Category Archives: STREAMING

This topic/movie is streaming on one of the streaming apps like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc.

TRIANGLE OF SADNESS (2022) – My rating: 4.5/10

TriangleOfSadness2022Poster.jpg

Triangle of Sadness is a satirical black comedy written and directed by Ruben Östlund in his English-language feature film debut. It is the last film Dean starred in before her death in August of 2022. The film follows a celebrity couple on a luxury cruise with wealthy guests.

I had not heard of Triangle of Sadness before the Oscar nominations were announced.  I saw the film because of its nominations and I absolutely hated it.

Carl (Harris Dickinson), a model, and Yaya (Charlbi Dean), also a model and an influencer, are dating. Carl resents Yaya for expecting him to pay for meals even though she earns more than he does.  They are invited on a luxury cruise aboard a superyacht in exchange for promoting the cruise on social media. Among the wealthy guests on board are the Russian oligarch Dimitry (Zlatko Burić) and his wife Vera (Sunnyi Melles);  Clementine (Amanda Walker) and Winston (Oliver Ford Davies), an elderly couple who made their fortune manufacturing weapons; Therese (Iris Berben), a wheelchair user only capable of speaking a single sentence in German following a stroke; and Jarmo (Iris Berben), a lonely tech millionaire. The head of staff, Paula (Vicki Berlin), demands the staff obey the guests’ absurd requests, whatever it is. Meanwhile, the yacht’s captain, Thomas Smith (Woody Harrelson) is a total drunk who mostly stays locked up in his cabin.

This formula is what the entire movie is based on. An overwhelming amount of crazy, bazaar incidents take place on this cruise. I’m not sure what the message is and I didn’t find the chain of events amusing.  If I had to guess, I think a lot of scenes were supposed to be funny and the demands that are put on the lower class by the rich are unreasonable and unfair. This theme is well-overplayed and overdone.  I found the ending to be the most disturbing, as it settled nothing and left you unable to make a reasonable conclusion.  Some of this story was so out of sorts that I asked myself, how did this film get nominated for best picture.  In conclusion, I didn’t like Triangle of Sadness and would deem the film a total waste of time.  Keep in mind, this is just my opinion, you may like the movie. Triangle of Sadness is streaming on Prime Video and can be rented for $5.99 — Check It Out!

As of 2 February 2023, Triangle of Sadness has grossed $4.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $18.8 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $23.1 million. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 72% based on 236 reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Triangle of Sadness lacks the sharp edges of Östlund’s earlier work, but this blackly humorous swipe at the obscenely affluent has its own rewards.”

[TRIANBLE OF SADNESS is Oscar-nominated for BEST: Picture, Directing, and Writing (Original Screenplay) totaling 3 nominations]

 

GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY (2022) – My rating: 8/10

Glass Onion poster.jpg

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (titled onscreen as simply Glass Onion) is a  mystery film written and directed by Rian Johnson and produced by Johnson and Ram Bergman. It is a standalone sequel to the 2019 film Knives Out. Master detective Benoit Blanc takes on a new case revolving around tech billionaire Miles Bron.
I am a huge fan of these “who done it” themed movies so I hurried to see Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and as I expected, the movie was very amusing and quite entertaining!

During the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020, Miles Bron (Edward Norton), a billionaire and co-founder of the technology company called Alpha, hosts a murder mystery game at the Glass Onion, his mansion on a private island in Greece. He invites five friends: Alpha head scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.), Connecticut governor Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), controversial fashion designer Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), men’s rights streamer Duke Cody (Dave Bautista), and ousted Alpha co-founder Cassandra “Andi” Brand (Janelle Monáe). The five friends are delivered a wooden puzzle box that must be deciphered in order to find the invitation inside. The five travel to Miles’s island, along with Birdie’s assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick) and Duke’s girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline). Famous detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) joins them, although Miles says he did not invite Benoit, he allows him to stay, assuming another guest sent him an invitation as a joke.

