Disney-Pixar’s ‘Onward’ opens Mar 4 in PH with early screening on Leap Day, Feb 29

The studios of Disney and Pixar have taken moviegoers in many locations—from under the sea, into space, back in time, and into the toy box. Now, as both studios expand their wings, they open their doors to a brand-new, thrilling world where fantasy meets familiar.

This March, Disney and Pixar continue their long legacy of storytelling with a heart in the original animated feature “Onward”. Set in a suburban fantasy world, “Onward” introduces two teenage elf brothers who embark on an extraordinary quest. They venture to discover if there is still a little magic left out there, in the hopes of spending one final day with their dearly departed father who passed away before they had vivid memories of him.

The all-new fantasy feature film is directed by American animator Dan Scanlon, joined by Pixar film producer Kori Rae, both of whom previously worked together in creating 2013’s Monsters University.

“The story is inspired by my own relationship with my brother and our connection with our dad who passed away when I was about a year old,” shares director Dan Scanlon. “He has always been a mystery to us. A family member sent us a tape recording of him saying just two words: ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’. Two words—but to my brother and I, it was magic,” he added.

To the filmmakers behind Pixar, the urge to enkindle a world filled with magic was taken to heart. From here sprung the idea of creating a modern suburban fantasy film, introducing a completely a new genre for Pixar. As elves, cyclops, centaurs, and trolls reside in the world of whimsical suburbia, it’s a mystery how the magic has been disappearing for years. “Only certain people could do it,” says producer Kori Rae. “It was difficult, and you had to really practice. As technology was introduced, everyone found easier ways to do things. Magic is possible, it’s just that nobody really does it anymore,” she continued.

OH BROTHERS – In Disney and Pixar’s “Onward,” two teenage elf brothers embark on an extraordinary quest in a van named Guinevere to discover if there is still a little magic left in the world. Featuring Tom Holland as the voice of Ian Lightfoot, and Chris Pratt as the voice of Ian’s older brother, Barley, “Onward” opens in U.S. theaters on March 6, 2020. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Disney and Pixar’s “Onward” brings together a stellar roster of voice actors to give life to its original characters with Tom Holland as Ian Lightfoot, Chris Pratt as Barley Lightfoot, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as their mother Laurel Lightfoot.

Also joining the cast are Octavia Spencer as the Manticore, Mel Rodriguez as Officer Colt Bronco, Lena Waithe as Officer Specter, Ali Wong as Officer Gore, Grey Griffin as Dewdrop, Tracey Ullman as Grecklin, and Wilmer Valderrama as Gaxton.

Disney and Pixar’s “Onward” also features a dynamic musical score from acclaimed composers Mychael Danna, an Oscar® winner for “Life of Pi”, and Jeff Danna—while five-time GRAMMY® Award winner Brandi Carlile performs an original heartrending song, “Carried Me With You”, for the end credits.

Disney and Pixar’s all-new animated film “Onward” journeys to Philippine theaters on March 4, 2020, and will have an early release happening at selected cinemas on Leap Day, February 29, 2020. Join the conversations online at #OnwardPH.

BAD DRAGON – In Disney and Pixar’s “Onward,” Ian Lightfoot’s mom has his back—even when his hyperactive pet dragon, Blazey, is misbehaving. Featuring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the voice of Mom, and Tom Holland as the voice of Ian, “Onward” opens in U.S. theaters on March 6, 2020. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

About Onward

When teenage elf brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot (voices of Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) get an unexpected opportunity to spend one more day with their late dad, they embark on an extraordinary quest aboard Barley’s epic van Guinevere. Like any good quest, their journey is filled with magic spells, cryptic maps, impossible obstacles and unimaginable discoveries. But when the boys’ fearless mom Laurel (voice of Julia Louis-Dreyfus) realizes her sons are missing, she teams up with a part-lion, part-bat, part-scorpion, former warrior – aka The Manticore (voice of Octavia Spencer) – and heads off to find them. Perilous curses aside, this one magical day could mean more than any of them ever dreamed. 

Directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae, Disney and Pixar’s “Onward” opens in Philippine theaters on March 4, 2020 (Wednesday). Join the conversations online at #OnwardPH.

