Tag: Animated

Sing 2

Hey remember Sing? Yeah? But why do you remember Sing?

I remember Sing being an incredibly average film. The trailers definitely implied a lot more songs might be featured in it, but most of them were just used in a montage audition scene. It was a mediocre film mostly because it had a very basic plot, and pretty standard tropes when it came to the plots of the individual main characters. The lead character wasn’t someone I looked at and cheered for. They let the mouse, despite being a dick all film, have a happy ending without making amends, which is shocking for a kids movie. And then you know, it ended.

It definitely didn’t feel like the type of thing that would get a sequel. But with Illumination Entertainment, anything they make that can be franchised and soaked for money with a lowest common denominator of jokes, they will do it, I suppose.

So hey, let’s see what nonsensical reason they come up for a sequel for Sing 2.

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That button isn’t ominous enough. Needs to do something like open a trap door, or hit a bigger gong.

What’s going on with the animals, after they put on a fun little singing show for their friends and family? Well, they are still working together to put on original shows. They made a version of Alice in Wonderland, but you know, with other pop songs being song for it. They constantly sell out their show, which is impressive in their regular sized community, but alas, they want more.

Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) invited a talent scout to see the performance, but she leaves halfway through because it is not right for her employer, Mr. Crystal (Bobby Cannavale). He has a big hotel and theater in a Las Vegas like city, and he needs a new stage show. The scout didn’t think their show was good enough to even bring for an audition. Rough.

But Buster convinces his crew to head to the auditions anyways. And they will lie their way to the audition, and lie their way to a show start, by making promises he can’t guarantee, about a show that isn’t written. Good times. Follow your dreams haphazardly. Promise that you will get a big star, Clay Calloway (Bono) despite him being a recluse for 15 years.

Starring the returning voices of Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Nick Kroll, Garth Jennings, Jennifer Saunders, and Nick Offerman. And now we get voices of new characters voiced by Adam Buxton, Eric Andre, Halsey, Letitia Wright, Pharrell Williams, Chelsea Peretti, Julia Davis, and Peter Serafinowicz.

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Word a Lion eat a porcupine? Probably.

In all honesty, I went in expecting to hate Sing 2. Let’s be clear. It really doesn’t make sense to exist. The idea behind this is that now that the con-artist found some actual talent through the rubble that is his town, he wants to make them a bigger famous act, basically singing cover songs, to works as entertainers? Ehhh.

I find it hard to find the lead character charming at all. He is a guy who just constantly lies because he feels he deserves greatness? He lies about things that might not be even conceivable, like the prize money in the first film. Things worked out for him, and that is great, but ehh. Not my kind of message for kids.

A lot of the side plots are pretty trash. The plot of our Gorilla not dancing well, and needing to dance well for his scene? Whatever. It was very much not in character for the choreographer to do what he did during their final show, and that ruined that potentially cool scene for me. The Elephants plot was also extremely basic, about not knowing how to fall in love. The plot of the musical they put on was shit, because none of the planets had any actual storyline for their musical.

The heart of the film comes from the Calloway character, a famous older star, who lost his wife, and gave up his career, to live alone with his deep lion thoughts. Bringing him into their fold took them time, and his moment on the stage was a bit charged up in emotions. I did cry during it. Those bastards. And despite the terrible way for the plot to unfold, from its beginning lies, to its terrible subplots, it was a fun show they put on for the experience. It was a bad musical, but a fun show.

One final note. What is going on with the songs here? Like, as far as I can tell, all of these people are aware they are singing cover songs of someone else? There is more evidence of that given that when they sang a U2 song, they talked about it belonging to Clay, of course voiced by Bono. And in Sing, it is not like all those townsfolk just had songs they made up on the fly ready to go. So they are all covers and exist. Why the hell is everyone so bananas over people singing cover songs? Why did Ash have any level of a successful rock career just singing cover songs? This is very unrealistic. There is going to be a Sing 3 probably, because hey, money. And people like cover songs in cartoon movies. But trying to figure out why people go bananas for them in front of them is bizarre.

2 out of 4.

Encanto

Welcome to Encanto, or what I also call it, the second Disney Animated film this year. Disney has been doing an every other thing in regards to their films. One a musical and one that is not. We are at the musical one which meant I went in pretty excited despite being a bit weary about the overall plot.

