Film News

Millie Bobby Brown's New Movie Reveals Why Sherlock Holmes Is a Lousy Character

Sherlock Holmes can't show emotion in Enola Holmes, or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's step great grandson will sue...

Netflix

The Sherlock Holmes you know and love is a lousy character.

He's a misogynist, a drug addict, a condescending and ignorant man. But even that whole mess isn't enough to make him actually interesting.

No offense to Benedict Cumberbatch—who brought his dashing good looks and overwhelming sexual charisma to the character—but there's just not that much you can do with the famous master of deduction (who almost exclusively used inductive reasoning—shout out to the pedants in the audience). He's got some impressive speeches and some flashy tricks, but he's seemingly devoid of an internal life.

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AllEars.net

The live-action Aladdin remake is what you get when you take what white people think the Middle East is and colonize it with peppy, witless background actors.

I don't need to set up the premise of Aladdin for you; you already know the story. And that's what the new Disney live-action remake assumes, too, skipping character introductions in the beginning for a montage of the hot-spots in the fictional city of Agrabah - from the Sultan's palace overlooking the sprawling city to the Cave of Wonders with its Mufasa face. It's a sweeping CGI landscape, and after the nauseating roller coaster we meet our hero, Aladdin, played by newcomer Mena Massoud. He's running from the palace guards and bumps into Jasmine in the market, played by Disney Channel's Naomi Scott; he immediately charms her. Their chemistry is as instant and intolerable as a TV dinner.

Disney's Aladdin Official Trailer - In Theaters May 24! www.youtube.com

All this action takes place on a painfully tacky sound stage, bustling with vaguely Middle-Eastern-looking people of all different kinds. Beards and burkas, eyeliner and turbans; it's like the wardrobe department raided the "Oriental" section of a Halloween Adventure store. And that's what the painful points of this film are: its creative failures. The Disney Aladdin story in itself is an American-made bastardization of Middle Eastern and Oriental cultures blended together to be consumed. Much like Pocahontas and Mulan, it was a story written by white people to sell toys to all the little boys and girls of America. So no one should expect this movie to depict literal Egypt, or Saudi Arabia, or Lebanon, or a whole host of other cultures that are being flimsily referenced. But to anyone who has actually been to the Middle East… the environment looks more like an amusement park attraction than a place anyone could conceivably live in. Guy Ritchie puts so much effort into imitating the world of the animated original that the film misses opportunities to shine on its own.

Massoud does a serviceable job as Aladdin, as his handsome blank expression becomes endearing after a while. But Scott steals the spotlight with her genuinely compelling performance as a politically-minded princess who longs to be sultan. As the movie chugs along, you start to get the sense that this should have been Jasmine's movie. Her character motivation is much stronger than Aladdin's, who ultimately just wants to impress some chick he met one day earlier. Luckily, Jasmine gets plenty of screentime to show off her acting and singing chops, which provide the only breaks from obnoxiously noticeable autotune.

Surprisingly, Will Smith is pretty good in this movie. That is to say, when he isn't the weird, uncanny-valley/blue-man-group Will Smith we glimpsed in the film's trailers, he holds it down as the Genie. The most glaring moments of disillusionment come when Robin William's iconic one-liners are recited word for word. For instance, Smith just can't quite capture the comedic timing Williams had with his "teeny-tiny living space" line. The musical number "Friend Like Me" was particularly painful, but that might have been my stomach adjusting to the sight of a blue, photo-realistic, steroided Will Smith floating on a cloud. With that being said, when Smith isn't blue, he's fun to watch. His best moments come from playing the classic, 6'2, lovable Will Smith. There's a particularly phenomenal scene in which Aladdin is attempting to impress the princess as Prince Ali, and Smith's ad-libs were the freshest part of the entire film. I won't spoil them, but you'll be genuinely laughing the entire time.

