Independence Day: Resurgence Review

Genre: Action
Year: 2016
Rating:M
Runtime: 120 minutes
Main Cast: Liam Hemsworth
Jeff Goldblum
Jessie T. Usher
Bill Pullman
Maika Monroe
Main Production Company: Centropolis Entertainment
Written by: Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods
James Vanderbilt
Directed by: Roland Emmerich

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Written by Nelson Cumming

Independence Day Resurgence is a sequel twenty years in the making (not really but you get the point) and has a lot of hype. I went into Independence Day Resurgence with an open mind, but after about 10 minutes in, that went out the door. There are a couple of scenes and elements to it that were awesome but the movie was mostly boring.

The story, when you boil it down, is pretty basic. Aliens come back to earth after twenty years and it’s up to Jake Morrison, (Liam Hemsworth) David Levinson, (Jeff Goldblum) Dylan Dubrow-Hiller, (Jessie Usher) et. al. to save the earth once again from space aliens. Oh, and the protagonists get help from an intelligent white spherical robot and various defense systems.

This movie is like the original Independence Day except bigger, louder and no Will Smith. If you need any proof that it’s bigger, you just need to look at the ship. It’s the size of half the earth. It’s clear from the outset that director Ronald Emmerich wanted the movie to be a technical exercise and it mostly succeeds on that level. I thought the CGI looked good especially with how the main villain moved fluently despite his large structure. The millions of ships were ok from a CGI standpoint. Finally, I thought some of the stuntwork was awesome.

Now onto the negatives…

The movie was boring on multiple levels. The dialogue, the pacing, the acting, the humorless gags and the predictable story. Five minutes into watching the movie, I wrote “The dialogue is bad, I’ve heard worse, but it’s bad” some of the dialogue felt unnatural, other times it just didn’t make much sense. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down what any character said but I had the constant feeling that none of the dialogue connected with me, or felt natural with the “end of the world” situation they were in.

Another fault in the movie was the horrifically slow narrative pacing due to too-many-character-syndrome and the repetitive gags. The pristine example comes from Dr. Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner) who awakens from a coma that lasted, you guessed it, twenty years! He gets the bad comedic gag of his bum showing out of his hospital gown. The gag wasn’t funny the first time (or the other times they tried it). Dr. Brakish Okun doesn’t need to be in the story. I believe he was only there to nostalgia to the hardcore Independence Day fans. He wasn’t the only one that was needlessly there either.

Finally, the story was highly predictable filled with bad melodrama. The “romantic” subplot felt rushed for the popcorn filling special effects show. Normally, I would be against this movie, but the romantic elements between the Liam Hemsworth and Maika Monroe characters were so cookie cutter I was half-relieved they did not get lots of screen time together. You get the usual “I want to live in a house with you” line said by the woman just before the man leaves for his deadly mission cliche. You also get the sidekick who says “you are the only friend I have ever had” said by Travis Tope’s character. Despite the brevity of these lines and scenes, it still felt tedious.

With the combination of thirty-minute character introductions, romantic melodrama, wooden acting with bad dialogue, Independence Day Resurgence is a two-hour cinematic slog that is not worth the climax of a twenty-minute action sequence. The movie is also explicit that there will be another installment at the ending. I pray that doesn’t happen. *1/2

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

Genre: Adventure comedy
Year: 2016
Rating: G
Runtime: 94 minutes
Main cast: Ray Romano
John Leguizamo
Denis Leary
Simon Peg
Production company:Blue Sky Studios
20th Century Fox Animation
Written by: Michael J. Wilson
Directed by: Mike Thurmeier
Galen T. Chu

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Written by Nelson Cumming

Ice Age: Collision Course is the fifth movie in the Ice Age franchise. It is also a blip in the time pool of cinematic history. There is nothing wrong with Ice Age: Collision Course but the franchise has merely become a cash cow to bring in a steady stream of revenue. At a time where women drag their boyfriends to see Me Before You and where men drag their girlfriends to see Warcraft, Ice Age Collision Course is one of the many movies where kids will drag their parents to the multiplex.

