Tag Archives: Laika

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: Kubo and the Two Strings

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Kubo and the Two Strings and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features

Directed by Travis Knight

While Disney and Dreamworks are constantly fighting over dominance for CG animated features, studios like Aardman and Laika are still making an argument for more traditional forms of animation with films like Paranorman and The Pirates.  Now we’ve got this movie which hopes to stand alongside some of the bigger hits this summer like Finding Dory and The Secret Life of Pets while also finding a spot in theaters just as the latter is starting to leave and Pete’s Dragon is under performing.  Can the latest Laika creation not only manage to be an excellent film but be the big hit to end the summer with, or is this movie all style and no substance?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows young Kubo (Art Parkinson) who’s living with his mother in a cave that’s within walking distance of a nearby village.  Why are they living there?  Well apparently Kubo’s mother is the daughter of some super powerful dude known as the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) who can do… stuff.  Okay, I’m not sure what his powers are, but he ripped out one of Kubo’s eyes when he was an infant, and his mother just barely managed to get away with him; though at a severe price as she was injured during the escape and now suffers from memory loss.  That only leaves Kubo to take care of her (though I’m not sure how they survived long enough for him to be able to do that) and he makes money by using his magic powers to put on fantastic origami shows for the people of the village.  Seriously, Kubo’s got some badass magic powers that he’s able to conjure up with his Shamisen which can put on very elaborate stop-motion performances by Origami dolls, and you’d think that powers like this would either earn him enough to move his mom into a nice home or would brand him as a witch.  Still, things seems to be going well as Kubo goes about his day to day life busking for coins on the sidewalk, when he stays out too late one night which gives the Moon King a chance to find him (I guess that guy can see everything at night) and sends out his daughters, who are also Kubo’s aunts (Rooney Mara), to find him.  Kubo’s mother however manages to find him first and uses her remaining magic to send him off somewhere else while also bringing a charm to life in the form of a monkey (Charlize Theron) because apparently Kubo’s mother can do that.  From there, we’ve got a whole lot more exposition as apparently the monkey knows what Kubo needs to do next and the end up finding a Beetle Samurai (Matthew McConaughey) to tag along on their adventure.  Can Kubo stop his evil grandfather and save his mother?  How exactly does this monkey know all this stuff if it’s only been alive for like a day or so? Most importantly, how many MacGuffins do they plan to stick in this movie!?

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“We have to find the sacred armor that was created by your father that can protect you from the Moon King so that-“     “YOU’RE A TALKING MONKEY!!”     “…yes.  Did you hear what I said?”     “We need to find some stuff?”     “Good enough.  Let’s go.”

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