Archive for the Family Category

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

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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

The Jungle Book (2016)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Inspired by the animated Disney classic, this live-action adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s beloved novel follows young Mowgli as he navigates a jungle full of wonder and peril with his animal allies Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear.

What people are saying:

“Exceptionally beautiful to behold and bolstered by a stellar vocal cast, this umpteenth film rendition of Rudyard Kipling’s tales of young Mowgli’s adventures amongst the creatures of the Indian jungle proves entirely engaging, even if it’s ultimately lacking in subtext and thematic heft” 5 stars

“It’s not like we don’t all already know this story backward and forward, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from giving this remake a chance. It’s visually beautiful, and I loved that they kept some of the music from the original animated Disney version. Neel Sethi is a perfect Mowgli and the casting of the voice actors is pretty much spot on. ” 4 stars

“By the time its evolution is complete, The Jungle Book has proven itself a minor Darwinian miracle, perhaps the oddest of all species: a movie nearly devoid of human beings, yet one bursting with humanity.” 4 1/2 stars

“Meh. While I was pretty impressed by this film on a technical and visual level, this film didn’t work nearly as well for me as it did for other people. The writing was lazy and there was no connection between the characters. Nothing was better done here than the book or even the animated one.Some will disagree with me but while Christopher Walken as King Louie was better than I thought, I still can’t get into Bill Murray as Baloo. Bill Murray is a very funny guy but I never saw a character in his performance, I just heard Bill Murray’s voice out of this bear and I found it quite distracting. Personally, I would’ve asked for a movie that had the Disney spirit but kept some of the brilliant themes and ideas from the book by Rudyard Kipling. I guess if I’ll give this 2016 version anything…….at least its not the 1994 Stephen Sommer’s version?” 2 1/2 stars

“Amazing! Where reality laves off and fantasy takes over is seamlessly executed and the movie transports you through an unforgettable journey. We watched this as established fans of Kipling, appreciating the tragedies of his life along with the magnificence of his writing; while the movie is an art form unto its own, it captures Kipling and wrings your heart as it unfolds. We watched it twice, the second time leaving no lesser impression. A film for all ages.” 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

Inside Out

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews, Pixar with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it’s no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.

What people are saying:

“Inventive, gorgeously animated, and powerfully moving, Inside Out is another outstanding addition to the Pixar library of modern animated classics” 4 1/2 stars

“It’s full of colour and lovable characters and held together by an immaculately polished screenplay that is every bit as funny as it is moving. It also features some of the best voice performances you’ll hear all year.” 5 stars

“It’s a well-written story, and another Pixar movie well-done. That said, this is not a movie for very young children because they won’t appreciate or understand the plots or what adolescents might go through. As I watched this over the July 4th weekend, there were a couple of families with very young children walking out, which I’m not totally surprised. But it’s a story that all parents and grown-ups can relate to, that childhood is not always sunny and rosy. It is thus that Sadness is as important as the part that Joy plays, that our childhood will always be multi-colored. In time, some of our childhood memory, like Bing Bong, will fade away and disappear, which goes hand in hand with sadness, but they are the foundation that new life and memory will be built on. And our life will grow richer and more complex as a result. If you feel part sad, but mostly happy, the movie has done its job.” 5 stars

“Given the rave reviews in the press when “Inside Out” released you’d have thought that watching this film would cure cancer or something equally marvelous. Having watched it from my viewpoint the results are less than impressive and surprising for a Pixar product. The animation is as spectacular as you’d expect from the Pixar studios and does not disappoint. The premise was promising but the script and execution didn’t do much for me, I thought it was kind of dull. The “A” list voice actor cast give it their all and the pacing is fairly manic which you’d expect for a kid’s film but I was happy to see the credits roll. This imaginary journey into the mind of tween girl dealing with her emotions will appeal to kids of that age group, and some adults but I doubt it will hold the attention of smaller children.” 3 stars

“A brilliantly written, funny, emotional and insightful comedy that deals with the workings of the human psyche. When a script is this well written and so intelligently executed then it really does give you hope for the future of the film industry. More of this please!” 5 stars

The Emoji Movie

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

This animated comedy takes place in Textopolis, a world inside a smartphone that’s inhabited by various emojis. There, an emoji named Gene (voiced by T.J. Miller) is ashamed that he has multiple facial expressions while his colleagues only have one each, and he embarks on a quest to be like everyone else.

What people are saying:

“Make no mistake, The Emoji Movie is very, very, very bad (we’re talking about a hyperactive piece of corporate propaganda in which Spotify saves the world and Sir Patrick Stewart voices a living turd), but real life is just too hard to compete with right now.” 2 stars

“The Problem most people had with The Emoji Movie but didn’t know how to explain it was how the movie was advertised. For some, I think the advertisement of The Emoji Movie meant one thing and to others something totally different. Also what age bracket this movie should have been marketed too. I like Jean’scharacter because the movie for him was about growing up and being yourself in a society that makes everyone conform to what they want you to be. Hi-Five issue was one minute your on top, the next minute your at the bottom. How do you define success for your self? How you accept yourself no matter if you are on the top or the bottom. Jailbreak was the also very unique, How do you be yourself and also fit in with society and learn to deal with stereotypes” 4 stars

“There’s a justifiable self-loathing running through The Emoji Movie, a fragile attempt to (sigh) deconstruct the meaning of Emojis while also (sigh) demonstrating the profound possibility that Emojis are the language of the future.” 1/2 star

“I really enjoyed this movie. i did not think i would like it as much as i did. it’s funny and very entertaining. the animation is great, voice acting is great and the characters are great. the story is good as well. the music is awesome i love the just dance scene that was cool. my favorite character is hi 5 i think he stole the movie. the villain was kind of weak but still entertaining at the same time. i loved how they built the world of the emojis and the rest of the apps that was pretty creative. all in for a movie that sounds dumb it’s pretty darn good. don’t judge a book by it’s cover right. this movie is cenimatastic. if you have not seen this movie then i recommend you do.” 5 stars

“I’m disappointed in myself that I followed the herd on this one. Get off the band wagon – so easy to berate a movie that’s based on something so trivial as emojis and easy to believe it’s just one long advert. I wonder how many of those reviewers have actually seen the film? I saw much more blatant product placement in Wreck It Ralph, but then I guess it’s not very popular to bad mouth that one, right? This movie is not the best, it won’t win awards (mainly due to popularism, thanks for that) – but it’s a kid’s film. Did we forget that? I wouldn’t expect a kid to give a decent rating to Schindler’s List, the film isn’t for them, so why such bad press for this one, which is a kid’s film?” 4 stars