Scrat’s pursuit of the elusive acorn catapults him into the universe where he accidentally sets off a series of cosmic events that transform and threaten the Ice Age World. To save themselves, Sid, Manny, Diego, and the rest of the herd must leave their home and embark on a quest to stop a giant meteor from destroying the earth.

When I was at the cinema, there was a father with his toddler and myself. That was it. Twenty minutes in the kid cried. The father and child left. I stayed. I was alone. The room was as empty as my brain as I watched Ice Age 5. It was easy to process, but hard to sustain. It is entirely forgettable. The reason I said Ice Age 5 is a cash cow is because the franchise is huge, lasted nearly fifteen years, makes a steady stream of income while persuading its consumers they are offering something new and superior when it isn’t.

Ice Age: Collision Course is a story that won’t be enjoyed by anyone over nine. It is essentially a more-of-the-same-but-let’s-amplify-everything-to-make-it-look-like-it’s-better strategy implemented by Blue Sky Studios. They decide to include all the characters from the previous four movies instead of narrowing their focus a couple of characters. It felt disjointed at times. In this case, more characters did not work for the movie.

Another thing they do to amplify sameness is by making the characters zanier. If only Blue Sky Studios learned from the Alvin and the Chipmunks sequels, they could have avoided doing that strategy. It just comes off as a B-grade product. If you saw the difference in character movements between the first movie and this one, you will be alarmed. From the restrained but lovable Manny the mammoth to the hip-hop dancing thing he has become. It is not a pretty sight. It is like looking at two photos where one is Hannah Montana and the other picture is Miley Cyrus’ cover photo of her latest album (her dead pets) Manny is not a trainwreck like that but it is as sad in my mind.

Finally, the other thing they amplify is the growing absurdity of the plot. From the rescuing of a child in the original to beating the global warming meltdown, then surviving dinosaurs, then surviving the tectonic plate shifts of the earth to now stopping an asteroid from outer space by throwing crystals in an active volcano. See the gradual absurdity even for the universe they’re in? There are several space sequences where Scrat is trying to get his acorn. Those sequences are visually entertaining but only for the time the sequences were on. The space sequences were only really good as a plot device used only once near the climax of the movie to gain tension. That is about it.

Despite their “bigger is better” approach Ice Age 5 offers little to the imagination. Aside from the colorful animations, one or two good scenes and overly zany characters to keep kids entertained there is not much that the movie offers. It is not frustrating, cringeworthy or boring but it is empty, which is not as bad, but it’s not good. With all the space elements, I really felt the franchise has jumped the shark. If there is another sequel, I hope they stripped down less-is-more approach next time. **

Warcraft Movie Review

Genre: Action/fantasy
Year: 2016
Rating: M
Runtime: 123 minutes
Main Cast: Travis Fimmel
Paula Patton
Ben Foster
Dominic Cooper
Main Production Companies:Legendary Pictures,
Blizzard Entertainment
Written by: Charles Leavitt, Duncan Jones
Directed by: Duncan Jones

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Written by Nelson Cumming

I have a problem with movie adaptations if none of the elements from the source material translates well on the big screen for a casual viewer. The reason is because it’s like running into a brick wall that simply won’t budge. That is a situation that I experienced with Warcraft. Warcraft is boring for a plethora of reasons and is a cross between Gods of Egypt and The Divergent Series: Allegiant in terms of its atmosphere of boring CGI overload crossed in with actors acting like the story has substance. If you do not understand what MMORPG stands for it is likely you are not the demographic it’s going after. I think it will satisfy fans of the franchise but there is little for anyone else to enjoy.

Looking to escape from his dying world, the orc shaman Gul’dan utilizes dark magic to open a portal to the human realm of Azeroth. Gul’dan organizes the orc clans into a conquering army called the Horde. King Llane, the mighty warrior Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) and the powerful wizard Medivh attempt to protect Azeroth. As the two races collide, leaders from each side start to question if war is the only answer.

