Kubo And The Two Strings (2016) & Trolls (2016) Movie Reviews

Here are two reviews for the only two films I’ve seen in the cinema in the past two months. Help!!! I want to go to a grown-up movie again someday! 😦 Well, at least one of these was good…

Kubo And The Two Strings (2016)

Directed by Travis Knight

Starring: Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei, Matthew McConaughey

Production company: Laika

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film revolves around Kubo, who has magical powers and whose left eye was stolen. Accompanied by Monkey and Beetle, they must subdue the Sisters, Raiden the Moon King and his army of evil spirits.

My Opinion:

Yep – As you probably guessed, this is the good one of these two films. We went to this as a family and all really liked it but, of the three of us, my hubby is the one who loved it the most. He’s a big fan of stop-motion animation (probably thanks to growing up on Ray Harryhausen films) and seems fascinated by the behind-the-scenes stuff that Laika put in their end credits.

Of the Laika films so far, ParaNorman is still possibly my personal favorite but Kubo is a very close second and the one I’d actually say is their “best film” so far. I hated The Boxtrolls (can’t win them all!) but the animation was fantastic as always. I admit to falling asleep in the middle of Coraline years ago & never going back to it but that’s been due to lack of time more than lack of interest. I really should finish that one but will wait until I think the kid is old enough to watch it with me (what I saw was kind of creepy – what age would you guys recommend on that one?).

As with other Laika films, Kubo And The Two Strings is dark, serious, and slightly intense. It’s one you’re obviously not going to bring a three-year-old to or to watch for the simple, silly giggles like you get out of something like Trolls. Laika doesn’t need to make those sort of films, though – we already have studios such as DreamWorks for that. As a (admittedly sometimes too snobby) fan of film, I have a lot of respect for Laika (and Pixar) making true art for kids & grown-ups alike and for never dumbing things down for their younger audiences.

As a lover of Studio Ghibli & a lot of Japanese films, I loved the setting & vibe of Kubo (although, of course, it’s voiced mostly by American or British actors). That’s my only small complaint about the film – the voices of Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara & Matthew McConaughey don’t exactly give this film a genuine Japanese vibe. But, well… it was made in the West & we speak English, so…

Anyway – I don’t want to take away from the film as it’s a lovely work of art with an original & unique story. No, not all kids will love it and you might not want to let anyone too young watch it (mine is seven & she really liked it, though not as much as the Studio Ghibli films she’s seen. Yes! I love my kid). 😉 I’d say minimum age of six on this one but, as always, it depends on each individual kid. The evil Sisters & Moon King are quite frightening and Kubo’s eye is stolen for crying out loud (this isn’t shown)… Actually, yeah – this one is pretty scary come to think of it. But there are still light-hearted moments and my daughter seemed pretty taken with Kubo, Monkey & Beetle, who are strong main characters.

I want to give this movie a slightly higher score as I think it’s very good but there’s also something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on. I think I just have yet to fully connect with any of the characters in Laika’s films in the same way I have with so many Pixar characters. I don’t get the same sort of wave of emotion that I do while watching the best of Pixar or Ghibli but I think Laika is coming closer to someday achieving that same level of genius. I feel kind of the same about this film as I do Song Of The Sea, which I also watched recently. That was absolutely gorgeous to look at but I didn’t “care” as much as I’d hoped to while watching it. Still, Kubo is another step in the right direction & I look forward to future films from Laika.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Trolls (2016)

Directed by Mike Mitchell

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Russell Brand, James Corden, Gwen Stefani

Production company: DreamWorks Animation

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film revolves around two trolls on a quest to save their village from destruction by the Bergens, creatures who devour trolls.

My Opinion:

Kids’ films are hard to review, which is why at one point I tried to review Cinderella (2015) in a way where I gave my daughter’s opinion as well as my own (and hubby’s – he’s actually as big of a movie nut as I am). This was because I was accused of taking kids’ films too seriously in one of my reviews and I actually got quite upset because it was a time when I cared what people thought of me. Not anymore! 😉 Screw that. I’m a movie-blogging-asshole with strong opinions & feel that even “kids’ films” should maintain certain standards. Hell, they’re even more important since what they teach (and too often preach) is going to have an impact on impressionable young minds. Which brings me to Trolls…..

