The Red Turtle

I already went to great lengths to make sure I watched every major American animated release from 2016, to be super prepared for the Oscars. But it is always those foreign pictures that give me difficulty. Usually something from Japan gets nominated, usually Studio Ghibli, and usually not much else. The occasional Euro film makes it through as well.

So let’s just say that I am really hoping that The Red Turtle gets to make it on the list, and not really anything else. Because then I probably won’t be able to see any other foreign film, because those tend to not come out in America until halfway through the next year.

Come on The Red Turtle, be nominated! Or at least, if not you, then only American movies!

Beach
Beaches get me angry. Sand everywhere, sand in every nook, cranny, and crevice.

Man gets shripwrecked. Man lands on island. Man alone on island, except bamboo, fruits, and hermit crabs. Man wants off of island. Man builds small bamboo raft, but after man gets away from the shore, some creature breaks it apart and he has to swim to shore.

Man grows beard. Man build another raft, bigger. Creature still destroys raft. Man tries third time, huge raft, huge huge raft. And this time he sees red turtle once he gets farther out. And yes, the turtle destroys the raft again.

Fucking turtles. Man is angry and pissed off. So he screams from island mountain, and turtle comes to shore. Man is angry. Man hits turtle and flips it on its back. Fucking turtles.

Man feels sad the next day. Turtle is dead. Time for man guilt. Then the turtle cracks in half. Suddenly, in the turtle shell is a young woman, no longer a dead animal. She is pretty and only companion in a long time. So…

Fucking turtles.

Red Turtle
I can see the desire.

The Red Turtle is a film that can go all over the world and still be understood without too much difficulty. It has no dialogue for any of the characters (outside some nice screams and grunts), so there is nothing to translate. The story is told through their actions and the universal language of emotion. Of sorrow, angst, love, and regret.

And it is easy to see why it would receive almost universal acclaim. It is always hard to make a film lacking a normal element, like dialogue. And I am a person who loves dialogue, so the more dialogue the better for me. But it easily tells the entirety of its story and somehow still made me cry near the end.

The animation style is simplistic, but sleek. It doesn’t use a lot of 3D CGI, just standard looking fair that flows nicely from scene to scene.

Some people will go into this film and hate it or find chunks a bit more confusing. But it is a relatively unique experience and worth your time, only lasting about 80 minutes. Also, the implied bestiality is a nice touch for a family film.

3 out of 4.

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

SquareEnix has made questionable decisions regarding the Final Fantasy series since SquareEnix became SquareEnix. Square Soft was good, SquareEnix is bad. Having a Final Fantasy X-2, prequel games, MMOs (which have been at least somewhat successful), and turning their games into something that is no longer enjoyable. Final Fantasy XIII wasn’t a good game and was a bad Final Fantasy game. Having two sequels was even more confusing.

This leads us to Final Fantasy XV, which I am pretty sure was supposed to be a game called Final Fantasy Versus, which I first heard was supposed to be like Kingdom Hearts, but without Disney. Fantastic. Anyways, lot of delays, and we have the game now. But for some reason, they wanted to go all out with this release. They have a prequel, special demos, a VR game, and more. But also a goddamn movie. A movie! A movie that takes place at the same time as the game, about different events, with real Hollywood actors getting released in theaters.

I was shocked when I heard about Kingsglaive. I figured I would just not bother with Final Fantasy XV at all, too many parts, too complicated. And surprisingly they thought their movie was good enough to give to critics. Huh. I did not see that coming. Look, I love Advent Children, but most of that comes from FF7 Nostalgia and without it one might not like it. So, I am skeptical going in, but impressed with their confidence.

King Me
And of course impressed with their level of CGI detail.

This film takes on the planet of Eos which has a lot of nations that each used to have a powerful crystal, but now only one remains. The kingdom of Lucis has a crystal and they have used it to create a powerful barrier to protect the city and citizens. Another kingdom, Niflheim, has been warring the countryside and attempting to take down Lucas to get the crystal and become the top kingdom.

Final Fantasy XV is about a Prince of Lucis named Noctis, who is not in this movie. He apparently leaves the kingdom to do a video game’s worth of quests. Instead, Kingsglaive is about the King Regis Lucis Caelum (Sean Bean), and his personal body guard of soldiers. These soldiers are all outsiders not from the kingdom and have been granted magical powers to help defend the crystal and yes, they are called the Kingsglaive.

