The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that classic leading man from The Comancheros, The Longest Day and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines has died in his home in Montecito yesterday. He was also known for his performance in the television show Cimarron Strip as well has for his performance in The Mark, which earned him an Academy Award nomination. According to to the article, "Whitman did get nominated for best actor but lost out to Judgment at Nuremberg's Maximilian Schell — whose sister, Maria, played Whitman's love interest in The Mark. "Maria told me she didn't know who to vote for that year!” he said."
Whitman began his on screen career in 1951's When Worlds Collide, appearing in numerous films and television shows all the way up until 2000. His work had a huge range of genres, from westerns to suspenseful crime to creature features. After his half of century of acting, he retired to his 30-acre Santa Barbara area ranch and worked in real estate.
I have to just come right out and say that I love that Disney has made a fantasy film for young adults! To make magical and mythical creatures cool again was just a joy to see. But of course we all know that Pixar like to take our hearts, tear it into tiny little shreds, and then rebuild it lovingly and send us out with a nice hug.
The story is about two brothers whom the elder one barely knew his dad and the youngest wasn't even born when he died. Via some magic handed down to them, they were given a chance to bring their dad back for one day. Of course, the spell doesn't work out so well and they are only able to bring back his lower half. So the brothers set out on a quest to find another magical source so they can get a chance to see their dad one last time.
Reading that synopsis probably gives you the idea that this movie probably isn't for little kids, and I don't think it is! This is a far more mature story than I think younger kids would have a harder time to wrap their heads around it. Sure there are moments of pure slapstick comedy like any great animated film would have, but the story team at Pixar took the broken heart of a broken family and was able to put those feelings into the audience. Pixar has mastered the sorcery of making audiences feel exactly what they want you to, and that just proves their writing and storytelling skills are almost always firing on all cylinders. If you grew up with a broken family, you can't help but be touched in someway by this film. Be prepared!
Of course all the magic that Disney could conjure up still didn't arrive without some flaws. For me, some Pixar films made my jaw hit the floor with it's near photo-realistic rendering. I'm thinking of more recent films like Cars 3 or Finding Dory. But this one, although beautiful shots were throughout, felt a little stale. Maybe it was the extra characters all looked too similar and not so different. Maybe the animation seemed to be more "cartoonish" than watching how cars drive and fish swim. But then in the other hand, this is a fantasy film! You can't expect any realism to it. However, the charm is this is about taking Lord of the Rings and putting it in a contemporary setting, and doing it with charm and heart. I will also point out, when the brother voiced by Chris Pratt, talks about his last time he saw his father was near identical of his Guardians of the Galaxy character's moment with his mother. Ironically, his brother is voiced by Tom Holland, who is probably the best incarnation of Spider-Man, and shared screen-time with Pratt in the last two Avengers movies. With this said, I really want to see a live-action movie with these two in it!
Go see Onward and be prepared to have your heart touched as magic runs from opening frame to the last. Also, get there early to see Disney's attempt of making The Simpsons short cartoon the prelude to the feature (which I'm not sure how I feel about, to be honest). It's going to be great for the older kids, which is probably why The Simpsons made it's appearance here. And if you love fantasy films, Dungeons & Dragons or anything with magic, you'll love going Onward.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Well... I didn't see that coming.
Going into this movie, I wasn't looking for much more than a relaunch of the movie originally intended for Universal's Dark Universe. This was Universal's response to Disney/Marvel and Warner Brother's own comic book universes, where all the stand alone characters in their intellectual properties would collide. The film was originally slated to include Johnny Depp as the titular character, but it was scrubbed and turned into this film after The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise, failed to launch the franchise after the one movie. A movie with Javier Bardem as Frankenstein's monster was also canceled. Personally, I didn't think The Mummy was all that bad and I was excited to see Universal embrace the property they have: their monsters. So admittedly, I was not excited to see the scraps of this movie after the Dark Universe collapsed into a cinematic black hole, but I'm glad I saw it!
This movie is not without it's many faults, and in someways does feel like Frankenstein's monster lurching around the screen, but take it for what it is. It's a suspenseful and psychological thriller that has it's origins in a classic monster movie. Lots of shots of empty hallways, doorways and other empty space that by the end of the movie you're convinced there's an invisible man standing there, waiting for the right moment to mess with your head. Leigh Whannell, of the Saw films, does a fantastic job of building suspense, even though it's incredibly predictable.
Elisabeth Moss does a fantastic job of having one foot in reality and still battling the mental games her ex is playing with her while he can't be seen. If you've seen her in The Handmaid's Tale, it's very similar acting, or maybe even characters. But she does sell the situation and the movie would not be able to have any legs if it wasn't for her performance. Overall, this movie does have it's moments jump-scares and brooding music, but it also has it's moments of "we all saw that coming."
There was a not so subtle cameo (more like mention) of the Central Coast, and I didn't see it coming either. Elisabeth Moss' character is an alumni of Cal Poly Architecture School, and is evident by the sweatshirt she wears, degrees on the wall and mentioned during a job interview. Seeing the movie on the Central Coast is bound to have someone shout out, "Hey, Cal Poly!" like it's a hidden cameo, but it's something that you really can't miss.
This movie is a fun that I wish was still in the Universal monster universe roster, but still happy with the results.
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Here's a trailer for the 2017's Dark Universe by Universal: