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

 

This Film Is A Boss At Being Creative and Adorable

Boss Baby

 

He’s cute! He has got a big head! And he is in theaters this weekend.  He is the Boss Baby and his movie is the focus of this review.  Hi fans, Robbie K is back again with another review, and this time on the latest animation movie to hit the silver screen.  What does this animated feature film have in store?  I’m happy to share some thoughts on the subject, so why don’t we get started shall we?

 

LIKES:

  • Good animation
  • Cute
  • Unique Twist on a story
  • Incredibly Fun
  • Funny and Clever
  • Movie References

 

Summary:  As you saw in the trailers, Boss Baby is another example of how incredible our animation technology is and this time it is wrapped up in a cute as a button package.  This film may be one of the most adorable animation pieces to hit this year, and many will fall in love with the whimsical charm of this film.

Now that we have the obvious wrapped up let us get to the real gold of this film.  It’s difficult to find a unique twist on a story, but the risk taken with Boss Baby’s story was well executed.  The tale has many layers to it involving adapting to new family members, pursuit of your dreams, and of course what is better babies or puppies.  With surprising detail and character development, the story is very entertaining and fun as baby and brother try to stop the dastardly puppies from taking over.  And the best part is… the whole adventure is fun and fast paced, with seldom a boredom moment in this fast-moving flick.

Let’s hit the comedy now.  Boss Baby again excels in this aspect providing a variable mix of comedic styles to entertain all ages.  Young (and young at heart) will enjoy the simplistic comedy that involves the characters dropping mindless (meme-worthy) one liners, various screams of fear, and dopey run-ins with a wall.  The real comedic diamonds though are the cleverer puns, one-liners, and adult references hidden in this movie. Alec Baldwin’s sarcastic delivery and edginess worked for me, adding just the right touches to maximize the laughs.  Yet, I’m a sucker for all the movie references integrated into this plot and how key they were to the adventure.  And if you are nerd like me, you may get an extra thrill keeping your eye out for the next reference.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • A bit of a stretch
  • A little preachy at times
  • More Babycorp use
  • Better Editing

 

Summary:  Despite how much I enjoyed the story, much of it is still predictable. Boss Baby has some surprising twists, but no manner of fun, can hide the blatantly obvious ending that is to come.  While predictability is difficult to avoid, Boss Baby could have tidied things up a bit to give the finale a little more flare. In addition, they could have worked hard to not be so preachy near the end about the importance of family and all that lovey-dovey mush that animation films do all the time.

Let’s talk about some developmental issues I had with the movies.  First off, the movie has moments that are a bit of a stretch. Yes, I know this movie is ridiculous and a stretch to begin with, but hear me out.  Boss Baby’s adult cast are a bit idiotic at best, somehow not hovering over the newborns to hear them speaking. If that wasn’t enough, some of the more dangerous stunts involved were also not as “noticeable”, which after some point should have been discovered. Although fun, this ridiculousness didn’t fit so much into the grand scheme of the plot.

Next up is Babycorp, the organization the boss baby works for.  This large plot point has dramatic build up and gets a large sequence to explain the wonders of this magnificent corporation.  Yet after that, the film fails to deliver more on the potential plot points that could have come with it.  Had the trailers not built up the baby vs. puppy rivalry as they did, I could have let this go, but with all the advertising I would have liked to see more of this.

Finally, the editing of the movie.  Boss Baby has a lot of great parts that foster imagination, love, and all those positive qualities we love in an animated movie. However, much of these moments were not necessary, often just extending the run time under the guise of character development.  While I don’t think they needed to eliminate these parts (after all it is only 90 minutes), they certainly could have altered these scenes to be a little more relevant to the adventure.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Despite all the lower scores, Boss Baby was an entertaining spectacle that is fun, funny, and clever at many points. This movie is certainly adorable and is the perfect family film (for all ages) to hit the screen this year. Yes, it is simplistic and silly, and doesn’t have as much magic as a Disney film, but it’s nice to have unique, story that doesn’t involve making a political ordeal out of it.  This reviewer recommends this one for the theater for group outings and those with kids, but definitely check this one out when it hits homes.

 

My scores are:

Animation/Comedy/Family:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5

Beast

It’s finally here, the live action telling of a beloved story that Disney made memorable years ago.  Yes, I’m talking about Beauty and The Beast my friends, and tonight I’m here to share my thoughts.  Now let’s get this laid down now, I’m going to look at it as its own movie and do my best to minimize the masterpiece.  So please don’t cast aside the review if I tread on any ground.  With that said, let’s get started to see if the modern retelling has what it takes to stand out in the world.

