Archive for the Animation Category

Coco

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.

What people are saying:

“At every imaginative juncture, the filmmakers (the screenplay is credited to Pixar veteran Molina and Matthew Aldrich) create a richly woven tapestry of comprehensively researched storytelling, fully dimensional characters, clever touches both tender and amusingly macabre, and vivid, beautifully textured visuals” 4 stars

“None of Coco‘s few flaws can fatally undermine the film because it is, most of all, a smart and enduring piece of storytelling with a satisfyingly twisting narrative and richly complex theme. ” 4 stars

Cocos rich visual pleasures are matched by a thoughtful narrative that takes a family-friendly—and deeply affecting—approach to questions of culture, family, life, and death” 5 stars

“The topic this movie handles is unconventional, but it doesn’t take away from the humour, the fun and the insanity that we come to expect from Pixar. They balanced the topic well and respectfully to the culture the topic relates to. Truly one of the best movies in it’s class.” 5 stars

“Once again, leave it to a kid flick to show the adults how to tackle a film about inclusiveness, acculturation and celebrating heritage. Young Miguel Rivera disobeys his family’s perplexing ban on music to pursue his dream of becoming an accomplished, strumming virtuoso. Pixar strikes tear-jerking gold with its first lead Latino character and a story that resonates in a climate where Dreamers face unknown, frightful futures and accepting those with different beliefs and backgrounds still proves a challenge.” 3 1/2 stars

Advertisements

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

It’s back to the 1960s as Batman and Robin spring into action when Gotham City is threatened by a quartet of Batman’s most fiendish foes–Penguin, The Joker, Riddler and Catwoman. This time, the four Super-Villains have combined their wicked talents to hatch a plot so nefarious that the Dynamic Duo will need to go to outer space (and back) to foil their arch enemies and restore order in Gotham City. It’s a truly fantastic adventure that will pit good against evil, good against good, evil against evil… and feature two words that exponentially raise the stakes for both sides: Replicator Ray. Holy Multiplication Tables!

What people are saying:

“It’s both a subtle jab at more dour versions of Batman in the mythology and acts as a stamp that marks West’s version as a cunning and capable character.” 4 stars

“What’s this? A DC Original Animated Movie that is smartly written, fun, and captures the spirit of what it’s adapting? Not simply a extended episode serving as a homage to the original 60’s series, but actually a true Batman ’66 feature-length adventure. Sure, the returning cast members may sound their age- but they sure sound like they’re having the same kind of fun they had back in the day. And they thought Batman couldn’t be thing way again.” 4 stars

“Once you get past the voices, which are of course noticeably older or replacements for those that have passed on, you can settle into a film that perfectly captures the spirit of the 60’s show while adding in some clever commentary on Batman interactions that have appeared since. The animated medium allows for the proceedings to be on a much bigger scale, and while that counts against it towards the end when the runtime starts to go on a little too long (it’s about four episodes worth of the TV show and might have been better sticking to its standard two-part, 40 minute story format), it does use the extra time to wrap up a character arc from the show. It’s this tendency to go beyond its remit, as well as its razor-sharp script and contagious sense of fun, that makes it easy to recommend to Batman fans old and new alike.” 3 1/2 stars

“Let’s take just a second: Adam West has been Batman off and on for 50 years. That may be type-casting, but when fans think of Batman, The Caped Crusader, the name that comes to mind after Bruce Wayne is Adam West. Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders reminds us all why Adam West is the best Batman. It brings back everything we liked about the series. This is pretty much a sequel to the Batman ’66 film. The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler and Catwoman have teamed up again to take over Gotham and ultimately – the world! There are jokes about three Catwomen. Commissioner Gordon sports his trademark mustache. There are cool things here in animation that would burst a live-action budget as far as special effects. There is one questionable joke that for me fell flat. Your mileage may vary. Make no mistake: this is The Bright Knight, a far different Batman than what we have seen since 1989. There is a sequel coming, with William (Captain Kirk) Shatner as Two-Face. Hopefully this will develop into a franchise – maybe a true return for the Caped Crusaders!” 5 stars

“There’s a joy impossible to deny. It’s crafted by a team that can hardly contain its adoration for the material. That love is so apparent it might win over a new generation.” 4 1/2 stars

Despicable Me 3

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

After he is fired from the Anti-Villain League for failing to take down Balthazar Bratt, the latest bad guy to threaten humanity, Gru finds himself in the midst of a major identity crisis. But when a mysterious stranger shows up to inform Gru that he has a long-lost twin brother—a brother who desperately wishes to follow in his twin’s despicable footsteps—one former super-villain will rediscover just how good it feels to be bad.