The best soldier is Nyx Ulric (Aaron Paul), a guy who protects his teammates and defies orders to do what is right. He is awesome at killing the Niflheimers (might not be the right term) and the monsters that also attack the city. But because they are still losing, the King is going to sign a peace treaty and give up some territory to protect the main city. But, but but…that territory is where these soldiers come from! Ugh!

Also involved is a princess, Lunafreya (Lena Headey), from Niflheim, who is meant to marry Noctis as part of the peace agreement. Of course, Noctis isn’t here, so she does other things in the movie. Anyways, war, fighting, death, more death, and politics. Featuring the voice work also of Liam Mulvey, Andrea Tivadar, Greg Blackford, Edward Saxby, and Adrian Bouchet.

Girl me
It was surprisingly hard to find good fight scene pictures, so here is a boring one of the princess sitting down.

After playing the special FFXV demo, I sort of lost interest in playing the game. It wasn’t fun, it was weird, and it didn’t feel like Final Fantasy. With Kingsglaive, we get a movie set in a beautiful, but extremely unappealing world. The mix of fantasy and technology in here is dreadfully boring and unoriginal. It feels like just a futuristic society that anyone can think of, with like, 5% fantasy elements. It is extraordinarily unimaginative and it lacks excitement. Add in the extremely realistic modern day cars and one wonders what the hell were these world designers thinking.

The CGI is wonderful, sure. The motion capture was well done. The action scenes were a delight to see, very entertaining, and for some reason the images they released to highlight the film are mostly just close ups of characters.

This film is extremely WEAK in plot. First you have to be able to figure out what the hell is going on. With such elaborate character names, similar looking characters, and a lot of backstory thrown at you in the intro, it is easy to get lost and stay lost. Reading the plot outlines on wikipedia and a final fantasy pedia after the fact still really didn’t do me a lot of help.

The creators of course say that this movie can be enjoyed without the game and vice versa, but holy shit, I really have no idea what I watched. For the average movie goer, they will be scratching their head in confusion throughout. Sure, it looks well made, but it is unintelligible. Sure, the CGI is great, but the world isn’t even pretty or full of magic and wonder.

SquareEnix still has no idea what they are doing. Their games get less and less fantasy and this movie is a colossal waste of time. I mean, unless I have played the game, then it might seem better.

1 out of 4.

The Little Prince

I have never read or heard The Little Prince book before, but that because I had an empty childhood. Just kidding, I had Pokemon and that was enough for me.

I did, however, play a board game The Little Prince: Make Me A Planet before though. Only once. And like, three years ago. But it apparently stuck with me, so that many elements present in the game I was able to remember and notice in the actual film version of The Little Prince.

But let’s get to the issue. This took way too long to get released in America. It was released in the summer of 2015 last summer in France! Agh! Not America! It was supposed to be released by Paramount in March in America, but a week before release they suddenly decided to drop it from their schedule as well. No news on distribution or eventually released. Sometime later, the pros at Netflix said they would handle it and gave it a nice worldwide release, finally in America and other countries. All hail Netflix, bringer of tales, singer of stories.

Prince Prince
They took one long look at the script and declared the crazy old writer to be a genius!

As you would have guessed from the title, The Little Prince is a story about a girl. The Little Girl (Mackenzie Foy) is being pressured by her mom (Rachel McAdams) to get into a very good school for kids. The interview does not go well, so they decide to move into a house in the school’s neighborhood, getting in by proxy. The girl’s whole life is scheduled by the mom, to ensure future academic and financial success.

The reason they were able to get the house is because it was next to a shoddy house. In the house lived an old man, an aviator (Jeff Bridges). He was constantly fiddling with his plane and making a racket. Eventually The girl goes and talks to him, finds out he also is an artist. Over time, he tells her the story of his encounter with The Little Prince (Riley Osborne), a boy who lived on a planet barely big enough for a single person.

The aviator learns of his travels around the galaxy, learns some life lessons and so on. And you know what? The little girl is going to learn some lessons of her own.

Also featuring the voice work of Marion Cotillard, Paul Rudd, James Franco, Benicio Del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Bud Cort, Paul Giamatti, and Albert Brooks.

