Tag: Adventure

Arctic Dogs

Ohhh, box office failures? Guess I have to see it.

Much like you all, I never heard about the movie Arctic Dogs coming out to theaters. It wasn’t given to the press. If it had an advertising budget, it went up someone’s ass.

Arctic Dogs went to theaters on November 1st, and completely bombed. It opened in over 2,800 theaters and currently (at time of writing) has the worst amount earned in an opening weekend for that many theaters at just $2.9 million. Completely, and utterly destroyed by its competition.

But surely an animated film about some doggos can’t be that bad?

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Oh. Foxes. Maybe. Never mind.

Swifty (Jeremy Renner) is an arctic fox, living in, well, the Arctic. He is super white, blends in with the snow, and thus, others seem to just ignore him and let him do his own thing.

Oh, yeah, this is a animals as humans movie. And the coolest animals in this small town are the Arctic Dogs super hero animals. What do they do? Oh. They deliver mail and packages to other small towns. Cool.

So naturally Swifty wants to be an Arctic Dog sledder, despite being a fox. And he meets the weight requirements, but isn’t really strong. So he is sent into the warehouse to help stamp packages, looking on the outside in.

Well, one time, Swifty has to send out a package. And it is to a weird Walrus recluse (John Cleese) who has Puffins working for him, all weird. And apparently that is enough for the Walrus to get rid of all the Arctic Dogs, just in case.

Now it is up to Swifty to deliver the packages, and, maybe, one day, also save the day.

Also starring Alec Baldwin, Anjelica Huston, Heidi Klum, James Franco, Laurie Holden, and Omar Sy.

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Yep, Walrus on a robot spider bod. The ladies love it.

You see, Arctic Dogs isn’t bad enough to warrant its record. I mean, it is bad sure. But it is straight to DVD bad, not let’s scorn this movie so it never tries this nonsense again, bad.

Voice casting, most of it is uninspired. Not even John Cleese could save it with his wonderful words and accent. Hero is generic. We have had plenty of times someone who wants to be something, that he literally shouldn’t be able to do, but does it anyways because perseverance. But they keep doing it with animals or inanimate objects so that the real message is lost.

At least this time in this movie he didn’t just train hard enough to eventually get the job and prove people wrong. No, he got the job because all of the others were captured. Why? Because of plot reasons that don’t make at all any sense. Why would the villain want to take out all of the mail delivery dogs, when he still needs to get mail delivered to finish his evil plot? … … … Ohhh, because of poor writing.

Our female lead has the personality of Engineer, which is at least slightly different than the personality of scientist. And she unknowingly helps the bad guy the whole time, because I guess she isn’t smart enough to know what she is building? And there could be plot resolved from this earlier, if the main characters could talk better.

Oh, and let’s not forget the bad guys motivations. He is used to represent Global Warming, because its great to have a single source for the blame and make things fixable.

I just…I don’t know why the plot is so, so, so, so bad. The animation is definitely okay/average. But the terrible plot, nonsensical decisions and overdone tenants of the story line make this a disaster from the start. Good thing no one watched it.

0 out of 4.

The Aeronauts

The Aeronauts is a an end of year movie that should have had all of the pomp and circumstance of a summer release and…did not. Because Amazon Studios bought it, I guess they felt it only deserved some amount of release, and one of those online a month or so later.

It was really swell of them to do that for me, as I got to see it before the end of 2019!

Although, I was curious about how the device would affect my enjoyment of the movie. So I split it into thirds by time, not my plot (as I hadn’t seen it yet). I started with my regular desktop computer, then the next third was my phone, and my final third was my living room television.

And the results will not surprise you at all!

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The results are as shocking as this balloon ride.
The Aeronauts is a fictionalized telling of James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne), famed weather scientist, and him going on a balloon to do some science. His goal was to go super high up, higher than anyone else, with all the science equipment in order to help predict weather patterns and just figure out shit about the atmosphere.

