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

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

Coco

 

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

 

LIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

DISLIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The VERDICT:

 

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

 

My scores:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  9.0

Movie Overall: 8.5

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

The Star

 

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

 

LIKES:

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

 

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

 

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

 

DISLIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The VERDICT:

 

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

 

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  6.5

Movie Overall: 5.5-6.0

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

pony

 

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

 

LIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

DISLIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The VERDICT:

 

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

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0  

An Icon of Lost Potential

Emoji

 

In today’s world, the phone isn’t used quite as the inventors pictured, with actual calling being replaced by texting and snapchat.  But one item has been developed to replace the words that are too difficult to write: Emojis. In desperation, Sony has developed a film about these icons in an attempt to break the bank with another hit animated series.  Can they succeed, or will this movie be nothing but a bombardment of sad faced emojis?  Robbie K here to answer that question for you with another review.

 

LIKES:

 

The Animation:  You can say a lot of negative things about the movie, but one plus for this reviewer is the beautiful display Sony’s team has designed.  Like many movies, the characters move with fluid grace, transitioning through their adventure with little jumpiness.  High Five (James Corden) in particular has impressive moves, as having a hand expand beyond simple hand movements can be tricky business.  In addition, I enjoyed the visualization of the world within our phone, finding clever design in the development of the internal universes of each app (primarily Instagram’s frozen pictures).  I’ll admit, the characters aren’t realistic like Pixar, or even super creative design, but there is cleverness in the world itself.

 

It’s Cute:  When it comes to cartoons/animated marvels, the pendulum can swing to either side of the age spectrum.  Fear not those with little kids, this movie is certainly geared towards the younger side, filled to the brim with color, simplistic jokes, and over the top slapstick that will make many giggle.  Sure, there are a few drier jokes that adults will get, but for the most part this movie goes back to basics for family friendliness.  One won’t have to worry about inappropriate gestures or innuendos in this film.

 

The Morals:  Movies are a powerful tool to teach the lessons we humans are too ignorant to learn from mentors, school, and the quickly fading trend of reading.  Emoji’s movie solid lesson of being yourself and not conforming to the traditional ways is as good rehash of the traditional lesson.  Those who stand out from the norm will find great relevance to Gene (T.J. Miller)  and Jailbreak’s (Anna Faris) quest and most likely grab on to the characters.  It’s also always good to see a lesson in friendship as well, quoting the movie as “Better to have one good friend, than a bunch of fake fans followers”.  The strong emphasis on this will hopefully break through the persistent firewalls of your subconscious and get you contacting your buddies.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Story:  Despite the morals infused into the story, the overall quality of Gene’s tale is very basic at best.  The Emoji movie has little sustenance to it, diving more into cramming the jokes in the short run time. After all the world building I had hoped for a little more depth to navigating the apps, facing the dangers of the cyber terror that lurk in our phones. I wanted suspense! I wanted exploration of a selection of apps. I wanted an adventure that had a little more depth behind it. I got very little of that.  All the obstacles they faced were fairly easy to circumvent, and often not worth mentioning at how lame they were. Certainly, they did a few things right (Just Dance 4), but for the most part, it was a huge loss of potential at decoding the craziness of our obsession with phones.

 

Humor:  Humor can be fun when balanced, but unfortunately Emoji movie lacks that balance, once again swinging the pendulum to the younger audience.  Most of the jokes are very simple statements that lack any finesse, or decent delivery to maximize the laughs. Much of the humor is dry, and although has adult components, lacks that clever zing that other films/programs do. James Corden rectifies this a little with High Fives self-absorbed personality, but even his banter gets stale after a while.  With all of the comedians in this movie, I really had expected more of this movie, but again missed potential.

 

Boring: If you haven’t gleamed it from the first two categories, then this should sum this up, Emoji movie is boring. There is no suspense to the adventure, and let’s face it no point, to the challenges at hand.  I found myself looking at the clock wondering how much longer I had in the ridiculous presentation of smart phone gimmicks.  Cute is always great, but it is better left to YouTube and Kid shows that are in short spans of time. Without the jokes to back it up, nor an impressive voice performance, there is just little to scream entertainment outside of watching a child’s smile light up at the colorful presentation.

 

The VERDICT:

 

You’ve seen the reviews of my colleagues, and they aren’t far from the truth… Emoji movie was a miss for Sony in terms of quality.  The lackluster jokes, lack of challenge, and reserved wit were not the right steps to take in this inconsistent adventure for success.  In fact, the best thing of this film is the animated short for Hotel Transylvania that precedes it.  Still, if you are looking for a safe, family trip to the movies, you’ve got the Emoji movie to save your bacon.  However, I highly recommend reserving this one for Netflix. 

