Tag Archives: benjamin bratt

COCO (2017) – My rating: 8.5/10

Coco is a 3D computer-animated fantasy film produced by Pixar and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Coco is based on an original idea by Lee Unkrich, which he also co-directed with Adrian Molina.The story follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel Rivera who is accidentally transported to the land of the dead, where he seeks the help of his deceased musician great-great-grandfather to return him to his family among the living. The concept for Coco is based on the Mexican holiday, ‘Day of the Dead’. The film was scripted by Molina and Matthew Aldrich.

The story opens in Santa Cecilia, Mexico. Imelda Rivera was the wife of a musician, who left her and their 3-year-old daughter Coco, to pursue a career in music. When he never returns, Imelda banishes music from her life and that of her family and opens a shoe-making family business.

Ninety-six years later, her great-great-grandson, 12-year-old Miguel, now lives with Coco and their family. He secretly dreams of becoming a musician like Ernesto de la Cruz, a popular actor and singer of Coco’s generation. One day, Miguel inadvertently damages the picture frame holding a photo of Coco with her parents at the center of the family ofrenda and removes the photograph, discovering that his great-great-grandfather (whose face had been torn out) was holding Ernesto’s famous guitar.

Coming to the conclusion that Ernesto is his great-great-grandfather, Miguel ignores his grandmother Elena’s objections and leaves to enter a talent show for the Day of the Dead. He enters Ernesto’s mausoleum and takes his guitar to use in the show, but becomes invisible to everyone in the village plaza. However, he can interact with his dog Dante and his dead relatives who are visiting from the Land of the Dead for the holiday. Taking him there, they realize that Imelda cannot visit, as Miguel removed her photo from the ofrenda. Discovering that he is cursed for stealing from the dead, Miguel must return to the Land of the Living before sunrise or he will become one of the dead; to do so, he must receive a blessing from a member of his family using an Aztec marigold petal that can undo the curse placed upon him when he stole Ernesto’s guitar. Imelda offers Miguel a blessing but on the condition that he abandon his musical pursuits when he returns to the Land of the Living; Miguel refuses and attempts to seek Ernesto’s blessing.

From this point, the movie is just getting started.  It is very interesting to see how Miguel resolves his many issues.  There are many new characters to meet and many twist and turns to this colorful movie.  It is brilliantly written and the music is breathtaking.  Children will love Coco, I know I did.  I consider it a “must see” for children and adults alike.  Kudos and congratulations to Pixar and Disney for such an entertaining movie — it will reel you in and keep you there still the very end.  This is one film you shouldn’t miss.  Check it out! Below is a list of the talented cast of voices that performed Coco.

  — SOME SPOILERS IN THE DESCRIPTIONS BELOW —

Anthony Gonzalez provides the voice of Miguel Rivera, a 12-year-old aspiring musician.
Gael García Bernal provides the voice of Héctor, a charming trickster in the Land of the Dead who enlists Miguel to help him visit the Land of the Living, and is later revealed to be Miguel’s great-great-grandfather, Imelda’s husband, Coco’s father and the patriarch of the Rivera family.
Benjamin Bratt provides the voice of Ernesto de la Cruz, the most famous musician in the history of Mexico and Miguel’s idol. Revered by fans worldwide until his untimely death, the charming and charismatic musician is even more beloved in the Land of the Dead.
Antonio Sol provides Ernesto de la Cruz’s singing voice, except for “Remember Me”.
Alanna Ubach provides the voice of Mamá Imelda Rivera, Miguel’s late great-great-grandmother, Héctor’s wife, Coco’s mother and the matriarch of the Rivera family.
Renée Victor provides the voice of Elena Rivera, Miguel’s grandmother (“Abuelita”) who strictly enforces the ban on music that is the legacy of her grandmother.
Ana Ofelia Murguía provides the voice of Mamá Socorro “Coco” Rivera, Miguel’s great-grandmother and the daughter of Héctor and Imelda.
Edward James Olmos provides the voice of  Chicharrón, a friend of Héctor’s who is forgotten in the Land of the Dead.
Alfonso Arau provides the voice of Papá Julio Rivera, Miguel’s late great-grandfather and Coco’s husband.
Selene Luna provides the voice of Tía Rosita Rivera, Miguel’s late great-grandaunt, and Julio’s sister.
Dyana Ortellí provides the voice of Tía Victoria Rivera, Miguel’s late grandaunt, and Elena’s sister.
Herbert Sigüenza provides the voice of Tíos Oscar and Felipe Rivera, Miguel’s late identical twin great-great-granduncles.
Jaime Camil provides the voice of Papá Enrique Rivera, Miguel’s father and Elena’s son.
Sofía Espinosa provides the voice of Mamá Luisa Rivera, Miguel’s mother.
Luis Valdez provides the voice of Tío Berto Rivera, Miguel’s uncle, and is also the voice of Don Hidalgo.
Polo Rojas provides the voice of Abel Rivera, Miguel’s cousin.

