Tag Archives: animation

Cinema Dispatch: Toy Story 4

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Toy Story 4 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Pixar and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Josh Cooley

Sigh… I THOUGHT I WAS DONE!!  I thought that after the third film we’d reached the perfect end point for this series, but instead of coming up with a new idea or even rebooting the franchise entirely, here we are again with the same cast, the same toys, and even more Randy Newman.  I’ve been pretty down on Pixar recently with Incredibles 2 being a HUGE disappointment for me and being rather lukewarm on Inside Out, but they can still do great films like Coco when they put their mind to it and that fact only makes me even more tired that we’re dipping into the same well one more time.  Who knows though, right?  I mean, they managed to make Toy Story 2 one of the best sequels of all time and even made the third film a perfect closure for these characters and this world!  Can they somehow pull it off a third time by making this beating of a dead horse not nearly as horrific as that metaphor implies?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of the third film, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), and all their pals (Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, Don Rickles and Estelle Harris) are living with Bonnie and her toys (Kristen Schaal, Timothy Dalton, and Jeff Garlin); enjoying their new lease on life having avoided both the garbage dump and the day care of infinite horrors.  Still, Woody isn’t quite as happy as the ending of the last movie would have indicated because he is no longer the top toy in the room which is led up by Dolly (Bonnie Hunt) instead.  Feeling out of place and probably more than a little bored, he sneaks into Bonnie’s backpack for her first day of kindergarten orientation where he slyly helps Bonnie through the emotionally turmoil and even gets her to make a new toy out of trash and craft materials.  The new toy named Forky (Tony Hale) does indeed come to life which comes to a surprise to Woody and everyone else, and what’s even MORE surprising for a kids movie is that this little bugger is determined to throw himself in the garbage because he’s aware he’s an unholy abomination unto the world and needs to return to the trash from whence he came!  So the good news for Woody is that he now has a new lease on life being Bonnie’s protector by way of protecting Forky, but the bad news is that Forky turns out to be a HUGE handful and he manages to escape out the window during the family road trip.  Woody goes after him, slowly trudges to the town the family is staying at, but as it would JUST SO HAPPEN, Bo Peep (Annie Potts) who went missing between Toy Story 2 and 3 is in this town as a lost toy; helping other lost toys find kids to play with in the park and living her life to the fullest as a STRONG INDEPENDENT badass!  Seems like a perfect little reunion if it wasn’t for the fact that Forky is kidnapped by the EVIL Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) who is a doll in an antique store looking to replace her broken voice box and wants the one embedded in Woody’s toy guts.  Can Woody and Bo save Forky from whatever maniacal machinations Gabby has in store for him?  Will the rest of the toys be able to distract the family long enough so that Woody and Forky can return in one piece?  Seriously, how has a porcelain doll managed to last this long out in the wilderness?  Is she ACTUALLY made out of Adamantium!?

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“When you’re out in the world, you either get chipped or you do the chipping…”     “Okay…”     “HAVE YOU EVER SEEN YOURSELF IN FOUR DIFFERENT PIECES!?”     “Well my arm came off that one time…”

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Jumping the Soapbox: A Banana Splitting Headache and Hanna-Barbera’s Confusing Existence

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The Banana Splits is owned by Warner Bros

All other copyrights are the property of their respective owners.

Do any of you even know who The Banana Splits are?  Of course not!  They were on the lower tier of Hanna-Barbera creations and because they were live action characters they never got that extra bump of popularity that many of their other creations did when they started randomly pairing them up on shows like Yogi’s Gang where they flew around in a giant flying ark.  Yeah, Hanna-Barbera is weird like that, but the thing about The Banana Splits is… I actually really like them!  I remember watching a marathon of episode back when you had to actually watch TV on a TV, and I thought it was a fun little slice of sixties nonsense!  A bunch of dudes in animal costumes playing bubblegum pop and doing slapstick?  What’s not to like!?  And guess what?  THEY’RE MAKING A MOVIE ABOUT THEM!!  OH BOY!  It looks like someone has finally realized how groovy these cats (and dogs and monkeys and elephants) are and are giving them the big screen treatment they deserve, right?  RIGHT!?

