Early Man and all the images you see in this review are owned by Aardman Animations and StudioCanal
Directed by Nick Park
I remember watching those Wallace and Gromit shorts many times when I was a kid on VHS tapes (none of which I still have), and while I haven’t been keeping up with Aardman TOO much in the last decade, I have always respected them as a studio and have had nothing but good things to say about their work; including that Pirates movie which seems to have had a much more mixed reception than a lot of their other work. Now we’ve got their most auditions work to date; not because it’s a particularly out there or unexpected from the studio, but because they had the gall to open it against Black Panther! I mean I guess it goes with the David and Goliath underdog story this movie is trying to tell, but something tells me that the forward thinking and groundbreaking black centered super hero movie is gonna do a SMIDGE more business than this silly cartoon. Does Aardman’s latest adventure hold up to the high pedigree that they’ve set for themselves over their long and prestigious filmography, or have the masters of clay lost their touch in this latest outing? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Dug (Eddie Redmayne) who is the youngest and the most wide-eyed member of a tribe of cavemen that spends their days hunting rabbits and playing primitive instruments. Dug dreams of something more though, like possibly hunting BIGGER animals (maybe even a Mammoth), yet the leader Chief Bobnar (Timothy Spall) doesn’t feel like rocking the boat is the best thing for the tribe; especially when everyone else is so incompetent that they can manage to catch rabbits. Still, the march of time is a cruel one and one day the tribe is uprooted from their idyllic homes by the war machines and mining equipment of Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston); leader of a nearby town that has advanced to the Bronze Age. Through a series of convoluted missteps and slapstick humor, Dug ends up tripping falling into the Bronze Age city and even gets stuck right in the middle of their sacred arena where the mightiest warriors gather for the crowd’s amusement. What exactly do they DO in the arena? Fight to the death? Feed Christians to lions? NO! They play SOCCER of course! You know, that one game that everyone else calls football that we in the US only seem to care about once every four years! Dug, seeing how much the people of this town crave the sport and treat as sacrosanct, challenges Lord Nooth and his best players to a match against him and his tribe! If Lord Nooth wins, he can keep their homeland, but if Dug wins they get it back! Can Dug and his tribe manage to learn how play just in time to beat the very best players the Bronze Age has to offer? Will Dug’s new friend Goona (Maisie Williams) be the ringer they need to secure victory and will she finally get to live out her dreams of glory on the football pitch? More importantly, can FIFA find a way to somehow turn this into an excuse to plunder a country of its riches and bully local governments!?
“This game is brought to you by Bronze. Always bet on Bronze and if we catch you with Steel, that’s twenty years in Football Jail!”
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?
“Did you bring the sunscreen?” “The hell do you need sunscreen for? YOU HAVE A HAT!!”