Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of March 1, 2021

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of March 1, 2021

Raya and the Last Dragon
PG for some violence, action and thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
In theaters and streaming on Disney+ Premier Access

Originally slated for last fall, Disney Animation’s latest creation features a young princess who tries to bring together her kingdom after it is torn apart from years of war, greed and jealousy. Together with a strange dragon and a constantly assembling group of helpers, she desperately attempts to destroy the evil gripping her kingdom before it decimates all life. While technically a princess movie, it is very unique in its storytelling and presents itself as more of an action flick where the girl isn’t trying to find true love or prove herself to her friends and family, but rather attempts to save the world in which she leaves. It’s a little strange in its set up but rather watchable once you get in and is thoroughly enjoyable by the end. The animation is just plain exceptional with so many fine details that many will overlook. I especially loved the score by composer James Newton Howard which only adds to the film’s lovely aesthetic. It does feel a little political at times, although that might be because everything seems political nowadays. Overall the story of a hero trying to bring a country together (one which is afflicted by greed and misinformation) is both appealing and relevant. A-

Tom & Jerry
Rated PG for rude humor, cartoon violence and brief language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 26%
In theaters and streaming on HBOMax

Warner Brothers will be able to claim a small victory for this terrible new partially animated film based on the classic cat and mouse series in that its theatrical debut was the second biggest since the pandemic closed theaters a year ago, although that will be short-lived once Raya opens this weekend. In this new adventure, the humans and landscape are all real, while Tom, Jerry and all of the other animals are presented in their old-fashioned hand-drawn style. When Jerry the mouse hides in a fancy hotel, Tom the cat makes friends with a new hotel employee (Chloë Grace Moretz) in order to try to take out the mouse and stop scaring the guests. I’m sure some kids might get into it, but with a ludicrous plot and lack of any source of humor, the film is just one silly chase scene after another with plenty of horrific dialog by the humans in order to fill in the action-less gaps. It was a film I just couldn’t wait to stop watching. D

The United States Vs. Billie Holiday
Rated R for drug use, domestic violence, language, nudity and mature themes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 55%

This highly uneven biopic by director Lee Daniels stars R&B performer Andra Day (in a role that just won her a Golden Globe) as the legendary jazz-singer Billie Holiday as she attempts to press political buttons with her music while at the same time succumbing to her addiction to heroine. Very similar to last years Judy Garland film starring Rene Zellweger, the film contains a riveting performance contained in a narrative not worthy of the talent on display. Day is just fantastic to watch but the film is kind of miserable and depressing. I loved the story of her song “Strange Fruit” and its power over audiences, haters and the U.S. government. But the film basically spends too much time overemphasizing the idea that she would have a had a more lasting impact if she had just stayed away from drugs. Maybe true, but the legacy this film presents is way more about her flaws than her music or myth. In addition, so many scenes seemed completely unnecessary and redundant, where a tighter script and emphasis on pacing might have proved to be more powerful. C

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