At the start of the movie, they show a heavily pregnant orc go into a battleground, through a massive portal, then gets her first contractions. When she has her child, it looked like one of the babies in Shrek turned into a demon spawn and the leader of the orcs grabs the putrid baby and holds it high into the air in front of the tribe. This was like the scene in The Lion King where Rafiki the monkey is holding Simba at Pride Rock, only that in Warcraft, it is a hundred times more grotesque. Then the camera cuts to black and the title card shows “Warcraft” in big letters covering the screen as if I was going to see something epic…

At that point I thought “holy s***”, and not in a good way.

After that scene, I thought that this would be so bad that I would be entertained by its badness, but the movie was boring. All of the characters were uninteresting and one note, all the characters names have the middle ages names that are hard to remember (like Gul’dan, Garona, Medivh, Durotan, Khadgar) It also doesn’t help that all the Orcs look similar and that they have tooth rings on their overly large canines that distracted me throughout the movie.

I just thought the movie existed to show CGI. They make it very
apparent, especially in the scenes where the wizards showed their magic. The CGI is cool the first time you see it but gets boring and tiresome after awhile. It’s kind of like going on a Ferris wheel, the first time it is fun, the tenth time you get very bored and want to get off the thing. They have the same colour palette for every spell and that is while with a bright blue tinge like the texture of dry ice. The only time that is different occurs when the portal opens and admittedly that looked cool.

So I have pretty much painted the picture that the characters and the CGI are pretty much one-note, well so is the plot and character development and the action decent but not remarkable. But the story also plods on and on. They had scenes in the movie where they either cut or fade to black, making me believe the movie ended, only to find that they had another scene. That happened three times. It was a cocktease in my head. Actually, it was worse than a cocktease because a cocktease means that you were sexually attracted to someone only to find out that the partner had no interest in you, with Warcraft it is like teasing that the boredom and suffering were going to end, but it didn’t!

Warcraft will win over the hardcore gamers, I just know it. They will love it to bits. To me, it was just boring because of the plodding story, character development, the characters and the CGI mostly being one note and going on for too long. I heard a Youtube comment on critics channel saying the movie should be three to four hours long. I yelled “No!” at the screen. Half a star goes for the CGI working once in the movie. 1/2 *

P.S. For those who don’t know 1/2 * is not a typo for one and a half stars, that actually stands for half a star.

Finding Dory Movie Review

Genre: Adventure
Year: 2016
Rating: G
Runtime: 103 minutes
Main Cast: Ellen Degeneres
Albert Brooks
Hayden Rolence
Ed O’Neill
Production Companies: Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
Written By: Andrew Stanton
Victoria Strouse
Directed by: Andrew Stanton

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Written by Nelson Cumming

Finding Nemo swims in the ocean, a whale, a seagull and a drainpipe. Finding Dory is a movie that swims in the ocean, down the drainpipes, across water enclosures and rides on the surface while plunges underground into our hearts (Even a soulless critic like myself can be very corny). Finding Dory is a movie that has a heart and most of the elements work. There are a couple of interesting things that I have picked up. Some are easy to spot and some are not. Either way, this movie is great. It is the best movie I have reviewed in awhile.

The premise is that Dory (Ellen Degeneres) is a Blue Tang fish who travels to California to find her parents. The problem is that she suffers from short-term- memory loss so she needs a lot of help in the form of an octopus called Hank (Ed O’Neil) , a shortsighted whale shark called Destiny (Katlin Olson) and both Marlin and Nemo as well as many others to help find Dory’s way back home

What is so great about Finding Dory (and Pixar in general) is that not only is their heart in the right place, but they are innovative at portraying themes in ways I can connect. There are many ideas in Finding Dory, but the main idea was overcoming self-adversity in my opinion as Dory is forgetful, but she is aware of that, making that mental barrier more challenging for her.

Another thing I found particularly interesting is the interplay between her memory and her subconscious. The only time Dory can remember is if any of the characters say something that triggers in her subconscious. Those memory triggers serve as the plot devices for the entire movie. This move by Pixar grabbed my curiosity. It was a good move as it related to Dory’s character progression. It looks like I need to see Inside Out again to revise my understanding of psychology and memory.