I have no idea how to review this because it seriously SUCKS but my daughter LOVED it! Hahaha! I’m so conflicted!!!! My snobby self wants to trash it but, in all honesty, it’s one of my favorite trips to the cinema in ages. She giggled like crazy through this entire glitter vomit nightmare and it made me so happy that I wanted to cry. What’s better than seeing your kid happy?! So, um… Hmm.

Trolls! Ugh. Well, this movie was pretty much what I expect from DreamWorks. DreamWorks has made loads of highly successful films and I respect that as it’s far more impressive than staring at spreadsheets all day like an un-artistic loser like me but I’ll never see their films as anything more than “movies for kids”. There’s nothing wrong with this and I’m glad they’ve made so many kids happy but I prefer family films that appeal to young & old alike. And so you don’t think I’m a grumpy old fart who can’t just shut up & enjoy a simple kids’ movie, I do like some DreamWorks (I should do one of my annoying top tens! The Kung Fu Pandas & Monsters Vs. Aliens are probably my favorites while my kid seems to like How To Train Your Dragon & that weird Puss In Boots).

Trolls! Is it obvious I don’t feel like reviewing this??? Let’s see… Poppy was very cute. My daughter loved young Poppy at the beginning of the movie and, while she went too annoyingly cute at times, the character mostly stayed on the right side of the sickeningly sweet line. The kid also loved that she’s voiced by Anna Kendrick since she knows her as the Cups song girl. She also likes Gwen Stefani, who was completely wasted in a tiny role in a movie so full of music.

Speaking of music, Trolls took a lot of GREAT songs and ruined them. Again, I’m conflicted as they had the good taste to pick songs by artists such as Gorillaz & Justice (!!!) but then ruined them by turning them into dumb songs about troll hair (!!!!!). Oops – I’m being bitchy again. But I thought the hubby was going to either cry or scream & run out of the cinema when the Trolls version of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love started up… Lol! (You think I’m a snob? He’s far worse than I am). To be fair, the movie’s Cyndi Lauper True Colors scene wasn’t bad. And, hey – I think the Justin Timberlake song, Can’t Stop The Feeling, is a genuinely good song and the one thing from this film that will stand the test of time. It got the biggest reaction from kids in the cinema (some even cheered). I said something positive! Yay me! Oh, I also kind of liked the cloud dude. He was weirdly funny. My daughter didn’t like him, though – she looked at me like I was a weirdo when I said he was my favorite character. He looked stoned:

Trolls! They look nothing like the classic Trolls we grew up with. That’s annoying. I want my kid to have a genuine ugly, naked troll doll – not these pink, sparkly cartoon versions! Dammit. At least the classic ones have a brief cameo, I guess. The bad guys in this, the Bergens, were stupid & got on my nerves but at least they made me like the Trolls more. Hey – there’s another positive. Yay me! I’ve said some good things about this movie! Justin Timberlake’s character wasn’t too bad, mostly since he had the right attitude (not an asshole Bergen but not annoyingly happy like the other Trolls).

This review is too long & I’m bored. I was going to write one paragraph & be done with it. Ha! I do ramble on when I’m being bitchy. Sorry about that. Trolls! It sucks but your young kid will probably love it and seeing your kid smile will melt your frozen heart (Anna/Elsa-style!). But those goddamn troll-hair songs will still make you cringe…

My Rating: 5.5/10

**Okay – I admit I was in a horrible mood when I wrote these reviews. Yesterday, however, I watched my first proper grown-up film in months and MAN was it a good one!!! So I’m slightly less grumpy now. 😉 I’ll try to review that film tomorrow…. (it was Arrival, FYI)

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Kung Fu Panda 3, The House Of Magic, Rio 2 & Muppets Most Wanted Movie Reviews

I have four quickie kids’ film reviews for you today! I promise they’ll be quick. Why? Because I barely remember three of them.

