Tag: Musical

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

The last time I had an actual positive review for a movie where Will Ferrell had a leading role was in 2010 for Everything Must Go. That is basically a whole decade of meh or worst.

“What about The Lego Movie? You can count The Lego Movie!” I did count that! I gave it a 2/4 and stand by that still.

So I will be clear that I fully intended to just ignore Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. Even the name hurts me a bit.

And then I got stupid one night and just put it on (I lasted like, a day). And the good news is, it could have been a lot worse!


Everyone cheer for something to make us happy…please?
ABBA changed the world forever with their performance on Eurovision. I don’t know if that is true, but that is what I gather as an American who has never seen Eurovision. It is the main band I have heard come out of it and be really world vision, so I guess so?

It certainly changed the world for Lars Erickssong (Will Ferrell), who seeing that performance as a kid claimed he would one day win Eurovision as well. And he would take Sigrit Ericksdottir (Rachel McAdams) on this decades long journey, the girl who never talked but found out she can sing!

Decades later, they are Fire Saga, with hits and electric pianos. No one really cares about them in their small village, but they get gigs as the only band to play covers and silly songs. Lars’ dad (Pierce Brosnan) is a typical disappointed dad based on his son’s dreams.

But of course, somehow they make it to Eurovision! Thanks to plot. And that is where things get slightly more difficult. Highly rated to win Alexander Lemtov (Dan Stevens) out of Russia takes a liking to Sigrit and might put the duo in jeopardy before they can even perform!

Also starring Melissanthi Mahut (who is also Kassandra in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey), Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Demi Lovato, Graham Norton, Jamie Demetriou, Alfrun Rose, Elina Alminas, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, and Mikael Persbrandt.


Parts of this still look like the men are painted with the background.
From the various plots and subplots, some of them stuck the landing and some of them floundered. The Icelandic villain is obvious throughout the film, but over so quickly and so unnecessary that it just takes away from the rest of the movie. If all of that was cut, they would just need to have a new explanation for one aspect of the film and it would still work fine.

What does work on the “villain” scale is Stevens the Russian singer. Because he isn’t really a villain. He isn’t even a bad guy. He is just not with Ferrell’s character, but he seems genuine in wanting his own success for himself and for McAdams’ character. He says things that are correct, and I have no hate for him as a character.

The only main character one would dislike is, (unfortunately? of course?), Ferrell’s lead. He has one goal and one goal only, but for whatever reason, that means he can be a dick to those who love him. His reactions make no sense. The viewer are supposed to hate him and find him annoying, but I’m not sure why because it makes me never want to rewatch the regular parts of the movie again. His only great reoccurring joke is the hatred towards the Americans.

Ferrell’s character is so bad, it makes us sad that McAdams’ is with him at all throughout the film. McAdams carries this movie for me, her character is so innocent and fun and wholesome you just want her to succeed and hug her. We can get it by the end, and sure, missed 20-30 years of growth between them before that. But still, come on, step up your game lady.

The music is the real reason why the movie can get a higher rating overall. It is so fun and interesting. Having past winners as cameos is nice, and the “Song-a-long” scene made me feel so Euphoric (while also annoyed at how auto-tuned it was, and how badly cut it was). Our final song of the competition was wonderful and I cannot get Ja Ja Ding Dong out of my head.

I offer some disappointment that a lot of the main characters aren’t the real voices uses. Of course Ferrell’s is his, its unmistakable. McAdams’ is apparently her voice and another’s mixed together, so it is “slightly” there. Stevens’, despite being a singer, is entirely dubbed by a more operatic dude instead of mixed based on Stevens’ own wishes. Even our Greek character is someone else singing! All of the Eurovision stars and actual musicians likely really sing, but they also are autotuned, so nothing gets to feel natural.

Overall, ESC:TSOFI is a cute story, an overall loving story, a story with some comedy and a lot more heart, and fun music numbers to keep you entertained along the way. It might be the pandemic talking, but it is something that feels necessary right now.

3 out of 4.

Trolls: World Tour

And now we can talk about the biggest release since the theaters went under! Not the first new release of a movie that was supposed to go to the theaters, but the biggest at least.