 

LIKES:

  • Follows the Classic Plot Well
  • The Setting is beautiful
  • Costume
  • Animation (for the most part)
  • Casting is well-done
  • Cogsworth and Lumiere

 

Summary:  You may hear others say the movie is spot on with the 1991 telling.  Not entirely true, but this rendition keeps about 80% of the Tale as Old as Time to please the classic fans, while adding some tangents to give it a twist.  To quote a friend, “the new spins are built around the fans from the 90s generation to entertain”. It works for the most part, adding depth to the characters and giving the emotional kick older audience members will appreciate.  And while sticking to the story is good start, the next magical step is how well they brought it to life in the visuals.  Beauty and The Beasts charming country side and castles, are brought out in spectacular detail via breathtaking scenery shots and detail oriented settings that are worthy of recognition.  Next dress our characters in wonderful costumes fitting of the landscape, with special emphasis on the traditional Belle Dress and Beast coat that remains timeless, and you again get more magic.  Finally add in the animation, realistic, fluid, and somewhat mirroring the classic style most fell in love with, and you have a great combination. Of note, there are times when things get trippy, or not done quite as well, but overall solid around.  All in all, Disney’s abilities to blend these elements together are impressive, and this reviewer gives them their well-deserved props.

 

In terms of casting, there is a mixed response to the cast assembled.  Again, they are not the originals (which I did miss), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t bad just the sameEmma Watson is charming, smart, and courageous (all elements we have seen just without the wand), which works for the protagonist.  Dan Stevens I guess does well for the few scenes he isn’t covered in CGI fir, but in his monstrous form delivers his lines with surprising depth. But it is Lumiere and Cogsworth who stole the show for me.  I worried, I’d be robbed of their relationship, but that wasn’t the case.  Ewen McGreggor and Ian McKellan stepped up the role, delivering their well-written lines that had me laughing in delight.  The rest did well, but I need to move on, so let’s just say for the most part, this movie’s casting was well-done.

 

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Music
  • Le Fou’s Changes (at times)
  • Times Forced Acting
  • Coincidental Moments
  • Missing Charm of 1991

 

Summary:  The music, a staple of Beauty and The Beast that is almost as timeless as the story.  This rendition has put their own spin on it, while trying to keep the backbone of the original.  Most numbers work, albeit obviously auto-tuned and missing some of the magic, with their own whim, but the song Gaston was a number I did not enjoy for everything it lacked.  Ironically the original tunes I found to be better composed, packed with emotion and not seeming a diluted version, but its weakness came in how they seemed randomly thrown in (yes in an effort to add more emotional develop to the cast).  Overall the changes aren’t absolutely awful, they just didn’t have the same bite as the classics did, unless you count shock factor from either some cheesiness/trippiness).

 

Other changes that I didn’t quite like were Le Fou’s changes.  Le Fou is supposed to be his name sake, the fool who is comedic relief as the joke, before getting his just desserts. Josh Gadd’s rendition wasn’t so much a fool, as a smart alec, clingy, admirer who made slick comments and kept his idol at bayAgain, the deeper development is appreciated, but this drastic change kind of meant his name should have been changed as well, perhaps to Petit Malin?

 

Changes aside, the acting is capable of bringing the characters to life, but there are moments where things are a little forced.  Some of the Beasts Temper tantrums, a few of Belle’s stoic speeches, and Gaston’s attempts to be devious, all of these hit their overacted moments at times. Maurice in particular had the worst delivery of them all, the eccentrics lost to just bad delivery and over exaggeration.  And while this made me laugh, there were a few conventional moments that were a bit cheesy (as stated by some in the movie).  Most of these coincidental moments are ignorable, but one scene in particular was an anticlimactic finish at the end where something just happened to break at the right time.

 

All of these moments alone aren’t too bad, but many of the changes brought into this film brought it more into the adult/realistic and took away from the fun, whimsical nature of the movie. The design of the characters, the emotional subplots, even the music were lacking that element of childlike fun that made the movie so memorable for me.  Doesn’t mean it isn’t still entertaining, I just really missed that element.