This “who done it” game turns into a real murder mystery causing the entire group of guests to be suspicious and considered to be in danger. Everyone is a  suspect and no one has a clue as to what’s going on. Before dinner, Miles shows off his valuable glass sculptures, as well as the Mona Lisa, which he has on loan from the Louvre. The dialogue is somewhat funny and the clues will keep you guessing until you actually know who is the guilty party. Miles reveals that the murderer isn’t the only danger.  Now, newly added to this game is a direct threat that no one sees coming. Glass Onion is entertaining and a little chaotic.  The film is fast-paced and can be confusing at times.  Overall, the mystery does get sorted out with a surprise ending as expected in the Knives Out series.  Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery grossed 13.1 million over its five-day release in theaters.  On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 92% of 395 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 8/10. The website’s consensus reads, “Glass Onion brings back Benoit Blanc for another wildly entertaining mystery rounded out by an outstanding ensemble cast.” Glass Onion is currently streaming on Netflix — Check It Out!

FYI: Netflix holds the film rights to at least one more film in the series. Craig and Johnson separately said that they would continue making further films in the series, so long as they were both involved together. The third film is now in the works.

[GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY is Oscar-nominated for BEST Writing (Adapted Screenplay), totaling 1 nomination]

 

BLONDE (2022) – My rating: 8.5/10

Blonde 2022 film poster.jpgBlonde is a biographical film written and directed by Andrew Dominik and is based on the 2000 novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates. The film is a fictionalized take on the life and career of Marilyn Monroe. Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Tracey Landon, Brad Pitt, and Scott Robertson produced the film. Note: Along with shifting aspect ratios, most of the film is presented in black and white. I thought I had seen all the movies I would want to see about Marilyn Monroe, but since Blonde was nominated for an Academy Award, I watched it with an open mind and really liked Dominik’s version of the iconic actress named Norma Jeane.

As a child, Norma Jeane Mortenson/Marilyn Monroe (Ana de Armas) was raised by her mentally unstable mother Gladys Pearl Baker (Julianne Nicholson). On her seventh birthday in 1933, Gladys shows her daughter a framed picture of a man she claims is her father. Later that night, a fire breaks out in the Hollywood Hills where Gladys decides to drive Norma Jeane, claiming her father lives there. Upon her arrival, the police dismiss Gladys as a drunk and sends her away. Back home, an enraged Gladys tries to drown Norma Jeane in the bathtub but eventually lets her go. A few days later, Norma Jeane is sent to an orphanage while Gladys is admitted to a mental hospital, after being declared unfit to raise a child.

What an introduction to life for a child. The entire experience apparently shaped who Norma Jeane became mentally and physically.  The film shows her as a pushover with no self-esteem. It seems she became a sex object for most men — they either loved her or used her as she set no boundaries for herself nor stopped to assess her life.  The one thing Marilyn wanted was a baby but every time she got pregnant, something or someone would cause the pregnancy to be aborted.  We all know her history and that she died a lonely death of drugs. Her life was sad from the very beginning.  Blonde was thorough but I’m not sure how much of it was embellished for the sake of an interesting movie.  Despite doubts, I liked the film and felt very sorry for this beautiful young woman who was dealt a lousy hand in life, leaving us way too soon — RIP, finally Norma Jeane.  Blonde is currently streaming on Netflix. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Blonde holds a rating of 42% based on 300 reviews, with an average of 5.5/10. The site’s critic’s consensus reads: “Ana de Armas’ luminous performance makes it difficult to look away, but Blonde can be hard to watch as it teeters between commenting on exploitation and contributing to it.” The film also garnered controversy and notoriety for its lead casting, graphic sexual content, and status as the first NC-17-rated film to be released via a streaming service.  Obviously, Blonde is not for everyone — Check It Out!

[BLONDE is Oscar-nominated for BEST: Actress totaling 1 nomination]

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (2022) – My rating: 7.5/10

All quiet on the western front (2022 film).jpgAll Quiet on the Western Front (German: Im Westen nichts Neues) is a German epic anti-war film based on the 1929 novel of the same name by Erich Maria Remarque and is Directed by Edward Berger. All Quiet on the Western Front is a Netflix-distributed film and is aired on the Netflix Streaming Service. I hadn’t heard of this movie, so I had no plan to see it until it was Oscar-nominated. After watching All Quiet on the Western Front, I felt it was well done but it was voiced over and WWI is still a dark and melancholy period in our lives.

