REVIEW: Despite spectacle, ‘Mulan’ mostly stumbles

Trying to do two things at once can sometimes be pulled off, but it can also lead to a mess. This “Mulan” film is definitely a situation of the latter.

The film stars Yifei Liu as Mulan, a young woman who doesn’t exactly fit in at her community in rural China. Around the time that she’s getting forced to meet with a matchmaker, another area of China is being invaded by Rouran warriors, led by their commander Bori Khan (Jason Scott Lee) and magical witch, Xianniang (Li Gong).

In response, the Emperor (Jet Li) orders one man from each Chinese family to join the army to defend the nation. Mulan’s father is enlisted, but he has a permanent leg injury and already fought in a previous war. Knowing he would be in danger, Mulan decides to join the war in his place, disguising herself as a man in the process.

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REVIEW: ‘The Old Guard’ flops despite strong premise

“The Old Guard” is a pretty accurate title because this film doesn’t offer many new tricks.

The movie stars Charlize Theron as Andy, an immortal woman who’s lived for centuries as a warrior. She is the leader of a group of immortal fighters who’ve come together as a group of mercenaries. The film picks up with the team getting hired by Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor),  a man who’s heard of their skills in combat.

However, the group soon learns that they were set up by Copley, who wants to conduct research on the immortals as part of a pharmaceutical scheme. Meanwhile, Nile (KiKi Layne), a U.S. soldier in the Middle East, learns that she too is immortal and ends up joining the mercenaries in their work to evade Copley’s associates.

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REVIEW: ‘Artemis Fowl’ is atrocious

I’ve been doing this for nearly 12 years, and every so often there’s a movie so bad it tempts me to walk out of the theater or hit the stop button. “Artemis Fowl” has joined that club.

Ferdia Shaw plays the titular character Artemis Fowl (Jr.). He’s a certified child genius who still has to go to school for some reason, and lives at a mansion with his father, Artemis Fowl Sr., and his butler, Domovoi (Nonso Anozie).

One day, his father goes missing, and is blamed for stealing several priceless artifacts. Artemis soon learns that his father has also been kidnapped by a mysterious figure. The antagonist tells Fowl he has to get an artifact to get his dad back. As it turns out, a civilization of fantasy creatures including fairies also want the same artifact. As a result, Artemis needs to deal with both entities to save his father.

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REVIEW: ‘Onward’ offers a dull quest

This movie is all about magic, but doesn’t necessarily have that Pixar magic.

Tom Holland voices Ian in “Onward,” a young elf living in a world that, despite fantasy and magic elements existing, has become like our own modern society. A high schooler, Ian lives with his mom Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and his older brother Barley (Chris Pratt) who hasn’t exactly found his way in life.

Ian’s father Wilden passed away before he was born, something that weighs heavily on him. When he turns 16, though, he receives a staff for his birthday and finds a spell to bring back his dad for one day. He starts the spell, but is only able to bring his dad’s legs back. Knowing they only have a day, Ian and Barley decide to go on a quest to find a way to complete the spell.

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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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REVIEW: ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ without the magic

What a disappointment.

After several decades, the character Mary Poppins has finally returned to the big screen. The new film with the iconic character takes place several years after the original, but follows some of the main characters. The Banks siblings, Jane (Emily Mortimer) and Michael (Ben Whishaw), are now grown and Michael has children of their own.

However, times are tough again for the family, as Michael’s wife has passed away and bills are piling up. In fact, Michael’s financial troubles lead to the possibility of him losing the house. Because of all the difficulties, Poppins (Emily Blunt) arrives again to help get things back on track.

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REVIEW: ‘Aquaman’ is flawed, but fun

Despite rocky a rocky reception over several movies, the DC Comics Cinematic Universe still has movies coming out. The latest is this feature following the hero of the deep.

“Aquaman” takes place after the events of last year’s “Justice League” and follows the water-based hero, played by Jason Momoa, whose actual name is Arthur. Embracing the idea of being a hero, Arthur has taken it upon himself to fight crime and rescue people on the high seas.

However, while this is taking place, the politics of his estranged home Atlantis are turning dangerous. Arthur’s half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson), who’s now a ruler in Atlantis, is fed up with humans negatively impacting the ocean and now wants to launch a war. In order to stop the potential conflict, another Atlantis royal, Mera (Amber Heard), recruits Arthur to take his place as the true king.

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REVIEW: ‘Mortal Engines’ is a poor attempt at building a new fantasy series

A steampunk world with some fantasy and Hugo Weaving to boot? This should have been a fairly entertaining ride. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with this adaptation.

“Mortal Engines” is set several hundred years in the future where human civilization was devastated following mass explosions. The story picks up with large sections of humanity living in mobile cities that move from place to place, some with more power than others.

The main focus of the story is on Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), who’s seeking revenge against Thaddeus Valentine (Weaving), the head researcher for the (now) mobile city of London, who’s trying to harness the power of old technology from the pinnacle of human civilization. In her adventure, Hester meets Tom (Robert Sheehan), a young museum worker who ends up tagging along.

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REVIEW: ‘Beasts’ sequel isn’t all that fantastic

It’s safe to say that the magic is gone.

For the uninitiated, “Crimes of Grindelwald” is the second installment of the “Fantastic Beasts” series, which is a spinoff of the “Harry Potter” movies. The series is set decades before the “Harry Potter” events and follows a wizard named Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who’s an expert when it comes to dealing with various creatures.

In this installment, Scamander is tasked by a younger Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to keep track of a situation in France that’s related to the fearsome antagonist of the series, Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). Like its predecessor from 2016, “Crimes” has Newt team up with his friends from New York, Jacob (Dan Fogler), Tina (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie (Alison Sudol).

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REVIEW: Black and Blanchett elevate otherwise forgettable ‘House with Clocks’

I can’t say that I ever expected Jack Black and Cate Blanchett to make a good onscreen duo, but here we are.

The two performers appear on the big screen in this fantasy film, directed by Eli Roth. While they headline the picture, though, the main character of the picture is Lewis, played by Owen Vaccaro. The film’s opening finds Lewis moving to Michigan to live with his uncle Jonathan (Black) after the death of his parents. Not long after Lewis moves in, he soon finds out that both his uncle and his uncle’s friend Florence (Blanchett) are warlocks.

As he begins to learn about the world of magic, Lewis not only finds out that sorcery exists, but that the house he’s living in contains an evil clock with nefarious designs.

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