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Friday, May 27, 2016
Run Time: 97 Minutes PG
Since I have a propensity to lean toward animation I was looking forward to seeing this ever since I first saw the previews, what seems like so long ago. Angry Birds reinforced my belief that animated films are not just for children. There is good reason this particular film is rated PG rather than G. To this end I do encourage parents to bring their children but at the same time be prepared to do some explaining to them. Do not let this keep you from seeing this movie. Personally I thought it was hilarious.
That said, right from the start you are immersed into the action that takes place on an island populated by flightless birds. The film opens with Red (Jason Sudeikis), a bird with historically a short fuse, running through and over various terrains, dodging to overcome unseen obstacles trying to save an egg. I was immediately reminded of similar antics by Skrat from the Ice Age films. That necessarily isn’t a bad thing
Angry Birds is a 3D computer-animated action-adventure comedy based on the video game series of the same name. Relatively unknown Director Clay Kaytis cleverly reveals the source of the birds’ anger with the help of co-director Fergal Reilly whose experience includes the voice of O’Toole in Open Season (2006). Writer Jon Vitti (The Simpsons Movie (2006) provides the humorous dialog with an endless repertoire of euphemisms. In addition to Red, these remarks are delivered by the likes of Chuck and Bomb voice by Josh Gad and Danny McBride respectively.
These three are center stage when a mysterious green pig named Leonard (Bill Hader) arrives on the island paradise. Generally speaking, Bomb is probably the mellowest bird you will ever meet. However, get him worked up and it’s another story altogether. He has a tendency to go off, literally. While this can have its advantages, Bomb needs to control his power. . It is here the plot thickens and the story begins to meld.
Enter the surprise visitors from another island. Witness green pigs with a pension for creating a party atmosphere; but they have an ulterior motive. Clever distractions soon reveal their purpose. The birds’ resilience is tested and an unlikely obscure hero emerges. There is much to be taken away from this film. It has numerous subliminal messages for adults and children, coated with quality entertainment.
Friday, May 20, 2016
Run Time: 1hr-48min
From the creator of Frozen (2013) comes a film set in a city of anthropomorphic wildlife. From the largest elephant to the smallest shrew Zootopia is a mammal metropolis where all creatures comfortably and confidently live and thrive together. Upon a complicated conspiracy, rookie bunny cop Judy Hopps is determined to prove to her and the skeptical that she can unravel and solve the mysterious case. Confidence is at a premium, however. This is because there are two major obstacles.
First, she is the first rabbit to join the police force and secondly she must work together with none other than her natural nemesis, a fox. Not just any fox, Nick Wilde is a cynical con artist who looks to make her task more difficult.
Ginnifer Goodwin, no doubt best known for her role as Mary Margaret Blanchard in the popular TV series Once upon A Time, provides the voice of Hopps. Blanchard is convincing with precise timing and delivery. And so is Justin Bateman who brings a long list of lending his voice or narrating to the character role of Wilde. And is he ever a character. Their relationship, while strained, is also complimented by differences. This may not make sense in words but it will when you’re watching these two develop.
This marriage of characters is indicative of the talented writing and directing of Byron Howard (Tangled 2010), who in this film successfully maintains his trademark of creating protagonists that are either considered enemies or are usually an optimist and their cynical friend, ending with the cynic becoming more optimistic. Co-director Rich Moore (Wreck-it Ralph 2012), on the other hand has had his own success with The Simpsons. Need I say more?
Animated films come and go and often seem to be redundant in their content as well as the special effects. However Zootopia will make you forget all that with its excellent execution of twist and turns in the plot and seamless animation. These characters not only reach and touch the viewer emotionally they also convey valuable lessons life. Like most other animated movies Zootopia is not just for children. Only adults could relate to some of the innuendo’s and relate to a few parodies found within the film visually and verbally. To miss this movie is to deprive yourself and family a chance to be highly entertained and enlightened.