Trolls: World Tour was moved around a few times on the calendar, and it turns out that they probably should have kept that date in February for making that money.

At first saying they would go straight to digital instead was almost an inspiration. But then as more and more movies got pushed back, including to future years even, and all left but Trolls. That is a bit weird right? Some other theater films changed to VOD and a lot of them were movies that were expected to bomb.

Did they not actually think Trolls: World Tour would do well, or are they sacrificing profits to bring some happiness to those stuck inside? Hard to say. The first Trolls was okay, and in general, this plot of the sequel made me super weary, but that doesn’t mean I wanted it to fail either.

onward
Ooooh, they better not say Onward, that’d help the competition.
Ah, life is wonderful again. Until it isn’t.

Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick) is in charge of her people, every day has singing, dancing, and hugs because the Bergens are cool now and doing their own thing.  Branch (Justin Timberlake) probably wants to make Troll babies with her.

But Poppy gets an invite from a Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom) to come to her World Tour. This is where we get to have the secret backstory of Trolls that never came up in the first film. You know. There are different troll kingdoms out there each with a magical string each that gives them the music to get by in life. One of Pop (our trolls). Of Funk, Classical, Country Techno, and of course, Hard Rock, where Queen Barb comes from.

So Poppy thinks that Queen Barb wants to unite all of the strings together to unite all the music genres and unite the trolls. But really, Queen Barb just wants to take all the strings to make them rock and make rock music the only music for everyone.

Oh no!

Also starring a whole lot of other voices, some new, some old: James Corden, Ron Funches, Kelly Clarkson, Anderson .Paak, Sam Rockwell, George Clinton, Mary J. Blige, Kenan Thompson, Kunal Nayyar, Flula Borg, Ester Dean, Jamie Dornan, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Ozzy Osbourne.

rock
Rock is evil. Satan is rock.
Lame new Trolls backstory aside, it turns out there is a little bit of good backstory in there as well, but it is a mid movie reveal. It turns out that the former bad guys aren’t necessarily who we thought, and I thought that would be a big turning point for the film.

I can’t wait to see where it goes from there, and from my point of view, basically nowhere. Poppy wanted to unite the Trolls together to let them experience all music. Barb wanted to unit the Trolls together to make them all listen to rock music. And despite revelations made, the ending is exactly as one would expect going into the film. Exactly.

And thus I am left disappointed.

The music is okay for the most part, we do get more genres, but I didn’t feel like were stiffed in the first one due to how diverse pop itself actually is. There is no original song like Get Back Up Again, and that is the real shame. I believe the only original song is at the end, and that is supposed to be our new Can’t Stop The Feeling. Which sure, is an original song, but no where close as exciting as Get Back Up Again. I am not counting songs where it is meant to a famous one with some changed lyrics as original, like Trolls Just Wanna Have Fun.

Overall, it is likely this movie would have done just fine in the theaters. It is better than the animated show, but relatively clunky and beyond simplistic with the plot, despite rays of deeper hope in the middle. I will call the original better despite the same grade, because this one did not make me cry.

2 out of 4.

Yesterday

When I first saw the trailer for Yesterday, I will admit it intrigued me. A world where only one person knew about The Beatles? Okay, cool.

A world where something never happened can be a hard subject to take over. Are the writers/director going to really drive hard into all the consequences of the bigger band ever never existing? Will a lot of the world be different? Or will it just be an awkward hole that needs filling.

And honestly, I don´t care about The Beatles at all. So hearing some guy do covers of their music all movie doesn´t appeal to me in the slightest, so I would go in only caring about the story, the why, and the ramifications.

sing
He also seems to be screaming instead of singing most of these shots.
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a British man from an Indian family, trying to make it big in the music business. He can write songs and play guitar, but no one gives a damn about him. His best friend for a long time is his manager and a school teacher, and Ellie (Lily James) has always supported him, even when he wants to give up.

And he wants to give up, a lot. Especially after he is hit by a bus when a global blackout occurs.

After his recovery, he plays a Beatles song for his friends, and none of them recognize it. That is a dumb joke, but whatever. And when he references them to more and more people, no one has a clue what he is talking about. Shit, even the internet is confused by his nonsense.