Should you see this movie? Eh, sure. It offers some good new ideas that I would have loved to see explored more, like Genie hanging out among the humans and Jasmine's growth as a royal leader. Those concepts stand up well on their own and allow the actors to leverage their very obvious strengths. But director Guy Ritchie either didn't have a vision for this film or he wasn't allowed by the Disney powers that be to realize it. So instead, we have cartoonish acting, hokey sets, and very, very low stakes in a movie that should be a mystical adventure. If you're not too concerned with something new and just want to watch a bunch of faux-Arabs onscreen acting out your favorite childhood movie, then this live-action remake of Aladdin is for you.

Rating: ⚡⚡

FILM

Now in Theaters: 5 New Movies for the Weekend of May 24

Watch Will Smith degrade himself with blue body paint in Disney's "Aladdin."

Welcome back to "Now in Theaters: 5 New Movies for the Weekend."

This week, Will Smith degrades himself with blue body paint for our amusement.

WIDE RELEASE:

Booksmart

BOOKSMART Trailer (2019) Lisa Kudrow, Olivia Wild, Teen Movie www.youtube.com

Directed by Olivia Wilde and produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, Booksmart looks like a Gen-Z version of Superbad. The movie follows two high school seniors, Amy and Molly, who decide that the eve of their graduation is the perfect time to make up for "wasting" their teenage years on studying and achieving good grades. Early reviews are overwhelmingly positive, and the movie looks raunchy, edgy, and representative. Booksmart is easily my pick of the week.

Aladdin

Disney's Aladdin Official Trailer - In Theaters May 24! www.youtube.com

Disney's latest live-action adaptation is here, and like all the live-action adaptations before it, Aladdin looks...okay, I guess. Honestly, it's hard for me to understand the appeal of all these live-action Disney adaptations. They're technically fine, but considering the fact that animation brought so much of the inherent charm and magic to the originals, these remakes seem doomed to always come up short. Take Genie, for example. Animated goofball Genie is fun and awesome. Partially-CGI-blue-body-paint-Will-Smith Genie is just unsettling.

Brightburn

BRIGHTBURN - Official Trailer #2 www.youtube.com

What if Superman...was evil? That's pretty much the premise behind Brightburn, a superhero horror movie produced by James Gunn and written by his brother and his cousin. I love the idea of a horror movie that subverts superhero archetypes, but at the same time, the trailer looks surprisingly dull considering the subject matter. Ultimately, this might be more of a generic spooky boy flick than anything truly groundbreaking.

LIMITED RELEASE:

Diamantino

Diamantino – Official Trailer www.youtube.com

A Portuguese-language, genre-bending political comedy that made waves at Cannes 2019 (ultimately taking home the Grand Prize during International Critics' Week), Diamantino looks absolutely absurd. The plot follows a disgraced soccer star who sets out on a journey to find a new purpose for his life. The movie seems to involve incredibly bizarre imagery, including futuristic technology, galactic landscapes, and puppy fever dreams. If you appreciate bizarre cinema and can find Diamantino playing near you, I'd highly recommend checking it out.

Isabelle

Isabelle | Official Trailer (HD) | Vertical Entertainment www.youtube.com

If you ever watched The OC and wondered what Adam Brody is doing now, here's your answer. Isabelle is one of those horror movies that seems designed solely to pad Netflix's Halloween offerings. We've seen the premise a bajillion times––a couple gets haunted by some generic ghost girl––and outside of Ringu, I don't think it's ever been done well. I don't know what audience this movie is geared towards, but if it happens to be you, just go watch Ringu again instead.

Film Lists

10 Dos and Don'ts to Surviving Reboots in 2019

Remember the offensively bad 2015 remake of Fantastic Four? The worst has yet to come.

Sometimes a remake is a gift of nostalgia, and sometimes it's a scourge against fans who deserve better.

Among 2019's onslaught of comic book movies, documentaries, and movies for nerds sans superheroes in tights, many studios are standing firm in their boycott of original ideas. Disney is launching a blitz attack on the American public with live action remakes of Aladdin and The Lion King (albeit the later is forgivable as long as it's precious), while MGM is animating a fan favorite, The Addams Family (which is forgivable as long as it's creepy).