His partner in crime? Fictional, Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones), hot air balloon pilot, loosely based on Sophie Blanchard. She was good a piloting, even though on one of her recent missions, her husband (Vincent Perez) died in the balloon, so that sucks a lot. She is all about the flair and the spectacle in order to get financing behind these trips. Science be damned, she just wants to fly and redeem herself.

And yeah. This is a movie about the hot air balloon trip that almost killed them both, where they went higher than any human before, and science’d a whole lot. Sort of based off of a real trip done, but way less crazy.

Also starring Himesh Patel, Phoebe Fox, Rebecca Front, and Robert Glenister.

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She’s as cold as ice, but not willing to sacrifice their love. 

First, the screen results. I was much more excited abotu the movie and interested in its plot the bigger the screen. Shocking ahh! If you got to watch this on IMAX, I am jealous, because it is a beautiful movie with a lot of CGI that works really well together to take us on a trip above the clouds.

The biggest selling point for the film is the visuals.

Redmayne and Jones have really good chemistry together, and despite the story being told in a disjointed order, it doesn’t take away from their short and important flight.

Unfortunately, it is also really hard to get super psyched about this movie, knowing it is far closer to a fake tale than anything else. If it was sold just a fiction story? It’d be a fun adventure. But it is being sold as the sort of true story, and now the whole thing is muddled. This is not something you would get actual useful knowledge out of. It should not be seen as educational.

Unfortunately, the whole film is set up in a way to highlight this one big important moment and flight that really didn’t exist. A cool story, destroyed by its details.

2 out of 4.

Jumanji: The Next Level

Jumanji: The Next Level is the sequel to the sequel/reboot that was actually the second sequel to a movie that is based on a book from the 1980’s.

But this one has characters from the last one, and is also in a video game, so people like that.

Honestly, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was better than I expected, even with dumb video game inconsistencies that movies just refuse to ever get right when we have real people sucked into video games.

And knowing that this movie had Dwayne Johnson pretending to be Danny DeVito? That was really enough for me to make sure I could see it!

awk
Seems like some glitches have affected the Avatars!
Alright! Time for more video games!

This takes place I guess about two years after the events of our first film. All of our heroes went off to do things. Spencer (Alex Wolff), our main kid I guess, went off to NYC for college, while the girl Martha (Morgan Turner) whom he started to date, went to a different school. She seemed toooo cool for him now and he broke up because of his anxieties and low self worth.

But the four of them still agree to meet up over the holidays, Spencer, Martha, Bethany (Madison Iseman) and Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), a strange Breakfast club that didn’t end.

This time though, Spencer doesn’t show up, despite coming back home. So they check for him at home and only see some old dudes, Eddie (Danny DeVito) and Milo (Danny Glover). It’s his grandparent and old business partner!

Turns out Spencer went back into the game Also turns out that Spencer even has the game again, despite being all broken. So they agree to go back in, but uh oh, old people get sucked in instead of Bethany! Now they have to explain it all to people who are bad at video games. Not only that, but the game seems to be a sequel, and a new quest!

Ack. Okay. Find Spencer. Finish the game. Don’t die. Also starring the same avatars of Karen Gillan, Dwayne Johnson, Jack BlackNick Jonas, and Kevin Hart. Also Awkwafina, Rhys Darby, Rory McCann, and Colin Hanks.

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In this new level, it takes place in Australia! Clearly.

I came for the Rock as Devito, but it turns out the real star was Hart as Glover. It is already hard to see Kevin Hart as anyone besides Kevin Hart. Even in the last film, it was still basically Kevin Hart. But when he was imitating Glover, his voice was deeper, his voice was more thoughtful and slow. And sure, the slower speech was important enough to the plot so that everyone would notice it, doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it.

The Rock as DeVito? Honestly, a bit more disappointing. At first I thought it must be my own hype ruining it, and maybe DeVito wasn’t as obvious as I thought. But later in the movie, ANOTHER character had to act like DeVito for long periods of time and they nailed it. It was exactly what I was hoping the Rock would do, and he didn’t deliver. And for spoiler reasons I will keep it vague, great job other acting person. You and the previous mentioned Hart description knocked it out of the park.