Sigh…

So it turns out that SOMEONE thought it would be brilliant and edgy to take lovable characters aimed at children… and turn them into monsters in a horror movie; straight up.  I mean yeah, they’re clearly playing up the absurdity of it but it just looks like a miserable experience outside of how senseless its UNIQUE SELLING POINT is.  Actually, even more blatant than the simple “shock” value of taking character aimed at kids and making them creepy (congratulations; you’re where Creepy Pasta was twenty years ago) is that they are only doing this to beat the Five Nights at Freddy movie to the punch.  I mean they weren’t robots in the original series either within the fiction of the show (they were anthropomorphic animals in a band) or the reality of its production which was done by people in costumes which is CLEARLY the case here as well.

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“WHAT IS MY PRIMARY DIRECTIVE!?”     “Okay, try to be like this video game, but NOT like this video game at the same time.”     “DOES NOT COMPUTE!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (Sonic the Hedgehog)

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Sonic the Hedgehog is owned by Paramount Pictures and all the images you see in this trailer talk are the property of their respective owners

Directed by Jeff Fowler

Tis a day that we have been all dreading for… I don’t know, two months now?  Yeah, it looks like those horrible production skills were not in fact a mistimed April Fools prank and were leading up to an actual movie whose trailer has just been released.  I’m not gonna lie.  Whether or not this actually ends up looking good or is total hot garbage is immaterial to me because I’m looking forward to this thing no matter what form it takes.  Will it be the former which would be unbelievably impressive considering they have to work around that rather awful design, or are we stuck with the latter which is exciting in its own right just to see what depths a studio will sink to when given this monkey’s paw of a franchise?  Well the only way we’re gonna find out is diving right on in!  Okay, so right off the bat we see a blue blur of energy streak by on some empty country road which then speeds through a forest into what looks to be Peter Rabbit’s hole in the ground.  The place is adorned with various pieces of trash and snack foods he’s managed to scrounge up over the years, a giant stack of shoes which becomes somewhat suspect when you realize he wears the same pair all the time, and a cassette player because I guess kids are supposed to know what that is?  Oh, and it gets better!  The song that Sonic pops into the player and scores the entire trailer is none other than Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise.

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I guess we’re officially past Eye of the Tiger being the go to inspirational music cue.  God, we’re all getting old…

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Cinema Dispatch: Missing Link

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Missing Link and all the images you see in this review are owned by Laika and United Artists Releasing

Directed by Chris Butler

I feel like I should be a hundred times more supportive of Laika and their filmography; especially considering how they can use all the help they can get.  It’s not that I’ve disliked any of the movies I’ve seen (Coraline, Kubo, and now this), just that despite every they get right they’ve never quite managed to be the best animated films of their respective years and end up feeling like a second tier studio when they are clearly aspiring for the very best; kind of like a Studio Ghibli where they aren’t as prolific or well known as the Disneys and Dreamworks of the world, but have garnered massive respect and influence.  Perhaps they will get there one and (some would say that they are already there) and their latest movie might just be what they need to make that dream that much more within their reach.  Is this yet another masterpiece from one of the most creative animation studios working today or is this a misfire for a studio that can’t afford to have one of those right now?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is set in the late nineteenth century and Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) is the world’s premiere Cryptozoologist before that was a thing as he hunts down mythical creatures like The Loch Ness monster and fails to take decent pictures of them every single time.  It’s a shame because the guy is a certifiable badass, but his deeds fall on less than enthusiastic ears as none believe his wild tales of mythical creatures; least of all the members of the Great Men society who snub his work and laugh behind his back.  Frost is not one to give up however and after receiving a letter telling him that he can find the mysterious Sasquatch in the woods of Washington, he makes a bet with the society’s stuff leader Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Stephen Fry) that he will gain acceptance into the organization if he can bring back proof of the creature!  Sure enough, he does manage to find the legendary beast, but the plot starts to thicken as it turns out that Sasquatch can not only talk (Zack Galifianakis) but was also the one who wrote the letter.  You see, he’s the last of his species up here in the Washington forest (I guess the others were all killed in some sort of massacre?) and wants to find safe passage to the Himalayas where he hears that similar creatures known as Yetis have lived for thousands of years, and he can definitely use a few more friends.  Frost agrees to exchange evidence of the creature’s existence in exchange for taking him to his family and dubs him Mr. Link for the rest of the journey, and first mission is that Frost needs a map that is currently being held by an old friend of his Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana) and she’s not about to give it up unless she gets to go on the journey too.  However, Lord Piggot-Dunceby is getting REAL sick of Frost’s buffoonery and decides to hire a hitman (Timothy Olyphant) to kill him whether or not he finds the beast, so that’s something ELSE they’ll have to deal with on top of Mr. Link’s awkward and clumsy behavior as well as the treachery of traveling that far in this day and age.  Will Mr. Link finally be reunited with his own kind and will Frost get the recognition he so desperately craves?  What further challenges await them on their way to the Himalayas, and can their budding friendship endure such hardships?  Seriously, this proper English explorer is traveling with this guy for weeks and he couldn’t spend an hour getting him a PROPER fitted suit!?

