Angry Birds 2 Review

Ok Sony Pictures Animation you’ve released arguably one of the greatest animated films of all time with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and maybe brought yourself some respect after releasing such cinematic classics as The Smurfs, Hotel Transylvania, Peter Rabbit and not forgetting The Emjoi Debacle. But hey, clearly someone with some talent is working there now and we can all turn over new leaves so what are you doing with the microscopic amount of slack i’m prepared to cut you?

Another masterpiece like Spider-Man or…

Another cash on of an already slightly popular franchise? Buy slack! Nice knowing you.

Actually, is anyone still playing Angry Birds? Everyone sitting near me on the tube is playing either a Clash of Clans or Candy Crush knock off (not me- Amazon Prime FTW) And the first film doesn’t seem to have any sort of cult following that I’ve noticed. But, when a film is a box office success, grossing over $352 million worldwide and becoming the third highest-grossing film of all time to be based on a video game, behind Warcraft and Detective Pikachu I guess there’s no harm in having a second film. Even though Angry Birds is mostly remembered for casting Sean Penn as a character who communicates purely through grunting.

This time around, we find our highly marketable, voiced by overpaid celebrities instead of actual voice actors friends being forced to team up after a previously unknown third island launches an attack.

From there, it’s actually a pretty enjoyable ride little film. I mean yes, most of the films least awful jokes were in the trailer, your going to see where every single plot thread is going within minutes if your over the age of 7 but your going to have to be pushing 37 to get most of the references (I mean, Blockbusters, really? That reference is so old it still probably  thinks Brexit was a good idea.)

The voice cast is full of i’m going to guess American celebrities because I’ve never heard of half of them but their passable, no-one distinguishes themselves  but I wasn’t really paying attention after the first ten minutes which is closest to what I vaguely remember the game being like. After that the plot suddenly starts and I start wondering exactly how much the director wanted to knock off Mission Impossible.

Does this film hurt? No, it’s bright and colorful and if your not enjoying this scene or joke, then there will be another along in a moment. Trust me, I’ve seen worse films spin off  from video games (Assassins Creed take a bow.)

Is it going on anyone’s top ten list?

No

Is it going to sell a lot of toys? Probably.

Will anyone even remember it in a few weeks?

Nope, judging from how often i’m having to check y notes I doubt i’ll remember it in ten minutes.

Angry Birds 2: Angry Harder is apparently the best video game film in history which is like being the winner of the Peirs Morgan lookalike contest. It resembles a film, 3 act structure, characters that change slightly over the run time. Well, the lead two sort of do, everyone else just stays as is. I smiled a few times and liked that it had a positive message about working together without claiming that they had become a ‘family’ something that modern cinema does which never fails to send me up the wall.

Ok Sony, this might be a step down from Spider-Man but it’s still better than the drokk that you’ve been pumping out. Keep it up and I’ll consider taking you off the naughty step.

Whats that script guy? The next film is Peter Rabbit 2?

That’ll teach me to have hope.

My Score- If Nothing Else.

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The Queens Corgi

I

Uh….

Dwah?

I have so many questions about this… well, I hesitate to call it a film- not just because it’s an unpolished mess (which it is) But because it lasts a mere 81 minutes!?!?! Now, that’s not to say good films can’t be short – Airplane is 88 minutes, Spinal Tap 89, Toy Story 81, but each of those (and many more) was a lean mean fighting machine with absolutely no fat on it’s bones.

The Queens Corgi? Let me lose in the editing suite and I can get that down to an hour easy. Hell, if I was to get rid of all the fat on this films bones I could get rid of 81 minutes worth of fat.

But, leaving that aside, this films release date smacks of some unpaid intern who was told to release the film but couldn’t be bothered to check IMDB to see what was coming out this month. I mean, this is a low budget animated film coming out in the immediate aftermath of Toy Story 4 whilst boasting the animation of Toy Story 1.

Seriously, where Toy Story 4 opens with a scene IN. THE. RAIN. as well as photorealistic cats and human that don’ look like soul sucking nightmare creatures whereas this… has those things I just said. I mean, I could get something like this coming out in deadtime such as September or January but in the middle of the summer bloodbath? That way madness lies.