Now on the other fronts, the plot of this one is really weak. Not just the video game plot, which is part of the point. The real world plot. The old guy anger isn’t worth our time. The plot to get Spencer and friends into the game was terrible this time around. Why does it happen? Because they want a sequel to exist, I guess.

This film still has some fun, and some tricks up its sleeve. And still, like the first, it ends up being just okay.

2 out of 4.

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.

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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. 

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.

The Lion King

It’s the circle of life, and fifteen years after The Lion King graced our screens, we are now given a new The Lion King. But there is so much different between the two! You see, the one twenty-five years ago was animated, while this one is…animated differently!

Only one scene had some live action components, and that was in the opening montage of animals, some of the backgrounds were real. That is it. Everything else you couldn’t even call a green screen, because it is 100% made on computers.

We just really want you to make sure you don’t call this the Live Action version, like a lot of their recent remakes. It is not, it is still animated, and nothing is real anymore anyways.

hakuna my tatas
Hakuna my tatas, life is a lie.

Ah good. Simba (Donald Glover) exists. Maybe this time his Uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) wont trick him into thinking that he killed his father, Mufasa (James Earl Jones). Oh… Think again!

No, but this time it is different. We have more animals! Like, we got this spiritual one, Rafiki (John Kani) who likes to wait around and draw on his walls. We got Nala (Beyoncé) who likes to wrestle, we got super mad Zazu (John Oliver) just trying to give advice, we got Sarabi (Alfre Woodard), mad that her husband had to go and get dead. Okay a lot of that is the same.

Uhhhh, we got Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen), and they like to relax, but this time more animals in the oasis have words too!

Oh, oh, oh, the real difference. None of our hyenas are unable to speak! Yeah that’s it. Nailed it.

Also featuring the voices of Chance the Rapper, Eric André, Florence Kasumba, JD McCray, Keegan-Michael Key, Penny Johnson Jerald, and Shahadi Wright Joseph.

circle of life
“Shit, I was brought into this world just for this?” – Simba, probably.

Let’s take something people like, bring it back again, and make it worse, while also technically improving it. Because sure, the animals looked very realistic, which is what they were going for. Technology sure is wonderful.

And the realistic animals is also the cause of all of the other problems in this movie.

Because they are so realistic, having them talk looks awkward. And more awkward than talking animal films like Homeward Bound, because in Homeward Bound, they didn’t try to match words to their mouth movement, they just put voice overs. Watching the animals talk is distracting and downright wrong. The animals don’t have emotions on their faces either, so when the voice actors ATTEMPT to give emotion, then it is seemingly lost and wasted.

I do say attempt, because honestly, most of the voice acting was phoned in. People coming from the movie usually talk about Eichner and Rogen being the stars, because at least they are funny. Everyone else is super serious all the time. Sure, there are dark moments, but many characters provide laughs in the original.

However, even Rogen falls short for me, because his singing is terrible. I can’t enjoy Hakuna Matata when Rogen is bringing it down. Poor Eichner, actually singing well. Speaking of songs, whatever they did to Be Prepared will forever be seen as one of the biggest mistakes int his films history.

Now, what I am most disappointed about is this movie added almost 30 minutes of material, so I figured we’d get expanded characters. All we really got expanded was Sarabi, and that is barely. We still have a whole trove of lionesses that are just background, and still only three hyenas. No new animals to speak of and introduce as characters.

The only little bit of reprieve we get is in the oasis, where finally some random animals are also talking and adding in words, especially during the grub scene. How do we not have more of that?! It is so easy to do, and plus, more goddamn toys to sell.

Instead we got a movie with worse music, worse voice acting, technically better animation, but a lot less heart.

1 out of 4.

Avengers: Endgame (Spoilers)

Here we are, months after the release of Avengers: Endgame, and I am now ready to post a review. Why the delay? Several reasons!

