Early Age Comedy

Early Man

            This year is a big year for sports with both Winter Olympics and The World Cup ringing in the sporting events that we all flock too.  The latter event in particular is one of the most recognizable sports of all time and a big influence for a variety of games, television series and of course movies.  My review today is one of those movies, about this international sensation that tries to put a comedic spin on the potential origins of this obsession.  As you’ve read, today’s review is on the latest animated adventure Early Man, the stop motion/clay animation like movie to try to charm the modern-day audience.  What is in store?  As always read on to find out!



AnimationNo surprise, an animated movie has good animation, but Early Man gets bonus points in terms of using more traditional methods to make the story come to life.  This film’s animation is solid, with fluid motion being beautifully presented as they practice stone age soccer.  I admire the fact that they did not take short cuts in this film and appreciate the unique character design that the studio presented, no matter how odd they look.  Early Man certainly isn’t the prettiest of the animated features, but it does net points in the unique category.


Story:  Yes, the movie is certainly one of the more childish based movies, but the story is surprisingly deeper than you might be imagining.  Early Man is indeed a comedy centered in soccer and trying to have the little guy beat the big guy.  However, loaded with this time-tested tale is a story that involved building confidence, the development of the mentor, and of course the quality of teamwork.  These values are well-crafted into the fun at hand, putting some relevance to the antics at hand.  And of course, the movie is wrapped up in that family friendly package you G-PG seekers are looking for, though be warned there are a few words (not cursing related) that may be repeatable by little ears.


Clever:  Early Man is certainly not the most unique story, but the humor has a bit more wit behind the mindless babbling that sometimes comes out.  The writers settle on the British style of laughs, using accent heavy presentations, pokes at popular cultures, and some inside, cultural reference jokes that I thoroughly enjoy.  While the movie has a lot of slapstick for kids, the adults will get some chuckles at these references, some of which are indeed only understandable by older ears.


The Pig:  One character that particularly stands out is the pig.  This studio always seems to give more prowess to their animal characters than humans, with Hognob being no exception to the rule.  Semi-anthropomorphized, Hognob has the most dynamic nature of all the cast of heroes.  With little, to no words, the pig is able to bring a lot of feelings to the scene while also bringing the most laughs.  His constant attempts to save his masters, act as a decoy, and even training with the team makes for some entertainment.



Too Silly:  Despite the cleverness behind the movie, Early Man is still geared toward the younger audiences.  Therefore, the silly, kiddy factor takes the helm and steers it headlong into that area.  All the slapstick humor of soccer injuries, impossible chases, and attempting to devour various people/animals are going to be the majority of the humor you’ll see.  It is well timed at certain points, but this humor got stale quickly for me and sometime was unimpressive.


Anticlimactic:  The premise of the film was soccer match between the stone and bronze age, therefore you were hoping for a semi-epic match against the two.  Unfortunately, the exciting climax actually gets diluted by the funny business, reduced to a few quick plays, some over the top slapstick, and a very lackluster finale.  It seems like they still need to take a page from Disney, and actually deliver on a big bang finale to make the journey worth it.  Had they been able to expand upon this, add some more tension, and smarten up the comedy a little more, the older audience members could have enjoyed this. 


Rushed/Lacking:  In a world owned by the mega studio Disney, unique is hard to come by without their big-time budget.  Early Man is certainly a unique idea, but the problem was they didn’t deliver through with it.  Much like the climax, the movie failed to put our characters through ordeals to make them have meaningful development.  Despite being cute, and somewhat funny, most of the characters have difficulty with being relatable, resulting in a slightly dull group.  In addition, the desire to appease to a younger crowd also had this movie pacing blindingly fast and therefore leaving little room for actual plot building.  While by far not the worst tale to drop into theaters, Early Man still needs work for any future sequels.



Early Man is an animated feature that gets points for the hard work of stop motion animation.  It’s a cute adventure that has a family friendly story, with a couple of characters that will make you laugh at various points.  The problem is, that the movie was focused too much on the younger audience and failing to expand into the territories needed for older members.  Early Man’s concept needed more developing and attempt to moisten the dry comedy this movie has contained within it.  In addition, the film needed a little more friction to add thrills to the story, thereby getting more engaging characters to latch onto.  Worth a trip to the theater?  You are better off checking out Peter Rabbit instead, but I’d save this one for a home rent. 


My Scores:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.0

Movie Overall:  5.5


That Cute, Wascally Rabbit

Peter Rabbit


The beloved tale of Peter Rabbit are stories that many of us remember watching/reading growing up.  Yet like many beloved childhood series, they are often lost to memories and stored away to be forgotten.  So how in the world did this tale resurface after being buried for so long?  Well, get set my friends, because this weekend, Peter Rabbit is back in town to make his mark back on the world and get kids interested in his merchandising.  Robbie K back with another movie review to try and help you answer the question, “should I see it in theaters?”  As always read on to find out my thoughts.




Animation:  Let’s get over the obvious, Peter’s transition into 3-D, realistic looking visuals was a smooth process. The designs of all the characters are on cuteness overloaded, and are certain to be the next line of plush animals for your young ones to grab on to.  Past the design, the movement of the animated five is fluid, a nice balance of natural rabbit movement meeting anthropomorphized anatomy that really brings the action and gimmicks to life.


Cute:  A movie like this relies on being adorable, and by golly this too was a big factor in this film.  Peter and company’s adventure into the new age has adapted well with the times, and the campy, fun, warmhearted nature of the adventure was totally adorable for many.  Both young and older will have a hard time choosing between barf inducing cute and just the right amount, so it really depends on your preferences.


Comedy:  Surprisingly enough, Peter Rabbit’s comedic antics are surprisingly humorous on many levels.  From the trailers you can certainly expect two things:  Slapstick comedy and Repeatable Quotes from Kids.  And the film delivers these expectations using a variety of material to have your little ones in tears at the juvenile antics.  Like Home Alone meets Hop, Peter Rabbit pulls out loads of tricks to keep things fun and wasting little time on other tricks.  Yet, what earns major points with me is the cleverer writing that is indicated for adults.  Not so much in terms of sexual comedy, Peter Rabbit uses other forms of comedy to get laughs from older adult groups, primarily at poking fun at how ridiculous the story is itself.  Throw in some comedic jabs at movie stereotypes alongside some movie references and you got yourself some comedic gold.


All 5 bunnies used:  Though it may be titled Peter Rabbit, this tale is not shy of utilizing all of the rabbit family into the film.  Certainly, it is going to be for advertising, but this installment did a nice job using all five of the rabbits to further the plot.  From sisterly arguments about being the oldest, to the naïve friend who gets dragged into plots, this film will keep the little fuzz balls as involved as possible.


Soundtrack: Props to the music selector for this film, because the movie picked tracks that felt perfect for the sequences.  Sure, many of them are outdated 90s songs, but they are utilized so well many won’t care.  Throw in a few parodies and some dance remixes and you have a nice track list to keep everyone’s toes tapping.




Lacking Emotion:  We all know that the animated films we remember are the ones that tear are hearts out right?  Peter Rabbit does have a few emotional zingers, but none of them really have that childhood ruining edge that will scar your mind.  Thankfully this means no unhappy endings, but Peter Rabbit could have used a little more emotional growth to round out the tale.  Certainly, there are life lessons to be learned, and Peter’s crew does somewhat develop over time, it’s just not in a form or manner that is life changing/memorable in comparison to others.  Therefore, the movie could have used a little more feeling to give it that emotional edge it was looking for.


More Rose Byrne:  She had plenty of screen time in terms of montages of laughing, smiling, and skipping, but her character is a little limited compared to the others.  Like the CGI supporting animals, Byrne’s character simply appeared at the convenient moments.  For being a central chess piece to the whole farmer vs. rabbit dynamics though, her character was a little disappointing.  There were few interventions by her character and she didn’t expand much as a character outside of joke fodder and that motherly atmosphere.  For such a big name, they might have made the extra effort to expand on this role.  I mean, even the climactic ending was missing the thrills, partially because Rose didn’t seem to have much enthusiasm in solving the ordeal.


The trailers show a lot of the movie:  if you’ve seen the copious number of showings for this movie’s trailer than chances are you have seen much of the shenanigans involved in this film already.  Much of the McGregor bashing has been captured in those short airings, so don’t expect too many surprises or laughs if you are sick of it.  Thank goodness that some of the more adult humor has been left out as a nice surprise, but much of the movie has been revealed in the three trailers.  Don’t you hate over advertising?




          Peter Rabbit is a fun tale that all ages will enjoy.  It holds many movie references and comedic styles to keep one entertained, and is certainly the family friendly movie of the year so far.  One will have a lot of fun at this movie, becoming lost in either the cuteness overload that is the movie or having their young at heart selves chuckling at the craziness within.  However, aside from having fun, the movie suffers from a lack of emotional punch to really drive the lessons home.  In addition, thanks to the simple dialog and over advertising, the movie loses some of its uniqueness/edge to boredom at seeing it a thousand times.  Still, if you can stomach the downfalls and accept it for the cute factor it is… than you should have no problem enjoying this film with the family this weekend.  Worth a trip to the theater?  I would say yes. 


My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

It’s a Paddington of Fun!

Paddington 2.jpg


Animated films are a risk these days in terms of going to the theater, unless of course you are Disney in which case you are guaranteed quality.  Other studios, however, struggle to find the balances in cuteness, kid vs adult, and storytelling vs. gimmicks.  So, enter Paddington, the loveable, raincoat wearing bear who is hoping to make another mark in the theater.  Can this CGI, anthropomorphic animal in a real-life cast filled world hit home again with a second movie, or have the morale antics been lost to the ocean Disney has crafted?  Robbie K here with another review hoping to help guide your movie going pleasures.  Let’s get started.



Animation/Acting:  In the modern-day world, animation with computers has never been at its highest point.  Paddington’s team continue to nail this category starting with the stunning, realistic design of the bear that dreams big and loves even bigger.  His movements are fluid, not just limited to simple walking and blinking, but expanded to running, cooking, and even…washing windows with his butt.  It’s impressive to see so much human in this animal, and maintain the realism of the bear anatomy.  Even better is how well the cast is able to work with the animated star, flawlessly transitioning amidst the scene as if her were actually there.  A strong shout out to the editing for the victory in this one, for executing a performance worthy of a kid’s movie.


Cute: In a kid’s movie like this, you want cuteness to be a factor, as this usually means a kid friendly film that little ones can go to.  Good news parents, Paddington’s second adventure is just as adorable as the first.  Outside of the adorable design, his big heart, voice acting, and even his mistakes are reminiscent of a new puppy without having to clean things up. My showing was filled with laughter at this adventure and awing when the heart filled moments come up.  Yes, this film is certainly kid friendly and cute as a button.


Engaging characters:   Yet despite being kid friendly, Paddington 2 is able to inject heart into the mix and create characters that older audience members will want to latch onto.  Paddington himself evolves on new levels once again, expanding upon the lessons learned in the first installment, and tackling the cruel nature of the world.  The rest of the family including Sally Hawkins and Hugh Bonneville go through their own transitions as well, expanded enough to not be obsolete, but not so much to hog the spotlight.  Instead new comers like Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson are the secondary characters who have more development, both going down same, but opposite paths that are entertaining to see.  All the development goes with the flow of the story, and didn’t feel too much of a stretch for me.


Story/Presentation: Paddington’s story is not the first time we’ve seen to come to the theaters.  Getting over this, the story is one that has many levels to it.  Superficially, it’s a bear going on a journey to clear his name, all while looking precious in the process.  However, moving in tangent with this film is a mystery centering around Hugh Grant’s character trying to uncover.  In tandem with that is the family also trying to solve the mystery to potentially help their friend out.  All these stories fit well together, and keep the plot in motion, never in static boredom and to have these decently balanced works for this reviewer.  Yet, the biggest component of this story, is how heartwarming and emotionally packed it is.  Like a good Disney film, Paddington 2 has those powerful scenes and sequences that hit my heart deep.  Some are uplifting and laugh worthy, primarily those that involve politeness, respect, and love.  Others are a bit sadder in tone, primarily in the struggles and setbacks where the look of disappointment on the little bear’s face brings out your empathetic side.  Regardless of what scene affects you, the ability to illicit such a response gets points in my book, especially when you nearly make me cry.  Paddington’s moral filled tale is not unique, but it certainly presented well to warrant an investigation.





Predictable:  No surprise, Paddington’s kid friendly tale doesn’t have too many twists or turns that will leave you in shock and awe.  Older audience members will be thankful at the fun this movie has, because in regards to story you can see everything coming within 30-45 minutes of it actually happening.  This is of course difficult to do without going to the dark side, but still there could have been some slight twists.


Character Stupidity:  With how much Paddington has done for his community, one would have thought the town would have been a little wiser in terms of the crimes at hand.  Much of the cast is ridiculously ignorant or surprisingly dumb in the details and clues that are missed, or the fact that the police don’t warrant investigations.  This approach does set up the stories that I described in the likes section, but you have to suspend your understanding of characters to accept it, amazing how fickle people can be.


Expanding More:  This would be difficult to do in a movie, but I would have loved to see more of the secondary characters expanded the way Paddington was.  Primarily, the jail scenes needed a little more spreading out, not only to give more time with the prisoner cast, but add a little more adventure to this movie.  Expanding the struggles to obtain friends might have added a little more to the movie and made the hero’s journey a little more epic.  In addition, Hugh Grant’s tale was the sillier of the bunch, and could have either used a few more stunts and examples to at least add a little more to his plot.





            Paddington 2 is a prime example of what a kid’s movie can be when one pays tribute to all audience members.  While the cute animation and characters who perform slapstick, silliness are good for your little ones, the surprisingly deep character and story really works to entertain the masses. British led movies continue to impress me and this movie is certainly great for all ages, perhaps even illicit a few tears upon first viewing. Still it has some work to be a perfect movie including mixing up some of the predictable plotlines, not turning their characters into doubting imbeciles, and expanding more on their new gimmicks.  Overall though, this is the movie to see this weekend in my opinion and certainly one worth hitting the rental for, assuming you don’t hit the theaters first. 


            My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  8.5

Movie Overall:   8.0

Fantastic Fun Ferd The Whole Family!



In the shadow of the epic saga, there lies an animated field where flowers grow, birds sing, and bulls romp around smelling the fauna.  No, I’m not drunk, I’m talking about Ferdinand the Bull, the latest kid’s animated feature to stamped on to the silver screen. Blue Skies Studio has been advertising this film like crazy, in hopes of nabbing the younger audience this weekend.  Yet with Disney knocking these films out of the park is there any hope for the other studios to put out quality work?  Robbie K here happy to answer that question, as we hit yet another Robbie’s movie review.





Animation: It’s an animated movie and as such you want the animation to be well good.  While not the most realistic looking film to drop into our laps, Ferdinand still has a wonderful style that brings the world to life.  The cartoony looks of the character, a common theme in Blue Sky production, adds to the fun of the film, and will be a welcoming sight to your little ones.  The world has dynamic shades of color to mirror the tone of the setting, and a majority of it explodes to life in a manner that kid’s movies only can. And of course… the anthropomorphized animals move beautifully in all aspects from the simple act of speaking to even break dancing. 


Voice work:  In an animated work, it’s up to the voice work to also bring the characters to life and Ferdinand accomplishes this goal quite well.  John Cena is surprisingly a great voice actor, bringing some range in his emotional spectrum I didn’t quite expect from the gigantic tower of a man. Kate McKinnon in all her glory, is the comedic punch to the film with a very energetic delivery that gets toned down a few times to roll her character back in serious mode.  Of course the other supporting voices lend their roles well with Anthony Anderson, Peyton Manning, Gina Rodriguez, and Gabriel Iglesias all contributing to the fun at hand in their own special way, and yes fluffy was my favorite. And as an added bonus, most of the characters have decent screen time, meaning you don’t get shortsighted like many films do.


The Fun:  This movie is exactly what the advertisements promise, a fun, simplistic adventure that brings a lot of enjoyment to the screen.  Ferdinand’s antics are simply cute, like a big puppy trapped in a big body that is awkward and klutzy. What starts as simplistic slapstick though soon evolves, recruiting some rather witty jokes, a poke at some cinema references, and a dance off that will be legendary on YouTube for some time.  All these little gestures combine to maximize the laughs, and while much of this is geared towards kids, there are some jokes that adults will appreciate.


The emotions:  While this movie is certainly more on the humorous side, it’s also got a great delivery to tug at the heart strings.  Ferdinand’s moral code is inspiring, his perspective of love, loyalty, friendship, and courage fantastically told in the camera work and cinematic score.  I didn’t tear up, but the things the digital bull did carved a smile on my face for a majority of the movie.  It’s nice to see such balance in the film.




A little too simplistic:  One thing that is difficult to compete with Disney is their unique worlds and ideas they build.  Ferdinand, despite being fun, is not that unique of an environment compared to the magic of Walt and is lacking that creative spark that has become famous in modern animation.  In addition, the movie doesn’t have the most complicated twists to the mix, which works for the younger audience, but could have added a little more pep to the step.


McKinnon’s jokes:  While McKinnon is a fantastic voice actor and infuses energy into the mix, there are times where she goes a little too far in her joking.  The writer’s capitalized on her SNL talents, but sadly they went a little too far.  Kate’s character Lupe is very sporadic, extremely silly, and at times very irritating.  Imagine a drunk toddler with an ADD twist, and you’ll get a good idea of what her character is like, including regurgitation and memory lapse for the whole family.  Yes, there are those golden moments where it works, but for me, well Lupe’s over trying was a downfall for me in the long run.  Thank goodness for those grounding moments, because without them… well I wouldn’t have been pulling for them.


More hedgehogs:  Final small dislike, wanted more hedgehog power to bring up the magic.  They were my favorite characters of the bunch, and I would have liked to see them shine a little more.




            Ferdinand is fun, wholesome, family entertainment that will leave you with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.  With great animation and voice work to guide the way, this movie will be a fantastic trip for you and the whole family. Despite the fun to be had though, it still needs some tweaking in a few areas to really bring out the masterpiece.  In comparison to a Disney film, it has a lot of work to catch up on, but most families should not mind with the fun adventure to be had.  Worth a trip to the theater?  Yeah, I can say it would be, especially for a nice holiday church outing. 


My scores:


Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall  6.5-7.0

Coco will have you scream Ayeeee yeeeeee Yi Haha! Powerful Music To Bring To Live Culture



Thanksgiving, the holiday of turkey, football, preparation for materialistic shopping, and…Disney.  If you are an avid movie goer, you know the mega corporation is all about capitalizing on the holiday with one of their famous animation movies.  This year is no different, with Walt Disney Animation Studios taking a step back and allowing Pixar to come in with another big hit to sweep best picture category at the Oscars.  Tonight, yours truly hits the theater to scope out Coco, the Hispanic story of music, family, and the dead.  Robbie K here with another review, let us get started.




The Animation:  Pixar/Disney are the kings of animation, and they have proven themselves again in this CGI masterpiece. Coco’s characters are dynamic, presented in so many forms that give the family a spectrum of characters.  Despite a majority of the cast looking carbon copied version of skeletons, Pixar managed to inject subtle differences to make primary and secondary characters stand out.  The living members also got the anatomy altered as well, going so far to represent all stage of life (i.e. old and senile, young and energetic, and even pregnant).  Past designs, the movement itself is incredibly detailed. The subtle gestures in walking/running, the accurate capture of facial gestures for conversation, and more importantly the incredible finger motions of Miguel and cast playing the guitar.  A statement of Pixar having incredible attention to detail wasn’t kidding, because this thing was gorgeous.