‘Frozen II’ review: Beautiful musical sequel

Disney’s Frozen II brings us back to Arendelle with a great, magical adventure of Anna and Elsa.

Frozen II is considered as one of the most anticipated sequels this year. Following the blockbuster success of the previous installment, Frozen II brings us back to Arendelle and continues the adventures of its magical Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel); her kind sister, Anna (Kristen Bell) and her boyfriend Kristoff (Jonathan Groff); and everyone’s favorite snowman, Olaf (Josh Gad). This time around, the characters undertake a dangerous journey to a mysterious enchanted forest, hoping to discover the source of Elsa’s powers. The sisters learn more about their parents’ deaths and backgrounds; thanks to several flashbacks, viewers may feel even sadder about the orphans’ loss. There’s a lot of humor (thanks, Olaf!) and of course big musical numbers.

The film may still be considered as a great musical piece from Disney. There are new songs like ‘Into the Unknown’, ‘Show Yourself’ and ‘Lost in the Woods’ that will hit you right in every way as these songs will surely be on your playlist. Yes, the sequel is ultimately a bit more intense than the original and a bit more like an add-on because of its hype but there’s a lot more to look forward to seeing in this one. Everything about the story, even though simple, successfully puts positive messages about sisterhood, empowerment, acceptance, and true love. It’s still a heartwarming tale that everyone would enjoy. There’s this one song entitled ‘When I am Older’ that would really move our hearts even whether you are young or an adult viewer. There’s just so much feels in it.

It’s a beautiful musical sequel. Frozen II may have enhanced the story of Anna and Elsa by bringing up flashbacks about their parents but it didn’t just focus on them all the way. It includes Kristoff and Olaf which adds up to the color of what it wanted to tell. Both of them have a solo part that would make everyone happy and entertained along the film. It’s fun seeing them together with Anna and Elsa. Olaf almost steals the show because of his heartwarming messages to other characters. He totally reflects on everyone as he shows how things may change while we grow up in life.

Overall, the film is so good because it does not just stick to it’s musical and funny tropes, but also provides plenty heartwarming life lessons about sisterhood, friendship, true love and acceptance. Also, there’s Anna and Elsa’s being good examples of being strong women who lead, communicate and support each other with confidence. It’s just worth your time!

Furthermore, Frozen II is magically a beautiful musical film that you and your family would enjoy. This is the sequel that brings us into the unknown to create and see the best version of our self.


Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee voiced by Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown, and Evan Rachel Wood

‘The Lion King’ (2019) review: Photorealistic Disney remake means no worries

Jon Favreau’s remake of ‘The Lion King’ does not liberate itself from the shackles of the Disney classic but the nostalgia it brings should be enough to make this an easy crowd-pleaser.

On a strict technical level, Disney’s 2019 version of The Lion King counts more as a retelling than a reimagination: the story and dialogues are roughly the same, the well-loved songs are all present, and the iconic scenes are masterfully replicated through cutting edge technology (making the 1994 classic look like a giant storyboard). James Earl Jones even reprises the role of Mufasa, “King of the Pride Rock” (pictured above). Had you seen the original film a day before the screening (yes, I have), the beat per beat similarities will be more evident and you’ll find yourself guessing the next lines.

This sounds good news for those who like to be comforted by the same blanket of emotions, all while revelling in the filmmakers’ technical prowess. Anyway, the classic has already a solid story to begin with, and this remake’s faithful adherence to it does not take away whatever entertainment value The Lion King brings. I can’t blame Disney for not fixing what’s not broken as multi-millions of dollars are at stake here. Jungle Book director Jon Favreau’s first and foremost duty is to not mess it up… even if it’s at the cost of storytelling ambition.

Adventurous souls. Zazu (John Oliver) warns a young Simba (J.D. McCrary) and a young Nala (Shahadi Wright Joseph) not to stray away from the Pride Lands.

