One Small Step For Music, One Giant Need For More Time

Smallfoot Poster

            Robbie K here with another review, this time hitting the latest animated movie to come into the big screen and help impress your little ones.  While not Disney, tonight’s first review offers the potential to teach, preach, and have your kids dancing in your seats as a new merchandising set debuts on the silver screen.  What’s in store? Read on to find out as I look over

 

Movie: Small Foot (2018)

 

Directors:

Karey KirkpatrickJason Reisig (co-director)

Writers:

Karey Kirkpatrick (screenplay by), Clare Sera (screenplay by)

Stars:

Channing TatumJames CordenZendaya

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute:  Animated movies often take this approach, but Small Foot especially took the reins of selling the terrifying yeti as a cute, cuddly, anthropomorphized group that look fluffy and stylish at the same time.  It’s characters have that adorable round face, big shining eyes, and a happy, peppy attitude that feeds positivity to the audience around.  As such, hearts will melt and smiles will shine bright as they watch the group come to life.

 

Animation: No surprise here, a big budget production from WB has fluid movement and articulated sequences that show off their computer work.  Small Foot’s design is also colorful, vibrant, and somehow a tribute to the fashion/culture of multiple ethnicities that represent their voice actors. I myself loved the styles of the yeti’s and how chique their fur was structured to make them unique. Definitely not the most realistic, but it works.

 

Strong Messages:  What would a kid’s movie be without important life lessons and adult politics present to provide a double layered story?  Small Foot is just that, working to teach the audience the importance of trust, the questioning of theories to pursue truth and make life better, bringing cultures together to make for peace, and a variety of other messages that the world can stand to learn.  It’s powerfully done, with all the magic thrown in to help bring the message to full light and let it fully settle in.  Where other films are a little more subtle, Small Foot decides to just blare it full blast to get the message across, even promoting a few songs to teach the lessons.

 

Funny at times:  I think this states it enough, but Small Foot attempts a lot of comedic styles to entertain all ages.  Many of the running jokes are tributes to vine and internet videos that should be familiar to the modern era.  Some are brilliantly timed, and others are included haphazardly, there to be funny for the kids alone.  I myself like the cleverer references or clever wordplay, which there is actually a decent amount, so kudos to them.

 

Songs: While it seems the modern trend is to turn everything animated into a musical to get soundtracks out and money in.  While that trend gets annoying at times, have to say that the music of Small Foot was very entertaining and fitting to the scenes that were designed with them. Beautiful, passionate songs led by Zendaya gave me the goosebumps and held such emotional fire to motivate your desire to learn new things, while the Corben’s twist on Pressure was clever, fun, and humorous to break things up.  Nevertheless, this would be a fun setlist to play in the car and one worth investing in.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Lacking The Disney Magic: We know there are plenty of reasons why this is the case, but for me Small Foot is lacking the same power that bigger budget productions hold.  Small Foot may be cute, but it didn’t push the boundaries of creativity, character cultivation or design.  It’s not bad by any means, and while there is some originality, all the pieces don’t quite line up.

 

The Overdone Comedy: Again, I like many of the things this movie offers in terms of laughs, but Small Foot has difficulties with finding that balance between too much and too little.  The movie loves beating running joke horses to death, while skimping on jokes that were more diverse and bridged multiple ages.

 

More Songs:  Can’t believe I’m saying this, but in truth, the movie actually needed a few more songs to round out the experience.  Zendaya’s song is amazing, but for me not so much to fashion most of the screen time songs around it.  At least three different renditions were played during the film, plenty of opportunity for some of those more humorous songs to fill instead.

 

Character Usage/Development: Lots of voices, means lots of time management needs, and Small Foot does okay to some degree.  The problem is, that they just don’t integrate the characters as well as I think they could have  done.  So many potential plot points, hindrances, and obstacles could have been introduced to add more to the story, but musical theatrics and cuteness took over.  Much more was needed on many fronts to really tie all the characters together and launch more stories to the mix.  This is probably due to lower run time, which was appreciated, but perhaps will set up for some type of Netflix series.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

Overall, Small Foot is a fun ride that will appease the target audience easily enough.  Music is fun, the jokes are a variety of references to get on board with, and it has that cute atmosphere you got from the trailers.  And if you’ve got the little ones enjoy it with them, but realize this one doesn’t quite have the magic behind it like it wanted.  It’s a little off balance, did not take the potential of developing characters, and needed more of the gimmicks to help give it that push it needed.  So overall, most are going to either avoid or reserve this one for NetFlix/Redbox.

 

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

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Pooh or Poo? Have We Found The Golden Honey Pot Of The Summer?

