Incredible Follow Up

Incredibles 2 Poster

            It’s another weekend and with it comes another attempt for Disney to sweep the box office with another “masterpiece” to win the hearts of many.  After 14 years (according to the pre-movie showing), my favorite Pixar movie comes back to bay with the sequel to hopefully bring spectacular adventure back to bay.  Incredibles 2 is promising to be a lot of fun, but we never know what the studios of Disney will put into a movie to meet the expectations.  Robbie K here back with another review, to help guide your movie watching pleasures.  So, let’s get started.

 

Movie: Incredibles 2 (2018)

 

Director:

Brad Bird

Writer:

Brad Bird

Stars:

Craig T. Nelson,  Holly Hunter,  Sarah Vowell

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute:  If the trailers didn’t paint this picture, take it from the reviewer that Incredibles 2 is chock full of adorable features to woo the hearts of many.  Both young and old are going to find something to hook onto in the Super family’s drama, whether it be the pint-sized baby or the warm feeling one gets of the strong morals of family, and it absolutely accomplishes the family friendly atmosphere.

 

Balanced First Act: Pixar’s team showed much promise of matching the first movie in regards to all the balancing it did long ago. The Incredibles 2’s first half is beautifully crafted to include action, story, comedy, and morals into an engaging tale that accomplishes the goal of setting up for an epic conclusion.  It’s primarily run by splitting the story between the two plots of Elastigril (Holly Hunter) working to uncover the mystery of the ScreenSlaver and Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) trying to a parent, making sure to give each section their due focus and efficiently switching between arcs.

 

Relevant:  While I can’t relate to some parts of the movie, I applaud Disney/Pixar doing everything it can to craft a tale that is relevant to so many people.  For comic book fans like me, the dilemmas of heroes doing their job despite the prejudice of society speaks strong in terms of your values challenging others.  Others will cope well with the girl power motif that Elastigirl’s arc portrays, keeping it mostly on the down low, yet hitting hard where it needs to be.  Yet, there will be many who will grip tightly to family moments and the challenges modern parents face given a changing society.  By broadening this cope, Incredibles II is going to rope in a lot of fans of varying ages, all once again getting captivated by the arcs in store.

 

Animation/Action:  The movie is well animated, no surprise there from the masters of CGI storytelling.  While Pixar always gets points for their world building, character design, and fluid motion, Incredibles 2 amps up the ante by including action sequences into the mix.  Fortunately, they accomplish the goal of adrenaline pumping stunts, comic like combat, and making sure it remained pertinent to the story so as not to appear random.  Your little one will be able to handle much of the stunts thrown in and become super impressed by all that comes with Pixar’s approach to action.

 

Comedy:  Of course, you want to laugh in a movie, and the Pixar group is happy to deliver a variety of laughs to the mix.  The first Incredibles have a number of inside jokes revisited in this installment, primarily in the obsessions of the characters. In addition, some of the melodramatic moments are going to be relevant to some, causing the age groups that relate to it to get the most laughs.  Jack-Jack’s cute levels are going to appeal to most of the bunch, as the baby with no limits defies just about everything to bring his high-pitched laughter out in full. My favorite though…Edna Mode whose attitude and mannerisms are back in full force, with little to hold back the Dahlings.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable:  The mystery of Screen Slaver is certainly the factor to keep you guessing, until you figure out the twist a mile away. Incredibles 2 doesn’t do a good job of hiding the identify well, using some of the blatantly obvious dialogue to drop the hints long before the big reveal. In addition, the way they take obvious detours with some of the characters paints a bullseye on the back. It would have been nice to have a bigger twist, but sadly all the other antics took precedence in this movie.

 

Inconsistencies in Story Components:  The movie certainly establishes a lot of super powers to come in, but some of the gifted characters may have a little more power than one expects.  During some of the action scenes in this film, a few of the characters could have easily solved things with these overpowered components.  No limits are established to explain these components, and certainly that takes away from the suspense when you realize how easily they could have solved it. Most won’t care about this dislike, but eventually as people rewatch it and tear it apart, you’ll start to realize these moments.  At this point, I’ll state that some of the new characters didn’t have the best utilization of the new characters, showing off some abilities, but never the extent of warranting inclusion, with the exception of one.