Time to exploit this knowledge, sing all of their songs, and become world famous! But wait, it is 2019. Will people care about the Beatles songs outside of the context of their role in history? Aren´t they all basic forms of music compared to some of the complex music we have today?

Eh, who cares. Let´s get rich and deal with the how and moral implications later.

Also starring Kate McKinnon, Ed Sheeran, and Joel Fry.

shout
Scream number 2.

If you want a light movie with some Beatles covers and some light romance too, then I got a movie with you. If you care at all about plot or the ramifications, well, do not watch this movie.

This is the type of film where they had the idea and stopped developing it after the idea. There were a few cute moments about OTHER popular things that did not exist because of the Beatles fame. But the only one that made direct sense was Oasis, because of course. The filmmakers just nonchalantly picked other famous things to delete as well.

Were they because of the no Beatles? Were they also wiped during this weird event? Were they the real thing that was disappeared and that caused no Beatles? They do not explain it at all, and do not make an attempt.

And also, as most of us would assume, no one would get super famous from Beatles music in 2019, if it didn´t come out 60-70 years ago. No way at all. So his strange rise to success feels forced and at no point am I given a believable picture of this strange rise to fame.

Just kidding. A scene where his parents gave no fuck that he was unveiling a new song for them to hear, and interrupted him multiple times? That was believable.

A concept that could have been great, but was instead left up to mysteries and lack of thought.

1 out of 4.

Cats

Cats.

I was looking forward to Cats! When the trailer dropped, I was giddy with how ridiculous it looked. People bad mouthed the CGI designs, which I can see, but I figured I’d get used to it.

I love musicals, so I was excited to see a new musical on the screen, especially from an established property. I knew very little about it, except some cat names, and the song Memories.

But most importantly, I saw the movie Six Degrees of Separation, based on a play of the same name, with Will Smith in one of his first film roles. Why are they related? Because there is a long discussion about the musical cats being made into a movie, how it could not be done, and with Ian McKellen‘s character trying to get a role in the film.

It took 26 years, but he finally got that role!

TS
Cat Boobs

Alright, so in this movie about cats, there is kind of a plot?

It takes place in the alley’s of London, where every year, these cats gather together and do a singing competition, where one of the cats is chosen one! The chosen cat gets to arise into the heavens and be reborn. There is a lot they could do about that plot if they wanted to, like questioning motives and stuff. Maybe something like Logan’s Run!

But they don’t, we and they accept all of this. We get to be told their story, because a new cat, Victoria (Francesca Hayward) gets thrown into their ally from a bag, abandoned on the same night of their festival. So we get some narrator cat Munkustrap (Robbie Fairchild) to take her under the wing and introduce people.

These cats are all about their names and having a purpose in their lives. There is a cat for a very specific focus, and I guess that is it. Only some cats want to be reborn though, and for what reason is mostly unclear.

Anyways, a lot of cats get together to sing about themselves, and one cat, Macavity (Idris Elba) is a bad guy cat who wants to eliminate the competition so only he remains.

Starring a lot of weirdly named cats. Like Danny Collins, Naoimh Morgan, Mette Towley, Laurie Davidson, Jennifer Hudson, Jason Derulo, Taylor Swift, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Rebel Wilson, James Corden, Ray Winstone, and Steven McRae.

Wilson
More Cat Boobs.
Assumption: I will get used to these CGI looks for the cats and maybe the trailers weren’t just super polished.

Reality: Oh my goodness, these CGI looking cats look terrible. Why did they not do cat costumes!?

Yes, it is really distracting/off putting. I can see a lot of work done on most of their faces, but the rest of them, neck down, just feel like poor animation for the most part. When they are doing elaborate dance numbers, taps, or flips…it does nothing for me. I don’t know if there are real people behind them doing that. They might be! They probably are! But it also feels like it could be completely animated and just a face, which makes it zero levels of impressive.