What people are saying:

“What shines through is the visual wit and innate sweetness of the storytelling, and Carell’s cackling, cueball-skulled misanthrope — a (mostly) reformed scoundrel who can still have his cake, and arsenic too.” 4 stars

“To me, this franchise seems tired. An overly complicated plot seems to waste time while we wait for the inevitable showdown between Gru and the supervillain, former child TV star, Bratt. But the characters are still solid.” 3 stars

“What garbage. Really not much more than a serious of gags and poop jokes. That’s what this series has been reduced to. Clearly, the writers ran out of ideas for this franchise – not surprising at all – and they’re forced to crank out this… “stuff” to keep printing money for Universal. Minions started out as good comic relief in the first two movies and established a cult following, even among adults. Then they got so popular that they studio decided they needed to make a Minions-only movie, and then basically split them off on their own in this movie so they could be the stars of their own little B-story. Problem is, with their simple minds and goofy language, they can only be funny for so long before they just become parodies of themselves. You can say that gags and poop jokes are fine because this is a movie aimed at kids, and I would ordinarily agree with you. But then why so many 80s references with Balthazar? This movie can’t decide what audience it wants to placate. Too dated for kids. Too stupid for adults. They can keep pooping out these movies. I’m done watching them. Two was enough.” 1 star

“The problem with continuing a franchise whether it be live action or animation is that the content dries up until all you are left with is a series of sequences joined together with little in the way of good narrative, to get people to the seats based on their knowledge of the previous installments. This is the problem with Despicable Me 3– apart from the need to make money there is no reason for this film to exist. Not all is bad though and whilst adults might want to skip this film, kids will probably enjoy it as much as the earlier films. (A fine family outing movie but nothing more than that)” 4 stars

“3 is without question the “least good” of the Despicable Me movies, but I absolutely loved the others so that’s not really a big negative for this one. The minions have a much smaller role to play in this movie; it’s mostly Gru and his suddenly-appearing brother Dru, with Lucy and the girls having small side adventures to keep them relevant. I’d consider the sidelining of Lucy and the girls a big negative for the movie, because I really don’t feel that much of a connection to the mysterious brother (I spent a good chunk of the movie thinking he was either the villain in a disguise or a henchman for the villain because Dru is REALLY bad at contributing anything of value). The movie’s entertaining in its own way, lots of jokes and slapstick and a few adorable moments with the girls, so it’s not a “bad” movie, per se, but they could have done a much better job and they have in the past. Personally, I really wanted Gru to go back to being a villain, THAT would have been fun to watch. Instead we have Gru dealing with his brother, Lucy struggling to figure out how to be a mom (they don’t touch on that enough for it to be a big theme, and I think they missed out on something there, as well), and of course young Agnes goes off into the woods to find a unicorn, because cute needs to happen. It’s all good, but it could have been better.” 3 stars

Cars 3

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews, Pixar with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage!

What people are saying:

“There’s an emotional resonance to this story about growing old, chasing glory days and the joy of passing the baton that leaves the other two films choking on its digitally rendered dust. The end goal this time out isn’t just to sell a few more toys and Lightning McQueen lunchboxes. It’s actually tapping into something deeper than a corporate bottom line.” 4 stars

“The final chapter of the trilogy has saved the best for last and will at least deflect the most serious concerns of those who think this series has taken too many extra laps.” 4 stars

Cars 3 is the sequel that Cars 2 should have been, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. It’s okay. The story is a retread of the first movie and some of the plot points seem forced. Plus, they cram so many characters into the movie that none of them can get any real traction. Pixar needs to stop focusing on merchandising and get back to creating quality animated films.” 3 stars

“Lightning McQueen is trying to beat a competitor, storm, who is a “rookie” so he trains his hardest but still cant beat him. i personally dont like the ending because we all like a hero but in this movie instead of the hero we all know and love(lightning McQueen) it turns out the hero is cruz. its like if harry potter wasnt the main character in the 4th movie even if the movie series was based on him. my last complaint is his color at the end. when he changes from red to blue it was cringy. i barely even recognized him. red is his signature color. now sometimes change is good. but was it really worth the risk this time? but i digress.” 2 stars

“What probably should have been Cars 2. Like those cinematic shorts featuring Mater, Cars 2 felt like a gigantic one. This one alone maybe doesn’t quite hit the traditional creative Pixar charm in ways, but obviously it’s more thought provoking and emotional then the previous. I felt a tad disappointed that Mater didn’t have a bigger role in this film, but then again he had enough of a roll in 2. Cruz was an engaging and fun new character to the franchise and the ending of the film I don’t think could have been more satisfying. You’re never too old to be involved with what you love, even if that doesn’t mean actually doing it” 4 stars

