The Little Mermaid

We all know the story of The Little Mermaid. Created by Hans Christian Andersen and animated by Disney in 1989, this beloved classic has finally gotten the live action remake treatment. Over the years, I have come to tread lightly when it comes to these because I’ve been let down so many times (except for Aladdin which was brilliant). So while I was interested in seeing where they’d take one of my top five Disney flicks, I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised with the film. The visual effects were stunning – yes there was a lot of CGI, but I wasn’t bothered by it. The vibrant colours of life under the sea was beautiful. I was completely transported away into this world that I almost wanted to pack my bags and become a mermaid myself!

The best part of the film, was of course, Halle Bailey. This is her film. All the people who were skeptical can step aside because she was born to play Ariel. She made the role her own while also incorporating bits and pieces from her origin. The facial expressions, mannerisms and her VOICE. Her fucking voice was perfection! When she sang Part Of Your World I had chills engulf my whole body and I never wanted it to stop.

In addition to Bailey, we had Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric who was a total clone of his animated counterpart. I was one of those little girls who had a major crush on Eric and to see him come to life like this was a treat. I thought the rest of the casting choices fit as well: Javier Bardem as King Triton was powerful though underused, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder was cute and ever so diligent towards Ariel and Awkwafina was laugh out loud hilarious as Scuttle. Unfortunately I didn’t care much for Melissa McCarthy’s Ursula as I’m simply not a fan of the actress herself. The stand out for me, however, was David Diggs as Sebastian. Every single moment of his was pure gold.

While they tried to bring this story into the 21st century, I didn’t care for many of the updates. The only new song I really enjoyed was Scuttle’s (though I might be biased because it had Lin Manuel Miranda written all over it). The added scenes didn’t really do anything to enrich what we already knew and the run time was a little too long.

All that being said, The Little Mermaid was much better than I ever thought it was going to be. Seeing this story come to life was a major nostalgia trip for me in the best way possible. I do think this is a step in the right direction for Disney going forward and hope it sticks.

Rating: ♥️♥️♥️.5


Ever since I was a kid, I have had a fascination with Dracula. I even used to tell people that he was my father and I had a pretty convincing argument as to why – having been adopted from Romania and not knowing who my biological father actually was, it could totally be true! So when I heard about this new take on the infamous vampire and his familiar, I knew I had to check it out.

Renfield (Nicholas Holt), the titular character in our story, is tired of doing Dracula’s (Nicolas Cage) bidding after countless years. Wanting to make it on his own, he finds a new apartment, changes his look and even strikes up an unlikely friendship with cop Rebecca Quincy (Awkwafina). But Renfield’s dreams of starting over won’t be easy, not only thanks to his blood-thirsty boss, but also because of a mix up with drug lord Teddy Lobo (Ben Schwartz) and his family.

What worked really well here was the over the top gore. While some elicited some ews from me, it fit with the tone of the movie and made for a really fun time. I have to give props to the make up team because they absolutely aced it. Going hand in hand were the fight sequences which were just as out there, especially when Renfield would possess his master’s powers and acquire some crazy killer moves.

I’ve seen Holt in a variety of roles over the years and think he’s a fine actor. He carried this film on his back and delivered a solid performance. Cage, on the other hand, was the scene stealer. He’s such an enigmatic actor and you could tell that he gave his all to this performance. I wish we’d seen more of him.

Although at times it seemed as if the film didn’t really know what genre it was trying to be, I thought it was still an overall fun time. The camp and bloodshed were highlights though I think it could have been even darker and it still would have worked just as well. That being said, I had a good time and would not be opposed to seeing more of these characters adventures in the future.

Rating: ♥️♥️♥️

The Bad Guys

Have you ever felt misunderstood because of the perceptions people have of you? That is the case for Wolf (Sam Rockwell), Snake (Marc Maron), Tarantula (Awkwafina), Shark (Craig Robinson) and Piranha (Anthony Ramos). Infamous criminals, when they are finally caught after a heist gone wrong, they are given a lifeline: become model citizens to avoid a prison sentence. With the help of a guinea pig named Mr. Marmalade (Richard Ayoade), our villains will do whatever they can to fool the world that they have changed.

My expectations going into The Bad Guys were low. Nothing about the trailer stood out to me except for the voice talents. But with Dreamworks being behind the likes of Shrek and Shark Tales, I figured I would give it a chance.

Though the story was nothing groundbreaking, it is still worth a watch. The colorful cast of characters were fun to get to know. You want them to succeed, whether in their crimes or for them to redeem themselves. I do wish some of the backstories were expanded more, though overall they had a solid friendship base which I liked.

