Thursday, 22 September 2016

Movie Review - Storks

   Where would kids nowadays pick up on the classic idea that babies are delivered by storks?  Where did the paradigm originate anyhow?  It doesn't matter since the practice is considered obsolete and the storks in this latest CGI feature have new occupations occupying their time.  Or not?

   The soon-to-be-promoted Junior and the orphan Tulip must deliver a baby girl before the snafu is discovered.  Obstacles from within and without hinder their plan.

   Despite having babies be the mcguffin and even avoiding the issue of pregnancy, the movie is constructed not to be little kid friendly.  The rapid fire, motormouth humor is too fast-paced and self referential to be for pre schoolers.  The treatment might actually be aimed for teens and older, though the film is filled with super cute scenes and jokes.  The frenetic, frantic and funny fiascos the feathered and friends fall into are hilariously hip and situational but it's the witty banter that moves this road trip of sorts.  

   Practically all the characters are glib with repartee prepared, even down to the little boy.  Spotlighted stork Adam Samberg is a comedian in his own right and plays the barbed exchanges very well with his human travel companion Katie Crown who can hold conversations by herself.  Stephen Kramer Glickman stands out from flock as the ambitious pigeon with a homaged personality.  Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are sure to be favorites due to their loveable wolf personas.

   Storks is well animated with jerky, snappy movements and transitions that fit with the vocal exchanges.  Quick and colorful, the film flashes by in a brisk pace punctuated by clever one liners and funny remarks.  Storks does deliver humor that teens and adult would enjoy while babies and kids would be dazzled by the crisp visuals.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Movie Review - The Beatles : Eight Days A Week

     The Beatles were a phenomenon but as I wasn't born during their rise to fame, everything I know about them is second hand.  My mom was around then though so she would probably appreciate this documentary since she lived through part of it.

   John, Paul, George and Ringo were catapulted to stardom as the Beatles during the 1960's.  They toured for a scant couple of years and the film documents their experience.

   Just for local watchers, yes, the Philippines gets mentioned as Imelda Marcos was offended when her meal invitation was turned down.  There's a headline on how the Beatles gets a bum's rush for snubbing the First Lady and one of the members actually mentions the name Philippines by saying that their experience in the next country would be better than ours.  Well, we get some notoriety for that.

   The release in cinemas here will also have the 30minute Shea Stadium concert, minus the non-Beatles acts.  It's an extra treat for the true blue fans as the performance is remastered.  It's not the same as the real thing but it's complete and much appreciated.

   The documentary does not get too in-depth with the individual Beatles.  As usual, John and Paul get the lion's share of the spotlight.  It gets into some of their troubled times like relating a Hard Day's Night or asking for Help in their song writing plus the whole 'bigger than Jesus' debacle but it doesn't get truly personal.  Their families aren't mentioned and their origins were just quickly touched upon.  But this film is about their touring years and not a biography so it only encourages the audience to do more research themselves if the movie so inspires them.

  There're celebrity testimonials like Whoopi Goldberg and Sigourney Weaver plus reporters present during the times and, of course, the remaining Beatles.  The most endearing parts were the initial interviews of the members during the start of the boom.  They were enjoying the attention, making jokes and generally having fun.  More of those footage would have been great to show off their personality.  Towards the end of the movie, it just got more somber as the audience sees how they were eventually worn down.

   8 Days A Week really is about the touring years, up to their final live performance.  There's statistics and background information but the snippets of performances and candid moments are the gems.  Fans would be sure not to miss this and for the curious about the so-called Beatlemania, this would be a suitable starting point before they changed their image and music.  

Friday, 16 September 2016

Movie Review - Sausage Party

  An R rated animated feature isn't new.  Anime has been doing it for years.  American toons too, at least decades before, on the fritz as they were.  But this is a new medium with the CGI and a new aim, to shock you into laughter.

   The grocery products in the supermarket await being bought and taken to the heavenly great beyond.  But Frank and his friends discover the real truth.

    Oh yes, there's swearing and sexual innuendo.  The Seth Rogan juvenile humor is present, though the food puns is new.  Also accounted for is the social commentary that they include to give merit to the raunchiness.  This time, it's a take on challenging the belief system in terms of religion and even race.  This is a tricky area that didactic cartoon features wouldn't even touch so props to them for bringing it up.  But then comes the climactic scene that probably wipes the parable lesson away from your mind.  Well, shocking as it is, at least it's different?  Maybe even progressive? There is a bit of a drag at points in the story but then there's a scene around the corner that would get you laughing or gawping anyhow.

   There's some controversy behind the scenes with animators being unpaid and uncredited but the product presented on screen is at least not like the stiff, awkward CGI seen in some tv shows, specials or movie knockoffs.  It's a legitimately good looking film; good job for them. The voice talents are expressive and bring their inanimate characters to life thanks to the facial work. 

   Politically correct sensibilities be darned; let them sue for decency if they want.  If you're looking for a taste of something new and shocking, open your mouth wide and bite into this Sausage Party.  Your level of disbelief may vary, as will the contents of your stomach, but you will still be entertained one way or another.  It may even give you some food for thought amidst the guffaws.

Movie Review - The Magnificent Seven

   The original Magnificent Seven western wasn't that original as it homaged the 7 Samurai, a masterpiece that established tropes and techniques to come.  This new remake would try to capture the magnificence and magic of the source material.