That being said, those who couldn’t tolerate watching a practically the same film, will be greatly disappointed. The question of necessity immediately pops into one’s head and terms like “cash-grab” and “blatant rehash” will be thrown around by cynical viewers. Personally, I would rather reserve those terms for films which are lazily done and TLK 2.0 definitely doesn’t look like one. With its photorealistic and painstakingly rendered imagery, the film looks like a high-end feature of Disneynature. For someone who enjoys watching NatGeo documentaries, I am digging this. If anything, audiences will be baffled to know that none of it is actually real—everything is created in digital space. (The term “live action” seems to be a misnomer by now.) The main attraction here is to gawk at the visual wizardry and there’s no shame in that.

Wisdom and tribe loyalty. John Kani plays Rafiki, a wise mandrill who serves as the shaman of the Pride Lands and a close adviser of Mufasa.

Putting realism to the context of animation, however, creates dissonance at some parts and that’s where this remake fails to completely replicate the magic of the original. To be specific, Favreau & Co. sticks to realistic animal expressions: which means that a lion’s sad/angry/confused face won’t be as expressive as their animated counterparts. Hence, even if the vocal performances are all incredible, the emotional range and depth is not fully captured. In a way, 2.0 serves as a reminder why traditional animation is important. The exaggerated facial expressions and the surrealist sequences are used to convey larger than life emotions. The Lion King thrives more in that territory. It can never entirely sell the idea of realism in the first place, as there’s no way in the world that animals talk or sing like people.

But everything else is mostly forgiven when TLK 2.0 starts hitting the nostalgia button via its amusing, sing-along songs, and the sweeping musical score once again provided by the great Hans Zimmer. This remake retains most of the melodies but there are welcome additions too like Beyoncé’s original song “Spirit” which is played during Simba’s eventual return to the Pride Lands. Her character Nala is given more dimension this time and I wish we’re given more time for Donald Glover’s adult Simba to fully grow on us. Nevertheless, the coming-of-age push and pull themes of ‘putting your past behind’ vs. ‘remembering who you are’ are well emphasized in his character building moments. 

The heir of the Pride Lands, Simba (Donald Glover) and his childhood best friend Nala (Beyoncé Knowles-Carter) reunites after several years of separation.

While the opening song “Circle of Life” is a frame by frame recreation of the original, Simba and Nala’s performance of Elton John’s rousing hit “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” is wonderfully set in the warm glow of sunset this time. There’s also a fresh take in Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance of “Be Prepared” which is delivered as a mix of spoken word/song. Combined with Scar’s scruffy features, the character looks more devious and menacing. 

Usurpers to the throne. Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor), along with his hyena henchmen Shenzi (Florence Kasumba), Kamari (Keegan-Michael Key), and Azizi (Eric Andre), are onto something evil.

But TLK 2.0 starts to earn its big laughs upon the introduction of Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen’s Timon and Pumbaa. The duo steal the thunder with their nihilistic philosophy of living a worry-free lifestyle and the actors’ seemingly improvisational freedom. Their acapella performance of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” really lights up the mood of the film. Also bringing levity is John Oliver’s pompous and diplomatic bird Zazu.

Hakuna Matata. A young Simba (J.D. McCrary), meerkat Timon and warthog Pumbaa sing away their problems in ‘The Lion King.’

The Lion King (2019) does not reinvent nor reimagine the story and it does not have to. There’s a reason why the 1994 film is a timeless classic and it’s because of the relevant themes of responsibility, pride and courage. The main goal here is to reintroduce the story to a younger generation who don’t share the same level of enthusiasm towards the old-school Disney animation. In that note, this film succeeds.

The 2019 remake honors what came before. It may lack the surprise factor—the emotional punches and musical cues come as expected—but there’s great pleasure in seeing this classic brought into life. It won’t overthrow my love for the original anytime soon but think of this as a good old, hand-me-down present that’s beautifully wrapped for every generation to keep.

3.5 out of 5 stars
Directed by Jon Favreau, ‘The Lion King’ features the voices of Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, JD McCrary, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Florence Kasumba, Keegan-Michael Key, Eric Andre and James Earl Jones. Based on the 1994 Disney classic by Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton. 118 minutes. Rated G.

‘Toy Story 4’ review: Schooling adults on existentialism

With its weighty themes on existential crisis and self-actualization, Toy Story 4 has strong and valid reasons to bring back our beloved characters for one more adventure.