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  4.0

Movie Overall:  2.0  

Three Is A Win For Me

Despicable 3

 

Despite what I had hoped, it seemed inevitable for Universal studios to bring about another Despicable Me movie to compete in this summer’s animation flick.  The series has been incredibly popular with merchandising, despite a film series with an up and down quality. Gru and company are back for another round to try and tickle our funny bones while melting our hearts in the process.  Will time number four (three if you don’t count the prequel) return back to the quality of the first predecessor, or does it fall victim to merchandising simplicity?  Robbie K here to try and answer that question!  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

Animation/Cute:  We all know that these movies are adorable, and that same atmosphere is present through much of the movie.  The relationships between Gru and his Minions, and his newfound brother Dru, and even loveable little Agnes and her new family are certain to soften the hardest hearts.  And to bring that cuteness to full form is the loveable, fluid, and crazy animation of this series.  All the disproportioned anatomical parts, colorful settings, and vibrant gestures are flawless in this movie and bring that same atmosphere you fell in love with.

 

Funny/Clever:  Of course Despicable Me isn’t just about being cute, but also comical at the same time.  It seems the directing team learned something from their first movie, and did a nice job bringing entertainment to the silver screen.  Despicable Me 3 dives back into its comedy roots, maximizing on awkwardly hilarious scenarios and over the top comedic delivery.  Gru (and Dru) spout off plenty of one-liners that had me laughing, in those grossly accented, over the top accents that make me laugh.  The writing is not only well-timed, but also quite clever in the number of references they make alongside the pokes at popular culture.  Even the Minions redeem themselves, falling back into a supporting role that changes up the comedy styles and brings even more laughs.  Such nice balance works and is a step in the right direction for future series, especially with the jokes integrated into a story instead of just jabbering nonsense.

 

Music:  If you have read my previous reviews, then you know I appreciate good sound support to the visuals.  Certainly, the sound editing goes well with all the crazy visual effects, but the real masterpiece comes in the music.  Balthazar Bratt is an 80’s obsessed villain, see the trailer, and with this obsession comes a love for the 80’s songs. Despicable Me 3 is not shy of the wonders of the decade, in all their toe tapping, synthesizer heavy glory.  I was happy to know all the songs on the track list, and appreciated it even more at the clever integration into the movie.  Sure, there are some stretches into the silly section, but for the most part my friend and I had a blast enjoying the teams’ integration into the movie that was incredibly fun!

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Smaller Character Development:  It was cute, it was cuddly, and it had some strong moments of development.  Yet Despicable Me 3 still cannot hold a candle to the majesty of the first film in regards to balance of the character development.  Gru and Dru’s story is well matched, and the main villain has a tightened-up story.  Yet, the development of the other characters remains lacking at parts, forced at times into a rushed mess that felt shallow and lacking.  Gru is doing well with his fatherhood, but the third installment somehow washes the caring father role away in favor of the newer relationships, such a shame. In addition, I didn’t feel the emotional kick like I did back in the first installments as well.  There was one point I felt sorry for a side character, but outside of that…nothing.

 

No Dr. Nefario:  It’s unfortunate, but true. Fans of the notorious, invention making, gas filled madmen are going to be disappointed with the lack of his deep voice and obscure lines.  Sure, there is a cameo (that is quite entertaining), but the absence of the side kick was a disappointment to this reviewer and the hilarity that could have ensued.  Oh well, perhaps the next one will bring him back into the mix, but don’t get your heart set on anything.

 

Trailers reveals much:  Why can Hollywood not learn to sell everything in the trailers?  Despicable me 3 falls victim to much being revealed in the 3-4 tv spots that have been released.  Pay attention to these trailers and you will be able to decipher the intentions, schemes, and outcomes of much of the movie leaving little to the imagination.  And yes, there are many comedy moments that have been overdone on the trailers, which may chip away some of the effect.  Shame on you advertising for revealing so much surprise.  Fortunately, if you are free of TV ads (thanks to streaming), you are okay.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Despicable Me 3 was a fun, family friendly adventure that I very much enjoyed.  With a fantastic sense of comedy, revamping of storytelling, and animation to support it all, I certainly think this entertainment worth watching.  Yes, it still has its shortcomings in regards to emotional punches, character development, and surprise, but this reviewer feels the positivity contained in the 90 minutes will make up for it.  Worth a trip to the theater?  You bet it is, but no so much in 3-D as it did little but to add the coming at you from the screen gimmick. 

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Action/Adventure:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

 

Revving Up To A Better Story

Cars 3

 

“I am Speed!” A quote that will live on forever in the minds of the 2000 generation, movie quote boards, and the status of Disney fans.  For those not remembering the quote, or not realizing what this review is about, it is Lightning McQueen’s catchphrase in the famous Cars series.  Pixar’s work about living Cars took the world by storm long ago, but a flat tire left it stranded behind its cousins.  After a detour with the second installment, Cars 3 attempts to change tires and redeem itself on the winner circle.  And it’s my job to commentate and analyze the movie.  Let’s rev up and take off with another Robbie movie review.

 

LIKES:

Animation:  Let’s get the obvious out of the way, Pixar continues to prove they rock at making things move.  Cars 3 is beautifully detailed, stylish, slick, and fluid on all levels from the skidding tires to simply drinking oil at a local garage bar.  Unlike its sequels, the movie really focuses on the fast-paced world of racing, and brings the full effects of Disney animation to life. All the excitement is captivating and exciting, perfect for many audience members of all ages. And with all the new characters plenty of room for merchandising.

 

Soundtrack: Most Disney fans often won’t pay attention unless it is a flashy, over the top musical number famous from the renaissance of the 90s (and Frozen).  Well although not the famous show stopping sequences, Cars 3 has a nice collaboration of song covers to classic songs that is sure to bring up some nostalgia.  While not as good as the originals for me, I enjoyed most of the twists in this movie and felt they were appropriately placed in the film.  Certainly, not the most unique soundtrack, but strong nonetheless.

 

Comedy:  Good news, Cars 3 is still funny, but even more importantly it doesn’t rely on comedy as the only gimmick.  Rather than relying on Mater’s childlike innocence and stupidity, Cars 3 was able to bring some wit to the table and with it some dynamic comedy.  Mater still has some quips to throw into the film, but the rest of the gang has some well-timed jabs that touch on a variety of topics and styles, which again, will hit most members of the audience.

Story: The team must have taken a step back and analyzed the blue prints of their tale.  Cars 3 story is miles above Car2, dropping into the character development and life lessons made famous in the first film.  It is jam packed full of emotion, with gripping tales all coming together into a very compact package. With exciting races built into the story, the movie keeps a nice pace and remains fun to watch while also being educational.  No convoluted tales of quirky action or stretches here folks, it’s just classic country lifestyle.

 

DISLIKES:

Depressing: This really doesn’t reveal anything, but much of this movie is quite depressing.  While there is certainly a broad range of emotions “racing” through this film, I can say a good chunk is spent in the downer zone. While the kids will have a few moments that might upset them, adults are going to really take the blunt of the depression in this movie.  The trailers have already hinted at the message, but they didn’t prepare me for the intensity this movie has at times.  Fortunately, they relieve that melancholy with fun moments, but somehow Pixar keeps that sullen moment in your mind.

 

Old jokes: I told you they did a nice job balancing jokes, but I didn’t say perfect, did I?  Cars 3 gets a little obsessive with one joke category and starts to rely on it a little too much.  These jokes at times is the perfect icing on the cake, but often it goes with that depressing component I told you about.  I found the fun starting to leave and the sadness starting to set on… way to go Pixar, depressing comedy.  Still, your kids will laugh and might pick up a few annoying phrases to throw at you in the process.

 

Characters dropped:  Like many Disney films, the studios find a way to dump on the old to bring in the new. While certainly not the worst example of dropping characters, Cars 3 reduced many of your favorite character to background characters delivering somewhere between 1-5 lines.  So those heavy on Mater, Sally, and the rest of the gang need to lower your expectations, and prepare to fall in love with the new guys on hand.  This disproportion of characters is certainly sad to see, and while I do enjoy many of the new characters, you can’t help but long to have the old and new world blend a little more together.

The VERDICT:

Cars 3 was certainly rebuilt from the wreckage of the last movie.  The animation remains stunning, brought to full throttle with the exciting races thrown into the mix.  Pixar makes the tale funny and with a much deeper, enriching story than number 2.  Unfortunately for the audience above the age of 15, a somber mood hangs over much of this movie and it lacks a good balance of integrating old with the new.   There are some other components I could comment on, but I’m out of room so you’ll have to see for yourself.  Nevertheless, Cars 3 is definitely worth a trip to the theater folks, and probably the leading blockbuster of this weekend’s new releases. 

 

My scores:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0