In 1917, three years into the First World War, 17-year-old Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer) enlists in the Imperial German Army alongside his school buddies, Albert Kropp (Aaron Hilmer), Franz Müller (Moritz Klaus), and Ludwig Behm (Adrian Grünewald). After listening to a patriotic speech by a school official, Paul decided to sign up even though he would have to forge his mother’s signature since he was underage. They immediately and unknowingly received uniforms from soldiers who were killed in a previous battle. After they are deployed in Northern France near La Malmaison, they are befriended by Stanislaus “Kat” Katczinsky (Albrecht Schuch), an older soldier. Their romantic view of the war is shattered by the realities of trench warfare on the Western Front, and Ludwig is killed by artillery on the first night.

This war was brutal and roughly 2,037,000 German soldiers were lost in battle. All Quiet on the Western Front is a gruesome story that follows a 17-year-old recruit, lured with propaganda who signed up thinking he would end up a hero and that Germany would win the war.  From the onset, massive amounts of soldiers were killed and Paul’s dreams would be shattered forever. Everyone would die and from my point of view, war is stupid.  We teach our children not to settle disputes with violence but yet we sanction war, go figure.  The movie is voiced over because it was made with German dialogue.  Despite the voiceover, it appeared to tell a true story of unimaginable loss and physical as well as mental detachment from society and private life.  The direction, acting, and writing were brilliant, however, the story was very depressing right up to the end, which includes an egregious act that caused even more soldier’s lives.  On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 92% of 131 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 8.4/10. The website’s consensus reads, “Both timely and timeless, All Quiet on the Western Front retains the power of its classic source material by focusing on the futility of war.” All Quite on the Western Front is not for everyone and is streaming on Netflix — Check It Out!

[ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT IS OSCAR NOMINATED FOR BEST:   Picture, Actor, Cinematography, International Feature Film, Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Score), Production Design, Sound, Visual Effects, and Writing (Adapted Screenplay) totaling 9 Nominations]

FIRESTARTER (2022) – My rating: 6.5/10

A young girl stares forward with an angered expression, as fire rages behind her.

Firestarter is a science fiction thriller directed by Keith Thomas, from a screenplay by Scott Teems, based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King and serving as a remake of the 1984 film adaptation. It is produced by Jason Blum and Akiva Goldsman under their Blumhouse Productions and Weed Road Pictures banners, respectively, alongside BoulderLight Pictures and Angry Adam Pictures.  I was amazed to find Firestarter in theaters as well as on Peacock.  Of course, I had to see it since it’s about a superhero.

The film begins with a flashback of an emotional baby in her crib, who spontaneously sets the room on fire with her superpowers, which sends her father (Zac Efron) Andrew “Andy” McGee into a panic.

Firestarter profiles the life of 11-year-old Charline “Charlie” McGee (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), who was born with special abilities.  She had no idea how to control her powers or how powerful she actually was.  Apparently, her father Andy, and mother Victoria “Vicky” (Sydney Lemmon) also have powers but Charlie appears to have more advanced powers than both of her parents since she also inherited their abilities.  Because Andy and Vicky allowed themselves to be injected with an experimental drug called Lot-6, many years ago, they obtained superpowers. Andy gained telepathy and Vicky, telekinesis. As Charlie grew older, she became more and more powerful.  It was feared she could crack the universe in two with a mere emotion of anger.  Despite being taught morals, like not stealing or killing people, she constantly set people, places, and, things on fire.  The entire family was hunted by an organization called DSI, led by Captain Jane Hollister (Gloria Reuben), which mostly put Charlie in jeopardy.