But…Lin-Manuel Miranda helped make the plot of the film, and the music behind it. And I can’t not get behind a project he is involved in. Hell, watching Vivo was a surprise for me because I didn’t know he was involved with that.

If you look back at my review of Raya, you would have seen that Disney has been kicking Pixar’s ass the last few years overall. And not surprisingly that was still true. Luca was okay, Encanto was amazing. Pixar can just disband now. Before we get Cars 4.

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Don’t tell any kids I said there could be a Cars 4. They might start acting up. 

Years ago, Alma Madrigal (María Cecilia Botero) was on the run with her husband and three kids, with members of her community, in the Columbia mountains. They were being chased out by invaders. And in that time, she lost her husband in order for the rest of her family to be saved. She prayed and wished for help, and her magical home was born, protected in the mountains, to grow a wonderful community that looked out for each other. And her three kids were given magical powers once they hit a certain age, to help protect the community. And their kids as well.

That is, until we got to Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz). The door didn’t work. No powers were granted. Something was wrong. But she is upbeat nonetheless. Who needs /powers/ in a family of superpowered individuals in a magical house to have a good time?

But her younger brother is now up for his. The first since she was denied. If his power doesn’t manifest, was it her fault? And if there starts to be visions of her breaking their magical house and tearing their family apart, will it be her fault? And should she just, like, leave, you know?

Also starring the voices of Jessica Darrow, Angie Cepeda, Carolina Gaitan, Diane Guerrero, Wilmer Valderrama, Rhenzy Feliz, Adassa, Ravi Cabot-Conyers, Maluma, Mauro Castillo, Alan Tudyk, the singing voice of Olga Merediz, and of course, John Leguizamo.

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You see, the house is a metaphor…for family.

A lot of these recent animated Pixar/Disney movies have had a mostly predictable plot. Frozen would end with her in control of her powers. Moana would return the heart of Te Fiti. And in Luca they would be gay, do crimes. But I found myself constantly guessing at where it would go in this movie and being wrong, and I really enjoyed that. I mean, I knew it would involve the house breaking, or not. Powers being gained, or not. But the how? The why? That was exciting and unique in the movie.

I loved the music in Encanto so much, I wished I could listen to it on my way home from the theater. But alas, at that time it wasn’t available yet. I even waited to write this review until I had a chance to re-listen to the songs. So many of them feel great, with layers and multiple voices, and different harmonies. I was surprised to find that Beatriz also sang all her own parts. She was very limited in In The Heights, so I just assumed she couldn’t sing, but she did great.

Encanto is just a beautiful movie. I think it is interesting that the main character is clearly interested in embroidery, given her clothes and what’s in her drawers, but it was never actually talked about at any point in a significant way. It is just a fact about her character. I especially liked the animation when they did the Bruno, Luisa, and Isabela songs. It was just constant visual explosion on the screen, and it left me in down right awe.

I am happy that Disney made a somewhat simple and small movie about people with gifts. I am glad they didn’t go against what they were preaching the entire film like they did in so many other classic Disney tales. And I am glad that Miranda’s genius keeps growing, and I hate him, and I love him, for it.

4 out of 4.

The Mitchells vs. The Machines

The Mitchells vs. The Machines is one of those films that you are hopefully going to hear about from word of mouth. I know I didn’t notice it pop up on Netflix. I know if I did, I would have just ignored it most likely for a bit, and watched it by myself a week or two later. The cover for it on Netflix doesn’t look appealing to me at all. It doesn’t do the actual animation style any justice, and just looks like a cheaply made piece of crap. And let’s be honest, The Mitchells vs. The Machines is not a title that screams out “watch me.”

I don’t know the Mitchells. Why should I care about the Mitchells?

I guess every famous cartoon family has its start, and if their goal is a franchise, they can constantly have them battling other entities. I guess.

I am getting off track. I didn’t want to watch this movie. I was told I should watch this movie. I am glad I watched this movie. You should also watch this movie. And now, here is a review.

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This is apparently an action film with guns, dinosaur bombs, and a dog faced pirate. 

