Aquaman Review

I’m starting the new year with a review of Aquaman, my family’s 2018 Christmas movie. Even though I’m a “DC Girl For Life,” I still have the ability to be constuctively critical. In short, I loved this movie. In depth, there are a few things that bothered me:

  1. Some of the camera angles & shots took me out of the movie. The beach training scene between Arthur and Vulko involved back and forth shots of both characters straight on. It felt odd and a bit too melodramatic. In the Italy scene with Arthur & Mera, the atmosphere dramatically changed to a cheesy rom-com and felt out of place in an adventurous superhero movie.

2. Speaking of the rom-com scene, that brings us to the terrible soundtrack. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I specifically dislike the songs from the Black Manta costume creation scene (“It’s No Good,” Depeche Mode), the Italy rom-com scene (“She’s A Mystery To Me,” Roy Orbison), and the infamous Pitbull cover of Toto’s “Africa.” I should clarify that those first two songs aren’t bad; they just felt out of place. The Pitbull song is the one I hate with a vengeance, with or without the movie. All that being said, the score is amazing, and I really like the end credits song “Everything I Need” by Skylar Grey which fits right in with the tone of the movie’s finale.

Let’s end with two MAJOR positives:

  1. I  teared up twice: once during the title sequence from pure, unadulterated joy & again when Arthur Curry is proclaimed king of Atlantis because FINALLY we have the Aquaman we deserve on the big screen.

2. My dad loved the movie! You definitely won’t understand why that is such a big deal so let me provide some clarity. He enjoys movies like Darkest Hour and The Post. Superhero blockbusters are usually a little too weird & rarely impress him as great films. I 100% expected him to either fall asleep or walk out of the theater unimpressed. Shock of all shocks, he stayed awake the whole time and loved both cast and plot. 😱

I can understand why length was an issue for some people. Right before the finale, it started to feel like the story was being stretched out . . . and then BAM! It ended with an E P I C fight; I teared up; and all was forgotten and forgiven. Lastly, I want to give the cast & crew a round of applause. Director James Wan brought Atlantis to life which is no small feat considering you can’t actually film an entire movie underwater. There wasn’t even one weak link in the cast; I was impressed with every single performance, and I can’t wait to see more.

This is a DC film I can stand behind, and I think my fellow fans should do the same. Moving forward, we need to focus on the positive & support the parts of our cinematic universe that we love. Things can only get better from here because the casts & crews are experimenting, learning, and growing. So what if DC is darker and/or weirder?! At least we’re daring to be different!

GO.  SEE.  AQUAMAN.  🌊

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wcj6SrX4zw

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Check out some awesome Aquaman art  ➡️  H  E  R  E  ⬅️

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Wonder Woman Movie Review

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As a lifelong DC  fan, I have never doubted that the extended cinematic universe could reach new heights and achieve much more than superhero films from the past. Superman has never been my favorite hero, but I thoroughly enjoyed Man of Steel. I loved Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and was skeptical about change. However, Batfleck won me over instantly, and my heart nearly burst from fangirl excitement during my first viewing of Batman v Superman. Despite harsh criticism, Sucide Squad was a fun ride; I especially enjoyed the dark aesthetic and witty banter. Leading up to the latest DC film, I was confident that this would be their best effort yet. After seeing Wonder Woman on the big screen in 3D last night, I can say with certainty that it was everything I thought it would be and so much more.

Saying I loved the animated Justice League TV show growing up would be an understatement. I have vivid memories of running around my house with my brother and our friends pretending to be superheroes. There was no discussion of who was better, boys or girls. We were all strong heroes on the same team, saving the world one villain at a time. Why do I bring this up? Growing up with a brother, I always wanted to hang out with the boys. If they played hockey, I did too. If they rode their bikes down a hill, I did too. If they had a swimming race, I made my own lane and swam alongside them. I won’t lie and say I never got hurt and cried, but I can add that there were times when the need to prove myself was enough to ease the pain and dry up the tears. I know my brother and his friends thought I was a nuisance, but I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. I never needed a visual of “girl power” to fill me with ambition and passion, but I understand why many girls and women crave it. I’m not one to get involved in political discussion, but I will say that I felt proud and inspired watching women kick butt.

⚠️   S P O I L E R S   A H E A D ! !   Y O U   H A V E   B E E N   W A R N E D ! !   ⚠️

The story is well written and deeper than what most would expect from a superhero movie. I appreciate the heroism that is showcased from men without superpowers. Even though the movie is fiction, it is a reminder of the sacrifice soldiers have made in wars past and present. I also appreciate the message about humanity which is relevant to the present. Diana believes that once Ares is dead, mankind will give up their desire to fight. Her heart breaks when she realizes the god of war is not controlling anybody. He plants ideas but is not entirely to blame for World War I. Steve encourages her not to focus on the men who are bad but rather hold on to the belief that there are good people, people with just intentions.

