Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina make a delightful and dynamic duo in ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’

“Raya and the Last Dragon” – “At its core, it’s an action movie.” – screenwriter Qui Nguyen, March 2, 2021 “Note to self, don’t die.” – Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) And how…and please don’t! In Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon”, Raya (Tran) – an early-20-something – and her trusty companion Tuk Tuk – a 10-foot long, pill bug/armadillo-like, four-legged friend, who best resembles an organic Fiat 500 – carry us on a dazzling animated journey.  Their quest is to search for the last remaining dragon, Sisu (Awkwafina), and find…

‘Soul’ is the warm chicken soup and philosophical hug that we need right now

“Soul” – After your death, you will be what you were before your birth.” – Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher Pixar embraces amusing visual merriment, the kind that only animated films can bring, and turn to “Cars” (2006), “Monsters, Inc.” (2001), and “Toy Story” (1995) as some chief examples.  Well, Tom Hanks could’ve dressed up as a cowboy doll in live-action versions of the “Toy Story” franchise, but I don’t know.  I’ve seen horror-show glimpses of “Teletubbies” (1997 – 2001) and grew up on the Sid and Marty Krofft’s bizarre acid…

‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’ is not as fun as it looks

“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” – Santa Claus at the nearest shopping mall, big-box store sales, holiday music, and television broadcasts of “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946) and “A Christmas Story” (1983). These are sure things that one can expect at Christmastime each year, and add ballet productions of “The Nutcracker” to this exclusive holiday list.  In fact, Phoenix’s Symphony Hall will host “The Nutcracker” performances beginning on Dec. 13. Get your tickets! On Nov. 2, one can also purchase movie tickets to “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”,…

“Pirates” provides some fun and overwhelms with overdone, bloated special effects

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” –  Javier Bardem has recently played a pair of truly iconic villains.  As Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men” (2007), this truly unrelenting boogieman sometimes uses a silent captive bolt pistol to murder his prey at close range throughout west Texas.   Bardem also plays Silva in “Skyfall” (2012), and this former MI6 operative returns to haunt and kill his former boss, M (Judy Dench), while James Bond (Daniel Craig) attempts thwart this memorable baddie’s very personal attack. In each…