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“I tend to carry all my weight here so I need it to have a loose fitting waist and I usually only wear Egyptian cotton, though I will accept the domestic variety if we’re on a budget. ”     “Okay, well I don’t believe ANY of that for a second, so how about a windbreaker?”     “That works too.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Wonder Park

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Wonder Park and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by no one

So you’re telling me that there’s a movie in theaters right now where a sex pest had to leave the movie halfway through its tumultuous production, and it’s NOT Bohemian Rhapsody!?  Yes, it’s not a typo that I didn’t credit a director on this movie because the guy who at some point sat in that chair got booted off of it and got the added justice of having his name stripped from the credits; something that I’m sure Fox would have really liked to do for its movie before things got awkward at the Oscars.  Even before I knew any of that though, I was not looking forward to this considering how low rent and unappealing the trailers were which makes it all the more astounding that the darn thing cost upwards of a hundred million, so it seems pretty clear we’re in for a train wreck of epic proportions.  Does this movie miraculously stick the landing despite everything going against it, or are we just here to watch it flame out in spectacular fashion?  Let’s find out!!

June Bailey (Brianna Denski) is your typical millennial smarty pants who was basically raised her whole life on STEM related games; the main one being an imaginary park known as WONDER PARK with fantastical rides and a staff of talking animals that she and her mother (Jennifer Garner) would work on each night before bed.  Over time, June’s interest started to bleed out into the real world which started off rather dangerously with unsafe roller coasters made out of plywood and city property, but eventually she started to focus on smaller scale project with actual engineering behind them instead of trial and error until someone cracks their skull open.  However… something happens.  I’m not going to say WHAT because the trailers do a very good job of hiding what this movie is actually about, but there’s a tragedy that causes her to give up on her Wonder Park dreams, and since this is a Kid’s Movie the universe will not take such flagrant cynicism lying down!  Thorough the power of unexplained magic, June ends up in Wonder Park itself which is run by the loyal animal staff which includes Boomer the bear, Gus the beaver, Cooper the OTHER beaver, Greta the boar, and Steve the porcupine (Ken Hudson Campbell, Kenan Thompson, Ken Jeong, Mila Kunis, and John Oliver), but has been left in disarray for some time now.  See, something happened to the park as well which brought THE DARKNESS upon them (I WONDER IF HER TRAGEDY AND THEIRS ARE SOMEHOW CONNECTED!?) that caused the guests to disappear and the stuffed animals to turn homicidal; taking the group’s leader Peanut (Norbet Leo Butz), a chimpanzee with a magic marker who made the rides June and her mother thought of.  So now June is stuck in the last place she wants to be with animal friends who are not very helpful and is now trying to fix an amusement park in order to save a chimp with magic powers from adorable abominations.  Sounds legit if you ask me!  Can June and her friends figure out how to get the park up and running again to banish the darkness once and for all?  Will this exercise in engineering splendor and stuffed animal homicide be just what June needs to confront her traumas once and for all?  Is it just me, or does this all sound pretty convoluted for a movie so clearly aimed at five year olds?

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“Okay, so is this The Darkness that gives you demonic powers, The Darkness that stains your new white couch, or The Darkness that fuels our deepest fears and anxieties?”     “I’m pretty sure it’s the last one, but I don’t think it’s fond of couches either.”

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Cinema Dispatch: The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

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The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures

Directed by Mike Mitchell

Everyone loved The LEGO movie, right!?  And then most people loved LEGO Batman, right!?  And then LEGO Ninjago was… okay, right?  Well now it’s time for the return of the one that started it all and it’ll be JUST as good as the original… right?  Sigh… okay, so the trailers for this film haven’t filled me with a whole lot of confidence that it’ll be on the same level as the original film.  It looks FINE if nothing else, but this is THE LEGO MOVIE!  We don’t just want fine, we want PHENOMENAL!  Then again, maybe that’s putting too much pressure on this film which doesn’t have the benefit of being such an out of the blue surprise, and while the trailers aren’t inspiring me with a lot of hope, maybe they’ll find a new angle to take it in that’ll make up for not being able to put the genie back in the bottle!  Can this sequel be Justas good if not better than the first film, or has the LEGO phenomenon finally run its course?  Let’s find out!!

