Current Mini Reviews (Zombies 2, Shaun the Sheep 2, The Photograph, The Call of the Wild)

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I have been busy as usual but still have managed to see 4 films I wanted to report here on the blog. It’s an interesting bunch so you will have to share with me what you thought if you get to see any of them. Sure love ya!

Zombies 2

zombies 2

A lot of people are really tough on the Disney Channel original musicals but I’ve enjoyed almost all of them. With the exception of Freaky Friday I’ve had fun with the energetic dance numbers and positive messages for teens they all offer. Now we have Zombies 2 and it is another entertaining entry.

Meg Donnelly and Milo Manheim are both charismatic actors and good singers that solidly lead the film and the new crew of werewolves in town have a cool slick style to them. Unfortunately they just recycled the message of the first movie again but it’s an important message of tolerance so I give them a little bit of a pass. However, Zombies 3 needs to be something different!

All that said, if you enjoyed the first Zombies film you will enjoy this.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

The Photograph

photograph

I really enjoyed director Stella Meghie’s last film Everything Everything. I felt she took a basic sick teen love story and elevated it with sincere performances and a clever atmosphere. So naturally I was excited to see her new film The Photograph which Universal decided to bury for some reason over the Valentines weekend.

I don’t know why they hid The Photograph from critics because I really liked it. If you are looking for a romance directed with tons of style it is the film for you. Stars Lakeith Stanfield and Issa Rae have wonderful chemistry together and Maghie does such a good job creating palatable romantic tension between our two leads.

The flashbacks telling the story of Rae’s parents isn’t as compelling but it’s still serviceable. If you are into romances The Photograph is a well executed film I definitely recommend. For the record, it is pretty steamy for a pg13 so you’ve been warned.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

shaun-sheep-2

It seems like I have been waiting for the sequel to the delightful The Shaun the Sheep Movie from 2015 for forever. We heard about it getting developed for several years and then last year it opened in England to acclaim only to be relegated to Netflix here in the States in 2020. Hopefully on Netflix will allow more people to see the film as it is a sweet and funny comedy for the entire family.

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon reunites us with our rascal sheep at Mossy Bottom Farm in England. Shaun and his friends are bored and making life difficult for the farm watchdog Bitzer. Then one day an alien arrives named Lu-La and all sorts of mischief occurs.

This movie is adorable. That’s all there is to say about it. Every minute on screen is super cute and I had a smile on my face. If you don’t think Shaun and his friends antics are funny it won’t be for you but I loved it. It has an old school silent movie appeal to it I really loved and kids will adore it. It’s a great film to watch as a family and everyone will laugh and enjoy the cuteness together. And of course the claymation animation is so well executed.

After a bit of a mistep with Early Man Aardman Animation is back with a real winner in Farmageddon.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

The Call of the Wild

call of the wild

Our last film is the new adaptation of the Jack London novel The Call of the Wild. I know I have read the novel but it has been a few years and I must admit I sometimes get it and London’s other popular novel White Fang confused. That said, I do think this version stays pretty close to the book, so that should make literary fans happy.

This version stars Harrison Ford as an adventurer who finds a dog named Buck who has seen many owners before landing on him (Ford isn’t in the movie much for the first 45 minutes). The only catch is this version of Buck is an all CGI dog instead of a regular dog and it arrives with mixed results.

Ford does a good job and the spirit of adventure throughout is compelling. There’s something old fashioned about this storytelling without wasted time on romances or unnecessary melodrama. The beautiful cinematography of the Yukon is also gorgeous and immersive.

However, the CGI dog is distracting especially when he is surrounded by other dogs (or any kind of group shot to be honest). Close up he fairs a little bit better but it is not a convincing visual. It’s especially a problem when we just got Togo from Disney Plus, which is also about a heroic dog in the Klondike and was soooo much better.

The other problem I had with The Call of the Wild was a very cringe-worthy performance by the usually reliable Dan Stevens. He plays an over-the-top bad guy named Hal who has a grudge against Ford’s John Thornton for the weakest of reasons. I am sure he was just doing what he was told but his insane bad-guy did not fit in with the leisurely paced choices in the rest of the film. It was really bad.

