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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: Alice Through the Looking Glass

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Alice Through the Looking Glass and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by James Bobin

A sequel to a movie six years after everyone stopped caring about it!  THAT’S never gone wrong, am I right?  To be fair to Disney, the original film did make an astonishing amount of money (one BILLION worldwide) but this feels way too late to capitalize on whatever moment that first movie had.  Not only that, but it was also one of the early 3D films which I’m sure boosted the ticket sales, yet now we’re at a point where people are just sick of the gimmick, so it doesn’t even have THAT going for it.  Still, the first movie did manage to be pretty decent and the trailers for this looked very creative to say the least.  Can this manage to be a damn fine sequel that just needed a little extra time to fully come together, or is this a naked cash grab for everyone involved?  Let’s find out!!

The movie picks up three years after the first movie where Alice (Mia Wasikowska) has spent the intervening time traveling the world as a sea captain for Ascot family’s trading company (I think).  She returns to England at the start of the movie to see her mother (Lindsay Duncan) and plan the next trip with the company.  Unfortunately, the Ascot patriarch has died since she last returned and the one in charge of the company is his son Hamish (Leo Bill) who you may recall was set to be Alice’s husband in the first movie which didn’t end up panning out.  Now that this new guy is in charge (and he has a wounded ego) Alice is not only no longer employed as a sea captain, but for some reason is given an ultimatum to either sell her father’s boat or risk losing her mother’s house.  It gets worse when you find out that the mother has been working behind her back to make sure she gets fired so that she would have no choice but to “settle down” as all proper ladies do.  Well I’d say THAT’S enough stuff to stress over to make a trip to Wonderland seem like a wondrous vacation, right?  She gets led to the titular looking glass by the butterfly Absolem (Alan Rickman) and eventually finds the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) on the other side who is slowly dying and not quite so delightfully mad.  Apparently he found a modicum of proof that his family is still alive but no one else believes him so he’s going to slowly die of depression… I guess.  Alice has no choice but to go back in time to save the Hatter’s family from the Jaberwacki and has to face off against Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen) to get that ability.  Will she be able to save the Hatter from his battle with depression?  What will she learn as she travels back to the glory days of Wonderland, and what must she risk in order to get the opportunity to do so?  Does anyone else notice that its’ a lot brighter this time around?

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“Did you bring the sunscreen?”     “The hell do you need sunscreen for?  YOU HAVE A HAT!!”

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The Cartoon Physicist’s Noughtie List: Top 10 Books & Book Series That Should Be Adapted Into Movies (With Michael Gleason)