Immediately following the events of the first movie, the Duplo aliens of the Systar System have waged an all-out war with the people of LEGO city for five whole years and have left it a Mad Max style barren wasteland with no more bright and shiny blocks.  ONLY DARKNESS AND NO PARENTS!!  Well except for Emmet (Chris Pratt) whose upbeat attitude cannot be damped even in the face of utter annihilation!  That turns out to be a problem though as the nice house he built has attracted the Duplos once again and now they’ve taken all his friends from the first movie which includes Lucy AKA Wyldstyle, Batman, Benny, Princess Unikitty, and MetalBeard (Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, and Nick Offerman) back to their home planet for their own nefarious purposes that we soon learn to be a shotgun wedding between Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi of the Systar System (Tiffany Haddish) and a very reluctant Batman.  Clearly something has to be done to save them, but the only one of the LEGO people willing to take the chance is Emmet who haphazardly travels through… space I guess, to find them.  Along the way he is saved from an asteroid field by the dashing rouge Rex Dangervest (also Chris Pratt) and his army of super smart velociraptors who agree to help Emmet on his journey to defeat the girly Systar invaders because being a TOUGH GUY means punching things that are pink and frilly!  Can Emmet save his friends from Systar invaders who want to brainwash all of his friends and put Batman through a forced marriage!?  Can Lucy escape from the Queen Watevra’s cunning grasp, and does she know something about this place that she isn’t telling the others?  Is it just me, or did things get REALLY complicated for a movie about plastic toys?

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“WHY DO WE KEEP RUNNING WHEN IT SEEMS LIKE WE NEVER GET ANYWHERE!?”     “WELL IT’S BEEN WORKING FOR US SO FAR!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Ralph Breaks the Internet

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Ralph Breaks the Internet and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Rich Moore and Phil Johnston

I remember when the first Wreck-It-Ralph movie came out that I couldn’t wait for there to be a sequel!  However, as the years went on and the marketing pivoted from video games to him being ON THE INTERNET, I started to lose interest because the sequel that I would have wanted didn’t seem like it was going to manifest.  Now that’s not to say I thought it would be a BAD movie, but what I was seeing wasn’t getting me as excited as say a Disney version of Super Smash Bros or whatever where we got even MORE nostalgic characters (maybe even ones from Nintendo!?) that Ralph and crew could go on adventures with.  Now clearly NOTHING could have competed with the fan fiction I made up in my brain so even if the lead up to this movie wasn’t filling me with fanboy joy I wasn’t about to dismiss it out of hand for those reasons.  Does this manage to live up to maybe not quite MY expectations but REASONABLE ones for a sequel to a modern Disney class, or should they have gone with my idea of having Mario and Sonic fight zombies together while Ralph and Boswer play Yu-Gi-Oh… or something like that?  Let’s find out!!

It’s been several years since the events of the first film where Ralph and Vanellope (John C Reilly and Sarah Silverman) uncovered Turbo’s evil plan, and things have been going pretty well since then.  Vanellope has been racing, Ralph has been wrecking, and Fix-it Felix Jr and Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun (Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch) have been the most adorable couple ever six years running!  Still, things might be settling down a bit TOO much for Vanellope who’s time in the spotlight has turned a bit monotonous, but soon things go all Monkey’s Paw on her as her game breaks down and she and Ralph have to go online to see if they can find a replacement part before the kindly arcade owner (Ed O’Neill) sells the machine for scrap.  Once online using the arcade owner’s recently purchased modem, they discover all the fantabulous things THE INTERNET has to offer, including the part they need on eBay.  However, they don’t have any ACTUAL money and so need to find a way to score some cash through shady loot hunting in an online game with a bad ass NPC named Shank (Gal Gadot) and slightly less shady viral marketing through a trending video website run by an algorithm called Yesss (Taraji P Henson).  Oh, and they visit Disney’s website at one point just to make sure you remember things like Star Wars, Zootopia, and their ever expanding stable of princesses.  Will Ralph and Vanellope be able to buy the part and save her game before it’s too late?  What will Vanellope learn about herself by seeing all these new and exciting places, and will Ralph be able to adapt to these new experiences?  Where exactly did they manage to find such a clean and efficient version of THE INTERNET, and is there any way I can get on there!?

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“Wow!  Look at all this cool stuff!”     “I know, right!?”     “Wait, what’s that over there?  Did someone just call it a Pepe?”     “Yeah… maybe we should avoid that area.”

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