The announcement of Toy Story 4 is met with a lot of apprehension from fans and I totally get what they’re feeling. Toy Story trilogy wrapped up on such a perfect note that it almost feels sacrilegious to extend the story of Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and Co. for the sake of a shameless cash grab. Toy Story 3 marks the pinnacle of the franchise and anything less than ‘perfect’ will smear its reputation. Despite this, I went to the screening with prejudices set aside. After all, if there’s a Hollywood studio that can match their timeless classics, it’s probably the combination of Disney and Pixar.

And boy, I am pleased to see this surprisingly, much-needed epilogue. To say the least, I walked out of this movie with a big smile and an enriched perspective in life. If TS3 tackles separation anxiety and the lifelong impact of toys to kids, TS4 poses deeper existential questions. In here, the successor of Andy’s toys, Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) literally makes a new friend, Forky (Tony Hale), out of a spork. He soon becomes a conscious and sentient toy who believes that he’s not meant to be a plaything. This leads to a hilarious gag of Forky throwing himself to a trash bin, and Woody repeatedly intercepting his suicide attempts.

Forky insists, “I’m trash!” and we all know what he’s talking about. It’s something that we must have said to ourselves at some point in our lives. But what makes a toy, a toy? How do you measure someone’s worth? Is it by looking at what they’re made of, or is it about them finding and fulfilling their purpose? Four movies in and this franchise continues to depict its characters the way that a kid would have imagined them: as toys imbued with real human depth and emotions.

Forky grapples at the confusing reality of his existence while Woody teaches him the essence of “toyhood.

The rescue adventure kicks into gear as sheriff Woody goes after Forky who sneaks out during a family trip. Along the way, he unexpectedly reunites with his old flame Bo Peep (Annie Potts), the shepherdess who has now turned into a free-spirited, self-sufficient “lost toy,” since her last appearance in Toy Story 2. For this installment, Bo Peep has a much more significant role than being just Woody’s love interest. Aside from being an empowered heroine, she’s there to challenge his existing ideals.

Over time, we’ve seen how Woody developed into a parental figure to his owner. He believes that the most noble thing a toy can do is to be there for a child. But does the principle still apply now that Bonnie is no longer fond of playing him? Would he be content on spending most of his days gathering “dust bunnies” inside a closet, or is it time to boldly venture to the unknown yet exciting possibilities in life? At what point should personal happiness be prioritized over the selfless advocacy? TS4 breaks the mold of what a toy should do. It gives it’s characters autonomy over their fates. Woody’s path to self realization imposes a lot of conflict which brings the character’s journey into a much fuller circle than what we thought before.

“Who needs a kid’s room, when you can have all this?” Bo Peep is back… and she’s a badass.

It’s also a film about breaking misperceptions, the things that we once fear – in Woody’s case, becoming a lost toy – might not be as horrendous as we once thought. There’s a wonderful subplot too about second chances and self-acceptance present in the film’s de facto villain, Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), a vintage doll who believes that the only way she can be loved is if she gets a replacement for her defective voicebox… just like the one that’s sewn into Woody’s back.

Creepy baby doll Gabby Gabby controls a gang of ventriloquist dummies in ‘Toy Story 4.’

Emotionally, TS4 does not surpass the amount of damage that TS3 did to our tear ducts, yet it knows wisely not to. TS4 makes up with a lot of laughs. It’s situational humor is consistently clever, like Buzz’s complete misunderstanding of conscience/inner voice for his pre-programmed recordings and also the humor mined from our old-time favorites like Jessie (Joan Cussack), Rex (Wallace Shawn), the Potato Heads (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), etc. Most of them might be relegated to minor status to further advance the theme and plot, but this sequel introduces equally memorable scene-stealers like disaster-prone daredevil Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), and a pair of hysterical conjoined carnival toys Ducky (Keegan Michael-Key) and Bunny (Jordan Peele).

Back from the retirement shelf (L-R): Trixie, Buttercup, Mr. Pricklepants, Dolly, Hamm, Buzz Lightyear, Rex, Aliens, Jessie, Slinky Dog, Bullseye, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head reprise their roles in ‘Toy Story 4.’

Some may take TS4’s level of animation and production design for granted but Pixar has always been spectacular in their game. TS4 is easily the best-looking entry in the franchise. Likewise, the same can be said to the whole voice cast, especially Tom Hanks in particular who still sounds as youthful and as energetic as he did two decades ago.

