Movie Review: The BFG (2016)

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Plot: A girl named Sophie encounters the Big Friendly Giant who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kind-hearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because, unlike them, he refuses to eat children.

Rating: 6/10

Something went wrong with this movie. Despite the gorgeous animation and one lone little orphan’s impressive performance, The BFG is sufficiently boring enough to put people to sleep.

I’m never going to do cartwheels when I’m informed that I’m going to watch an animation. I rarely watch it as a personal choice, and it is not that I hate it; I just think there are other genres I can occupy my time with. I was favorably impressed by Inside Out in 2015, it is just that good a movie. I really liked Finding Dory and its’ predecessor, The Incredibles is my favorite animation and I’m a huge fan of any old Disney classic. Even Zootopia was cute despite getting life lessons hammered into your brain without a choice.

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But BFG just lacked for me. It was boring and I couldn’t be engaged no matter how hard I tried. The kid is pretty cute and did a great job. The giant made me worried – his kidnapping and his insistence to have a child present in such a dangerous environment. But anyway. It felt too long and winded and the resolution was a solid 9 on the WTF scale.

The good things? The visuals were lovely. I really did like the kid actor. That’s about it. The BFG is an overindulgent mess where people just let Steven Spielberg run amok. It seems really easy to create a  financially success animation, but even this one thing of getting parents to watch and kids to enjoy was unreachable to this production. Definitely not my favorite film of last year and it is miraculous I’m keeping this at a 6 rating.

Movie Review: Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015)

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Plot: Dracula and his friends try to bring out the monster in his half human, half vampire grandson in order to keep Mavis from leaving the hotel.

Rating: 7/10

I barely recall what happened in the first Hotel Transylvania, but I know I really loved it. I definitely remember the scream cheese, and to this day I find it ridiculously funny. Thus I was quite apprehensive to sit down for the sequel – not only do I have the honest and justified fear for sequelitis, I also really didn’t want to spoil the feelings I had to the first movie, especially considering the fact that I stand firm on the belief that I don’t like animation as a genre.

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HT2 suffers just a little bit from sequelitis – it’s just not as cute or fun as the first film. I didn’t laugh as outrageously or root for the poor monsters as much, but it was still quite a lot of fun. Considering that Adam Sandler is involved in this film, it is a great. The film has a lot of notable names voicing the characters – Selena Gomez as Mavis, Andy Samberg is Jonathan, Mel Brooks as Vlad and Kevin James as Frankenstein – and that is only naming a few. It works because the voices suit the characters and aren’t as obviously placed as The Jungle Book.

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HT2 never gets going really. I have to say I found it odd that they would touch child birthing in a movie– very awkward topics for parents to discuss with their children. Talk about interesting conversation topics coming up!

I liked the ending, but let’s face it – it would have had more impact if Dennis wasn’t a vampire in the end and then carried the message that it was okay to be normal and that you could be loved then as well.

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Have you seen Hotel Transylvania 2? What did you think?

Movie Review: Zootopia (2016)

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Plot: In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie bunny cop and a cynical con artist fox must work together to uncover a conspiracy.

Rating: 8/10

I was coerced into watching Disney’s powerhouse film, and I really loved it. It seems that animation is everywhere these days, and you know how I feel about that. I’ve already seen Hotel Transylvania 2 this year and Finding Dory, which exceeds my limit of one movie.

Anyway, Zootopia is actually really damn cute.  It has quite a clear message, they weren’t trying to give you any subliminal messaging here. I think that this film would appeal to very small children, because even though a movie like Inside Out appeals to grownups, it is generally over the younger audience’s head.

Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is an inspiring little bunny, no doubt about that. She is determined to be a cop, even though the other animals in her field are much larger and imposing. Her family, even though they really love her, believes it is a dangerous choice and that she won’t succeed, but that only makes her more determined.  Her wheeling, dealing and investigating with Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) is funny and serves to provide some more lessons on how to just not be a silly racist and judge people by their stereotypes.

What else did I enjoy? You must be quite blind not to catch the Godfather reference – it was a scream and it was one of my favorite parts of the film. There is apparently a Breaking Bad reference in the film (I sadly haven’t watched the series yet), and I also really liked Gazelle, the very feisty springbok singer. Idris Elba as Chief Bogo was also hilarious – I loved how they made him exactly what you’d expect him to be.

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ZOOTOPIA – Pictured (L-R): Judy, Bonnie, and Stu Hopps. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

There went a lot of detail into this film – make sure to check the cups and wall paintings everywhere – it is so well thought out. So much to mention, I won’t even be able to mention it in one post. The sloths annoyed me a bit – gosh I really loathe slow things and they were sloooww. That is basically the only thing that went awry in this film, and the ending was just a bit drawn out and lost the plot somewhat.

