Tag Archives: Will Smith

Aladdin (2019) Movie Review By The Moviie Couple

Aladdin Review

Director: Guy Ritchie
Writers: John August (screenplay by), Guy Ritchie (screenplay by)
Stars: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott

Moviie Couple here!  We have added an I to how we spell Moviie, that’s not a mistake!  Because with the Moviie Couple you always have 2 eyes on one movie!  Two distinct perspectives!  We went to see Aladdin this weekend!  Remember we are just a married couple that loves movies!  We’re here to tell you if we liked it.  Film experts we are not!  Just a quick reminder of our rating system.

Mrs. Moviie Couple and I, rate films on whether they are worth the cash spent on a night out.  we use a 1-6 Dollar Bill system.  1-2 Bills equal a waste of both our time and money!  3-4 Bills equal Meh to Pretty Good, money well spent!  5-6 Bills equal Wow!  Well worth the price of dinner, movie and sitter!  Please take our money again!

Aladdin is a live action retelling of the animated Disney classic of the same name.  Of course even if you grew up in a Tibetan Monastery and have never seen the Disney classic, you probably still know the story of Aladdin and the Lamp, so spoiler protection will not be at it’s highest level.  “Street Rat” Aladdin gets involved in Royal politics, after run ins with the Sultan’s beautiful daughter, Jasmine,  and his Vizier Jafar.  There is a Cave of Wonders, a Magic Lamp just begging to be rubbed, an all powerful Genie, a flying carpet and yes, a monkey sidekick!  Since this is based on the Disney feature we also get new interpretations of classic songs as well as a timely new one!  Betrayals!  Romance!  Comedy!  Broadway worthy musical numbers!  Bollywood-like dance numbers!  What else could we ask for?  Mena Massoud stars as the title hero Aladdin.  Naomi Scott portrays Princess Jasmine, Marwan Kenzari is featured as the villainous Jafar.

Uncredited, we have performances by Carpet and Abu, so don’t worry the gang’s all here.  And last, but certainly not least, Will Smith brings the Genie to life!  Guy Ritchie, yes THAT Guy Ritchie, directs this adaptation.  Ritchie does a good job of puling off a near (I said near not exact) beat for beat live reenactment of the animation classic most love and cherish.  He does pull out a surprise or two, not included in the original and manages to change the end of the tale in a very cool and modern way.  Since there is very little you won’t know going in, we will not spoil the little changes.  Trust us that they are great and wait to enjoy them yourselves.  The real pressure is on Mr. Smith.  Let’s be honest, anyone chosen to step into the legendary shoes of Robin Williams would be taking on an very unenviable position.  Not only have we lost this comic legend far too soon, but his performance as the Genie from Aladdin is near animation perfection.

For many adults that grew up with his interpretation of the Genie it is the quintessential version.  Does Wil Smith’s take on the Genie live up to the legacy?  Does he drop the ball like a lay up on the courts of Philly?  Or does his performance rise to Bell Aire levels?  Sorry couldn’t help my self with that one.  But the question of just how Smith’s Genie comes across looms over the entirety of this movie?  The internet proved that after the first trailer broke.  All the classic numbers are here and a particularly good new one.  The sets and costuming is impeccable!  This really feels like the world of Aladdin.  Enough with the basics, let us review our journey to Agrabah!  Keep your pet monkeys close, hop on a carpet and fly with us to a Whole New World and let us tell you what the Mr and Mrs thought of Aladdin!

So here we go!

Mr. Moviie Couple:  I did not expect much from this film.  I am a fan of the original Disney animated features, so Disney live action updates really don’t appeal to me.  Beauty and The Beast really set the bar even lower than my already low expectations.  But boy was this a pleasant surprise!  The acting of Massoud and Scott really grabbed me early!  Massoud looks and preforms as if Aladdin leaped to life from the drawn pictures!  Scott, despite some internet displeasure, is a wonderful Jasmine!  Their chemistry was felt and the two actors sold the attraction. Jafar was far less effeminate than on the animation page and felt like a truly dangerous man due to his past and ambition.  As a matter of fact, I may be wrong, but in a few sections of dialogue I learned more of Jafar’s background than I remember being in the classic.  Could be wrong though, been a long time since I’ve rewatched it.