Toy Story 4 never loses sight of what makes the franchise appeal to multiple generations. It can have all the fun that it wants but the viewing experience never falls short of meaningful and inspirational, as the franchise has shown steadfast commitment to deliver mature yet kid-friendly themes. If you’re planning to skip this because you believe that the trilogy already ended so perfectly, believe me when I say that you’ll be missing a great deal.

5 out of 5 stars
Directed and co-written by Josh Cooley, ‘Toy Story 4’ stars Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Lori Alan, Joan Cusack, Bonnie Hunt and Kristen Schaal. 100 minutes. Rated G.

Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ flies high with P212-M on opening weekend

Much like the movie’s thrilling magic carpet ride over the port city of Agrabah, Disney’s Aladdin, the live-action adaptation of its animated classic, flew high and soared above every other movie as it posted as the No. 1 film during its opening weekend.

Continuing Disney’s success in providing quality entertainment through live-action remakes, the exciting tale of the charming street rat Aladdin and the courageous and self-determined Princess Jasmine opened in 494 cinemas nationwide last May 22 and raked in an impressive Php 212,197,892 (USD 4,014,776) on its first six days, making it the number one film over the weekend.

Film director and screenwriter Guy Ritchie lends his flair for fast-paced and exciting action to tell the adventures of the charming scoundrel Aladdin, played by Mena Massoud, and the beautiful and self-determined Princess Jasmine, played by Naomi Scott. Will Smith joins the cast as the larger-than-life Genie.

Aladdin is now showing in cinemas nationwide. Join the conversations online using #AladdinPH.  

About Aladdin

A thrilling and vibrant live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic, “Aladdin” is the exciting tale of the charming street rat Aladdin, the courageous and self-determined Princess Jasmine and the Genie who may be the key to their future.

Directed by Guy Ritchie, who brings his singular flair for fast-paced, visceral action to the fictitious port city of Agrabah, “Aladdin” is written by John August and Ritchie based on Disney’s “Aladdin.” 

‘Aladdin’ review: Classic tale brings pure nostalgia

Director Guy Ritchie creatively helms an enjoyable retelling of a classic Disney film that takes us to a whole new world of Aladdin.

Aladdin is a live-action remake of Disney’s 1992 animated film of the same name. It tells the story of a kindhearted, thieving street urchin, Aladdin (Mena Massoud), who falls in love with Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) of Agrabah. He is ordered by nefarious sorcerer Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), the Grand Vizier, to bring the magical lamp which wields the powerful Genie (Will Smith) who can grant three wishes to whoever holds it. Now it is upon Aladdin to get the love of his life and stop Jafar’s evil intentions.

This adaptation is a thrilling and nostalgic nod to one of Disney’s animated classics. It’s a childhood dream come true. It’s beautifully directed by Guy Ritchie who takes us to a whole new world. With a perfect mix of then and now, it elicits nostalgia especially to viewers who have grown with Aladdin. It could even be considered as Disney’s best live action remake overall.

With so much heart in it, this reiteration is as magical as the first one. The songs on its own provide pure eargasm, from the song “A Whole New World” to its new original, “Speechless,” written by Pasek & Paul (‘La La Land’).

Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud in ‘Aladdin’

It really is a whole new world for Disney. With a lot of issues going around with its marketing and Will Smith’s take on the role of Genie, Guy Ritchie paves the way for a fun-filled adaptation.

No one could have played the Genie better than Smith in this adaptation. He is surprisingly entertaining and funny. He owns the character through his hilarious quips and chemistry with his master, Aladdin. Smith alone can make you smile throughout.

Mena Massoud on the titular role is charismatic with such angelic voice that sounds just like the animated Aladdin—most especially when he sings the opening number “One Jump Ahead.” His connection to Naomi Scott is indeed on-point as they anchor the entire film.

Scott as Princess Jasmine is a beautiful choice for the role. She is an amazing singer, a little bit better than Emma Watson portraying Belle in Beauty and the Beast.

As for Marwan Kenzari who played Jafar, it comes off as a bit of an unfulfilled impression, but the way his background is pictured here would make you appreciate his character more.

