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

          Frozen II Poster

 

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

 

Movie:

 

Frozen II (2019)

 

Directors:

Chris BuckJennifer Lee

Writers:

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

Stars:

Kristen BellIdina MenzelJosh Gad

 

LIKES:

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

 

DISLiKES:

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

 

SUMMARY:

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

The Verdict:

 

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

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

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

A Carpet Ride Into Familiar, Rushed, World

Aladdin Poster

            Disney cartoons in the 90s were the stuff of magic, and the foundation of my love for their movies. The animated adventures and their accompanying soundtracks were able to permanently embed themselves in my mind, heart and soul defining what Walt’s imagination established years ago.  Then came the live action versions and things started getting mixed up in the modern day of representation, realism, and trying to spin these tales in a way of being new/yet familiar.  There have been plenty of ups and downs, but they have found their place and tonight they try another milestone with big shoes, or in this case sandals/moccasins to fill.  Can it work?  That’s where I come in to give my insights as we check out:

 

Movie:  Aladdin (2019)

Director:

Guy Ritchie

Writers:

John August (screenplay by), Guy Ritchie (screenplay by)

Stars:

Will SmithMena MassoudNaomi Scott

 

LIKES:

Nostalgic

  • Core Story Present
  • Funny
  • Cute
  • Recreated World
  • Nice Visual Effects
  • Acting
  • Take On Genie
  • Some Of The Songs

 

  • DISLIKES:
  • Not Enough Exploration Of The World
  • Rushed At times
  • Missing Some Of The Character Charm
  • Jafar’s Take
  • The Anticlimactic Jafar Fight
  • The political Messages
  • Some of the Other Songs

People Who Likes These May Like This One:

Beauty and The Beast Live Action Remake

Prince Of Persia

Dumbo

Fresh Prince Of Bel Air

Disney Channel Original Movies

SUMMARY:

Let’s put it out there, Aladdin cartoons have set much up for quality in many ways, and yours truly is a big fan of it.  Yet this spin on it managed in a way to accomplish the goal of appeasing many audience members.  Guy Ritchie’s take on it holds the core story with the nostalgia nicely baked in making sure to hit the highlights of each moment with a new visual style.  The reimagined world holds nice visual effects and some beautiful attention to detail in the infusion of cultures bringing the beloved cartoon to life and making it semi realistic. Yet, when some people recreated these wonders, the magic of the film is lost to the darker tale and grittier atmosphere, sort of draining the enchantments the cartoon films held.  Fortunately, Ritchie and his crew succeeded in keeping the funny and cute moments in tact primarily in the form of clever one liners, Will Smith’s take on the genie, and relationship of Abu and Carpet, the former of which you want to adopt.  Yet the film also succeeds in bringing those relationships we love to life and somehow putting some new charms to it, to help them stand out.  Mena Massoud has the charm, naivety and wonder that Aladdin held to be the adventurous lad.  Naomi Scott’s voice and strong attitude pave a new Jasmine that will speak to the modern female audience, yet also enchant others. As for Will Smith, he makes the Genie his own character familiar yet also different to not attempt to copy the late William’s work.  His take was fun, almost like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air meeting Disney and it worked beautifully for me, primarily in the chemistry between him and Massoud (very touching at times).  And as for the music, while not quite the same as the 90’s songs in terms of energy, some of the tracks have their new spin work out well that is a blend of old and new and having charisma, my favorite being a Whole New World and Friend Like Me. New Songs by Jasmine though might be my favorite though, a new addition that fits well, delivers the messages, and showcases the Scott’s wonderful voice.

Yet for all the good there are some things still lacking for me.  First the world that they made was not explored enough like the original version, reduced to feeling like a close set instead of the epic kingdom of Agrabah and the Arabian desert. In fact, the movie feels very rushed at times, with the opening ran very quickly, that in no time we are at the cave of wonders instead of the buildup I was expecting.  This pace sort of robs the charm of the world and characters, sometimes getting lost in the all the new political moves and new gimmicks in place of the story telling. For me this was especially true for the take on Jafar.  In terms of looks, it get realism, and ambitions it is there, but this Jafar did not quite have the devious nature of the traditional villain.  That suave, sophisticated and cunning air, was lost to grandiosity and whining rather than that meticulous planning of the wise wizard.  And when it came time to fight him, well the anticlimactic moments were lost again to new themes and takes, including the design of his genie form.  Much of these limitations came from shoving the political components into the mix that were both endearing and then forced/beaten over the head.  The Dream Big Princess movement is alive and while respectable did not feel like it should have been as large a focus. As for the other songs, many of the tracks did not have the same flow, energy, and agreement with the scene like the movie, the new take changing the pace and energy of the scene that did not fit as well with the scene.