I’ve just seen Kung Fu Panda 3 so that review will be a little longer than the rest. You see, I get a little annoyed when I look at the pages on my blog & see that I still have some movies that I watched but never reviewed on the 2014 page & the 2015 page (never mind the 2016 page! I’m way behind). It’s especially annoying that the only movies that I actually went to the cinema to see but then didn’t review were these three 2014 kids’ movies. They were so “meh” that I guess I couldn’t be bothered.

So, here we go! I’ll finally say something about them two years later. I’m limiting myself to one paragraph each for the three older ones (plus my kid’s opinion on each). But let’s start with the longer review for the most current film (and by far the best of the four)…

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson & Alessandro Carloni

Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, J. K. Simmons, James Hong, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Bryan Cranston, Kate Hudson

From: DreamWorks Animation

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Continuing his “legendary adventures of awesomeness”, Po must face two hugely epic, but different threats: one supernatural and the other a little closer to his home.

My Opinion:

I actually thought this movie was really good. As far as DreamWorks movies go, at least. I’ve stated here before how I see DreamWorks movies as strictly kids’ films while I view Pixar & most Disney ones as just being great films overall for every age group. Like, I wouldn’t feel weird discussing both WALL-E & Citizen Kane in the same breath. Except, I’ve not seen Citizen Kane… Never mind.

What I liked about Kung Fu Panda 3 is that, while it has a message as does every kids’ movie, it didn’t let the message get in the way of the movie being fun and actually making kids laugh. The previous movie we went to as a family was Disney’s Zootropolis (aka Zootopia) & I did NOT expect to think a DreamWorks film was far better than a Disney one! But that’s the case this time.

Kung Fu Panda 3 hasn’t forgotten that, first & foremost, it’s meant to be aimed at kids. I felt that Zootropolis completely forgot this while trying to drive its message home with a convoluted plot and uninteresting characters. But Kung Fu Panda 3 isn’t dumbed down for kids, either, which is a big pet peeve of mine. Kids aren’t stupid & shouldn’t be treated that way. The jokes were all age-appropriate without being dumb but also not being too grown-up like things such as the Godfather references in Zootropolis.

I have to admit that Kung Fu Panda 3 was even enjoyable to me as an adult who probably wouldn’t watch many animated films not made by Disney or Pixar if I didn’t have a kid. I do love Jack Black (I don’t care about the haters!) and think he’s been perfect as Po in all these films. I think all the characters are strong & really like the setting and the look. In this one, the baby pandas are adorable & even had grumpy me going “aww”. The baddie in this one was also pretty cool, as were his storyline & all the chi stuff. Plus I’m a sucker for the color green. Here’s the baddie:

I’d even go so far as to say that I like the Kung Fu Panda movies the most out of all the ones made by DreamWorks. I find Shrek a little overrated and I’d say that the How To Train Your Dragon films are possibly their “best” work but they’ve never really clicked with me at all (or the kid). But all three of us have enjoyed each of the three Kung Fu Panda movies.

My Rating: 7/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She liked this movie a lot & giggled through the whole thing. She was far more enthusiastic about this one than she was after walking out of Zootropolis, which she called “not very good”. Her favorite part was Po doing his “chitty chitty chat chat” thing that she’s been annoying us with ever since (thanks a lot, Jack Black!). She also loved the baby pandas, especially when they ate everything in sight. She’s not watched the first two films since we went to see them but this one has renewed her interest (and mine!) in watching those again. I’d happily pick them up on DVD now – I think this is a very solid trilogy from DreamWorks.

The House Of Magic (2013) (US Title: Thunder And The House Of Magic)

Directed by Jeremy Degruson & Ben Stassen

Starring: Cinda Adams, George Babbit, Murray Blue, Kathleen Browers, Joey Camen, Grant George, Shanelle Gray, Nina Grillo, Kyle Hebert

From: nWave Pictures, StudioCanal

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The House of Magic is a 2013 3D Belgian-French computer-animated fantasy-comedy film. The film focuses on an abandoned young cat who seeks shelter in the home of an old, retired magician with his automatons and gizmos.