Modern
“Trust me little girl, I’ve got a beard!”

The Little Prince was unlike most other animated films. Yes, it is accessible to families and kids of all ages, but it seems like something an adult would learn more from than their kids. We have a story within a story, where the inner story is the normal The Little Prince story. The added elements of the overworked girl are completely original and the entire last third act is all about her and her own adventure.

I was worried that it would be too complex for kids but a 5 and 6 year old seemed to enjoy it throughout, despite the slower beginning. The layered stories kept me interested, but the ending wasn’t as good as the beginning and middle.

The animation was different for the different story parts as well, with the animation for The Little Prince segment being unique and fantastic. The rest of the animation is pretty standard CGI and a bit uninspiring. It makes sense for the animation to be different, but one would hope that the animation for the majority of the film was just standard.

The Little Prince is still worth your time, although book elitists may get annoyed at the extra material. My only real annoyance was that the new material wasn’t as interesting in the very end and that the animation was a bit uninspiring in an otherwise inspiring story.

3 out of 4.

TMNT

Milestone Milestone Milestone Review!

Welcome to my 1200th review for my website. Yes, thank you, thank you, thank you. I have had a hard time finding general themes to go with for some of these bad boys. My attempt to do a good milestone review for Trapped In The Closet was met with large yawns. My best ones have been taking arguably well known shitty movies and going indepth over them. Like the Twilight movies.

But more recently I have noticed that a few of my last milestone reviews have been live action remakes of child hood classics that have left the fans angry or confused. Namely, Dragonball: Evolution and Speed Racer. So why not the reverse?

A CGI “remake” of live action child hood classics? Namely, the 2007 TMNT. Sure, there was cartoons too, but the movies were hugely successful and everyone I knew watched them.

How many people did I know that watched TMNT?

Empty Lot
The same number you see here in this picture!

New York City…

Just kidding. This movie doesn’t start in the Big Turtle. We are going to Central America, where April O’Neal (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is looking for some artifacts. That is what she does now. Looks for relics for rich people, because fuck journalism. She hears some rumors and lo and behold, that sneaky sanchez Leonardo (James Arnold Taylor) is out and about. Apparently he was sent down to work on his leadership, by Spliter (Mako) for some reason or another.

I heard it was cause some guy was running around NYC with a mask and fighting crime, not the turtles!

Nightwatcher in Mask with Casey
Oh shit, there are two people running around with masks!

What are the rest of the Turtles doing? Well, not a lot. They beat Shredder some point before the movie, so they have free time. Donatello (Mitchell Whitfield) is working from home as an IT specialist. Michelangelo (Mikey Kelley) works for kids birthday parties where he gets beaten with bats! And Raphael (Nolan North)? Well, he sleeps all day and does nothing.

Because he is roaming the streets at night as Nightwatcher battling crime.

Nighwatcher Unmasked with Casey
Well shit, that mystery didn’t last long.

April is working for this man, Winters (Patrick Stewart), who really loves statues. Just kidding, Winters is secretly this ass hat Yaotl, an immortal being from 3,000 years ago in the Aztecs. He opened up a portal to another universe to get his power on, making him immortal, but his generals were turned to stone. Then, after that, 13 immortal beasts come out of the portal and fuck up his enemies and his own armies. Everything is lost. He is not an immortal being, his staff are stone, and he kind of wants to open the portal again to get some more shit done.

So the ancient relic was actually a stone statue and one of his generals. Aw yeah. Time for shenanigans.

Group of 4
Don’t look so fucking shocked. Bad guys do bad things.

He actually is able to use his future tech rich company to make them alive again! But they are still stone. Awkward. Doesn’t matter.

In order to bring some relevant Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action into this movie, they have the foot clan! No longer led by Shredder, cause Shredder is gone, but now ninja Karai (Ziyi Zhang) is running things. They were hired to find and contain the 13 mythical beasts.

Apparently they have been running amuck on Earth for the last 3000 years and no one noticed? Really hard to say.

Well, Leo returns and they are told to stay hidden until they can be a team again, so they don’t. They find one of the beasts and a foot clan, help and then get knocked the fuck out by some stone generals who appear. Awkward. So they are forced to stay put this time for serious. Except one team member refuses.

Team Anger
And he is an angry one, that Ralph.