Incredibles 2

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Family, Movie Reviews, Pixar, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Three months following Syndrome’s defeat, the Parr family – Bob, Helen, Dash, Violet and Jack-Jack – continue operating under their superhero identity, the Incredibles. After unsuccessfully preventing the villain Underminer from robbing Metroville Bank, the authorities become concerned over the level of damage caused by the incident. As a result, Rick Dicker informs the Parr family that his department’s “Super Relocation” program is being shut down, forcing supers across the world to permanently adhere to their secret identities. Soon thereafter, Bob and Helen, along with family friend Lucius Best – the superhero Frozone – are contacted by Winston Deavor, a superhero fan, telecommunications tycoon, and owner of DEVTECH, who proposes a publicity stunt to regain the general public’s support of supers.

Helen Parr, considered the least-destructive of the supers, is selected to undertake the stunt by openly fighting crime in New Urbrem, under her old identity of Elastigirl. As part of the plan, Winston provides the family with a new home, to which Bob offers to take care of the kids while Helen is away. During her absence, Bob discovers that Jack-Jack has various super powers, but struggles with controlling the family’s infant. Seeking help, Bob takes Jack-Jack to Edna Mode, a family friend and superhero-costume designer, who agrees to help upon seeing the baby’s superpowers in action. Helen meanwhile confronts the Screenslaver – a mysterious villain who hijacks screens in order to project hypnotic images that can brainwash civilians.

After rescuing an ambassador from the Screenslaver’s clutches, she manages to defeat him, only to find that he is no more than a pizza delivery man, who has no recollection of what he did. While attending a celebration of the Screenslaver’s defeat at the Deavor’s, Helen realizes that the pizza delivery man was being controlled by hypno-screens within his goggles. Before she can alert anyone to this, Winston’s sister Evelyn Deavor overpowers her and brainwashes her with Screenslaver’s goggles glasses. Evelyn reveals herself to be the mastermind behind the Screenslaver – seeing supers as a threat to humanity’s independence, she sought to undermine her brother’s mission, and plans to brainwash the world’s leaders so that they cannot re-legalize superheroes. Evelyn then manages to lure Bob and Lucius into a trap, and place them under her control with brainwashing glasses.

Avoiding the same fate as their parents, Dash, Violet, and Jack-Jack, whom Edna had outfitted with a super-suit, sneak aboard the Deavor’s ship to rescue their parents, as the world leaders meet for a hearing on supers. After freeing their parents and Lucius, the group reveal Evelyn’s plan to the assembled leaders. A battle on the boat ensues, threatening to crash the ship into New Urbrem. However, the group manage to stop it, while Helen apprehends Evelyn when she tries to make an escape. Following the incident, the Supers Relocation Program is reinstated in response to the group’s heroism, making supers legal once again.

REVIEW:

There have been some long-awaited films to be released in the past 12 months including, but not limited to Wonder Woman, Black Panther, Star Wars : The Last Jedi, etc. None of these come anywhere near the anticipation for Incredibles 2. 14 years we have been waiting for this sequel…14 years!!! Will this be worth the wait or a major letdown? Let’s find out!

What is this about?

Everyone’s favorite family of superheroes is back in “Incredibles 2”–but this time Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, leaving Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voice of Huck Milner) to navigate the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life. It’s a tough transition for everyone, made tougher by the fact that the family is still unaware of baby Jack-Jack’s emerging superpowers. When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) must find a way to work together again–which is easier said than done, even when they’re all Incredible.

What did I like?

Right where we left off. Every now and then we are privy to a sequel for a film that was released some 5, 10, 15 yrs prior. While it is great to see these characters, and in some cases actors, again, the feeling just isn’t the same…even if they move the story forward and age with the actors. The brilliant thing about animation is that these characters don’t age (I read they did think about aging them in an early meeting, though). The only difference in this cast over the past 14 years is the voice of Dash is a different actor, for voice change reasons and the guy that was agent Dicker retired and passed away. Once those holes were filled, it was easy to come in and pick up right where The Incredibles left off. Literally, they pick up in the same scene that ends the first film!

Jack-Jack of all trades. There has been a real emphasis placed on marketing the baby, Jack-Jack. Can you blame them, though? The kid is cute, has a seemingly unending array of powers, and there is a fight with a raccoon that steals the show! If this moves forward with another film, I am interested to see where they go with him and his powers. One theory is that he’ll stop being cute, rebel against the family, and become a supervillain. Meh, I’m not much a fan of that theory, but this kid does need to be reigned in a bit. Strangely enough, he seems to have a rapport with Edna…maybe that will lead to something?