It makes sense that the main song people know is Memory. It is probably the only song in the entire musical that isn’t very repetitive and full of a cat’s name over and over. Wanna know which song is sung by Rum Tum Tugger? The one with his name a whole lot. Shit, Pokemon execs probably saw Cats and thought them saying their name a lot was a good idea and launched the biggest multi-media franchise of all time.

This is a movie that is just a lot of introductions, and eventually it ends. It is visually appalling to watch not amazing CGI cat bodies dancing in front of pretty bad CGI backgrounds.

And one final note, how many times do they sing Memory in the musical live version? I feel like it heard it three times, or maybe one of those times was extra long. It did not have an amazing impact on me at the end when I already heard the thing 40 minutes prior. Such a strange decision.

Easily one of the worst films of the year, and a shocking (because of my naivety and love of musicals) one at that.

0 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.

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.

Rocketman

When it comes to musical biopics, I am really all for them. Give me the stories of these icons of our youth and our future. Give me their stories of overcoming the odds, of being famous, of maintaining any level of humbleness. Just give it to me if it is worth being a story.

And I was looking forward to Rocketman, despite the trailers making it seem very unrealistic, because it was going to for theatricality and style instead of just substance.

And no matter what, we have to compare Rocketman to Bohemian Rhapsody. Both about gay icons and music. And Bohemian Rhapsody is very controversial due to its treatment of the main character, who died twenty years ago. Were they respectful? Was it just a standard biopic? all of that? Well, Rocketman has to try and elevate past the noise of the controversy, ideally by not featuring any controversy. We shall see how that unfolds.

devil
Well aren’t you a handsome devil.
Elton Hercules John (Taron Egerton) was a musical icon once he got it big, hit after hit, known for his extravagance, stage shows and more. Sure, he wasn’t the first to do this, but he was unique in his own rights, and helped lead the way to plenty of performers going all out.

Rocketman tells the story of Elton John’s life, from Elton John’s point of view. And more importantly, it is being told during an AA meeting about his past, when his drug and alcohol consumption has reached his breaking point and he realizes he needs help.

Most of the film, besides his rise to fame and increased levels of flamboyance, is his relationship with his mom (Bryce Dallas Howard) which seems to start out somewhat positive while also maintaining a huge level of shame, and his relationship with his best friend/songwriter Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), who helped create all of his hits, because apparently lyrics are John’s weak point.

And you know, eventually his rise after he kicked all the bad influences out of his life! And if you are hoping to hear some Lion King songs, you have to wait a month for a different film.

Also featuring Matthew Illesley and Kit Connor as little Elton Johns, and Tom Bennett, Gemma Jones, Richard Madden, and Steven Mackintosh.

sunglasses
These are terrible sunglasses, not for the design, but for not blocking any sun.
It is very important to note that Elton John is very much alive right now at the time of this writing and involved in this movie being made, so it is all from his point of view. It isn’t a strict biography of factual events, but more a fun retelling of his life, with important points that he wanted to highlight to define who he is as a person and why he went certain places in his life.

And at the same time, this is a “musical” and biopic, where the focus on around half of the stories are more there for story purposes and less performance pieces. That means we get singing, dancing, choreography, great sets, basically a lot of sweet music videos.  When the first song hit and it was like a standard musical, I was ready to be floored.

I will say that the first half felt overall more exciting than the second. Although some bigger songs are in the second half, they are a lot more standard and less elaborate so that was a bit disappointing. I probably most enjoyed Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting which was probably the second or third song. I will also say they went with very unique choices when it came to song choices, because there were plenty of songs I didn’t know that made the cut with ones I was hoping for barely mentioned. But what do I know, I am not a John fanatic or anything.

More importantly, when compared to Bohemian Rhapsody, I definitely prefer Rocketman. One of my biggest problems with BR was how they treated his sexuality, coming across as filmmakers as very homophobic and anti-Mercury’s lifestyle. And despite this entire movie taking place in some sort of AA meeting with flashbacks, clearly noting problems in John’s lifestyle, it wasn’t blamed on his sexuality. Just good old fashioned poor upbringing and a lack of support structure from those who claimed to be loved ones.

John’s sexuality is important for this movie to exist, as is his non-sexual relationships. And all of them are treated with respect and not a disdain.