Christopher Robin Poster

 

Being a kid of the 90s, you got exposed to a lot of generational cartoons.  From a young age I got exposed to the classic Winnie the Pooh cartoons with the memorable moments of pooh stuck in the hole, or on the balloon.  Shortly thereafter the new adventures strapped in and brought new life to the series that was even more endearing tone before dropping further into kids territory.  Then, Pooh and the crew kind of phased out, with only those less than 5 really caring about what they could offer, thus they faded from memory.  Now, Disney is trying to recapture the magic of A.A. Milne’s in a live action version of the stuffed animals journey through the eyes of the owner.  Robbie K here with another review, this time on:

 

Movie: Christopher Robin (2018)

 

Director:

Marc Forster

Writers:

Alex Ross Perry (screenplay by),  Tom McCarthy(screenplay by)

Stars:

Ewan McGregor,  Hayley Atwell,  Bronte Carmichael

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute/Charming:  When it comes to Pooh and the crew, the adventures are almost always cute and adorable.  Christopher Robin continues this trend, making sure to rope in all of the classic goodness, but modernize it to the new families of the modern age. It is perfect for kids as the stuffed animals bounce around the town, but also for the current parents who grew up with the cartoons like I did.  Nevertheless, that nostalgic atmosphere will come in this charming adventure that somehow brings the feel of the classics into the new form of live action.

 

Clever Wit:  The references in Pooh are not for the casual audience member, but for fans like me, there is hidden treasure in the references. Nostalgia again is the leading quality, but Christopher Robin had me chuckling with all the well-timed, well-delivered, bumbling of Pooh and the Crew.  There are plenty of misunderstanding moments that will have the older audience members enjoying it the most, while the kids will love the goofy slapstick that follows from the disbelief of the supporting casts.  I can easily say that this movie is definitely a little more targeted for the older crowd in terms of dialogue.

 

Emotional Growth: Where most of the Pooh adventures are silly, whimsical feats of seeking out enough honey to fill Pooh, Christopher Robin falls on the spectrum of those episodes that were more serious.  It’s about a new stage of life through McGregor’s character and it does a nice job of balancing the numerous emotional stressors that comes with growing up.  This film does a fantastic job of portraying that line between kid and adult, and how both are important for raising the family.  It will speak deeply to those with families of their own, and seal a spot in the heart as the greatest Pooh movie of all time.

 

The original voices/Animation:  With a Disney movie, the animation is always good, so no need to go into too many details. The big thing to mention, is that the stuffed animals look like stuffed animals, so the design is great on that lone. However, my favorite aspect is that Jim Cummingscame back to bring Pooh/Tigger to life once more.  His voice alone is the source of Pooh’s comedy, bringing that sweet innocence with it that pulls at your heart strings like the silly old bear can.  As for Tigger, he is still the energetic, manic tiger who doesn’t understand the word limits.  While the other voice actors were good, Jim was the winner for me as a key pillar of the movie.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable:  No surprise, the movie doesn’t have too many twists and turns for being a family movie.  It pretty much hits a line drive to the family life lessons, to keep it perfect for its target audience, (aka staying away from the dark and obscure). It’s not that I was surprised at all, but as a reviewer I have to look at all aspects.

 

Limited audience:  Pooh is not for everyone, and unlike other Disney movies, not everyone is going to love this.  While I did enjoy the comedy, it’s specificity for Pooh comedy is going to limit it to a small number of people, and not all kids are going to enjoy the mellow pace of the movie.  So, its branching out was not quite achieved the way they wanted to in my opinion.

 

More Haley Atwell:  I know the film is about Christopher Robin (hence the title), but you would have expected a little more integration of the wife if they were going to pull the daughter in.  Atwell played her part well, but I wished they had incorporated her side of the story more and helped round out Christopher’s story. 

 

More Of The Other Animals: Again, I know the relationship between Pooh and Christopher is the key, but I do wish that the other animals had their appendages in the film a little better.  Still more screen time than I anticipated, but they could have been incorporated a bit more to really max things out.

 

Missing The Whimsy: This comes from loving the new adventures, but I really missed the full-on imagination that came with the original cartoon series.  Because the emotional aspect is blended so well into the movie it takes away from the adventure theme that I loved.  Not bad at all mind you, I just missed that favorite aspect from my childhood.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            By far Christopher Robin is the best family movie of the summer, and the must watch for those with young members in their family. It hits its key demographic hard and manages to balance the movie in many aspects to grab kids and original generation hard.  Sadly, they may have done this job a little too well, because general audiences may not appreciate the full glory of this movie, and the styles they chose.  In addition, the movie just misses that adventure component that Disney movies are famous for, to instead go down the predictable, preachy, emotional pathway that they tend to do.  So, is it worth a theater visit?  The answer is yes if you are that key demographic, but otherwise skip this until you get it in theaters.  

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0-8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

Is There Hope Or Just Plain Nope: Go At Your Own Risk

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies Poster

 

Cartoons were amazing back in my day when cable was the preferred means of entertaining.  Whether it was the classics of Hannah Barbara, or the modern age 90s cartoons there were plenty that had bite and engaging elements that many modern shows lack.  One in particular was Teen Titans, a comic book inspired television that packed heat, excitement, and engaging episodes/characters that hooked generations. Then came Teen Titans Go, a chibi like, watered down version that took all those elements away and replaced them with bathroom humor, vomit slaps, and rants of babbling gibberish that did little to impress past the age of like 8.  So naturally, it’s popular for today’s group and with it comes a big screen picture to try and impress.  Robbie K is back with another review, so let’s get to it as I review:

 

Movie:  Teen Titans Go To The Movies (2018)

 

Directors:

Aaron Horvath,  Peter Rida Michail

Writers:

Aaron Horvath,  Michael Jelenic

Stars:

Will Arnett,  Eric Bauza,  Kristen Bell

 

 

LIKES:

 

Original Voice Actors: There are timeless voices that will always be remembered, and breathe life into the very character they are voicing. Fortunately, Teen Titans Go was smart enough to retain the original voice cast of Scott Menville, Khary Payton,Greg Cipes, Tara Strongand Hynden Walch.  The crew continues to lend their talents to try and redeem what little these big headed/small bodied forms have left for them, and kept me in the movie to support their work.  No last-minute switches here people, and fortunately it does work.

 

Animation:  While nothing close to some of the other comic book inspired shows, this reviewer still applauds some of the animation style in this movie.  Colorful designs, fluid motion, and clever art styles to culminate in some of the cleverer scenes, which is always appreciated when you break away from the style they’ve been dependent on us.

 

Short Time Frame:  If you can’t stand stupidity (then avoid this movie), but if you are going for your little one, fear not, the craziness lasts for only about 80 minutes and then you are free.  Thank goodness the editing was on top of the game.

 

Clever moments:  While Teen Titans Go seldom falls into this category, I couldn’t help but laugh at how the cartoon pokes fun at the obsession with super hero movies, Disney’s monopoly over things, and of course the obsession of only being recognized if you have a movie.  Bravo for the writer’s integrating these moments, because at the right times, these moments packed a punch.

 

The Mid-Credit Scene: There is hope for the future, and this entire movie’s excuse may be summed up in this short two-minute scene that happens after the cast.  We can only hope the momentum keeps going.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Zero Action:  The original series was so good at balancing this components with everything else to make the tales exciting and suspenseful. While there are some, faster paced scenes, the action is sub-par, dropped only after slightly building momentum so we can cram more juvenile jokes into the mix.  The finale helps remedy this for merely a few seconds, but it just happened too late in the movie for it to count for me.

 

Poop Jokes:  Bathroom jokes are great for me, but only when they are either well-time or super relevant.  The movie became a little too obsessed with this bodily function, taking grandiose tangents to cram one of these jokes in at an inappropriate time. It shouldn’t be a surprise if you’ve seen the show, but as a reviewer I have to point these out so don’t shoot the messenger.  The target audience is not going to get enough of the crude humor this movie loves to endorse, but for the older fans… well brace yourselves in whatever means you can.

 

The Story:  It’s an awesome poke at Hollywood, but given how incredible the proceeding series was, I find it hard to enjoy the story in this movie.  The writers had an underlying staple, but it criss crosses through so many sub-plots, it pretty much makes for a hodge-podge of mediocrity that just doesn’t do much outside of provide a platform to spring more jokes off.  I know, this wasn’t the intended path, but I miss my Teen Titans comic plot more than ever watching this mess.

 

Pointless Super Hero cameos: A few cameos were funny, but the advertisements endorsed super heroes and perhaps that means integrate them more. Teen Titans Goes down yet another pointless tangent, that leave much to be desired.  Outside of a few perfectly executed jokes, the older super heroes were pretty pathetic in this movie for me.  Sorry, but I have to speak my opinions.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Teen Titans is probably being seen as the worst movie to come to theaters this year.  While it certainly isn’t a masterpiece, the movie does have some high moments, primarily in mocking the obsession Hollywood has with comics these days.  Truth is, this movie is meant for die-hard fans of the show (mainly kids) and it sticks to its guns to keep their attention with all the bright colors and stuck in your head songs.  I can’t recommend this one to the theater unless you are trying to please your little one, but regardless there is hope that the golden age can soon return.  It may be the only thing worthy of seeing this movie for. 