The other character that I think all the children will love is Hank. Hank, while not cute and cuddly, is entertaining. He is an octopus (or a septopus, depending on your interpretation) who is the straight character. He plays an important role as the octopus that goes astray from his enclosure that tries to find Dory’s parents. Hank also hates kids (and for good reason) which are portrayed in a scene done in a similar fashion with Toy Story 3. I don’t know how Pixar made me think about land mines in that scene, but they did.

There are other supporting characters in this movie that are mainly there for the comedy. A lot of the comedy works. The seals are funny as well as the psychotic bird that looks like he has raved at a party for three days straight while still on speed. Finally Destiny, the whale shark was funny, but the one gag she does is over-repetitive (the gag she does is repeated about 10-25 times, no exaggeration) but she is sweet and sincere enough to be likable.

There are also two scenes that were done professionally by Jeremy Lasky, who is the cinematographer. There is one scene which is in first-person where Dory is being swept by stormwater drains as she is dumped into the ocean which was really good at giving us the feeling of despair. The other scene was the use of slow motion at the climatic moment of a car chase which was also spectacular (Yes, there is a car chase in Finding Dory, it is hard to believe) and gave us the image of liberty.

Despite all this praise about how great this movie was (and it was), I don’t think this quite matches up with the more memorable Pixar movies because I thought it was not as powerful (my hankey was dry). I still think Finding Nemo was better. I can also think of about six or seven other movies that Pixar made that could trump Finding Dory, to be honest. That is not a negative criticism but it is an observation (I just think it is wrong as a critic to say “this is the best movie ever” without meaning it). I believe that Finding Dory is a great movie and is a worthy addition to the Pixar canon ****

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of the Shadows Review

Genre: Action comedy
Year: 2016
Rating: PG
Length: 112 minutes
Main Cast: Megan Fox
Will Arnett
Stephen Amell
Production company: Paramount Pictures
Written by: Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec
Directed by: Dan Green

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Written by Nelson Cumming

When I saw the same cast and crew from the original ninja turtles moving making the sequel I admit that my expectations bar was appropriately lowered. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows was a surprise as they exceeded my expectations, but it was not enough for me to enjoy. This movie is an improvement on the original but there were many distracting elements that you would get from a Michael Bay movie, which hampered the quality of the film (I know he didn’t direct it, but he produced it). Thankfully, they tone the Michael Bay-ness down several notches for this one but his presence was still all over the movie, which hurt the overall viewing experience for me.

Shredder has broken free from law enforcement and has returned to terrorize New York. He is teleported to the main antagonist called Krang. Krang wants shredder to collect three hidden components of a machine that will serve as a gateway between Earth and Krang’s world. This is so Krang and come back to Earth and executes his plan to destroy New York. The Turtles (obviously) must try and stop Krang before it is too late.

For what it’s worth, Out of the Shadows tries to have meaning and depth. I am not so sure it tried hard, but the fact it tried means this movie can be salvageable. They have a kernel of ideas that are touched on but are not explored. One of the ideas that resonated with me was the moral conundrum of changing your outward appearance to be accepted into society. When I saw that idea played in a scene I was surprised. I wanted them to play around with that idea throughout, but you only get a scene and a half with that idea before that message gets lost in the subpar action and secondary characters.

The other good thing OotS has going for it is that the main characters, the turtles, are mildly interesting. Yes, I did not mind them but no, I did not care about them. This is mainly because throughout the movie I did not get the impression that the turtles were struggling in any way (be it a physical fight or an identity crisis) and the movie made them clear-cut babyface heroes. If a clean-cut babyface hero does not struggle with anything, how can I really get invested into them? I can’t. The turtles mainly do parkour around buildings and try to be entertaining to the kids, but they do not have the crossover appeal to get me into it. That said, they are not repulsive or bad. They just didn’t resonate with me.

