The Fun Adventurous Side Of Pets

The Secret Life of Pets 2 Poster

 

Animated films offer the opportunity for imagination to really come to life.  As they bring CGI and other animation tactics to the table, the stories that follow have a big job of trying to make a film that is entertaining to all ages without dipping down one end over the other.  While there are many animated studios out there ready to give it a shot, not every studio finds a way to achieve those goals, becoming a cash grab instead of a quality adventure.  This week, an early showing of the The Secret Life Of Pets 2 came to screen and I had my suspicions that this sequel might have been just that.  Robbie K back with another review, checking out Illumination Studios’ latest work.  Let’s get started:

 

Movie: The Secret Life Of Pets 2 (2019)

 

Directors:

Chris RenaudJonathan del Val (co-director)

Writer:

Brian Lynch

Stars:

Patton OswaltKevin HartHarrison Ford

 

 

LIKES:

  • Voice Acting
  • Animation
  • Comedy
  • Pacing
  • Adventurous Stories
  • Emotional Moments

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Short Run Time
  • Not Quite Original
  • More Impasses/Character Development
  • Under Utilized Characters

 

People who like these may like this movie:

 

Secret Life Of Pets 1

Sing

Ferdinand

Homeward Bound

A Dog’s Purpose

 

Summary:

Animated films often require good voice acting to bring the characters to life, and this series’ cast succeeds in bringing the plot to full life.  Hart and Haddish bring their chemistry back to life in the form of Snowball and Daisy, their wild, sarcastic sass coming out beautifully in animated form.  Oswalt’s addition managed to bring Max to the same level as last time, fun and familiar friendliness.  As for the others again they get the job done when utilized to make the same craziness that the first movie used long ago.  Animation wise, it is the same caricature like style that Illumination loves to use, with grandiose character flaws and elongated, angular faces that make up their characters.  As for the pets, they still have that anthropomorphized component that is so sweet to look at, each having some quality to represent the voice actors that play them.  While those components are nice, the thing I enjoyed more about this installment was the pacing of the movie.  Utilizing the adventurous story and splitting it into three separate segments helped keep things dynamic, moving, and fun,  and avoiding those slow parts the first movie had.  It’s this theme that kept me entertained and seeing each subplot having its own time to play out, all the while giving the characters their focused time. Eventually all of these moments tie together, bringing the surprisingly emotional side of the film the conclusion that fit well in the theme of fun and love of pets.   It definitely should strike chords with a few audience members, especially those with ties to pets.

Yet, the movie still suffers from some things that do bring some limitations for this reviewer.  For one thing, the movie is still predictable and pulled no surprises in terms of story presentation.  Illumination’s focus on kid friendly films seems to divert from the options that will shock and amaze, due to the potential of being too sad.  As such, the tale’s originality and magic don’t quite live up to the potential that Disney has made famous in their plethora of tales.  It’s cute don’t get me wrong, and does have some heart pulling moments, but these are only scratching the surface that bigger studios do better.  Also taking away from the tale is the short run time.  Around 80 minutes long, the movie has a lot to cram in the short time, leading to very quick dives into the fun portions of the movie.  However, this is also the undoing as the movie’s quick pace leaves little time for impasses, obstacles, and challenges to help give significant character development.  In addition, the movie could have focused a little more on some of the gimmicks they were promoting if given more time. While the characters are fun, they don’t have that full dynamic and emotional range that other animated characters hold.  Given that animals somehow are more emotional than humans, it would have been nice to see more of this come out, but again, this might have not fit in with the fun slapstick and writing that was built for the audience.  Fan favorites from last installment may also find it disappointing to find their characters left in the kennel, particularly those who liked Pops, Mel, the Dachshund, and the Falcon as they have little outside of comedy stunts. Perhaps more time and planning could have done a bit better in adjusting these characters to have the full punch in each story.

  It’s no Secret this movie will do well when it opens because of the intended audience.  It’s cute, funny for many ages, and has that colorful animation to keep attention on them. I myself enjoyed this one better than the original due to the pacing and adventurous side of things, but I still was hoping for a little more balance and originality than what they put in.  It is not the best animated in terms of pushing the limits of imagination, but it does its job and I’d say to come hit this up in theaters when you can.  Otherwise, check it out later when it comes to home entertainment.