[Coco is Oscar nominated for BEST: Original Song and Animated Feature Film]
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DR. STRANGE (2016) – My rating: 8/10

drstrangePlease keep in mine, I am not rating any of super hero movies against their comic books series because I don’t read comic books. In fact, I’ve never read any comic books or watched any cartoons. It was never my thing. I am reviewing these movies strictly on whether I was entertained and the quality of the movie. Dr. Strange was not what I expected. That’s not to say it was bad, it’s just to say the subject matter was not what I thought it would be. Having said that,  I liked the movie but I think it fell a little flat. Logically, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the reason Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) the sorcerer and his zealots, who were ruled by the dark Dormammu, wanted to kill off most of the world.  After that, what’s there to rule? It just didn’t make sense to me. So much effort for nothing. I also classify Dr. Strange’s character as a pompous ass. He’s so full of himself that it was hard to like him. I get that is a character flaw he’s been battling with forever and probably isn’t news to anyone but me, however, it was still difficult to deal with. This Reminded me of that other silly superhero everyone loved but I hated because of his “I love me and everything I do attitude” (Ryan Reynolds) in Deadpool. Dr. Strange’s attitude is not as bad as Deadpool but it’s close. The saving grace in this movie is the phenomenal actress, Tilda Swinton. She is one of the best actresses of our time and in my opinion certainly made Dr. Strange worth seeing.

Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) an acclaimed neurosurgeon, loses the use of his hands in a car accident.  His ego wouldn’t allow him to accept his new position in life that wouldn’t include performing surgery, which keeps him in fresh pats on the back.  During Dr. Strange’s research for a cure, he learns of a person, Jonathan Pangborn, (Benjamin Bratt) a paraplegic with similar neurological problems who learned how to heal himself by going off to Kathmandu, Nepal, to study with the Ancient One, (Tilda Swinton) who has been alive for an undisclosed amount of time.

He also met with Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a Master of the Mystic Arts, close with the Ancient One and now a mentor to Dr. Strange. While there, they tried to put Dr. Strange’s ego in tact and teach him powers he never imagined existed.  Moving in and out of spiritual realms took a lot for him to learn and even shaped his character a little but not quite enough to call him modest. An injury caused Strange to drift back to the hospital where he worked for life saving treatment and interaction with his colleague and love interest, Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams).  There was much humor and the special effects were outstanding.  The acting was brilliant and the costume design was fantastic.  Despite Dr. Strange’s cocky attitude, I found the movie very entertaining and highly recommend it.

 

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THE INFILTRATOR (2016) – My rating: 8.5/10

TheInfiltratorBased on a true story, The Infiltrator tells how in the 1980s, US Customs Service special agent Robert Mazur, (Brian Stranton) helped bring down the nefarious bankers who manipulated complex international finance systems to serve drug lords,  (including Pablo Escobar) corrupt politicians, tax cheats, and terrorists. It also chronicles the rise and fall of the world’s biggest and most intricate money-laundering operation, responsible for cleaning and moving hundreds of millions of dollars a year for several cartels.  The Infiltrator shows the hard work of many different law enforcement agencies, who together accomplished the arrest of over 100 corrupt individuals, as well as closed down the The Bank of Credit and Commerce International who secretly took illegal ownership of First American Bank shares in Washington, DC.    It also paints a vivid portrait of undercover life and its many sacrifices.  Flooded with lies, near misses, and exciting escapes, The Infiltrator is as thrilling as any fiction movie, only it actually happened.  Of course there are the usual embellishments for the sake of the movie but for the most part, it’s true to life.

The movie focuses on (Bryan Cranston) as Agent Robert Mazur/Bob Musella who was married with children and used Bob Musella as his uncover name and his partner (John Leguizamo) as Agent Emir Abreu who in real life was a street smart agent who had a gift for reading people.  (Diane Kruger) as rookie Agent Kathy Ertz was brought in to play Bob’s undercover fiancé.  (Benjamin Bratt) as Roberto Alcaino was a wealthy Chilean-born jeweler who was one of the main collectors of cash for the Medellín Cartel in the United States and had direct contact with Pablo Escobar.  (Amy Ryan) as Agent and Supervisor Bonni Tischler, headed up this operation known as Operation C-Chase.  (Juliet Aubrey) as Evelyn Mazur, Robert’s wife who put up with his undercover work that took him away for months at a time.  Olympia Dukakis as Aunt Vicky, Robert’s wealthy aunt who helped as a friend, convince Roberto Alcaino she was a successful real estate investor.  All in all, there were approximately 250 law enforcement personnel who worked on Operation C-Chase.

There were some changes from the real life story but not enough to significantly change the movie.  The Infiltrator was entertaining, suspenseful and well acted.  I don’t think it got the marketing attention it should have but it was still a good movie worth seeing.

 

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RIDE ALONG 2 (2016) – My rating: 7.5/10

RideAlong2A semi-quasi slap stick comedy from Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, who play Detective James Payton and Officer Ben Barber, respectively .  I’m still not fond of slap stick however, Ride Along 2 was a little more tolerable than most.  I found it had a descent story line, although it was totally unbelievable on some level.  Today there are so many corrupt politicians, it’s hard to say what officials would or wouldn’t do.  I don’t have a lot to say about this movie that hasn’t been said already.  Most of it stayed the same as the first film, Ride Along.  Officer Barber is a new, rookie cop who is trying very hard to win Detective Payton’s favor and respect.  To make matters worse, Payton is also about to become Barber’s brother-in-law because Barber is marrying his sister, Angela Payton-Barber (Tika Sumpter).  James is not happy about this union since he’s considers Ben to be a total dork but goes along with most of his crap because of his sister.  Ride-Along-2 has James and Ben go to Miami to solve a crime that leads them to a corrupt war lord, Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt), his hacker A.J. (Ken Jeong) and his band of thugs and a love interest, Detective Maya Cruz, (Olivia Munn) for ice Cube.  The usual wreckage happens along with Miami Captain Hernandez (Carlos Gomez) asking that the two of them leave his town.

Ben, James and Olivia end up collaborating for the better good to solve the case.  Their tactics were interesting and entertaining.  Ride-Along-2 will reward it’s audience with a laugh or two without being too silly and stupid.  Waiting for Ride-Along 2 to release on DVD would probably be in your best interest.