Now, I did wish it was a little bit better overall, but it was still a good step in the right direction. Hopefully the next film we get is for David Bowie, and then maybe finish it up with George Michael. Let’s get all alternative sexually up in these theaters.

3 out of 4.

Uglydolls

When I first heard about the Uglydolls movie, it was…when I got an invite to see the movie. I honestly had no idea this movie was coming out. I try to keep my finger on the pulse of the coming soon community, especially animated films, because I am looking always for the next big thing that will dethrone a Disney or a Pixar. And yeah, this one I knew nothing about.

Sure, it is based on a line of toy dolls I have seen mostly in comic book shops for a decade or so. The actual theme of them is “reject” dolls that would normally be trashed and sold anyways, despite obviously being made that way. Like a fake level of being unique. Okay, that leads to a pretty easy plot to anticipate and follow.

And I also figured out it had to be a musical of some sort, because over half of the main voice cast appears to be a singer. Even some I have never heard of before in my life, but singers nonetheless. A lot more B-talent in terms of voice acting singers, people you don’t see in the biggest movies, so maybe it is their chance to shine?

Really, what I figured from all these glances is that Uglydolls wants to be the next Trolls. Toy line, weird looks, bright colors, and of course, songs to entertain. But honey, this ain’t up to the Trolls level, and Trolls was only average.

Not trolls
Hello group of Not Trolls, whats up? Eating? Cool!
Deep in a toy factory, many dolls are created and sent off to be loved by kids everywhere. Except, sometimes a doll is not molded correctly, for one reason or another. There is a mistake! And that doll is sent away down a series of tunnels to Uglyville. A happy small place with strange looking homes, citizens, and a party every night. Mayor Ox (Blake Shelton) makes sure everyone is having a swell time and living it up.

Now Moxy (Kelly Clarkson)? She is an extreme optimist. She believes that one day, every doll is sent into the big world to be with a “child” when the moment is perfect and right. Destiny will find them together. And every new day is the day where she will be picked!

Everyone else knows it is nonsense, until she finally goes exploring with her band of friends. And sure enough, she finds a bigger area, with a lot of dolls that look like people. They have to go through training before they can hit the real world. They need to be perfect. They need training before they can hit that child’s arms. And hey, are these the dolls to do it?

Also starring the voices of Nick Jonas, Janelle Monáe, Leehom Wang, Jane Lynch, Emma Roberts, Gabriel Iglesias, Wanda Sykes, Ice-T, Pitbull, Charli XCX, Bebe Rexha, and Lizzo. The last few I have confirmed are real people.

judgement
Totally getting judged right now.
Judging really early on in the movie, it was already starting off on the wrong foot. The animation style was a bit safe, nothing to top of the line. It started basically with a song, that also needed to get some exposition and character introduction in, and seemed to go on just a bit too long.

Overall, none of the songs really stood out to me as being great. I didn’t want to go find the soundtrack afterward to hear something again, and that is a real shame. They are all mostly generic.

The plot is really easy to guess/understand for the most part. It is something that a kid will probably follow along and enjoy, but the older folks will be quite bored. It also moves along too quickly. We aren’t able to dwell on anything for too long before it is quickly resolved and moving on to the next moment. One scene similar to the ending of Toy Story 3 was fixed almost instantly and allowed no time for potential sadness to creep in.

Also, let’s be clear. There are dumb components. In the intro, we see all these animals being made for dolls, and then obvious messed up versions being sent away. And so we’d expect diversity when they climb up the tunnels. And instead we get only people looking dolls, perfect and the same, with just different skin tones and hair. How do these dolls accidentally create any of the Uglydolls? They weren’t even trying to make sense.

Uglydolls is a forgettable film, that is safe, and full of generic pop. The message is simple. Ugliness is on the inside. Next.

1 out of 4.

Movie Roundup – Online Releases 2018

Welcome to a Movie Roundup! A movie roundup features a few films that I didn’t feel like making full reviews for, but needed to get basic reviews out there for completionist reasons. It also helps me deal with my backlog. It may have a theme, and today’s theme is Online Releases 2018! Basically, things that started out on the internet, ideally a streaming website, because it is a loose theme, and I will take it.