 

Jack-Jack Balance: The first act broke the balance the first established, in order to bring more screen time to Jack-Jack’s antics. Merchandising is going to have a field day with the pint sized hero, utilizing all his new modes portrayed in the movie for toys, books, and whatever else you can think of.  The movie focuses so much attention on the little guy, that it soon started to go overboard for me.  In addition, the trailers only show you a fragment of the little guys power, and despite the attempt to explain his abilities, Jack’s-Jack’s power is insanely overdone to the point he is almost like a deity.  I said there were a few broken parts and this is the example.

 

Anti-climactic finish: Remember the end of the first movie where you were on the edge of your seat as the family fought that giant Robot that held no qualms with destruction?  Me too!  Incredibles had done a nice job building up the giant antagonist and covering their bases to design a challenging, but doable end fight.  The second installment however, resorted to some cheaper tactics that diluted what was supposed to be the most exciting moments of the movie. Part of it came from the predictability of the story, another part came from the focus on the comedy instead of the action/story.  Yet for me, the action scenes seemed much shorter and simpler, not bringing the heroes to a conducive dynamic that the first one shined with.  Why there could not have been more excitement infused in, I don’t know, but I was hoping for a repeat ending that I saw all those years ago.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

Incredibles 2 accomplished much of the goals set out since the sparks of the first trailer showed up on the screen. It’s a family friendly movie that appeals to both generations, the first part in particular absolutely accomplishing the level of quality the first had.  With the balance of comedy, story, animation, and relevant plot elements it is going to appeal to so many and hook you into the film.  However, the movie still didn’t quite strike the chords the first one did as the plot was predictable, the power levels inconsistent, and the merchandising approach of the baby it just didn’t maintain that balance I loved.  Plus, the finish could have used a little more work to help pull everything together in a satisfying way.  Still, this movie warrants a visit to the theater, and YES kids should have no problem handling this movie, though gauge their responses to loud noises, darker shadows, and one darker element of the plot about 45 minutes in.  Well done Pixar for managing to craft something well, now just strive for the balance again and you have it down to a perfect.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Action/Adventure: 8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5

 

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Nearly A Ten-Hut

sgt. stubby.jpg

 

 

Animated films, wholesome fun media that is capable of telling the greatest stories and building the best worlds.  In addition, they also cover a wide range of age groups, sometimes establishing an unfair expectation that they are meant for only that age group, sometime leading to misunderstandings and conflicts.  This weekend, another animated film comes out, one with little advertising, but potentially delivering a tale that can stir on tears and cheers.  Robbie K back with his final review of the weekend on a cute and cuddly film known as:

 

Film: Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero

 

Director:

Richard Lanni

 

Writers:

Richard Lanni,  Mike Stokey

 

Stars:

Helena Bonham Carter,  Logan Lerman,  Gérard Depardieu

 

 

LIKES:

Kid Friendly:  An animated film that presents kid friendly has to in fact be kid friendly, and Sgt. Stubby reports for duty on this front.  Its adorable mascot is not only the key advertisement component of the film, but a keystone in the cute factor of this movie.  Stubby will pull your little ones in and keep them and the young at heart laughing. You may think that a movie about war can’t possibly be child friendly, but the editing and craft have been strongly turned up to filter out any scary aspects of war. Thus, if you’re looking to teach history and going for a family feel Stubby will help you out.

 

Good Pace: No worries about slow parts with this film, Sgt. Stubby and his platoon are able to present their story in record time, which is good for covering two years of a war, as the movie is presented below 90 minutes.  Given all the child friendly antics and low run time, it’s like this studio was right on target for making a good kid’s film.

