The One and Only Family Film To Premier This Weekend

The One and Only Ivan Poster

            Another weekend, another potential to talk about all the crazy things the entertainment district is cooking/ releasing for us.  Today is no exception as the war of streaming continues to push us into a new world streaming from home, while studios fight back to get into films.  But today is not about a political movement, but rather doing my best to cover another film that sort of went under the radar to streaming.  On Disney+ you will find a potential new movie for you and your kids to react to, perhaps in hoping for the next star studded drama to watch over and over again.  Robbie K here sharing his thoughts as he reviews: 

Movie:  The One and Only Ivan (2020)

Platform:  Disney+

Director:

 Thea Sharrock

Writers:

 Mike White (screenplay by), Katherine Applegate (book) 

Stars:

 Sam RockwellBryan CranstonPhillipa Soo  

Likes: 

Short and To the point

The Decent Pacing

Adorable

Emotionally Deep on a level

Great CGI design and animation

Messages
The Music

The voice acting/acting

Dislikes: 

The Semi Lack of Balance

The predictability

The aimless wondering

The conclusion somewhat

Missing the Movie Flair

Summary: 

            When it comes to streaming, some films have knocked it out of the park and some have been exactly what you pay for in this crazy times.  Ivan is almost in the middle for me on this one given the quality and limitations the film has.  Fortunately, it does so in a concise manner, with decent pacing designed to try and capture/keep your attention despite the distractions of home.  It’s a film exactly meant for the platform, as cute displays of animal buddy comedy unfold on stage at the Big Top Mall, in the focused theater section of a dying business.  Kids and those with big hearts are going to love all the creatures before them, and get hooked to seeing just how functional this small time family is.  Don’t think this is one of those only for kids movies though, no Ivan and his crew will dive deeply into the emotional act, somehow managing to strike both drama character development aspect, and feelings towards animal aspects.  The gorilla’s journey has a lot of layers to it, and despite the fact that it’s supposed to be family friendly, it still does enough to deliver the messages at heart that this “based on a true story” tale has for you.  Those who cry easily or don’t want their kids experiencing some sadder things, need to be cautious with this film, but while it can be heartbreaking it does work well to drive the plot and open the characters up past the one dimensional role, well at least some of them.  

What further helps deliver the messages of friendship, confidence, facing change, and self -reflection is the great animation and music that go hand in hand in this film. Starting with the music, it’s nothing revolutionary, but I give props of the circus show numbers to draw you into the experience of the fun scenes that indeed make you feel as part of the show.  While the piano work and string instruments are the heavy lifters for the emotion, mixing well with the dialogue, thanks to my soundbar, that work to illicit the mature emotions of the more serious scenes.  But most don’t care about that so go into the animation.  Despite the COVID running amok, Disney animations still destroys the bank with their teams, as Ivan and company’s movements are beautifully captured in the form of CGI.  While not the most realistic looking compared to some other projects, this show number is pretty darn close in terms of animal design, the skin textures, contrast, and whatever other terminology you need all flowing well.  Even when talking, the human like qualities come out beautifully and was probably my favorite part of the whole show.  In regards to acting, so many great performances despite so little being seen.  Cranston is still an amazing artist capable of crossing multiple lines and keeping his character within the bounds of reality and likeability.  Rockwell as the lead doesn’t quite cross the spectrum, but delivers his performance with that a of a philosopher’s grace that is caring, observant, and confused all at the same time.  The whole cast mixes to feel like a family, each playing their part to contribute something to the simple tale. 

However, ranting on about the positives, the negatives still exist that sort of take away from the film, at least for me.  There is a lack of balance in this film in regards to the characters as the movie puts a heavy focus on Ivan, Ruby, and Bob, while the other animals are sort of reduced to passing glances.  Despite a big introduction, and several fantastic voice actors, many of these animals are reduced to background shots that while realistic sort of rob the meat of this story.  Ivan’s tale is also very predictable, the opening mantra painting the picture for at least three big reveals, which helps to accept the blows of the film, but is disappointing when you are hoping for some boom to drop the hammer on the film.  Much of this is also due to the movie sort of wondering around as opposed to having a clear set goal in mind.  Sure, we know what the end game is, but prior to this and even during this film, I kind of felt stuck in a monotonous routine of life.  If that’s what he was going for to show realism and symbolism, it works, but in a kids film, I kind of sway towards the entertainment goal with a purpose like we see at the end of the film.  And when all the things come to fruition at the end, the emotional release of two of the main characters is great, but what in the world happened to everyone else?  You won’t find out unfortunately, and despite all the stacking we had done, the loose ends of the Ivan family were annoying not to quickly complete in an additional five minutes.  I guess when many of them did not exist based on the small documentary at the end you don’t have to close up shop.  I guess when all is said and done, Ivan’s tale is missing that movie flair that theaters often bring out with their tales, or maybe it’s just me.  

THE VERDICT: 

Let’s wrap this up!  Ivan’s group is certainly an example of a better quality streaming movie over the rest of the world.  It’s got a great atmosphere for families and does not hesitate to pull fun and messages into one package.  An adorable atmosphere that isn’t too adult awaits to amaze all those at home with great CGI, voice acting, and pacing to keep your attention and invest a bit into these characters.  However, it still needing some work with balancing characters, working on adding flair and helping round out some parts of the tale to be honest.  Ivan’s tale has some of these flaws that while small at parts, really could have been improved on a number of levels.  Still overall it’s a fun viewing that accomplishes a lot more than the other films did for me, and I enjoyed it on many levels despite the limitations.  