I mean, this film came out on 3 April 2019 in France and Belgium, Uzbekistan (!) on 22 June 2019, Scotland and Ireland on 28 June 2019 and in England and Wales on 5 July. I mean, words just fail me. because this has got to be one of the worst release schedules I think I’ve ever seen. Oh, and the film is threatened to be released around the world, including China, Latin America, the United States and Russia at ‘some point in 2019.’ Avoid it if you can.

But, bad animation, pathetic run-times and mind-boggling release schedules do not a bad film make. Other things do. And this film checks a lot of those boxes.

Now i’m loath to mention the voice acting because it’s all universally awful but because it’s different actors in different locations- not just for language reasons but even between English speaking location’s! 11 cast members are due to be swapped out before this film crosses the pond – now that has to be some sort of record. Hopefully some of those 11 will be able to match their voices to their PS1 lips but I won’t hold my breath.

 

Toy Story 4 Review

Well this is annoying.

Here I was all set to tear Toy Story 4 apart for being a shameless cash grab besmirching arguably the finest animated film trilogy, hell one of the best film trilogies in FILM HISTORY so that their inevitable Disney overlords (because, never forget that DISNEY. OWNS. EVERYTHING.) can not bother to raise their employees wages to such an extent that they no longer have to skip meals or live in their cars but instead spend all that money on building a death ray on the moon or buying Australia or making even more CGI infested, focused group drained of originality 12a blockbusters to blot out what few, good original films and TV shows get made.

And look, I get that since the main characters are toys in a kids film your going to flog the lot to the insufferable little ankle-biters when their allowed out (for some as yet unknown reason) of the ineffective, inefficient containment units that my taxes fund but the new main character in this is literally made out of garbage and your selling that as well? ” Disney Toy Story 4 Make Your Own Forky With Scene | Craft Set With 3 Dough Tubs, Forky Model And Accessories | Create Your Own Movie Character Forky Activity Set For Kids | All In One Creative Toy” Screams the marketing blurb for what boils down to , 2 x pop sticks, googly eyes, stickers sheet, 3 x dough tubs (30g), pipe cleaners, 1 x fold out background scene and instructions. A steal at a mere £10.75! (Not including delivery.)

And

Breathe

And, look I didn’t mean to rant about toys and the fact that DISNEY OWNS EVERYTHING but, well, the critics union insists that I go into every movie with an open mind or I have to spend two weeks defending fan4stic and there is no way i’m getting my script guy to do that again.

Because, well, this film is amazing. When Pixar is at their best no-one can top them and this is Pixar at their very, very best. I mean with two the other Toy Story movies in IMDB’S top 250 and the one that isn’t has 100% on RT so you go big or go home on this one, right?

And they went big for this one because I don’t think Pixar has ever looked this good, hell, their opening scene is set in the rain! And it looks amazing. The humans now look like actual humans as opposed to creepy Golums and God… it just looks amazing.

But looking isn’t enough for a CGI film these days- especially one that’s coming out of Pixars stable- it also has to have a solid story which this one does on multiple levels.

For the half pints it’s a story about Woody meeting up with a new toy that doesn’t know it’s a toy, getting lost and then having to find his way home against a ticking clock (which sounds very familiar now that I think about it…) For the two third pints it’s about the dilemma between staying safe at home or flying the nest and exploring beyond the horizon. For the full pints, it’s about the existential futile horror of existence, the fact that everyone leaves you or lets you down and that all that waits for us is disappointment, fleeting moments of joy among the sorrow of existence, the desperate yearning for connection before we enter the cold, unfeeling void.

Which is an important lesson for children to learn as quickly as possible but if I wanted my nephew to learn such a important message then i’d wait for him to be left unattended and then stick Watership Down (1978) on.

Weird nihilistic subtext aside, this is a film full of amazingly fun characters who all have interesting (if slightly depressing) backstories and the film is stolen by Keanu Reeves over the top performance as Duke Kaboom! The toy of an Evel Knievel knock off who, naturally enough has issues.

Because almost everyone in this film has issues.