 

Decent Animation:  Certainly not Pixar quality, but the Sgt. Stubby still is not too shabby in terms of quality of bringing the WW1 era to life.  The canine of wonder is the best animated of the bunch, while the human soldiers are representative of something from the Clone Wars series.  Decently smooth, and representative of the situations, but just not quite as dynamic or mind blowing as Disney’s megalith.  In regards to design, again the developers have the cute motif down, but outside of that, not the most unique or diverse character development I have seen.

 

Helena Bonham Carter:  Voice acting wise, the movie is decent with the three leads of course being the most impressive.  However, it is the narrative provided by Bonham Carter that really holds the most emotional sway of the movie.  Such heartfelt emotion in so few words, this leading lady more than helped set the cloud of emotions over each scene, establishing a different perspective that adds to the movie and expands the relatability of the events to more audience members.

 

The Emotion:  Dog movies have a way of digging deep into your core and potentially depressing the heck out of you.  Sgt. Stubby brings a mixed bag of emotions, at times lifting your spirits to new heights of love, happiness, and joy, while other times bringing you to near tears as man and man’s best friend face the beast of war.  I myself nearly teared up several times at the sequences’ powerful display of powerful symphony work, visual developments, and of course Stubby’s human like composure to just about everything.  You will certainly become invested in this movie on this component alone, with the cuteness being the icing on the cake.

 

DISLIKES:

Smoother Animation:  A movie about an American hero certainly should be rewarded with more fluid animation.  Again, this isn’t the worst (certainly better than I can draft), but it would have been nice to have them pull some work out like competing studios are capable of.  The blocky movements and lack of intense action-animation scenes are what take away from some of the scenes for me, which could have been remedied.

 

More Impasses:  For a war, Stubby’s journey seemed a little easy at times.  Sgt. Stubby introduced a number of obstacles that gave them some challenge…for like five minutes, only to have the solution pop in mere seconds later.  There were few close call moments and that lack of suspense made it difficult to remain on the edge of my seat.  The cuteness is great, but from a storytelling element, this film failed on the emotional growth components.

 

Lack of Action:  War, what is it good for?  Usually a good number of action scenes, and some high-intensity stakes.  However, the cute factor and kid friendly nature really dilutes the excitement of this movie, perhaps even to the point of making it less impressive at what he accomplished.  Sgt. Stubby almost needed to be presented as a real-life form that could open up to more action, more intensity, and really bring Stubby’s achievements to full intensity.  Perhaps then it would have roped in more people.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Sgt. Stubby is certainly the cutest adventure to come to the theaters this year, and the sheer emotional roller coaster is more than enough to get all ages worked up.  Yet, this movie is really lacking that adventure magic, particularly the action, impasse, and structure to drive the growth of the characters.  Young ones will certainly enjoy this movie, but given the elements that it needs improving on, the film is going to have a hard time making ends meet in the theater.  This reviewer still thinks this movie is really stimulating, but it may be best reserved for home viewing to be honest. 

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Family:  8.0

Movie overall: 7.0

Elementary My Dear Gnome

Gnomeo

 

Sherlock Holmes, an iconic literature/media character who forever scoped our ideas of English crime solving.  Portrayed in various forms, the entity of this crime solver continues to entertain the masses and provide a media outlet that is not only entertaining, but brainteasing.  Yet, I’ve never seen the iconic detective portrayed as a…garden gnome.  No, you didn’t misread my friends, this weekend the English detective has transformed into a moveable garden gnome in today’s review of Sherlock Gnomes, the great detective has been downsized to London’s gardens attempting to uncover the secret behind the abducted gnomes and bring piece back to the neighborhood they share.  What will be the verdict of this adventure?  As always, please read to find out my thoughts on the latest movies to hit the big screen.

 

LIKES:

Fun:  This sequel to Gnomeo and Juliet is very energetic and full of fun gimmicks to entertain.  The kid friendly atmosphere of the film is vibrant and full of color, while the references to a number of movies, shows, and other older themes keep the adult population in check.  A quick pace and lots of quips also help keep the thrills coming and help one pay attention through the whole adventure.