As a critical thinker at the movies, I have developed a sensitive bulldust detector in my mind, from seeing roughly two movies a week. I don’t like it when I have to see the same thing over and over again. I was alarmed when my detector noticed no overuse of explosions (a big plus), what my detector did not like was nearly every other Michael Bay convention permeated throughout the movie. Excessive product placement, check; Megan Fox being sexually provocative just to bring the smut male audience into the movie, check; and really terrible dialogue, check, check, check. It is distracting and adds nothing. These Michael Bay shenanigans helped make one of the worst pieces of dialogue since London has Fallen

A basketball player slips on some pizza during a game (accidently dropped my Michelangelo from far above the rafters) The player grabs his ankle and screams “My Nike, My Nike, there is pizza on my Nike! Referee, I can’t play with pizza on my Nike!” and the referee responds with “welcome to New York”. This exchange of dialogue was very cringeworthy. It had explicit and repetitive product placement, which made the dialogue completely unnatural and unrealistic (He should have said “Ah! My foot!” or “There’s pizza on my shoe!”). I have an ear for bad dialogue, the scriptwriter didn’t.

Overall I am pleased that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was better than expected, yet it is not really good enough for me to enjoy. At least the turtles had likable qualities to them and I wasn’t thinking “green screen” when there was CGI involved. This movie is harmless. Harmless fun is stretching it. **

Alice Through The Looking Glass Review

Genre: Adventure
Year: 2016
Rating: PG
Runtime: 113 Minutes
Main Cast: Johnny Depp
Anne Hathaway
Mia Wasikowska
Helena Bonham Carter
Sacha Baron Cohen
Main Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures
Written by: Linda Woolverton
Directed by: James Bobin

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Written by Nelson Cumming

Alice Through the Looking-Glass is the sequel to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland although this time Burton decided not to return to the director’s chair (although he did help produce it). This time, it is James Bobin, director of The Muppets in 2011. I can say that he has not topped The Muppets, but he has not made something that is as terrible as other movie critics would like me to believe. The thing that was utterly perplexing about Alice Through the Looking Glass was that it defied expectation in a very weird way. The things I thought would work in the movie didn’t work. At the same time, the things I thought would be terrible worked.

The actual premise of the movie was unconvincing at best. Here it is: Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Wonderland and reunites with her friends (The White Queen, Twiddledee, Twiddledum and others). They say the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) was sad because he believes his family is still alive and no-one believes him. Alice finds the Chronosphere, which she steals from Time (Sasha Baron Cohen) to distort the space-time continuum and threaten the existence of Wonderland, herself and her friends in the process.

Alice does all of this just to keep the Mad Hatter happy. Not to save the world, not to discover herself, not to save the ones she loves and not to even stop evil. Just to stop someone from being sad. Can a movie be any more low stakes than that? Oh wait, it can! The story explains why the relationship between the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and the White Queen (Anne Hathway) are fractured. It is one of the stupidest reasons I have ever heard, worse than the plot. Even worse, this movie lost the plot! For not having a convincing storyline, I couldn’t engage in the poignancy. I expected the movie to have a better story than that.

Now to the things I did not expect to be great but were. The first was the animation. I thought that the animation was colorful and beautiful enough to the engage me throughout the movie. I disagree with most movie critics who believed it was boring. I like Underland, the residence of Time himself, and I liked the chase sequences where Alice moves to and from time. That was one element that surprised me because I thought would be boring (like critics did). On a side note, from many reviews, I hear it is better to watch the movie in 2-D like I did. I heard from critics that it was painful to watch in 3-D.

The other thing that surprised me was the performance of Sasha Baron Cohen. Yes, you heard me, Baron Cohen. I saw his name on the movie poster my initial thoughts were that the casting of that role was hopelessly misguided. I like Baron Cohen, but after being the king of raunch comedy and shoving the envelope for a decade, I thought this was a bad move. I was wrong. He was entertaining and engaging as Time and made him a believable albeit flawed character. Baron Cohen knew his role and did not try to hog the spotlight as I feared he would do. This time, he was the butt of the bad pun jokes about time itself instead of telling the joke. I am pleasantly surprised that Baron Cohen was engaging in a sincere way and kept it clean for a kids movie. He is showing signs of versatility. His acting was not the level of Colin Firth, Tom Hanks, and Daniel Day-Lewis but he exceeded my expectations.