Friday, May 13, 2016
Run Time: 146 min
Captain America: Civil War is a new superhero film and the thirteenth installment in the wildly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. This marks the beginning of “Phase 3” for the franchise as well as the completion of the Captain America trilogy. Anthony and Joe Russo return as directors once more, following their debut with 2014s The Winter Soldier. Anyways, this highly anticipated blockbuster features all of the heroes that we have grown to love over the course of the series with the exceptions of Thor, Hulk and the Guardians of the Galaxy, who are yet to officially meet with the rest of the characters. There are also a few new additions including Tom Holland as Spider-Man and Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther.
Taking place roughly a year after the events of 2015s Age of Ultron, the world is now torn on the powers of all of these different superheroes, largely due to the destruction that they have caused over the years. The government now looks to put forth the Anti-Hero Registration Act, which would basically allow the authorities to decide when the services of the Avengers are needed. We soon find out that Team Iron Man (Iron Man, Black Widow, War Machine, Vision, Black Panther and Spiderman) are all for this, while Team Captain America (Captain America, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, The Winter Soldier, Hawkeye and Ant-Man) hold the opposing viewpoint, leading to a “civil war” between all of these superheroes.
This is the second time that we have seen two big names go head to head this year, and I truly think that Civil War is the superior of the two. No offense to DC Comics and the great things they did with Batman v Superman, but Marvel simply topped them on this one. Yes, Marvel had the advantage of twelve movies in the franchise already, but they brought everything to a whole new level with this movie. The emotional build up to the battle was perfectly executed and we were also introduced to a few awesome new characters with Black Panther and Spider-Man along the way. To no surprise, the visuals were simply outstanding and this is absolutely some of the best action I’ve ever seen in a film. With everything that Civil War accomplished, this stands just behind The Dark Knight on my list of the greatest comic book films ever made.
Friday, May 6, 2016
Run time: 111 mins
Jon Favreau’s live-action remake of the 1967 Jungle Book follows Mowgli, a young boy raised by a pack of wolves after being found alone and orphaned in the jungle. His new family is resolved to raise him “the wolf way,” but it becomes increasingly evident that Mowgli has his own set of skills and shortcomings. However, things really take a turn for the worse when Shere Khan, a tiger dedicated to eradicating humans from the jungle, learns of Mowgli’s existence. With this threat on the horizon, Mowgli’s faithful companion, Bagheera, decides it’s necessary for Mowgli to return to his own people in the “man-village.” But as someone who’s spent his entire life in the wild, Mowgli first has to come to terms with who he is and what he truly wants.
The Jungle Book has an array of prominent actors, including Idris Elba as the tiger Shere Khan, Bill Murray as the bear Baloo, Ben Kingsley as the panther Bagheera, and Christopher Walken as the orangutan King Louie. Idris Elba’s sinister portrayal of Shere Khan was easily the most memorable; there’s a certain cuckoo scene that gave me chills just because of the tense, ominous atmosphere that Elba brings. However, my favorite character was definitely Raksha, Mowgli’s selfless wolf-mother. Her love for Mowgli was endless, and Lupita Nyong’o brought a special sort of tenderness into the role that few others could. Scarlett Johansson even makes a tiny appearance as the snake named Kaa, which is unfortunate because it only leaves you wanting to see more.
The sole performance that wasn’t quite up to par was that of Neel Sethi as Mowgli. Of course, I can’t be too hard on the kid considering he’s twelve, but when you have such an all-star cast led by such an inexperienced actor, it’s going to stand out. Still, Sethi mostly fit the part for his innocent, animated counterpart, and I’m sure his acting ability will grow with practice.
Overall, the visuals were great. The animals looked fantastic, and while the forest was a little too pristine to look realistic, this might have been an artistic choice to make it feel more like the animation. On a similar note, I’d advise this movie to anyone that loved the older 1967 version, because the creators tried to keep it very close to the original plot. There were, however, a couple key differences. For the most part, the new Jungle Book was more mature than the original, in that various animals died or were injured. Other differences included the wolves, which played a much bigger role in the new version, while Kaa’s part was much smaller. And, though there is some singing in the new Jungle Book, it’s not as prevalent as in the animation. All in all, the movie has portions for everyone. The singing definitely gears it towards a younger audience, but the mature themes give it enough meaning to hold the attention of older viewers.