Jumanji: The Next Level

Release date: December 13, 2019

The premise of the movie is that the gang have move on from high school graduation, living and adapting to their college lives. However, they keep in touch with each other, agreeing to meet up for brunch at Nora. But the movie does hint that there may be relationship issues (with the possibility of breakup) between Spencer and Martha, making Spencer seemingly more withdrawn from contact with the gang (even though he is in the chat group with them).

Returning home to his mother’s house, he sees his grandpa Eddie (played by the always wonderful Danny DeVito) staying there due to hip surgery. Feeling depress and insecurity mount as the meeting up is coming up, he went down to his basement to retrieve the Jumanji video game that unbeknown to his friend, he kept.

As the group meet for brunch at Nora, they become worry about Spencer not showing up or hearing back from him therefore decided to go check up on him at his mother’s house. There, they met Spencer’s grandfather and his ex-friend Milo (played by the also wonderful Danny Glover) who came by to try and mend his friendship with Eddie.

The gang soon discover that Spencer has returned to Jumanji and decided to go save him, unknown that this time, Bethany was not able to join, and the game have pull in 2 additional individuals into the game. Grandpa Eddie and Milo, each taking in the avatar of Dr. Smolder Bravestone and Franklin “Mouse” Finbar (Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart), making Fridge take over Bethany’s previous avatar – Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon.

Hilarity and danger ensure as they search for Spencer along with finding additional skills and new characters along the way.

Overall, I enjoy the movie the second time around. Much more so than the first. The gang is back and this time around, like a new next level in Jumanji, the cast and crew bought the next level of fun to it. It was double the action, double the hilarity, and double the fun.

New skills (strength and weaknesses), additional new character. The cast up their game in role playing particularly that of Jack Black, Dwayne Johnson, and Kevin Hart – playing up the roles of Fridge, Grandpa Eddie, and Milos while Karen Gillian still a badass no less.

I highly recommend. A must-see holiday movie guarantee with plenty of laughs around.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Review

Release date: October 18, 2019

As the saying goes, “better late than never” my friend and I were finally able to see this movie last night.

The movie takes place five years after King Stefan’s death. The three little fairies are rushing to find Aurora who is handling affairs of the Moors. It’s been five years since King Stefan’s death and Aurora reign as Queen of the Moors. While she is handling the Moors affairs, Pinto (the small hedgehog) took her crown to lure her to Prince Philip who proposed to her.

Diaval report to Maleficent of the proposal to which she is against their marriage, not trusting of human like Prince Phillip.

When Prince Phillip tells his parent of his proposal, his parent suggested to host a dinner between both side with his mother Queen Ingrith insisting that Maleficent must attend the dinner. While his father wishes for peace between the two nation, his mother has a hidden intention in having Maleficent join them for dinner. In her hidden hideout, it seems that Queen Ingrith is having her men prepare for war, making irons bullets.

The dinner becomes awkward as Queen Ingrith taunt Maleficent which eventually escalated when King John suddenly falls into a deep slumber. Maleficent is accused of placing a curse on him which she denies and demand Aurora to leave with her. However, Aurora is in disbelief that she didn’t place the curse and refuse to go.

Hurt and angry, Maleficent flies off to leave but during her flight, she gets shot with the iron bullet by the Queen’s servant on the tower causing her to fall into the ocean. But luckily, she is rescue by another winged creature to discovery that they are her kind who has been force into hiding because of humans. She discovers that she is the last of the Dark Fae, descendant of the Phoenix, an ancient and powerful fae. Conall, her rescuer, believes that peace can exist among them and humans however Borra does not believe so, and want to retaliate against the human especially with Maleficent power.

The Queen minion finally developed the red powder that could ended the life of the Moor folks. The Queen plot to get rid of all the Moors folks, inviting them to attend Aurora’s wedding. Aurora eventually discover the truth and tries to stop her as the war between the humans and Moors folks/fairies begin.

All in all, a happy ending and peace was ensured between the fairies and humans. And everyone lives “happily ever after.”

Admittedly, I came into the movie without knowing what to expect but ended up enjoying the movie very much. Queen Ingrith is portray as the antagonist in the movie with the aim to annihilate the fairies of the Moors but truly, it is hard to define if her action were right or wrong given the suffering that she had experience at a young age that shaped her belief. To her, she was doing the greater good for her people, for maintain their survival (from ever having to experience her pain in her own kingdom) as she had seen how negotiation had once failed for her people. Pain and suffering do change a person, for better or worse.

And I like how it is reflected in this movie in how the protagonist and antagonist handle their pain and hurt that shapes their decision and choices.

But more importantly, I love the changes in Disney theme of “true love” because the truest love of all is that of family. Regardless of what conflict there is, at the end of the day, the love is still there which reflects in Aurora and Maleficent, the same can be said for sisters Elsa and Anna of Frozen.

Black and Blue Review

Synopsis (Official website: https://www.blackandblue.movie/synopsis/)

“A rookie cop (Academy Award ® nominee Naomie Harris) who inadvertently captures the murder of a young drug dealer on her body cam. After realizing that the murder was committed by corrupt cops, she teams up with the one person from her community who is willing to help her (Tyrese Gibson) as she tries to escape both the criminals out for revenge and the police who are desperate to destroy the incriminating footage.”

My friend and I was able to see the screening. The movie pits a rookie cop against police corruption, so you get a “Training Day” vibe. However, what the movie stand out in this police corruption movie is the undertone statement that speaks volume to today’s social and racial issue of police abuse towards race, particularly black minority.

The movie starts off with Alicia West (Naomie Harris) jogging in the morning in her hoodie to be stopped by two police officer who without listening, hassle her until they see that she is a rookie officer in her third week in the PD. They claimed, “you know how it is.”

The scene set a powerful statement of the social and racial issues that is face in today society of police profiling, particularly towards a black person. This is further stated as Alicia is doing her street round with her partner. As they are driving through the neighborhood, you see there is an underlying fear, and the tension between the black community towards those in blue (the police), that resonate with our society. That scene alone says so much about the imminent danger one face (particularly with those officers in blue) when you are a person of color. Whether you are out and about, minding your business but because of your skin color, you are target, harassed, and possible in imminent danger of losing your life.

As the movie dives further into the plot of Alicia being on the hunt by corrupted cops after witnessing them murdering a young drug dealer. The movie gives you the suspense and action of seeing who Alicia can trust and who she cannot trust with her secret. It is enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.

But at the core of the movie is the underlying message of social and racial issues represent in our current society between black minority and police officer/police system (hence black and blue).

One statement that Alicia made in the movie truly resonate deeply with me is:

Murder is murder, it don’t matter who you are.

Her statement truly speak volume to the societal issues we have today. Of how much shades there are in murder, the injustice, how corrupted our system are, towards treatment and murder depending on the color of your skin. And such, needs to be change because it should not be about the color of one skin. One should not be more privilege than the other. What gives or allow a person that entitlement above another when more than our skin color, we are all humans.

Overall, I highly recommend watching this movie and talking with your friend about it. There is action, suspense but more important the underlying message that it want to address. Like Naomie Harris character said, there have to be change. Even if you feel you cannot make a deep change to society, watch this movie and talk with your friend about the message it is telling, about these social and racial issues with your friend. Educate yourself and understand their standpoint, the struggle they face because of their skin color, of being a minority. Small changes will eventually amount to big changes.