Spirit animals:  One stand out feature of this movie are the cool spirt animals that inhabit the land of the undead.  The flying jaguar, while one of the most outstanding displays, is only the tip of the iceberg, and these creatures are sprawled out in the world.  I found it cool to see the creativity of blending common animals into a piñata like creation, each feature designed to add finesse and flare to mix and represent the culture of Mexico.


The Culture: Disney movies always have a way of capturing an element of the real world.  Coco’s theme is all about the Mexican culture and the various customs that we as viewers only have an inkling of understanding.  Pixar managed to bring that culture to life not only in design, but in the story, they have developed in this tale. Their belief in the afterlife is the foundation this tale is built on, allowing other things like soap operas, fiestas, food, and the western film culture.  And within all these elements are the important customs of family, the passion of music, and the pursuit of dreams through hard work All of these are beautifully integrated into the mix, occasionally crossing into cheesy territory, to craft a very stirring tale. 


The Music: By far the biggest element for me though, has to be the music of Coco.  Disney is always spectacular with their soundtracks, but Coco stands out to me as one of the more unique sets of music to come out of the studio.  Instead of grandiose symphonies, or Oscar designed symphonies, Coco’s music is all about representing the musical culture of Mexico.  Each song builds around the acoustic guitar as the primary instrument in its calm, yet vibrant strings.  Such a simple instrument packs an emotional kick, especially once the supporting instruments and the voice bellow out to unleash the pent-up emotion of our characters.  The songs build into the story, and are used as the primary tools for accomplishing Miguel’s goals and represents a variety of artistic styles this culture has.  It’s dynamic, it’s fun, and its relevant to the story, all big points in this reviewer’s eyes.




The opening short: While separate, the opening number is still part of the show. Olaf’s frozen adventure, while cute, was just another compilation of short songs to refresh Disney’s cash cow for the last few years.  Sure, some of the songs are powerful (the ending in particular), and the message tugs at my strings, but it lacked a lot of sustenance for just more songs.  Thank goodness Coco’s music redeemed this quality.


More with the creatures:  I like the spirit animals, I just didn’t like how much of a background they were.  With such cool concepts, you think that Disney would have found a way to capitalize on these monsters’ involvement in the world whether it be searching for clues, chasing our heroes, or having more bang in the final setting.  Even without their integration, the studio downplayed their powers a bit, showing inconsistencies with the potential they developed in these creatures.


Lackluster Excitement:  Thinking back to Pixar’s previous works, there are usually those edge on the seat moments that have you questioning the fate of the heroes (Toy Story, Incredibles, even Cars).  Coco not so much for me.  The movie stays pretty safe, with predictable antics, calm action scenes, and a final obstacle that didn’t do much for me in the suspense role. There seemed to be little hindrance to our character’s journey, and in many cases that hindered the development we could have seen.  This film blows the cultural relevance out of the water, yet it still missed its potential for a complete package without the action.


Many Book of Life elements:  This movie stands out on its own in so many concepts and the songs are much more original.  Yet, there is a lot of this movie based off of Book of Life, and in many cases less vibrant and unique than the predecessorIn my opinion, I felt the Book of Life was the more exciting of the two tales and I like this design more than the scale this one took.  Still, Coco holds a lot of finesse that the Book failed to have.




Coco is certainly one of the more culturally relevant Pixar movies to come out of the studio.  It’s design and animation are gorgeous, the creativity is on point, and so much of it is packed with tasteful portrayals of this beautiful culture.  Yet, it still has a few shortcomings for me to make it a perfect movie.  They dropped some of the potential they built up and the excitement element could have been amped up with more struggles as well.  When all is said and done though, Coco is by far one of the better films to hit the theaters this November and I strongly encourage many to flood the theaters and scope it out.  And for those with little ones obsessed with Frozen, this movie is only going to be better for them.


My scores:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  9.0

Movie Overall: 8.5

The Message and Family Fun Shine Bright! Yet Would Have Been Better Direct Release

The Star


The spirit of Christmas a common theme of movie around this time of year trying to teach us the main reason we get a vacation and give gifts in December.  And about every five years, we get the retelling of the first Christmas that brought with it hope, grace, and salvation from how horrible of people we are.  This weekend that retelling comes through again, but this time from the perspective of the animals and what they went through that fateful night.  Robbie K here with a review on the Star, an animated movie that hopes to shine bright in this weekend of big releases.  What’s in store?  Read on to find out my friends!