I had a great time with Zootopia. Be sure to remember though that it is a very basic animation (even though the visuals are incredible) – this is actually just a lovely story for the kids, and the adults who have the patience to sit through it.

Movie Review: Finding Dory (2016) – it’s A-DORY-ble!

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Plot: The friendly-but-forgetful blue tang fish reunites with her loved ones, and everyone learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way

Rating: 7.5/10

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What I liked:

  • The short film: You have to have had a cold hard for a very long time if you did not enjoy that little bird. I died a little inside of the cuteness. The terror was real, the happiness and discovery and adventure was real, and the insane happiness at the end made me so damn pleased.

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  • Baby Dory. GAASSSHH. The big eyes. The baby voice. The remembery loss. Everything.
  • The happy family unit that Dory had and how her parents accepted her disability.
  • Marlin, the clownfish with wrinkles. He’s so worrisome, and just wants to protect his son. Albert Brooks did fantastic work with his voice work here.
  • Hank (Ed O’Neill) – I liked the character but gosh I find octopuses and their tentacles really disgusting.
  • Dory – Ellen DeGeneres is amazing with returning as the ever forgetful fish. I think all grownups would acknowledge that a Dory would be really annoying in your personal life but still is really cute on screen.

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  • Nemo – not really the character, he was never the main focus, but that small little fin is so frigging cute.
  • The CUTENESS – obviously I found everything in here really damn cute. However, it isn’t so cute that I wanted to retch.
  • I really love this animation. I don’t always love movies with animated pictures, but there are a few that I watched as a child and preteen that I will love until the end of time. Finding Nemo is one of those films, and I am glad that Pixar made a second film.
  • The end: I was like AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH when Dory finds her parents. They loved her so much.
  • And lastly: near sighted whales and Beluga wales with connectivity issues? HILAR
  • Pixar and Disney is on top form with this film. The graphics are beautiful.

What I didn’t like:

  • About the only thing I didn’t enjoy was how preposterous the last few scenes became and that the film became drawn out in its’ conclusion. I mean how many obstacles can one fish really take?
  • Finding Dory made me think really hard about aqariums. They have some strong social commentary in there that only adults will pick up on, but really, life of fish in closed tanks look awful.
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Literally, a school of fish

That’s about it. I was really excited to watch this film because I just love the original. I wasn’t disappointed in the least, and it is worth venturing out for.

 

Frozen (2013)

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Anna and Elsa, two princesses in the Kingdom of Arendelle are the best of sisters and friends. Elsa has the startling ability of freezing things, and she and Anna have a great time playing with her powers. Anna is accidentally injured during one of these playtimes, and Elsa and their parents rush to the trolls to save Anna. The trolls say they are lucky that the ice went to Anna’s head and not to her heart, as ice in the heart kills. Anna returns, safe, but Elsa is now too afraid of her powers to play with her sister, and the two drift apart. Their parents are killed and they are alone, and yet Elsa still refuses to reconnect with her only remaining family member.

Years later it is time for Elsa’s inauguration as Queen. Anna meets Prince Hans of the Southern Isles, and immediately falls for him. They plan to wed, but her sister refuses to give permission as they only met each other. A fight ensues and Elsa accidentally sets of a catastrophic winter. She flees the city, and Anna feels very guilty that she provoked her sister. She makes plans to go to her sister and fix the problem and restore summer. Anna leaves Prince Hans in charge and sets out to find her sister, and meets Kristoff on the way, a young guy who makes a living by selling ice – something not really needed in such terrible winter. AccompanyingKristoff is his moose Sven, and the two are very tight. Anna is pretty sure her sister will listen to her, but she doesn’t know that Elsa has built herself an ice fortress and is rather happy with being by herself and not hurting anyone. They fight, and Elsa accidentally shoots ice into Anna’s heart, the very thing the troll had warned them against.

Kristoff takes Anna back to the troll where they hear that only an act of true love can thaw Anna’s heart now. Kristoff realises he needs to take Anna back to Prince Hans, who now has Elsa under lock and key.

Kristoff leaves Anna in Prince Hans’s care, and walks away, even though it is killing him because he has started to love her. Sven refuses to let this happen and Kristoff turns around, which is just as well because Prince Hans has revealed he only wants Anna for her lineage and throne, and now that she is dying and her sister is imprisoned, he doesn’t need to pretend anymore that he cares for her at all.

