Tag Archives: Sony Pictures Animation

Cinema Dispatch: Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

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Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky

If I was reviewing films back when the first Hotel Transylvania film came out, it would have easily been in the top five films of that year.  Avengers?  Whatever!  Flight?  Forget about it!  21 Jump Street, Prometheus, Skyfall, Chronicle?  Okay, SOME of those might have made it on the list, but Hotel Transylvania was an absolute surprise that I don’t think anyone has really managed to top in regards to its animation and flat out hilarity.  Now that’s not to say that films like Coco, Wreck-It Ralph, and The LEGO Movie aren’t great in their own way, but what Tartakovsky did with Hotel Transylvania was sheer brilliance and just hasn’t been replicated since.  Except for MAYBE The Peanuts Movie which ingeniously recreated the art style in CG, no other film has felt so AUTHENTICALLY cartoonish as this series, and that certainly earns it a massive amount of respect from me even if the sequel was FINE but not up to the first one.  Now that we’re at the third film though with Tartakovsky STILL directing these (wasn’t he supposed to make a film called Can You Imagine, or that new Popeye movie?), so with this film has the spark FINALLY gone out for this franchise or did they fix the mistakes of the sequel to bring something just as fantastic as the first film?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of Part 2, the titular Hotel Transylvania has been doing well with Count Dracula (Adam Sandler), his daughter Mavis (Selina Gomez), and his son-in-law Johnny (Andy Samberg), keeping down the fort as the place becomes a popular tourist attractions for both humans and monsters, and ESPECIALLY for monster wedding; presumably both in terms of scale and as a description of those tying the knot.  However, all this lovey-dovey stuff has made it more clear than ever that Drac himself has been alone for at least a hundred years since his wife (and Mavis’s mom) died at the hands of a torch wielding mob of humans, so maybe it’s time to get him back in the saddle.  At least you’d THINK that’s what everyone is thinking, but Mavis thinks he just needs a vacation and takes him on a cruise along with all his buddies (Kevin James as Frankenstein, David Spade as The Invisible Man, Steve Buscemi as The Werewolf, and Keegan-Michael Key as The Mummy) along with THEIR significant others (Fran Drescher, Chrissy Teigen, and Molly Shannon), as well all the monsters who have ever stayed at the Hotel so you can see them do their classic bits, and of course we cannot forget Drac’s dad Vlad (Mel Brooks)!  Oh, and don’t forget the kids Dennis and Winnie (Asher Blinkoff and Sadie Sandler) who are on this trip as well but are doing their own thing with Dennis’s giant pet dog Tinkles.  Said vacation by the way is being hosted by the adventurous and very much human Captain Ericka (Kathryn Hahn) who’s not just whisking these monsters on a fabulous journey; she’s also managed to immediately steal the heart of Drac who ZINGED the moment he caught sight of her!  Now Drac has to find a way to confess his feelings for Captain Ericka while also keeping it from Mavis who he worries might not accept him dating again after the death of her mother all those years ago.  Can Drac find love out on the open sea, or will his duties as a loving father (and grandfather!) keep him from finding love once again?  Is Captain Ericka as wonderful as she seems and the perfect match for good ol’ Drac, or is there more to her than meets the eye?  If this movie is a hit, can we finally get Tartakovsky to do that Popeye movie?  PLEASE!?

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“We’ve made Sony a BILLION dollars!  You’d think they’d throw him a bone at some point!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Peter Rabbit

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Peter Rabbit and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Will Gluck

Wait, didn’t we already get this movie like three years ago?  Yeah, Russel Brand was the Easter Bunny or something, right?  I didn’t imagine that?  Ugh… anyway, it looks like after the SMASHING success of other CGI animal movies like Alvin and the Chipmunks and Woody Woodpecker, it’s time to drag this Beatrix Potter classic out of the closet and imbue it with all the stuff that out of touch executives think the KIDS OF TODAY will find totally dope!  Okay, that’s a bit unfair considering I’ve never even read the original source material, and it’s not like updates to classic properties are ALWAYS a recipe for disaster as we saw with The Peanuts Movie.  Maybe there’s a chance that this will turn out better than the trailers indicate?  Yeah… I doubt it too, but let’s find out anyway!!