Oh, great one who summons me, I stand by my oath: loyalty to wishes three!

The tale of Aladdin is obviously familiar. There may be a few changes which thankfully “fixes” some irrelevant scenes from the cartoon. These additions adversely affect the length of the film. Despite it all, it appears the good aspects and creativity of the film outweigh issues to make way for an enjoyable blockbuster. It is an amazing film—so vibrant, so colorful. A pure nostalgic experience everyone must see.

4.5 out of 5 stars
Directed by Guy Ritchie. The film stars Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen, and Numan Acar.

‘Dumbo’ review: Tim Burton presents whimsical, safe adaptation

Tim Burton’s ‘Dumbo’ takes flight with wonder in its midsection, but euphoria runs dry quickly that you’ll hardly be pressed to remain for the encore.

It’s only until the last few minutes of the 1941 animated classic, Dumbo, when the eponymous elephant with oversized ears finally discovers his ability to fly. In Tim Burton’s live-action adaptation, Dumbo already soars by the second act – the part where the film’s sense of wonder is at most palpable. Aided by Danny Elfman’s riveting musical score, such scene can be the cinematic equivalent to King Kong pounding his chest on top of the Empire State Building or E.T. hoisting a bicycle into the midnight sky.

From then, the succeeding flight sequences unfortunately starts to lose its potency and that has something to do with the steady workmanlike quality in both Ehren Kruger’s screenplay and Tim Burton’s direction. Is Burton the right person to do this remake in the first place? I, for one, would have shown more interest had the film went on a darker path, a la Frankenweenie style. However, Disney will not be happy to put such nightmarish themes on their beloved kiddie classic. With that, the visionary director seems to be held back in exhibiting the extent of his full potential, thereby making Dumbo feel like it’s stuck between on being a crowd pleaser and a dark re-imagination. The result feels occasionally flat and unexceptional.

Colin Farrell and Eva Green in ‘Dumbo.

Surely, the script shows an effort to stretch out its thin source material but it does so by padding the narrative with thinly-written characters. There’s the boisterous ringmaster Medici (Danny DeVito) who sells Dumbo, along with his entire circus, to the brash entrepreneur Vandevere (Michael Keaton). It’s a nice reunion for the two actors who have previously starred in 1992’s Batman Returns. The latter is probably the most memorable character here but that is largely due to Keaton’s quirky performance. Then there’s Eva Green who showcases her dexterity as the trapeze artist Colette – it’s a fresh break from her usual femme fatale roles. Together, it’s nice to see them putting up personas, but as a whole, they don’t differentiate much to the ensemble of amusing misfits entertaining in the background.

The most underused character, however, is its main human protagonist. From the onset, one can expect that the handicapped WWI veteran Holt (Colin Farrell) will have the strongest human connection to the physically deformed elephant. But the story does not capitalize much on this common ground. It does little favor that most of his dialogues are with his two children, Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins), who are quite wooden for roles that should supply the film’s youthful vibe. While the recently released Bumblebee perfectly demonstrates how to forge a solid bond between a human and a robot, it’s quite surprising that Dumbo struggles to latch an emotional hook among its human cast.

It is true that like the original, none of the new relationships presented competes to Dumbo and his mother’s. There’s pain and yearning when he gets separated from his mom, best illustrated when the two, divided by a cell, cuddle each other’s trunks for comfort. In this version, Dumbo does not speak but he seems to understand the conversations happening around him. The computer-generated elephant remains to be an endearing and warm character who succeeds in conveying the emotions needed. With his expressive eyes, you can feel Dumbo’s exhilaration as he takes flight, or his heartbreak and humiliation once he’s dressed up like a mime, only to be made fun by a cruel audience.

Most of the magic and visual treat here is actually supplied by the grandiose production design and Colleen Atwood’s rich and lavish costumes designs. Burton gets much fanfare with a surrealist musical number involving bubble elephants on a parade, which doesn’t necessarily lead anywhere – it’s just an eye-candy filler. Then there’s a surprise cameo from Michael Buffer, who chants, “Let’s get ready for Dumboooo…” much to the adults’ amusement. However when the film gets to its themes that matters the most, like its messages on pro-animal rights and anti-capitalism, it does so by rushing through those epiphanies. With the inclusion of the kids who constantly push Dumbo to take his leap of faith, there seems to be weaker statement of animal empowerment in there.

