An Unnecessary Sequel, But It’s Great Quality “Four” All! Toy Story 4

Toy Story 4 Poster

            Pixar, one of the two big animation studios vying for the spot of number one in the great world of movies.  In competition with Walt Disney Studios, though supposedly working together for the big company, the studio that blew our minds long ago is back with another “new” movie.  Having difficulties launching new ideas, Pixar seems to fall back on their time-honored films in an attempt to expand upon their timeless characters.  While often good, how far the movie can go is always the question, but these guys have managed to find the magic time and time again.  So I am here once more to review the latest installment to see if Pixar can keep in time with their storytelling.  Robbie K here and get ready for another review this time on:

 

Movie: Toy Story 4 (2019)

 

Director:

Josh Cooley

Writers:

John Lasseter (original story by), Andrew Stanton(original story by

Stars:

Tom HanksTim AllenAnnie Potts

 

 

LIKES:

  • Animation
  • Voice Acting
  • Fun
  • Funny
  • Good Pace
  • Evolution Of Bo Peep and Woody
  • Three-Dimensional Villain
  • Super Emotional to Grip You

 

DISLIKES

  • Trailers Revealed A lot/Predictable
  • New Guys are Okay/Gimmicky
  • The Ending Makes The Points In Three Pointless
  • The Older Characters Are Not Utilized Well

 

Summary:  It’s Disney and It’s Pixar, you know the animation is going to be awesome as beautiful, and improving, graphics are integrated with color and sound design to bring the world to life.  Throw in the voice acting and once more the movie has crafted the usual media to bring their characters to the forefront of Disney heroes and heroines. And through their magic they have crafted fun characters, their army finding a way to bring comedy and emotion to the movie and produce a fun paced movie that entertains many ages and preferences. Yet what impresses me in this movie, is how well they developed some of their characters once more.  Bo Peep, a character who had little involvement out of snarky comments and a crush in the first two installments, is back with a complex story that is balanced, poised, and realistic to really latch onto.  Woody’s ever evolving tale matches perfectly with it, a lock and key that push these characters to new levels and somehow bridges the issues of the first installment.  Even more impressive is Pixar’s way of adding depth to the villain, somehow managing to put more layers in outside of just megalomaniac personas that are famous in Disney movies. This utilization of storytelling and character development, is the example of Disney’s ability to make emotionally gripping tales that pulled me into the adventure once more, keeping my interest and I believe pulling younger members in as well.  It’s those emotional moments that somehow seem to complete the movie and leave you with yet another satisfied conclusion, until they need more money and make the fifth movie.

  Yet, the movie still runs into the art of predictability, not entirely, but certainly enough has been ruined by the copious trailers to have given much away. And much like the trailers and specials, Toy Story also has a new cast of characters to merchandise off to the younger wards.  The new characters are fun, and serve their purpose of bringing laughs, quotes, and new ideas for toys.  They contribute their points, but unlike the original bunch, the involvement with them is not quite as engaging as previous installments.  Through in that the older characters we have grown up with over the last two and half decades are rather poorly integrated and you have some disappointing components to me.  I’m from the school of if you are not going to keep them integrated into the story meaningfully, why put them in to begin with, and this was especially true for Toy Story 4.  Finally, and probably picky, the conclusion of this movie sort of overwrote all the hard work of Toy Story 3 for me.  Certainly there are new lessons to learn at a new stage of the journey, but given the time frame between three and four, I would expect them not to so quickly displace what the gang did in three.  But hey that’s just me.

 

Overall, the movie is still a work of art, showing that despite ending the movie well, they can find way to keep it going.  Toy Story 4 has heart, class, and does such a good job of expanding its main characters to continue the supposed hero’s journey.  The new characters are fun, the world is still colorful, and it’s all presented in an entertaining and meaningful pace that I thoroughly enjoy.  Sure the tale is still predictable, the characters are imbalanced, and the ending did offset three for me a bit, but the truth is the movie is a fantastic tribute to the art of the animation studio that is Pixar.  No surprise it is worth a trip to theater so take the family, or yourself and get out to enjoy it as the emotional tale of the summer hits theaters this weekend.  Otherwise, it’s definitely one to go on the must see at home list for me.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.5

Movie Overall:  8.0

 

 

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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

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

Nuts On Visuals, Cracked On The Story: A Nutcracker And The Four Realms Review

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Poster

 

The holiday season has begun and with it comes a number of specials and big budget movies to cover the anticipation.  Tonight marks the first of a long list of big films to grace the silver screen, with Disney attempting to go strong with a retelling of a legendary, immortal piece of the Nutcracker.  Will it be the light hearted, poetic fantasy that the ballet has captivated audiences for years on, or will it be the dark, foreboding tale of war?  Robbie K back with a written review to help determine what tale lies in store.  Let’s get started.

 

Film: The Nutcracker and The Four Realms (2018)

 

Directors:

Lasse HallströmJoe Johnston

Writers:

Ashleigh Powell (screen story by), Ashleigh Powell(screenplay by)  | 2 more credits »

Stars:

Mackenzie FoyKeira KnightleyMorgan Freeman

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Foy is the center of the Four Realms universe and blows the part out of the water.  A model example of the girl power, modern woman role, she has grown much past her cinematic days of Twilight.  Graceful, fierce, creative, and more importantly human, Foy played the balanced character well and made the most of the dialogue. Knightley hits her part on the mark as well, using that lighter pitch to bring the sensational sweetness of the fairy in her attempts to capture the hearts of the younger group.

 

The Ballet:  Paying tribute to the most famous form of this story, Four Realms makes time to portray the art at the nexus of the four areas. A beautiful display of the dance form, the ballet Misty Copeland’s form was splendid to watch as she pirouetted and leaped amidst a wonderful stage that felt much like attending the ballet.  For aspiring dancers of this form, this will be the favorite part.

 

The Music:  Classic and modern meet together in this wonderful soundtrack, utilizing the theater technology to blast your ears with a symphony of sweetness.  All the famous pieces are there for you to enjoy, whether it be the classical Nutcracker Suite to the wonderful balance of the Rat King’s theme.  Fans of the music should be fulfilled with Disney’s use of these tracks and how it supports the visuals.

 

The Visuals:  To save room, I’ll combine everything together in this like. The Four Realms is gorgeous, a true feast for the eyes at seeing everything come to life in a bountiful display of color, texture, detail, and magic of the world.  Settings were dynamic representing high rich culture of the real world, and the whimsical wonder of Clara’s own world as each realm utilized a different countries architecture as a basis.  Once the world was built, the computer animation came in and cleaned up the designs, bringing smooth transitions, realistic looking creatures, and that same Disney magic we love to be wrapped up in.  Finally, the costumes and makeup are stunning themselves, crafting some of the most unique, fun, and curious characters to come out of the Disney woodwork. Expect lots of copying of their designs in future Halloween costumes my friends, because Four Realms deserves big praise and awards for makeup and wardrobe combining into this magical display.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Mice Design Choice:  Okay, this is a small dislike, but one nonetheless. The mouse king and his subjects have a creative utilization, and are cute as a button when the field mouse design comes into play (in fact he is the most humorous and adorable part of the film). However, the letdown is that the mice are almost a carbon copy of the ones from Cinderella and quite simplistic compared to the rest of the visuals this movie held.  Disney’s got the money and the imagination so I would like to see them use it more than this.

 

Under Utilization of Characters:  This one is pretty self-explanatory, but after going through the motions to design all the wonderful characters, the studio did a lackluster job of using them.  The denizens of the Four Reams disappear in the background, stifling their potential to tell a fantastic story, remain involved in the full movie, and really bring characters that we can grip on to. So while they sine bright in their 15 minutes on screen, there was so much more for them to bring to the table.

 

Story Presentation: The Nutcracker’s complex plots and multiple portrayals mean rich lore to dive into and immerse oneself in.  Shame that Disney could not deliver on that story in this movie.  While geared towards the target audience, Four Realms splendor is skin deep as much of the tale is lost like the fourth realm.  Backstories are incomplete, questions are left unanswered, character development is surprisingly weak for most groups, and even worse those characters left out feel even flatter.  The major saving grace is Clara whose girl power, dream big princess that will inspire the key demographic, but outside of that, the preachy morals cannot save the skimming and predictability this story focuses on, so can’t say I was impressed in this aspect.

 

The Action:  No surprise, the action has been diluted for the key demographic in this group.  Four Realms battles are really small skirmishes, that are cute, simplistic dances of choreography that lack any real bite to them.  While this might be good for younger members, Four Realms needed more suspense to break through the predictability of the film.  Some of the battles are also difficult to follow, due to dark settings, odd angles, and the speed of the film.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            Four Realms continues to prove why Disney reigns high on the imagination train of visual perfection.  Costumes, setting, ballet, and characters shine bright in this film, helping to bring one into the realms and root for Clara to succeed. Sadly, the movie’s focus on visuals and effects means that the story took hits, with only one story really holding any spark to net my interest.  Disney didn’t utilize their characters to the full effect, and sort of robbed us of the complete experience that they were going for.  Worth a trip for aspiring princesses, ballet artists, and the target audience of girls, but otherwise outside of visuals you can hold off on this one.

 

 

MY SCORES:

 

Adventure/Family/Fantasy: 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