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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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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REVIEW: ‘Abominable’ looks great but suffers from poor characters

Dreamworks’ animated features have had their ups and downs, and “Abominable” comes in at about the middle.

The movie follows Yi (voiced by Chloe Bennet), a teenage girl who’s motivated to work several jobs to save money in order to go on a trip across China. Her motivation comes from her late father, who wanted to take Yi on the trip himself before he passed away.

One night when she’s on the roof of her apartment putting away her saved money and to play her violin, though, Yi is greeted by an abominable snowman. While frightened at first, Yi eventually befriends the yeti. The problem, though, is that the yeti is being chased by goons from a billionaire who collects exotic creatures. Determined to keep the yeti safe, Yi and a few friends decide to help it get back to its home on Mount Everest.

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REVIEW: ‘Dora’ offers a fun adventure for the family

Adaptations of kids shows can go wrong sometimes but fortunately, “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” isn’t one of those films.

The movie, in a way, acts as a sort of sequel to the actual animated series, following Dora (Isabela Moner) as a 16-year-old. After growing up for most of her life in the jungle with her family, Dora’s parents send her to live with her aunt and uncle in California, as they have an expedition to go on.

There, Dora has to experience high school with her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg). However, while she’s optimistic at first, her upbeat attitude takes a hit because of her experience in public school. When Dora and some of her classmates are abducted by treasure hunters, though, she has to both learn to connect better with other students while also relying on her knowledge of nature to survive.

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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: ‘Secret Life of Pets’ sequel is better suited for the small screen

In my review of the 2016 film “Secret Life of Pets,” I said if a person isn’t a pet owner, they can go ahead and skip it. It’s mostly the same old story this time around.

The sequel again follows Max (Patton Oswalt) and Duke (Eric Stonestreet), who live in a New York City Apartment. The two are owned by Katie, who since the first film, has gotten married and has a child. Like the last movie, Max is a worrier and has his share of fears. As a result, he also has several concerns for Katie’s child.

He begins to face his fears, though, when the family takes a trip to a farm. There, Max meets Rooster (Harrison Ford), an older herding dog who helps Max face his fears and not be so-overprotective with Katie’s son. Meanwhile, the other pets back at the apartment where Max lives have adventures of their own.

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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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REVIEW: ‘Wonder Park’ is a forgettable animated adventure

I expected “Wonder Park” to be one of the lesser animated pictures of 2019. I didn’t expect it to be so bizarre.

The film primarily follows June (Brianna Denski), a young girl with a creative imagination who pretends to run an amusement park with her mom (Jennifer Garner). However, when her mom becomes sick with an undisclosed illness, June stops playing with the imaginary world of Wonderland.

Just when it seems her creative spark is gone, though, through a series of events, she actually stumbles across the park from her imagination. But the park isn’t all that great. In fact, it’s seemingly fallen into disrepair. As a result, June needs to team with her imaginary friends to restore the park.

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REVIEW: Third ‘Dragon’ ends the series on a positive note

It seems like the dragons are trained by this point, but the name still rolls off the tongue nicely.

In the third and likely final film in the series that started in 2010, the main character Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), an expert dragon trainer and rider is now chief of Berk. Since the events of the second picture, the island village where vikings reside has become a sort of safe haven for dragons. Because the people of Berk have become experts in handling dragons, thanks largely to Hiccup’s efforts in the past two movies, the dragons are able to live in relative peace.

However because of how many dragons are coming to the island for safety, the land is becoming overcrowded. This is on top of the fact that there are antagonistic forces who want to eliminate dragons, seeing them as a threat. In response, Hiccup decides to find the so called “Hidden World,” where dragons can live safely without being found.

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