The Call of the Wild is also pretty scary for small children and I don’t know if the story will interest older kids. When it comes to Disney Plus it could be a nice way to introduce kids to the book but I don’t think I can recommend it in the theaters. It’s not awful but too uneven to spend the big dollars on.

4.5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

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DreamWorks 16: Flushed Away

Do you ever have those movies that you feel like you should like so you keep going back to hoping that time will do the trick? Flushed Away is such a movie for me. I love Aardman Animation. I love the voice cast and the story although generic would be fine if the execution worked for me. My nieces and sister  love it so that makes me want to love it. Sadly I watched it again today and walked away  not loving it or even liking it much to be honest. Let me try to explain why. Flushed Away is about a pampered rat named Roddy. He is the pet of a rich family and one day he is flushed down the toliet by a common sewer rat named Sid. This is the first problem. I hate Sid. He’s supposed to be funny but comes across as super annoying instead. Such is the case with many of Flushed Away’s characters.

The second problem is Roddy has no motivation as a character. He’s flushed down the toilet against his will and then spends the rest of the movie trying to get back home, except for him home isn’t family or something like that. It is luxury and fine living. Getting back to the high life doesn’t make for a super compelling character.

Once in the sewer he meets a tough talking rat named Rita who is trying retrieve a stolen ruby from an evil toad. She is doing this for her family, which gives her some motivation but in the end it is a buddy road trip movie and nothing more. I expect more inventive storytelling from Aardman Animation.

The villainous Toad has some fun moments but nothing that made me warm up to the movie as a whole. The animation is also very rough in patches with cgi trying to mimic the look of Aardman’s stop motion, which is  a real shame since I love their stop motion style. There are times when the rendering looks pretty bad. I realize it is way back in 2006 but it is the same year as Cars and Happy Feet- both films with way better animation. The next year would come Ratatouille, which just the Paris cityscapes  alone triumph over anything in Flushed Away.

A lot of the enjoyment of this film will come down to whether you find it funny. I did enjoy the singing slugs. They made me laugh and brought some good tunes into the mix. Unfortunately the rest of the jokes either annoys me or lands flat. Like I said, my sister and nieces think it is hilarious so it depends on your sense of humor I suppose.

I like the overall message about family and that even if they drive you crazy those bonds are special and should be treasured. Single life could have been portrayed with a little more nuance but it’s a movie for small children so I will give them that one. Most people will feel good with the message of the film.

Sometimes with films we just have to say ‘this one isn’t for me’ and that’s the case with Flushed Away. I see why other people enjoy it but it doesn’t work for me. I don’t enjoy watching it and really have no desire to watch it again. I recommend watching Pirates! or Shaun the Sheep Movie instead

Dreamworks 12: Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Ware Rabbit

After the horrors of last week’s Shark Tale I had to give myself a gift of one of Dreamwork’s two Oscar winning films- Wallace and Gromit: the Curse of the Ware Rabbit. This film is made by Aardman Animation in partnership with Dreamworks. I don’t think of it as a true Dreamworks film but it is in the canon so I get to review it. 🙂

Wallace and Gromit are two characters created by director Nick Park as characters in a series of British stop motion shorts. Wallace is the stupid but well meaning inventor and Gromit is his genius dog. Most of the shorts are Wallace getting into trouble and Gromit finding a way to get him out of it.  They are charming and full of laughs for the entire family.

Now they make their jump to the big screen, and fortunately they do it rather well. In Curse of the Ware Rabbit, Wallace  (Peter Sallis) and Gromit are running a business to remove pesky rabbits from the towns gardens.  There is great urgency because the rabbits are eating up all the jumbo sized prize gardens of the townsfolk.

One night Wallace sets up an experiment where he creates a Frankenstein Rabbit called the Ware Rabbit who starts terrorizing the neighborhood gardens. This includes Lady Tottington who becomes a love interest for Wallace.