So in summation, Alice Through the Looking Glass is a movie with an unconvincing story saved by the animation, acting from SOME of the actors (some I found annoying or distracting) and my willingness to suspend my disbelief. If you want a story with substance, you can take a star off my rating. The good parts of the movie were just enough for me to outweigh the bad parts. **1/2

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

Year:2016
Rating: G
Genre: Animated Adventure Comedy
Runtime: 97 Minutes
Cast: Jason Sudeikis,
Josh Gad,
Danny McBride,
Bill Hader
Production Company: Rovio Entertainment
Written By: Jon Vitti
Directed By: Fergil Reilly, Clay Kaytis

 

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Written By Nelson Cumming

“Angry Birds” is a movie that knows it’s target demographic damn well (the kiddies!). This movie commits nearly 100% of its humor, narrative, animation and action towards them. Despite me not being a part of the target market, I can say there was not a time where I was notably frustrated as a lot of the movie made sense (Story, dialogue, and animation). However, Angry Birds is not a memorable film as any moral element of the story plays second fiddle to the action and the comedy. That said, Angry Birds is far away from being classed as a bad movie. Angry Birds ultimately succeeds in being fun and forgettable.

The story of Angry Birds revolves around Red who is a bird who is barely tolerated by his community. After an angry incident involving a birthday cake and some unhappy parents, Red has to go to anger management classes. Even though Red doesn’t want to change his life, he meets some friends there. Chuck, a hyperactive yellow bird, and Bomb, a large bird that explodes (literally) when he is angry are Red’s two friends. Red’s life is turned upside down when green pigs invade the island. Red with his comrades tries to find out their motives before it is too late.

From the very first scene, I knew little kids would like it. It is Red in the middle of a three-minute Tarzan-like adventure montage as he transverses through the terrain of the natural environment. It was bright, beautifully animated and had slapstick comedy that kids would enjoy. The filmmakers from the get-go throw many, many things that happen to Red that drive him from placid cynicism to full blown anger and they did it in a way to get kids to enjoy the journey of Red’s decent. The majority of the movie was like that. Those aspects were entertaining.

The movie’s general weaknesses were the lack of character depth and the constant pandering to the game. Directors Fergal Riley and Clay Kaytis decided to play it safe by using all of the supporting characters merely as instrumental tools to progress the plot or to play a part in the comedy instead of adding any depth to them. This tactic works sometimes, but not all the time. The other problem they plug the Angry Birds product into the movie to such a level that I was drawn out of the movie, thinking it was an advertisement (It is one scene, in particular, you will know it when you see it).

Overall I have to say that Angry Birds was not a bad movie. However, Angry Birds was far from being a great movie. Angry Birds does not offer any emotional depth nor does it really entertain the adults nearly as much as the kids. When they do try to subtly place adult humor it does not work. Overall, Angry birds entertain in its visual storytelling, action, and the childish humor. It is a pretty good forgettable family movie that the kids will enjoy and the parents will enjoy because their kids are happy and entertained seeing it. ***

Kung Fu Panda 3 Review

Genre: Computer animation, action comedy

Year: 2016

Rating: PG

Length: 95 minutes

Main Cast: Jack Black

Dustin Hoffman

J.K. Simmons

Bryan Cranston

Angelina Jolie

Production Company: Dreamworks Animation

Directed By: Alessandro Carloni, Jennifer Yuh

 

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Written by Nelson Cumming

Po (Jack Black) is back alongside Furious Five, Master Shifu and Master Oogway in the third installment of the Kung Fu Panda 3 franchise. With the success of the first two installments, the pressure for Dreamworks to make a worthy sequel has never been more intense and, to a certain degree, this movie succeeds in doing just that. Kung Fu Panda has enough brightly coloured action scenes and slapstick to keep the kids happy. This movie also has enough powerful moments in the film for adults too. So it is also a success on that level.

Kung Fu Panda 3 kicks off with the villainous Kai (Played by J.K. Simmons who’s character is seamlessly indestructible) who has returned to the village with the intent to defeat the kung fu masters to gain their chi (Their life energy) to gain power and immortality. Po “The Dragon Warrior” has to learn how to defeat Kai by knowing who he is, his purpose in life and what it take to be a dragon warrior. The premise is in the normal Kung Fu Panda style: The good guy fights bad guy thing. It works well. It may seem repetitive but as I always say “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!”