One, my review when it came out would not mean a damn thing. Who cares? Everyone who wants to see it will go see it, and I wouldn’t convince any one on any side to change their mind. No one was on the fence.

Two, I wanted to wait for it to beat Avatar‘s record. I don’t think it has yet, but I’m tired of waiting. It will break it will silly re-releases, so pretty disappointing.

And three, if I waited a long time, I could do a review with spoilers! Something I have never really done before. A spoiler review can be more specific, and hey, people can agree or disagree. So let’s get on it.

heroes
Together Each Achieves More.

Endgame takes place almost immediately after the events of Infinity War. Half the population is gone, many heroes. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is trapped in space. People are sad. But once Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) shows up, and they get their coordinates on, they all rush over to fuck over Thanos (Josh Brolin) and kill him. Hopefully also undo what he did. And it turns out they can’t. Infinity Stones are broken and gone, nothing can be done except sadness.

Five years later? Life is weird. Heroes are now fat (Chris Hemsworth). Hulks are now Professor Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Captain America (Chris Evans) is just trying to help people. But once Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) is able to escape finally from the Quantum Realm, he is disgusted by what has occurred, and has ideas on how to fix what was undone. You know. With Time Travel.

Also starring…everybody. Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana, Evangeline Lilly, Tessa Thompson, Rene Russo, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston, Danai Gurira, Benedict Wong, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Letitia Wright, John Slattery, Tilda Swinton, Jon Favreau, Hayley Atwell, Natalie Portman, Marisa Tomei, Taika Waititi, Angela Bassett, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, William Hurt, Cobie Smulders, Sean Gunn, Winston Duke, Linda Cardellini, Frank Grillo, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, James D’Arcy, Jacob Batalon, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ty Simpkins, Robert Redford, Chris Pratt, Samuel L. Jackson, Lexi Rabe, Ross Marquand, Kerry Condon, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ken Jeong, and Stan Lee

villains“Is that all you got?” Thanos, about the last paragraph, probably.

So sure, I gave Avengers: Endgame a 4 out of 4, despite being a non-perfect movie. Because it is an emotionally satisfying film. I cried, I cheered, I seized up with anticipation, I was serviced so much as a fan. It was a blast and the three hours flew by. The final battle had so many nice moments that were cool and can still be talked about today.

When Captain America was about to say Avengers Assemble, I remember bouncing in my seat for over 10 seconds, grabbing my wife’s arm and just ready to explode. That moment was necessary. It was beautiful.

And of course we lost characters, finally. Steve, despite feeling plot holey, got to live his regular life for once and die once his life was finally over. Tony sacrificed himself for the greater good, to finally fix all of his wrongs. Natasha had a fun suicide battle with Clint that we all knew were coming, and yet, the result was surprising given future movie’s coming out.

Most characters felt like they were given their proper moments to shine and showcase their power, especially the first big three of Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor. The throwbacks to previous films and their first fight in Avengers were nostalgic wet dreams.

And sure, a lot of might not be desired. Some newer, strong characters barely got screen time. Captain Marvel was mostly wasted (and despite the fun of the ladies of Marvel moment, it felt awkward because we know she needed zero help). Dr. Strange was left to be a defensive wizard. Of course a lot of this was done because these characters will have more time to shine in the future and are not mid swan song, but it technically also didn’t feel natural/necessary.

Honestly, a lot of the time stuff was silly. It probably could have been shortened a good amount, but again, it featured a ton of fun moments and also gave us the entrance for Loki’s future television show.

Torches were passed, heads were rolled, and franchises collided and will be changed in the future. I just hope this five year advance is handled with care and has a real significance to it. Spider-Man: Far From Home touched on it, but it didn’t go really in depth with it still. I am afraid they will mostly ignore these ramifications later in just a few movies.

Also I should note the forced disconnect of the TV shows and the movies is frustrating. All of the Netflix drama and Agents of Shield ruined us from having even more fun moments. I blame Ike.

4 out of 4.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Another installment of potentially the best Dreamworks franchise they have going for them. Shrek ended off poorly, Kung Fu Panda 3 ended up being a bit more lackluster than the first two. Will the dragon franchise have the same fate?