Here are 10 Do's and Don'ts to survive this year's storm of reboots:

DON'T: What Men Want (February 8, 2019)

IMDB

Nobody asked for a remake of this 2000 Mel Gibson film except the devil. Taraji P. Henson stars as the female version of Gibson's character, a sports agent who's overlooked for her male coworkers. Controversial singer Erykah Badu plays a fortune teller for some reason, and she gives Henson's character the ability to hear what men think. With an early 2.9/10 rating on IMDB, people want to watch this movie even less than they want to hear men's thoughts.

DO: Godzilla: King of the Monsters (May 31)

HorrorNews

Bring on the CGI circle jerk of gratuitous violence and melodramatic monster tropes! Millie Bobby Brown and Vera Farmiga star in this gladiatorial face off between Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and all three heads of King Ghidorah. A "crypto-zoological agency" (totally a real thing) called Monarch has to save humanity when all these monsters rise.

DON'T: Aladdin (May 24)

Gamespot

Disney recruited Guy Ritchie to recreate the 1992 classic. With Egyptian-born actor Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Power Rangers' Naomi Scott as Jasmine, and Will Smith boggling minds as the Genie, it looks just as strange as the live action Dumbo and Lion King remakes being released this year. Except it seems more wrong.

DO: Shaft (June 14)

Little White Lies

What's more appropriate for the third Shaft film than to include not one, but three Shafts?! Richard Roundtree and Samuel L. Jackson return as John Shaft and John Shaft II, but the new addition is Jessie T. Usher (Independence Day: Resurgence) as the very unique John Shaft Jr.. Described as "a cyber security expert with a degree from MIT," Junior enlists his father's (Jackson) help "to uncover the truth behind his best friend's untimely death." Yes, with three separate Shafts, this movie promises to be confusing, but it looks super fun.

DON'T: Men in Black: International (June 14)

YouTube

With the Men in Black franchise already stretched thin, this could go terribly wrong. But the quirky chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson in Thor: Ragnarok restored our faith in the Thor franchise, so there's a chance they're worthwhile as Agent M and Agent H. Both agents "tackle their biggest threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization," and hopefully Hemsworth and Thompson will bring some of the irreverence and offbeat humor they managed in Ragnarok.

DO: Child's Play (June 21)

Dread Central

The worst birthday gift a mother could give her son is being brought back by the producers of It. Aubrey Plaza will play against type as the unwitting mother who commits child abuse by giving her son a Chucky doll. Plaza seems the type who would do that because it's funny.

DON'T: Grudge (June 21)

Variety

It's a 2019 remake of the 2004 remake of the 2004 Japanese original, Ju-On. While this version will include John Cho, who's an eternal delight, the film will also feature an attractive American woman (Andrea Riseborough) entering a haunted house before an entity tries to kill her. Again.

MAYBE: The Lion King (July 19)

IMDB

Reasons to not outright pan this film as a bastardization of your childhood include: Jon Favreau directs, Hans Zimmer scores, Donald Glover is the voice of Simba, Seth Rogan is Pumbaa, James Earl Jones is Mufasa, and Beyoncé is Nala. Not to mention, John Oliver is the perfect voice of Zuzu, while Oscar-nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor voices Scar.

DO: The Addams Family (October 18)

Den of Geek

After this animated feature premieres in time for Halloween, the Addams will be the creepiest family since the Lohans. While the live action cast remains iconic, this remake features Burton-esque artwork and an all-star cast of Charlize Theron as Morticia, Chloë Grace Moretz as Wednesday, and Oscar Isaac as Gomez.

DON'T: Charlie's Angels (November 1, 2019)

Marie Clare

At first, this seems promising, with Charlie played by Elizabeth Banks, who also directs; but who are the newest, coolest angels? Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott. and Ella Balinska, for some reason. Remember the offensively bad 2015 remake of Fantastic Four? Me either. Hopefully, we'll forget this reboot just as quickly.