Overall, Aladdin’s live remake is one of the better ones for me because it tried to accomplish blending nostalgia and yet being different to not compete with the classics.  I had fun with this film, loved the relationships and acting between groups, the dynamics with CGI and some of those songs that took me to a whole new world.  Yet, the movie just did not explore the Agrabah as much as I wanted, rushing through various moments to not be quite as complete or suspenseful of an adventures that the 90s version held.  It’s that lack of scenes, songs, and acting all working together that is probably the biggest miss for me, and while not awful, was not to the full extent it could have been.  Still, the film is worth a visit and appropriate for most little ones given much of the fear inducing scenes have been removed. Overall my scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy/Family: 8

Movie Overall 7.0

 

Waddling In To New Documentary Fun

Penguins Poster

            Nature documentaries have been made famous on the likes of public television, but Disney was ready to one-up the game by bringing their magic to the big screen.  With stunning effects and a budget to uncover the secrets of the natural world, Disney Nature was born. Ten years later, the subsection of the empire is back with another film, ready to bring the chills and thrills of the frozen wasteland few choose to trek.  Robbie K is back with yet another review as he takes a look at:

 

Penguins (2019)

 

Directors:

Alastair FothergillJeff Wilson

Writer:

David Fowler

Star:

Ed Helms

 

LIKES:

  • Beautiful Cinematography
  • Adorable Star
  • Joyful Energy
  • Good Censorship
  • Voice over adding a punch
  • Musical overture

 

SUMMARY:  In a documentary, it’s all about finding a way to capture the natural energy in the best perspective.  Penguins has a dynamic camera work going for it, utilizing some fantastic technology to capture the feelings and magic involved with the penguin ritual of mating. The adorable star of Steve has pizazz and character, which helps bring the fun to this documentary.  You grow attached to the little guy, feeling a sense of happiness radiate out of his squat body, that not only is thanks to the charm of the penguins, but also the wonderful editing of the footage the team obtained.  While much of the movie holds that fun atmosphere, the dangers of the artic wilderness are still displayed as both natural phenomena and predators debut on film.  Those darker, sadder moments are fortunately censored, so you won’t have to avert your eyes too much for this film.  Yet, if a documentary doesn’t quite stand out to you, Penguins gets a nice touch from others by utilizing its voice actor Ed Helms to give a little pizazz to the artic explorer of Steve.  His voice over montage acting as Steve’s thoughts are entertaining at times, sort of filling in the silence with an approach that further added to fun of the movie.  And yes, utilization of a fun music set brought more fun in the form of well-timed mood music to help add to the adventure.

 

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Short
  • Not Quite As Detailed as Others
  • Occasional annoying Commentary

 

SUMMARY:

 

Not much can be said in terms of dislikes of this movie, but there are a few limitations for this reviewer. For one thing it is short!  While this can be a good thing, I think I wanted to see more of the ritual and lifestyle unfolding given the price of admission. Penguins fast pace will be great for modern attention spans, but for those that become engrossed into the movie, the abrupt stop will leave you wanting a little more bang for your buck. Much of this I think has to do with how they limited the world they were focusing on with this film.  Other films in the Disney nature arsenal expanded to three families, colorful worlds, and more detailed behaviors that spanned a greater time period.  In this case, the shorter focus may have been the reason for the fast pace given the limited content they wanted to focus on.  Had they perhaps studied the patterns of some other artic creatures, this film could have been a little more of the adventure fans are used to.  Finally, while I did enjoy the comedy provided by Helms commentary, there are times where they got a little overdone, but these are few and far between.

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            Penguins is a fun adventure that serves as a good educational launch pad for those curious about the world around them.  The adventure of Steve is a short trip into the artic, but it’s a surprisingly fun one where joy, happiness, and a few other quirks exist to thaw the frozen atmosphere.  Utilizing some solid comedic tricks, a captivating voice work and beautiful footage, the movie does a great job of keeping it appropriate for it’s intended audience.  However, this movie does still suffer from a few details that are missing and not expanding its horizons into the tundra like some of their other films have done and that may be the biggest limitation.  This documentary is magical, but the fact that it’s not quite the big budget blockbuster that we get shoved into our faces may also limits it’s theater worthiness in the modern age.  Still, yours truly would encourage catching it sometime, particularly with the little ones in tow. 

 

My scores are:

 

Documentary: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

 

Returning In A Style For Both Old and New. Mary Poppins For The Family Feature Win

Mary Poppins Returns Poster

 

Years ago, the nanny that changed everything charmed her way into the theaters, bringing song and dance to her teachings as he helped sculpt family lives.  It was a wonderful movie that shed so much joy and wonder to the families who gave it a try. Decades later, the mystical nanny has decided to return once more, in hopes of bringing the same magic to the mix. Will her resurgence bring the same joy and whimsy, or has her relevance blown over too many generations to warrant the same quality?  Welcome to Robbie’s movie reviews as I take on:

 

Movie: Marry Poppins Returns (2018)

 

 

Director:

Rob Marshall

Writers:

David Magee (screenplay by), David Magee (screen story by)

Stars:

Emily BluntLin-Manuel MirandaBen Whishaw

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting: While no one can replace the lovely Julie Andrews, it does not mean that Blunt has not done wonders with the character.  Still holding the same nostalgic quality, the new Mary Poppins has a little more edge, sass, and a wonderful balance of love that is quite endearing to see with her cast mates.  Lin-Manuel as well adds his own fun to the crew, bringing his theatrical qualities to the character of Bert. Nostalgic enough to have that same childish demeanor, but different to stand out, his musical skills were quite welcome to the mix. And as for the rest of the crew, they all do a bang-up job of adding to the film, and the young cast of the Banks kids are well directed to avoid being the annoying twerps these roles can be.

 

The Numbers:  Mary Poppins was all about bringing the energetic numbers that would forever ingrain themselves in the music hall of fame.  With her return, Mary once more brought the energy back to the screen, utilizing Miranda’s talents well to once more bring the showmanship of the theater.  This film is filled with the magical song and dance routines made famous in the first film and will have the young and young at heart dancing in their seats.  Each of these numbers accomplished the goal of being resident, and in true musical fashion was able to portray their inner feelings and lessons.  A wonderful ensemble of songs awaits the audience members, and holds great potential to become that new song to be repeated a thousand times.

 

The Story:  Thank the idea of nostalgia, or thank the director because the return of Mary Poppins brings with it a charming delight that holds both old and new motifs in its well-timed shots.  Lessons for all generations lie the nanny’s wisdom, utilizing a variety of worlds and settings to help the Banks family find their way in the harsh London streets  Much of the story contains nods to the original plot, while others hold something new and exciting in their powerful sequences. In addition, there is enough nod to other characters to establish the fate of the various characters, while also being original to stand on its own.  Regardless, there is so much delight and balance to the story to help rope many into the plot.

 

The Classic Animation:  Think back to the classic version and one might recall the dive into the 2-D cartoon land and the epic scenes and songs that came with it.  Over 50 years later, and Disney was not afraid to return to the cartoon theatrics again.  I thoroughly enjoyed the return to Disney’s origins, seeing the classic art style fill the screen and integrate with our live action friends.  Again, the memories of youth rush back in with it and bring perhaps my favorite number that held so much pep and vibrant enthusiasm.  A wonderful nod to the old, while making sure to balance the new style into the mix as well.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

More Of the Older Banks Children:  The trailers painted heavy integration of Michael and Jane as they fall under the care of the nanny to relearn things left behind.  While they have a decently strong integration into the mix, it’s not quite the same level I was expecting and as such wanted them to go on the journey a little more with their kids.  Again, nothing remotely weak, but perhaps a little more integration could have taken the element farther.

 

 

More Time In the Animation: The classic horse racing scene had plenty of time in the 2-D world, making sure to really give the audience the full fun of the scene.  This movie did a fantastic job in the short time they were there, but I was hoping for more time or at least another visit to an animated world where the two styles could meet.  Poppins may do a great job balancing a lot of components, but yours truly wanted another masterpiece in 2-D/live integration that could bring with it the same memory etching greatness it did.

 

The Meryl Streep Number: Is it cute?  Yes!  Does it serve a musical number with catchy lyrics and beats?  Yes.  Does Meryl Streep do a good job?  Yes. So why a dislike?  Well, this number as fun as it is, is very irrelevant to the story.  The dive into the workshop held some potential, but stuck out like the sore thumb at its inclusion into the whole plot, dropping it after the nearly 10 minutes of inclusion.  I just wished that they had continued the story, and perhaps brought another number in, again relevant tot eh story.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, the second visit to Mary Poppins’ lessons still has plenty of charm, love, and energy that will bring so much joy to the audience.  Get ready to have your family film of the holidays, ready to bridge generation gaps, and help one learn old lessons in the new age.  With relevant, energetic song and dance numbers, a fantastic cast with great chemistry, and whimsy from a number of sources, this reviewer encourages hitting the the theater for this one. And while it is not the same as the first movie, it holds its own charm and wonder that was long overdue for the cinema. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Family/Fantasy: 8.0-8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0-7.5

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

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