Let’s get to the Elephant in the room, Will Smith!  Is he Robin Williams? NO!  Of course not, but he makes the Genie role his own.  This isn’t the same Genie as Robin Williams’ was.  Its a different Genie with a different personality and thanks to the charisma and performance of Mr. Smith it works!  Smith’s winning personality shines through in subtle lyric adjustments to the songs we all know and love!  And this Genie has a plot thread that pays off in a very nice and cool way.  The musical numbers as serviceable to very good.  Friend Like Me, is decent but doesn’t come close to the original.  One Step Ahead and Prince Ali are very good, especially the parade and dancing in Ali. Whole New World is outstanding!  Speechless, a new song created for Princess Jasmine is phenomenal!  Scott kills it and it is a worthy addition among these beloved songs!  I found myself enjoying this even though I was constantly comparing it to the original.  If I had to nit pick, I’d say it seemed a bit long in the middle and Abu and Carpet seemed to lose some of the sweetness we all fell in love with in the original, but like Beauty and the Beast before it, this film proves its far easier to add personality to animals and inanimate objects on paper than with special effects.  Still with a modern twist to the final scene and outcome and some surprises most didn’t see coming, Aladdin was a pleasant surprise thanks to a fantastic cast and some great tweaks to the end story!  Smith and Kenzari seem to be taking lumps on the internet for their portrayals, but I found them both excellent!  I left loving it

Mrs. Moviie Couple:  She loved it!    Understand in advance, Mrs. Moviie Couple is a huge Disney Devotee.  She was also so glad to be seeing something not comic book related!  No one tell her Aladdin and the Magic Lamp was an early type of comic book (tale told to entertain) she was so happy to go!  She enjoyed all the characters and their performances!  She loved all the new musical productions and absolutely adored Jasmine’s new song Speechless!  She wasn’t expecting a new song and was truly taken by it!  Robin Williams will always be Robin Williams, but she really enjoyed Will Smith’s version of the Genie.  She liked that he had a character arc in this version beyond that of granter of wishes.  She also made me promise to mention that she feels that much like a fine wine, Mr. Smith gets better with age and loved the  muscular physique of his Genie (have to ask her more about that later, but a promise is a promise).  She approved of the younger Jafar and found him to be a good villain, but missed a certain transformation from the original animated film.  In her own words: “I would go see that again in a heartbeat!”  Tough to get better than that in a recommendation!

On the way home, we continued to talk about the new song and the actors that played the parts of characters we grew to love. The entire car ride home was filled with praise, so I’d say it was a unanimous positive this week!  The drive home always clarifies how we felt about a movie.  Silence is not golden, silence is bad.  We were never silent about Aladdin.  I give it 5 Bills, easy. The Mrs. gives it 6 Bills!, a first for her!   So we give Aladdin 5 solid Bills!  I say take my money!  It was One Step Ahead of the competition!  She says Wow!  The film took her to whole new world!  Take her money!  She wants to go again!  So we’ll go with an average of Really Good to Wow!  Money well spent/Take our money again!.

So until the next date night, which looks like a coin flip between The King of the Monsters or a King of Piano Rock!  Check our clue on our website to see which is next!  We will see you next time!  Moviie Coupe out!

Bright (2017) Movie Review by Chauncey Telese

BRIGHT

Director: David Ayer
Writer: Max Landis
Stars: Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace

On paper there’s a version of “Bright” that has a lot of promise. Will Smith is back in action mode, it’s being directed by David Ayer (“End of Watch”) and it’s blending the fantasy and cop genres. The only problem is that despite Netflix greenlighting the $90 billion dollar actioner and staying out of the way, “Bright” is an incoherent mess that wastes a ton of talent both in front of and behind the camera. It’s a failure on a variety of levels in some of the same ways that Smith and Layer’s last collaboration “Suicide Squad” was. The first problem with “Bright” is that its world building and mythology never feel organic. The whole concept of a bright is explained and it’s assumed to be common knowledge but it never feels like anything more than a story thread the audience has to keep track of. The graffiti around Los Angeles is meant to give the audience a window into the racial/special hierarchy but the story never really does anything with it.