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.


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FILM & TV

Guy Ritchie's 'King Arthur'... Legendary or not?

Guy Ritchie's re-telling of the King Arthur story highlights many of the director's strengths... and a few of his weaknesses

Guy Ritchie is a filmmaker who excels within his wheelhouse: character-driven, quick-paced, action comedies. This obviously includes British gangster faire, which he is notorious for, but is by no means limited to it. Take, for instance, Sherlock Holmes. A big blockbuster movie, but one that played to all his strengths: character-driven, fast, and funny. A few action set-pieces thrown in for good measure, but nothing sprawling, everything concentrated and contained. Compare that to its sequel, Game of Shadows, and we see his style fail him. A bigger, more expansive story with less character time, and a less successful product. In his latest film, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, we see this dichotomy under a magnifying glass.

As is requisite of the high fantasy genre, we are treated to big sprawling battle scenes. Ritchie is echoing Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings a little too strongly here. Even to the point of having bad guys riding on the backs of giant elephants, and tall stone towers that emanate red-orange light. The inevitable comparisons to Jackson are unfavorable for the most part. Simply because Ritchie doesn't shoot it as well.

With Jackson we always know the stakes, it feels like these things have weight. With Ritchie, we don't get this. We are dropped so quickly in to the thick of his version of medieval England (the first scene is an apocalyptic battle) that we don't fully understand the magnitude of the events playing out, or why we should care. This problem recurs throughout the movie, any time the scale of the action grows beyond twenty or so people battling it out, the film loses all focus or sense of weight. Consequently, the opening of the the first act, and the closing of the third act are weak.

However, there is still a lot of good movie here. Everything from Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) being adopted by prostitutes through to the end of the second act really moves. It feels like a completely different movie. It feels like a Guy Ritchie movie. Arthur in this iteration has grown up as a hustler. He is a conman with a heart of gold. When he crosses the wrong set of people he gets sent to Camelot where every man of a certain age has to attempt to pull the sword from the stone.

This is the order of the evil king Vortigern (Jude Law), a dark mage who betrayed and killed Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana). Uther was able to get Arthur to safety before his death, but Vortigern still ascended the throne. On being mortally wounded by Vortigern, Uther stabbed himself with Excalibur, and turned in to the legendary stone from which same must be pulled. Knowing that the true King is out there, Vortigern orders that every man of a certain age must attempt to pull the sword, so that he can root out and kill the Pendragon heir.

As per legend, Arthur is the one who does it, and this immediately puts his head on the chopping block. He is quickly rescued by an underground resistance movement, headed by a good mage (played by Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey) sent by (a conspicuously absent) Merlin. Arthur reluctantly teams up with them to overthrow Vortigern. All the while he wrestles with his call to destiny, however his street smarts and network of personal connections seem to make him a natural leader.

Everything with the resistance in the second act plays to Ritchie's strengths, and it's hugely fun to watch. Arthur and his criminal friends (Kingsley Ben-Adir and Neil Maskell) feel like stock guy Ritchie characters, bantering in regional British accents, and coming up with cunning plans. When they're grouped with the more straight-laced resistance fighters (Including Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen and Freddie Fox), they bounce nicely off their poe-facedness. Their scheming is illustrated in trademark fast paced cuts. It all builds to an attempted assassination scene in the second act that is nothing short of thrilling. Featuring sword-fights, parkour, Trainspotting-style running-cams, and little-to-no obvious CGI. A brilliant feat of action cinema.

It's also worth noting that the cast is pleasantly diverse. Yes, the leads are white males, but in Arthur's group of cohorts, over half of his crew are non-white or female. Admittedly, the female characters are given less to do. Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey's mage character exists with little personality and is largely there as a plot device. Beyond that, assorted whores get beaten, and princesses either spy or get stabbed. So it's not all good news. That said, Bill Wu's turn as George is great, and he manages to not be a raging stereotype despite being the crew's Kung-Fu specialist. No mean feat.