The Mitchells are apparently going to have to save the world. And they are not a perfect warrior clan. They all have faults, barely have any cohesion, and sort of hate each other depending on the circumstances. Katie (Abbi Jacobson) feels like an outsider from her family. She has always been into films and creating her own strange movies, that her parents just don’t understand. Her dad (Danny McBride) is Mr. Nature, doesn’t do anything with tech, can fix a lot of problems, and loves to build. Her mom (Maya Rudolph) is pretty mom stereotype, caring and all of that jazz, believes in everyone. Her younger brother (Michael Rianda) is just super into dinosaurs, starring in his sister’s movies, and is afraid of being alone. Also they got a dog that is barely a dog. 

Katie got accepted into her dream school in California, for Movie makers and is exited about leaving her home and finally being with people in her life who get and understand her. The “weirdos” and such. Unfortunately, she gets into a big argument with her dad the day before they leave. And his solution? To cancel her plane ticket away from this dump, so they can road trip to College, making her miss out on orientation, but letting them bond one more time.

And unfortunately, during that time, a big robot rebellion begins! Fuuuuuuu. And purely by accident, they find themselves to be the only group of humans not captured. I guess they gotta figure out how to save our entire species. 

Also featuring the voices of Eric André, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Charlyne Yi, Conan O’Brien, and Blake Griffin

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You know, I am not even sure that is a dog…

If I had done my own research I would have found out that I definitely wanted to see this movie. Besides the stacked voice cast (including McBride doing a great impression of Seth Rogen has a father role, based on my confusion on checking IMDB, I would have been able to see that the executive producers of this are Lord/Miller, and I have never not loved something they produced or helped create. 

As for the actual film? Damn, what a roller coaster. But it is a roller coaster that just keeps going in loops and is mostly full of really exciting ups. This is a bad metaphor. It has some strong messaging about reliance of technology. Pretty obvious stuff overall, but it doesn’t harp on the message and say that technology is evil. It is necessary for our hero after all to follow her dreams, and allows her to do something she wants in life, so it is awesome still. It is more the corporations who suck, and we can all agree on that.

This film was surprisingly funny. I really didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did, especially out loud. My kids could enjoy it too, for similar reasons. It had jokes for all, and some good throwback jokes to technology issues in life. It is also full of colors and perfect for the ADHD riddled world we live in, but never really annoyingly so.

I was surprised about halfway through the movie (with a plot point that felt like it would be close to the end) to find it had so much more movie left to go. But it didn’t really feel boring, if not a little too long near the end in the final scenes. A small amount of editing/cutting near the end would have been fine. But again, I still love the movie overall.

Give it a watch. I believe it went to theaters for a bit, so it should be eligible for awards next year. Raya and the Last Dragon was good, and now this. Shit, is animation back this year? Will Luca actually be good?! 

4 out of 4.

Se

Secret Magic Control Agency

When I first found out about Secret Magic Control Agency, I figured I was definitely not going to watch that movie. Its poster/images just screamed a straight to DVD, low effort, low budget, animated film. I loathe those types. They always make me so angry. They are extremely basic on story, and hide behind the fact that they are a kids film in order to say they don’t have to stand up to the quality expectations of an adult.

Fuck that noise. Kids deserve quality too. Should we only ever feed our kids hot dogs, and never let them try pork roasts, or steaks, or turkey? No. Kids can know good stuff exists too, even if it means coming to terms with the fact that a lot of basic stuff out there is, in fact, basic, and not worth their time.

So why did I watch it? Because it actually released on Netflix. A much bigger platform than expected, so I need to check it out quick to see if it is worth time before people get stuck wasting their own time potentially. Or you know. maybe it was great and I needed to spread the word.

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Corgis, by definition, are low effort as well. 

In this magical kingdom based on (checks notes), ugh, fairy tales, we have kings and queens and magic users and all of that. But because of shenanigans in the past, magic is now regulated by the Secret Magic Control Agency. I guess they are like the CIA force of this world. I don’t know what they actually do most of the time (make sure people doing magic have the appropriate bureaucratic paperwork? Capture people using magic like a villain?) but right now they have a very important job. The king was kidnapped!

