigel’s first plan of revenge being inadvertently foiled by Charlie); and when they arrive, they find nothing. However, they are eventually taken to a flock of blue macaws that are hiding in a secret paradise land. There, they meet Jewel’s stern long-lost father, Eduardo, his older sister Mimi, and Jewel’s childhood friend, Roberto. Eduardo seems unimpressed with Blu’s domesticated human behavior.Rio 2 (2014)While searching for the macaws, Linda and Tulio are eventually trapped by the loggers. Meanwhile, Blu does his best to fit in with the flock, as his family and friends are doing, although the flock (especially Eduardo) are against humans and all things human. Meanwhile, a disguised Nigel plans to kill Blu at the new Carnival show after landing in an audition hosted by Rafael, Nico, Pedro, and Carla. When Blu tries to pick a Brazilian nut for Jewel, he accidentally tries to get it in the territory of the Spix macaw’s enemies, the scarlet macaws, led by the hostile Felipe. Blu inadvertently causes war between the two tribes for food when he accidentally hits Felipe with a twig. The war turns out to be just like football (soccer), and Blu accidentally costs the flock the food when he scores an own goal.Rio 2 (2014)Blu visits Tulio and Linda’s site, where he discovers that it has been majorly disturbed. After discovering the loggers are destroying the jungle, Blu sends Roberto (who followed Blu) to warn the flock as he saves Linda and Tulio. Blu persuades the macaws to defend their homes, and they easily outmatch the loggers with help from the scarlet macaws and the other animals. Big Boss tries to blow up the trees as a back-up plan, but Blu steals the lit dynamite. Nigel goes after Blu, and reveals himself as they are falling down when he tugs on the dynamite. After the dynamite goes off, Blu and Nigel engage in a battle while tangled in vines. Gabi and Charlie try to help Nigel by shooting Blu with a dart that has Gabi’s poison on it, but it accidentally hits Nigel, who gives a Shakespearean death speech before seemingly dying. Gabi, in a Romeo and Juliet-style, tries to commit suicide by drinking her own poison and the pair are seemingly dead. However, Bia reveals that Gabi isn’t poisonous at all (she was lied to by her parents that she was). Nigel tries to attack Blu one last time, but Gabi showers Nigel with affection against his will. Meanwhile, Big Boss is eaten by a boa constrictor he encountered.Rio 2 (2014)With the flock now under Linda and Tulio’s protection, Blu and Jewel decide to live in the Amazon with their kids and friends, though still agreeing to visit Rio in the summer. Meanwhile, Nigel and Gabi are captured by Tulio, and are both sent back to Rio. Luiz finally arrives in the Amazon after hitching a ride with Kipo, and Charlie joins the birds’ party.Rio 2 (2014)This movie is entertaining, the story and ending are nice as well. Although I have rated it the same as Rio, I think this was a little better. Found it to be quite funny and more action packed as well. A fun family movie.

REVIEW: LADY AND THE TRAMP (2019)

Justin Theroux and Tessa Thompson in Lady and the Tramp (2019)

Starring

Thomas Mann (Project X)
Kiersey Clemons (Flatliners)
Yvette Nicole Brown (Mom)
Adrian Martinez (Army of One)
F. Murray Abraham (Last Action Hero)
Arturo Castro (Narcos)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok)
Justin Theroux (Bumblbee)
Sam Elliott (The Ranch)
Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty)
Janelle Monáe (Rio 2)
Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)

Justin Theroux and Tessa Thompson in Lady and the Tramp (2019)Disney’s glossy live-action update of Lady and the Tramp, like the majority of the studio’s other IRL remakes, exists purely because it has to rather than because it should do, a product born not from a creative brainwave but from a commercial inevitability. The hugely profitable, and mostly tiresome, trend of dusting off handcrafted classics and rehauling them for a new audience has sped up this year with Aladdin, The Lion King, Dumbo and a Maleficent sequel all released theatrically, the underwhelming box office of the latter two hinting at growing audience fatigue. The decision to premiere Lady and the Tramp digitally, morphing it into a TV movie, launching Disney’s splashy new content platform Disney+, is therefore a wise one and taken as such, it’s adequate if wholly unnecessary entertainment, ending up somewhere between a lady and a tramp.Justin Theroux and Tessa Thompson in Lady and the Tramp (2019)The story, still simple and still effective, tells of romance across class borders between two dogs: Lady (voiced by Tessa Thompson), who lives a comfortable life as the surrogate child of a human couple (Kiersey Clemons and Thomas Mann), and Tramp (voiced by Justin Theroux), a street-dwelling loner whose day-to-day depends on whatever scraps of food he can find. Lady’s domestic bliss is sent into a tailspin when an actual human baby arrives and through a frantic set of circumstances, she finds herself on the street, roughing it with her unlikely new friend.Justin Theroux and Tessa Thompson in Lady and the Tramp (2019)There’s some low-stakes enjoyment to be had here, benefited largely from the film’s Disney+ drop. It’s certainly slick and boasts higher production values than the average streaming premiere but it’s a comparatively modest Disney remake that would have felt dwarfed, in a number of ways, on the big screen. The 1955 original was a breezy 76 minutes and in updating, The Lego Ninjago Movie director Charlie Bean has added almost half an hour, a considerable amount of padding and one that didn’t do Kenneth Branagh’s 38-minute-longer take on Cinderella any favours. It’s a smoother expansion here, the film’s laid-back pace pairing nicely with the Savannah setting and a jazzy soundtrack, even if the extended plot doesn’t add a whole lot more of notable worth (although thankfully the uneasy orientalism of the Siamese Cat Song has been replaced with something far less problematic).Lady and the Tramp (2019)The central dogs are impressively trained and cute to watch but there’s a lingering problem that also affected this summer’s big-budget remake of The Lion King. In trying to make talking animals look as real as they can, there’s an emotional depth missing from their expressions when they’re speaking. Thompson and Theroux, along with fellow voice actors Janelle Monáe, Sam Elliott and Ashley Jensen try hard, but there’s something not quite, ahem, animated enough about their on-screen incarnations.Lady and the Tramp (2019)There’s also a frustrating waste of Clemons, who was so incredibly charming in last year’s little-seen music indie Hearts Beat Loud, stuck here with little to do, or sing, as the human lady of the house. But perhaps the strangest thing about the film is that it was co-written by the “godfather of mumblecore”, Andrew Bujalski, an indie auteur whose acclaimed lo-fi films often feel improvised in nature, given his rejection of so many traditional scripting standards. His influence is sadly invisible here and any hope that the film might have followed in the footsteps of 2016’s exceptional Pete’s Dragon, a remake from similarly mismatched arthouse staple David Lowery, is left out on the street. The script, like so much of the film, is serviceable at best, never once explaining to us why Bujalski would want to get involved other than for financial reasons, which one wouldn’t begrudge him given the scale of his output to date.Lady and the Tramp works well enough on its own simple terms as watchable, competently made home viewing.