But aside from all the character driven moments which are awesome but might drag on slightly too young for the smaller half pints (shot glasses?) but their broken up by some really fun, impressive moments where you understand why everyone is doing what their doing how their doing it as well as why. No easy feat in a 100 minute film with so many characters.

It’s never busy for the sake of being busy, never cluttered or confused or overstuffed. No scene feels superfluous and the growth of each character (especially what I guess might be called the villain) feels natural.

And, were I not English and therefore drained of all emotions at birth the ending would have had me crying like a baby.

But before then, there were moments that had me chuckling quietly to myself or just enjoying all the hard work that must have gone into the creation of yet another work of art.

Toy Story 4 feels like a natural evolution of the franchise and it’s messages seem to have aged with it’s audience so this isn’t the shameless cash grab that I initially feared- it does indeed stand as tall as it’s namesakes and it’s easily the best film I’ve seen in weeks (not that that’s saying much).

Maybe improve the subtext slightly and erm… nope, that’s it. It’s yet another example of Pixar showing all the other children how it’s done.

Long live the king.

My Scofd- See It Now 

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Review

Of the big animation studios, Dreamworks is the most interesting. I mean Sony Animated Studios stuff is near universally unwatchable, Illuminations stuff is so aggressively mediocre that the only way to review their stuff is in rhyme (trust me on this) and of course, Disney/Pixar are usually the unassailable kings with Arrdman snapping at their heels.

But Dreamworks has always veered all over the shop. They’ve made good films, great films and borderline unwatchable films. However, whilst most of the praise has gone towards the bafflingly popular Shrek franchise my favorite work of theirs has been the How to Train your Dragon Franchise based on some books I’ve never read. Nor do I intend to. Which, despite being awesome films seem to get very little attention.

Starting from the fantastic point of mixing Dragons with vikings, this franchise has amazing animation, great characters, incredible visuals, a fast enough pace to gloss over the fact that this franchise has an implied body-count in the hundreds, great music and has the rare distinction of actually using Gereard Butler the right way- a a big shouty warrior king.

Not only did it do all that right, but they’ve made a song and dance about how this is the ‘final’ film in the trilogy and, yeah, i’d agree with that. But, there was just something about this film that didn’t quite click with me.

I mean it still had amazing animation, great characters, incredible visuals, a fast enough pace to gloss over the fact that this franchise has an implied body-count in the hundreds, great music and has the rare distinction of actually using Gereard Butler the right way- a a big shouty warrior king. But despite all of that there was just a feeling of a franchise running slightly out of steam.

In theory the plot is very simple. Group A (nice vikings and dragons) are running away from group B (evil vikings with brainwashed dragons) whilst trying to get to point C a ‘hidden world’ where vikings and dragons can live in peace. Very simple plot which I think was actually called Battlestar Galacatica the last time I encountered it. (The original 70s series, the modern remake did my head in.)  However, there’s also the subplot of our main characters dealing with the fact they both have partners now and maybe their worlds aren’t meant to mix.

I mean yes, I laughed at the funny bits and my beloved wife cried like a baby at the right bits but at the same time there was slightly too much run-time given to characters that speak only in grunts and gurgles, the villain is a bit of a step-down from previous entries in the series and would have functioned better as a sidekick or being split into two characters as he’s simply not as menacing as he’s built up to be. He wants to be Jafar but comes across more as Iago. (The parrot, not the character from Othello.) I’m glad that the franchise tried something new but it hasn’t quite worked. But as he’s barely in the movie anyway so I guess it all balances out. Giving some side characters less run-time (especially one with a really unfunny running joke about a beard) would have made me happier.

Also, the musics getting a bit repetitive. Yes, it’s lovely that you made a really uplifting piece of music but  by the 37th time I’ve heard it it’s going to grate a little.

Also, it’s got this really weird view of relationships- basically that once you find a partner you can never have fun again. Ever. Under any circumstances. You just have to stay home. A least that was my reading of it. Which doesn’t tally with my experience of healthy relationships.

These quibbles aside, this is a very, very good and incredibly definitive to one of the most underrated animated trilogies of all time. It looks good, it’s got  a slightly overlong run-time and the villain could do with an upgrade but otherwise its a fantastic end to a very under-rated trilogy.

My Score- See It