My Opinion:

I admit to not fully remembering the plot of this strange little Belgian/French film (which was in English but I assume originally in French?) two years later. But I clearly remember the kind old magician, the cat he adopts, and the man’s REALLY cool magical toys (automatons and gizmos) such as that adorable lightbulb dude in the photo at the very top of this post. I also remember some great songs being used quite prominently (The Lovecats by The Cure & the always catchy House Of Fun by Madness). It’s not some big Disney, DreamWorks, etc production and that does show but I still thought that the characters, the music, and especially those inventive toys were pretty damn good! I wonder if those who made this have gone on to do more animated films? I’d like to see this sort of thing with a bigger budget. It’s a very sweet & charming film from what I remember. I wouldn’t complain at being made to watch it again.

My Rating: 6/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She doesn’t now remember much of this but does remember all those really cool toys that I mentioned above. She said she’d like to watch it again too (fine with me – I’ll pick up the DVD if I see it).

Rio 2 (2014)

Directed by Carlos Saldanha

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Andy García, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement, Kristin Chenoweth, George Lopez, Tracy Morgan, will.i.am, Jamie Foxx

From: Blue Sky Studios

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
It’s a jungle out there for Blu, Jewel and their three kids after they’re hurtled from Rio de Janeiro to the wilds of the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit in, he goes beak-to-beak with the vengeful Nigel, and meets his father-in-law.

My Opinion:

Wow. I really remember very little of this except that I think it was about saving the rainforest, right? I don’t remember the first one either – I only know that these Rio movies are very bright & colorful and have some big musical numbers that are okay. This is from Blue Sky, whose movies are quite similar to DreamWorks in that I see them strictly as films aimed at kids and only truly enjoyed by kids. The only Blue Sky one I really liked was The Peanuts Movie but that’s because I’m obsessed with Peanuts & the movie stayed very true to its spirit. Don’t get me wrong – these Rio movies aren’t bad. They’re very pretty to look at & not the worst way to spend a couple of hours with your kid but I don’t think they’re very memorable. I’d have to say that the Ice Age films are a stronger series from this studio as the characters are better. Also, could they get a more annoying set of voice actors for Rio? Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann & Kristin Chenoweth(!!)?? Ugh. I think I remember Eisenberg’s bird kids in this being quite cute, though…

My Rating: 5.5/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She says she liked this although she couldn’t remember the specifics of it now. She said “I liked the pink frog!” (Ugh. Kristin Chenoweth.) I think it’s proof that the Rio films are pretty & enjoyable enough while being watched but are ultimately forgettable.

Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Directed by James Bobin

Starring: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, The Muppets

From: Walt Disney Pictures

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
While on a grand world tour, The Muppets find themselves wrapped into an European jewel-heist caper headed by a Kermit the Frog look-alike and his dastardly sidekick.

My Opinion:

I grew up with The Muppet Show so I of course love The Muppets. Who doesn’t?! The Muppets movie in 2011 (2012 here) was pretty good. It was fun and managed to kind of capture the spirit of the original show (plus I like Amy Adams). But I found Muppets Most Wanted really disappointing even though it was great, as always, to see these beloved characters. The problem was the messy, boring story and the fact that I really didn’t like the main real-life stars. Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell & Tina Fey? How do you go from Amy Adams to some TV stars? Never been a fan of any of them (in fact, who is Ty Burrell anyway? That prick in Dawn Of The Dead??). I just think they made a real mess of this movie – I’ll stick to watching my DVDs of the original show.

My Rating: 5.5/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She remembers this one more than I thought she would! She remembers the plot & the evil Kermit with the mole. She likes The Muppets & says she liked this movie. Maybe I should give it another try…

This is her favorite Muppet-related thing. I agree:

**I’d like to finally take this opportunity to draw attention to a favorite blogger of mine here who does fantastic paintings of The Muppets (and loads of other awesome artwork with a focus on pop culture – but I first started following him because of The Muppets). Please have a look at Scott’s site at Mojoswork.com. You can see all his Muppets artwork HERE.

