REVIEW: ‘Frozen’ sequel doesn’t burn as bright, but is still mostly magical

“Frozen II” may not have surpassed the first film, but it managed to get another song stuck in my head. So, mission accomplished?

The history and lore of the Arendelle Kingdom, details about the world’s magic, along with the relationship between royal sisters is all explored in this sequel to Disney’s smash hit from 2013. The movie is set about three years after Elsa (Idina Menzel) became queen, learned how to harness her powers and with the help of her sister Anna (Kristen Bell), managed the Southern Isles crisis.

At the movie’s beginning, the kingdom appears safe and the returning protagonists seem happy. However, Elsa begins hearing a voice in the distance and the power of nature stars wreaking havoc on Arendelle. Determining the voice she hears and the kingdom’s history are connected to what’s happening, Elsa sets off on a journey to an enchanted forest with Anna, Olaf (Josh Gad) and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) to set things right.

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Monday Movie Report: Disney/Marvel schedule release dates

While details and titles for several upcoming Marvel movies remain undisclosed, the studio and parent company Disney have scheduled many of them for release.

According to The Wrap, Marvel Studios and Disney set release dates for five untitled films on Oct. 2, 2022, Feb. 17, 2023, May 5, 2023, July 28, 2023 and Nov. 3, 2023.

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REVIEW: ‘Maleficent 2’ is more mediocre than marvelous

That mouse just can’t quit with this live action train, huh. Can’t really blame Disney when the first “Sleeping Beauty” story adaptation made nearly $70 million in its opening weekend and grossed $758 million worldwide.

In this follow-up to the 2014 hit, Angelina Jolie returns to the role of Maleficent, a powerful fairy who now looks after her goddaughter and acts as the main defender of the Moors Kingdom. Queen of that kingdom is Maleficent’s goddaughter Aurora (Elle Fanning), who now rules a united kingdom including both humans and mystical creatures.

Along with leading a nation, Aurora has fallen in love with Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson), who’s from another kingdom. The two are looking to get married, and with some convincing, Maleficent becomes at least open to the idea. However, Phillip’s parents, especially his mother Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), are less than welcoming, viewing the mystical residents of Aurora’s kingdom, including Maleficent as a threat. Her prejudice eventually causes a strain between Aurora and Maleficent.

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SPECIAL Movie Report: Recapping 2019 D23

The Mouse House dominated the headlines in the film industry Saturday as its D23 Expo event continued. Disney, which owns the rights to Pixar, LucasFilm and Marvel Studios unveiled several upcoming projects and showed off highlights from pictures soon to be released.

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Looking at Live Action: Ranking the Disney Remakes

The release of a new “Lion King” adaptation has marked about 10 years into Disney’s adventure in remaking many of its animated pictures into live action versions. OK, technically, the new “Lion King” is a fully animated picture, but it’s more or less a de facto live action movie.

With nearly a decade to look back on, plus some others from years past, here is my ranking of the Disney live action and/or life-like remakes of animated classics.

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REVIEW: Real life ‘Lion King’ is mostly lifeless

All of my worries were confirmed.

Those who have watched the 1994 animated classic will find themselves in familiar territory here. James Earl Jones plays the role of Mufasa again in “The Lion King,” and as the title implies, is a lion who’s king of a large amount of land. Mufasa’s Pride Lands are thriving thanks to his leadership and he now has a son, Simba to inherit the kingdom.

Unfortunately, the monarchy is thrown into chaos by Mufasa’s plotting brother Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who wants to take the throne. This leaves Simba (JD McCary and later Donald Glover) in a period of exile.

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REVIEW: ‘Toy Story 4’ doesn’t fly like predecessors, but still falls with style

I’ll admit, when I first heard a new “Toy Story” was in production, I was skeptical, considering “Toy Story 3” was such a solid end to the trilogy. Fortunately, Pixar did some solid work with this fourth feature.

The latest film picks up seemingly not too long after the end of part three. The original gang, for example, have adapted pretty well to life with Bonnie’s other toys. That is, except for Woody (Tom Hanks). Woody appears to be involved less and less in times of play, and as a result, is getting little anxious.

However, when Bonnie creates a new toy from some materials, mainly a spork, named Forky (Tony Hale),  Woody finds some purpose. Forky appears to be confused, thinking himself more akin to trash than a toy, but Woody is set on protecting him and keeping him around, as Forky has become Bonnie’s favorite. The work gets more difficult, though, when during a family trip, Forky escapes in a small town near a carnival. Woody sets off on an adventure immediately to save Forky, and fortunately, he gets some help from the long lost Bo Peep (Annie Potts).

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REVIEW: New ‘Aladdin’ never surpasses animated version

It’s true nobody can replace Robin Williams, but in all fairness, Will Smith probably provides this new “Aladdin” a lot of energy.

The movie is of course based on the 1992 animated feature with the same name. Like that film, “Aladdin” 2019 follows the titular character (Mena Massoud) living on the streets of the city state Agrabah. In his adventures to survive by pick-pocketing and running hustles, he meets a young woman who’s secretly Agrabah’s princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott).

The two form a connection, yet Aladdin of course has trouble getting to know her since her home is at the palace. As part of his desperation, Aladdin comes in contact with a power hungry Vizier, Jafar (Marwan Kenzari). Jafar offers Aladdin riches if he goes inside a cave of wonders and retrieves a lamp. Things don’t go exactly to plan, though, and Aladdin ends up with the lamp and meets a Genie (Will Smith) who can grant three wishes.

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REVIEW: Live action ‘Dumbo’ never lifts off

Aside from “The Jungle Book,” Disney’s effort to remake its classic animated library into live action pictures has been only average at best. “Dumbo” certainly doesn’t help that trend.

Like its animated counterpart, “Dumbo” features a performance elephant at a circus who has a newborn son. Breaking away from the original, though, is who discovers the situation. Early on the film introduces the audience to an animal caretaker named Holt (Colin Farrell) and his two children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins). They’re the ones who discover the new elephant at the circus, run by Max Medici (Danny DeVito). Upon seeing Dumbo for the first time, they of course notice his rather large ears. This seems like a problem at first, but the two kids are able to “unlock” a talent in the elephant: the ability to fly.

Similar to the animated picture, there’s an incident where Dumbo’s mother is taken away. However, because of his flying, Dumbo is able to find some success and a little hope is restored. Because of Dumbo’s success, a rich amusement park owner, V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), comes to make Max a partner and obtain his whole show, including Dumbo. An agreement is made, but it becomes apparent that Vandevere is a shady person.

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Monday Movie Report: Breaking down the merger of Disney and Fox

After more than a year of negotiations, Disney completed its purchase of 21st Century Fox last week, an investment of $71 billion.

According to Variety, the purchase means Disney now owns Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Family and Fox Animation. Additionally, Disney now has control over Fox’s TV productions.

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