Dora and the Lost City of Gold

When it comes to cartoons that needed a live action remake, Nickelodeon knows where it is at, not Disney. In a year where Disney did it four times, Nickelodeon did it one time, and off a tv show, not a previous film.

Dora the Explorer? Loved by trillions.* It also involves going on an adventure, following maps, doing puzzles? Shit, this is just going to be Tomb Raider but for kids.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold is exactly what we deserve at this point for putting up with these Disney remakes.

adventure
And let’s hope it doesn’t get ruined by creepy pedos.

Dora (Isabela Merced) wants to be an explorer! Like her parents (Eva Longoria, Micahel Peña), she has lived in the jungle most of her life, learning its ways and wanting to find more new things! She is not a lousy treasure hunter, she is an explorer, damn it.

But her parents send her off to the city for high school to socialize. Ugh. She can reunite with her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg), but school is weird, people are mean. And in a museum trip, she is tricked by the staff into getting shipped back to the jungle! Some bad people want to use her to find her parents an the lost city of gold! So now, with the help of Diego, her friends (Madeleine Madden, Nicholas Coombe) and a friend of her parents (Eugenio Derbez), she is going to have to combine their wits, outsmart the baddies, and not allow any more swiping.

Also starring Natasa Ristic, Christopher Kirby, Temuera Morrison, Pia Miller, Joey Vieira, Madelyn Miranda, Malachi Barton, and Danny Trejo as Boots the monkey and Benicio del Toro as Swiper the Fox.

tomb
Tenn power can solve all problems in the world!

Dora was a great family film, with jokes for everyone to get involved with. Some quick fart sounds when necessary, but the scene didn’t last too long. Some songs and many show references for those who have seen it, but still a cute adventure story for teens to get behind.

It points out problems of movies like Tomb Raider, keeping it all tongue and cheek, while also doing a lot of its own thing. The puzzles are in the way to be solved quickly by our heroes, and just a stepping stone. The real purpose is the adventure and the jokes.

Many times I was laughing out at scenes different from my own kids, while they got enjoyment from more of the slapstick stuff. And hey, whatever works.

I think the next appropriate follow up for Nickelodeon is to make a movie about Stick Stickley. If Forky can get big, why not their OG piece of trash?

3 out of 4.
* – No source to back up this stat. 

Dark Phoenix

Oh X-Men, how much we weep for thee.

X-Men so bad now, they took X-Men out of the title.

X-Men so bad, they are trying to remake their previous worst main X-Men title with the same writer.

X-Men so bad, they make a movie called Dark Phoenix and don´t have Phoenix in the movie at all.

X-Men so bad, this movie killed the X-Men.

stranger
And no amount of Albinism can save it. 

X-Men: Apocalypse took place in the 1980´s, and this one takes place in the 1990´s and features no real aging of any of the mutants. That is the real superpowers here.

At this point, they are accepted by the public, a weird timeline indeed. And after the crew was sent into space to safe a spaceship disaster. And sure enough, some space dust gets absorbed into Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) making her feel all funny inside.

It turns out Xavier (James McAvoy) may have been lying to her about her past, and hidden some of her own memories from her. That makes her sad. And mad. And willing apparently to turn her back on all of the X-Men, even killing a few of them, just to showcase how mad she is.

Also aliens.

Featuring of various amounts Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters, Halston Sage, Brian d´Arcy James, Lamar Johnson, Scott Shepherd, and Jessica Chastain.

face
X-Men so bad, their faces are breaking and not the box office records.

X-Men so bad, they keep having their greatest enemy be themselves.

X-Men so bad, that kindness saves the day, like they are care bears.

X-Men so bad, this is not the first time actors have asked for their characters to be killed in order to leave the franchise.

X-Men so bad, that they used time travel to fix the bad movies and still made more bad movies (and time paradoxes).

X-Men so bad, they have failed multiple times to make a hero turning bad in no way compelling for the viewers.