The premise of “Bright” is that humans, orcs, elves, and other mythical creatures were at war 2,000 years ago and now all coexist. Magic wands exist but only a “bright” can touch it. A non-bright would otherwise explode. “Will Smith is Daryl Ward an LAPD cop with a ton of debt and a sick daughter. He is stuck with the LAPD’s first orc cop in Joel Edgerton’s Nick Jakoby. Jakoby is reviled by his fellow officers both because the hatred between the two species and Jakoby’s alleged choice of species over cop in an incident where Ward gets shot. The only function any of the other officers have is to tell Ward he needs to get rid of Jakoby. Ward is pressured into setting up Jakoby during a call to a murder call where a wand is discovered along with the only remaining survivor is an elf named Tikka (Noomi Rapace). Things go sideways fast as Ward and Jakoby are being hunted by a Mexican gang, the LAPD, the orc gang, and a cult that wants to bring about a dark lord.

The movie seems to be about Ward accepting Jakoby as his partner but the film never establishes why specifically Ward hates orcs. There’s a line comparing the human/orc hatred to the way Latinos are still viewed negatively because of the Alamo but that doesn’t quite cut it. In fact, for a film that tries to use genre to make a point about race relations both inside and outside the police department. “Zootopia” manages this feat but “Bright” falls utterly short of that goal especially when it actually depicts minority characters. It also isn’t clear if Ward is supposed to hate only orcs or if he’s just completely prejudice against all mythical creatures. Ward is a similar character to Smith’s character in “I Robot” except at least in the latter film, the character’s hatred of robots is grounded in something. Ward also has that weird tic that dragged Smith’s Deadshot in “Suicide Squad” where the audience can’t completely hate Ward because he has a daughter. Jakoby on the other hand is handled better. He is well meaning, a tad dim, but is completely adrift in the world. He’s hated by the orcs and humans alike and the film has moments where it explores that but it gets lost in between action scenes.

The motivations of the dark cult aren’t clear. Sure, it’s established they’re trying to use a magic wand to bring back a dark lord but there’s no explanation as to why. It’s easy to say, because evil, but that’s just lazy. In “Hellboy II” Prince Nuada had a clear motivation to want to raise the Golden Army. He despised that humanity banished all magical creatures and their greed caused them to pave paradise and put up a parking lot. In “Bright” the whole dark lord plot gets lost in the shuffle and doesn’t come back until the end. The film loses a lot of threads actually and by the end it tries to reintroduce those threads but like one of Abe Simpson’s stories they don’t go anywhere.

Another baffling thing is that as capable an action director as David Ayer is, the action and effects look shoddy. Netflix made a big deal about the $90 million price tag but outside of the make-up and salaries it’s hard to see where that money went. Aside from showing the Los Angeles skylines the geography of the LA in “Bright” is as muddled as the mythology. Much like “Suicide Squad” it’s a pleasure to see Smith back in swagger mode but because the story around him is weak the swagger feels labored. Edgerton does a decent job of disappearing into his character and as the film goes on there is a fun buddy cop dynamic that almost develops between the two. Noomi Rapace is wasted here. Her character is merely a plot device and she ultimately gets nothing to do. There is a subplot involving two Magic task force agents, an elf and a human that goes nowhere except to signal another threat.

“Bright” was an opportunity for Netflix to signal that they are the place where action movies that aren’t a pre-existing IP or a remake of a classic can be made. Unfortunately, it feels like an example for studios to hold up as to why they don’t greenlight these kind of movies anymore. Netflix has already greenlit a sequel so by their voodoo metrics they consider “Bright” a success. The premise can be salvaged but it would require Netflix being more hands on.

Suicide Squad (2016) Movie Review by John Walsh

SUICIDE SQUAD

Director: David Ayer
Writer: David Ayer
Stars: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie 

So I decided to finally watch Suicide Squad the other day. It’s honking critic reviews and widespread criticisms of averageness from just about anyone who’d seen it had put me off going to the cinema during its release or even watching upon its arrival to blu-ray. Being in the midst of a comic book movie watching splurge however, freshly coming off the back of both the Wonder Woman and Spider-Man releases, I decided to take the plunge and give it a bash. Before I delve deeper, I’ll start off by saying that shock horror! It’s not a classic, nor is it in the class of the aforementioned films. Having said that though, it’s not anywhere near as bad as I thought it would either.

If you’ve not watched the film yet or perhaps haven’t even heard of the premise behind the name Suicide Squad then I’ll briefly summarise. They’re essentially a group of anti-heroes in captivity that are forced to work together in a series of missions with their impending death at the hands of an explosive implanted into their heads supplying them with a strong motivation to work together.