I found Firestarter to be dark and somewhat slow.  The story was nothing we haven’t heard before.  However, these actors were totally believable. After seeing Firestarter, I’m not a big fan.  The story became complicated when a superhuman bounty hunter named John Rainbird (Michael Greyeyes) was assigned by DSI to track Charlie down. John seemed obsessed with capturing Charlie and despite all the damage he caused, no harm came to him.  I was never sure of his story. As of May 29, 2022, Firestarter has grossed $8.1 million in the United States and Canada and $3.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $11.9 million. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 11% of 141 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 3.7/10. The website’s consensus reads, “There was plenty of room to improve on the original, but Firestarter trips over that low bar and tumbles toward the bottom of the long list of Stephen King adaptations.” In May 2022, Thomas stated that there are ongoing discussions to possibly expand the film into a franchise, acknowledging that this may be in the form of a sequel, prequel, or spin-off media. Firestarter is playing in theaters and streaming on Peacock — Check It Out!

 

RAISING DION (2021-2022) – My rating: 8/10

Raising Dion is a superhero drama television series. It was created for television by Carol Barbee and based on the 2015 comic book and a short film of the same name by Dennis Liu. So far, there are two seasons streaming on Netflix. I was referred to this series by my daughter.  It took a couple of tries to get into it but once I did, Wow, what a great series.

Raising Dion follows the story of a woman named Nicole Warren (Alisha Wainwright) who raises her son Dion Warren (Ja’Siah Young) after the death of her husband Mark Warren (Michael B. Jordan). The normal dramas of raising a son as a single mom are amplified when Dion starts to manifest several magical, superhero-like abilities. Nicole must now keep her son’s gifts secret with the help of Mark’s best friend Pat Rollins (Jason Ritter), and protect Dion from people out to exploit him while figuring out the origin of his abilities.

Raising Dion features a host of characters that help make this an exciting, interesting, and enjoyable superhero series.  The special effects are outstanding and the story is believable.  Mark and Pat, who are scientists and best friends, work for the BIONA company. They travel to Iceland to see a rare aurora event.  Mark is outside while Pat stays inside monitoring the events of lights.  When something goes wrong, everyone there is hit by radiated sparks, which turned some of them into unexplainable creatures.  Pat gets caught up when he goes outside to investigate.  No one knows they have been affected right away.  Mark gets married, impregnates Nicole and she gives birth to Dion, who she noticed had superpowers by the age of 10.  Mark is killed by something called the crooked man, and Nicole is left as a single mom.  Dion befriends Esperanza Jimenez (Sammi Haney), who is wheelchair-bound with osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease), and Jonathan King (Gavin Munn) an erstwhile bully, forming their own private vigilante team. The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reported an 83% approval rating for the series, based on 29 reviews, with an average rating of 6.8/10. The website’s critic’s consensus reads, “While its family drama and superhero aspirations don’t quite come together, compelling performances and a sense of wonder keep Raising Dion afloat and suggest that with a little more guidance it could become something great”. The second season was watched for over 108.75 million hours in its first 26 days on the platform according to Netflix’s top 10s. Check It Out!

 

THE GILDED AGE (2022) – My rating: 9/10

The Gilded Age is a historical drama television series created by Julian Fellowes for HBO that is set in the United States during the Gilded Age, the boom years of the 1880s in New York City.

Because I have a passion for period pieces, I couldn’t wait to watch this series. I thought Downton Abby was snobbish, The Gilded Age is even worse but the series is excellent, and I love it!

Beginning in 1882, the old money van Rhijn-Brook family and the new money Russell family are living across the street from one another in the city of New York. Their niece, who is a Brook is a naïve young woman who is about to enter the rigid social scene and learn about life’s harsh realities. The series follows characters in the upper class and the servant class.

The Gilded Age opens with NYC Industrialist, George Russell (Morgan Spector), his wife Bertha Russell (Carrie Coon), son Larry Russell (Harry Richardson), and daughter Gladys Russell (Taissa Farmiga) moving into their elaborate new Stanford White-designed mansion on 61st Street and 5th Avenue.

