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Isle of Dogs Review



Let me make something clear from the start. Some movies make you feel glad there are movies, and some movies make you glad you are alive. Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs makes you feel both.

In additional, let me say here that I love Wes Anderson. There is no objectivity when it comes to his films. I can discuss the strengths and weaknesses of individual films, discuss the common traits and themes of his oeuvre, but I can’t pretend that I’m not strongly drawn to his work and feel an affinity for it.

That aside, what is about Isle of Dogs that steers me to say it’s one of his best? To answer that, I have to touch upon some of his earlier films.

Anderson’s films are, if nothing else, hermetic. They exist in their own world and make no attempt to be records of actual lived events. They are the perfect postmodern artifact: Stylistically whole and reflective of not only themselves, but of Anderson’s other works, and the artists and filmmakers that have influenced him.

If he were less of an artist, if his vision and style were less mature, then there would be little to attract us to him. But ironically, despite the seeming uniformity of his style, he is one of the most inventive and creative filmmakers alive.

Isle of Dogs is a homage to both Japan and the films of Akira Kurosawa, which for many of us cineastes are synonymous. But it’s an homage from an outsider’s perspective, from a foreigner who sees the differences and explores and embraces them. The same can be said about his last film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, where he entered the world of the writings of Stefan Zweig and the fading splendor of Eastern Europe.

In a Wes Anderson film, every frame can be framed. Every frame is a well thought out composition that holds a treasure trove of witty details. It’s in the searching out and finding of these details that much of the delight lies. For instance, early on, Jupiter, the wise elder canine (F. Murray Abraham), addresses the camera and introduces the story of crooked mayor Kobayashi ’s attempt to quarantine and exile all the dogs of Megasaki City to Trash Island.

Of course, this announcement is accompanied by animated maps, a black and white photo of the mayor (who looks exactly like Kurosawa’s favorite actor, Tishiro Mifune), images of a variety of sneezing dogs with scabby noses (dog flu and snout fever), text on the screen identifying dogs, people and places, and I’m sure more that I didn’t catch on first viewing.

Oh, and by the way, Jupiter has cataracts on his left eye, and is accompanied by a pug named Oracle (Tilda Swinton) who received visions from watching television.

All of this delivered in the deadpan earnestness that so defines every line of dialogue and narration, every image and action, in every Wes Anderson film. It’s a trademark of an artist who has many trademarks.

However, it is the constant inventiveness that makes this film so enjoyable. In The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson’s earlier stop action animated film, he explored the possibilities of this art form, and here he shows a level of mastery that makes us forget these are puppets by taking their “puppetness” to an extreme. It’s the old Post-Modern magic trick, the same one he plies in all his films: By never letting us forget this is a film, we forget that it’s a film. Delight overcomes analysis and self-awareness. In the end, it’s damn near perfect.

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No Question Mark Box Here; Super Mario Delivers a 1-Up in Theaters



If you were born in the ’80s, ’90s, or literally ANY decade after those, you know about Super Mario. A cultural phenomenon was brought to life on the big screen this last weekend. One that has not only stood the test of time but reinvented itself time and time again. This wasn’t even the first time it’s been made into a movie but, well, let’s be honest.. some of us choose not to acknowledge the LIVE action adaptation of the beloved game from 30 years ago. 

It was pretty bad… But this was animation. ILLUMINATION animation at that. The Universal company that brought us Gru and his Minions, showed us the Secret Life of Pets, and gave us a reason to SING! Still, I had my reservations and even some concerns, especially when the casting was announced. 

 Eyebrows were raised. As big of stars as they were on paper, could they really deliver on voicing characters from a staple of our childhood? They did.

Chris Pratt and Charlie Day may not be Italian, and Jack Black may not be a King or Turtle creature from the Mushroom Kingdom, but they make the characters their own all while paying homage to the lore of a video game. 

From the jump, the story reintroduces us to the brothers that just want to save Brooklyn one clogged sink at a time. We feel an instant connection and relate to these “underdogs of the plumbing world”. The movie is riddled with easter eggs, each of which tugs on the heartstrings of every generation of Mario fandom. And the soundtrack was beautifully put together to not only make us feel like we’re taking a walkthrough of the game but like an experience all its own with some familiar favorites thrown in.

Every word in the movie is pure eye candy for both those that are casual fans, and those analyzing every frame to see what they’ll catch next. Bowser’s ship, the Mushroom Kingdom, Kong’s arena, and the Rainbow Road.. They’re all meant to give us just enough of a “new” look at these amazing worlds, but stay true to how we remember them.

The movie itself moves along at the perfect pace. Although, if you don’t really know ANYTHING about the Super Mario Bros, you may have gotten a little lost and felt left behind in the green tunnel. But that’s ok! It’s an adventure of the imagination and a classic story of a boy that meets a girl and tries to save the world from a monster that wants to destroy it.

What’s funny is that you could easily say this is a story about two characters who couldn’t be more opposite if they tried, battling to win the heart of a princess. Who would’ve thought that the King of the Koopas was just trying to impress his crush?

And that song? Ohhh THAT song! It’s my new ringtone and deserves the Oscar for Best Original Song.

Back to the movie. 

Universal and Illumination clearly understood the assignment. Is it missing some things or could things have been done differently or even better? Absolutely! We’re the worst critics of the things we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts. But if you’re up for going on a 90-minute adventure through amazing worlds, with awesome music, and characters that’ll make you smile and laugh, then this is the perfect movie to spring you into that warm summer feeling.

Plus there’s the whole part with karts and shells, and banana peels and oh my goodness how amazing was that?? It’s enough to make you want to stand up and cheer, then go home and destroy your friends and family on your favorite track haha.

The bottom line, it pays homage in all the right ways to the little guy with the mustache, while giving us something new and exciting. Take the kids and go see Super Mario Bros. You’ll be glad you did!

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Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023



Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Opening Act Saturday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. on North 200A. Talent confirmed so far to participate in the post-screening panel is Natalie Alyn Lind (Big Sky, The Goldbergs, Gotham) as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince and longtime RWBY cast member Lindsay Jones (Camp Camp) as Ruby, Kara Eberle ( RWBY: Ice Queendom) as Weiss, Arryn Zech (Detective Now Dead) as Blake and Barbara Dunkelman (Blood Fest) as Yang – along with Jeannie Tirado (Soul, Saints Row) as Green Lantern and Tru Valentino (The Rookie, The Cuphead Show!) as a cyborg. Also attending the panel will be producer/director Kerry Shawcross (series RWBY) and writer Meghan Fitzmartin (Supernatural, Justice Society: World War II).

Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023 with the big screen debut from DC Animated Films: highlights this year include the world premieres of the highly anticipated Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham and Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Part One the weekend of March 24-26 in Anaheim, California. Both screenings will be followed by panel discussions with actors and creators. Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham premieres at The Arena on Friday, March 24 at 6 p.m. Tati Gabrielle (Kaleidoscope, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Uncharted) as Kai Li Cain, Christopher Gorham (The Lincoln Lawyer, Insatiable) as Oliver Queen, David Dastmalchian (Dune, Suicide Squad, Ant-Man) as Grendon, producer/co-director Sam Liu (The Death and the Return of Superman), co-director Christopher Berkeley (Young Justice) and screenwriter Jase Ricci (Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem Across the Multiverse).

Both films will have encore screenings in the Arena on Sunday, March 26. Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One will screen at 12:15pm, followed by Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham at 2:00pm

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Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3



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