Good animation:  With the age of computers, you expect fluid animation, and the Star doesn’t disappoint.  The animal movements are excellent examples of anatomical study, capturing the foot, neck, muzzle, or whatever other body part you want your animal to move in an accurate manner.  In addition, the designers do a nice job of anthropomorphizing the animals as well, creating a hybrid of personalities that are fun to watch.  And while your either admiring, or ignoring the animation, you can be sure that your little one will be stoked to see the characters clumsy antics and slapstick humor result in a laughable adventure with fluid details.


The Voice Acting:  While acting in full form is a highly challenging task to try to accomplish, there is something to be said about the art of voice acting.  The assembled cast gets two thumbs up for me in their ability to bring the simplistic animal roles to life with semi-memorable characters.  There are too many characters to name, but Steven Yeun as the main character carried a heavy load as the adventurous, yet stubborn donkey Bo who was a fun character to watch.  Keegan-Michael Key was another welcome addition to the cast, his solid comedic delivery perfect for the comical character of Dave the Dove whose quips have been diluted down for the kid friendly atmosphere of this movie.  However, my favorite character was the camel Felix, Tracy Morgan who had the most zany, crazy, and comedic punch of the whole movie with his sarcasm and sheer idiocy. All in all, they do their parts well, and create that wholesome family feeling.


Artistic Tale of Christmas:  When it comes to religious and kid’s movie, it can be difficult to find the balance that lays between cheesy, annoying, and of overzealous religious zeal.  Fortunately, the Star was able to accomplish this goal to the point that it delivers the manner in a heartfelt way without falling into Hallmark sappiness territory.  The Star maintains its cute, slapstick tones throughout the whole movie up to the predictable ending that we all know is coming.  And when that climax occurs, it somehow delivers the powerful message and keeps things fun, which isn’t easy given the imbalance that plagues the cinematic world.  Nevertheless, this movie has an art to its delivery, which nets points in my book.




Character Use:  The Star is another example of jumping the gun and hiring too many actors for a limited cast.  While there are a few characters, Bo, Dave, and the wolves, who get an adequate amount of screen time on camera, many of the characters are reduced to unnecessary cameos that serve little purpose.  The Field Mouse, the random goat, even the bad king himself are just expensive shout outs that could have been used towards developing a stronger story.  Hollywood may be doing favors for the friends, but this reviewer found much of the characters a waste of time.


The story: Before you shout blasphemy towards me, I don’t hate the first Christmas story, far from it.  What I mean in this dislike is how bare the story felt in this telling. It’s one geared towards kids, doing little to curtail the story to adults, which limits its entertainment purposes for a variety of people. Yes, I get it, it’s a kid’s movie, but think of how well Pixar can cater to both audiences and get the job done.  The Star’s message is great, the package is cute, but it’s limited in the audience members it can truly entertain. 


The Animation:  Other major studios know that every detail is important in animation.  While Bo and the main characters movements look great, the rest of the characters (primarily the secondary background characters) walk stiff or are limited in their movements.  While a minor dislike to some, this reviewer has developed an eye for world building, and the Star kind of failed on that level for me. Biblical times may not have been the mega city behemoths of the modern world, but I’m pretty sure it had more splendor than this movie made it out to be.  The Star seemed to cut costs on this movie where it could, unfortunately making the world succumb to characters caught in mundane worlds.




            The Star is cute, it’s spiritual, and it is one of the most family friendly movies of the entire year to bring your little ones too.  With good primary animation, voice acting that is energetic and fun presentation, this is a Christmas story I can get on board with.  However, this studio dropped the ball on using their characters and world building, cutting corners to give a simplistic presentation that is dull compared to Disney’s worlds.  In addition, the limited audience entertainment faction is also a strike against a tale that held much potential.  The Star is good for a church group to go to, but it’s place would have been better in a direct release film in my opinion, instead of a costly theater run.