Led astray by some mysterious food. Oh no. So the agency is going to get one of their top up and coming agents on it. Gretel (Courtney Shaw)! Why just one person? No, the powers that be think they need to get a thief as well to join her, someone who knows how to lie (something that the agency should be able to handle given their normal job functions…?) and they specifically search out Hansel (Nicholas Corda / Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld). Yes. Siblings.

But they are grown up, one is a charlatan, the other a law enforcer. And they want them to work together to get the king back before everyone realizes he is gone. So they have to put away their differences and you know, do that.

Also featuring the voice work of Erica Schroeder, Johanna Elmina Moise, Marc Thompson, Mike Pollock, and Tyler Bunch.

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Captured but unlimited dessert? There are worse places to be. 

Low. Effort. Films. That could be enough of my analysis and end, but I guess I will be specific.

This could have been a generic fantasy film about completely new entities. But they decided no, we NEED this to be Hansel and Gretel. Why? WHY? The fact that they are these characters doesn’t do really anything for this story. They make a bread crumb way back home reference. There is one line about the Grimm Brothers writing up their shenangians, but in charge of changing the details to make it sound like a story instead to…hide the truth? From who? Is this set in the past in this world? This has a lot of advanced stuff in here, and wouldn’t make sense to be set in our own world, let alone the past. That is a bad joke and they should feel bad.

The only thing they needed for the plot would be to have a brother and sister. Almost all of this is new material. Just because something is on the public domain, doesn’t mean it has to be used. No child is going to be picking movies and be iffy about this film, but see that it has H&G and go “Oh shit, hold on momma, this got my favorites in it lets get it!”. No one cares and it just makes an already lazy movie feel more lazy.

Honestly, if this was an original story that wasn’t relying on name recognition of aspects in order to tell a story, it would fall easily in the 1 out of 4 territory, because at least there was effort. But the lack of effort just pisses me off, especially when the makers would probably acknowledge that this film isn’t great themselves. They would just mark it off as a kids movie and say it works for that level, and that is unacceptable.

0 out of 4.

Earwig and the Witch

Here it comes! Studio Ghibli has crossed a line many animation companies have already crossed. They have made a CGI movie. Will they fully cross over and become completely CGI? They were probably the last major holdout that was doing a more traditional look for all of their animated releases.

And I already hate it. I will admit, looking at the stills/trailer for Earwig and the Witch, I didn’t have high hopes for the film. It doesn’t look  great at all. The animation levels look like a small independent company doing their first film ever, that happens to be CGI. Not a pretty successful animation company trying CGI. They have money, they can make it look better.

But alas, I have been iffy on Studio Ghibli movies lately anyways. I have been having a hard time getting into their whimsy and mystery. Maybe this one will fix it?

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Spoilers: It wont. 
Earwig (Taylor Henderson) was left on the porch of an orphanage as a baby, from a mysterious woman. They didn’t like that her name was Earwig, and apparently from a witch, so they figured they would hide that latter fact and also call her Erica Wig.

Ten years later, she is a bit of a terror in the orphanage. She does what she wants, she whines and complains, and she knows she wont be adopted ever, so she is biding her time. That is until a scary lady, Bella Yaga (Vanessa Marshall) and a tall scary guy, The Mandrake (Richard E. Grant) waltz in and totally pick her. But why?

Well, Bella Yaga is a witch, she could sense the witchy-ness in Earwig, and she needed an extra set of hands for potion making. Earwig thinks she will learn how to do magic and will totally help out! Turns out that Bella has absolutely no intention of making it pleasant for Earwig, or teaching her magic. Just someone to gather ingredients.

Ah, this new situation sucks. Who would have known that you can just adopt a kid to get a house worker?

Also featuring the voices of Kacey Musgraves, Logan Hannan, and Dan Stevens as a cat.

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“Damn, that’s a huge witch.”
There are quite a few problems with Earwig and the Witch. And honestly, the CGI is probably the least of its concerns. The CGI is still not great and notably average or below average throughout the movie, but it is not the biggest cause of concern.

Band plot – Worthless. Check out this poster graphic for the film. It is the most common form of advertisement I saw. It definitely does not represent this film. There is a brief band plot, involving history, the witch, mandrake, and Earwig’s mom. And it goes absolutely no where. It certainly doesn’t end up with them all being a band together with Earwig the lead vocals. This poster makes it look like a musical or band movie or anything, and it certainly is not. It teases some of these elements, and never does anything useful with them.