It's a shame that the enjoyable, thrilling, middle of this film is book-ended by sequences that are so dry and vanilla. The magical macguffinery is generic, the big battle scenes are dry, and the eventual climax is so full of CGI you'd swear you were watching someone play a video game. Charlie Hunnam is a fun leading man, particularly in his lighter moments; Jude Law delivers the Jude Law performance we all know and (some of us) love at this point; and the supporting cast are all pulling their weight. Even David Beckham, surprisingly. Joby Harold and Guy Ritchie's screenplay is full of fun dialogue, but two of the bigger action scenes in the movie fall completely flat, and Arthur's inner conflict is a little… stock. In short, this is a movie that, while commendable, you can probably wait to see on DVD or Netflix. Plenty of fun in the right places, but not something you need to rush to see.

Madonna Hires PI

As previously reported by Popdust, Madonna is in the middle of a nasty, public custody battle with her ex-husband, Guy Ritchie over their 15 year old son Rocco.

TMZ are reporting that she has now hired a private investigator to keep an eye on the lad while he is staying with his father in London.

Madonna Indecently Assaults Woman On Stage—Because, Madonna

She is apparently extremely concerned over the film director's parenting skills and the site says that multiple sources (presumably all employed by Madge) have told them;

"Madonna believes Guy has set no rules for Rocco and he's living dangerously....not enrolled in school, hanging out in the parks, smoking and essentially doing anything he wants."

Madonna Performs David Bowie Tribute—Look Away, Rocco!

Rocco is chilled and relaxed.

This comes on the back of pictures surfacing over the weekend of Rocco hanging with friends "sharing a suspicious looking cigarette" (the tabloid/legal way to say joint).  The Sun newspaper had all the details—explaining that the "cigarette" was rolled up using Golden Virginia tobacco and licorice style paper before being passed around.  They even had an eye witness (clearly the pap who took the pics) quote;

"It gave off a pretty pungent smell.  It looked very much like cannabis, though I suppose it could have just been normal tobacco.  At one point it looked like they were burning resin into the cigarette."

Rocco Ritchie Wishes Madonna Would Be Less Rebel More Mom

This incident isn't going to help Ritchie's case in the custody battle.  Rocco wants to live with his Dad permanently because he's just had enough of his strict, controlling mother, he very publicly quit her tour in December and has refused to go home ever since.  This episode plays into Madonna's hands so well the more cynical among us could almost think her PI followed the kid, reported to Madge that there was a pot party at the skate park prompting her to call a trusted pap to hot foot it down there to snap the photos!

Point to Madge

Yay! Madonna now has photos proving what a terrible father Guy Ritchie is, that  he is such a lax parent he would allow his teenage son to use DRUGS!  A source (again for that read Madonna's PR) told People;

"This is exactly what Madonna has been afraid of.  Rocco still isn't back in school—and now this.  He is just a rebellious teenager, but he needs guidance and direction from his father."

Make sure you don't fall off that high horse Madge.

CRINGE!  Madonna Eats Drake’s Face On Stage At Coachella—Watch His Hilarious Reaction!

The warring parents were due to have a custody hearing in court in NYC last week, but the hearing was moved to March because of her touring schedule, meaning Rocco will stay in London with his Dad until them.  This tells us everything we need to know about Madonna.  I mean seriously?  You think your kid is being poorly looked after, you think he's out of control and living dangerously but you would rather he stayed where he was for a bit longer than cancel a couple of tour dates? WTF?

Madonna has been fully engaged in a damage-limitation-social-media-PR campaign lately, with lots of pics of her happy children.  Last month she posted a throwback picture of her with all the children with the caption;

"It's possible to be an entertainer and a good mother!!! Too bad we don't live in a society where many encourage strong independent working moms! The next great Frontier!"

Madonna Is Very Difficult, Says Armani About Capegate

Of course it's possible for working moms to be great moms but FYI Madge, the only person saying dragging your kids round the world on tour doesn't work, is your son.

Madonna Hires PI

Madonna Hires PI

Madonna Hires PI