Scott – I’m sorry it took me two years to finally get around to doing this review! Let me know if you want me to add any more info or if you want me to include a specific Muppets image you’ve done. 🙂 Oh! Scott does a lot of wrestling & sports stuff as well and I thought his History Of The WWF was absolutely amazing despite knowing nothing of that sort of thing myself (MIB – you should really check this out).

I figure I should end this with some Madness since I have House Of Fun in my head after talking about The House Of Magic. I miss this era of music!

Home (2015) Review

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Home (2015)

Directed by Tim Johnson

Based on The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

Starring:
Rihanna
Jim Parsons
Jennifer Lopez
Steve Martin

Production company: DreamWorks Animation

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When Oh, a loveable misfit from another planet, lands on Earth and finds himself on the run from his own people, he forms an unlikely friendship with an adventurous girl named Tip who is on a quest of her own. Through a series of comic adventures with Tip, Oh comes to understand that being different and making mistakes is all part of being human. And while he changes her planet and she changes his world, they discover the true meaning of the word HOME.

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My Opinion:

I’ve said it a million times here so I won’t go into it too much but I’m a big Pixar & Disney fan and feel that nothing from DreamWorks has ever come close to being as good. DreamWorks make okay movies for kids of very specific ages but not timeless classics for the whole family. Home is no exception. However, it’s “good for a DreamWorks film”.

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What I liked most about Home was the lead being a strong, young, not white!, FEMALE character in a sci-fi movie aimed at kids. Is that a first?? Feels like it… Maybe they’ll actually sell toys of her unlike Princess Leia toys for all the young girls who are Star Wars fans. Yes, there are girls who like Star Wars – why is it pretty much impossible to find any Princess Leia toys other than “slave Leia” toys for adult males? Pisses me off! I’ve had words with Disney Store, who don’t even sell toys of or clothing with the two females who are both MAIN characters in Star Wars Rebels. Seriously – they sell items with the male characters only. Sorry I just went off on one of my tangents! What I’m saying is that the choice of main character is a refreshing change & hopefully boys will still give it a chance as having a lead female character doesn’t make it a “girl’s movie” – there’s plenty here that both boys & girls will enjoy. Oh! I also liked the single mother with daughter situation here – another thing we don’t see a lot. It was also kind of funny that J-Lo plays Rihanna’s mother… Bet she hated that! 😉

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Whether or not kids will like this movie will probably depend more on if they like the character of alien Oh. The aliens in this (the Boov) are very silly & not very bright, making them do a lot of stupid things that I think kids will find hilarious. Steve Martin voices the idiotic leader of the Boov (Captain Smek), which I enjoyed since I’m old (I’m afraid I’m much closer to Steve Martin’s age than Rihanna’s). Oh wait – I just did the math & I’m much closer to Rihanna’s age… YES! I mean, I’m a fan of Steve Martin but not of Rihanna (except We Found Love – I love that song). Am I going off on a tangent again?! The aliens in this are funny & Oh is silly and likeable. Home is very much aimed at kids & there’s nothing I’d consider inappropriate or too scary for the very young so you’d probably be fine taking your whole family to it. As an adult, I’d have to say I found some enjoyment from Home & didn’t end up thoroughly bored or annoyed like I do with some kids’ movies.

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Summary:

Home: “Good for a DreamWorks movie”. Yeah – I’ll go with that. Sorry to any DreamWorks fans out there but their movies never end up being all-time favorite films of mine whereas things like WALL-E & Toy Story are (and Despicable Me! an anomaly from Illumination Entertainment). I suppose the How To Train Your Dragon movies are still the best from DreamWorks but those are aimed at a higher age than Home. I’d have to say that I personally preferred Home to the majority of the other films from this studio (including Shrek) but I’m not sure that everyone will feel the same way. The story is a bit “odd” compared to other kids’ films but I’m a big fan of sci-fi & strong female characters who are good role models for young girls so I think they’ve done a good job with this movie. They’ve tried something different here – Home is somewhat unique & I like that, even if some of the aliens & animation reminded me of that silly Eiffel 65 video. That’s okay – I love that song! (Did I just admit that in public?!)