To catch us up on the series, The first How to Train Your Dragon I only thought was okay. I was annoyed a major plot point was the refusal of adult characters to listen, despite overwhelming evidence. The second one was a masterpiece in an already strong year for animated movies, I believe I barely put Big Hero 6 above it. I was excited for where the franchise was going and had great ideas and theories, and was willing to wait.

And honestly, from the look of the posters, and various screen grabs (I didn’t see the trailer), I don’t believe How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is going where it could have possibly gone.

I will also note the disappointing title, dropping the 3 and adding a subtitle, seems like a poor move. The Hidden World doesn’t draw me in at all, feeling generic. We shall see though!

Pose
Now if the dragons turn into clowns, we might have a real series!

Set about a year after the events of the second film, we have our new Chieftain Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) trying to do the right thing. The right thing is to find and rescue dragons, bring them back to their home, so they can be free and happy. Dragon raiders are real, and they are kidnapping the dragons and wanting to take them into a dragon army to kill things!

Hiccup still leads his band of youngish riders, all with the same personalities (America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig, Kit Harrington, and Justin Rupple doing the best T.J. Miller impression ever) and his mom (Cate Blanchett) helping him figure out his way.

Their home is getting crowded. They need more space. Can he move his entire people and dragon population to find a suitable home? And if so, what about the potential Hidden World his dad (Gerard Butler) used to talk about, a place where only Dragons could go and live? His dad wanted to put up a wall to protect them, and he wants to just live near it to protect the dragons.

But of course, some other dragon raiders are angry. We got a new bad guy, who is better than the last bad guy, who wants to just kill Toothless, not capture him, and that will let them capture the rest of the dragons for you know, evil reasons. So they have that going against them.

Also starring the voice work of F. Murray Abraham and Craig Ferguson.

Aww
Ohhh, sparkly.

Alright, I can’t get this out of my head. Being a reviewer you are supposed to just judge on what was given, not always on what it could be. But I thought it was really clear what they were going to do with the third movie. I thought it would be darker and deal with harder questions.

Hiccup was gaining power. He had the new most-alpha Dragon, so every dragon would listen to them. He was getting a shit ton of power. They may have their boats and weapons, but they have dragons, nothing will stop them. This would unintentionally make them the new bad guy. Regular communities would probably naturally be frightened by them, since everyone is afraid of dragons, and maybe even rise up to try and bring them down. This would lead to a situation where they realize they need to protect the dragons, without holding them all at their homes, due to the misunderstandings, and let the dragons be free and teach everyone to let them be free. You know, something like that.

But! No, we got a world no one talked about before, barely in the future, and a girl Nightfury for Romance. To be fair, some of the elements were used, about realizing they cannot just live with this giant army of dragons, but in a much safer way.

The way they picked was still pretty good. Most of the characters felt unique and had decent plot elements, except for the Snotlout/Erek one. It was definitely gorgeous and had some pretty intense fight scenes throughout it. And hey, the ending was beautiful in its own right, putting us at a good “end point” to the series, and we got to see Hiccup with a beard. Very important stuff.

Overall, despite my bit of disappointment in some of the plot direction, this is a really solid film. This means this whole thing is a really solid franchise, and is going to be remembered as Dreamworks’ best animated franchise. Not monetarily maybe, but it definitely has surpassed Shrek and Kung Fu Panda in my book.

3 out of 4.

Mortal Engines

Peter Jackson‘s name is super attached to the project Mortal Engines, despite it not seeming like a project up his ally.

Okay, it is based on a book, and he has done quite a few movies based on books or other sources.

But it also looked like a CGI hellscape of a movie. Practical effects were Jackson’s bread and butter in the early 2000’s, outside of some monkey business. Sure, he Hobbited it that aspect up in the future, but there was some attempts to not make it one big green screen, right? Right?