Being on a movie round up doesn’t mean a movie is inherently bad, or good, or meh. I can feature any rating on here! So don’t assume the worst! I will also just post the reviews in alphabetical order.


Online Releases 2018

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Can we go wrong with the Coen brothers? Yes, we totally can. But I can’t help but feel something wonderful when they continually try to do something different, or make the normal a lot more eccentric. This time, they went back to the former, while also going back to some of those old timey western roots, which are arguably their best movies. Except this time, it is straight to Netflix, and an Anthology movie with six short films instead. The only connection? Western.

This ends up working really well, even if I can say I didn’t love every part of the anthology. Unfortunately, the best and most fun was the first of the stories, and probably me least favorite was number two. I really enjoyed the one about the prospectors and the woman with her not dog too. When it works, it really works, and when it doesn’t work, it is still well made and a bit beautiful, if not full of fuckery. This is not a happy movie, and it can easily be watched in parts, and deserves praise for its individual shorts that work out amazingly well.

3 out of 4.

Ballad
None of these people share a scene with the others.

The Kissing Booth

On the other hand, Netflix has made it clear its strategy isn’t to appeal to just the best movie ever, but to instead go for all the demographics so that they all have something to watch, which is fair. Netflix having a shit movie doesn’t mean that Netflix is bad, I just don’t have to watch it…if I am a normal movie goer.

But this movie is something else, and it has crawled out of the pits of hell thanks to some teenage girl. Yeah, it is based on a book, written by a teenage girl, on some website, and now its a movie. An uninspired romance movie, that seems to rely on the kissing booth as a feature, despite not being featured too heavily in the grand scope. It features a love interest who is super controlling, threatening, and uses his fists to solve problems. Ah, what good values to instill in our youth.

0 out of 4.

Kissing
Help, help, I’m trapped in a 90s movie.

My Dinner with Hervé

Over on HBO, they also like to do movies, and shows, and documentaries. In this one, we have dudes as the stars, with one of them being one of their biggest stars of their biggest show. Makes sense. Peter Dinklage playing a biographical role, of possibly the most famous little person in history (before Peter Dinklage and Verne Troyer), Hervé Villechaize. Made famous for being in Fantasy Island and The Man With The Golden Gun.

Now, this is all according to a journalist, but it is based on the night out on the town with Hervé, where he also recounts his whole life story leading up to the point, his rises, and his many many downfalls. Dinklage does an amazing job of transforming himself, or what I know about himself, and this is an extremely touching tale of a childhood of abuse and sadness, while still trying to make something about it. It never seems to go deep enough into the sadder parts though, and probably skirts around important details. I just knew that it started off way better than it eventually ended.

2 out of 4.

DINNer
And that is also true about life, I suppose.

Slice

Slice might not technically fit this theme, because it came out on VOD, but hey, my themes are loose, and I want it in this post. Slice is the type of movie that is just so out there, it is hard to believe that it even exists. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, murder mystery, pizza store, witches, and such a strange plot and concept. It is the type of movie that when describing it you know will have a cult following and probably LARPing in the future.

But in all honestly, it just doesn’t work out well. The only redeeming factor is that it definitely feels original. It just is a weird mash of ideas that aren’t fully explained because it isn’t fully thought through. It is cool, it is weird, but it is definitely not good.

1 out of 4.

sLIce
Although, it made me want pizza, so good job there.

The Tale

Finally, another HBO movie (sorry Hulu), that I didn’t even know came out this last summer. I would have never known it existed if it didn’t get nominated for a Spirit award. I mean, it has a big name in it, and it is about sexual abuse when someone was a child. Sure, a fictional tale, but a tale that resonates due to how often similar “tales” have been told by other girls in relation to their coaches while growing up. Hell, the gymnastics scandal was in 2018, maybe even going on after this movie. It is very relevant.

Dern plays someone very vulnerable and stubborn at the same time. It doesn’t end with fireworks, but plays it in a more realistic way. More importantly, the girl who plays the younger version is amazing at her role. Her acting, in normal kid way, amplifies the creepiness of everything. It puts the viewer in a dark place and really helps bring the hate towards these sexual predators.