Comedy. Let’s face it, outside of the Guardians of the Galaxy films and Ant-Man, superhero films are serious business (Marvel does throw in jokes here and there, unlike the brooding, depressing DC Universe). I don’t know why, but I was afraid this film was going to go in that direction as well. Instead, there are plenty of jokes to go around. Pixar may be known for tugging on the heartstrings primarily *COUGH* Up *COUGH*, but leave us not forget they know how to make an audience of all ages laugh, too, something they succeed with in spades with the film. Situations with Jack-Jack, Bob learning new math, the character Voyd’s nervousness around Elastigirl, etc. All the jokes land and make for a thoroughly entertaining film.

What didn’t I like?

Feminism. Over the course of this blog’s history, I have made it no secret that I am no fan of feminism. Everyone should have equal rights, sure, but don’t shove your agenda down my throat, or say I am a bad person because I prefer seeing a damsel in distress once in a while. The level of feminism in this film isn’t bra burning, stop shaving your armpits, listen to 90s era lesbian grunge, for lack of a better term…blame the ladies I went to college with…but it does reek of trying to put the focus on Elastigirl and shove her down our throat. I’m ok with that, except for the fact that we for a good chunk of her in the last film. If you wanted to give us some girl power, why not put the focus on Violet, which some of the film was, or make a new super, which they did and i’ll get to her next. Hell, even give some more with Edna, even though she doesn’t have powers, one gets the feeling she could do some damage. All in all, though, in this day and age where is seems to be a crime to be male, let alone a straight male, this film took the easy road and pushed all the guys to the back of the bus.

Voyd the other supers. We saw in the last film that all the supers were killed, either by horrific accidents, which Edna Mode blamed on capes, or by Syndrome’s robots. As one generations falls, another one must rise. Enter a new group of supers. Most are forgettable, tbh, except for Voyd. I have two issues with the new guys. First, all of these powers are what we’ve seen a billion times, electricity (Black Lightning), telekinesis (Jean Gray), super strength (Mr. Incredible), flight (Angel), and the one that did stand out was an old man whose acid reflux allows him to spit lava! *SIGH* Second, Voyd is a great character. Her fangirling over Elastigirl almost made me want her to turn on her, but that would be a rehash of the first film in some respects. I do think they could have dialed her back a bit or given her compatriot supers some more time to develop personalities. I don’t think the electric dude said anything outside of introducing his powers when we first meet him!

Seen it all before. There is a misconception that this is the exact same film, just with the genders reversed. That isn’t the case. For instance, the villain isn’t anywhere near as strong a characters as Syndrome. There is a twist that comes before the last act, which you can probably see coming a mile away, but it doesn’t affect a character like you would think. Elastigirl isn’t hiding her superhero assignment. Blah, blah, blah All that said, there are more things in common with the first film that I would like for there to be, such as the main plot of one going out to be super, while the other stays home and takes care of the kids. If that was done for familiarities sake, then ok, but if it took Brad Bird 14 years to come up with that perfect story, I am highly disappointed.

The Incredibles is my all time favorite Pixar film. I have waited as we have had a sequel, and a prequel, to just about every Pixar film that was released before (and after) 2004. Not all of them have been good, some have been an obvious cash grab, and others were just horrible, but Incredibles 2 delivers. Is it as good as its predecessor? No, but let’s look at the superhero landscape and people’s general attitudes since the original was released. There has been a definite shift. That being said, I highly enjoyed this film and look forward to watching it again, and again, and again. My only real issues are that the Underminer got away and there are now 2 blueprints for how to do a solid Fantastic Four film for whichever studio ends up getting the rights. Do I recommend this? Yes, very highly! Stop reading and watch it multiple times with the whole family!

5 out of 5 stars

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Based on the worldwide sensation and bestselling book series, and boasting an A-list cast of comedy superstars headed by Kevin Hart and Ed Helms, DreamWorks Animation brings audiences the long-awaited global movie event, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. This raucously subversive comedy for the entire family tells the story of two overly imaginative pranksters named George and Harold, who hypnotize their principal into thinking he’s a ridiculously enthusiastic, incredibly dimwitted superhero named Captain Underpants.