Wallace and Gromit get on the case and all kinds of shenanigans occur.

This film is a complete delight. It’s funny, the animation is amazing and there is a nice heart to the relationship between Wallace and Gromit. Wallace may be stupid but they do love each other.

I also love Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter) and the evil Lord Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes). It’s a comedy designed for kids but it has those British moments adults will enjoy also.

My only flaw with the film is occasionally the pacing can sag but then it picks back up again pretty quickly with a slapstick sequence or tender scene. Other than that I am glad it won the Oscar as I think it is Aardman’s best stop motion film followed by Shaun the Sheep Movie and Chicken Run. It’s definitely in the top 3 Dreamworks films if you include it in your ranking.

Overall Grade- A

 

Did the Right Film Win? 2005 Animated Oscars

Today we get to one of the hardest years I think I will face in this analysis of the films nominated for Best Animated Academy Award each year.  I love all of the 3 films nominated and can see going with any of them.

Check out my video where I talk about the films and decide- did the right one win?  If you like the video give it a thumbs up.  Thanks!

Picking my favorite was difficult because they are all so strong.  In the end I went with Corpse Bride because I love the Danny Elfman music and being a lover of musicals that will always put a movie over the top.  I particularly like these 2 numbers.

What would you pick? Please put in the comments section. Thanks.  I’ve really loved this discussion on both  my channel and here on the blog from this series so thank you for contributing!

 

Shaun the Sheep Review

Believe it or not the next animated film of 2015 is here, Aardman Animation’s delightful Shaun the Sheep.  Based on the BBC series of the same name (which I had not seen till today) it is a spin off of the popular Wallace and Gromit movie and series created by Nick Park and team.  However, most of Wallace and Gromit’s humor is based on the PG Wodehouse type dialogue where Shaun the Sheep has literally no dialogue at all so they are quite different films.

shaunthesheep10The better comparison for Shaun the Sheep is the recent Minions.  Both movies are about adorable creatures who can’t speak English and go on an adventure.  In my opinion Shaun the Sheep is the much better of the two.

I went with a friend and her two kids.  They seemed a little tired so that may have been part of it but they weren’t super into it.  I think I laughed much more than they did so make of that what you will.  That said, I think this is a funny movie for the whole family without any of that wink-wink humor Minions had in droves.  There is a little bit of potty humor but not much.  Mostly it is just funny sight gags and slapstick.

shaunthesheep7The plot is pretty simple (also an improvement from the convoluted plot of Minions).  Basically Shaun and his buddies decide they want a break from the farm so they put the Farmer to sleep and attempt to make their escape.  Unfortunately the Farmer ends up in the Big City and loses his memory.  They must go after him and help him remember who he is.

There is a nice relationship between the Farmer and the sheep I liked.  As crazy as it sounds it felt genuine.  The sheep seem genuinely worried about their owner.

shaunthsheep5There is a ‘Animal Containment Specialist’ named Trumper who is the villain of the film.  He is kind of like a Home Alone style villain who gets fixated on catching the sheep to his own funny detriment. (A little like the Farmers Wife in Chicken Run).

shaunthesheepShaun the Sheep is a brisk 85 minutes and despite having no dialogue aside from grunting and ba,ba,ba, I was engaged.  It’s pretty funny the humans all talk like the Swedish Chef in the Muppets but it works because we get just enough of it.

I don’t know if Shaun the Sheep is quite as memorable as Chicken Run or Wallace and Gromit but I suppose that is a tall order.  Is it one we will be talking about in 15 years like we do Chicken Run (can you believe it is that old!)?  Probably not but I enjoyed it.  And like I said compared to Minions it is so much cleaner, smarter and enjoyable.

I also like the design of the sheep.  They are so cute but they also talk out of the side of their mouth in a funny way.  Stop motion animation is so amazing to watch.  It always blows me away.

shaunthesheep4If any of you get to see it let me know what you think especially if you are a fan of the series, which I am definitely going to check out.

Overall Grade- B+

Here is my youtube review.