   Bounty hunter Sam gathers six other gun fighters to right the injustice being done to a small town.  They prep the citizens as much as they could for the violence to come.

   The film is really quite well made.  It knows what it's going for and shoots straight for it.  It tried to add variations to the formula by including minorities, removing the neophyte and even beefing up the female presence.  But it's somehow not enough.  It tries to stay true to the spirit of the original but isn't lively or innovative enough.  Perhaps it's a case of a narrative that's so familiar, tried and tested that the cliche it's become is tired.  A thin line must be drawn between the safe homage and an extreme shift though, like an all female version of the seven. 

   The seven try to stand out among themselves, with Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke having small character arcs to complete.  Denzel Washington is a given since he's the leader but the other minorities almost fade into the background except for their special skills, some of more use than others.  Peter Sarsgaard is suitably villainous and Haley Bennett provides a feministic touch with the loss of her husband.

   The assault on the town was pretty well executed but you do wonder how the good guys distinguish themselves from the bad guys as everybody looks the same in the scuffle.  I suppose they sorted it out within the film but it could be confusing for the audience to the point that they don't care as long as things go bang bang. 

   This Magnificent Seven has the prerequisite gunfights and showdowns but the shine is off.  A bit more ambition would have been on target.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Movie Review - Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates

   What kind of title is that?  It's too descriptive, not really too imaginative or subtle.  Well, the end result is hardly timid; it's extremely bold in fact.  As for being imaginative, it won't leave much for that, haha.

   Mike and Dave are rowdy brothers who are tasked to bring nice dates to their sister's wedding so they will behave themselves.  They bring women who are even worse than they are.

   Yes, there is a nudity and profanity.  That's expected.  Same with the crudeness and lewdness.  It's rather low brow comedy but, wow, there are scenes that will still surprise.  Yes, I'm talking about the notorious spa scene.  Holy cow, is that even possible?  Quite possibly made the whole flick.

   Zac Efron is more subdued than his bro since he's suppose to be the nicer guy.  Adam DeVine might have been trying too hard since he doesn't have the star power of Efron.  He's really the older sibling?  Anna Kendrick is a bit of a conundrum as she is both naughty and nice plus her backstory isn't quite explained.  Aubrey Plaza knows her role well enough and plays it to the hilt.  Special mention to Sugar Lyn Beard for the exposure she gets, yikes.

   Mike and Dave Needs Wedding Dates is not a masterpiece.  There's little by way of an emotional payoff but the audience should know that so be prepared.  Just watch it for the jokes and enjoy.  Several bits are bound to catch you unaware that you are chuckling. 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Contest - The Swan Princess: Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today Giveaway

**Sony Home Video provided me with some of the materials I used in this Blog Post/Giveaway. The opinions I share are my own.**  Ahem, ahem...

   If you've got a sister or a niece who's into the Swan Princess series (yes, there's a movie series.  It turned CGI after a while), there's a new installment out that follows the adventures of their daughter Alise.

   It's the Swan Princess : Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today.  The description follows as : "In the brand new original animated film, Princess Alise is training to be the perfect royal but in her heart all she wants to do is sail the seven seas as a swashbuckling pirate! After setting sail, Princess Alise is shipwrecked and washes ashore on an island where she meets Lucas, a young boy who has been living there by herself. They have to work together to survive and get back to civilization!"

   (Sounds Robinson Crusoe-y than Pirates of the Caribbean.  I'm kinda wondering if Lucas is secretly a girl.  It's probably a typo though, haha.  If you want to find out yourself, you'll have to watch it.  So... )

  Want a to win a DVD copy of the The Swan Princess : Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today?  You just have to see if you're more Princess than Pirate by taking the quiz below.  Enter your answer in the comment section along with a way to contact you and one winner will be chosen on Sept 22, 2016.  Only applies to residents in the US or Canada though.  The DVD will be sent by FedEx or USPS.  No P.O. boxes please.

   Each household is only eligible to win The Swan Princess: Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today! DVD via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

  Be it Princess or Pirate, you'll be perching pretty with plunder, hehe.

Movie Review - Bridget Jones's Baby

   It's a sequel that's over a decade long in the making.  But aging is involved so it's all right.  It's Bridget Jones, back for another sexual misadventure.  Has growing older slowed her down?  Not hardly.

   Bridget Jones's life did not work out the way she wanted since her last film and it takes a turn for the burst as she gets pregnant.  Both possible fathers support her but ultimately, she has to make a choice.

   Holy cow is this movie packed full with funny moments.  Its the witty dialogue or the humorous situations.  Perhaps the original was funnier but newcomers to Bridget Jones's world will not be left wanting.  It's both sweet and endearing while also shocking and cringe inducing at certain times.  But inappropriate chuckles are assured at the very least.  There is a lot to enjoy.

   Renee Zellweger has changed in looks, considering her age but she retains her character and humor.  Colin Firth is much thinner but is still as steady and as deadpan as ever.  Patrick Dempsey is a newcomer who tries his hardest to fit in, even though he's an American in strange shores.  Emma Thompson is just a hoot.  Hugh Grant might be absent but he's with the movie in spirit.

  The baby is a plot device of sorts and the film is really about Bridget's life, love and laughs that worm and squirm into her diary.  It would be a fine thing if the book opens again in the future.