A lot of the jokes were smart and witty. One that stands out to me the most was when Mr. Wolf was dressed in a sheep onesie. It gave the saying ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’ a whole new meaning. I also thought it was smart to have another stereotyped animal in Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz) playing a protagonist opposite the others.

With every good story, there is a moral. And what I liked most about The Bad Guys was that it sheds importance on not judging a book by it’s cover. Just because we don’t know what is going on with somebody doesn’t mean we should jump to conclusions about them. Not everything is what you see is what you get and that was refreshing.

Rating: ♥♥♥

Shang Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings

The much anticipated Shang Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings premiered in cinemas this Friday. Shang Chi, or Shaun (Simu Liu) as he goes by most of the time, is a seemingly normal guy who works as a valet driver with his best friend Katy (Awkwafina). But when his past comes back to haunt him, he is forced to confront it as well as his father who just so happens to be notorious villain Mandarin (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung). Being the master of unarmed weaponry in Kung Fu, Shang Chi hopes his skills will help him in combating the Ten Rings organization all while saving the world at the same time.

I had such high hopes for this movie. Origin stories for superheroes can be very hit or miss and they hyped this one up like crazy. I am happy to say that it completely and totally exceeded my expectations! I can’t get over how good it was or how much I liked it. I was transfixed the whole way through and at times I found myself shaking my head at what I was seeing unfold in front of me.

The casting for Shang Chi himself was always on point for me. Simu Liu seems like such a down to earth guy and I couldn’t imagine anybody else in this role. He’s become a little Toronto treasure and I am proud to live in the city from where he hails. Awkwafina brought the much needed comedic relief and I just loved watching her friendship with Shang. I really hope they don’t make them go down the romantic route because it’s so refreshing to see a healthy boy girl friendship for once. Mandarin is possibly one of the most heartbreaking villains to ever come out of the MCU. Learning about his backstory and what his motives were really made you feel for him. A highlight for me was Shang’s sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) who I knew nothing about beforehand. Not only was she a complete badass, but she had a lot of depth too and I hope we see more of her in future films. And to have Michelle Yeoh in this as well was just a treat. She’s such a queen and her role here was no exception.

I cannot get over the special effects that were used. It seemed to be on a whole other level this time around and I don’t know how Marvel does it. The fight sequences were also impressive. In particular, the final one in Ta-Lo was like nothing I had ever seen before. Everything about it was A+ and deserves awards.

Shang Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings was the first superhero movie to have proper Asian representation. It really was beautiful to be able to witness that. Everything about it was flawlessly executed that I can’t say anything to fault it. It’s no secret that I’m more of a DC girl but even I have to say that Marvel smashed it here. I think it’s my favorite one to date.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Raya and the Last Dragon

Raya and the Last Dragon is the latest Disney masterpiece. I say this confidently because I loved absolutely everything about it. It doesn’t happen often that I dislike something by Disney, however, over the more recent years, I feel like they have really stepped up their game in regards to modernizing their stories. Before it was standard procedure for a princess to sit around and wait for her prince to come and rescue her, but now these princesses are bad asses and don’t take shit from anybody. It’s amazing! Because of that, this latest addition was a stand out.

Many years ago in the land of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together harmoniously. However, when a group of monsters called the Druun threaten everything, the dragons sacrifice themselves to save the people. In the aftermath, Kumandra split up and became separate kingdoms, sparking a rivalry between one another.

Five hundred years later, the Druuns are back. Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) must embark on a journey to find the last dragon. By doing this, she can save humanity and hopefully put Kumandra back together in the process.

Everything about this story was flawless. There were twists and turns, ups and downs and never a dull moment. It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through.

Raya herself is a feisty young lady warrior. She is the perfect role model for girls everywhere. Her determination to bring Kumandra together once more and save the people is truly inspiring. Kelly Marie Tran really helped bring her to life. I can’t imagine anyone else playing Raya now. Similarly, Gemma Chan was brilliant as Namaari. The misunderstood antagonist made you root for her and her chemistry with Raya was off the charts. Other standouts included Izaac Wang as Boun, Benedict Wong as Tong and Thalia Tran as little Noi. Without these three, the movie would not have been what it was. I have to say though that the best part of all for me was Sisu, the infamous last dragon. Voiced by Awkwafina, she brought a new dimension to the role and stole the show.

Raya and the Last Dragon was everything I hoped it would be and more. I am simply stunned by the world that was created for this special story. I cannot sing it’s praises enough.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