The movie follows the wacky adventures of our roguish hero Peter Rabbit (James Corden) who finds an endless deal of fulfillment in stealing other people’s stuff!  In particular he just LOVES stealing vegetables from the garden Old Man McGregor (Sam Neill) and does it with such frequency that the man becomes obsessed with hunting down these rascally rabbits; by which I mean chopping their heads off, stripping the meat from their bones and baking them into a pie so that he can consume his most hated of enemies.  CLEARLY this is a healthy relationship that Peter and his family of similarly roguish rabbits (Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, and Colin Moody) had developed with the guy, but it all becomes moot when the dude keels over and dies right as he’s about to snap Peter’s neck.  In case you were wondering, yes; this is indeed a kid’s movie.  So now that the old man is dead, the rabbits as well as the other woodland critters can finally take his garden for themselves, sleep in his bed, and poop on his dining room table, right?  Well… kind of.  At least for a little bit.  See, what the animals don’t know is that there is another McGregor who’s the one that ACTUALLY gets the house and he’s coming by to fix the place up and sell it for tidy little profit.  This new McGregor named Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson) may not be as blood thirsty (at least at first), but is much faster and much cleverer than his great uncle was, and this means that Peter is gonna have to work TWICE as hard to get those vegetables and may have to go so far as to risk everything he holds dear in this battle of wills; one of which is McGregor’s neighbor Bea who is nice to the rabbits but also gets caught right in the middle of this feud between man and rabbit!  Will Peter be able to claim what he CLEARLY feels is rightfully his?  Will Thomas completely lose his mind trying to stop a few measly rabbits from somehow destroying his life?  How did they manage to fit THIS much violence in a movie about talking rabbits that doesn’t have Bugs Bunny in it!?

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“Eh… what’s up, Dead Man?”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Star

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The Star and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment

Directed by Timothy Reckart

Man, Coco was such a good movie.  Too good in fact!  I need to find a way to bring myself down to Earth again if I want to be fair to any other movie coming out this year.  Wait, is that what I think it is!?  A POORLY ANIMATED RELIGIOUS FILM… WITH TYLER PERRY!?  JACKPOT!!  It seems that movie going audiences had the good sense to ignore this film to go see Coco instead which seems like an INCREDIBLY obvious move given how uninspired the trailers look, but let it never be said that I am not a fair critic and will try to give everything at least a CHANCE to try and impress me!  Okay, I know better than to hope much from ANY religious film not made by Darren Aronofsky (and even THAT is a bit of a crapshoot), but compared to some of the OTHER films in that category, there’s no way it could be THAT bad… right?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the misadventures of one Bo the Donkey (Steven Yeun) who remained aimless and nameless for most of his life working in a mill and only getting brief glimpses of the outside world.  His one dream though is to be part of the Royal Procession which… I guess is like a super lame parade or something?  Anyway, he’s given a chance to escape with his wise cracking friend Dave the Dove (Keegan-Michael Key) and he winds up hiding out with a newly married couple; one of whom seems to have gotten to the whole pregnancy thing a little early.  Yes, this hapless donkey winds up in the possession of Mary and Joseph (Gina Rodriguez and Zachary Levi) with the former giving him the name Bo and the latter being a total throwback to goofy nineties sitcom guys; as if the entire male cast of Friends was fused together into one not especially charming homunculus.  While this is going on, a trio of camels (Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey, and Tracy Morgan) are carrying the Wise Men across the desert in search of the new king who’s due in just a few months and end up running into King Herod (Christopher Plummer) who doesn’t take too kindly to there being another king out there and sends his scariest brick shit house of a guard with two mix-matched attack dogs (Ving Rhames and Gabriel Iglesias) to go hunt down the happy couple and murder them to bloody chunky bits.  Bo the Donkey gets wind of this and decides to help these two out before running off to join the Royal Procession and even meet a friendly sheep along the way named Ruth (Aidy Bryant) who left her flock to follow the titular star to… whatever’s at the end of it (spoiler alert: it’s Jesus).  Will Bo the Donkey keep these two safe and deliver the savior unto us so that we all may be saved from the burning fires of Hell?  Will King Herod realize that sending only ONE dude to stop the only person who could challenge his throne was a really half assed approach to this problem?  Can animals be saved and accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior?  I’m just curious what’s gonna happen to Bo once he dies considering how much he busted his ass (nyuk-nyuk-nyuk) to help Jesus out in the first place!

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“Companions before transubstantiation, AM I RIGHT!?”     “I’m pretty sure that’s not even a rhyme…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Smurfs: The Lost Village

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Smurfs: The Lost Village and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation

Directed by Kelly Asbury

Considering how the LAST two Smurfs movies turned out, this really doesn’t have to do all that much to be a massive improvement, does it?  To be fair, it DOES look like the new direction their going in is the right move for this franchise as it looks much more like the original series, and we’re also not going to the real world this time around which shows some signs that Sony realized where they screwed up and are trying to make it better.  Plus, they also got Jack McBrayer which is you all need to get my ass into a theater!  Does this manage to win back the fans it lost with the last two cynical features, or did they manage to screw it up again even with two perfect examples of how NOT to make a Smurfs movie to go by?  Let’s find out!