Will Kristoff reach Anna in time to save her heart? Will his kiss work the magic so desperately needed? Can Elsa reverse the winter she caused?

Rating: 7.5/10

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Definition of Animation: Things Natasha only watches under duress.

Anyhoo, I have been hearing tons of adorable things about this movie, and everyone has been nagging me to watch it, and I eventually gave in because the day really called for frivolity.

It was quite good, and I will put it under my list of animation movies that make me happy when I watch it. I can see myself watching this again.

The things underlined: This is everything I could find in the movie that points to Disney changing its story on who saves who in life. They are working desperately hard to reverse the damage they did when they told little girls for decades, that you need a man to save you. These girls are doing it for themselves, and I say go for it!

I love the relationship between Elsa and Anna, even though Elsa is a brat most way through because of her powers. The two ladies prove that a sisterly bond is strong enough to equal true love, and I love and appreciate that as the people I love the most in this world is my two sisters.

I really enjoyed the singing – the songs itself were cute, funny, appropriate to the characters and original.

Olaf was also ridiculously cute. Does anyone else feel that currently all movies have these cute creatures in and that the producers are scared their movie will fail without some sort of an awwww feature? I mean, look at Toothless, Olaf, Groot, etc. The list is endless!

Have you seen/not seen it? Tell me!

How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

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Five years after the Viking village Berk made peace with dragons, all is still going well and the dragons now live amongst the villagers. They are still ruled by Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler) and while he is thinking of retirement and pressuring his son Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) to take over as chieftain, Hiccup and his dragon Toothless are busy exploring unknown lands.

Astrid (America Ferrera) finds Hiccup exploring, and when they see a wildfire, they investigate. They find a strange ice formation and also meet Eret (Kit Harrington), a dragon trapper who is especially interested in Toothless, who might just be the last Nightshade dragon alive. Eret tells them who his customer is – Drago Bludvist (Djimon Houson), a bloodthirsty and insane conqueror. Astrid and Hiccup flee on their dragons and tells Stoick what is happening, and after Stoick hears that Drago is involved, he orders the villagers to prepare for battle, refusing to let anyone go out and meet Drago head on. Hiccup and Astrid escapes and plan to go meet Drago to try and reason him out of his plans.

Hiccup is captured by dragon rider Valka (Cate Blanchett). She turns out to be his presumed dead mother, and she takes him to the dragon sanctuary she has helped build the last twenty years. She begs for forgiveness and he gives it when he sees the amazing amount of work she has done, and even Stoick forgives her when he arrives and she promises to return to Berk with them.

Drago and his dragon army arrive at Valka’s sanctuary and the Alpha dragon is overthrown, making Drago’s Bewilderbeast master of all the dragons. This causes Toothless to commit a horrible act he had no way to control, and Hiccup sends him away.

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Valka: You came early into this world. You were such a wee thing. So frail and so fragile. I feared that you wouldn’t make it. But you’re father, he never doubted. He always said you would become the strongest of them all. And he was right. You have the heart of a chief and the soul of a dragon. Only you can bring our worlds together. That is who you are, son.

Drago leaves to lay siege on Berk and Hiccup, Astrid and all their friends are responsible to get there and challenge him. Will they be able to stop the mad Drago? Can the Alpha’s hold be broken over Toothless? Will Hiccup be able to forgive his best friend? Will Hiccup accept his power and rule Berk?

Rating: 7/10

Somewhere between visiting the dentist and Chinese water torture is something I tend to avoid: watching animation. Firstly, should you dare to watch it in a cinema, there will invariably be screaming children whose parents can’t keep them quiet because they have been hyped up on pink cool drink and jellytots, secondly, I usually just prefer seeing actual people in a movie and thirdly, I can’t seem to stop myself from rolling my eyes at the unrealistic perceptions it creates.

BUT: there are a few Animations I can watch and enjoy. I love all the classic Disney movies (and yeah, I did moan just now about unrealistic perceptions), some of the Uber cool stuff like The Incredibles and Finding Nemo and then now the How To Train Your Dragon Franchise.

I love Toothless. It is the cutest damn thing ever to come out of a studio and his facial expressions are too cute for words. I like all the Dragons, and especially in here how they’ve connected to the Vikings and became interlinked with each other’s existence. I particularly liked Stovic (it was properly because I recognised Gerard Butler’s voice) and thought he was awesome and sweet and dealt well with raising his son and understanding how they were completely different.

So I loved this movie and will probably watch it again with the smallest amount of noises about hating animation. It is fun enough for adults to enjoy while taking their kids to the movies (a kindness of the creators) it built well on the story of the first movie and managed to have a new adventure ready and not copying the first story again. How to Train your Dragon 2 was a relief to watch when most of 2014’s most anticipated hits (for me) fell flat. Remember Vampire Academy?