My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  6.5

Movie Overall: 5.5-6.0

For Fans of Series: Pony Power. For General Fans: A long Hour



Cartoons have drastically changed over the years, and in many cases not for the better.  However, amidst this new wave of modern art stand a few series that have soared in popularity enough to acquire mass marketing.  One of these “treasures” is My Little Pony, a collection of toys that have kept their hooves into the pulse of relevance and captured the hearts of many ages.  This weekend, the series proved popular enough to warrant a movie, in hopes of keeping the magic strong.  Robbie K here, accompanied with my friends, with another review, hoping to help guide your viewing pleasures.  Let’s go!




Cute:  It’s a movie about talking ponies, of course it is going to be cute.  This film capitalizes on the big sparkling eyes, high pitched voices, and snappy one-liners that are all the rage in kid’s animation. But amidst these ear-splitting tactics, the theme of friendship may also warm your heart and make you say Awwwwwww, much like many of the young viewers did today. Side note, the cute also coincides with a family friendly theme as well, so one doesn’t have to worry about mature surprises.


Pony Adventure:  When TV shows are given a block buster movie, one fears that it may deviate far from the show, unless you’re a kid in which case you don’t care.  Good news, this movie feels like an extended My Little Pony episode, filled with all the adventure like elements that have made the show fun. The simplistic goals, the musical numbers, the feel-good atmosphere, and the grandiose villain whose bark is worse than its bite.  It’s all packed in the 1.5 hours and amplified with an atmosphere that feels like a kid’s version of lord of the rings.  All this positivity will certainly bring you into the kid mindset and add a little more joy to your experience, or annoy you depending on your tolerance to this series.


The Animation:  One thing I love about Hollywood budgets is the ability to capitalize on technology. My Little Pony took the technology and ran with it, crafting an incredible display of cartoon animation to keep me hooked into the movie. The movements of the heroes are fluid, the flying in particular was impressive to watch as it added excitement to the mix. The attention to detail to accurately capture lip movements is also impressive, as it adds that anthropomorphic touch they were going for.  Outside of movements though, this film is a colorful display, brimming with various hues and shades that brings out the unique character design even more. 




Annoying at times:  If you aren’t younger than 8, or a die-hard fan of the series, you will most likely get a little annoyed at times.  The movie goes a little overboard with its gimmicks, primarily with Pinkie Pie’s overzealous energy, that hits that tolerance wall and shatters it. These elements are to be expected, but when you combine it with younger audience member’s inability to remain quiet… it pushes those buttons even faster.


Shallow Elements:  I didn’t expect much character development as this was done in the show.  However, the elements you are going to base the story on, I expect there to be more commitment to this.  My Little Pony the movie was able to execute a few characters quite well including Tempest and her little crony alongside Princess Twilight.  The other characters though…well they dropped the ball on their development pretty hard.  Many of the new additions to the universe come in with a flashy opening, often in the form of an inspiring song that holds promise for a colorful character.  But then that flash fades and the characters are hastily tossed to the background until the end.  The multiple incidents of glazing over the characters didn’t impress me, and proves again that too many characters in a movie, do not make quality films.


Not Theatrical Special:  Despite the shortcomings of the characters, the story team managed to craft a salvageable story.  Unfortunately, it didn’t’ feel theater worthy to me. Sure, the animation and voice acting were incredible and worthy of the bigger budget.  Then the predictable plot hit me and I realized this story didn’t stand out enough to be considered unique.  In addition, the movie seemed geared towards the music instead of the other crucial elements, which only further made me feel this wasn’t the theater worthy masterpiece they wanted.  Such a shame given the groundwork already laid by the shows team.




            My Little Pony the Movie should have been, My Little Pony the Extended 5 part special.  It is a cute, fun, well-animated adventure perfect for the younger audience members, but outside of that there isn’t much.  While it does capture the feeling of the series, there wasn’t enough in this movie to warrant a theater viewing.  Die-hard fans won’t mind much of my dislikes, but for the general audience your money is better spent on a more balanced movie that won’t make you pull your hair out or try to take a nap. 


My scores are:


Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0