Peggy Scott (Denée Benton) a young ambitious African-American writer returning home after finishing her education at the Institute for Colored Youth encounters Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson) at the train station. Someone steals Marian’s purse containing her train ticket and the $30 her deceased father left her, leaving her penniless. Peggy takes pity on her and buys her another ticket but in the Colored section where they talk and both end up at the home of Marian’s aunts, Agnas Van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) and Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon). Peggy is offered a job as Agnas’ secretary and a place to stay despite having middle-class parents living in Brooklyn, with a maid and a family business.

High Society: New and old money do not mix, new money, old rules. Old money has the upper hand and new money must bend over backwards to enter into the snobbish society, mostly to no avail. The Russell’s apparently have more money than any family of old money but it doesn’t help them achieve their goal of opening any society doors. This series is about how The Russell’s were able to penetrate this tight knit society which covers a new railroad, Union Station, the establishment of the Red Cross, and the most snobbish of the snobbish society that rather die than let in new money. The servants are a whole other story. The Gilded Age delves into the lives of the servants in each house whole. No one is exempt down to the chefs. There is lots of gossip and firing and hiring of the staff as they get caught-up due to a shady past or shady present deeds. One ambitious maid was determine to have a better life by demanding that her boss sleep with her. When he turned her down, she went after him for revenge. She was caught for something else and let go. The series is intense, exciting, suspenseful and entertaining. At review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds a “Certified Fresh” 78% approval rating based on 65 reviews, with an average rating of 7.1/10. The site’s critical consensus reads: “Julian Fellowes’ brand of upstairs, downstairs intrigue makes a seamless transatlantic transition in The Gilded Age, with an outstanding cast making the travails of the rich a compelling watch”.The Gilded Age is streaming on HBO MAX and airs new episodes on Mondays — Check It Out!

THE 355 (2022) – My rating: 6.9/10

A poster featuring five women standing in front of a wall covered with country flags of the world. Below them is the following text: "From the producers that brought you Jason Bourne", "The 355", "Work Together or Die Alone", "In theaters January 7".

The 355 is a spy film directed by Simon Kinberg from a screenplay by Theresa Rebeck and Kinberg, and a story by Rebeck. The 355 follows a group of international spies who must work together to stop a terrorist organization from starting World War III. The title is derived from Agent 355, the codename of a female spy for the Patriots during the American Revolution. The 355 is about five women who save the world using their skills and training to keep the criminals from gaining access to a crucial device that would change everything. I enjoyed The 355 but found it unbelievable and a bit over the top.

****  SOME SPOILERS BELOW  ****

At a location 150 miles south of Bogotá, Colombia, a drug lord, and his son present criminal mastermind Elijah Clarke (Jason Flemyng) with a special decryption program drive that can access any digital system on Earth. Clarke double-crosses and kills him just as the authorities raid the mansion. Amid the chaos, Colombian DNI agent Luis Rojas (Édgar Ramírez) obtains the device. CIA operative Mason “Mace” Brown (Jessica Chastain) is assigned to purchase the drive from Rojas. She heads to Paris with longtime partner Nick Fowler (Sebastian Stan), with whom she is also in a relationship. The deal goes south when German undercover BND agent Marie Schmidt (Diane Kruger) swipes the bag holding the money. Mace chases Marie, who escapes via the subway while Nick is confronted in an alley by Clarke.

At CIA headquarters, Mace learns that Nick was found dead in the alley. Her superior, Larry Marks (John Douglas Thompson), gives her his blessing to retrieve the drive by any means. Mace travels to London to recruit a longtime friend, retired British MI6 operative Khadijah Adiyeme (Lupita Nyong’o). Rojas arranges to hand the drive over to Graciela Rivera (Penélope Cruz), a DNI psychologist with no field experience. Marie is pushed to go after the device by her boss, Jonas Muller (Sylvester Groth), who brings up how Marie’s father was a senior BND agent whom she personally turned in after discovering he was a Russian mole.