The movie starts in Smurf village where all the little Smurfs are Smurfing about doing their Smurfy thing.  All except for Smurfette (Demi Lovato) who may have golden locks to die for but isn’t sure what else a Smurfette is supposed to do.  Oh sure, it’s easy for Police Smurf and Saxophone Smurf who’s occupations are spelled out for them like a Cutie Mark in My Little Pony, but what about her!?  Is being the one and only female Smurf the ONLY thing she’s good at!?  Well… maybe not as she soon discovers another Smurf while Smurf-boarding in the forest, but before she can ask any questions or even get a good look at them, they run off into the FORBIDDEN FOREST which I can only assume is the same one from Harry Potter.  Smurfette wants to find this new Smurf as well as the village they came from (perhaps a LOST village of Smurfs!?) but Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin) forbids her to go into the FORBIDDEN FOREST because… well, it’s FORBIDDEN!  Despite his warnings not to go out there, she sneaks off into the middle of the night to go searching the FORBIDDEN FOREST and ends up having a few tag-alongs who were following her in the form of Hefty Smurf (Joe Manganiello), Clumsy Smurf (Jack McBrayer) and Brainy Smurf (Danny Pudi); all of whom are sure to bring their unique brand of Smurf Shenanigans to this adventure!  Oh, and of course the evil wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) gets wind of this lost village, so they have to contend with him stomping through the forest as well; hoping to find these new Smurfs and using them to become the world’s most powerful wizard by smooshing them in some sort of magic juicer!  Can the Smurfs find The Lost Village and warn them of Gargamel before it’s too late?  Will Smurfette finally find out what her true purpose is on this epic quest?  Just who are these new Smurfs that they’re looking for, and are they even blue!?  What if… WHAT IF THEY’RE SNORKS!?

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It’s the Hannah-Barbarra Cinematic Universe!  WE KNEW IT WAS COMING SOONER OR LATER!!

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Cinema Dispatch: Hotel Transylvania 2

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Hotel Transylvania 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures

Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky

Does anyone else remember just how amazing it was that the first movie was in fact as good as it was?  The movie had been in production since 2006 and had five directors attached to it before finally settling on Genndy Tartakovsky who by all means is an accomplished animator but had never directed a feature film.  Not only that, but Adam Sandler was (and continues to be) a joke for a lot of people and his movie in the last decade or so have been absolutely abysmal.  Despite all that, Hotel Transylvania was not only good but one of the best animated films in a long time.  Now it’s time for Sony to start franchising this sucker with a sequel, but they seem to be doing it the right way by not only getting back the original director but the same writers as well.  Will this somehow manage to be one of the few animated sequels to be just as good if not better than the original, or will they throw out everything that was great about the first film just to milk a couple more dollars out of this series?  Let’s find out!!

After the events of the first movie, Mavis and Jonathan (Selena Gomez and Andy Samberg) start dating and eventually get married in the titular hotel.  Their whirlwind love affair eventually leads to her getting pregnant and giving birth to their son Dennis whom Dracula (Adam Sandler) starts to obsess over because now he has a new outlet for the overprotective behavior he struggled to overcome in the last film.  Unfortunately, like in the first movie, there comes a point where his paternal usefulness may be coming to an end with Mavis thinking that it may be too dangerous for them to stay at the hotel since young Dennis has yet to show any signs of being anything other than human, and in the Lore of this universe if he doesn’t show any signs by his fifth birthday (which is rapidly approaching), he’ll be a human forever.  Dracula, being the crafty bastard that is, enlists Jonathan’s help (who wants to stay at the hotel) to keep Mavis distracted while he and his friends try to force the vampirism into his grandson by taking him on the night of professional scaring.  I wouldn’t think that biology could be affected by cultural immersion but whatever.  So Jonathan and Mavis are off to visit his family in California for some marital R&R (and to see if the place would be a good fit for their family), while the old school monsters are trying their best to not only get this kid to grow his fangs but to recapture a bit of their youthful exuberance as they revisit their familiar haunts from when they were the scourge of humanity which may be a bit more difficult than they were expecting now the humans have learned about monsters and are (tentatively) accepting them.

Some seem to be adjusting better than others.

Some seem to be adjusting better than others.

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