Nightwatcher goes out and Leo finds him. He doesn’t want Nightwatcher to be a vigilante. So they fight, shirtless, in the rain, and HOLY SHIT IT IS RAPHAEL.

Through the fight, Leo gets captured by the bad guys and Raphael feels totally bad you guys. Especially since the bad guys might offer up Leo as a sacrifice to the portal in lieu of one of the monsters. All sorts of fucked up there.

Bad Guys
We already went over this. Bad guys gonna be bad.

Except not. This Winters/Yaotl fellow doesn’t want to wreck havoc. He wants to stop being immortal and free himself and his generals. But the generals? They like being immortal, and they like even more their powers and movement. So, despite Winters actually secret good intentions, they aren’t down with it and want to get their fight on.

So the Turtles, April, and Casey (Chris Evans) (Who I don’t feel bad not mentioning until now), along with the Foot Clan show up to help save the day. They have to find the last monster, defeat new monsters, defeat generals and hope the shenanigans are stopped in time!

And of course they do. They are able to find the last monster and have it push itself and the generals into the portal, which is sealed forever. Yay, fuck those generals.

Group with Splinter
Not literally nor all at once.

Welp, day is saved, everyone wins, and time to go home.

The End.

So I guess I can start talking about the film now?

Like the recent live action version,this film does stay true to the general characters, their attitudes, and made them feel individually cool. Because it is animated and not the 1990s, they were able to actually use their weapons. And the fact that it didn’t get bogged down with an origin story is awesome.

However, outside of those things, most of which are expected, there was only one entertaining scene in the whole film. Just one. The rooftop battle between Leo and Ralph in the rain. It was super sexy and a bit gorgeous.

Sexy Rain Leo
This picture does it justice, just doesn’t save the film.

One sweet scene doesn’t a good movie make.

The humor was shitty, the CGI outside of that scene felt old, even by 2007 standards, like a very cheap CGI TV show.

I am fine having a plot without Shredder, really, but they picked such whogivesashit villains with a lot of pointless attributes that at no time is it exciting, nor is it ever really sensical. I remember the cartoon. Give me that giant dude with the brain storage in his stomach. That guy is cool. These guys are not, especially when the main villain isn’t even a villain either.

Even kids would be bored with this movie, and it is flashy animation.

The recent remake was not a great thing for this series, but this CGI version was an even worse slight to the franchise. I bought a bootleg version of this film in Greece from a Nigerian in 2007 and forgot to ever watch it. I only picked it because I knwe it was still in theaters. My 2007 self knew it would be a disappointment. And now all of you do too.

1 out of 4.

Frozen (Disney)

Frozen, not to be confused with the survivor horror movie of the same name, is the first Walt Disney Animation Studios film since Wreck-It Ralph. You know, because Planes was made by a lesser Disney studio, not their main one.

It is also based on “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Anderson, which explains why they gave they call this movie that over in Europe. Anderson is kind of a big deal over in Europe. I have only heard bits and pieces of “The Snow Queen,” so this film will be a complete surprise story wise for me!

Girls!
LOOK. TWO WOMEN. TWO DISNEY PRINCESSES. SUCH MADNESS!

Frozen is about two sisters, Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell), both princesses in their castle home. However, the sisters are quite different. Elsa, the eldest, was born with magical powers: the ability to make ice and snow from her hands! Anna is completely ordinary in the magic regard, but she has a big heart. Unfortunately, after an accident, Elsa is forced to remain hidden from the rest of the world, for they will not be able to understand her powers. This means she also is kept as a secret from her sister.

Years later, Elsa is set to officially become the Queen, meaning the Castle is opening its doors for one day only. Surely nothing can go amiss in a single, nice summer day?

Well, her secret rears its ugly head and she accidentally sets the city in eternal winter! During her escape to live in the mountains alone, she also accidentally traps all of the visiting ships in the fjord (first time used that word in a review) It is up to Anna to save her! And Hans (Santino Fontana), a prince she just met and totally got engaged to in a day, and Kristof (Jonathan Groff), an ice maker who lives alone with his reindeer Sven. And Olaf (Josh Gad). A magical snowman. Don’t worry about him.

There are also trolls! And an evil Duke (Alan Tudyk), which would be the third villain played/voiced in a row for Tudyk, after Wreck-It Ralph and 42.