The 355 has lots of action and is quite clever, but old school and predictable.  Joining together for one common goal is well-intentioned by the five women who made the decision to share the booty.  The only problem is that is not reality but for the purpose of the film, I guess it is.  They go about things, using their respective skills to get the job done, which made The 355 entertaining and exciting.  Despite the negative publicity, I can still see a sequel coming down the road.  There are lots of twists and lots of deceit and lots of humor. As of March 2, 2022, The 355 has grossed $14.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $12.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $26.9 million.  The 355 garnered unfavorable reviews from critics. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 25% of 197 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 4.5/10. The website’s consensus reads, “It has a stellar cast and it’s conceptually progressive, but The 355 squanders it all on a forgettable story, unremarkably told.” The 355 is streaming on Prime Video — Check It Out!

 

RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON (2021) – My rating: 9.5/10

Promotional release poster of Raya and the Last Dragon depicting Raya and Sisu along with other people in Kumandra

Raya and the Last Dragon (/ˈr.ə/ RYE-ə) is a computer-animated fantasy adventure produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. The 59th film produced by the studio, it is directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada and is based on traditional Southeast Asian cultures. It was written by Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim. Raya and the Last Dragon follows a warrior princess who is in search of the fabled last dragon, with hopes of restoring the land of Kumandra and the dragons that use to watch over them.

Five hundred years ago, the peaceful and prosperous sub-continent of Kumandra is ravaged by the Druun, evil, dark-colored spirits that petrify, turning every living thing in its path to stone. Sisu (voice: Awkwafina), the last surviving dragon, concentrates her magic into a gem and blasts the Druun away, reviving Kumandra’s people but not the dragons, who remained stone. A power struggle for the gem divides Kumandra’s people into five separate kingdoms called Fang, Heart, Spine, Talon, and Tail, corresponding to their placement along a gigantic dragon-shaped river.

Five hundred years later, Chief Benja (voice: Daniel Dae Kim) of the Heart tribe, which ends up retaining possession of the dragon gem, trains his daughter, young warrior Princess Raya (voice:  Kelly Marie Tran) to protect the gem. Firmly believing Kumandra can be reunited, Benja holds a feast for the leadership of all five tribes. During the feast, Raya befriends Namaari (Gemma Chan), daughter of Chief Virana (Sandra Oh) of the Fang tribe and Fang’s princess, who gives Raya a dragon pendant and tells her of a legend that says the dragon Sisu still exists and can be summoned. Trusting Namaari, Raya shows her the chamber where the gem is kept. Namaari betrays Raya as part of a plot to help the Fang tribe steal the gem. Alerted to the attack, Chief Benja and the other tribes arrive and start fighting over the gem, breaking it into five pieces in the scuffle. The gem’s destruction creates a fissure that releases the Druun once again, quickly overtaking the Land of Heart. As every tribe member steals a piece of the gem and flees, Chief Benja notices that the Druun are repelled by water and sacrifices himself to save Raya’s life by throwing her in the river before getting petrified/turned to stone by the Druun. Six years later, Raya treks across Kumandra searching for Sisu to have her create another gem and banish the Druun once more. She manages to summon her at a shipwreck in Tail where Sisu admits that she did not create the gem, but wielded it on behalf of her four siblings, who each contributed their magic to the gem. Raya and Sisu resolve to take back the four stolen pieces of the gem, reassemble it and use it to banish the Druun and restore Raya’s father and others who were petrified/turned to stone.

This is where I must stop because this story is so profound and the journey is so exciting, I wouldn’t want to spoil a second of it for anyone.  Out of all the animated features, Raya and the Last Dragon is my favorite.  It is suspenseful, mysterious, and it has Awkwafina, who brings character, humor, and fun to the film.  I felt as though I was right there with them, fighting and searching for the pieces of the gem needed to assemble it back together.  From this point on, Raya and Sisu and many other characters (old and new) join the adventure as they learn, love, hate, fight, resolve and restore their land.  This film is truly worth seeing for the whole family. Raya and the Last Dragon grossed $54.7 million in the United States and Canada and $75.7 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $130.4 million. Raya and the Last Dragon received positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports 94% of 289 critics have given the film, a positive review with an average rating of 7.60/10. The website’s consensus reads: “Another gorgeously animated, skillfully voiced entry in the Disney canon, Raya and the Last Dragon continue the studio’s increased representation while reaffirming that its classic formula is just as reliable as ever”. Raya and the Last Dragon is streaming on Disney + — Check It Out!

[RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON is Oscar-nominated at the 94th Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature Film— Totaling 1 Oscar Nomination]

 

LUCA (2021) – My rating 8.5/10

Two boys on the water (Luca and Alberto), with half of their bodies in their aquatic forms with sea monsters hiding under a dock. Above the water, various characters with an village as a backdrop.

Luca is a computer-animated coming-of-age fantasy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The film was directed by Enrico Casarosa (in his feature-length directorial debut), written by Jesse Andrews and Mike Jones, from a story by Casarosa, Andrews, and Simon Stephenson, produced by Andrea Warren. Luca follows a family of sea “monsters” that change into human form when they emerge from the water.  This film was real family fun from beginning to end with a profound message about judging people and making assumptions without reason.

In the summer of 1959, young, timid sea monster Luca Paguro (voice: Jacob Tremblay) herds goatfish off the coast of the Italian town of Portorosso. His parents Daniela  (voice: Maya Rudolph) and Lorenzo (voice: Jim Gaffigan), fearing that humans might hunt him for food, forbid him to approach the surface. One day, Luca meets Alberto Scorfano (voice: Jack Dylan Grazer), a fellow sea monster child who lives alone above the surface, claiming that his father simply is not around much. Alberto encourages Luca to venture out of the ocean, showing him that sea monsters turn into humans when dry, but return to their true forms when wet. Luca follows Alberto to his hideout on Isola del Mare, where the boys connect while making and riding a makeshift, fragile Vespa.

Once Luca’s parents discovered what he was up to, they made a decision to send Luca to live in the deep sea with his uncle Ugo (voice: Sacha Baron Cohen). In retaliation, Luca runs away with Alberto to Portorosso to find a real Vespa and travel the world. The boys mistakenly run into Ercole Visconti (voice: Saverio Raimondo), the local bully and five-time champion of the Portorosso Cup, a local children’s triathlon. Ercole tries to soak Luca in a fountain, but Giulia Marcovaldo (voice: (Emma Berman), a young girl, helps the boys escape. In hopes of winning the money needed for a Vespa, the boys and Giulia form a team for the triathlon, which involves swimming, pasta-eating, and biking. Unable to swim without revealing themselves, Luca and Alberto take on the biking and pasta-eating portions of the race, respectively, while Giulia takes the swimming race. Upon learning this, Ercole vows to beat them and continue his winning streak. While the boys train for the race and befriend Giulia’s fisherman father Massimo Marcovaldo (voice: Marco Barricelli), who was born with only one arm, Luca’s parents head to the surface to find their son. Giulia teaches Luca about her school, and the two bond over a love of learning, especially about astronomy, and Alberto becomes jealous of Luca and Giulia’s growing friendship. When Luca starts ignoring Alberto’s advice and tries changing their plans so he could go to school instead of traveling the world, Luca and Alberto quarrel.

Luca is one of the better animated features because the message it sends, in this day and age, about bullying and racism is spot on.  Luca is a sea monster/human and all of the other characters are just human.  We tend to fear what we don’t know or what is different.  Most of the time, we are wrong however, we teach our children and convince ourselves if it is not like us, it’s bad.  Luca negates that myth and is a great teaching tool for young children. The story is adventurous, exciting, and fun.  I enjoyed Luca very much. By December 2021, the film grossed $49.8 million worldwide. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 91% based on 290 reviews, with an average rating of 7.30/10. The website’s critics consensus reads, “Slight but suffused with infectious joy, the beguiling Luca proves Pixar can play it safe while still charming audiences of all ages.” score and the story.  Disney + is streaming Luca and is free if you have a subscription — Check It Out!

[LUCA is Oscar-nominated at the 94th Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature Film — Totaling 1 Oscar Nomination]