Speaking of Ares, the twist involving his identity is great. I didn’t have a clue who his human form was, and it was fantastic watching him battle his sister in “god form.” I am not the most knowledgeable DC fan so I had no idea who Doctor Poison was, but I liked her character. I mean, I liked her as much as you can like a villain. Perhaps I read too much into the portrayal, but I felt how her scars and insecurity led to her obsession with toxins and death. It is especially evident when Steve flirts with her while undercover; she feels desired and appreciated but quickly snaps out of it when he is distracted by Diana’s unexpected entrance.

Moving on to the side characters, each one of them contributed something special. Charlie, Chief, and Sameer provided not only entertaining banter but also courage and a whole lot of heart. Etta Candy was charming and made me laugh more than once. I love how inspired she was by Diana. When she sensed trouble and showed up in the alley with the shield and sword, I almost stood up and applauded. And then there are the Amazons. Their strength speaks for itself. The training scenes made me feel way too pumped to be sitting still. I wanted to swim laps and run a marathon. That is especially shocking if you know me well because I DO NOT run.

I want to give Chris Pine the credit he deserves for his portrayal of Steve Trevor. Steve has some doubt regarding his significance within the war, but he never gives up fighting and doing what he feels is right. His humility is refreshing and endearing; it reminds me of a certain Marvel hero by the name of Captain America. Near the end of the movie, he discovers a way to change the course of the war and puts thousands of lives above his own, cementing his value as a soldier and a person. (MAJOR SPOILER) His death, which brought tears to my eyes, was probably the most emotional scene. I do have a serious question though. Have we really seen the last of him??…

Last but not least, Wonder Woman herself. There was a lot of doubt about Gal Gadot because she is a relatively new name in the movie industry. I am not exaggerating when I say she has beat down all doubt and laid the criticism to rest. It was fascinating to pick apart her portrayal and find the nuances she brought to the character. As a child, Diana is curious and eager (credit to Lilly Aspell). As a teen, she is determined (credit to Emily Carey). As an adult, she is ready to combat any evil that might enter Themyscira. Once she ventures away from home, her naive view of mankind is shattered by the realization that their choice to fight one another is not controlled by Ares. Initially she wants to stop fighting, but once Steve’s encouraging words sink in, she accepts her new mission in life as a protector. She is a strong warrior ready to fight at any moment, demonstrated by her willingness to walk into German-controlled territory and protect innocent lives without hesitation. She also has a kind spirit and the willingness to seek the good in people. Her gentle side is seen when she handles Charlie’s PTSD with compassion and encouragement. Brava Gal!

🎶 I have to mention the genius that is Hans Zimmer. He is not the composer for this movie, but we have him to thank for Wonder Woman’s AMAZING theme music. I got chills when it first played. 🎶

🎬 Congratulations to the cast & crew on a job well done! I want to give a special shout-out to director Patty Jenkins. The finished results prove the effectiveness of her leadership. This is a career-defining film, and she should be very proud of the impact it is having on people around the world. 🎥

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Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSB4wGIdDwo&list=PLVfin74Qx3tUT-xIY0_xefei1p3auVaCh&index=1

G O   S E E   T H E   M O V I E   R I G H T   N O W  ➡️   http://wonderwomanfilm.com   ⬅️

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

🎬 Directed by Bill Condon

🎼 Music by Alan Menken

📝 Screenplay by Evan Spiliotopoulos & Stephen Chbosky

🌟 S T A R R I N G

👗 Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe

🐗 Dan Stevens as Beast/The Prince

☕ Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts

👸🏻 Emma Watson as Belle

🔥 Ewan McGregor as Lumiére

💋 Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette

🌹 Hattie Morahan as Agathe/Enchantress

⏰ Ian McKellen as Cogsworth

🎭 Josh Gad as LeFou

🔨 Kevin Kline as Maurice

💪🏻 Luke Evans Gaston

☕ Nathan Mack as Chip

🎶 Stanley Tucci as Cadenza

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Beauty and the Beast was one of my favorite Disney movies growing up. The love story goes beyond girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy. Belle is the first human, not counting the enchanted objects, to look past Beast’s exterior. Her attention and kindness encourages him to become more human, making his inner transformation just as important as his outer change. They develop a friendship first and then fall in love. I am ashamed to say that despite being initially excited, I allowed myself to be swayed by critics giving their opinion based on the trailers. Once the movie was released and I heard great feedback from lifelong fans, I started to relax and get excited again. I finally saw the movie last Wednesday. When the title card filled the movie screen, I got chills and teared up. In that moment I realized how emotional the experience was going to be for my inner child.

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The sets are stunning. The village is like the picturesque interior of a snowglobe isolated from the rest of the world. There are golden, ornamental baroque details all over Beast’s castle, specifically French Rococo. Under the curse, the exterior is dark and dramatic; the word gothic comes to mind. As the centerpiece of the story, the enchanted rose is as striking as it needs to be. The theme is appropriately weaved into other parts of the film; Maurice attempts to pick a white rose from Beast’s garden, and Belle’s baby rattle is a red rose. Don’t even get me started on the final scene. The flower-draped ceiling is GORGEOUS!! The entire ballroom looks like springtime, airy & bright.