The unofficial leader in this iteration is Deadshot (Will Smith), a master marksman as the name implies with a chequered hitman past. Then you’ve got Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the bat shit crazy, sidekick and love interest of Mr. J; Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), a man with trust issues that likes to rob banks and throw a boomerang about; El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a introspective Hispanic chap with the nifty ability to wield fire; Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a brooding, ferocious loner who’s appearance resembles a reptile (hence the name) and finally Katana (Karen Fukuhara), a samurai wielding, ninja like superheroine. There’s also Slipknot, but he dies so early that he’s an irrelevance.

Now that’s out the way, I’ll get onto the actual film itself. I didn’t really care for the story here. It was pretty uninspiring, not the most engaging, lacked a proper villain or threat of any kind and it took far too long to introduce the characters. I’d say the opening thirty or forty minutes or so was dedicated to sequentially introducing each of the Suicide Squad members, which is ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, with it essentially being an origin film, chocked full of new characters, it was a necessary evil. I get that and I actually quite enjoyed the little short story, montages that played for each of them. It did do a reasonable job of showing what each was about. They were too damn long though and the story definitely suffered as a result.

And whilst we’re talking about the story, what the hell was that villain all about? The Enchantress? Sorry, nah. She did nothing and I mean nothing throughout the entire film. Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and Griggs (Ike Barinholtz) were more impactful in that regard. The former as the leader of the secret government agency tasked with keeping the group in check and the latter a sadistic guard.

It was basically a prolonged introduction followed by a series of interconnected action sequences that seemed to play out across ten blocks worth of the city. To makes matters worse, they criminally underused the Joker character. I’m actually scratching my head in bemusement as to why he was even in it. His character had no rhyme or reason for being near the film, no place in the plot, made even less impact than the terrible Enchantress, seemed to serve solely as a twisted romantic side thread and plot device to delve back into Harley Quinn’s story. I wasn’t even that impressed by Leto’s portrayal either. He’s a cracking, extremely talented actor, but it did nothing for me. It’s a tough act following on from Heath Ledger though and he had little to work off, at least in those scenes that made the final cut, so I’ll try not to be too harsh.

Margot Robbie however was incredible. She’s had a fantastic few years and seems tailor made for the role. Despite being given one liners that would make Arnie cringe, she still managed to overcome it with the standout performance. There was the perfect balance of a sultry, seductress and charming craziness, with genuine funny moments flung in for good measure. I can understand why DC are looking to cash in on thag particular hype train.

Another performance that impressed was Will Smith’s. He managed to come across as a anti-hero badass for the most part, but also brought real humanity to the character. They tried this with a couple of the others too, in particular El Diablo, but Deadshot’s backstory with his daughter and the whole struggle to maintain their relationship was the best developed out with those previously mentioned Harley Quinn flashbacks. That was another disappointing aspect of the film for me. Barring Deadshot and Quinn, there wasn’t much focus on the other members. Killer Croc and Captain Boomerang barely got a mention following the opening ‘reels’ and Katana got one line about her dead husbands soul being trapped in the sword.

This is one area that I feel DC really need to improve upon. It goes back to what I was saying earlier. There were far too many new characters being introduced that really should have been given standalone films prior to this being released. That would’ve freed up more running time for a better plot.

It’s funny because reading this back, it honestly comes across like I hated this film, but I genuinely didn’t. It’s not THAT bad a film. It’s a good bit of fun, harmless, escapism with some interesting (and not so) personalities brought together. The action for the most part was excellent, the soundtrack worked well, was extremely enjoyable and visually it was a complete delight on the eyes. Special shoutout to Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag who was another positive. I’m enjoying his involvement in House of Cards just now and was pleased to see him giving a good account of himself here. That said, the forced romantic sub-plot with him and June Moone (the woman possessed with the Enchantress) at best lacked chemistry, wasn’t very believable and at worst was completely unnecessary.

So my final thoughts on this then. Would I recommend it to anybody else yet to see it? Hmm… depends on whether you can get a good quality video on YouTube with most of Harley Quinn’s scenes or not. No seriously, kidding aside, it’s worth a watch despite the onslaught of negativity that’s plagued it. It’s a deeply flawed film, but there’s still enough positives buried within to recommend giving it at least one viewing.

Rating: 2.5/5