My scores are: 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:   8..0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Scooby Dooby Doo You In For A Fun Kids Flick

Scoob! Poster

 

The World of Hanna-Barbera changed the lives of many with its dive into cartoons that would become cultural icons.  Zany antics of the Flintstones, the futuristic mishaps of the Jetsons, and the exotic worlds explored by Johnny Quest, all painted the landscapes for many cartoons to venture down.  Yet one of the most beloved was beloved dog and his best friends solving the supernatural crimes that plagued the world.  Yes I’m talking about Scooby Doo, the loveable canine who over the years has taken on many forms, some great, and some not quite as epic.  This weekend the Corona Virus has allowed his latest adventure to come directly to home and hopefully inspire a new bunch with a new style.  Robbie K back for another limited review as he scopes out:

 

Movie: Scoob (2020)

Director:

Tony Cervone

Writers:

Matt Lieberman (screenplay), Adam Sztykiel (screenplay)  | 7 more credits »

Stars:

Will ForteMark WahlbergJason Isaacs

 

LIKES:

  • Fun
  • Cute
  • Like the New Animation Style
  • The Nostalgia
  • The Music
  • The Heart At Times

 

DISLIKES:

  • Treaded A little off the Path
  • Caught Up On a Few Ideas
  • Some Toxic Politics
  • Predictable
  • New Twist Took Away From The Scooby Antics

 

SUMMARY:

 

From talking with my parent friends they go to a kids movie to get their kids laughing and enjoying the adventure with them as they form memories.  That’s going to be accomplished in this film as young and older join together to take part in the antics of our animated characters.  The gang still has plenty of zany tricks up their sleeves with the leading duo taking lead in most of the phone of klutzy falls, cute one liners, and slapstick that the cartoon made famous.  It’s new adventure tone is family friendly, more cute than scary, as the comedy tries to remain on that G- PG level that many modern guardians will want in the kids flick.  The new animation style manages to pop the crew out, blazing colors, full of energy that manages to accent the scene and try to bring the environment out to full effect much like the drawings of the past.  Yet the driving factor of the movie is certainly the nostalgia, as the famous techniques of the classic cartoon brigade come out in full force to help immerse those who grew up with Scooby into the new style, while still pleasing the young.  The snack jokes, the sites they visit, background shots of famous monsters, and even the opening credits are all about taking you back into the past of the famous Scooby adventures.  However, the new twist goes a step ahead and potentially hints at a connected Hanna-Barbera universe where all sorts of classic characters may try to stay relevant in the modern universe.  I guess time and profits will tell right?  Still all the fun cute visuals and nostalgic themes get a hand with great music, compilations and covers of famous tracks that are sometimes used super creatively, and other times meant to make people just get up and dance. It’s simplistic sure, but it helped up the energy of some of the scenes again.  Then comes the heart of the show.  While most of the cartoons in the past are meant more for laughs and simple humorous adventures, Scoob decides to add a little more heart to mixture.  Themes like being best friends, courage, and empathy are just some of the strong components that drive this movie to heart string pulling levels that will make the sensitive cry and those with big hearts relate.  A few scenes in the middle to end are surprisingly deeper than expected and I give them props for expanding these simpler characters to some more fulfilling roles. 

 

For all the good though, there can potentially be a lot of bad and Scoob is not able to run away from some of these problems.  It starts off with treading off the beaten path for an attempt at something new.  While, the movie gets points for originality, the movie’s dive from comedic mystery to comedic adventure with a super hero twist is not the world I was hoping to start my journey in.  The focus of comedy, kid friendly ideas, and this quick opening into the universe made for a bit of a jumbled plot that was entertaining at times but just not the quality of the classics.  Some of the characters were reduce to political pieces, others block headed pieces meant to make potential statements or get cheap laughs, and others getting a decent dose of character development.  It’s this inconsistency that makes the movie feel a little sloppily put together, and being unable to blend all these directions together was a big limiting factor.  As such, the movie also got lost in some toxic motives again, political trends being interjected into the dialogue at times once again turning the characters into new agenda pawns.  Because of these agendas and some dialogue heavy in foreshadowing thanks to sappy, clichéd writing, the plot’s mystery and originality was diluted to a predictable film that some kids movies tend to fall into these days.   As for the voice acting… it’s okay, Frank Welker wins the best voice acting cast for me and of the adults, Ken Jeong and Mark Wahlberg are close seconds in terms of bringing their characters to life.  Others though felt sort of forced on them, choosing to really sell the political moments, while other times seeming bored with the fun dialogue.  Given all the directions they were taking though, it sort of diverted away from that spirit of Scooby that we all loved in his first adventures long ago, something I think of lot of people were looking for.

 

The VERDICT:

            For a kids film Scoob accomplishes the victory of being a cute bout of fun that the modern audience will adore with their younger audience members.  It’s new animation is fluid and fun and the use of color and music will really bring the energy of youth that we all look for in these films.  However, the heart and the nostalgia are going to be the key factors for many older audience members to look forward to in order to better buffer into the new twists.  Sadly, the movie’s lack of focus, splitting of agenda and forced character development took away from the film, and the mystery we so love turned into a comic like adventure with loads of simplicity.  Scoob’s overall presentation feels rushed, potentially thanks to COVID, and did not quite deliver on the full potential I was hoping they would.  Depending on the success though, a new universe could be born to the modern era… again, and we may see more team ups coming in the new future.  At that point, this story will start fitting in better. 

 

My scores for the movie are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0 

This Tour is a World Of Fun, Energy, and Morals, but Trolls 2 Still Missing Potential

Trolls World Tour Poster

 

It’s been a long time my friend, but fortunately a nice opportunity for a review came up in the form of a home release.  While not the arena I prefer to watch my movies in, it’s better than nothing and so tonight I take on the world release of the latest animated film that is hoping to make some money by feeding on youth’s ability for rewatching for the musical experience.  Tonight’s film is that musical melody of animated characters that was charming, kooky, and super fun when they debuted a few years ago.  And after a fun Christmas special, many wondered what would be the fate of the colorful band of trolls?  We get that answer tonight, as more genres join our pop theme in:

 

Movie: Trolls: World Tour (2020)

 

Directors:

Walt DohrnDavid P. Smith (co-director)

Writers:

Jonathan Aibel (screenplay by), Glenn Berger(screenplay by)  | 5 more credits »

Stars:

Anna KendrickJustin TimberlakeRachel Bloom

 

 

LIKES:

  • Cute
  • Funny
  • Many Song References and Cultures
  • Great Pace
  • Good Morals
  • Better Use of Characters
  • The Songs

 

Dislikes:

  • Not as Good Character Developing
  • Story has potential, but misses the mark
  • Lack of Real Impasse/Obstacles
  • More Songs or Complete Numbers
  • Almost Felt Too Short

 

Summary:

 