 

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

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Too Focused On Audience and Music Leads to “Ugly” Limitations

UglyDolls Poster

            The animated world brings many masterpieces, acting as a medium to bring imagination to life and craft impossible things that live action has not quite caught up to.  Given the intended audiences, new worlds and characters are crafted in hopes of delivering fun adventure, potential catchy soundtracks, and of course lessons that can help refresh the morals tarnished by time if left unchecked. This weekend, the latest adventure attempts to take the stage in the form of a band of misfit creations with the potential to change the world.  Will it be another blockbuster hit to withstand the test of time, or is it just more merchandising in a desperate plea to stand up to Disney.  Robbie K here giving his thoughts0. on:

 

Director:

Kelly Asbury

Writers:

Alison Peck (screenplay by), Sun-min Kim (based on characters by)

Stars:

Kelly ClarksonNick JonasJanelle Monáe

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Creative Characters
  • Colorful Environment
  • Cute Atmosphere
  • Voice Cast
  • Messages
  • Music

 

SUMMARY:  As mentioned in the opening, the animated medium offers the ability to let imagination flourish and create some unique looking characters. Ugly Doll takes the concept of “mistakes” and turns them into oddly shaped combinations that hold much value for future action figures and dolls.  Moxy (Clarkson) and her crew are odd and not the most detailed, but their personalities are etched into the design which goes in time with the world crafted. This world may not be the most realistic or detail oriented, but it’s color, angles, and sort of Hodge podge approach lead to a mish-mash world of fun that would be beautiful as a theme park. Ugly Dolls manages to add personality into each of the two worlds, mirroring the approach to life each collective bunch represents.  Regardless of which place you prefer, the movie holds the cute factor that is intended for the key audience, creating the safe, family friendly environment that parents would like their young ones to see.

To help further bring the world to life, a talented voice cast has at least been recruited with singers, comedians, and sassy actresses to assist with bringing that last bit of spark to the characters needed. Clarkson, Jonas, and Monae are the ones who take point using their vocal talents to not only deliver the simplistic writing of the film and even more deliver the lines of the soundtrack this movie was focused on.  The variety of voice talents were marginally used well and balanced to make sure every character got some screen time.

Through whatever means though, the movie has two big selling points that are the selling points with this film.  The first are the morals about inner beauty, self-worth, and believing in yourself.  Cliché? Absolutely, but an important lesson for the young generation, and their chaperones to learn in hopes of establishing new grounds for self-confidence.  That emotional gimmick, touched my heart personally, but for many of the group it may not quite penetrate the cerebral cortex like they wanted.  Instead the morals will be lost to the toe tapping tunes that this movie is going to use.  Much like Frozen, the soundtrack is going to be more memorable than the movie, with a number of reprises used to expand the soundtrack ever so slightly.  Plenty of these songs have much emotion, but it’s going to be the bubble gum pop beat that gets your kids going, bump up sales, and potentially get overplayed

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Very Simplistic Plot
  • Other Characters Only Scratched
  • Rushed Story
  • Little Impasse
  • Unremarkable Moments
  • Too geared on kids
  • Too much focus on the music

SUMMARY:  When it comes to animated kids films there is a balance that I look for in my reviews so that they may bring more people into the film.  Ugly Dolls struggled with this for me.  It starts with the simplistic plot, essentially a linear plot that holds very few curves to mix things up.  It’s simple story is cute and endearing, but lacks some of the fundamental moments that Disney does so well.  Most of the characters do contribute in the form of comedy, but the character development is lacking for the others, leading to merely colorful outlines that will be perfect for action figures.  Perhaps this could have been accomplished if the plot did not seem so rushed, trying to get from start to finish in the rapid time limit they set. In doing this, the impasses for our dolls were not that impressive and easily bypassed, the threat level essentially nullified by the cute antics of our group.  The result is that the movie does not quite have the most memorable moments that will stay with us until the end of time.

Why is this the case?  I believe the two sources of weakness that took away from this movie are the kid focused atmosphere and the fixation on music.  Ugly Dolls is perfect for the early aged viewers in terms of lacking any really scary or haunting features. Yet, in removing the threats the plot became a little too boring as the adventure just devolved into sort of an elementary school education lesson.  Taking the adventure out of this movie therefore limits it for older members who will need to focus on the occasional adult joke and watching their young ones smiles.  In addition, the music was too much the theme of this film.  With all the singers casted, it’s not surprising they wanted to turn out a soundtrack, and sure enough the studio has put a lot of investment in the toe tapping music to boost sales.  Despite the catchy music, that focus took away much from the story as mentioned above, all in the name of cramming as many songs as possible to again boost their sales. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall Ugly Dolls is cute and I loved the themes, world building and energy built into its design and the presentation.  Yet, the movie fails to find the balance and sense of adventure that others have held from other studios with bigger budgets. More story planning was needed, and less focus on limited audiences would have been nice, with a little more maturity ingrained to help out.  Yet, the movie really needed to steer away from the focus on merchandising to leave an imprint and be known as one of the greats.  It is not horrible at all, but the limited audience scope is going to be the main hesitation to go to the theaters for this.  Instead, you might be better off buying the sound track and waiting for this to hit home. 

Scores:

Animated/Family/Adventure/Comedy:  6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Dragon Sized Adventure With Not So Hidden Ending

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Poster

 

 

Movies series are always difficult to let go when they are good.  It’s been years since a beloved book series turned animated film flew into theaters and brought with it a memorable friendship that has led to merchandising galore. Yes, it’s Dreamworks leading duo of Viking and scales, with the third installment to the trilogy hoping to tie things up nicely.  Robbie K back and ready to give you his thoughts on:

 

Movie:  How To Train Your Dragon 3: Hidden World

 

Director:

Dean DeBlois

Writers:

Dean DeBloisCressida Cowell (based upon the “How to Train Your Dragon” book series

Stars:

Jay BaruchelAmerica FerreraF. Murray Abraham

 

 

LIKES:

 

Voice Acting

Character Development

Expansion of Story

Animation

Funny

Emotional Infusion

Balanced

 

Summary:

The movie has been all about characters, which in turn has relied on voice acting to bring them to life.  Jay, America and the gang have filled the shoes again, adding the emotional depth to the characters who we have grown up with the last decade or so.  The movie has taken the foundations and built upon it taking the characters to new levels and helping push them to new frontiers that the series requires.  Expanding on the story like it did, this sequel accomplishes the goal of standing on its own, and yet helping the characters evolve into new beings and new stagesIt’s all gorgeously done in the animation we have come to love, and this installment has shown that Dreamworks can continue to push the details of their work to new depths and heights to help bring the mythical beasts to life without going too dark.

Yet, this is a movie meant for kids and you might want to know does it still have the effects that made the first two installments special.  The answer is yes on many levels.  The comedy is still there a good blend of one-liners, banter, slapstick, and adorable, charming presentation that works so well to bring the youthful energy.  Not too overdone, but yet not too adult, the comedy does well to support the other components of the story.  Emotion runs heavy in this film cascading through the emotional roller coaster depending on the scene. Want the thrill of flying?  It’s in there.  Need the touching bond between friends?  Again it’s in there!  Need some other touches?  You’ve got that too.  The third installment continues to find the ability to infuse the emotions and bring you fully into the scene, especially when one adds the musical score to support the visuals.  It works very well, because the writers have found balance of many aspects and it works beautifully to bring all the ages and fans together for the latest ride to the film.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Short

More Action/Thrills

New Dragon Designs

The Villain

The Trailer Syndrome

 

Summary:

For once I actually wanted a movie longer, more so because of some of the other areas I wanted to see improved in this film.  One of these is to get more of that action and thrill that the first two had, the sense of flying into the heart of danger, or through the skies in the daring mission.  Hidden World has these components, but some of the moments didn’t quite have the impact the first two installments did for me.  In addition, I had hoped for a few new dragons that held the designs of those in the journals, getting glimpses of designs that break the molds from those seen before.  It did this somewhat, but I’d have liked to see a few more changes to the mold.  All of these are minder areas for me the majors are next.

The Villain is not the worst and I didn’t hate it, after all the look and malice ooze from him in terms of design and acting.  Yet, the part that failed is I don’t think he had quite the same texture and depth that the previous villains held.  This guy has build up and some impressive skill sets, but I felt that they didn’t quite deliver the terrifying components that they wanted, sort of diluting the villain for the film.  Again, good for the most part, but no quite having the same punch I had expected it.  Yet the biggest thing I held, was that the trailers have given you most of the endings, so if you have the trailer memorized you have much of the film’s ending laid out for you.  So, while it is a good prep for those who are trying to get their kids ready for it, guys like me don’t like having everything laid out for you.

 

The VERDICT: 

 

            Truth is, the third movie didn’t meet the first one for me in terms of all the wonders I had, but it certainly accomplishes much and as a movie sequel is very, very good.  I hands down love this sequel and found it having the balance the series is famous for, but yet expanding up on it.  With fantastic storytelling, animation that brings it to life, and all the emotions for both adults and kids to love, this series ends on a mighty roar that will take many to new heights and leave you feeling many things by the end of the film.  It did not deliver to the same extent on some things, but the movie hands down took all the made it special and capitalized it.  I loved much of this movie and encourage many to come enjoy the experience in theaters. 

 

My scores are:

           

Animation/Action/Adventure: 9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0-8.5

Slinging In Style: SpiderMan Webbing A New Image

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Poster

 

In the modern era, the superhero movies reign supreme in the world of the cinematic, blockbuster films.  While Marvel studios universe continues to reign in dollars, there are many who state they could be getting burnt out given the 4-6 movies that release a year.  As lines blur, and franchises continue to blend together to the modern public, the series needs some extra oomph to help them stand out.  Welcome to another Robbie movie reviews and we are down for another review as we get set to review a massive movie week to come.  Let get cracking on:

 

Movie: Spiderman Into the Spiderverse (20180

 

Directors:

Bob PersichettiPeter Ramsey

Writers:

Phil Lord (screenplay by), Brian Michael Bendis (Miles Morales created by)

Stars:

Shameik MooreJake JohnsonHailee Steinfeld

 

 

LIKES:

 

Animation/Design:  The rest of the reviewers are correct in saying that the animation of this movie is superb to say the least.  Design wise the movie nods to a number of art styles and comic book references to please many eyes of the comic book lover.  It’s a living comic book that has all the edge, frames, and references, but yet has vibrant color and clever use of contrast and color to stand out from the typical live action film.  This dynamic only continues to evolve over the course of the film, adding more styles to the mix and integrating them into a true piece of work.

 

Story:  The movie is certainly geared towards the comedy route, doing its best to make it a slap happy, geeky trendy, kid friendly comic movie for the holiday season.  While zany and certainly silly, the movie surprisingly has a deeper lore to it then I was expecting.  A predictable plot, this movie dives deeper into the darker dynamics of the hero, the important lessons of self-belief, and the character development that many superheroes lack.  Into the Spider-Verse’s compelling story makes for a solid foundation to build much off and the writing helps integrate comedy with story in a wonderful equilibrium.

 

Voice Acting:  Not much to expand upon here, but the film’s characters really thrive in this film with the acting contributing much toe the part. Sure the design and animation brings a piece of them to life, but the voice work adds that extra level to fully bring their inner workings to life.  As the voices further integrate and play off of one another, the characters evolution begins to soar to new heights and somehow further develop the relationships between each other.

 

Clever Wit:  Perhaps the biggest like of all, is how the movie just works to please a variety of fans both comic loving and general.  It’s got well integrated slap-stick that is simple and yet layered, mixed with a nod to a number of references and gimmicks comic fans are used to.  The use of sarcasm is tactfully wielded to help add that aspect our spider heroes often wield, alongside the fantastic one-liners to be printed on T-shirts.  Spider-Verse is a plethora of witty banter and it works when balanced with the rest of the likes mentioned.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Jokes a Little Too Far: The movie has a number of gimmicks into the mix, and while many of them are well-timed, they ran with one a little too far for my taste.  A constant origin story beating you over the head was a nice ace up the sleeve, but that tactic got a little stale for me and my colleague as well.

 

Blurred Lines: I’m not sure if part of the art style, a reference to a style, or perhaps just editing to not smooth out the parts meant for 3-D.  Whatever the case, the outline was a little messy for me, and perhaps a poor attention to detail if not purposefully crafted to have a point.  If so, then kudos, but if you see this one in 3-D, I don’t think this will be much of an issue.

 

More Integration of bad Guys:  Understanding this was meant to be about Miles Morales origin story and the integration with the other spider-verses, I appreciate the work done for this team. Yet, the bad guys ready to face off against the team were a little bit of wasted characters for me, mostly just oddly shaped punching bags for our webslingers.  One villain got the royal treatment, but the others needed some character overhaul to help them stand further out.  I’ll admit there is potential for a sequel to expand upon them, but for this film, a little more diving into them could have helped spruce things up and again give us characters we cared bout.

 

The Action:  The action is there, don’t chew my head off, and in truth it works well with the theme and atmosphere of the movie as it caters to the family atmosphere.  However, being an action junkie I would have liked a little more choreography, integration of heroes, and traditional battles that this odd adventure helped. Yet, the biggest thing I wanted with the action, was a less dynamic camera angle so I could actually enjoy the animation at hand.  I again admit that it felt like a comic, with action taking place off screen, but tidying up the spastic camera could have gone well.  And just as the battles found its stride, the movie was over.

 

 

The VERDICT: 

 

Overall, Into the Spiderverse, is the breath of fresh air that the superhero industry needed to help regain interest.  With surprisingly deep lore, well themed comedy, and a design that is flashy, stylized and dynamic, it’s certainly going to appeal to many viewers.  Yet, it’s not the traditional Marvel movie and some limitations in regards to jokes, lack of hot actors, and nonlinear presentation may not ring well with the normal super hero audience.  Throw in a little unorthodox action and you’ll see mixed reviews coming in depending on who attends the showing with you.  My scores for this movie are;

 

Animation/Action/Adventure: 9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0

Will This Movie Wreck Your Memories

Ralph Breaks the Internet Poster

 

Popular culture is here to say, but it is also ever changing, much in part to the internet.  Tonight’s movie decides to journey to the center of the internet looking into the world of cyberspace through the eyes of Disney.  Yes, tonight the sequel many never thought would come to bear given the current movements by Disney (Pixar sequels, live animation, and Marvel).  That’s right! Out of Walt Disney Animation Studios is Wreck It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet, which based on the massive advertising, holds the potential to be another hilarious adventure.  Robbie K here to review:

 

Movie: Wreck It Ralph 2: Ralph Wrecks The Internet (2018)

 

Directors:

Phil JohnstonRich Moore

Writers:

Phil Johnston (screenplay by), Pamela Ribon (screenplay by)

Stars:

John C. ReillySarah SilvermanGal Gadot

 

 

LIKES:

Animation: No surprise, Disney knows how to design and animate in the world of children’s animation. Ralph’s newest adventure proves this once more as the cyberworld comes to life in rich textures and colors, as the wonderful world of Disney’s lens reveals a cleverly detailed world.  All ages should appreciate the mood and characterization of each popular app and part of the cyber world, that adds the characteristic this series is famous for. Characters move smoothly in all sequences, and it still holds the personality of a video game.

 

Comedy:  Ralph’s series is always known for the comedy and the dive into the internet immersed the group into new depths of comedy.  This film broadens its horizons in terms of laugh factors and allows more people to laugh at the antics at hand.  The same slapstick remains from the first film, while jabs at our popular culture, alongside quote worthy one-liners ring through the whole film.  Many avenues are not safe from the ridicule of the movie, that will hopefully have you laughing in good fun like I did.  Nevertheless, the film’s laugh fest is still reminiscent of the first film, but bringing a new twist to the mix.

 

Pace:  A Disney movie is often paced quite well and this film is no exception.  Ralph and company will be surfing at the speed of information exchange, having no problems with being deterred or hindered in its ability to bring the entertainment and story we so crave.  With this faster pace, comes an energy that Ralph is famous for, which will captivate the attention of all the intended audience members.

 

Cleverness:  The movie works so well with managing to have geekiness imbued into the film, showing off the whit of the famous studio as they pay tribute to the nerds and nerd alike.  Random cameos, details of buildings, and other popular culture references are well-established into the comedy and seldom forced upon you like some of the films they have made. Still, Disney’s shrewd creativity and imagination continue to shine forth in their ability to make animated films.

 

The Moral:  The movie wouldn’t be a Disney film if there wasn’t a tried and true trail to remain at the center of it all.  Ralph’s first lesson was about self-identity and discovering yourself.  This film expands the already deep characters to new levels as their relationship evolves into the next levels of growth.  As both start to fan out into the cyber world and establish new adventures, Ralph and Venelope will go through their own trials as well.  It’s sweet, it’s strong, and it jam packed with emotion that will have many getting sentimental, especially if it is relevant. Wreck It Ralph’s moral driven plot may not be original, but it certainly is jam packed with the usual Disney magic.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Not The First Movie:  Sequels have to be themselves and soar with open wings to establish its only flow.  Still, the sequel lacked some of the creativity, uniqueness, target themes that it had established those years ago.  I missed the video game focused references, and cameos of dad jokes with parodies to those games.  In addition, it still lacked some other things I’ll be mentioning to result in a still good sequel, but maybe not quite as strong as the original to me.

 

The Other characters: it was brilliant to allow other characters and gimmicks to unfold for this film, but a few other characters could have certainly had more involvement given how much a part they were of the main character’s lives.  Why the original characters didn’t go on a journey more, I don’t know, but I missed them in this film very much.

 

New Characters Quite Not living To Full potential:  Shank and the new crew might have been beautiful and bold in the film, but they were not nearly as integrated into the film as the previous installment.  Disney has included them enough to give us future merchandising, but the cyber characters didn’t quite have the adventurous involvement the previous one had.  It would have been nice to pull them multiple times to help with facing the internet and I quite missed the sense of adventure the first film specialized in.

 

Comedy In Your Face Moments: There are times where Disney still feels the need to force an idea or comedy style on them.  Sometimes they work and other times are a little too intense for me to really appreciate it.  The Disney princess moment is one of those moments that I felt was a little in your face, pushing too hard to get the point across for the sake of a laugh towards a certain subset of audience members.  I get there is a place for a lot of comedy in this film, the goal of the producers, but perhaps working to integrate characters a little bit might have been the way to go instead of another princess service announcement.

 

The Villain:  Turbo was a great central antagonist that held many tricks in  his arsenal to remain relevant and immortal.  He was deadly enough to threaten people with darker tones, while still a force to brecken with.  However, this one was missing a lot, often much due to underutilization of characters and a gimmick that seemed nothing more than a plot device trying to justify the inclusion of another big bad character.  It’s age appropriate, but not quite the full incredible splendor that the first one did, and I missed that challenge to their never-ending quest for fun, adventure and the truth.

 

The Trailer Ruined Much: Hate when Disney over shows the trailers, making sure to show you so much of the movie without giving away the whole thing.  Ralph has had a lot ruined, not everything mind you, but many powerful laughs and jokes could have held more life to it if they had been introduced in the film, instead of the billions of minutes on television.  As such, some of the more popular jokes were stale to my viewing group.

 

The Verdict:

 

            The sequel had a lot to live up for me, but Ralph’s second film held plenty of the same magic that I fell in love with in the first film.  Still a dazzling delight to watch with fantastic animation and design combined with the usual comedic references we’ve come to expect with this series.  Still, the dive back into pop culture references still needed some software updates to maximize old and new characters, and design the film with the same standards the first held.  Still the film is worth a trip to theater for many reasons and an enjoyable one at that. 

 

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8-8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5-8.0

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

Smallfoot Poster

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

 

Movie: Small Foot (2018)

 

Directors:

Karey KirkpatrickJason Reisig (co-director)

Writers:

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

Stars:

Channing TatumJames CordenZendaya

 

 

LIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

DISLIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

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

 

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

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