My Rating: 6.5/10

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How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014) Review

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How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

Directed by Dean DeBlois

Starring Voice Actors:
Jay Baruchel
Cate Blanchett
Gerard Butler
Craig Ferguson
America Ferrera
Jonah Hill
Christopher Mintz-Plasse
T.J. Miller
Kristen Wiig
Djimon Hounsou
Kit Harington

Production company: DreamWorks Animation

Running time: 102 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film takes place five years after the first film, featuring Hiccup and his friends as young adults. Hiccup discovers a larger conflict brewing between humans and dragons and he finds himself at the center of it.

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My Opinion:

Yesterday, Cara from Silver Screen Serenade reviewed the first How To Train Your Dragon HERE for my IMDB Top 250 Challenge. Thanks again, Cara! (You can also read her review of the sequel HERE. She’s a big fan of these films). 🙂

I enjoyed the first How To Train Your Dragon. I say it way too often and everyone is probably sick of hearing it but I’m a huge Disney and especially Pixar fan and feel that kids films from other studios (such as DreamWorks) never come close to how amazing most of those are for kids as well as for adults. It’s kind of the same with HTTYD 1 & 2 although I do think they’re certainly two of the strongest movies from DreamWorks.

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I won’t get too wordy as I think Cara has done better reviews but I’ll kind of try to review it for those with kids as well as give my own personal opinion. The sequel is pretty dark – both movies are aimed at a higher age than most of the Disney/Pixar stuff anyway but there are a couple things in the sequel that may be upsetting to younger kids. There’s a sad thing that may be very confusing to them & need explaining and there’s one very big, mean dragon that will probably frighten some. As always, it depends on each individual kid (I saw this with a five-year-old who rarely gets scared by a movie and even this one didn’t seem to bother this kid in the slightest). If your kid is very young and easily upset by movies, it’s probably best to wait a couple years on this one.

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One thing I really liked about the sequel was that there are LOADS of dragons compared to the first one. They’re colorful and it was really quite lovely seeing them all flying around. I also really liked there being much more development of the relationship between Hiccup & his father – this was probably the best thing about the movie. There’s also just as much going on in this one between Hiccup and Toothless, who is possibly even more adorable at first in the sequel and has a lot to do later in the film. The addition of a new character worked really well too, I thought. It’s a shame that Astrid and the other kids (well, they’re 20 now) didn’t have as much screen time as I’d have liked (especially Astrid as I think she’s a great female character in a movie aimed more at boys) but they are still in it plenty so I’m not really complaining.

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I think I must not have paid close attention to the first movie as, for half of this one, I thought the twins that look like Nelson (showing my age!) were both boys. The girl twin lusts after strong, manly men in this one and I honestly thought “Wow, that’s pretty cool that a kids film is brave enough to have an openly gay character. Bravo!”. With the Hiccup leg thing as well, I was thinking that DreamWorks are really doing a good job showing kids that there are lots of different types of people and that we’re all equal and all that. Lol! I’m an idiot. Well, maybe it’ll happen someday. And, hey – Kristen Wiig sounds like a boy. Here’s Nelson for you kids under 35:

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See??

Hopefully they get along better than these two:

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I’ll wrap this up now that I’ve admitted to being an idiot.

Summary:

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is a very strong sequel and they’re both two of the better (and possibly the best) DreamWorks movies. It’s much darker than the first, however, and younger kids may find a few things confusing and scary. For a kids film, the story gets a little complicated toward the end and I think the simpler story in the first one worked better, especially how it came full circle with what happens to both Toothless & Hiccup. It’s still a good sequel, however, and I liked seeing much more character development for the main characters as well as loads more dragons. Definitely recommended if you’re a fan of the first film but be cautious with younger kids as I think one upsetting scene will be quite difficult to explain to them.