Much like the first film, I expected the trolls next tour to be cute and fun, and I was not disappointed.  The youthful vibe of the world somehow awakened the happy side of life for me, and got me into the spirit to dive back into the simplistic imagination of the world.  It’s ridiculous concepts, well developed dialogue, and good comedic timing held much of the essence of the film and was a great anchor point for older audience members.  Some of the fun also is held in the song references that they covered, new twists to fan favorites that though had a nice twist, kept much of the core elements of the song to still hold what entranced me to the song itself.  As the trailers highlight, the movie is all about exploring the musical culture of these genres, and I give them props for creativity and exploring the levels of the big genres, which I like again being the geek I am.  All of this exploration happens at a good pace, with little slowness present as the Trolls hope effortlessly between kingdoms in search of the sacred strings.  Amidst the journey are of course fun life lessons, which with an open mind/heart and a little luck will help motivate and teach you some good lessons, or at least the young ones accompany you.  Further review made me happy that the developers actually took time to spend some focus on the other trolls, managing to deviate from the two protagonists and integrate them more into the story.  While not perfect, it’s a step in the right direction and with a little time and focus… we might end up getting that perfect balance.  So if that troll merchandise feels like it went to waste years ago, you can rest assured those dolls may get new life.  Let’s face it though… Trolls is a big soundtrack and the new tracks are there ready to storm their way into your ear drums and leave you with massive ear worm.  World Tour’s tracks are catchy, fun twists that hit most of the genres and bring that essence I mentioned earlier, to bring out the feeling and energy of the scene.  I appreciated the variety they had to offer and fully enjoyed the magic this movie had.

 

Yet for all the fun I have, I won’t lie there are some major limitations to this film that still have not been mastered.  First off, character development is much weaker for me in this film.  A sacrifice of including so many characters means their depth sort of suffers and World Tour has no problem dropping deep dives into psyche for the superficial succulence to come.  Poppy and Branch have some expansion, but pales to many, and even the new characters hold little in the ways of diversity and deep stories, including the antagonist that had so much to give. The result is a bland story, where potential lies in every note and scene, but then falls flat in terms of really expanding the world that we were baited with back in 2016.  What also does not help is the movie is that the challenge and threat in this movie is… well missing.  We’ve seen animated films that bring the hammer with antagonists who are threatening, massive, and push our heroes to the limits to fulfill the quests.  Not the case with this one, Barb’s got edge, skills, and a wickedly designed arsenal, but it’s a little too one sided and boring in terms of an animated adventure.  In addition, the time in each world is rather limited, and that potential for creativity is lost to rapid passthroughs most of the towns.  Even more bizarre is that the heart and soul of the movie, the music, is reduced too sound bites, quickly dropped just as the number is reaching its crescendo.  Sure the numbers at the end do their job, and others are entertaining due to the vibe and twist, but it’s not feeling quite complete compared to its predecessor. Overall, the movie almost felt too short and needed another 1.5 hours to really get everything I wanted in this sequel.  Yes, I’m saying a longer movie, or maybe another movie that held that fire and balance I love.

 

The VERDICT: 

            Overall Trolls 2 comes back with the fun, cute, wonderful energy that made the first one so exciting.  If you are like me and have the pleasure and luck of texting a friend with references, you get more enjoyment out of the film.  Kids will love it alongside the young at heart, with silliness, laughs, and morals entangled together to give that satisfactory kids flick you love, plus the music does not hurt either as long as you are not a purist.   Yet, the movie still has not found the art of balance for reviewers like me.  All the new characters are great for merchandising, but miss the mark in terms of emotional investment, and the story is okay but again had so much more it could have given.  Even the things I was enjoying the most like the adventure and music got edited down and while they are fun during their moments, they could have been so much more.  Still being at home and looking for something to break the ice of Frozen 2, this is a fine rental to have at home and probably the best place to watch outside of the effects.  Thus, my recommendation is give it a shot this weekend when you can. 

 

My scores for this film are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Onward To Fun, Family/Geek Adventure

Onward Poster

 

Pixar broke the mold a long time ago when it came to animation, pushing the boundaries of the 3-D animation world and the storytelling that comes with it.  World building, unique characters and fun filled stories etched themselves into our memories and continue to amuse us to this day.  So after sequels have stormed the frontier of Pixar, a new original tale is hoping to come Onward and entertain us, most likely with a good story and character drive.  As such, yours truly is back to help guide your journey to the movies.  Let’s get started as we review:

 

Movie:  Onward (2020)

 

Director:

Dan Scanlon

Writers:

Dan Scanlon (screenplay by), Jason Headley (screenplay by)

Stars:

Tom HollandChris PrattJulia Louis-Dreyfus

 

 

LIKES:

  • Great Animation
  • The World Building
  • Fun
  • Funny
  • Witty References
  • Clever Writing
  • Great Character Development
  • Morals
  • Not In Your Face Lessons
  • Heart Felt

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • More Adventure Impasses Needed
  • More On the Mom And Manticore Front
  • A Bit More Of The Centaur character component

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

Let’s get the obvious out of the way, Pixar is fantastic at the animation and only keeps bringing their cards to play.  The movement itself is fluid, dynamic, and colorful to meet the expectations that such pieces hold in Disney’s arsenal.  Onward’s world truly does bring magic to the modern world, and the world building of modern overtaking the mysterious is brilliantly crafted to be fun and meaningful.  Much of this world is fun, a huge spoof on fantasy elements that have ditched the mysterious, scary, and demented, for colorful forms that are mere shadows of their inspirations.  This adventure may not be the most exciting, but Pixar still injects its energy into the film to make the movie entertaining in the kids way but also holding great potential for adults too.  Comedy wise, Onward has some slapstick, components, but the comedy is geared towards the adults and older members that was highly entertaining to a geek like me.  Witty references are loaded into the film, with many movie references present for older fans to enjoy at their new use into the world.  Not a movie buff?  Not a problem, because the writing continues to be clever as it brings dungeon and dragons board games into a new medium, all while poking fun at the modern flaws that are hot topics.  Its this fantastic variety of venues to use that make this movie fun, as dialogue and comedic devices use these avenues to make the whole thing entertaining.