3 out of 4.

tale
These two adults are now on my despise list, well done!

Overall, steaming platforms put out a lot of duds, and some successes. And especially Netflix, because I will never catch up on on their new releases. Or, maybe I will, if I just keep the review format like this and not larger. But these ones caught my eye for some reason or another and I chose them to watch to review, and never got around to actually writing.

Anna and the Apocalypse

Every year I have a most anticipated movie of that year, and I try to make it pretty obvious when I first hear about it. For example, last year my most anticipated film was The Greatest Showman, and I was excited for around 18 months until I finally got to see it.

For 2018, my most anticipated movie was Anna and the Apocalypse. I first heard about it in 2017, as a movie screened at Fantastic Fest. So it was an already complete product, it just needed a distributor, and it needed to find a time to release.

Apparently that time was a whole year later. I don’t usually have a theme of my most anticipated movies coming out in December, it just happened to be true these last two years. They aren’t always musicals either, but again, it can happen.

But this film just had everything for me to get hyped on. Accents, comedy, music, and zombies. What else is missing?

Ignore
This is me ignoring the people who hate this movie on the premise alone.

Another day, another pile of classes, and another set of dicks to deal with. That is what most high school students think. Anna (Ella Hunt) wants to get out of her small town in Scotland, and see the world. More notably, Australia, that would be cool. She lives alone with her dad (Mark Benton) who is also the head custodian at the school, which isn’t as awkward as it sounds. It is totally cool in Scotland. He knows she has ambitions, but he doesn’t know she is already buying the tickets to leave.

Life is relatively normal for her though otherwise. She has an ex (Ben Wiggins) who disgusts her and is now a school bully, she has a best friend (Malcolm Cumming) who likes her, but not too mutual. She has some friends who are madly in love (Marli Siu, Christopher Leveaux ) despite weirdly paired, and an American friend (Sarah Swire) and she is from America! Hell, we even have an assistant principal (I don’t remember what they call that spot in Scotland) character (Paul Kaye) who wants to ruin kids lives and rule the school! A smorgasbord of fun.

And even though they are alone in Scotland, it is not far enough for the Zombie plague to reach them. That’s right, zombies!

Getting away is a good idea, but when friends and family are separated, the first goal is to find them, then figure out a way off. And yes, these zombies are pretty typical. And as far as I remember, none of them end up singing. You need to have a warm body to sing.

Head
Working lungs are good too. And a head. Yeah, definitely a head.

Alright, going into a movie that is my most anticipated of the year AND a musical? Well, that means I will have some biases. Thankfully these biases I am aware of and only have a small effect on the film. Because darn it, this film is not a 4 out of 4, no matter how much I want it to be. It has issues, it has plot problems, it could be better. But it is still really dosh garn entertaining.

Now, most of the songs in retrospect sound very similar. Just in their poppy, very fine tuned comb way. That bugged me when watching it. There are some clear standouts from the movie. Hollywood Ending is fantastic, it is their favorite too given their push to get people to hear it and made the lyric video. I enjoy Break Away, Turning My Life Around, and Human Voice. Other songs like the Chrstmas/Fish Rap aren’t as good with repeated listens, and I never really enjoyed the songs with Kaye singing. That included the ending songs. They just didn’t mesh well. The song with Wiggins is downright terrible, and another one they are trying to push, but it left a sour taste and never felt like it would end.

And I listened to the soundtrack a lot, it can easily get in your head, and I want to see the movie again thanks to the music and the way the songs occurred.

It is really easy to get attached as well. I did cry twice in the movie, because you know what? People are going to die. Despite the claims of not a Hollywood Ending, we still get a drive off into the horizon, with not the cast of characters I would have predicted. Zombies are used only when needed as plot devices to further a script, and that does include killing characters. And unfortunately, the ending is a big mess. I mean the entire time they are at the (final place, is this a spoiler?) school, just didn’t go well.

It is still enjoyable, a tow tapper, and a film I will add to my collection of stranger zombie comedies to watch when the mood hits me.

3 out of 4.