Well, needless to say, this movie isn’t actually Peter Jackson’s baby. He isn’t the director. He is one producer and one writer of the screenplay. He is just a big name and probably involved himself very little in the project. Whew. That was a close one. Can’t have too many duds in a row, or else no one cares about your past.

Spyglass
This is our main character trying to find Robert De Niro‘s dignity for similar reasons.

Mortal Engines takes place some 200-300 years in the future. Instead of sleek future design, we had to go a bit dystopian, and a bit steam punk. Of course some resource concerns exist, and apparently that lead to bigger and badder weapons, which wiped out a lot of technology. Now that is a thing of the past. And instead of resorting back to a feudal farming society, they realized that having a farm is lame, and they needed to be more nomadic. And when you are a nomad but the Earth is too big to wander, you just gotta take your whole house with you. And city.

And uhh, we have cities with giant wheels now, moving across the landscape, in search of places to temporarily settle, to get more resources and then, move, or whatever. And the bigger the city, the more resources they need, so they can’t just like, sit still and gather up enough to move. So instead, they invest in bigger stronger wheels and straight up try to “Eat” smaller community city/town/buildings. They can convert the people into new workers and citizens, and tear up the building material to burn into fuel.

Okay, so this is terribly inefficient. These predator cities can’t possibly survive like this unless they are munching up settlements all of the time. And these settlements are sparse. There are some settlements that don’t move, but they are behind a large wall in a pass, separating let’s say Europe and Asia, with big boom makers, so they can’t get close. Or can they…

Anyways, most of this plot is world building, because that is really the most important aspect, trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

In terms of plot, we have Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) trying to kill famed London Energy Guru Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving). Why? Revenge. Sweet. Sexy. Revenge.

Also starring Colin Salmon, Jihae, Leila George, Patrick Malahide, Robert Sheehan, Ronan Raftery, and Stephen Lang.

Terminator
“Excuse me, did you forget to drop me off in the 1960’s on your way to the future?”

Absolute garbage. That is a nice way of putting Mortal Engines. A CGI slugfest of nonsense.

Mortal Engines is what happens when you take all of the good to excellent parts of the last decade of teenage dystopian films, then throw them out the window, filling the gaps with terrible B- or C-movie plot, bad acting lines, no worries about making sense, and even more terrible plot lines. It is like the creators of Sharknado saw a book, bought its rights, and then realized Sharknado might be actually more plausible so didn’t try to make sure this movie made sense. It is what happens when you live in a green life, with a green house, green car, green girlfriend too, and then it is totally a good idea to have probably no real sets at all in your movie. It is what happens when you assume to be a success, you just need some ridiculous premise and it will make people thing you are edgy, fun, and new.

I can’t talk enough about how much of a dread this movie ended up being. At over two hours in length, it certainly had a never ending feeling and my mind certainly believed it was three hours plus. It had the nerve to both feel not fully fleshed out/rushed, and yet too long. At no point can people derive an emotional connection with these characters, as so much of the plot needs to be told in needlessly polished flashbacks from our main character. Thousands of people die in this movie, and there is barely ever a thought about them. Characters only show up at the perfect time because of poor writing, without any chance of appearing natural.

Mortal Engines has no redeeming qualities, and when you try to analyze aspects of the plot or story, it will either break apart or just completely get even more confusing. I assume this is a series, and more books/movies will maybe clear some things up. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work well with a standalone movie (Which had no sign of a sequel set up either).

And what in the flying fuck is up with the Shrike robot? I barely understand how they even exist, and just have to accept their near god level power. And it mostly implies it is a bad guy, despite clearly doing a good thing, until the very end when we are supposed to suddenly flip our switches and feel sad? The graphics and voice behind him were also, seemingly, left behind somewhere.

I spent most of the time with this movie trying to fight off sleep, and writing down lines that were delivered extra terrible/cheesy. That, and counting down the minutes until I could get out of the theater and try to put this movie behind me.

0 out of 4.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

I saw a trailer for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, I was astounded by the screen in front of me.