 

The VERDICT:

 

With the big shoes the original left, this telling did a decent job appealing to many.  It is a well-developed remake of the story, with a wonderful cast and setting to bring it to life and capture your heart.  While the music didn’t quite reach the same heights, and some changes took away the energy, this film certainly has much of the magic that rose promised years ago. Go in there with a clear mind and try not to compare, and you’ll be fine. I recommend this for a theater visit (as if I could stop you) and hope you enjoy. 

 

My scores are:

Family/Fantasy/Musical: 8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

 

 

This Beastly Adventure is Fantastically Fun, But Something Is Missing

beasts

            Harry Potter, a series that so long ago took us on an adventure none of us would ever forget.  Years later, it is still the talk of the town and despite the books essentially ending, the Hogwarts Express money train is still charging ahead to bring out more ideas.  This weekend J. K Rowling brings you another installment in her ever expansive world in the form of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Seeing that they were making a movie on what was essentially an encyclopedia of made up creatures, I couldn’t help but wonder how good this movie would be.  What is the verdict?  As always read to find out.

 

LIKES:

  • A J.K. Rowling story
  • Funny and Intense
  • Fantastic visual effects

 

After the recent 8th book and half of the movies, I feared Rowling’s quality had been wrung dry from the constant demand of her fans.  Glad to see I was wrong.  Fantastic Beasts recaptured the magic we fell in love, bringing back the storytelling she started all those years ago. This film has mystery, suspense, and a character driven element all beautifully integrated together, crafting an adventure that is certain to enchant.  While the main quest seems to be a simplistic game of hide and seek with gigantic creatures, this tale has many more depths to further draw you into Scamander and friends’ life (potentially expanding into more movies should they decide to pick up the option).

Story aside, the film has the other elements you die hard Potter fans want in an adventure.  For one thing there are plenty of laughs to go around: such as Scamander awkwardly solving a problem (e.g. doing a mating dance that is a bad rendition of the Thriller dance) or his No Mag friend Kowalski having a few one liners and slapstick to get a laugh.  These moments keep things fun and fresh and help relieve some of the darker points of the movie. The intense moment isn’t so much in the movie itself, but for me in the hopes that Scamander will find his creatures before any are hurt or killed (which you know Rowling is famous for doing). At times there are other suspenseful elements to the mix, but unfortunately the suspense was not at the level the other Potter tales have.

  However, the biggest win for me are the visual effects of the film.  Many of the spells you’ve seen before: white lights for blocking projectiles, or colorful lights before a door opens.  However, my favorite spells involved repairing broken objects, which we have seen before but never to the city rebuilding scale. But all the magical quirks pail to the design of the diverse beasts that inhabit Scamander’s suitcase. Many of the creatures are exactly what you expect from Rowling’s imagination, a combination of deadly and cute in a variety of colors and shapes. Their animation is flawless and their integration into the tale, for the most part, makes up most of the adventure.

 

DISLIKES

  • Something is missing
  • The evil element was lacking
  • A little cheesy in dialogue

 

Despite all the fun I had in the film there still is something missing that the first installments of her series had.  One element was  a lack of grandiose palaces and magical alleys that we love to get pulled into, or perhaps it was that most of the spells were simplistic and old hat.  Or maybe…it was wanting more creatures to involved in the tale to bring further suspense or drama. One thing is for certain though, the “threat” of this film was more diluted than I had anticipated. Fantastic Beasts primary baddie still has the mystery behind it as you try to uncover what thing runs afoul in New York.  However, when it is finally revealed, it disappointed me as it lacked the menacing quality most Potter villains possess. Oh sure the circumstances about its’ origins scream Rowling, but the design, execution, and threat were dropped in this film.  And yes there is a twist that was very welcome, but it wasn’t enough to save the unimpressive bad guy after all the buildup.

As for the dialogue and script, this too is another element that could have used some tweaking. At times our characters deliver lines that bring back the nostalgic feeling of the first installments, being both entertaining and empowering to fans.  However, this film felt a little more overdramatic and preachy, dropping the clever for emotional, cheesy bologna that took away from the scenes rather than add to it.  While this dislike is minor at times, there are some really hokey moments that had my eyes rolling.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

Overall, Fantastic Beasts is a grand adventure, with beautiful special effects and a dynamic tale that is sure to entertain the masses.  However, there is still something missing from this movie that makes it pale to some of the predecessors Warner Bros have made in the past.  Regardless, this reviewer encourages you to go see the magnificent specimens of merchandising (the beasts) in theaters by the effects alone as this film was better than many of the latter movies for me.

 

Adventure/Family/Fantasy:  8.5

Movie Overall:  7.5

Get Ready To Rock And Troll!

Trolls.jpg

            Trolls!  When you think of these mystical creatures most minds will picture tall, ugly creatures with pronounced booger filled noses and living under a bridge. But if you are a fan of the toys, many might remember the half-naked, multicolored hair figurines with the happy, semi creepy, smiles. I’m sure you’ve guessed the movie from the theme now right?  Yes, today I review DreamWorks’ Trolls starring the voices of Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick. Let’s get started shall we?

 

LIKES

  1. Colorful, Animation: No surprise here, DreamWorks knows how to animate and Trolls is yet another example of their talent. Our characters run, jump, sing, and more importantly dance in impressive style that brings the unique world to life. The colorful characters (in both skin tone and personality) are charming, and the energy they infuse into the scenes adds another element to the animation.  And the design of all the creatures is very unique almost as it is being designed for…merchandise.

 

  1. Very Fun, Positive Movie: If you didn’t get this from the trailers, Trolls is a movie all about being upbeat, fun, and very positive in nature.  The pint sized cast will keep you laughing through the entire movie, spreading joy as they dance across the land. I found my spirits lifted through much of the movie as the trolls explained the tried and true lesson of happiness coming from within.  Yes, it is a bit preachy, but it was nice to see positivity as the main theme for a change instead of some political issue masked in another form.

 

  1. Kicking Soundtrack: The best thing for me in this film though was the awesome tunes our music directors picked for the list. Many of the songs are as upbeat and energetic as the trolls who are singing them.  Much of the songs are covers of famous songs, but these remixes work very well and represent the theme of their accompanying scenes as Kendrick, and sometimes JT, led the way. The dance numbers were even more impressive, filled with fireworks, light shows, and choreography that you always dreamed the little toys could do.  This reviewer sees ITunes blowing up with Trolls soundtrack sales and it’s for a good reason.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

  1. A little stupid/kiddy: Before you shout blasphemy hear me out. Yes, animated features are geared towards kids and meant to be silly at times. But adults know there are times where it goes too deep into that territory.  Trolls has a few of these moments that sort of derailed the momentum of the movie.  Fortunately, these moments are few and far between, but this reviewer felt the storyboard team could have used the time to better develop characters and make the story more complex. Speaking of which…

 

  1. Simplistic Story: If you haven’t guessed from the trailers (and this review) Trolls isn’t the most complex story to grace the market. Again hear me out. Think about films like Despicable Me, How to Train Your Dragon, or most Disney films. They usually have deep plot lines with dynamic relationships and character development. Trolls has a little of this especially in the stories of Branch and Bridget who need the biggest personality adjustments of the bunch.  Outside of that…the film lacks depth, because most of the characters are on happy pills who only want to dance and sing.  While this is certainly entertaining, the simplicity is a bit predictable and boring at times. I guess they focused more on music and dancing instead of storyboard.

 

  1. Pointless Characters: My biggest peeve has to be the missed potential with the characters. Trolls has a very diverse cast from the glitter infused Guy Diamond to the four legged, hat wearing, giraffe troll Cooper…yeah. Anyway, such interesting characters would hopefully have a little more involvement in the film. Unfortunately, they didn’t do much with these characters outside of a few good zingers and some simplistic, comical moves during a chase.  Certainly a cast like this could have had some interesting powers to donate on their quest (music blasting, super hair strength, heck even manipulating their hair into crafty shapes). But nope, these characters are reduced to nothing more than merchandising whose colors are meant to hypnotize your children to wanting more toys.  I guess this is how the studio will make the cash back from all the stars they drafted in this movie. Nevertheless, Trolls secondary characters need some development in future (inevitable) sequels.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

            Trolls is a fun, energetic dance party packaged into a ninety-minute run time. The music is the strongest aspect of the movie and the colorful animation is designed to support it. And when your toes aren’t tapping, the dialogue and voice acting are sure to give you some laughs along the way. However, there was some wasted potential in terms of stories and characters, which could have made this movie so much better had they captured it. Regardless, DreamWorks has released a decent product this weekend and it was nice to see some positivity for once.  Do I recommend this one for the theater?  Hmmm, I think you could skip this one and wait for DVD, but definitely check out the soundtrack soon to get a fun treat for the ears.

 

My scores:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

Birds of A Feather, Deliver Cute Together

storks

            “Where do babies come from?” For decades kids ask this question to parents and in a state of desperation creative answers, (aka lies) are cooked up.  One popular story wielded by parents is the concept of the stork delivering babies to doorsteps. This weekend, the creative geniuses over in La La land have managed to craft an animated film all about the miracle of these white winged wonders.  Yes, today I’m reviewing Storks starring Andy Samberg and Katie Crown.

 

LIKES:

  • Originality
  • Cute
  • Emotional

 

We all know there is really no original story anymore, but animated films usually put a creative twist on things. Storks breaks the mold of princesses and dogs by switching to birds with the fabled job of bringing life…literally…to people’s doors. I enjoyed the poke at our online consumerism by making the storks trade babies for technology, which isn’t the iconic adventure setting. Along the way, the orphaned Tulip (Crown) accidentally creates a baby through a giant magic wielding device that leads to a simplistic adventure to return her home.  It’s a fun twist on the tale of creatures uniting to accomplish a goal (Ice Age anyone), topped with a few unique kicks to sweeten the deal, including Lego versions of wolves.

Stupid as all this may sound, Storks main attraction is the cuteness bundled in the 100 minute run time.  I don’t just mean the baby, although the magenta haired munchkin will certainly melt many aspiring/current parents’ hearts. Much of my audience awed at some of the sweet moments our first time “foster” parents experience, many of which will bring nostalgic memories of your child’s firsts rushing back.  But if the main story isn’t up your alley, the side tale of a family struggling to spend quality time might be the ticket for you, especially with that song track they play.

Perhaps the biggest bang of Storks though, is the emotion the team have placed throughout the journey.  A simple opening starts to soften the heart as the intentions of Tulip are shared, which no surprise is the preachy, noble, and justice filled goals all protagonists have.  It’s just an opening I promise.  As they travel through the world, various themes of parenting and letting go fill the screen that again will start to knock the walls down further.  Yet the ending is where the true punch is. Without ruining anything, Storks ending has a powerful, well animated, montage, complete with orchestrated sappy music, to open the flood gate of tears of most parents in the audience.  Not me of course, I’m pretty much a robot, but there were loads of sniffles at the heartfelt moment portrayed. Sigh, such a nice wrap up of the movie, despite the predictability.

DISLIKES

  • Predictable
  • Misdirected Comedy
  • Annoying at times

No surprise, Storks has a predictable plot that most animated movies have and I’m being a stickler.  I know this isn’t a shock so it’s why I’m saying it is a minor weakness.  Despite the unique twist on the story, Storks originality does not extend much past that and falls into the time tested pattern once again.  Oh sure, I was wrong on one prediction, but the trailers have given much of the little surprise away.  Such a shame with the promise they made, but hey we at least got laughs out of it right? Right?

Wrong! You might go into Storks thinking or hoping for kiddy laughs with a few clever puns thrown in the mix. This was not the case. Surprisingly, this movie’s jokes are geared towards a more adult audience in terms of delivery, content, and comprehension. I don’t mean sex jokes (this isn’t Sausage Party), but much of Storks gears towards parenting humor and themes of abandonment that might be a little over your little ones’ heads.  Yes, there is some slapstick comedy, bodily harm, and a pigeon with a goofy voice named Pigeon Toady (Danny Trejo) that will make them laugh.  Aside from that, most of the comedy is a shot at entertaining parents, which I’m sorry to say failed for the most part in the laugh department. 

In fact, much of the comedy was actually annoying to me.  First off they rely on constant banter for much of their dialogue.  It was kind of entertaining at first, but they ran too far with it and by the fifth round of arguing… it had gotten old and rather stupid. The wolves that seemed to be so funny in the trailers were indeed entertaining…in the beginning.  However, their comedic ploy also got annoying, particularly in the way they spoke in a very direct, robotic like manner. And as for Pigeon Toady, there were times I laughed hard, but this character gets old quickly, especially his gigolo like attitude that seemed like a diluted SNL character. I could go on, but I think three strikes is enough to make my point.

 

The Verdict:

            If you found Storks’ trailers cute, then the movie will only amplify that factor as you watch it. This simplistic film is fun for kids, but ironically seems to be geared towards parents for the true emotional kick. Unfortunately, the comedic aspect failed to take flight and stumbled into the stormy skies of annoyance and stupidity. Can’t say it’s the best animated feature to grace the silver screen, it is a decent distraction for a rainy day. My recommendation is to wait for a Redbox rent, except for parents wanting to recapture baby magic.

 

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

Two Thumbs Up For Two Strings

Kubo.jpg

 

Another day, another animated adventure ready to happen, and for once it is not from Disney. Hi Robbie K here, writing another review on the latest and greatest of the silver screen. The name of the movie is Kubo and the Two strings, a stop motion project that curtails to Japanese culture. It certainly promises to be a magical experience, but as always I’m here to share some thoughts on the subject. Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

  • Original and creative
  • Animation and design of the movie
  • Emotional Balance

 

With all the cartoon sequels that come out, it is sometimes hard to find a new original tale to follow. Kubo breaks the mundane of sequels with a fresh new approach that will certainly stand out amongst the ranks of CGI films. The Japanese folklore theme provided a pallet of magic, combat, and monsters that are the essential components of an adventure tale. Kubo’s land is filled with a bounty of story elements that will keep the intended young audience entertained. Both good and bad guys each have a certain edge, flare, or other characteristic that helps them stand out and all are integrated into the tale well.

And it is all animated so beautifully! Kubo’s animation and design are certainly a strong component that makes the adventure so unique. Stop motion continues to be one of my favorites, because the animators often think outside the box to bring the magic to the screen. I myself was impressed with how the world popped to life in a fantastic display of color that added to the character’s personality. In addition, the world is also designed to represent the Japanese culture, but is presented in a manner that is somewhat warped to have that spooky/gothic edge that we’ve loved (like in Coralline!) And when the spirit world denizens make an appearance, they get their own extra glaze to mirror their ambience of the Moon Kingdom. If you haven’t guessed, I really liked the animation and feel that it is certainly one of the more unique styles I’ve seen in a while.

Where the animation and antics will get younger audience members invested in the film, it is the emotional punch that will catch the adult’s eye. Kubo’s story contains the heartstring pulling, gut wrenching moments that might just bring a tear to your eye. All the character dynamics are strongly built in this movie, much of which is designed around the importance of family and friends. Sure that is typical of any movie, but in Kubo this concept is also laced with the threat of death and how quickly those things can be snatched away. When combined with the music, the character design, and the voice acting…it all comes together to really hit home.

 

DISLIKES

  • The Action Component
  • Lackluster Solutions

 

It was hard to find fault in this movie for me, but alas there are some things I felt could have been improved on. First is the action component. Yes, I am an action junky and yes I know it holds a PG rating (I’m not that dumb). Hence I will say that the action is appropriate for the intended audience with enough excitement to latch your attention, but not too much edge to cause psychological trauma. But what I wanted was for them to use their concepts more. For instance, Kubo has some pretty cool magic, but I was expecting more spectacular spells and moves from all the hype of the trailers. I was hoping for the magic to be better integrated into the combat, perhaps integrated with some sword combat to really live the battles. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case as much of Kubo’s exciting qualities were used for comedic relief. Oh well at least it was done tastefully and retained the artistic style I so loved.

As for the lackluster solutions category, this pertains to how much of the conflict was resolved in this movie. Kubo’s fights start out with edge, pick up some excitement, and then end very…abruptly. With how creative the team had been with much of this movie, I was hoping to see that design carry over. But again the underutilization of magic resulted in these kind of boring, although very emotional, fixes that were dialogue heavy. This was especially true in the final fight, where Kubo was able to make a few speeches that preached the important morals like an after school special. While very important to the story, it just wasn’t what I expected and was somewhat of a disappointing end game after all the set-up. Is this a big weakness? No, because like I said it was important and well integrated into the story and that is important to me. Still…I was hoping for more.

 

The VERDICT

Kubo of the Two Strings gets two thumbs up from this reviewer and is certainly an adventure many will enjoy. The unique design, fantastically developed characters, and bright colors are mixed together for an entertaining show with a great story to boot. Yes it lacks some of the excitement I was hoping for, but they didn’t sacrifice the story quality in their editing. Based on all these qualities, this reviewer certainly recommends dropping to the theater for this one, and may even suggest catching it in 3-D should the opportunity present itself. Recommended audiences for this film are those who have kids, appreciate fantastic animation or are young at heart.

 

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Family: 9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0-8.5