X-Men so bad, they are their own Greek tragedy in terms of a rise and fall of successful films.

X-Men so bad, their film qualities would make a better roller coaster than anything at the Island of Adventure.

X-Men so bad, I put off writing this review for months due to complete and utter apathy.

0 out of 4.

The Farewell

Add another to the list. The Farewell was another screener I actually wanted to go to, but real life got in the way. Amusingly, this time I couldn’t go because my own wife was about to go on a week long trip, so I had to help her on her own farewell.

But I was happy in that I knew I’d have time to see it before the end of the year. It would eventually come out and be watchable.

And it looked sad, and if it could provide a good cry, I am all for it, any day of the week.


That’s a lot of people not crying who clearly want to cry. 

Billi (Awkwafina) is an aspiring writer and a Chinese-American immigrant. Her family moved her down to the states form China when she was a little girl, and she has been in America since then. Despite this, she has still maintained a good relationship with her grandmother, Nai Nai (Zhao Shuzhen). She will call her often, update her on her life, and you know, give her a good chance to practice her Chinese.

Well, she finds out sometime soon a few things. One, her cousin is getting married in China very soon, and two, her Nai Nai has terminal cancer and is not going to last long.

However, in their culture, they do not like to tell people when they are going to die. They believe that the fear of the disease is worse than the disease itself. It is what really kills. No, they should just tell them everything is fine, so their last days are peaceful and not worrying.

Well, Billi has grown up in America. She doesn’t like that. American doctors wouldn’t lie and keep secrets like that. She should tell her. In fact, the wedding is just being rushed so that the family can gather and have a good time with Nai Nai before she passes. And despite trying to keep her away, Billi shows up anyways.

Billi promises that she will not tell her grandmother the truth, but she has to struggle with this the whole time.

Also starring Tzi Ma and Diana Lin.


Oh? Oh? Ohhhhh? Is then when the crying begins?

Gosh darn it. Here I am, in 2019, trying to be all mad at China. You know, for the President being a dictator, the poor workers rights, the former one child policy nonsense, the Hong Kong anti-protest measures. All of that.

And yet, then I have to go and watch a movie that makes me sad for China in a different way.

Awkwafina gives the performance of a lifetime for her, which might not mean much if you knew she has a rap song titled My Vag. She hasn’t been in that many movies technically, but she has been in a lot more recently, and it is great to not see her typecasted into these strange comedic roles.

This feels like a personal film for Awkwafina, and it is based on someone else’s real story, but her and all of the other actors in this film have to carry on so many emotions without easy outlets to express them. After all, they have to hide the truth from a perceptive older lady. So we get to see a lot of inner battles.

The Farewell is an intimate look at a culture that will seem unfamiliar and wrong to your likely non-Chinese eyes. And yet the glimpse into their lives cannot be called wrong, but bittersweet, and with its own pros and cons.

4 out of 4.

Dark Waters

Do you remember A Civil Action? Or maybe Erin Brockovich? Well, I will say I remember the first one a lot more. Because the latter came out when I was a bustling teenager and the only thing I remember in that film is cleavage being nominated for Best Supporting Actress, or something like that.

Either way, legal thrillers can be really fun, especially when they are fighting against people hurting the environment. Hurting the environment is something most of us can agree is wrong, and it is an easy bad guy. The corporations! And usually people are getting sick, or dying, or the land is getting ruined, and no one wants that either.

The sad news is that these cases are still happening and still real, so they can keep making movies about them. They don’t have to make fake boogeyman stories, they are really out there!

Dark Waters is the next attempt to bring a real story to public eye, so we know there is a bad guy out there, and who is trying to fix it.

baby
And do they also know where this baby is?!
Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo) just got partner in the late 1990’s at a sweet Law firm in Ohio. They are probably the number one corporate chemical law firm. They protect companies in chemical law suits, from regular folks or other companies. But the number one chemical company, DuPont, has been out of their grasp as a client.

