If you don’t love Aardman Animations, then you have a cold, dead soul. The latest Shaun the Sheep adventure sees our plasticine pal befriend ET in a wordless, silent clown tribute to every classic sci-fi from our childhoods.Continue Reading
Catching up with the first of the franchise: the remarkably simple character animation contrasts wildly with the over-cranked, bonkers action sequences to create a family adventure that is everything Ready Player One should have been. With a non-stop conveyor of genre-subverting satire, one-liners, sight-gags and pop-culture riffs, everything is indeed awesome. Continue Reading
Welcome to the futuristic San Fransokyo, where misfit robotics prodigy (aren’t they all) Hiro takes on his late brother’s project, a medical robot, Baymax. But soon Hiro and his band of misfit science geek friends (aren’t they all) are out to catch the evil genius (aren’t they all) who stole Hiro’s invention and caused his brother’s death.
Disney’s direct re-invention of How to Train Your Dragon is an manga-inspired mashup of The Incredibles and Wall-E; a comic-book romp that has eye-popping action and the now-obligatory flying sequence over a glorious San Fransokyo which steals the show. Drop me off in town to go exploring and pick me up when the super-heroics are over. I can guess the rest – it’s all about family, innit? Continue Reading
Five years on: the ‘vikings’ are still inexplicably Scottish, their kids remain, more inexplicably, irritating all-American teens; Jay Baruschel still sounds like Tom Hanks; but the dragons and the flying sequences are even more thrilling. Just as well, given some dodgy politics.
At times terrifyingly dark, intense and scary, the kinetic theme-park ride can’t conceal the broadest-brushed life lessons in a hackneyed script. But why does Kate Blanchett’s character look like a space alien, and what’s with the borderline racism? Continue Reading
Why, when they make a feature length movie, do producers want to take the very thing they presumably paid a lot of money for the movie rights, then turn it into something else?
Postman Pat The Movie is like a throwback to 70’s sit-com spin-offs; take a successful TV property, then take it on holiday; sacrifice the familiar elements that make it what it is, then ditch the characters, the setting and any of the plotting and turn it into… a shallow imitation of itself. Continue Reading
The greed of the Hollywood system dictates that any idea that makes a ton of money must be endlessly remade under diminishing returns until everyone is thoroughly sick of the pale shadow left at the end. Yes I know there’s four movies, but I have to draw a line.
Despite the usually repellent trope of anthropomorphised talking animals, I have a lot of time for the original Ice Age, an animated Longest Journey quest undertaken by three unlikely sub-zero heroes. Manny the mammoth (the dry Ray Romano), Diego the sabre-tooth (sardonic Dennis Leary) and Sid the sloth (endearing, lisping klutz, John Leguizamo) deliver a witty, inventive script as they flee the advancing glaciers and impending extinction, attempt to return a human baby to its’ tribe and bond together as their own unique herd.
And as a sideshow, silent clown Scrat (a pre-historic squirrel-rat) replays Wiley Coyote chasing a prize acorn. It’s funny, touching, and a fine life-lessons fable to the under-tens. Until Ice Age 2 and 3 when it all goes horribly wrong… Continue Reading
Hiccup, the laconic nerdy son of a Viking chief, befriends a juvenille dragon he’s supposed to kill, in the process discovering the secret of the dragon lair from which the beasts’ deadly raids are launched.
Dreamworks has done another stand-out job, a real visual treat. The quality of the animation is terrific – Viking beards, dragon scales, clouds, mountains, water, lots of fire and other textures – with superbly realised motion for the dragons. There are some marvellously realised dragons in all shapes and sizes and some great flying sequences (I know, I’m a sucker for a good flying sequence). Continue Reading
A friend of mine bought a Region 3 DVD which of course wouldn’t play here, so I offered to convert it and gave it a look. Made in 1985, this is Japanese Manga Animé – which I recently discovered is also called ‘Japanimation.’
Vampire Hunter D is based on the third of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s novels about a futuristic human-vampire hybrid warrior. The movie translates this as a cartoon version of Blade as a Spaghetti Western. The animation and voiceover is rather crude and flat by today’s standards. Under no circumstances switch from sub-titles to dubbed dialogue. Continue Reading
This spin off from the Shrek franchise is built around Antonio Banderas doing that voice as the titular swashbuckling moggy. But Salma Hayek is underwhelming as Kitty Softpaws, further reduced to lack-lustre side-kick in the second half. Since all the best gags and fairy tale characters have been used up, we get a half-hearted villain in Humpty Dumpty, well animated, and well voiced by Zach Galifianakis, but no match for Prince Farquad.
Previously, we’ve raved about Up and Wall-E at the top of the animation league, but Shrek favourite Puss in Boots fell well short of high hopes and expectations. It is another technical tour-de-force form Spielberg’s Dreamworks studio, the Shrek style emboldened by the presence of Guillermo del Toro as executive producer; there can be no complaints in the quality of the animation or assembly of artwork, voice and musical talent.
However, this uneven hotch-potch of fairy tales for the kids and movie pastiches for the adults looks too much like a video game for long spells and runs out of decent gags half way through. Continue Reading
In the first twenty minutes, we get the life story of Carl and Ellie Fredericksen; they meet as children, marry, fail to have children but grow old together until Ellie dies and Carl is left a curmudgeonly old widower in their rickety wooden house, overwhelmed by modernity and threatened by developers. It’s a twenty-minute, heartfelt masterpiece. It’s a first act that stays with you for the rest of the movie, the emotional heart, worthy of every award every invented… Continue Reading