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Belle is the same beloved character but with a few modifications. Her day-to-day outfits are a quirky mix of materials and patterns, and combat boots are her footwear of choice. The wardrobe update matches her new role as an inventor just like her father Maurice. The yellow ballgown is a simpler design than it’s 1991 counterpart, but when you see how it moves onscreen, doubts will fly out of your mind. The gold touches make it shine, and the skirt floats through the air as if it were weightless. The look wouldn’t be complete without the gold ear-cuff, a subtle nod to Belle’s unconventional style. There is no need to say much about the celebration dress. The way it looks and moves in the ballroom during the final scene will take your breath away. Belle’s hairstyles are simple but very beautiful. My personal favorite is her updo in the library scene accessorized with a blue headband. Of course I have to mention Beast’s wardrobe which goes through a transformation of its own; it becomes more refined and princely as the movie goes on. Costume designer Jacqueline Durran deserves a lot of credit because she came up with outfits for a character who is animated during most of the film. A lot of work went into making sure the animated garments had the depth and detail of tangible clothing. The animators did a phenomenal job.

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Alan Menken is a musical genius so it’s a no-brainer that I like all of the new songs, especially Evermore. In terms of flow, Days in the Sun is a nice song, but it feels unnecessary. There is no nice way to say this so I’ll just rip off the band-aid. Many of the vocals are heavily edited, and I suspect it has more to do with lack of vocal ability than over-zealous audio editors. It is a fact that Dan Stevens hired a vocal coach to learn how to sing for this movie, and Emma Watson has never sung professionally. I am thrilled with their acting performances, but the vocals leave a lot to be desired; they sound robotic and lack emotion. I found myself holding my breath every time they sang because I desperately wanted it to sound good but knew it probably wouldn’t. A few times I was pleasantly surprised. Emma did a good job with Belle (Reprise), and Beast sounded much better in the second verse of Evermore. I saw a comment on YouTube regarding Emma’s vocals that was well put. I can’t remember the exact words, but this is the basic idea: The original songs, written for an experienced singer, are above Emma’s capabilities. She sounded better singing the songs written for her portrayal of Belle. I had the same problem with Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson. Ewan has sung before in a film, and for the most part his vocals sound good. I know Emma can sing, and I think she was a great choice for Mrs. Potts. The issue is inconsistency. Sometimes the vocals sound good, and other times they sound heavily autotuned. Since both roles requires a certain voice, it is possible that manipulation was required to help Ewan and Emma stay in character while singing. The song Beauty and the Beast is a turning point in the story, and Mrs. Potts’ singing voice ruina a bit of the magic in what is an otherwise beautiful scene. Listening to it again, the vocals sound better than I remembered, but there are still some parts that don’t sound as nice as they should. Knowing that Emma has a great voice makes this even more of a heartbreaking disappointment. I love the cast, but this movie is a musical. Acting and vocals should be split 50/50 when considering the potential actors. Perfection was well within reach for this film, and lack of vocal ability was the one and only roadblock. Consider the rave reviews that Josh Gad and Luke Evans are receiving. Why do you think that is? Not only are their acting performances spot-on, but their vocals are spectacular. That is why they are the most successful part of this musical film. I want to end my rant by mentioning that I find the entire soundtrack to be over-edited, even the experienced voices such as Kevin Kline. I would have preferred less effects and rough edges. At least the final result would have sounded more genuine.

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Animation was the perfect medium for this story because it is a fairy tale that is not at all grounded in reality. When considering a live action version, you have to ask yourself if the story will translate. I commend the crew because I was a believer every step of the way. I like the realistic design of each enchanted object. They fit the style of the movie and still feel like the same beloved characters. I love the way the friendship develops between Beast and Belle.  There are so many amazing scenes I could mention such as the library and Belle’s childhood home in Paris, but I will stick with one. Up until the ballroom scene, I was fully invested in the budding friendship. During the waltz when Beast lifts Belle, I felt a strong wave of emotion and instantly knew the relationship had become a love story. I was worried about the transformation because I wanted to be in the moment; I didn’t want to only see Dan Stevens in a wig. I am so relieved that the scene came together because it cemented the couple’s chemistry. I know that Belle’s final quote is controversial, but I LOVED it. I found the playful moment to be cute and relatable.

Belle: How would you feel about growing a beard? 😘

Beast: GROWL! 😉

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There are details that disappoint and frustrate me, and I’m not afraid to talk about them. However, I can’t change anything so there’s no use dwelling on the negative. My emotional reaction speaks volumes, and I will definitely be watching this movie again. Please go and see it before you form an opinion. You might be pleasantly surprised! :)

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Beauty and the Beast Artwork ➡️ Tale as Old as Time

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– Lauren Michele <3

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