Well, Bilott comes from a small town in West Virginia, and an old neighbor of his grandma shows up at the firm one day with tape after tape of “evidence” that the landfill put up by his farm is dumping/hiding chemicals even though they said they wouldn’t. His cows are dying, their parts are mutating, they are angry, and his own family is being affected. DuPont, the largest employer in their area, is also the one in charge of this landfill.

Fun.

Bilott is not used to representing plantiffs, but he feels like he has to check it out, for his own sense of morality. And sure, after a few levels of checking, it feels like DuPont is still on the up and up. But when he continually digs, he finds out they have been hiding secrets for decades from the community and America about their products, and this quick lawsuit is going to be a several decade long affair.

Also starring Anne Hathaway, Bill Camp, Bill Pullman, Louisa Krause, Mare Winningham, Tim Robbins, Victor Garber, and William Jackson Harper.

frogface
Ruffalo does his best impression of a frog pretending to be human in this movie.
Todd Haynes directed Dark Waters, and honestly, this is not the topic or type of movie I would have expected from the person who last brought us Carol a few years ago.

To me, this movie had a sort of TV movie special feel about it. The way it was shot, some awkward scenes early on for exposition purposes, it really just didn’t help me get fully into it.

Now, Dark Waters is certainly a story worth being told. It is an important case and I assume most people don’t know about it despite it affecting most households (myself included). It could become must watch material for that reason (or at least, must read for the article this movie is based off of). Maybe even just the Wikipedia synopsis at some point.

Or here: DuPont sucks. Teflon is cancer causing and bad for us. The chemical company lied for decades, helped cause diseases that killed its workers, and tried to hide it and never self regulated what the EPA demanded of it at the time. For profit. And they are still making lots of profit.

But in terms of this film, a lot of great actors are involved and feel wasted. Hathaway is way too great an actress for the angry at home housewife role. I couldn’t tell if Pullman was acting, and Robbins has maybe one good scene. I hate seeing Garber as the villain, but his scenes were pretty by the numbers. Ruffalo is definitely acting weird the whole film, and putting a lot of face work into it. I did love Camp in his role, once I could understand his heavy accent.

The film as a whole is just average. It doesn’t go hard enough and it just feels lazily put together.

2 out of 4.

Knives Out

As a critic of film, I try to not let hype over take me, but for a film like Knives Out it has been quite hard to ignore the praise.

Best murder mystery in decades? Stellar cast where everyone brings their best? Laughs and shocks galore?

It was hard to not get swept up in the rush, so much that just getting ready to watch Knives Out made me appreciate the movie I saw before it a bit less due to wondering if I’d even get a good seat.

Also, it’s probably best to even skip my middle section, because generally the less you know about a mystery, the better!

cop
Unless you a detective, in which case, you want to know as much as possible.

Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) was found in his attic with his throat cut, blood everywhere. By all accounts, a suicide.

But now, a week later, it looks like there are still questions. Officially led by two local officers (LaKeith Stanfield, Noah Segan), but the main questions are coming from Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), a southern detective of notoriety who is being backed by a mysterious patron to find the truth of the matter.

Harlan’s Nurse, Marta (Ana de Armas), is going to be his main go to in order to get the inside scoop on the family, full of people with secrets. So many people, let’s just call them the family (Chris Evans, Don Johnson, Jaeden Martell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Katherine Langford, Michael Shannon, Riki Lindhome, Toni Collette).

But of course, nothing is as it seems, and blah blah blah, til the very end!

Also starring Edi Patterson as the house keeper.

stare
J’Accuse…!

Yes, Knives Out was very creative with its reveals and its pacing. Yes, Craig was magnificent in his role as eccentric detective, with a lot of funny lines. Yes, de Armas carried a lot of weight on her shoulders as well, and was a great leading lady. Yes, a lot of the twist and turns were very much on point and unexpected.

And yet, it still didn’t do everything perfect.