Earwig – She has no growth in this film. She is put into a trial to overcome and succeeds. The problem is, she started as a do whatever she wants child, and the movie ends the same, although definitely worse. No lessons learned. It is a terrible message. When she kept repeatedly calling the cat by her old friend’s name, I assumed it was some twist about the old friend being the cat. But no, they are two different entities. She is just a shitty kid who doesn’t care about the names of who she is talking to. They made a kids movie about a shitty kid.

The ending – By far, this is likely going to be the worst ending of a movie I have seen all year. I can easily imagine this movie making my worst list, and it is far too early to know where it land. But holy shit, this ending is such a waste.

SPOILERS ON THE ENDING. SPOILERS ON THE ENDING. Okay, here it is…It just ends! After some changes with magic occur, we get some weird time jumps, and it feels like the last hour of movie should have taken like 20-30 minutes max. It feels like the movie is about to start and do the main plot. And then with the a door opening and a mom arising, the movie is like, lololol credits. It makes absolutely no sense to have an ending there. It is like we got a prologue of an eventual story, but one I will never seek out, because of being dicked around in this film.

I hope this movie continues to get blasted, because it is truly really bad. And I hope Studio Ghibli doesn’t look at this and blame it on the CGI. Because sure, it is bad, and if it helps not make more like this, then that is swell. But fix the goddamn narrative structure, because this movie is absolutely a waste of anyone’s time who decides to watch it.

0 out of 4.

Scoob!

Oh hey, remember how everyone wanted a new Scooby Doo movie? Nah.

Okay, that is fair, we don’t have to ask for a movie to come out to get one. Sometimes the studios know what is up. For example, I bet people did ask for a live action Scooby-Doo movie in the late 90’s early 2000’s, and what it gave was a really cheesy strange story, with adult jokes, some obvious some not. And honestly, it sort of filled a really good niche back then. Go figure.

So even though this animated version is going full CGI, and is dealing apparently with the childhood beginnings of the gang (ehhh), as long as we got mysteries to solve and people in masks, it shouldn’t be too hard to make it work. Unless they decide to go for the “monsters are real” gag, which basically every Scooby Doo entity has been doing for the last 20 years, so it is kind of getting annoying. Please, give us weird people in masks.

Remember, if a movie has an exclamation point, it should be a musical. Scoob! should be a musical. 

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Ah yes, origin stories, like a superhero movie.

Alright, here we go! Shaggy (Will Forte) and Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) meet on the beach when they were younger. Shaggy needed friends. Scooby-Doo needed a home.

Later on, at Halloween, some bullies mess with the duo, and some other kids help the two out! Their names are Fred (Zac Efron), Daphne (Amanda Seyfried), and Velma (Gina Rodriguez). Also right after that, they end up solving a mystery of a lot of stolen goods that no one even knew was a thing! They just had to meddle.

Alright, years later, many mysteries, they want to expand their operations. Their Mystery Machine needs work, so they want bigger clients, and higher paying jobs to become a success. And then they bring in Simon Cowell for some reason, who barely insults Shaggy and Scooby who leave as a result.

The other friends don’t go and stop them, so eventually, Shaggy and Scooby get attacked by robots. And then abducted by aliens? Nah, it is actually Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg), Dynomutt (Ken Jeong), and their assistant, Dee Dee Skyes (Kiersey Clemons). They know that Scooby-Doo is important for something. Because Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs) is looking for him and some ancient skulls, to maybe summon dog Cerebus from the underworld. Ah yes, real mythical monsters.

Also starring Christina Hendricks and Tracy Morgan.

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What nice chairs. And I feel like a hater not showing Daphne/Velma/Fred.

It is really early on in the film when you realize this is not going to be something you want to see again, and for a lot of people, that is when Simon Cowell appears. But before that, I will acknowledge they did a version of the original intro. It was okay in the singing department, really basic, but they did recreate parts of the intro and use it as a montage of solving some mysteries. That was nice.