What people are saying:

“With a tidy plot, clean animation, and humor that fits its source material snugly, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is entertainment that won’t drive a wedge between family members” 4 stars

“Captain Underpants is an homage to the funny high jinks of The Kids Next Door series that aired on Cartoon Network. Unfortunately it doesn’t capture the fun and wonderment of childhood like The KND. Instead, the movie proves beyond a doubt to NEVER believe any of the professional critics reviews on Rotten Tomatoes! This is the most disappointing movie to come out of Dreamworks who is known for their excellence in family entertainment.”

“As superhero films shift more in the direction of mature themes (even the PG-13 offerings are starting to push the envelope), a specifically child-friendly hopeful franchise starter such as Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is an appreciated gift” 3 stars

“One of the best surprises of 2017. Captain Underpants has no shame in all the right ways. As a fan of the books when I was a kid, this movie was an absolute love letter to me. It’s faithful, over the top and very self-aware. But from humor that is pulled off with care, the genuine connection between the two main characters and animation that is bright and whimsical, even non-book fans can find a certain joy in this movie.” 4 1/2 stars

“My family really enjoyed this movie and it passed the “six laugh test”. Now, if you do not like puerile humor and pee and poop and fart jokes, then this movie may not be for you. However, there is plenty in this movie that does make it quite funny. George and Harold have been terrorized by their principal for years and have tried to fight back with various pranks to buck up their fellow students. Principal Krupp has never been able to prove their culpability in the pranks. When he finally gets evidence on them, the duo are forced to try hypnotizing Krupp with a cheap toy from a cereal box. Of course, they are amazed when it works and he becomes their comic book creation Captain Underpants. This movie is quite conscious of its puerile nature and uses that to its self-deprecatory advantage. When it comes down to it, this movie is about kids and friendships and just how deep those friendships forged in early years can be. The movie stays pretty true to the tone of the book and is completely insane.” 5 stars

Batman: Assault on Arkham

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Being locked away in Arkham has little effect on Joker and his latest desire to detonate a dirty bomb within Gotham. The clock begins to tick and a deadly triangle unfolds as Amanda Waller unleashes Task Force X to save the day…while Batman has his own plans for salvation.

What people are saying:

“…gleefully immoral” heist film which, having “no real [plot] arc to speak of”, relies on its violent action and clever character dynamics within the Suicide Squad to carry it. Due to its villainous protagonists, dark comedy, and sexual content, Mendelson considers the production of Assault on Arkham an experimental decision by DC, and a successful experiment as it tells a style of comic book story that would never get approval as a live-action project” 4 1/2 stars

“DC Entertainment thrills with one of its boldest and mature films yet while finally figuring out the secret to telling engaging and fun adventures of DC Comic characters beyond Batman and the Justice League.” 4 stars

“The versions of the characters are well done and the voice-work is as good as always for DC comics animation, the story has a good set-up and some nice twists and turns, but it feels like more could have been done with the characters and the small moments of development some have don’t quite work. Also the whole thing is over-the-top in its machismo, at times to the point of parody.” 3 stars

“A little dumb and rushed at times, Batman: Assault on Arkham seems to be fan service for both the comic book fans and for the teenage boys watching it. Some of the charters are completely useless, like that communist that even got his own title card and everything that dies in less than half an hour into the film. And the plot has to revolve around batman not the side-characters this film was made to showcase, the dubbing of the animation can be terrible at worst and bad at best. But with that said the fight scenes are cool and the story is creative. all in all this is an OK movie worth checking out.” 3 1/2 stars

“The animation team at DC did a good job with this feature. It is like a darker, adult version of the Batman universe more akin to Chris Nolan’s “Dark Knight” Trilogy. I really liked how they merged the elements of the superhero genre with the tropes of a heist film (with the various surprises and complications, switched allegiances, Deadshot as the jaded leader who has done missions hundreds of times, Captain Boomerang being the rebellious new guy, Harley Quinn as the crazy, untrustworthy one who could easily FUBAR the mission, King Shark as the muscle, etc.). It also included plenty of great action and numerous cool little node to the “Arkham” games. The voice casting is almost spot-on, too, with the only exception being Matthew Gray Gubler sounding a little off as the Riddler. I just had a couple of minor issues with the film, though; they detract from the overall movie, but do not derail it from being entertaining. First, I think they over-sexualized Harley Quinn (even more so than the “Arkham” series the movie is based on) with no compelling reasoning behind this move. Secondly, while it gets course-corrected in the last ten minutes of the film, the climax ends up devolving into a retread of the main “breakout” plot of the first “Arkham Asylum,” which was disappointing after all of the other elements in the film (including the interesting plot, for the most part) were so new and shocking compared the previous animated DC films.” 4 1/2 stars