With a large cast, I felt like only three~ people ended up being important. A lot of big names are in there, have a moment or two, but are really wasted. The script does not allow for the large amount of people to shine and it is a bit disappointing in that regard. Hell, I am pretty sure Lindhome didn’t have an actual line of dialogue in this movie, outside of gasps, facial expressions, and argument background noise when everyone is talking at once.

And even if the ending technically works, and the reveals are all laid out, it is so god damn convoluted that it will not only be impossible to guess, it takes a lot of mental work to follow through.

This could be very well be a movie that is best tasted after 2-3 tries, and is still a very enjoyable experience. But if certainly did not dethrone Clue as the best murder mystery movie, in terms of humor, wit, or reveals.

3 out of 4.

Waves

I didn’t know anything about Waves going into it except for the vague IMDB description, but I have seen every movie from director Trey Edward Shults. He did Krisha, which I did not like, and he did It Comes At Night, which I loved. So a nice 50/50 going on there.

He is also super, super white. This only matters to me because I read the description for Waves. It begins with “Traces the journey of a suburban African-American family…” wait, what?

I had to ask myself before hand, am I fine with this? I don’t think Shults knows anything truly about the African-American experience. Is it going to be full of stereotypes? Is it going to touch on it at all?

On the other hand, I know that many directors stick to only what they know and that is why we only have mostly White/man stories, since too many directors are just white/men. What we have asked for these directors is to come out of their comfort zone, to tell other stories and represent the real America. And that appears to be what Shults is doing with this movie.

I can’t have it both ways, so I decided to be completely on board with this film and encourage directors to tell other stories.

ocean
And eventually, more movies about mer-people.

Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is a senior in high school and seemingly has it all. He is fit and loved and popular. He is a star on their school’s wrestling team. His family is rich. He has a girlfriend, Alexis (Alexa Demie), and they are really serious of course. Yep, no problems at all.

Well, his dad (Sterling K. Brown) is sort of intense and involved in every aspect. His step-mom (Renée Elise Goldsberry) is away with work a lot. His sister (Taylor Russell) is nice, but doing her own thing.

But sure enough, one thing goes wrong. And then another. And then another. And then another. And sure enough, emotions, impairments, pain, and sorrow, snowball up until actions can no longer be taken back. Can they recover? Can they move on?

Also starring Clifton Collins Jr. and Lucas Hedges.

church
Maybe Jesus has the answers? Maybe even…Satan!?

Shults is an interesting director. You can tell he wants to do more than just tell a story, but convey emotions and feelings into the audience. The first 10 or 15 minutes of this movie, I felt like a dream. Good times, music, everything is bliss. I honestly don’t know how long parts lasted, or when changes began, but the shift is powerful and he puts in all the stops to make it obvious.

The most obvious way is with the aspect ratio of the movie itself, which starts off full, and changes depending on what is going on in the movie. It might not be obvious when it happens the first time, but eventually it is front and center when the biggest disasters are occurring. And not just the ratio, but the use of sounds and music, the silence, the lighting themes, all of these work together to make a perfect movie for the audience. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are behind the music and it has been their best work since The Social Network, and probably surpass it in my eyes.

I loved, loved, loved our main family in this film. Harrison has never been better in his short career, and Russell puts a surprising amount of heart into this picture as well. The parents relationship felt real, sad, and it broke my heart watching them work through their issues. 

This felt like a real family who loved each other, despite all of the nonsense that went on in their lives.

I definitely cried about four times, just when I became overwhelmed with emotion or during heartfelt scenes, not necessarily my typical obvious cry moments. 

I still dozens of movies to see this year that are going for Best Picture and weeks before 2020, but this is damn near the top of the list for me at this point. 

4 out of 4.

Frozen II

Seven years ago, Frozen hit the world one Thanksgiving week, and we weren’t ready for it. I don’t recall a lot about the trailers, but I do recall the teaser trailer, and it was very basic.