 

My scores:

 

Animation/Action/Comedy: 5.5

Movie Overall:  4.0

 

 

 

Number 3 Doesn’t Have As Much Bite, But Cruises To Family Fun

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation Poster

 

It’s Thursday and you know what that means… Yes, another Robbie’s Movie Reviews.  Tonight, is an animated sequel, hoping to live up to the magic and bring about another family friendly adventure to bring your little ones flocking to theater.  Will it be the success they want in regards to quality, or is it mainly a cash grab of the studio to try and compete with the Disney mega corporation.  Robbie K is here and ready to write another review… this time on:

 

Movie:  Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018)

 

Director:

Genndy Tartakovsky

Writers:

Michael McCullers,  Genndy Tartakovsky

Stars:

Adam Sandler,  Andy Samberg,  Selena Gomez

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute:  The movie keeps to its cute roots, making sure to keep the friendly environment amped up all the way to a 10.  Hotel Transylvania 3 has a cavalcade of characters that are adorable as can be, with big eyed werewolves, curly haired kids with squeaky voices, gigantic puppies, and of course all the goofy stunts that are in between.  If you are a fan of this dynamic alone, then this installment will already be worth the wait for you.

 

Funny:  The movie has a charming humor to it for adults, presented in the form of a few witty interventions in the form of nostalgic songs and references.  Yet, the majority of the comedy is of course geared towards the little ones and those with a childish sense of humor.  The movie has loads of slapstick, over the top delivery of simplistic writing to get a laugh.  Kids will enjoy this the most, and parents will most likely enjoy watching them giggle their heads off.  This will hopefully be further evidence at how appropriate for kids this movie is.

 

Short run time:  While the movie may not be for everyone, you can be excited by the fact that the movie will not last long.  The run time comes in at closer to 1 hour and 20 minutes, so you can breathe a sigh of relief that this won’t leave you drained upon the final credits rolling. Speaking of which?

Final Credits:  I’ve always been a fan of the cartoon end credits and their clever play with words.  The movie continues this trend and brings with it a fun, adorable spin to make it stand out from the other two..  A fun track adds some atmosphere to the credits and ends the movie on an energetic foot to have your kids dancing to the beat.

 

Music:  Hotel Transylvania has always had an appropriate soundtrack to go with the themes of the movie, and number 3 stays on this path again. The difference for this film is that it contains a few nostalgic songs that may confuse younger audience members and bring smiles to the older ones.  While these legendary tracks are short lived, they do have the right timing to maximize their inclusion.  If only they could have had more.

 

Animation:  The animation is not the smoothest at times, most likely to represent the silly atmosphere of this movie.  However, this guy appreciated the clever designs of the world, and the cool adaptations on the cruise ship.  Colorful worlds await those who will venture into the theater, though the same can be said for most animated movies.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Too silly at times:  I warned you up top, the move is not geared towards all audience members.  Hotel Transylvania 3 is all about maximizing kid humor, and fails to extend much past the superficial jabs that will keep the world giggling.  I needed a little more maturity to the mix, something to break out the relentless onslaught of comedy this movie is famous for.

 

Story Suffers:  The first movie of the series had a great tale to ground the laughs to, as it pushed character growth and integrated all the characters into the mayhem at hand.  However, this installment did not remotely find this balance, dropping most of their characters to the backburner for very cheap laughs and sequences that were less than impressive.  Why they dropped so much of their balance, I can’t answer that, but it was disappointing to see only one storyline with remotely any sustenance.  All the line segment like stories were just not that impressive, but in the grand scheme of things to kids… not really that important.

 

Lack of Interest:  I think the big thing of this movie though, is that it seems like the series is losing the steam that kept it going for so long.  After failing with the short before the Emoji movie, I think the series is grasping for straws at this point, and needs to return to its roots to stand a chance for future installments.  Given the failure of the cartoon series… I’m not sure if there is remotely any major interest remaining in this series.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

    A third installment can be difficult to maintain the quality, and Hotel Transylvania 3 really struggled with keeping itself on target. The movie is cute, funny, and with an entertaining design, but it didn’t have an engaging plot and reduce its characters to mere shambles with the exceptions of a few.  The movie is certainly prime bait for luring kids into the theater, but it just doesn’t have the same bite that the first two did.  In regards to if this film is theater worthy… I would say only if you’re looking to take your kids, otherwise hold out for this one for future viewing. 

 

My scores:

 

Animation/Comedy/Family: 7.0

Movie overall: 5.5

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

 

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