Recommendation: obviously, children, but not mind numbing nonsense so adults can enjoy it too.

Tangled

Genre: Animation

Year: 2010

Main characters

Mandy Moore as Rapunzel

Zachary Levi as Flynn Rider

Donna Murphy as Mother Gothel

Blog rating

7/10

Producers

Walt Disney Pictures

Some background

Tangled is derived from the German folklore tale Rapunzel, written by the Brothers Grimm.

Interesting facts

The film spent 6 years in production.

It was originally named Rapunzel, with a last minute change to Tangled.

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The tale

When a single drop of sunlight falls to earth, it becomes a golden flower filled with magical properties. A very old woman, Gothel, discovers the flowers and hoards its healing abilities, keeping it for herself, making her live for a very long time. In a nearby kingdom, a queen becomes very sick. Her husband the king, searches for the plant to save his wife’s life. Despite Gothel’s effort, he finally finds it, and the queen recovers. She gives birth to a princess, and the plant’s healing powers becomes part of the new-born, in the form of extremely long, golden hair.

Knowing the only way to remain immortal and beautiful is through the plant’s powers, steals a lock of the princess’ hair, discovering that cutting it makes the hair lose its power. She decides to kidnap the princess, naming her Rapunzel and hiding her in an isolated tower. Rapunzel’s parents miss her terribly, and honour their memory of her by releasing lanterns into the sky on the night of her birthday each year.

Each year Rapunzel sees the floating lanterns, never knowing she is the reason they float. On her eighteenth birthday, she asks permission of her “Mother” Gothel to go to the source of the light. Gothel refuses, telling her it is too dangerous, and that she is only locked away for her own safety.

Meanwhile in the kingdom, Flynn Rider is getting himself into a lot of trouble. He, with some accomplices, steals the tiara of the lost princess. The royal guards chase after them, and Maximus, horse of the Captain of the Guards, gets separated from his rider, but continues the search on his own. Flynn manages to escape both the guards and riders, finally ending up at Rapunzel’s tower. He stupidly climbs to the top, where our heroine knocks him out with a pan on the head.

Rapunzel hides the stolen crown, telling him in order for her to return it to him; he needs to take her to see the lanterns. Flynn reluctantly agrees, hoping to scare her off her quest by taking her to the Snuggly Duckling Inn, a place where all the thugs in town hang out. She, however, charms the thugs, and encourages them to follow their dreams.

Gothel returns early to the tower, finding a tiara but no Rapunzel. Being her scheming self, she teams up with Flynn’s earlier, and deserted, accomplices. She promises them the tiara if they help her get Rapunzel back, as well as the added benefit of revenge on Flynn.

Flynn and Rapunzel are meanwhile found and chased by the guards. When they are trapped in a cave, Flynn admits that he is Eugene Fitzherbert, and Rapunzel reveals her magical hair. She saves them by using her hair as a light, leading them to safety and healing his Flynn’s hand. to take them out of the cave.

Our main characters continues come closer to each other, but Gothel meets Rapunzel secretly in the wood, telling her that Flynn will leave her as soon as he has the crown. Rapunzel refuses to believe this, but chooses not to give him the tiara just yet.

Maximus the horse becomes friends with Rapunzel, and a suspicious ally to Flynn, when Rapunzel charms him when he finally catches them. He takes them to the city, and Flynn takes Rapunzel to see the lanterns. He is captured by his old thieving friends, and Rapunzel returns home with Gothel, believing Flynn deserted her.

Back at the tower, Rapunzel realises she is the missing princess she heard of in the city. She unsuccessfully tries to flee the tower. Flynn is saved from his death sentence by the thugs from the inn and Maximus. He rushes to the tower, and is stabbed by Gothel. Rapunzel tells Gothel that she will go with her forever if she is allowed to heal Flynn. Knowing that Rapunzel never goes back on her word, Gothel agrees. Knowing if he is healed, she will be captive forever, Flynn cuts off her hair, breaking the spell. Gothel ages rapidly, dying quickly. Flynn tells Rapunzel he loves her just as she dies, but her tears saves his life. They return to the kingdom, Rapunzel reunited with her parents, and they eventually marry.

This is a happy ever after story, and I loved it. It represents everything modern Disney aims for – strong, independent girls, who has opinions and saves themselves. The Prince charming is more a side benefit than the actual present. Little girls should watch this to see they don’t need to act helpless to catch a man, and grown women should watch it just for fun.

And hey, who doesn’t love a good love story?