And you know what? I loved it. Most of the soundtrack was really good. They didn’t use Menzel enough, and Groff was ignored stupidly, but they could have done better. It was still a really good sign of Disney amping up their animation department, and led to the also quite perfect Moana!

And let me say, that for Frozen II, I wasn’t dreading it at all. I loved their first teaser trailer. It made this movie look darker, more plot focused, more adventure full. I was ready to be blown away.

horse
A water horse in water? That makes sense. Land horses are on land.
Three years after the events of the first film, everything in Arendelle is going so darn swell. The gates have been open, people are happy and prosperous, and oh golly gee gumdrops, everything will stay the same.

Except… Elsa (Idina Menzel) is starting to hear a strange calling in the distance, and only she is hearing it. And Anna (Kristen Bell) is helping run things, she loves having all these freedoms. Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) is about to propose to Anna, but she is so preoccupied with her sister things keep coming up. And Olaf (Josh Gad) is dealing with his strange existence, getting older and more mature.

All of this only slightly matters. What matters the most is that voice, and all of the exposition the beginning of the film talked about. There used to be an enchanted nearby that the old King saw when he was a boy, and the two groups tried to be friends. But, betrayal! Sadness! And a lot of magic left the world.

I guess Elsa just has that magical adventure itch, because she gets the gang together after a disaster in their city to try and enter that blocked off enchanted forest to see if they can figure out what is going on, or maybe just that voice.

Also starring various voices by Alan Tudyk, Ciarán Hinds, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton, Jason Ritter, Rachel Matthews, and Jeremy Sisto.

deer
Reindeers rush better than people, Sven wouldn’t you say that’s true? 

Really early on in Frozen II is when I realized things weren’t going to be as good as I had hoped. It started with a scene from their childhood, pre trolls interfering with memory. And it had the long story their dad said about the forest, and a bonus mom song. And the entirety of the movie relies on the scene.

The entirety of a sequel relying on a scene that didn’t happen in the first film? Ugh. There were a lot of plot points they could have naturally done based on the first film. Hell, they could have done most of this film without that scene. But really this just feels like changing the canon. Sure, that kid conversation could have happened in their life and not changed the first film at all. But it now just feels tacked on.

Another downgrade for me is the music overall. Now of course, I love that they gave Groff his own song and parts of other songs, keeping true to his character. They also used Menzel more. But most of the songs don’t capture the spirit to me like they did in the first film. I already listened to the soundtrack a second time and I am not left with whimsy, I’m not wanting to hear and sing a long over and over.

Again, overall, the plot is okay. It has some good parts, some lame parts, some rushed parts, and some tacked on parts. Some of the Elsa and Anna scenes are really strong, but the film overall feels a lot weaker. And that is a shame. It will still probably win an Oscar for animated awards because the Academy is usually really lame though.

2 out of 4.

Christmas Break-In

Christmas Break-In seems to be a straight to Netflix movie that they released, without really wanting to let people know it was released.

I only found it accidentally, going deep into one of the genre lists. When I saw it, I was surprised that it carried a 2019 label with it. They didn’t put it on any sort of recommended list that I could find. I am not sure how people would know it is there?

Well, based on the description, it would probably pop up for people who searched for Home Alone and were sad to find it not on Netflix. That is my only guess. I also imagine that the list of people looking up Home Alone is relatively high.

“Oh, this is like Home Alone but a school? Fine, that’ll do.”

It turns out no, it will not do at all!

tie
The Red vs Blue series has gotten very realistic.

Izzy (Cameron Seely) wants one thing in her life for Christmas. An electric guitar. She dreams of being a rock star, and she has been taking lessons. The lessons have come from her school’s janitor (Danny Glover), who in his free time (and in her class time??) has been teaching her cords.

And you know what? Her parents (Denise Richards, Sean O’Bryan) are totally cool with it too. They are going to get her a guitar the day before Christmas when the local shop has a big big sale. It just happens to be on the same day as a big winter storm coming in, so they have to be right on time.

