‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ Director J.J. Abrams has been tight lipped about the upcoming conclusion to the “Skywalker saga.” After the release of the first teaser trailer, fans have been begun speculation as to what we can expect from the final installment. Abrams, without giving too much away, sat down and tried to explain his decision for going with the title, “THE RISE OF SKYWALKER”
“The title feels like it’s the right title for this movie, and I know that it’s provocative and asks a bunch of questions. But I think when you see the movie, you’ll see how it’s intended, what it means. But in the flow of titles, this movie had a very weird responsibility. It had to be the end of not just three movies, but nine movies, and the idea of having to incorporate the stories that have come before strangely is the story of the movie. Which is to say it’s the characters in the film inheriting everything that’s come before in previous generations, whether it’s sins of the father, whether it’s the wisdom that they’ve acquired. And the question is this new generation, are they up to the task, can they stand up to what they have to? And so in a way, I feel like we coming into this movie have inherited a lot, and the question is can we do it? And that question we ask ourselves every day.”
It sounds all but confirmed that ‘Episode IX‘ will be a movie about tying up loose ends. And quite possibly straightening out continuity from ‘The Last Jedi.’
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters December 20, 2019. Starring: Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac.
Jungle Cruise Review | A Swashbuckling Family Adventure
Despite being based on a ride at Disneyland that lasts less than ten minutes, the latest offering from the mouse house is surprisingly entertaining. Prepare to take a ride on this rip-roaring, swashbuckling adventure that’s full of fun and action.
Set in 1916, researcher Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) and her brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) journey from London to the Amazon in search of an ancient tree with healing powers. The pair enlist the help of the questionable and untrustworthy skipper Frank (played by Dwayne Johnson) to lead them downriver on his sweet little boat called La Quila. Together, they’re thrust on an epic quest across the jungle in order to find the tree and change the future of medicine.
Along the way they encounter all sorts of dangers and supernatural forces lurking in the shadows including Jesse Plemons’ joyously delightful and deranged German aristocrat Captain Joachim who’s also searching for the mystical tree. Despite not having a ton of screen time, Plemons is an absolute pleasure to watch and looks like he’s having such a great time in the role.
Jungle Cruise is a delightful journey that blends a little bit of Pirates of the Caribbean with a smidge of Indiana Jones to create a really entertaining and exuberant adventure that’s fun for the whole family.
The entire film is a really excellent fusion of action and humour and it all comes together so well that you cannot help but have a good time with Jungle Cruise. Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt play the two leads with a lot of charm and charisma helping to bring Disney’s Jungle Cruise ride to life. Johnson does this in particular through the wonderfully terribly bad jokes and puns that you can’t help but laugh at including the well-known ‘back side of water’ joke from the ride. You roll your eyes every time you hear one of his jokes but deep down you know they’re absolutely hilarious.
Whilst The Rock and Emily Blunt are both compelling and have great chemistry together, it’s Jack Whitehall that really steals the show. Despite Blunt and Johnson being right at the forefront of all the marketing materials, Whitehall has just as prominent a role in the film as them- unlike his last Disney part where he ended up on Frozen’s cutting room floor. Here, Whitehall plays an upper-class Englishman who’d much rather be in a nice luxury hotel somewhere than out on the river risking his life. But Whitehall brings so much humour and joy to the film, putting a smile on your face almost every single scene that he’s in.
But as well as the laughs, Jungle Cruise provides lots of action too. Director Jaume Collet-Serra is no stranger to the action film having made a number of adrenaline fueled adventures with Liam Neeson including 2014’s Non-Stop and The Commuter in 2018. The action in the film is a little darker and more adult and grown up than many other Disney films including a few jump scares thrown into the mix that helps it earn its 12A age certificate. It makes the film’s action scenes feel that bit more gripping than the usual Disney fare, but it still nonetheless retains its family feel.
Whilst it’s not exactly an entirely original film since it is loosely based on the theme park ride, it feels so refreshing to have something that’s not a sequel or remake coming from Disney and the result is an entertaining adventure that’s fun for the whole family.
As big budget films like this often do, there is a tendency for an over-reliance on CGI with a few iffy green screens here and there and some distracting computer-generated animals that can disrupt the flow of the scene at times. But even so, Jungle Cruise has secrets, it’s got curses and thrills and it proves itself so much fun as the characters go on the adventure of a lifetime. It’s packed full of heart and comedy, all propelled by a wonderful score from James Newton Howard.
Jungle Cruise is an adventurous and exciting quest that’s full of energy. From its fast-paced narrative to non-stop jokes and action, it really is a great time and it’s Disney at its best in a long time.
Jungle Cruise releases in cinemas and on Disney+ with Premier Access on July 30th.
Disney + | Marvel’s: What If – Official Trailer
Exploring pivotal moments from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and turning them on their head, leading the audience into uncharted territory.
Animation, action, adventure, fantasy
August 6, 2021 (Disney +)
Various MCU actors/actresses
Exploring pivotal moments from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and turning them on their head, leading the audience into uncharted territory.