Guy Yo
I wonder if he is going to warm her icy heart with a cool island song?

It turns out that Frozen is basically a full-fledged musical! Hooray! It features eight unique songs (although the length of a couple are pretty short) and one amazing reprise of a song. Of course, like all Disney movies with singing, most of them are in the first half, with the second half left to just plot development and action.

I was also a bit worried that this movie would tease us like Disney did with Enchanted, by casting Menzel but not letting her actually sing a song. Thankfully, she got a solid 2ish songs overall (one full one, and two shared ones). Bell is given most of the singing work, and she really knocks it out of the park with her voice.

I was amazed at the world that was created for this movie, which showcased the beautiful snowy (and summery) landscapes that Finland/Norway had to offer. The ice effects from the Queen were gorgeous and really popped from the screen, but not in a gimmicky way.

Story wise, I don’t think this has actually anything to do with “The Snow Queen” tale that it is based on, so it is practically a new story that will seem fresh to audiences.

Frozen did have some annoyances. While watching, more and more characters seemed to be added to the adventure, knowing at least a few of them served just as a way to sell toys, but that is the way Disney works. The animation style for the human characters felt a bit off from the rest of animations in that everyone looked like a literal doll character. It was like an improved version of the style used in Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse. Yes, I have seen an episode or two of that show for comparison sake.

Overall, I really enjoyed every other aspect of the story than the few parts I listed above. It does a great job of avoiding cliches. The film surprised me over and over as I couldn’t tell where the story was taking me.

Plus, this film isn’t about some man coming to save the day, it is about sisterly love in the face of adversary. Okay, well, I guess there are some male heroes still, but that is beside the point.

Frozen is the last animated movie of the year (unless you actually include Walking With Dinosaurs) and a must watch for people who enjoy happiness.

4 out of 4.

Arthur Christmas

Yay Christmas!

Personally, my Christmas this year will involve waiting for 3pm to happen, so I can watch some kick ass movies in theaters all night. No special plans, just movies. Because movies are awesome.

Either way, I figured I should review a Christmas movie for Christmas, and there really hasn’t been that many this year or last I guess. So why not the British/American CGI family film Arthur Christmas?

Shoes!
“Wait is his last name Christmas?” No. No it is Claus. Fuck your sensible titles.

Arthur (James McAvoy) is a bumbling fool, the youngest of two sons, and has to spend most of his time answering letters sent to Santa (Jim Broadbent). He hasn’t been the only Santa, he is like the twentieth and is currently on his 70th year. But he is older now, and slower. In fact, the older brother Steve (Hugh Laurie) is very high tech, and delivered most of the toys using an army of elves and a giant ship.

He should be the next Santa, any day now…but current Santa is having an identity crisis and doesn’t want to stop! His wife (Imelda Staunton) doesn’t help, nor does his own dad, lets call him Old-Santa (Bill Nighy) who complains left and right.

Unfortunately, one present gets left behind. Although it is statistically insignificant, and they can always get it to the child later, no reason to risk being scene or anything. But Arthur doesn’t accept this as an answer. No, he takes Old-Santa, a present wrapping elf (Ashley Jensen) and another elf (Marc Wootton). Can they save Christmas for one special girl? Also, is it worth it?

Big Bad Brother
I might have watched this completely agreeing with the brother the whole time.

I guess that sums up my point pretty accurately. I am far too old and logical to really grasp this movie. One kid doesn’t get a Santa Present (yet still get some other presents from parents)? Not a big deal. Hell, they are going to give it to her the next night, but if she doesn’t get it the morning of, before she wakes, the magic is all gone and there is no Santa? Come on now.

Such a small issue.

I mean, Steve had that shit down pat. Missed a child, at the fault of current Santa, will be better next year, good to go. Christmas spirit, schistmas spirit. I just could never really get into this movie. I thought the animation looked a bit old. It was weird that everyone sounded British as well. Didn’t really laugh, just kind of felt annoyed at all the stereotypical characters. It was good that everyone had faults though. Life isn’t perfect in the North Pole.

But really, it wasn’t for me at all. Maybe it will work for you! At least it focuses on the best part of Christmas, getting presents. Hooray!

1 out of 4.