But apparently, Izzy’s parents are extremely forgetful of her all of the time and often forget about plans no matter how hard she reminds them. They will just work work work. What is a rich house without caring parents? So she is left at school, everyone gone, and who should arrive? Why, three criminals (Jake Van Wagoner, Katrina Begin, Douglas Spain) who are looking for shelter overnight after stealing bags of coins from a charity.

Guess she is going to have to hide from them and stop them, while hoping eventually she gets picked up.

Also starring Dawson Ehlke as the caring older brother.

phone
Got a phone, and you are a genius now, eh? 

Christmas Break-In would be like Home Alone, if Home Alone had some burglars knock on the door, the kid tell them to go away there’s people here, and then the cops arrest them.

It feels like almost nothing happens. It does take forever to just get us to the point in the story, where we have girl and criminals in the school at the same time. It requires a lot of coincidences. Her parents work together in the same building, and both forget? The snow storm hits right then? The criminals were dumb and went the wrong way for awhile? The phone dies? Everyone fucking leaves the school knowing she is sitting there waiting? Unrelated, when the hell does she have time to learn guitar from the janitor during school? I can’t imagine they are all fine with her skipping classes so often for that, especially if they are paying the janitor (the only janitor in the whole school) for a different job.

Anyways. Once the criminals get there? She does like, two things. There aren’t fun traps, there isn’t a lot of ingenuity, there is really basic stuff that wouldn’t trick…well, anyone.

And eventually, this ends, the day is saved, and hooray, guitars.

Just a complete waste of a film. They could have made it fun and cool, but they went for pointless and dull.

Lastly, no one would ever believe that Denise Richards and Sean O’Bryan could be married.

0 out of 4.

Shazam!

Wham, bam, thank you maam, Shazam is crammed with ham, rams, and not giving a damn.

Since the DCEU has begun, it has looked very bleak. They have had great people to pick their movies apart to make fantastic trailers, and almost never lived up to them. The closest up to this point [coming from someone who will get around to seeing Aquaman…eventually] was Wonder Woman, which had an actual good story and visuals and felt great. Until the end where it decided it needed to go full DCEU with its final reveal/battle scene to end it pretty shitty.

But Shazam! No, they brought in Zachary Levi, and everyone knows that Levi is not serious. His face is too goofy for serious. He would need a beard for that. They are now going for a Superhero comedy. Marvel has those, and people like Marvel.

DC wants that Marvel money, damn it, so they are going to start with their former Captain Marvel himself.

Spark
And this time he´s also part Storm!

Billy Baston (Asher Angel) is your typical foster kid. He is mad at the world, he wants to find his real mom, and thinks it is easy to not care about the regular stuff in life, like school, homework, or bath time.

Long story short, Billy is found to be pure of heart by some ancient Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) and given some ancient Greek magical powers once he says the words Shazam! And he also becomes an adult (Zachary Levi), strong, and all of the basic super hero stuff.

His foster brother (Jack Dylan Grazer) also knows the truth about his new powers, and given his comic book knowledge, is there to help him through this change. Can they use these powers for good? Where are the villains?

It turns out the villain is Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong), who has a kid was given the power but failed the test. This made him lose his family and since then he has spent his life looking for them, gaining wealth and power in the real world. He wants the power for himself, at whatever cost.

And you know, Billy just wants to find his mom, and be liked, and not care about any of this responsibility. Oh golly.

Also starring Faithe Herman, Ian Chen, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews, Grace Fulton, and Jovan Armand.

Drink
Got an adult body? Time to drink a lot of soda!

Shazam has a lot of heart and humor, things that seem to have been missing from the DCEU. And that extended universe has slowed, slowed down. I haven´t even seen Aquaman from last year, and Shazam is the only entry for 2019. The whole group of movies needs to rethink its existence and how to put out films that do not feel like crap on arrival (COA).