My Rating: 7/10

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Mr Peabody & Sherman (2014) Review

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Mr Peabody & Sherman (2014)

Directed by Rob Minkoff

Starring Voice Actors:
Ty Burrell
Max Charles
Leslie Mann
Stephen Colbert
Ariel Winter
Allison Janney
Stephen Tobolowsky
Mel Brooks

Studio: DreamWorks Animation
Pacific Data Images
Bullwinkle Studios

Running time: 92 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is an American 3D computer-animated adventure comedy film based on the characters from the Peabody’s Improbable History segments of the 1960s animated television series The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

(A genius dog teaches his adopted human son about history by taking him there using a time machine. It’s like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure but not as cool or fun or good.)

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My Opinion:

This one will be quick – I promise! I didn’t like this movie. I’m never sure if I should write reviews of kids’ films from their perspective or mine. As an adult, you’re unlikely to enjoy this one. As a kid? I don’t know – I think it’s not aimed at a wide enough age range. I’d say this is maybe best for those between the ages of 6 & 9? There are too many “clever” jokes & puns and, of course, all the history lessons that the very young won’t understand. And I don’t think it’s funny enough or feels “grown-up” enough for anyone of ten or older to really be bothered about it. It’s a pretty typical animated kids’ film – It’s not one that the entire family can enjoy, no matter what age. Why can only Disney & Pixar achieve that perfect balance? I know I say that all the time but it really doesn’t seem that difficult.

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My biggest complaint about this movie is the above girl. She’s a HORRIBLE character! She’s a very bad example for any young girls watching this. She’s a spoiled little shit! And I’m not giving anything away by stating the obvious fact that she changes a bit through the film and becomes nicer. But it’s not enough! She’s still pretty awful through the whole thing. And people complain about Disney not having the best role models for girls sometimes? Those films always have a moral, even if the girls always have to be “pretty”. But the girl in this is mean for no reason and never apologizes and keeps having to be rescued and, honestly, I was like “Leave her stuck in history! We have enough bitches like this in 2014!”. And what’s with all the eyeliner? She’s meant to be, like, eight!

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Anyway. Rant over. I didn’t like this. I’m old but even I barely remember Rocky & Bullwinkle. I’m not sure why they’ve chosen to make this film as these characters will mean nothing to current kids. I guess they’re trying to re-introduce them to a new generation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. I can’t see these characters catching on again based on this film. It’s kind of a shame – it’s a decent enough idea and, with a time machine, there are SO many stories (and sequels) that could be done. I’m sure they just made this with sequel dollar signs in their eyes. But, man, they really could have done a better job with this one.

My Rating: 4.5/10

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The Croods (2013) Review

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I get a little snobby about animated kids films. If it’s not Pixar, I’m usually not all that interested. DreamWorks make okay animated films that are decent enough & a way to switch off for a couple of hours while your kids are entertained. I even find Shrek a little overrated. Shrek isn’t bad but it’s certainly not something I’d ever consider a favorite movie of mine.

Pixar, on the other hand, manage to make what I see as proper “family” films that adults enjoy just as much as the kids do (well, I do at least!). Pixar films don’t treat kids like idiots – they’re not dumbed down for the kids but they’re still completely kid friendly and appropriate for all ages (without humor that’s a little TOO risqué being thrown in here & there to wake up the adults who are bored in the audience – I hate kids films that resort to that in a pathetic & unfunny way). And I think Pixar films are just much more “timeless” (I love that word – I use it a lot). Something like Finding Nemo will be just as loved 30 years from now whereas I don’t see most of the DreamWorks stuff aging as well (in my opinion!). I always take a long time to get to my point… My point is that I’ll review this movie for what it is – a DreamWorks movie aimed at kids. It’s not something I expected to be in the same league as Pixar films like Toy Story. Or even Despicable Me! (See? I can like a non-Pixar! Love that one). 🙂