Wreck-It Ralph

I first saw the preview for Wreck-It Ralph when it premiered for the movie Brave. Unfortunately for Brave, I no longer cared about the Pixar movie I was about to watch, but instead was dreading the 4-5 month wait I’d have to endure before seeing Wreck-It Ralph. As a self described nerd, how could I not immediately think it would be the best thing ever.

Video games! In a movie! Ahh!

Bad guy
CAMEOS. OH GOD THE CAMEOS.

Our story takes place inside of an arcade, in the fictional game Fix-It Felix Jr., clearly a Donkey Kong-esque game. But the antagonist, Ralph (John C. Reilly) is tired of his place in life. He wrecks things like a boss, but he is tired of being the bad guy. The townsfolk and Felix (Jack McBrayer) are still afraid of him, unwilling to let him hang out during their downtime. However, they tell him if he is able to earn a medal on his own, they’d be willing to celebrate with him and treat him better.

You know, an impossible task given he is the bad guy in his game. So he decides to leave his game and temporarily join “Hero’s Duty”, a much newer and advanced FPS game that awards medals for reaching the top of the tower. Turns out games have gotten a lot more violent than they were 30 years ago and he has a few issues. He eventually is able to claim a medal but then finds himself himself in “Sugar Rush”, a candy land racer game, accidentally bringing an alien from the previous game. There he meets a glitch, Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) who is unable to enter the daily races due to the cruel King Candy (Alan Tudyk).

Alien breeding pools, lollipop fields, and Jane Lynch as a futuristic Captain await you in the finale of this game hopping film. But more importantly, can Ralph finish his task and get back to his game before his absence causes it to get unplugged for good?

Sugahhh
Wouldn’t it be great if the tiny girls in Sugar Rush were all secretly Barakas?

Before I talk about how awesome this movie is, let me tell you my one real complaint. Sure, there are a lot of video game character cameos in the surge protectors outside of the games, but I am a bit disappointed Ralph only goes to visit two other games. I was expecting at least two more game hopping levels, to maximize the experience for Ralph. They might have done this only to to increase material for future movies (that really aren’t necessary).

But the rest of the movie, wow oh wow. The animators put a lot of effort into the detail of the worlds. There is a lot that goes on in the background, including additional cameos. Despite the large advertisements with Sonic upfront, he is only in a “commercial” in the actual movie. Personally, I thought Zangief was the best cameo in the movie, given that his character felt a bit inspirational with his back story.

I am having a hard time to figuring out if I liked the movie for being good, or just because I grew up with video games. Obviously if you have never really been a fan of video games, I don’t think this is the best movie to watch. But I still think it is an enjoyable enough comedy/action movie that will entertain everyone who sees it, even if they don’t understand every little reference.

3 out of 4.

The Lorax

I say a lot I try to make sure that movies based on books are given their own subjective look, without bringing the book into it. After all, they are different mediums. I need to judge the movie just on its movieness.

But The Lorax? That shit is classic. Here is an audio version for the lazy who have never heard of it. I think a movie version is definitely doable, but it will be weirder, and probably pretty short. Depending on what they set it in.

And just hopefully not extremely up in your ass on the environmental issues. That’s all I want. Lots of rhyming, damn it. Also, lots of Lorax!

Loraxes not
Well, these things arent the Lorax. Poor start so far.

The movie begins with Ted (Zac Efron) a very non Lorax human having big dreams in Thneedville, a completely “artificial city”. Everything is metal, plastic, or synthetic in some way. No trees or plants, that is all fake too. But no worries, they love their lifestyle and capitalism. They even love the fact that they by air, from O’Hare (Rob Riggle) for whatever reason.

But Ted is in love. With a girl! A strange girl who dreams of the world outside the walled city that they cannot leave. Audrey (Taylor Swift) wants a real life tree so badly, she even said she’d marry a boy if he gave her one. Simple needs! Despite the wishes of his mom (Jenny Slate) and grandma (Betty White), he escapes the city walls and goes to the barren landscape! And obviously, as I just described it, it kind of sucks. No trees anywhere.

There is a creepy house though, hopefully that is where the Onceler (Ed Helms) lived, a rumor of a man who is said to have tree seeds in his possession. And does he? Who knows, because he wants to talk to Ted first and tell him his tale, about how he met the Lorax (Danny DeVito) when he first came to the fields to start up a business and become a success.

