In preparation for the upcoming release of Episode IX of the Star Wars Skywalker saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, I recently re-watched all eight films. Here’s my journey via my social media feeds. Enjoy.
Also of note, I watched all three prequel films on Blu-ray with the director/filmmaker commentary track, which was a godsend.
Where did Elsa get her powers from? And what were Anna and Elsa’s parents really doing when their ship went down? These pivotal questions lie at the heart of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ supremely entertaining and beautiful sequel Frozen 2.
The film basically picks up where the first film (and the myriad of Frozen-themed short films) left off. Princess Anna (again voiced by Kristen Bell) and her big sister Queen Elsa (again voiced by the dreamy Idina Menzel) are best buddies once more and are peacefully ruling the kingdom of Arendelle. Anna is still with her boyfriend Kristoff (again voiced by Jonathan Groff) and they continue to be accompanied by Kristoff’s reindeer Sven and Elsa’s magical creation Olaf the snowman (again voiced by Josh Gad).
We’re treated to a flashback when Anna and Elsa are little girls and where we learn more about their parents, King Agnarr (voiced by Alfred Molina) and Queen Iduna (voiced by Evan Rachel Wood). Their parents tell the girls a story about an Enchanted Forest and other places outside of Arendelle when some important events took place that directly affected their family.
Back in present day, Elsa keeps hearing voices. She is troubled to know if she should try to figure out what they are saying to her or if she should just ignore them. Elsa decides to heed the mysterious call and sets the film’s adventure into motion. With all of the gang in tow, Elsa ventures off “into the unknown” (which is also a name of one of the many terrific new songs from the film) to try to find out what these voices are attempting to tell her.
When they find the Enchanted Forest, they meet the indigenous Northuldra people who have a long history with the Arendellians and who have a tradition of caring for the environment (and maybe have a little magic to throw into the mix, too). And while the people have been going on with their lives, there is (literally) a cloud hanging over them and a major mystery that needs to be solved. Can Anna and Elsa solve the puzzle? And do the Northuldra hold any answers to the big burning questions? One thing is for sure, our heroines Anna and Elsa are both up to the task.
I found this film utterly delightful. The trademark high quality animation done by the masters at Walt Disney Animation Studios is again absolutely stunning and is such a pleasure to watch. Co-directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck are back along with most of the creative team from the first film and they’ve infused this film with love, craft, and care. The new songs written by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the same writing team as the first Frozen film and the Broadway musical, are again catchy and wonderful and help propel the story forward.
Ultimately, Frozen 2 serves as a terrific complement to its predecessor. Questions are answered, rights are wronged (including giving Jonathan Groff a full song to sing–and it’s a doozy), and the story all comes together in a very satisfactory way (at least for this viewer). Sisterly love once more reigns supreme along with the encouragement to all to be brave, loving, and to go into our own unknowns, whatever and wherever they may be.
Frozen 2 is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association for “action/peril and some thematic elements.”
It’s the Italians vs. the Americans and the Americans (and a Brit) vs. each other in Ford v Ferrari, a fascinating and riveting biopic of how the Ford Motor Company took on Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in 1966.
The true story is the stuff of legend. Ford, after a failed (and humiliating) attempt to buy Ferrari in the mid-1960s, decided to take them down on their own turf by building a race car to compete in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans race held annually in Le Mans, France. Ferrari had long dominated the European racing scene, so it was rather audacious that an American car company would come in and try to compete.
The film is mostly focused on the relationship between team manager Carroll Shelby, played by Matt Damon, and driver Ken Miles, played by Christian Bale. The Ford management team hired maverick race car driver and renowned sports car designer Carroll Shelby to lead the racing team. Shelby also had the distinct accomplishment of winning at Le Mans in 1959, driving for British manufacturer Aston Martin.
For the driving team, Shelby was an advocate for English sports car engineer and driver Ken Miles. Miles, who had a reputation of being “difficult,” also had the skills to get the job done better than anyone, at least in the eyes of Carroll Shelby. Shelby’s and Miles’ rocky relationship gets explored in the film as well as the constant challenges the two of them faced dealing with the brass at the Ford Motor Company who were unconvinced that the brash Miles was a good fit for the team, not to mention the Ford image and brand.
The real highlight of Ford v Ferrari (which takes up most of the film’s third act; although the entire film is terrific) is the dramatization of the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race where Ford and Ferrari battle it out for dominance on the race track. It’s also where the Ford management team and Carroll Shelby continue to battle it out in the pits for how to manage the car and its drivers, and where Ken Miles has to make some pretty important decisions while “going like hell” to win the race.
Director James Mangold and his team are to be commended for creating one of the best automobile racing movies ever. The cinematography, editing, and sound are outstanding. And both Matt Damon and Christian Bale turn in Oscar-worthy performances as two friends who have to overcome a serious amount of obstacles to pull off one of the craziest and boldest racing victories ever.
Ford v Ferrari is pure adrenaline from start to finish. I can’t recommend this film highly entertaining film highly enough.
Ford v Ferrari is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association for “some language and peril.”
My score: 4.5 out of 5 stars
And see this film in IMAX if at all possible. The picture and sound in my screening were tremendous.