Luca – Review | Pixar’s under-the-radar queer film
Disney Studios have been promising for years to be more LGBTQ+ inclusive with their content. But their so called, ahem, “attempts” at showing queer representation in their live action films and TV shows have been mostly shallow tokenism at best. Even the recent Cruella we were promised that John McCrea’s fashion-enthusiast character Artie was to be Disney’s legitimately first out-and-proud gay character. And yet, the final product did nothing to confirm this. This was Disney once again pandering to the queer audience without actually taking any risk.
However one faction of Disney Studios; Pixar does seem to making a more visible effort to tell LGBTQ+ stories. With the heart-warming short Out and even having Lena Waithe voice a lesbian cyclops in one of the more recent features Onward as recent examples. Granted these are just minor baby steps but it’s notable progress nonetheless. But Luca, Pixar’s 24th feature film – a breezy coming-of-age story of friendship, might just be the closest thing we’ve had to a gay Pixar feature film.
No it’s not in any way a confirmed, out-and-proud, self-identifying gay film. There’s no gay characters (so to speak) but it’s deceptively LGBTQ+ in tone and message. In short, there’s no pandering here. It’s not pretending to be inclusively gay, rather its queer coded enough to strike a chord with anybody LGBTQ+ and have it resonate with them on a subtextual level.
With a plot not too dissimilar to The Little Mermaid (which incidnetly is getting a Disney live action remake this year), Luca tells the story of a curious young sea creature named Luca (voiced by Jacob Tremblay), who after encountering some human gadgets and gizmos aplenty, longs to venture up to the surface to see what lies above the water. Much to the dismay of his human-fearing parents (Maya Rudolph and Jim Gaffigan), Luca follows fellow sea-dweller and pal Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer) up to the shore to discover that his fishy-body adapts to the surface by transforming into human form when out of water. From then on its frolicking childhood adventure in the gorgeous coastal town of Portorosso, partaking in a triathlon with a local girl named Giulia (Emma Berman) in order to make their dreams of owning their own Vespa a thing of reality.
It’s a sickeningly cute story about the kids who feel like outsiders, weirdos or underdogs finding their tribe and coming into their own. But that’s not the only way to interpret Luca. Director Enrico Casarosa has publicly stated that there was no intention of any gay subtext but there’s no denying to the queer-eyed observer that it’s there.
I’m sure I can anticipate some backlash for even suggesting there was anything remotely hinting at homosexuality in this sweet innocent Pixar film. Well regardless, people see what we wanna see. And for the queer community seeing a thinly veiled story about 2 boys “coming out” of the hostile environment of the Ocean to live their true authentic lives on land means a great deal to us. As a child of the 90’s I didn’t have any animated films like this but it would’ve certainly meant a lot for me to have film like this going through adolescence. The little queer boy that I was would’ve deeply resonated with Luca.
But regardless of the subtext Luca is still a very easy-to-love film. It’s hard not to enjoy a story about 3 scrappy kids who are self-proclaimed “under-dogs” enjoying the frivolities of youth. The animation is gorgeous. The setting of Portorosso looks warm and inviting. The little details are impeccable; from the individual scales on the sea creatures, to each individual pebble on the shore to the freckles on the kids faces – it’s all exquisitely detailed.
Luca certainly has the goods but what lets it down comparatively to its Pixar brothers and sisters is how conventional and safe the plot is. It’s a grass-is-greener coming-of-age story – it’s hardly anything new.
Ironically Casarosa publicly stating that Luca wasn’t in any way a queer film completely negates his own films bravest and most talk-worthy attribute. If he’d simply allowed some wiggle room for interpretation then would Luca perhaps be more critically revered and feature higher in the rankings? He would undoubtedly be idolised for being the director to make Pixar’s first gay feature. But simultaneously, he would also be hated by those too narrow-minded to see the beauty in this lovely story.
Who know’s maybe Casarosa himself might change his tune when young queer kids tell him how his charming Pixar film helped them come to terms with who they are. But for now the masses will read Luca as an enjoyable albeit by-the-numbers family film about friendship, dreams, education and discovery. And there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s just not breaking any new ground is all.
The parental subplot which sees Luca’s parents Daniela and Lorenzo venture up to the surface to bring their son back home also lacks emotional payoff. We’ve already seen previous Pixar films tackle the subject of parents learning to let go of their kids done with way more skill and panache in Finding Nemo. Here there is no personal journey of self-discovery for Daniela or Lorenzo. They don’t learn anything about themselves like Marlon the Clownfish did. Instead all they do when they’re on land is throw water at kids to try and spot Luca. So when they arrive at their final destination of acceptance and understanding for Luca at the end of the film – it doesn’t feel earned. It feels like an after thought.
And as far as the tone of this film goes. Luca is unquestionably more of a kids film than one custom-made for the parents to click with. Remember the criticisms that Soul was too existential for kids to enjoy? Well Luca is the exact opposite of Soul – it’s merely a carefree and conventional kids film. Adults will certainly still be able to enjoy it but it’s not going to offer anything profoundly insightful like Toy Story 4, Inside Out or Coco did. Unless you’re LGBTQ+ but I digress.
But regardless of the simplicity of Luca’s narrative it is still a thoroughly enjoyable movie. It ticks many of the Pixar boxes; humour, heart and a lovely message – albeit a familiar one. There’s nothing outright bad about Luca, it’s just the standard for Pixar is set so high that in comparison it does feel a bit safe and therefore a little average.
Luca is available worldwide to stream on Disney + now.
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