That was also where most of the Scooby-Doo action remained. The kid mystery was very awkward, because when a ghost appeared in the house they already had their goal completed. They could have just…left, like any normal person. Having this long run through the place and eventual capture of the ghost to find it was a masked person didn’t even make sense. 

But let’s get back to Cowell. This movie came out in 2020, why the hell is Cowell in this movie. This is not 2004. Kids for the most part won’t understand that at all.

In terms of how Scooby-Doo this movie is, it is Scooby-Not. Most of the time the gang is split up (which happens a lot sure, but not to this scale). This is a superhero movie. It is about Blue Falcon, and Scooby-Doo wanting to feel more special. It has a real monster and issue to deal with, and…it is just a mess.

A lot of the voice acting felt off. I especially did not like Jeong as Dynomutt, because it just sounded like Ken Jeong, not a robot dog. 

It was a boring film for the most part, with some other Hanna Barbera properties thrown in for fun. It is really easy to see where the movie is going, where the conflicts will appear, and what will happen at the end. It is such a waste of a nice property. It felt like something they would try as a third or fourth film of a reboot, not right away. This was barely Scooby-Doo. Focus on the basics first.

And obviously it wasn’t a musical, but it did have a lot of modern music because that is easier to get the kids to love it. 

1 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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Spies in Disguise

Ah yes, the last major animated film to be released in America in 2019.

Ah no, I am not including Playmobil: The Movie, because I said major release, major damn it. I am talking about things that probably felt they were good enough to come out and get awards or nominations or sweet Holiday money.

And it looks like Spies in Disguise is trying to get that sweet, sweet, Holiday money. Hard to make any money these days against a Star Wars release, but there is some to go around and not a lot of kid friendly movies coming out this Christmas day.

And hey, this one has Will Smith, and some people still think he is the best thing since 1999.

pigeon
But have you seen him as a bird???????????????
It turns out our main character isn’t going to be the cool spy, but the weirdo inventor! We know that Walter Beckett (Tom Holland) is the main character, because he gets a backstory at the beginning of the film, with his mom clearly going to die soon, who encourages him to keep up his science stuff and save the world with hugs.

Years later, Walter is working for the spy agency, but his gadgets are rarely picked. One of his is finally used when Lance Sterling (Will Smith), famous amazing spy that everyone loves, emits his gadget because Walter switched out Lance’s bag. Whoops.

This gets Walter fired, but because Lance is getting framed at the same exact time, Lance finds himself at Walter’s house needing help to disappear. And sure enough, Walter can do that. He doesn’t really warn him, but really he just wants to turn him into a pigeon for some sick fetish game.

Hah! Pigeons.

Anyways, now they have to save the world, when their very capable spy is a pigeon. Role credits!

Starring Karen Gillan, Rashida Jones, Reba McEntire, Ben Mendelsohn, Masi Oka, and DJ Khaled.

penis
Pigeon penis. 
Walter wants to change the world, but no one wants to listen to him. He has to put a spy’s life in danger in order to get it done and is shocked to be fired.

Better question, why does he even have a job at this place if they don’t want to use his stuff? Like, who are the hire ups to kept him working, with zero guidance or feedback? If he didn’t produce, you’d think they’d tell him to stop it and design specific stuff or get walking. But nothing? And why does a spy in the agency have the ability to even fire him at all? They clearly have oversight, and I don’t think agent would be a boss level about the scientists to fire them. That is just silly.

Oh, that’s all stuff I shouldn’t care about? Okay.

They made Will Smith into a pigeon and then didn’t do enough fun stuff with the pigeon. His character is way too antagonistic after the point when he should have stopped being so mad and learned to try to make the best of his body. The science is too dumb that is being showcased to make him a pigeon, along with the other gadgets used. And the pigeon transformation seems to work differently at the beginning and end of the movie. Because.

This could have been an okay movie.

But you know what? They even had a character named Ears act so stupid, just because DJ Khaled was his voice, and it never seemed to match the actual character. Did they let Khaled just improvise? Stop that, his ego doesn’t need that.

1 out of 4.

Klaus

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

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

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

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

letter
Pictured: A little bit of Santa action.

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

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

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

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

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

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

panic
Pictured: Not home in his luxury. 

Klaus blew me away on so many levels.

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

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

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

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

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

4 out of 4.