December 10th, 2023

wonder woman 1984 spotlight pageWonder Woman (Gal Gadot) prepares to do battle in “Wonder Woman 1984.” Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Back in 2017 for my birthday, I took myself out to the movies to see “Wonder Woman” and I ended up being absolutely blown away with the movie and having a lot of fun. So when I heard early last year that there was a sequel in development, “Wonder Woman 1984,” and subsequently watching the teaser trailer, I was super excited. 

I was recently able to watch “Wonder Woman 1984,” which is set during the Cold War, and follows Diana (Gal Gadot) and her past love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) as they face off against Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) and Cheetah (Kristen Wiig). and definitely came away with some thoughts about the sequel to one of my favorite superhero movies. 

The first thing that has to be acknowledged is the costuming – every article looks like it exploded straight out of someone’s closet from the 1980s, and the overall effort is cool and amusing at the same time (for real, was color coordination not a thing in that time period?) Like I said in my review of “Rocketman” a couple years ago, I have to wonder how much overall work they had to do to recreate those styles (clothing and hair) from back then, because it could not have been very easy tracking down some of that stuff. Gadot’s Wonder Woman costume is also really cool looking, especially her golden armor seen near the end. Overall, there was definitely a lot of thought and planning that went into this aspect of the movie, and I loved it. 

mulan 2020 spotlight pageHua Mulan (Yifei Liu) prepares to take a shot during a battle in Disney’s newest remake “Mulan.” Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


With this past weekend being the New Year’s holiday, I was able to take some time and relax going between Netflix and Disney+ and among all my viewings was last year’s remake of one of my favorite Disney movies, “Mulan.” For those who are unfamiliar with the original 1998 animated masterpiece, it follows the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, who took her aging father's place in the Chinese army by disguising herself as a man. 

I’d heard about the remake being in development early on and while I did feel excitement (since the 1998 movie is one of my overall favorite Disney films), I also felt some apprehension because not ALL of Disney’s remakes have turned out well (looking at you “Lion King”). After watching the “Mulan” remake on Disney+ this weekend, both those feelings ended up being confirmed. 

One thing about the movie I have to give praise to is the fight scenes choreography done throughout, because it is done very well. Each move is so precise and fluid, it’s almost like watching a dance and there were a couple points where I forgot those particular characters were supposed to actually be fighting. Whoever was in charge of the combat choreography did an exceptional job. 

The overall look of the movie is also very nice, with the scenery and filming locations being particularly eye-catching, and the cinematography is also done very well to capture all the details of those locations. Several of the scenes were almost like perfect vistas and captured the mood very effectively. 

soul spotlight pageJoe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) takes a look back on some moments in his life with 22 (Tina Fey) in this scene from Pixar’s newest release, “Soul,” currently available on Disney+. Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Many different people throughout the centuries have tried to answer the question of “What makes you, YOU?” and recently, Pixar’s geniuses tried their own hand at answering that question (to a degree) with 2015’s “Inside Out” and again with its latest release on Disney+, “Soul.”

The movie follows middle school music teacher named Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx), who seeks to reunite his soul with his body after they are separated due to a freak accident just before his big break as a jazz musician, teaming up with unborn soul 22 (voiced by Tina Fey), who has a rather dim view of life,  to get back to Earth. 

One of the first things that caught my attention in the movie was the animation, which is absolutely stunning, particularly in the scenes in what’s dubbed “The Great Before,” where new souls prepare to go to Earth. The new souls are absolutely adorable looking (I feel plushes of them being developed and then being on future gift lists in the future) and everything with “The Great Before” is so bright and colorful and overall just so well done. I also liked the design of the soul counselors, all of whom are named Jerry – they’re designed in such a way that while they have a definite shape, there’s also a bit of abstractness to them that lets viewers fill in some of the blanks with their own imaginations. The designs in that part reminded me of how some of the character/world designs were done with “Inside Out,” and they were all done really well.