With Dumbo mainly relying on its superficial charms, the younger viewers will be highly entertained. The adults accompanying them, however, won’t necessarily be thrilled by its stiff narrative. Like a fleeting stage act, it continues to be a whimsical experience but it never truly tugs to the heartstrings. Dumbo’s adorable CGI-features mostly flood the film’s presence that one can call this adaptation as the cinematic equivalent of a cute stuff toy.

3 out of 5 stars
Directed by Tim Burton and written by Ehren Kruger, ‘Dumbo‘ stars Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbinsm, Roshan Seth, DeObia Oparei, Joseph Gatt, Sharon Rooney, Michael Buffer, Frank Bourke and Jo Osmond. Based on Disney’s “Dumbo” by Otto Englander. Run time: 112 minutes.

Soar high with Disney’s ‘Dumbo’ at SM Cinema

 Hold on to your feathers and get ready to soar as SM Cinema presents Dumbo, a live-action remake of the beloved Disney classic.

In this heart-wrenching fantasy, struggling circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) hires former circus star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children to take care of Dumbo, a baby elephant who is mocked for having gigantic ears. However, the sudden discovery that he can fly turns Dumbo from laughingstock to the star of the show, regaining the circus’ former glory and captivating ambitious businessman,V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton). Dumbo’s fame skyrockets as he is pulled into the Vandevere’s newest attraction, Dreamland, until Holt uncovers the dark secrets lurking within its extravagant exterior. 

Directed by Tim Burton, Dumbo stars Danny Devito as Max Medici, Colin Farrell as Holt Farrier, Eva Green as Colette Marchant, Michael Keaton as V.A. Vandevere, Nico Parker as Milly Farrier, and Finley Hobbins as Joe Farrier.

Fly high as Dumbo will have its advance screening in different parts of the country, March 23 at SM City Clark and SM Seaside City Cebu, March 24 at SM Lanang Premier and March 25 at SM Aura Premier.

Catch Dumbo starting March 27 at SM Cinema branches nationwide. Book your tickets through the website, www.smcinema.com or download the SM Cinema mobile app.  You may also follow /SMCinema on Facebook and @SM_Cinema on Instagram for updates!

‘Mary Poppins Returns’ special advance screening attracts celebs

Magic, optimism, hope and joy held court when Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns held its special advance screening January 5 at the SM Aura.

Celebrities, social media personalities, members of the press and fans made up the evening’s guests, snapping selfies against spectacular photo walls before being uplifted by the film’s heart-tugging message.

Guests alternately laughed and cried and laughed some more during the film, as Mary Poppins Returns reminded viewers that amid this delicate time for the world, there is still whimsy and wonder.  As the iconic nanny would say, “Everything is possible, even the impossible!”

Check out the photos from advance screening below!

Mary Poppins Returns is now playing in Philippine cinemas nationwide.  Join the conversation online and use the hashtags #MaryPoppinsReturns and #DisneyPH.

About Mary Poppins Returns

In Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” an all new original musical, Mary Poppins is back to help the next generation of the Banks family find the joy and wonder missing in their lives following a personal loss. Emily Blunt stars as the practically-perfect nanny with unique magical skills who can turn any ordinary task into an unforgettable, fantastic adventure and Lin-Manuel Miranda plays her friend Jack, an optimistic street lamplighter who helps bring light—and life—to the streets of London.

“Mary Poppins Returns” is directed by Rob Marshall. The screenplay is by David Magee and the screen story is by Magee & Rob Marshall & John DeLuca based upon the Mary Poppins Stories by PL Travers. The producers are John DeLuca, p.g.a., Rob Marshall, p.g.a. and Marc Platt, p.g.a. with Callum McDougall serving as executive producer. The music score is by Marc Shaiman and the film features all new original songs with music by Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman.

The film also stars Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks; Emily Mortimer as Jane Banks; Julie Walters as the Banks’ housekeeper Ellen; Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh and introducing Joel Dawson as the Banks’ children, with Colin Firth as Fidelity Fiduciary Bank’s William Weatherall Wilkins; and Meryl Streep as Mary’s eccentric cousin, Topsy. Angela Lansbury appears as the Balloon Lady, a treasured character from the PL Travers books and Dick Van Dyke is Mr. Dawes, Jr., the retired chairman of the bank now run by Firth’s character.

Meet the four regents of ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’

The filmmakers behind Disney’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” relished the idea of reinventing a time-honored story.

Based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale and “The Nutcracker,” “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” showcases the wondrous journey of Clara, who finds herself in the mystical world of the Four Realms, home to a host of eccentric characters and no shortage of surprises.

Foremost of these characters are the Regents of the Four Realms — the Sugar Plum Fairy, Mother Ginger, Hawthorne and Shiver. Let’s get to know them better!

SUGAR PLUM FAIRY is the beloved regent of the Land of Sweets, the yummiest of the realms with its gingerbread architecture and gum drop décor. Elegant, ethereal and naturally sweet, Sugar Plum wears a gown that sparkles like crystalized sugar. She welcomes Clara to the Four Realms with open arms, declaring her the guest of honor at an extravagant pageant. Clara’s mother, Marie, was once Sugar Plum’s dearest friend, so Clara is family.

“Sugar Plum is the personification of femininity,” says Keira Knightley, who portrays the character. “I like to do a lot of research, so I started with the actual music of the Sugar Plum Fairy, which led to her laugh. I later found her high-pitched, girly voice that has two sides to it: pristine femininity and at the same time, quite assertive.”

MOTHER GINGER, leader of the dark and ominous Fourth Realm, is feared by all who inhabit the other realms. She once presided over the beloved Land of Amusements, a place of wisdom and entertainment, but a fierce dispute among the regents led to her banishment and her realm became a forgotten fairground with an abandoned carousel and wayward polichinelles. Mother Ginger sports fiery red hair and a face that’s chipped and cracked like a broken doll, a look that surely underscores her reputation as an evil tyrant.

Helen Mirren fills Mother Ginger’s shoes. “She is a very wise character—she has great insight,” says Hallström. “Helen Mirren has the authority and intelligence to play a character like that. She’s so smart and she’s funny.”

HAWTHORNE is the emotional and flamboyant regent of Land of Flowers, a fragrant and colorful realm with windmills, emerald foliage and blooms abound. Always smiling and filled with enthusiasm, Hawthorne heartily embraces celebration and pageantry. But he tends to shy away from conflict and often finds himself overshadowed by his fellow regents. He worries about the instability that threatens the realms—though he’s quick to set his concerns aside when Clara arrives. In fact, Hawthorne is the first to react—bursting with unbridled excitement, much to the chagrin of the more reserved Shiver and Sugar Plum.

According to Eugenio Derbez, who plays Hawthorne, the look of the character leaves no mystery as to which realm he oversees. “I’m like a walking bouquet,” says Derbez. “I’m covered in flowers! It took two hours in the makeup chair each day to complete the look because they had to strategically place a lot of small detailed flowers on my face.

SHIVER is the regent of Land of Snowflakes, a stunning winter wonderland with ice castles and alpine villages set against a white-peaked mountain backdrop. Shiver is a well-mannered gentleman who’s concerned with the future of the realms and nervous to a fault, Shiver wrings his hands with angst and uncertainty. He might come off as serious and unengaging—some would say cold—but Shiver is quite friendly underneath all of that frost.

Richard E. Grant was called on to portray Shiver. “I have snowflakes all over my face,” says Grant. “My beard is made of icicles, I have a 19th-century wig with icicles coming out of my head, and my fingernails are very long icicles, too. Jenny Beavan’s extraordinary costume design, combined with Jenny Shircore’s brilliant icicle make-up and wig design, instantly conjured up a severe looking, Arctic regent, obsessed with preserving his snowy realm from being changed or destroyed by evil forces. Shiver is willing to risk everything to support and protect Clara.”

“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is now playing in Philippine cinemas nationwide. Join the conversation online and use the hashtag #DisneysNutcracker

About “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”

All Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is a key – a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key—which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. It’s there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve Clara’s key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world. Starring Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Disney’s new holiday feature film “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston, and inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale.