Wonder Park or Blunder Park?

Wonder Park Poster

 

Fan of Roller coaster Tycoon, or Simulation coasters?  Were you one of those people who had an imagination that could take you to anywhere you wanted to think of?  Have you wanted to go to a place of wonder where girls didn’t blow up to blueberries?  Well tonight’s movie attempts to bring all of this to you in a package that looks to people overwhelmingly cute.  Robbie K back with his thought on yet another movie to hit the silver screen in hopes of not getting lost to the reruns of the theater.  Let’s get started!

 

Movie: Wonder Park (2019)

 

Writers:

Josh Appelbaum (screenplay by), André Nemec(screenplay by)

Stars:

Sofia MaliJennifer GarnerKen Hudson Campbell

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute

  • Voice Work
  • Special Effects
  • Animation
  • Energy
  • Jokes
  • Imagination
  • Message

 

Summary: Disney movies make it difficult to try to bring animated features out because of the not so big budget or army of animators/ideas.  Nickelodeon is able to still work some charming magic into this piece though, managing once more to bring the cute factor into their film and get the feelings going.  It’s got some surprising emotional work, with voice acting and story coming together to sell the feelings lying deep in the fun, cute charm that the trailers show. Much like the opening scene of Up, Wonder Park has some surprisingly deep messages that will hopefully motivate the young and refresh the older generations on the importance of imagination and wonder.

Sap fest aside though, the movie accomplishes the goal of still being fun, managing to inject the wonder of imagination in terms of visuals and adventures.  Nickelodeon’s team injects a lot of kid friendly energy into the mix, making an infectious, thrill seeking ride that is perfect for the intended audience.  The smooth animation, with high paced speed keeps in time with the nature of the animals and imaginative girl, while the design manages to bring in the magic that theme parks and kids movies have.  All the unlimited potential of a child’s imagination is unleashed in this film and it is certain to bring you back into the world of pure imagination.

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Predictable
  • Too Simple
  • Lacking Intense Suspense
  • Short

 

Summary: As we have talked about, animation movies require a story to be very dynamic, fun, and have a sense of adventure that takes us out of our world.  While Wonder Park does semi-accomplish this, it doesn’t quite do it as well as some of the other bigger studios have done.  For one thing the movie is predictable, all the symbolism, mystery, and potential twists are easily discernible and lacking the finesse and mind-blowing moments that the sister studio is famous for. In addition, despite all the fun that Wonder Park did in helping you relive your childhood, it was a little too simplistic in the adventure department, not quite having the drive or dive that Pixar and DreamWorks is able to concoct.  This means for me that there was not too many suspenseful parts in the mix, most of the chases reduced to quick bouts of falling, or lost in another joke.  All the dark challenges and impasses are very diluted avenues, that act as symbolic psyche components of humans rather than true antagonists.  Yet the main thing that is semi disappointing, is how short the movie is. Clocking in at just around 80 minutes, this film certainly moves fast, but not so much in the good way as the content feels a little lacking to be honest.  Oh well, it got me out a little early, but the length may not be the most bang for your buck in terms of the expensive movie ticket price.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Wonder park is certainly an important illustration about the important components of life, including the importance of maintaining your imagination and wonder.  It makes great use of the kid friendly energy, yet has a few things for adults to latch onto, especially those touching, pull at your heart string moments. Yet despite all the fun I had in this movie, the film still feels like a Nickelodeon tv special that could have been left to the network.  It needed some more adventure, it needed more suspense for me, and more importantly it needed more of that magic they talked about.  Wonder Park certainly has the makings for a fun merchandising series, it just needs a little more finesse to finish the deal.  Worth a trip to the theater?  Hmmm kind of, but this one is probably waiting for streaming for most.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

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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

Will It Give You Goosebumps Again?

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween Poster

 

The book series that got me hooked to reading many years ago has tried to keep its relevance as up-to-date as possible.  With the first installment doing pretty well, it’s no surprise that they made a second film and yours truly is ready to dive in and figure out what lies in the latest book of R.L. Stine.  Can this family friendly horror keep things spooky enough to warrant a theater visit?  Robbie K here with a review on the latest silver screen sensation:

 

Movie: Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)

 

Director:

Ari Sandel

Writers:

Rob Lieber (screenplay by), Rob Lieber (story by)  |2 more credits »

Stars:

Wendi McLendon-CoveyJack BlackMadison Iseman

 

 

LIKES:

 

Family Friendly:  The Goosebumps books have been a solid intro into the world of horror that brings kids into the fold of literature.  This movie sticks to those guns and adds that kid friendly element to warrant a try for a family outing.  Is it dark? Yes, but the studio managed to dilute the darkness to be manageable (for the most part) that kids should have a laugh at it. Case in point a three-year-old did very well in my viewing.

 

Good Pace:  Short and to the point, this movie was a quick, fun adventure that did little to slow the antics down.  From the get go, you’ll be immersed into the adventure at hand, as what can be describes Stranger Things, meets a Disney vibe and is executed well. The fact that time seems to fly by is a good sign that this will be fun for most.  Plus, 90 minutes is a good target goal in my opinion.

 

Creature Design: While certainly not as epic as Stine’s descriptions in his book, the crew in the movie studio have done some decent research.  The new creatures that inhabit the screen have got some flare to them, and while not the most realistic, at least have that same Stine vibe to them to still be easy for the little ones to handle.

 

The Use of Slappy: Slappy in the last film was not as utilized as I expected, reserved for a few jokes and that was it.  The sequel though really brought him out in spades, using him to establish a bit ,ore of the horror element, while also grounding the story down. Slappy was much more himself in this installment, his malicious side mixed with his deceitful antics bringing back memories of the horror that was Slappy in his books.  A solid antagonist to support the story, I enjoyed this character much more.

 

DISLIKES:

Under Utilization of Characters:  The kids get center stage and do well, but the older cast members not as involved as I was hoping.  Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ken Jeong were reduced to a few short sequences, still bringing their tricks to trade, but not getting involved in the story like I had hoped. As for Jack Black, he’s there, but not much more I can say .  They really diluted “Stine’s” part in this film and left me a little bummed with my Haunted Halloween treat.

 

Not as Much Nostalgia: Part of the fun of the last movie was all the references to the books and trying to find the cameos in their involvement.  Sadly, this film short sheeted us in this factor.  Yes, there are a few nods, but Haunted Halloween is trying to go a little more original than its predecessor.  Nothing wrong with that, it’s just I missed the find your childhood reference component from the first film.

 

More Creature involvement: Design might be good, but Haunted Halloween 2 didn’t use their creatures to their full potential either.  Many creatures get their kicks for a few seconds before being reduced to background images and occasional sound effect.  Such a step down in this design, Haunted Halloween didn’t have quite the spectacular impasses they wanted to bring in, and that left me feeling a little bored in terms of suspense.

 

Predictability/Trailer Spoilers:  My friend Tim has shared wisdom of be careful what trailers you watch.  These words are very applicable to this movie, as watch enough of the trailers and you have 80% of the movie.  Haunted Halloween has little in terms of grand surprises, and by watching these trailers, you can skip this film in the theater.

 

The Story Component: It’s not that the story was bad, but it was much less involved than the first installment.  Very straightforward, very cliché, and very piecemeal that it feels like an unfinished manuscript.  Slappy may have tied things together and made one heck of an antagonist, but their execution of his skill set was just missing something.  Some of the antics, gimmicks, and threats were very lighthearted, and due to the kid atmosphere, I feel they threw some punches to not go too extreme to leave nightmares.

 

The Verdict:

 

            Goosebumps 2 has some fun little quirks that will be very appropriate for the family atmosphere of the movie.  With good creature design and pacing it shows some promise to being the horror movie for the young and young at heart.  However, the originality factor took a little from the adventure I enjoyed in the first installment, primarily at how disjointed this movie felt in integrating all its characters and creatures.  It’s a step back in quality overall, and you can skip this one due to the trailers, but not the worst movie to come out overall. 

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy/Family: 7.0

Movie Overall:  5.5

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

Incredible Follow Up

Incredibles 2 Poster

            It’s another weekend and with it comes another attempt for Disney to sweep the box office with another “masterpiece” to win the hearts of many.  After 14 years (according to the pre-movie showing), my favorite Pixar movie comes back to bay with the sequel to hopefully bring spectacular adventure back to bay.  Incredibles 2 is promising to be a lot of fun, but we never know what the studios of Disney will put into a movie to meet the expectations.  Robbie K here back with another review, to help guide your movie watching pleasures.  So, let’s get started.

 

Movie: Incredibles 2 (2018)

 

Director:

Brad Bird

Writer:

Brad Bird

Stars:

Craig T. Nelson,  Holly Hunter,  Sarah Vowell

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute:  If the trailers didn’t paint this picture, take it from the reviewer that Incredibles 2 is chock full of adorable features to woo the hearts of many.  Both young and old are going to find something to hook onto in the Super family’s drama, whether it be the pint-sized baby or the warm feeling one gets of the strong morals of family, and it absolutely accomplishes the family friendly atmosphere.

 

Balanced First Act: Pixar’s team showed much promise of matching the first movie in regards to all the balancing it did long ago. The Incredibles 2’s first half is beautifully crafted to include action, story, comedy, and morals into an engaging tale that accomplishes the goal of setting up for an epic conclusion.  It’s primarily run by splitting the story between the two plots of Elastigril (Holly Hunter) working to uncover the mystery of the ScreenSlaver and Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) trying to a parent, making sure to give each section their due focus and efficiently switching between arcs.

 

Relevant:  While I can’t relate to some parts of the movie, I applaud Disney/Pixar doing everything it can to craft a tale that is relevant to so many people.  For comic book fans like me, the dilemmas of heroes doing their job despite the prejudice of society speaks strong in terms of your values challenging others.  Others will cope well with the girl power motif that Elastigirl’s arc portrays, keeping it mostly on the down low, yet hitting hard where it needs to be.  Yet, there will be many who will grip tightly to family moments and the challenges modern parents face given a changing society.  By broadening this cope, Incredibles II is going to rope in a lot of fans of varying ages, all once again getting captivated by the arcs in store.

 

Animation/Action:  The movie is well animated, no surprise there from the masters of CGI storytelling.  While Pixar always gets points for their world building, character design, and fluid motion, Incredibles 2 amps up the ante by including action sequences into the mix.  Fortunately, they accomplish the goal of adrenaline pumping stunts, comic like combat, and making sure it remained pertinent to the story so as not to appear random.  Your little one will be able to handle much of the stunts thrown in and become super impressed by all that comes with Pixar’s approach to action.

 

Comedy:  Of course, you want to laugh in a movie, and the Pixar group is happy to deliver a variety of laughs to the mix.  The first Incredibles have a number of inside jokes revisited in this installment, primarily in the obsessions of the characters. In addition, some of the melodramatic moments are going to be relevant to some, causing the age groups that relate to it to get the most laughs.  Jack-Jack’s cute levels are going to appeal to most of the bunch, as the baby with no limits defies just about everything to bring his high-pitched laughter out in full. My favorite though…Edna Mode whose attitude and mannerisms are back in full force, with little to hold back the Dahlings.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable:  The mystery of Screen Slaver is certainly the factor to keep you guessing, until you figure out the twist a mile away. Incredibles 2 doesn’t do a good job of hiding the identify well, using some of the blatantly obvious dialogue to drop the hints long before the big reveal. In addition, the way they take obvious detours with some of the characters paints a bullseye on the back. It would have been nice to have a bigger twist, but sadly all the other antics took precedence in this movie.

 

Inconsistencies in Story Components:  The movie certainly establishes a lot of super powers to come in, but some of the gifted characters may have a little more power than one expects.  During some of the action scenes in this film, a few of the characters could have easily solved things with these overpowered components.  No limits are established to explain these components, and certainly that takes away from the suspense when you realize how easily they could have solved it. Most won’t care about this dislike, but eventually as people rewatch it and tear it apart, you’ll start to realize these moments.  At this point, I’ll state that some of the new characters didn’t have the best utilization of the new characters, showing off some abilities, but never the extent of warranting inclusion, with the exception of one.

 

Jack-Jack Balance: The first act broke the balance the first established, in order to bring more screen time to Jack-Jack’s antics. Merchandising is going to have a field day with the pint sized hero, utilizing all his new modes portrayed in the movie for toys, books, and whatever else you can think of.  The movie focuses so much attention on the little guy, that it soon started to go overboard for me.  In addition, the trailers only show you a fragment of the little guys power, and despite the attempt to explain his abilities, Jack’s-Jack’s power is insanely overdone to the point he is almost like a deity.  I said there were a few broken parts and this is the example.

 

Anti-climactic finish: Remember the end of the first movie where you were on the edge of your seat as the family fought that giant Robot that held no qualms with destruction?  Me too!  Incredibles had done a nice job building up the giant antagonist and covering their bases to design a challenging, but doable end fight.  The second installment however, resorted to some cheaper tactics that diluted what was supposed to be the most exciting moments of the movie. Part of it came from the predictability of the story, another part came from the focus on the comedy instead of the action/story.  Yet for me, the action scenes seemed much shorter and simpler, not bringing the heroes to a conducive dynamic that the first one shined with.  Why there could not have been more excitement infused in, I don’t know, but I was hoping for a repeat ending that I saw all those years ago.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

Incredibles 2 accomplished much of the goals set out since the sparks of the first trailer showed up on the screen. It’s a family friendly movie that appeals to both generations, the first part in particular absolutely accomplishing the level of quality the first had.  With the balance of comedy, story, animation, and relevant plot elements it is going to appeal to so many and hook you into the film.  However, the movie still didn’t quite strike the chords the first one did as the plot was predictable, the power levels inconsistent, and the merchandising approach of the baby it just didn’t maintain that balance I loved.  Plus, the finish could have used a little more work to help pull everything together in a satisfying way.  Still, this movie warrants a visit to the theater, and YES kids should have no problem handling this movie, though gauge their responses to loud noises, darker shadows, and one darker element of the plot about 45 minutes in.  Well done Pixar for managing to craft something well, now just strive for the balance again and you have it down to a perfect.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Action/Adventure: 8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5

 

Early Age Comedy

Early Man

            This year is a big year for sports with both Winter Olympics and The World Cup ringing in the sporting events that we all flock too.  The latter event in particular is one of the most recognizable sports of all time and a big influence for a variety of games, television series and of course movies.  My review today is one of those movies, about this international sensation that tries to put a comedic spin on the potential origins of this obsession.  As you’ve read, today’s review is on the latest animated adventure Early Man, the stop motion/clay animation like movie to try to charm the modern-day audience.  What is in store?  As always read on to find out!

 

LIKES:

AnimationNo surprise, an animated movie has good animation, but Early Man gets bonus points in terms of using more traditional methods to make the story come to life.  This film’s animation is solid, with fluid motion being beautifully presented as they practice stone age soccer.  I admire the fact that they did not take short cuts in this film and appreciate the unique character design that the studio presented, no matter how odd they look.  Early Man certainly isn’t the prettiest of the animated features, but it does net points in the unique category.

 

Story:  Yes, the movie is certainly one of the more childish based movies, but the story is surprisingly deeper than you might be imagining.  Early Man is indeed a comedy centered in soccer and trying to have the little guy beat the big guy.  However, loaded with this time-tested tale is a story that involved building confidence, the development of the mentor, and of course the quality of teamwork.  These values are well-crafted into the fun at hand, putting some relevance to the antics at hand.  And of course, the movie is wrapped up in that family friendly package you G-PG seekers are looking for, though be warned there are a few words (not cursing related) that may be repeatable by little ears.

 

Clever:  Early Man is certainly not the most unique story, but the humor has a bit more wit behind the mindless babbling that sometimes comes out.  The writers settle on the British style of laughs, using accent heavy presentations, pokes at popular cultures, and some inside, cultural reference jokes that I thoroughly enjoy.  While the movie has a lot of slapstick for kids, the adults will get some chuckles at these references, some of which are indeed only understandable by older ears.

 

The Pig:  One character that particularly stands out is the pig.  This studio always seems to give more prowess to their animal characters than humans, with Hognob being no exception to the rule.  Semi-anthropomorphized, Hognob has the most dynamic nature of all the cast of heroes.  With little, to no words, the pig is able to bring a lot of feelings to the scene while also bringing the most laughs.  His constant attempts to save his masters, act as a decoy, and even training with the team makes for some entertainment.

 

DISLIKES:

Too Silly:  Despite the cleverness behind the movie, Early Man is still geared toward the younger audiences.  Therefore, the silly, kiddy factor takes the helm and steers it headlong into that area.  All the slapstick humor of soccer injuries, impossible chases, and attempting to devour various people/animals are going to be the majority of the humor you’ll see.  It is well timed at certain points, but this humor got stale quickly for me and sometime was unimpressive.

 

Anticlimactic:  The premise of the film was soccer match between the stone and bronze age, therefore you were hoping for a semi-epic match against the two.  Unfortunately, the exciting climax actually gets diluted by the funny business, reduced to a few quick plays, some over the top slapstick, and a very lackluster finale.  It seems like they still need to take a page from Disney, and actually deliver on a big bang finale to make the journey worth it.  Had they been able to expand upon this, add some more tension, and smarten up the comedy a little more, the older audience members could have enjoyed this. 

 

Rushed/Lacking:  In a world owned by the mega studio Disney, unique is hard to come by without their big-time budget.  Early Man is certainly a unique idea, but the problem was they didn’t deliver through with it.  Much like the climax, the movie failed to put our characters through ordeals to make them have meaningful development.  Despite being cute, and somewhat funny, most of the characters have difficulty with being relatable, resulting in a slightly dull group.  In addition, the desire to appease to a younger crowd also had this movie pacing blindingly fast and therefore leaving little room for actual plot building.  While by far not the worst tale to drop into theaters, Early Man still needs work for any future sequels.

 

The VERDICT:

Early Man is an animated feature that gets points for the hard work of stop motion animation.  It’s a cute adventure that has a family friendly story, with a couple of characters that will make you laugh at various points.  The problem is, that the movie was focused too much on the younger audience and failing to expand into the territories needed for older members.  Early Man’s concept needed more developing and attempt to moisten the dry comedy this movie has contained within it.  In addition, the film needed a little more friction to add thrills to the story, thereby getting more engaging characters to latch onto.  Worth a trip to the theater?  You are better off checking out Peter Rabbit instead, but I’d save this one for a home rent. 

 

My Scores:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.0

Movie Overall:  5.5

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