In regards to the storytelling, the movie shines in this department as well, you know what Disney can be really good at doing.  The characters are fantastic additions to the Disney family, not only in merchandising, but fantastic players to latch onto the adventure with.  The two brothers get some great moments to shine, each leveling up in their own way that again is clever, but very smart in how it fits with the themes of the film.  Voice acting alongside great chemistry of the characters, leads to another fantastic relationship that will be used to drive a lot of the plot elements as well as the morals that go with it. Onward’s morals are multilayered, built to address so many problems that plague humans today that the film is sure to hit a relevant note.  Even better, most of the lessons are not in your face preachy that seems to be the modern trend, allowing the story to gradually present it, keeping it in pace with the story and characters while also being deep at the same time.  All in all, the heart felt emotions in this film of this developing brotherhood managed to pull many heart strings for me and was a fantastic adventure for geeky sensitive guy like me.

 

In terms of dislikes, the story does not escape the predictable formula that Pixar and Disney thrive in.  A combination of trailer revelation alongside some scenes to be highly foreshadowing resulted in a pretty obvious twist that was to come.  It’s a minor flaw mind you, but anytime you are able to reasonably trick me… you get bonus points for a review.  No, the main thing I found the story needing improvement in… is ironically in the story components itself.  The adventure side is certainly fun and geared towards the character development story, but the film could have used more of the danger that I know Pixar can do.  Onward needed more integration of the fantasy obstacles to help with bringing more fun and opportunities to develop our adventurers, which may be reserved for a sequel if they decide to.  Even more, I wanted better integration of the mom and manticore, two characters that had their moments to shine, but held so much potential to be involve in the story.  Learning some more back story, getting the mom’s views on the whole mess, even the Manticore’s history outside of the small tale we got, would have been great to be integrated into the film.  This can also be said for another character, the Centaur who after being used as the butt of jokes and potential build up, did not have the integration I thought they would.  These underutilized characters and plot devices make the film a little weaker for me, but fortunately the fun and comedy amplify this spirit of adventure.  Outside of this, there are a few other things that could be improved, but let’s wrap this up.

 

The Verdict:

            Disney has another winner on their hands with this film, as Onward sets out to be the same magic of fun, laughs, and family energy this studio is famous for.  Adventures likes this, combined with the great animation, will open up a new avenue to getting to your heart, and this time geared for both cool people and geeks.  Onward has much to offer for many people, and I love the fact the lessons are baked naturally into the theme of the movie, without being too preachy or political.  Certainly the film needed to work on the predictability, but more so the film struggles to still not pull the full spirit of adventure that comes with Fantasy films.  In addition, several other characters could have stand for more integration to round out the tales, add more levels of story, and of course just have more opportunity for grabbing more people into the movie.  This reviewer though really found joyful to watch, and I’d recommend checking this out in the theaters if you have the time. 

 

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  8.5

Movie Overall: 8.0

 

Disguised As a Silly Kids Film, But Has A Secret Emotional Side

Spies in Disguise Poster

 

Another holiday season and that means another animated movie to get the kids to the theater for more fun and frolic.  Well in the mega money schemes of Disney, there are few willing to take the risk to put their work out and give it a try.  Blue Skies Studio is ready to answer that call and this week the latest animation is going to try and make its mark on the world of children’s entertainment.  Robbie K back with another review as he takes a look at the film:

 

Movie: Spies In Disguise (2019)

 

Directors:

Nick BrunoTroy Quane

Writers:

Brad Copeland (screenplay by), Lloyd Taylor (screenplay by)

Stars:

Rachel BrosnahanJarrett BrunoClaire Crosby

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Smooth Animation Style
  • A More Unique Concept
  • Funny
  • Fun
  • Good Pace
  • Heartfelt Moments
  • Music
  • Creativity With Gadgets
  • Action At The End

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • A Bit Over silly At Times
  • Villain Needing A Little More Tweak
  • Some underutilized characters
  • The Commercial Syndrome

 

SUMMARY:

 

We know most animation films have got this formula down and spies in disguise has a fun design and animation that is exciting, fluid, and perfect for the feel of the movie.  The bird movements look rather accurate and when anthropomorphized, they achieve the blend between human and bird quite well. Past that style though, these spies are equipped to entertain the young and young at heart with some tricks of the trade that are timeless, yet also diverse.  It starts with the unique concept of transformation, that’s both formed into the story and a nice plot device as well as pigeon and man team up to conquer the criminal underworld.  The trailers do not disguise the fact that the film is both funny and fun, cramming jokes and adventure in many frames to bring that fun kids flick that we all have grown up with and all at an entertaining pace.  These jokes are part due to the voice acting and dialogue, but it also comes from the creative with helping to bring spy gadgets down to a PG rating, yet not be so kiddy that it feels like a Nick Jr. special.  This is especially true at the climactic moments where Walters inventions come out in his own style that somehow seem to work during the fast-paced conflicts that unfold and somehow be decently suspenseful.  Note that this is not just a comic infused super movie though.  Much like Disney, Spies in Disguise manages to merge with a more adult path, not only going dark at times, but managing to put character development into this film that pulls at heart strings and finds a new angle to hand the exciting moments.  It’s all these components that really helped make the movie super fun for this reviewer.

 

Yet, there were some things that went down a different path for this reviewer that I did not quite enjoy.  For one thing, the movie gets a bit silly for me, going into banter or running jokes that start to go stale like most new episodes of SpongeBob.  It’s forced comedy for a target audience of young ones and while it was to be expected, these moments get magnified when they suddenly veer away from the better storytelling moments. I supposed this is of course to help with the rewatchability and merchandising sales, but from a quality standpoint it took away from the movie.   In regards to the villain, it’s tough to say he is a limitation, but hear me out.  On one levels, the movie integrates the villain quite well, and puts a better back story that fits with the theme of the movie.  However, the villain also could have been ingrained a little more, for his ploys are more so menacing monologues and sneers rather than manipulation and fighting.  It’s a weird blend that holds great promise, but that promise sort of gets bogged down in the comedy medium this movie is big on.  In addition, there are some underutilized characters I thought would have a bigger hold on the film, primarily Reba’s head agent character who again holds the keys to an interesting aspect of the film that unfortunately is demoted to boring background character. The same goes for some other henchmen and baddies who after a fun opening are again reduced to background noise that is annoying and disappointing to say the least.  However, the biggest limitation is the commercial syndrome occurring again.  Spies In Disguise has given a lot of things away in the trailers, and if your young one has bombarded you with the commercials over and over again, then you are going to find that the movie is a bit stale.  While there are still some treasured moments not on the short trailers, many of the gags and fun scenes have already been done to death. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Spies in Disguise had a lot of delays and to be honest, the movie does not shatter too many things when it comes to originality or that unique energy Disney does.  This does not mean the film is bad though, and in fact it’s quite enjoyable.  Animation wise it’s clean, bringing a design that matches the fun nature of the film, with comedy and adventure around every bin.  And though much of the movie is a blur, the film succeeds to expand to other audience members and get some character development going, that fits in theme with the creative approach to the spy thriller.  It’s true the balance to silliness does veer off at times, and the villain needs some of that time to really get the full effect, but for the most part the movie’s biggest limitation is not having that Disney spark and giving too much away in the trailers.  Still, this film feels like a good theater run thanks to the fun adventure and special effects, especially if you have a little ones or a group to go with.  If not, then please check this out and enjoy the fun ride.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Action/Adventure:  7.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