Then you know, we get a really long version of the Lorax story, with lots of singing and dancing, and animation explosions, and lengthening. After the seed is received, where the book normally ends, the movie then continues to explain what he does with the seed and his attempts at taking down the O’Hare foundation in Thneedville.

loraxes
Aw, there is the Lorax. Super caauyuute.

Interestingly enough, the first scene actually got me hooked into the movie. The first song titled after the city was actually catchy and interesting, minus the weird parts about extreme capitalism and being a zombie. But yeah! I was excited. But then it went more and more downhill.

After that I didn’t really like a single song, which is a shame. Especially the last one, Let It Grow, that stuff got weird. But after Ted meets the Onceler (who yes, you get to see in the flashbacks. Just hands would be weird in a movie), the story of him going out into the fields, finding the lorax, and then eventually destroying the ecosystem takes WAY TOO LONG. It is ridiculously long. And pointless. Especially since the destruction part doesn’t take a long time, just the part after 1 tree to get to oh man cut it all down.

The morals associated with the Lorax novel are basically simple. Hey, don’t over do it. That is about it. The movie kind of takes that message, amplifies it to show even further extremes (Thneedville) and smacks you over the face with it again and again. I didn’t like that, it was far stronger than it should have been. The ending, after the return to the city with the seed, was just a long chase scene that felt pretty annoying too. I didn’t hate the O’Hare character, minus the fact that he didn’t make much sense, but the way they chose to portray him (not his portrayal?) was annoying to me. Just his general look. I thought “Oh jeez, thanks storyboard artists. Couldn’t have made him more normal sized? Fuck your proportions”.

There were some good moments, but man, I do think this would have been better at 40 minutes max and less acid trips.

1 out of 4.

Kung Fu Panda 2

Dreamworks is known as the CGI-animation company that is not Pixar. More or less, everything Pixar does is instantly praised, while everything Dreamworks does is hated on. Sure, Pixar has more good movies, but damn it, Dreamworks has some good ones too.

Like the first
Shrek. And Kung Fu Panda. The first one got about fifty sequels, the latter so far only has Kung Fu Panda 2. And it is more epic than the first.

Chop KICK YEAH
But Kung Fu Panda also lead to the worst rip off in recent years.

The plot of the movie is similar to the first. Someone is kicking a lot of ass and is evil, and needs to be stopped. This time, instead of training montages and noodle shops, Po (Jack Black) starts out as a kick ass warrior. The dragon warrior! Which we all know he became later in the first film. Now we get to ignore all of that, and go straight into lots of fight scenes.

One of the central plots is that Po realizes the goose is not his real dad! Shocking, I know.His parents were killed as a boy and he was orphaned. Killed by who? A peacock. Or at least an evil peacock (Gary Oldman). While they originally thought his threat was dealt with, he has been hiding away, building an army of wolves and gorillas, and making a weapon that renders kung fu and other fighting types useless. (Its based on fireworks, aka pretty).

Speaking of pretty, the CGI in this movie is fantastic on Blu-Ray. Everything was wowable, and noticeably better than the effects in the first movie. In addition to the normal CGI, during flashbacks to Pos youth, they used a more traditional style of Asian cartoon work, and it was pretty damn nifty. I’d have liked it if the beginning had a story similar to the one Po made up in the first to open the film. Had some of the better lines.

The same gang from the first film is also back, Crane (David Cross), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu), Monkey (Jackie Chan) and Tigress (Angelina Jolie). I still don’t like Tigress though.

The end of the movie also does what a lot of movies try to do and fail. Give us both a full story, and set up a possible sequel. I have reviewed numerous movies that have focused more on setting up a sequel than giving a satisfactory ending. But this one does a nice job and I want there to be a Kung Fu Panda 3.

Panda 2
Oh don’t look so shocked Po. I will let you wait at least three years first.

Overall? The fight scenes are pretty great and creative. I am sure Chan had a lot of influence on how they were developed, since he has a knack for that sort of thing. They were also comedic enough to laugh without taking away the seriousness of the fights/plot. Everything was weaved together well, plot, action, backstory, effects. Just the “inner peace” plotline seemed forced. Or Po is just that awesome. Not sure.

3 out of 4.