Kung Fu Panda provides more slapstick comedy for kids than ever before. You have giant panda bears rolling down hills and crashing into trees and Panda bears that spit out hundreds of dumplings from their mouth like bullets in a submachine gun. Kids will find that funny but there is also a scene near the beginning where Po meets his biological father for the first time in the middle of a very busy Chinese restaurant. The only characters in the whole town who don’t know they are related are Po and his father. So there is comedy sprinkled throughout.

The main idea of Kung Fu Panda 3 is the relationship between Po and his fathers (biological and non-biological), which is a wonderful thing to witness. This movie plays around all sorts of ideas around these dads that would take a long time to list. All I am going to say about this is interesting, moving and engaging. Great character development overall from Po in this film. While it is not as moving as Kung Fu Panda 2 it is certainly very good and well worth it. It is better then the action scenes, which in itself was well made.

The action scenes and animation from Kung Fu Panda 3 stayed true to its predecessors. It had the normal computer animation while paying homage to the animation from the Land of the Rising Sun. They use comic book style panels; selective shades of colours (particularly yellow, green and pink) and Chinese lettering to give this movie some level authenticity, the authenticity of ancient china, superpowers and adventures in a Japanese manga style.

Even though Kung Fu Panda 3 does not have the same adventure feel like the first one, not does it have the same amount of depth in the second one; it mixes between the two and works quite well. Kung Fu Panda 3 is a worthy addition to the franchise ***3/4

Zootopia Review

Year of release: 2016

Rating: PG

Length: 108 minutes

Starring: Jennifer Goodwin

Jason Bateman

Idris Elba

JK Simmons

Production Company: Walt Disney Animated Studios

Directed by: Bryan Howard

Rich Moore

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzvH6_e2a-U

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Written By Nelson Cumming

Zootopia has all the qualities that make a great animated feature: great animation, high-ordered themes as well as fun scenes for the kids, well-developed characters and a good story. I believe that this is the first film I have reviewed that has brilliant storytelling and has great mass appeal. I think there will be people who will connect with this movie more than me which will be saying something. I don’t know if this film will be ranked amongst the classics of the Disney canon, but Zootopia nonetheless proves itself worthy of being a movie that touches with lots of different people amongst different walks of life.

 

The premise is that the rabbit Judy Hopps (Jennifer Goodwin) is a recent graduate from the police force. She enters the word of Zootopia where animals live and breathe. She finds it harder to enforce the law then she thinks. Determined to prove herself, she accepts a missing persons’ case. She has to work reluctantly with Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) to solve the case.

 

I admit that I was going to see Zootopia with a blind eye. The promotional medium I exposed myself to was the film poster and even then I paid little attention to it. So I was very surprised about how attentive to detail the animation was. I believed that Pixar was the company to have produced this movie. I was surprised that Disney was the company responsible. It goes to show that Disney has really stepped up their game in the last couple of years. Their animation in this film showed a variety of environments from country towns, the metropolis that is Zootopia, the rooms, and apartments. The textures on the main characters are also marvelous.

 

This film is not afraid to tackle some higher order themes that involve the consequences of social stigmas in society, drug abuse, using fear to maintain and consolidate power and how easily misinformed beliefs can hurt people. Zootopia works those ideas with effortless grace. If parents are worried about their children seeing Zootopia with these themes in it, do not worry. The way all of it is executed is so subtle that it is very unlikely a child will notice these complex adult themes taking place. They will see Zootopia as a fun adventure movie (chase scenes, funny scenes, acts of espionage) more than anything else.

 

The final and arguably most important part Zootopia succeeds in is well-developed characters with a story that the characters embed themselves. The characters behaviors are personified by the animals they are. Nick Wilde, a fox, is sly and cunning; the rabbit Judy Hops is playful and naive. Zootopia allows these characters to show their flaws, interact with each other and learn from each other. Most importantly, Zootopia does this in ways that we care about these characters in the story. It is amazing how Disney has packed all of this into a single film.

 

The more I think about Zootopia, the more I like it. It is a very uplifting film. Zootopia is a rare film that undoubtedly has the hype it deserves ****1/2