Do You Come To Play In This Film?

Playmobil: The Movie Poster

 

The Lego Movie shattered the expectations of toy-based movies with a dynamic story, great comedy, decent sequences of actions, and a balance of kids to adult audiences.  While the sequels that followed took stride in their own remark, the first one really opened our eyes to quality kids animation.  Enter tonight’s movie, in the form of Playmobile, a similar design to the classic pegs, but with a little more movement and cost-effective price to appease the younger crowd.  Tonight’s movie offers the same sort of approach, hoping to get the animated holiday feature in before Oscar season swoops in.  What is the verdict?  Robbie K coming in, to give you insight into the next movie and determine if it’s worth a trip to the theater.

 

Movie:  Playmobil: The Movie (2019)

 

Director:

Lino DiSalvo

Writers:

Blaise Hemingway (screenplay by), Greg Erb (screenplay by)

Stars:

Anya Taylor-JoyGabriel BatemanJim Gaffigan

 

 

LIKES:

 

Animation Is Decent

Cute

Heartwarming Story

Short Run Time

Fun Music

 

DISLIKES:

 

Acting Is Mixed

Predictable and Linear

Jokes Sort Of Forced Into The Movie

Action Is Rather Dull

Music Numbers Are Sometime forced

Lame Villain For Me

Not As Well Balanced

 

SUMMARY:

 

Like many animated movies, Playmobil is very nicely designed to bring the family fun atmosphere to the forefront of the show.  Smooth movement, cute design, and nod back to the days of creating worlds with the simple figure, this movie manages to bring imagination back on the big screen.  Like many of my fellow reviewers have stated, this film is certainly cute, with the short run time of about 80 minutes (not counting credits) being focused on heartwarming, moral filled lessons in a nice dynamic package. It’s a great lesson for the ideal audience of kids, which should bring smiles to the young faces and the parents that accompany them.  Finally, like most kids films, Playmobil is ready to pump the speakers up with original music, that is toe tapping selection of catchy tunes about the morals we need in our lives.

 

Yet the other side of the coins have valid points for me in regards to this film, especially when one sees what was accomplished in other animation films.  For one thing the voice acting is okay, which can either be due to performance or direction of the character.  Anya Taylor-Joy does a decent job, and young actor Gabriel Bateman accomplishes the vulnerable child in over his head role well as he starts discovering himself.  My champions are Gaffigan and Daniel Radcliffe whose characters are probably the most engaging of the supporting characters and bringing the dynamic cast to a rather one-note movie.  Unlike other films, the movie falls short of the dynamic storytelling that other company productions have excelled in.  It’s plot is thin and very predictable, a linear tale with few bumps or surprises to amazing and wow as the writing continues to favor the younger generations filled with jokes and preachy speeches crammed on in.  Sure the humor is cute, but the movie needed better balance for this reviewer and working on making a more exciting tale that utilized the humor and lessons as a supporting role instead of the central pillar.  The action scenes are rather limited, mostly due to the G rating, but also because the villain is another example of a grandiose, pompous, speech expert who does little else.  Because of these two factors, alongside the linear telling, just results in a bland adventure that might not be as entertaining to the older crowd, which is a shame given what they can do in these movies.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Playmobil is not an awful movies, it just doesn’t have the same balance or execution that the Lego movie, or other films for kids have been able to pull off.  Certainly, the animation, story, and cute atmosphere will certainly impress the target audience of youngsters.  Sadly, the fact that the film struggles to find balance in the presentation to the audience with its predictable, G rate film is going to be the biggest obstacle to see this movie.  With a feel much more fitting of a Nick Jr. or Playhouse Disney feel, Playmobil is much better suited to a home viewing where the little ones can corral into the living room and watch it for the short run time.  Overall, the movie will deliver to the young generation, but given Frozen is out, Spy in Disguise is on its way, and Star Wars, this film is going to be out of the theater quickly unfortunately.  Therefore, my scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:   6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

 

The Movie Storm Is Strong In Showmanship, But Brittle In Storytelling

          Frozen II Poster

 

Years ago, Disney unleashed a movie that stormed its way across the theaters and bringing with it a blizzard of merchandising in the form of Frozen. This empire would span across the years, allowing Anna and Elsa to find their way into many avenues, including the shorts that were mixed in reception.  While a little overrated in regards to avenues, the movie proved a soundtrack could flourish when putting just the right touches to it.  After reading the bridging book and seeing the trailers, the inevitable Frozen II looked to be promising for breaking away from the song and dance, love musical and push towards a more fantasy lore, a direction I so looked forward to it.  Robbie K is back to give you another look at the movies, and help guide your movie going preferences. So let’s get cracking at:

 

Movie:

 

Frozen II (2019)

 

Directors:

Chris BuckJennifer Lee

Writers:

Jennifer Lee (screenplay by), Jennifer Lee (story by)

Stars:

Kristen BellIdina MenzelJosh Gad

 

LIKES:

  • Voice Acting/Vocals
  • World Design
  • Pace Moves
  • Beautiful Animation
  • Touching At Times
  • Olaf’s comedy at times

 

DISLiKES:

  • Predictable (majorly)
  • Spirit design/usage
  • The Story Is Weaker
  • Under Utilized Characters… majorly
  • The Twist
  • The Lack Of Impasse
  • The Preachiness/Politics
  • The Overdone Humor
  • The Forced Singing… again

 

SUMMARY:

Animated movies rely on the art of voice work, and for a Disney animated film that often requires the ability to sing as well.  Fortunately, the cast is able to bring both in a variety of styles to bring the atmosphere of Frozen back in full form Menzel’s ability to blow us a way with bellows was mesmerizing and certainly my favorite of the songs in terms of style and storytelling, while Bell’s work leaned more towards the regular conversations and bringing emotional punches.  The chemistry between them is certainly decent, and the bonding of sisterhood comes out with every performance.  As for Gad, well he reprises his goofy side kick role with that childlike voice that works so well for the naïve collection of ice crystals, sticks, and coal.  Past the voice acting though, Frozen II is a beautiful display of animation pushing the boundaries, bringing more realistic edges, the contrasting colors to add spice, and fluid movements that continue to bring the magic of these movies.  It’s a stunning display of time commitment to details, bringing nature and Nordic culture to new levels and yet wishing you could make that light show come to life.

Moving past the vocals and animation though, the movie’s content continues to be awesome depending on who you are and what you are looking for.  For parents and guys like me, the pace moves better than the first in terms of getting the plot moving and keeping the adventure spirit alive.  Kids should like the fact of not diving too big into the details of fantasy, while adults can take a breath in not getting stuck in a drawn-out film that is boring.  In regards to an older audience, Frozen II continues to find moments to be touching, still kicking to its roots of promoting Princess power and sisterhood, and finding other avenues to pull at heart strings in a better way than the first film.  There were scenes that gave me goosebumps and that’s powerful in my book.  Finally, the silliness of the franchise is still ready to come out and entertain both groups, primarily in Olaf who has matured into new avenues of comedy that are charming, funny, and somehow innocent all at the same time.  A step up from the last film, the loveable snow man serves as comedic relief and supporting actor, a nice job as always.

 

Now comes the things I feel the movie took hits on in terms of quality. In regards to the design elements the movie does not have many flaws with only one maybe two things that could have used some updating.  Mainly, the spirit design was what got me, a potential to really unleash some Nordic creativity and make some truly wicked designs.  Two of these succeeded for me, one was cute and a nice change, and one, the wind spirit, failed to impress me.  I understand the elements they used it for, but it missed the mark in terms of creativity and ingenuity compared to its fellow spirits.

Plot wise however, the movie starts fizzling out and showing Disney’s vulnerabilities sometimes in their creations.  For one thing this is one of those films that is super predictable.  Within the first 10-15 minutes of the film, many of the story elements had been super foreshadowed and it did not get better from there as one predicted just about everything by midway.  Combine this with the pacing, and well you start seeing the weaker story that like first freeze is shaky in terms of supportParts of this are at fault for the poor character usage, as both old and new characters are tossed to the backburner in favor of the dynamic sister duo and their frozen side kick.  Fans of Sphen and Christoph, or looking for new characters to really be involved need to tone down the expectations now, for they have become diluted in this installment and are there to serve only small plot advancements or comedic sticks. The twist that comes at the end, well it was not much of a twist if you are paying attention, and instead one of those plot devices there to be inspiring to a key demographic, in that oh so preachy, political way that modern story telling loves to go.  If you were a fan of the first movie’s presentation, then you will love this one, but for those like me looking for balance, head in with a grain of salt to help stomach the very dramatic moments.  Something else for this reviewer is that impasses are also very brittle, with much of the conflict very shallow, one-sided and quickly resolved without much of a challenge.  If you remember the first one where things got pretty tense, where hunting, deceit and manipulation danced with our characters to cause deeper dives into the character psyche was very memorable.  This one tried to go a little more adventure like, but those moments blew over in minutes and seemed simplified which was disappointing for me.

I think the biggest contributor to the weaker story is the fact of Disney’s focus in jamming humor and singing where it is not needed, or in the amounts they do it in.  Olaf’s humor may be cute at all points, but the gags start to get old when they are force in there, which are obvious at times.  That pales in comparison to the songs though, which once more are trying to get the soundtracks selling like last time.  The second go round has some more emotional songs that are less gimmicky, fun, and dorky, but the problem for me is the volume they come in.  Once more i found many of the tracks to be sort of random moments to sing about emotions, and even worse the fact that the plot seems built around the songs again.  Frozen II also lost points for me at not utilizing the awesome musical pieces they used in the trailer and blowing me away with the symphony work, though they redeem with the covers at the end.

 

The Verdict:

 

            With a movie like this that has been too blown up, the expectations are high to be just as good as the original.  Frozen II casts a magic spell that was incredible in regards to animation, utilizing the elements well, and really bringing the elements of the first movie back for fun and trying to evolve on them.  It moves well, has humor that lightens up the mood, and yet very touching at others with its inspirational moments.  The movie certainly feels like a slightly beefed up version of the first  in terms of gimmicks of presentation of non-story elements, which in this day and age is often more important.  Yet, the story feels very deprived of the richness the book promised, not utilizing its characters well, getting a bit preachy at the end, and for me forcing songs in again rather than finding that balance.  When looking at this for recommendations… it works for a theater visit for many reasons and I really think fans of the first one will be spelled by the things its brings.  However, the sequel needs some tinkering for me to be the next best Disney film, and hope it’s not as overrated as the first one. 