Levi is probably the perfect choice of kid in adult body and walks that line perfectly. It always brought a smile to my face and felt incredibly accurate.

The foster home was wonderful, and the sad scenes were the right level of sad. A lot of emotions in this movie.

And it still had some awkward scenes. I thought the entire intro with the kid future villain was awkward. The other dimension or whatever with the powers? It looked cheap and fake. The ending had some cool fan service and implications for the future, but also didn´t have a lot of high stakes.

Strong made an okay bad guy in this one, with the board room scene in particular being a great insight to evil.

DCEU needs to realize this was a good start in fixing its image. Not every film should be like Shazam, that would not make sense. But to balance the humor with the dark, to not just be a gross CGI fest, and all of that? Here is hoping 2020 and onward is better.

3 out of 4.

Klaus

A long time ago, director Sergio Pablos set up an animation studio in Spain, in his homeland. He had worked for Disney in the 90’s, on such films like Hercules and Tarzan as an animator. He believed in 2D animation still, and didn’t want to make CGI movies, so he decided to focus his studio on just that. 2D, hand drawn, animation, but with upgrades from the technical side to make other parts easier.

And from his mad, Amish brained body came the movie Klaus.

They wanted dynamic backgrounds and characters, and not just one or the other. They wanted to capture the magic of animation again and really pour their heart and soul into the picture.

And hey, if you want to capture magic, why not start with a little bit of Santa action?

letter
Pictured: A little bit of Santa action.

Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) is a piece of work, I tell you what. He has lived a privileged life, his father in charge of the post offices around the world, and he hasn’t had to do much. So when he is put into the postman program for training, he doesn’t take it seriously and he slacks off. Despite this, his father still decides to send him to Smeerensburg, a tiny island far, far North, away from everything.

Jesper’s goal is handle at least 6,000 letters within a year, in the city or our of the city, and get the post office up and running. It sounds bad, but it is actually worse than he imagined. In this city, very few people are out and about. In fact, they are a town known for holding grudges and fighting.

There are two ruling families, the Ellingboes and the Krums, who have been fighting for decades, and won’t be nice at all. This means they don’t go to school. They don’t do nice things. They don’t frolic down the streets. And they definitely have no need to send any letters.

Well, thanks to circumstances, a child’s picture makes its way to Jesper and the lone woodsman in his cabin (J.K. Simmons), who decides that the picture needs a gift. So he demands that Jesper deliver the child a toy that he has created.

This spreads throughout the village kids, and they also want to make letters for toys. This is a good idea, thinks Jesper, this will get him back home to his luxury.

Also featuring the voices of Rashida Jones, Joan Cusack, Will Sasso, and Norm MacDonald.

panic
Pictured: Not home in his luxury. 

Klaus blew me away on so many levels.

The first, worthy of talking about, is the animation style. It was a breath of fresh air! Much like how Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse changed the animation game last year, from American movie releases, Klaus is doing the same thing. The traditional 2D animation is so gosh darn full of visual pleasure that every frame feels more than a painting. The backgrounds, the characters, the details, everything is so full.

The story, a re-imagining of the story of Santa, is also a lot more unique. It isn’t a guy just trying to bring toys to kids who banned fun, or whatever those older stop motion cartoons said. It is creative, so despite hearing about Santa all my life, it was refreshing to see a new take on it. A legit, new take.

The voice acting was really well, although Schwartzman sounded liked David Spade at parts of the film (probably just because of MacDonald’s voice to get me in that 90’s SNL mood).

This film had a lot of darker moments early on, and so the transition from dark to gushy Christmas spirit was a nice and welcome one, instead of starting high and Christmas and leaving us sick of it. This feels like a new holiday classic to me. Something that can pair nicely with A Nightmare Before Christmas.

The only way it could be better is if it was a musical as well. Or maybe not. I’ll take it the way it is.

4 out of 4.

1 2