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The Croods is about a family of cavemen (or I suppose cavepeople as there are girls too). As it was a very dangerous time to live in, the father in the movie (voiced by Nicolas Cage) is very overprotective of his family and insists that they never stray far from their cave or leave it at all after dark. (So, he’s Marlin). His teenage daughter (voiced by Emma Stone) is becoming more and more curious about what’s out there in the world but her father won’t let her explore – he believes that curiosity is dangerous (so the daughter is Nemo). I’m sorry – I promise to try to shut up about Pixar but it really is Finding Nemo with ugly cavepeople instead of adorable little fish! 😉

Well, ugly cavepeople except for one – Enter teenage caveboy heart-throb (voiced by Ryan Reynolds). Seriously, he actually IS fairly hot – I think he’s even better looking than his voice actor. Check him out:

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So, anyway, teenage cavegirl sees this light one night and leaves the safety of the cave to follow it. Turns out it’s something called fire, which hot caveboy (who is further evolved than the Croods) has discovered. Cavegirl instantly falls for caveboy. CaveDAD, of course, does NOT approve of this boy who has come along and made his daughter want to leave the safety of their cave. Caveboy wants her to join him as he follows the sun to what he thinks will be a safer place because he believes the world is ending.

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Unfortunately (but fortunately for the sake of the story, of course), The Croods cave is destroyed in an earthquake. The Croods then have no choice but to follow caveboy to a safer place.

The story then goes exactly how you’d expect it to. Caveboy eventually earns cavedad’s trust as they make their way on their long journey to a safer land (That’s really not a spoiler to anyone who’s ever watched any movie EVER). And of course cavedad and cavedaughter end up bonding and cavedad learns that it’s important to live your life instead of always being scared & hiding away from everything (Again – not exactly a spoiler. We’ve all seen Finding Nemo!). 😉

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In all honesty, though, The Croods isn’t bad & it’s even a bit better than I was expecting. It starts out a little slow and, of course, everything is very drab & colorless when they won’t stray far from their cave. Once they follow hot caveboy, though, they find a lovely green & colorful land filled with all kinds of strange & wonderful creatures. The movie was a lot more fun to watch once this happened.

As for the characters, the main three I mentioned are fine. As with any animated story, you need a main set of characters like these to drive the story along. But, as is very important in animated kids films, you need some fun extra characters to provide the comic relief. The other characters that make up The Croods are:

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– The Cavegrandmother (voiced by Cloris Leachman). She’s the mother-in-law to cavedad so you get all your typical “I hate my mother-in-law” type jokes there. She’s fine. She’s crazy, of course. Cloris Leachman always does a great crazy-old-lady (love her as this in the TV show Raising Hope).

– The Cavemother (voiced by Catherine Keener). Not funny or anything – just a typical animated mother-type. Fine but a little boring. The voice of reason when Cavedad is being ridiculous (of course).

– The Cavebrother. Not much to say about him. He’s the most boring of the characters. He’s, of course, extremely dumb.

– The Baby Cavesister. She’s a fairly entertaining character. She’s like a rabid little dog, which is kind of cute.

– Belt. This was my favorite character. He’s a sloth who’s caveboy’s pet (and also acts as his belt, holding caveboy’s pants up). He does a funny little thing a few times in the movie – I won’t give it away (best bit in the movie- not sure if it’s been in trailers anyway). Best character – should have been used slightly more.

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Summary: The Croods is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from DreamWorks. It’s not the best animated DreamWorks film but it’s not the worst – it’s probably somewhere in the middle. The kids will be entertained but the adults might lose interest a few times & zone out (I actually had to look up what destroyed their cave because I seemed to space out at that point in the movie – it was suddenly destroyed & I had NO idea why). It’s not gonna change the world. Go to it. Zone out. Eat some popcorn. Laugh at Belt. Be annoyed when sometimes Nicolas Cage sounds a bit too Nicolas Cage-y. 🙂

My Rating: 6/10

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