Also stick around as there is a post credits scene following the covers at the end of the credits

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

Joining the Family For Toned Down, Cute Fun

The Addams Family Poster

 

They’re Creepy And There Kooky, Mysterious and Spooky, They’re altogether Ookie, the Addams Family!  It’s a series that has had multiple face lifts, unafraid to push the weirdness into different decades and media to bring creator Charles Addams’ vision to life.  Despite the quirky band of ghouls and creatures making their mark on various generations, it has been left in the vault to collect the dust and cobwebs they love, mainly staking a claim on 31 night of Halloween on freeform.  Still, this legendary flick is ready to try a step into the modern audience and perhaps get some new blood in this undead franchise.  Will it work?  As always I’m happy to give my thoughts as we dive into reviewing:

 

 

 

Film:  The Addams Family (2019)

 

Directors:

Greg TiernanConrad Vernon

Writers:

Matt Lieberman (screenplay by), Charles Addams (based on characters created by)

 

Stars:

Oscar IsaacCharlize TheronChloë Grace Moretz

 

LIKES:

  • Animation/Design
  • Nostalgic
  • Cute
  • Chuckle Fest
  • Good Voice Acting
  • Morals Baked Right In
  • Kids Movie Dream

DISLIKES

  • A Little Contained
  • Semi Preachy
  • Missed Characters
  • Very Simplistic Story
  • Missing the Semi-Disturbed approach this series is famous for

 

Summary:

 

I always love animation movies to see the interpretation of art and imagination in the way they create their character.  This film manages to put the unique spin on the characters, while maintaining the same charm of the characters we have always known.  It’s a style that is very welcoming to the younger audience, while still pleasing older fans.  This cute approach holds a lot of punch and the toned-down jokes, slapstick humor, and simpler writing are key choices for the key demographic audience.  Yet, it does not dilute the nostalgia you will fell when watching.  While knowing the history makes it more enjoyable, it’s not needed, but older fans will love catching references to the classic antics as I did, all while chuckling at the newness of this film.  The new voice acting works for me, primarily Ms. Theron and Mr. Isaac being my favorites as they capture the ambience of their grandiose counterparts.  They deliver the usual vocal patterns of the group, and while not a perfect match, certainly bring the atmosphere of those characters from long ago and still maximize the laughs (the latter being Nick Kroll as Uncle Fester).  Nevertheless, the morals are baked right into this film to instill some important examples for the audience and base the story on, leading to yet another movie dream for adolescents around the room.

 

Yet, my fellow reviewers have valid points that may not be the best match for the audience members.  For one thing the movie is a little contained compared to the empire that Disney has builtIt’s missing the excitement and the detailed plots that Disney has made famous in their works with Pixar and Animation studios.  A little too cartoony, and preachy moral driven, the movie again falls towards the kid spectrum which is going to make it sheltered and potentially boring for some viewers.  One part of this limitation is because the story is so simplified, again diluted to the kids perspective to not be too traumatizing for today’s raising kid approach.  In addition, there are plenty of characters that they introduced and then did very little with from the rival cheerleader who has so much that needs to happen to her, to the loveable Cousin It who is a personal favorite.  Maybe a potential sequel will open that can of worms, but for this one, huge missed opportunities to bring out a few character developing potential and good fashioned fun.  Yet the main thing I think will disappoint people comes in the form of how the disturbing elements have been curtailed.  If you go back and watch the cartoons from the 90s or the movies on Freeform, you’ll know there is that darker side that gets people hooked on this family.  This version had that somewhat, but really toned things down for the animated realm, leading to the lackluster presentation of the themes.  Had this been added into the theme, you might have made a more engaging tale. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The Addams Family 2019 version is a great display of the variability of interpretation and it works well for a family film for the modern audience.  A cute theme is the element of this movie, with nonthreatening animation/design to herald the fun chuckle fest that the dialogue and film are about.  It’s got appropriate voice acting, a nice sense of comedy that makes the world fun, nostalgia that is not overwhelming, and morals baked right in to get the message of acceptance out in the world.  Yet, the containment that they took steals away the intensity, edge, and energy that this series is famous for.  It’s meant to be quirky and slightly disturbing and that element missing, alongside some dropped story elements may not impress the classic fans like they are hoping.  While this movie probably would have been better released on nickelodeon or a fan service, it’s got enough elements for a family outing, but hold this one for the home viewing for your maximum buck. 

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Comedy/Family:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

An Abominable Display Of Cuteness. Family’s Should Tackle This Everest

 

Abominable Poster

 

The world of animated movies continues to find new legends, avenues, and ideas to bring imagination to life.  To what those audiences are being targeted or want though is always the challenge, much of which limits the enjoyment to all audience members.  Robbie K is back to the trenches of movies to give you yet another movie review this time is all about the latest DreamWorks hit about another loveable creature that will melt many hearts and wallets.  So let’s get started as we determine if tonight’s film is lame or game!

 

Movie: Abominable (2019)

 

Directors:

Jill CultonTodd Wilderman (co-director)

Writer:

Jill Culton

Stars:

Chloe BennetAlbert TsaiTenzing Norgay Trainor

 

 

LIKES:

Decent Soundtrack

Colorful Visuals

Fun

Emotional

Cute

Characters, especially Everest

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable

No Suspense

Many Scenes Already Shown

Everest’s Powers

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

As Frozen proved, a soundtrack can make a big difference between success and mega-success.  Everest may not have the most catch soundtrack, but the violin and alternative work is a beautiful serenade to the less appreciated instruments.  It mixes with the scenery, adds elements of fun, and in the case of the violin an emotional punch that sells the scene.  As the movie’s theme nods to, Everest is an appreciation and nod to the colorful world nature has to offer.  The animation is top notch in design and brings out the enchanting splendor that the world has to create, all while complementing the magnificence of Asian culture  and bringing energy/contrast to the other characters beginning emotional profiles.  Fortunately, the movie is also a colorful display of feelings to match the visuals and entertain the masses.  Fun and Cute are the primary colors of the emotional spectrum, with the small band of heroes finding ways to maximize on all the merchandising and the childish wonder we all forge as we grow older.  Kids will love it and so will their chaperones as they become connected to the world before them.  Yet all the cute antics still cannot stop the powerful punch of feelings that Everest has in the form of friends, family, and the bond of discovery that again lies in all of us if we find it.  I can’t say I really cried, but you can be certain there are plenty of moments waiting for one to get goosebumps or a smile over.  However, this reviewer has to agree that it’s the characters that make this movie.  Certainly the villains and henchmen have their place in the sun and are okay, but the main cast of four will play to the audience the most.  Yi is the model of modern female characters in her strong independence hiding deeper wounds.  Jin is the ladies’ man socialite representing superficial fun and karma at work, but also teaching lessons that ring home.  Peng is the superficial laughs that kids will like in the form of slapstick and quotable one-liners that was probably my favorite of the bunch. Finally Everest, a perfect combination of animalistic anthropomorphism meeting human emotions that all in all is an adorable display of fantastic character development. 

