Tag Archives: Film reviews

The Little Mermaid Review

The Little Mermaid has some amazing visual sensations at the beginning, involving repeated transitions from below the water to above the surface. That is where the technological features of the film are the most enchanting. After that, Ariel’s voice provides much of the magic.

This newest version of The Little Mermaid is not animated like the original 1989 version, it’s a remake of the Disney classic with actual people and a lot of CGI. There are many characters who provide moments of exhilaration in the film. Ariel is played by Halle Bailey, Prince Eric is played by Jonah Hauer-King, Ursula is played by Melissa McCarthy, King Triton is played by Javier Bardem, Daveed Diggs is the voice of Sebastian, Jacob Tremblay is the voice of Flounder, and Awkwafina is the voice of Scuttle.

Those who love the original
version of The Little Mermaid will recall that Ariel is a mermaid living below the sea. She has a fascination with humans and a burning desire to know of what it is like to live on land with humans. Ariel’s father, King Triton, is protective of her and prohibits her from leaving her home in the sea. Her crab friend Sebastian tries to be an advocate for her, but Ariel feels that the world around her is a disappointment and she is full of despair. But when Ursula comes around all that changes.

Ursula is a sea monster and she makes a deal with Ariel to trade her voice for human legs so Ariel can see what life is like out of the sea. Once Ariel is on shore she believes she has found her love, Prince Eric. But she is torn with a range of questions. Can she continue to be dishonest about not being a human? Can she trust Ursula? Is her world below the sea in danger? Are her sea creature friends Sebastian and Flounder safe? Fans of the earlier version will know the answers.

Some of the joy I found in this film came from a number of spectacular and exhilarating tunes written by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Jacques Oftenbach, including Under the Sea and Part of Your World. But my enjoyment was even more from reliving the original film, only with with actual people instead of animated characters.

Ariel wanting to feel loved gives The Little Mermaid much of its vibrant energy. The film also shines in the connecting of friendships in a magical world. The sea is full of wonders, and The Little Mermaid gives viewers many reminders of the joys we’ve all experienced with Disney films.

The Little Mermaid is a classic for kids and families, and it’s one that will give many Disney fans an enjoyable movie experience. It is also one where adults (including myself) can be reminded of the Disney wonder from our younger days. Because it’s not animated like the original, there’s not necessarily a lot of nostalgia, but it is a positive experience. Three stars for The Little Mermaid.


Sanctuary Review

I had a hard time deciding what I thought of Sanctuary. A film from independent film company Neon is usually artistically brilliant, with twisted scenarios. Sanctuary, though, seems to be more predictability over artistry. It does have a twisted outlook, but the film is more like a play with a lot of dramatic irony, rather than the dark comedy that it is billed as.

Sanctuary’s two characters are Hal and Rebecca. Hal is played by Christopher Abbott and Margaret Qualley is Rebecca. It is a dominatrix scenario, with Hal being an extremely wealthy client who arranges the meets with Rebecca. He believes that aside from his relationship with Rebecca his life is a joke and not exciting. His bizarre, sexual escapades with Rebecca is to help him escape his mundane life. However, when Hal decides that he wants to end Rebecca’s services, the film takes an ominous turn. Rebecca makes Hal believe that she will ruin his life by blackmailing or exposing his many dark secrets. All this turmoil Rebecca creates is where Sanctuary goes downhill for Hal, but creates excitement for Rebecca.

The sexual escapade of Sanctuary is where it becomes predictable. Hal may be getting his desires fulfilled, but is there more to why he has these desires? Rebecca’s sexual escapades with Hal is to her advantage, but is it really benefiting her? The performances of Abbott and Qualley just seem to lack the characterizations for a believable trap. Rebecca really doesn’t sell her claim to own Hal by her threats to destroy his whole life based on his choices and experiences with her.

The title of the film Sanctuary comes from the safe word that Hal and Rebecca develop to let the other one know that the escapade is going too far. Ironically, though, no one is “safe” in Sanctuary. Hal and Rebecca have built a relationship that causes both of them to have all kinds of weird and obsessive thinking.

It seemed to me that the tensions between Hal and Rebecca was more about a clash of egos rather sex. There are no romantic ties or connection between Hal and Rebecca in Sanctuary. There is just an array of personal flaws, bizarre settings, and scandalous realizations. The focus of Sanctuary seems to be on the gaslighting between Hal and Rebecca. Rebecca’s way of gaslighting is one that remains quiet, yet effective. Hal on the other hand cries with fear and anxiety to manipulate Rebecca.

In my view Sanctuary is a very poorly written dark comedy. Is “sanctuary” truly a word to ensure safety in this film? Hardly. The misrepresentations of this film takes it in an ambiguous direction. The film lacks ambition or any form of artistic direction. The artistry certainly can’t be found in the the gaudy red lighting that surrounds the apartment of Hal. Sanctuary was just not a very satisfying experience. Two and a half stars for Sanctuary.

Past Lives Review

Friends are important, especially the ones we hold onto for many years. Past Lives is one of the best films on friendship I’ve seen. It shows how keeping the friends we have known for a long time reminds us of what to be grateful for in life. Director Celine Song makes her directorial debut with Past Lives, and it is a monumental achievement. The film is strong in portraying connections and memories, but also demonstrates how the past can play a positive part in the present world among close friends. It is a portrait that sends a message to be welcoming to those who have positive value to offer the world.

Past Lives gears on Nora (played by Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (played by Teo Yoo). They are childhood friends who have been out of touch though for ages. In their younger days, Nora’s family emigrated from South Korea. Two decades pass, and they find each other online. They begin to socialize more again and touch base frequently. Nora is married and her husband is Arthur (played by John Magaro). Arthur does not display any jealousy and is not against Nora reconnecting with Hae Sung. Hae Sung comes to visit Arthur and Nora in the United States. Both Nora and Hae Sung relive the many fascinations of their younger days and reconnect over what brought them joy. The powerful bond of friendship is still within their hearts.

Past Lives is one of the most beautiful films I have seen in terms of friends being there for each other. Nora and Hae Sung are on this journey of figuring out the curve balls life threw at them and how their cultures are different and intertwined. Arthur sees those elements as well. The powerful example illustrated in Past Lives comes in the long discussions and the realizations of how life has turned out for Nora and Hae Sung. While they are in their own universes, the message that is conveyed is to always keep the ones we care about in our hearts and be there for each other whenever we can.

The movie includes conversations regarding diversity and the director allows them to explore interesting territory. The discussions between Nora and Hae Sung do not serve any negative purpose. It is simply about them remaining friends and realizing they truly have not left each other. Their separation happened way before they were old enough to potentially fall in love.  They still have the heart for their friendships and find meaningful connection again many years later.

Again, this film is a masterpiece. The story is riveting, the goal is moving, and the film itself is a revelation of love among friends. Past Lives makes its audience feel the love that surrounds Nora and Hae Sung. It also makes them feel the love between Nora and her husband, Arthur. Past Lives opens the door to great possibilities by using fascinating elements in memorable cinematic moments. Four stars for Past Lives.