I honestly didn’t know this was a movie coming out, and my first impression was, “…is this another goddamn Alice in Wonderland movie sneaking its way out?”

I have an easily hate relationship with those two movies. Alice in Wonderland was telling a story so awkward, because it decided to be a secret sequel, and Through the Looking Glass is just legit one of the worst films I have ever seen.

This film just seemed to be equally CGI heavy, with a British slant, and some sort of fantasy uncomfortable world.

But why a CGI fantasy movie about the nutcracker? Was there clammoring for a nutcracker based movie? I mean, it seems to only be loosely based on the play/ballet as well. It certainly is not going to be a ballet showcase. So, a serious non dancing version of a famous dance? Like…Why.

That would be like taking a Tony award winning musical and turning it into a not really musical movie. A very poor decision.

Group
Speaking of poor decisions…the agents of these famous people!

This yarn is about a girl named Clara (Mackenzie Foy) who is really smart and charming in her own way. The kind of girl that boys will chase later in life when she is successful, not when boys are stupid and in school. Her mom died in the last year, and that made things really sad. She has an older sister (Ellie Bamber), a younger brother (Tom Sweet), and a dad (Matthew Macfadyen) who is trying to keep things normal by avoiding the issue almost completely.

So they are taken to a big Christmas Eve ball party for their British aristocratic friends and neighbors. Clara had received an early present before the ball of an egg with a lock, but no key. Her mom had left it for her before she died. Clara is more focused on the key than silly dances.

And sure enough, thanks to the plot, at some point Clara wanders into a different wintry world. No, this is not a world with lions and witches and wardrobes. This one has nutcrackers, mice that seem extremely intelligent, toy soldiers, and sugar plum fairies (Keira Knightley). A world of four lands that have come together to be swell together, or something. A land that her mom used to be the queen of and now it is her time to lead! Once she gets the key and fixes a few issues of course.

Also starring Eugenio Derbez, Richard E. Grant, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and also Jayden Fowora-Knight as a major role, his second role after Boy Playing Tennis in Ready Player One.

Rats
“Go my rat minions! Go and steal the cheese!”

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms…first, the title is terrible. Honestly, why did they not just call it The Nutcracker? That is good, iconic enough, and can get those ballet people in. This title is too hard. THE nutcracker and THE four realms. The first THE could be cut out and it works better. But they wanted the play title too badly. And the second half? The four realms? That does nothing for anyone.

Alright, this is a movie about the nutcracker and four kingdoms. Will we have very location specific places? Different worlds? One of candy, one flowers, one of ice? Yeah, probably. But guess what. Most of the film that takes place in our magical land, takes place just at a castle and one of the realms that is now forsaken.

I have no clue if the “castle” is actually one of the realms or not. Because we don’t do a damn thing with the other 2-3 realms. Why the fuck is the title and advertising focusing on four realms, when we don’t even get to play in four realms? What are they setting up? What is the point?

And the point is nothing. There seems to be very little point in this movie. I guess it is about a young girl who has to use her daring and smarts to save the day. Save the day of a fantasy kingdom that has relatively low stakes. And that effects her regular life about zero. Where no one is close to dying, and everything just feels…flighty.

Speaking of flighty, the only strong connection to the Nutcracker ballet (besides aspects of the story) is the soundtrack, which features music from the nutracker. Some of it is obvious, a lot you may not notice, but they did not fit the story that great. If the music takes out of the story, then it might not be doing its job.

Near the end, a scene with a giant robot fighting toy soldiers (sigh, yes) spliced with other action shenanigans ends up feeling dead. It felt like an unfinished movie. There was no sense of dread or suspense, and it just didn’t feel like it matched what was supposed to be an intense scene.

And you know what? To top it all off? There was a small dance scene to music, where the characters involved were dancing a waltz. But the music was not a waltz song. Come on guys. You’re not even trying.

This film is forgettable, regrettable, and probably something that Disney is really going to bury in the future. I expect no sequels, no great toy tie ins, and just a lot of disappointment from everyone involved.

0 out of 4.