 

Despite how great and fun this movie can be though it does suffer a few things for this reviewer in regards to the potential it could have had.  Predictability thy name is this movie, for it is a straightforward tale that offers little in surprises.  The movie sort of sets the stage, dropping too many hints to really shock and amaze.  Certainly younger members may still react, but older fans are not going to be quite as engaged as other animated works.  Throw in that the movie has many scenes that have been revealed in the trailers, including jokes, and you may find knowing eighty percent of the story before it starts to run.  These are okay to be honest because of how much fun you are having, but in truth the thing that took a little away from me was the “action” and “suspense” moments of the movie.  Think of films like what Disney churns out, or even the How To Train Your Dragon series, where the producers land giant punches in your gut and manage to move all sorts of audience members.  Everest does not really do that, and all exciting chases, potential obstacles and dare I say edge of the movie is pretty much lacking.  No suspense, no real challenge, just cute wholesome fun that again is enjoyable, but not the elements of a finessed movie that other studios have managed to execute.  Finally, Everest’s powers are cool, the harmonizing with nature to transform simple things into true wonders of the world.  They are awesome and fun, and they are actually kept in check.  The real answer is why though as when you get to the end of the movie only a heroic character development being the answer to the limitations.  It makes for better storytelling, but in all honesty, Everest’s bottomless supply of magic did not make sense in the grand scheme of things, and perhaps a little more adjustment of this factor could have helped up the ante.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Truth be told, Abominable shows off the fantastic imagination that studios still hold in this crazy world.  Everest and his friends will go on the spectacular journey that is stunning to look at, cute fun to have many laughing that manage to wrap up emotional moments in a warm friendly package.  The characters are the selling point of the feature, with the loveable yeti  being the all-star of the bunch.  Sadly, it’s a bit too G rated for me and in the cuteness, the potential for that higher level of storytelling is lost to predictable hug fest points.  With a pointless limitation and the lack of a true obstacle, these components may limit some older fans from coming.  Yet, if you want the family friendly movie of the month, get your little tykes and get them to the theater you won’t be sorry by how much fun they will have.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

Was Not Angry With This Sequel

The Angry Birds Movie 2 Poster

 

Sequels to animated films are seldom as good as the first movie.  Many times the story was not needed, or the masterpiece is diluted for a gimmick that just doesn’t work.  Fortunately, there are some that have paved the way for the potential to add to the story, continuing the world we love, but at the same time making a movie stand on its own.  Tonight, Sony Pictures continues to try the luck with their surprise success of Angry Birds and see if they can get another round of bills to line the pockets.  And for reviewers like me, we are back in the trenches to see how it fairs and do our best to highlight the observations. So let’s get in there and review once more as I take o:

 

Movie: Angry Birds Movie 2 (2019)

Director:

Thurop Van Orman

Writers:

Peter Ackerman (screenplay by), Eyal Podell

Stars:

Jason SudeikisJosh GadLeslie Jones

 

 

LIKES:

Voice Acting

Fun

Funny

Stories Intertwining

Good Morals

Cute

Good Use of Characters

Quick

 

DISLIKES:

Predictable

A Little too political at times

Not Quite As Unique

A Little Too simplified

Trailers Ruined Much

 

SUMMARY:

  Like the first film, the movie’s cast really shines taking the pun filled writing, simplistic dialogue, and joke filled lines and making it work.  Sudeikis as Red is still the sarcastic champion we loved, Josh Gad comes back in all his adorable energy and opera like singing, and Danny McBride is still the same loud, gruff voice that often fools people into thinking he is Seth Rogen. But the new gang to join adds their own spice to the feathery/leathery cast.  Jones has got her usual energetic motions, Sterling K brown is posh and yet funny, and Awkwafina is the same carefree slacker that somehow works in a variety of settings.  It’s an awesome blend of talent that manages to add some dynamic flow to bring the characters to life.  Past the acting, the story is along the same lines as the last one, a very fun, straightforward adventures with a few good moral lessons baked in to give it another layer.  Taking two stories to try the break up the linearity, the movie should move enough to keep everyone’s attentions, all while jamming in enough fun and laughter to have you rolling in the seats.  Yes, like the first installment the film is all about captivating on the cuteness and jokes to get its gimmicks out and enjoyment.  Yet, the smartest component for me, is that the movie manages to utilize most of its characters very well.  Red and the squad still get adequate screen time despite how many characters they introduced.  And the new characters still get used well, allowing for maximum merchandising.

  In regards to some areas of improvements for me, well it starts with the predictability of the film.  The movie suffers from the simplicity they strived for, not doing well with pushing the boundaries of unique or creativity.  Sure, the app to movie transition gets props, but unlike the Disney and DreamWorks group, they have not quite adapted well in the earth-shattering stories or worlds that the bigger studios dream up.  Instead, the movie tries to push a few political boundaries, which is a noble challenge, but got a little too extreme for this reviewer as the various movements we hear about get their own skin in this movie. It still fits well, but it just wasn’t necessary and I would have liked to see the energy transferred into the creativity mode instead.  Yet, the biggest area that I did not enjoy was how much the trailers ruined the film for me.  Many parts have been not only revealed, but smeared in your face with the multiple airings. While still funny, I think there could have been a lot of surprise and kick to it had it not been so advertised. As such, if you and your kids have seen most of the trailers, you have seen much of the movie as there is not quite as much runtime as I had expected.

 

 

The VERDICT:

            The movie is a decent follow up to a movie that was surprisingly deep and fun.  It still has the same colorful energy, fun atmosphere and voice acting that just capitalizes on the silliness to be had.  The story, while layered, still is simple for most to follow and the characters are utilized beautifully for all fans to enjoy and get the most out of the characters in this world.  Yet, Angry Birds Universe is still a shell of some of the worlds built in the animation land, and struggles to break the creative barrier and expand upon its world. It’s a little too simple in terms of movie overall, and thanks to the trailer ruining much, the film holds little in coming to the theater outside of seeing the predictable ending.  Still, it’s a fun adventure to behold this weekend with your little tykes and smile wide at their delight in the film.  Otherwise, hold out for the home release my friends. 

 

 

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5