 

Clever: Fortunately, the British trend of clever comedy and storytelling carry in to this animated feature.  For one thing the adventure is well-designed, with a direction that combined the mystery of the BBC series with the imagination of Disney.  Seeing the clues cleverly hidden, the various cultures represented at each clue sight, and even the character relationships of Holmes are captured in the various sequences of the film. Integrate the relationships from Gnomeo and Juliet, and the cleverness takes another turn down respectable levels.  As for the humor, it is balance of slapstick-childish antics and dry wit that expand across all audiences.

 

Voice Acting:  While the animation is a treat on the eyes, it’s the voice acting that really brings the characters to the full life.  Emily Blunt and James McAvoy do a bang up job playing the star crossed lovers, and Julio Bonet as Mankini is just as delightful, though not as prominent as he was in the first installment. Yet it is Chiwetel Ejiofor and Johnny Depp who really hold the center stage in this movie.  Both men held all the mannerisms and prestige in their voice work, while solidifying the relationship felt between the two garden gnome detectives.  I could feel the tension between them and picture these two as a live version adaptation in the future should they decide to make it.

 

The Music:  Finally, the same beats from the first film return in that toe tapping, move in your seat manner that the little one’s love.  Mostly covers of the great Sir Elton John’s work, Sherlock Gnomes sequences get a little more energy from the song director’s choices and I quite enjoyed the extra kick you got from these upbeat songs (that for once did not result in a dance number).

 

DISLIKES:

Character Usage:  Saw this coming, but Gnomeo and Juliet suffers from not utilizing all the characters well.  Most of the new characters get their decent share of screen time, but the veteran characters have fallen victim to a few silly moments, with Mankini being the only cameo I really enjoyed.  While the new characters do need the development, Sherlock Gnomes needed to almost forgo most of the other characters to avoid this dislike for me.

 

PredictableThe movie may be entertaining, but it is predictable to say the least. Disney has proven the masters of throwing in that heart stopping twist, but Sherlock Gnomes apparently falls victim to reason and intellect to let this happen.  So, I was a little disappointed to not have a few more twists thrown in to give it some more suspense.

 

More Elton:  One of my favorite things of Gnomeo and Juliet is the music from the Captain of the Keys Sir Elton John.  So why in the world would they limit their track to one original song?  Obviously merchandising and budget, but I would have loved more of the knighted performers tunes filling the screen instead of just the covers that came about.

 

More Adventure:  Normally I’m thrilled for a short run time, but this movie was one that needed a little more to really maximize the movie. Each of the obstacles/clues could have gone more in depth, as they passed through the obstacles quite easily.  Instead, the movie blew through the obstacles very quickly, giving little time to capitalize on the mystery/adventurous aspect.  In addition, adding a little darker edge would have won some more brownie points to help develop the mystery.

 

The Mary J. Blige song:  Respect to the artist for her performance is on spot, but in the movie…it doesn’t work for me outside of merchandising.  The song tries to alliterate on what could be a good character developing role, but they go nowhere with this thereby further making this song irrelevant.  And of all the obstacles that stood in Sherlock’s way, this was the one that took the most time. Again, had they taken this component further, it may have won more points for me.

 

The VERDICT:

            Sherlock Gnomes is one of the more fun, kid adventures I’ve been on in a long, long time.  It’s got a nice balance of comedy that fits well with the adventure and a soundtrack that further pumps up the volume of detective fun in this crazy sequel.  Despite all the balance this movie has though, it still needed some work in character integration and expanding on the adventure element of the film.  Don’t get too caught up wanting to root for your favorite characters from the first film, unless they were the titular characters.  Otherwise give this film a try and get out there with the family to see it.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5

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!

 

LIKES:

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.

 

DISLIKES:

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.

 

The VERDICT:

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.

 

LIKES:

 

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.

 

DISLIKES:

 

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?

 

The VERDICT:

 

          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.

LIKES:

 

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.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

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.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            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!

Ferdinand

 

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.

 

 

LIKES:

 

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.

 

DISLIKES:

 

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.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            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