Trolls World Tour and all the images you see in this review are owned by DreamWorks and Universal Pictures
Directed by David SF Wilson
I know I’m a week late on this, but even with the convince of being able to watch this one at home (and let’s be frank here, I’m not spending THAT much more money than I would at the theater), I just couldn’t be asked when it actually came out and frankly I had better things to do like play that Final Fantasy VII remake than watch a sequel to an animated film I didn’t like all that much. But even if we do have the perfect excuse to sit around and do nothing as it is now the socially conscionable thing to do, I still need to maintain SOME sort of routine to not go stir crazy in here, so fine. Let’s buckle down and watch yet another toy commercial dance around for an hour and a half while playing all the songs your parents used to like! Does it manage to somehow surpass the low expectations that its predecessor had set, or are we in for a LONG bout of isolation if this is the bets that studios can give us in these tumultuous times? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of the first film, Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick) is living out her fantabulous troll life singing songs, performing dance numbers, and being worshiped by her beloved subjects. Her best friend Branch (Justin Timberlake) seems a bit more uneasy about the idyllic life but he puts up with it in the hope getting out of the friend zone (ugh…) to either spend the rest of his life with the troll he loves or this is some elaborate power play to become KING OF THE TROLLS! Of course it’s not the latter (that would be far too interesting), but instead the conflict ends up being a group of ROCK TROLLS led by Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom) who is traveling across the land attacking similarly music-themed tribes to steal their magical music strings that the former King Peppy (Walt Dohrn) failed to clue Poppy in about during her Queen initiation. Apparently each tribe of musical trolls (the trolls we know are known as the Pop trolls) has a magical string that signifies their music, and does… something. I’m not exactly sure what, but if Barb gets all six of them, puts them on her super awesome guitar, and plays some tasty licks with them, it’ll turn all the trolls into Rock trolls which will unify the troll kingdoms which will accomplish… something. In any case, Poppy wants to try and negotiate with Barb to see if they can unify peacefully, but it becomes clear that she’s more about taking everything over than working together, and so she and Branch along with Biggie (James Corden) have to travel the land and try to get the other tribes to work together to stop Barb from fulfilling her dastardly destiny. Will Poppy be able to convince any of the other tribes that working together is better than falling apart? Is there more to the history of the strings and these tribes than Poppy knows, and will that play a key role in defining the course of this current crisis? Do you think Justin Timberlake ever wonders why he’s not in better movies or has he just resigned himself to mid-level animated shlock?
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?
The Grinch and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney
Is it already time for the holiday season? Can’t we postpone it for another three months or something? No, of course not. The only thing as certain in life as Death and Taxes is the ever expanding period of time known as THE HOLIDAY SEASON where good will and cheer are sold to us in gift baskets and wrapping paper. If you couldn’t tell already I’m not the biggest fan of the season’s greatest excesses even if I do take some joy in trying to find the perfect gifts for people and buying the shiny wrapping paper to put it in. Still, it’d be nice if we could contain it to the month of December, but no; were stuck with Holiday Music, Holiday Sales, and of course… Holiday Movies. With Illumination having already turned The Lorax into a rather detestable piece of confused anti-corporate nonsense, they’re back to the Dr. Seuss well to turn the man’s most beloved creation into yet another big screen adaptation just in time for theaters to start hanging up the tinsel. Will this be an improvement on the studio’s previous output, or are we in for yet more Illumination mediocrity? Let’s find out!!
You see, every Who down in Whoville likes Christmas a lot which is good for keeping the economy strong and red hot! But the Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch) who lives just north of Whoville does not seem pleased. Perhaps a trip to the store will put him at ease. With his dog Max in tow, he treks through the snow, to the city of Whoville to where all he can think is NO. No to the consumerism, no to the cheer, just get him to the grocery store to buy provisions and beer. Along the way he meets Cindy Lou Who (Cameron Seely), who seems nice enough, but has nothing to do in this rather thin plot. There’s a story I guess about her finding Santa, but really she’s on hand to be cute and her likeness used on promotional bottles of Fanta. Anyway, The Grinch takes a while to get properly pissed, but he eventually decides that something is amiss. This lousy holiday just makes him way too stressed, so perhaps he’ll steal Christmas and you know the rest! Will he find happiness in ruining this day for others, or is there a way for him to live peacefully with his Who brothers? Will Cindy Lou Who find the answers she needs, or will her tale be lost in the script weeds? The question of course on everyone’s mind is why should I see this when Netflix is only $13.95!? No wait, it’s $13.99. DANG IT!!
Rock Dog and all the images you see in this review are owned by Huayi Brothers and Summit Premiere
Directed by Ash Brannon
Okay, so maybe saying The Great Wall is some bold new step in Hollywood/China co-productions was overselling it a bit as stuff like this movie, which was animated in the US but made for the Chinese film market, have been happening for quite some time now. Still, The Great Wall is unique in how hard it was pushed to try and make an impact on the US film market instead of just making all its money in China which usually isn’t the case; including with this movie that barely got any promotion leading up to its release. That said there’s still some really solid talent behind this, including an all-star cast of voice actors, the studio that animated The Book of Life, and even the co-director of Toy Story 2! Okay, he’s not the co-director everyone remembers (that would be John Lasseter), but still! Is there enough talent in this internationally minded animated film to be of some appeal on this side of the globe, or was this all just a cynical cash grab from everyone involved. You know, like when celebrities do those insane Japanese commercials and hope no one in the US will see them? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins in the town of Snowville… I mean the Village of Snow Mountain, where the local sheep population is protected from wolves by Tibetan Mastiffs which is a breed of dog. Well okay, it’s just ONE dude named Khampa (JK Simmons) who has mastered the Kamehameha and used it to fend off a wolf raid several years ago. Yes, you read that right. Motherfucking dog shoots energy beams from his hands because reasons. This would be AMAZING if it wasn’t for the fact that he did all that in the past and hasn’t had to for some time now because the wolves know better than to attack while he’s on watch, so he doesn’t have much cause to use it nowadays. Still, he’s kept the sheep safe and even managed to raise a son named Bodi (Luke Wilson) who will one day take his place as the town protector, even if he needs a bit more practice before he can ACTUALY do a Kamehameha of his own. It’s too bad that the writers of this have seen The Gods Must Be Crazy as one day a plane drops civilization right in front of Bodi in the form of a wireless radio that’s fully charged and able to catch a signal. How about that!? On the radio he hears a sick track from the one and only Angus Scattergood (Eddie Izzard) which inspires him to pursue his dreams, and with just the right amount of buttering up of his old man, he manages to get a bus ticket to the big city which is… actually pretty close by. How has Bodi never been to the city before? WHY IS THERE A BUS STOP NEXT TO SNOW MOUNTAIN IF NO ONE IS USING IT!? Anyway, his leaving manages to catch the attention of the wolves who are gangsters in that big city, and so the big bad one named Linnux (Lewis Black) sends his slapstick prone henchmen to kidnap him and… I guess get information about Snow Mountain so they can finally kill all those sheep. Will Bodi be able to live his dreams of a rock star, or will he ultimately get lost in the cruel and uncaring world of professional music? Will the wolves finally get what they want, or will Body manage to outsmart them… somehow? For a movie called Rock Dog, he’s not much of a rock star… so why aren’t we following Angus Scattergood instead?