Moana (2016)

Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Moana Movie Review

Moana is a 2016 animated musical fantasy adventure film that is the 56th Disney animated feature. It is such a wonderful, old-fashioned Disney film which I liked a lot.

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If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

I found the plot to be very good, if some plot points felt obvious. To me, the film succeeds the most as an adventure owing to its pure, unabashed sense of fun and discovery. I loved that about it as nowadays we rarely see these kinds of films and here we’ve got a grand sea adventure for the ages.

Of course the Polynesian setting is beautiful and highly authentic and intriguing. I loved that we got to meet this culture and their traditions, it definitely felt original and refreshing in that aspect. Another strong thing about it is its lack of villains. Moana has no villains whatsoever in it and that was great and realistic. The villain is the nature and its forces which was great to witness and so refreshing. I loved that the film focused more on the relationship between its two characters than on action. But the action is great too and actually the entire last battle and especially the final appearance of the goddess was just beautiful to behold and it was the best and most epic scene in the entire film.

Let’s talk about the characters. Moana is pretty good as the newest Disney princess. Yes, sometimes she felt too arrogant and annoying to me in a typical feminist fashion. But she was mostly likable and I liked that the movie was about her for the most part and her journey is so well established and her ups and downs are dramatic and emotional.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

As for Maui, I don’t know about this one. Mainly because I dislike Dwayne Johnson and his voice so much, I did not care about this character much. Auli’i Cravalho did a much better and more natural job in her voice performance. But even though the two are great together and their tumultuous friendship feels like one of those classic Disney friendships from yesteryear, I still did not like him individually. He had some great moments, but was overall too unwilling to help her at first, too selfish and his humor felt forced to me. Really not a fan.

I liked the fact that the movie chose to focus mostly on these two as that led to a better developed relationship between these two, but it still has a couple of memorable supporting characters in it. To me Moana’s parents and especially her father was a walking cliché, but the grandmother was such a kind and wonderful person and their relationship was so sweet. Her death scene was really impactful and tragic. Tamatoa as this gold-obsessed coconut crab was the closest that this movie came to having a villain and I really liked him. He was a memorable and sometimes even funny character and he served his purpose and made an impact for a short screen time he received. I would have really liked for them to have focused on Pua instead of Heihei and that was unfortunate as Pua is such an adorable, lovable pig whom I liked a lot. But Heihei is also pretty good as this incredibly stupid rooster and some of his gags were quite funny. He truly is the dumbest Disney characters of all time.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Moana is a musical and to me it succeeds as such much more so than ‘Frozen’ did because it has more than one really good song. The overall score was really good too. Tulou Tagaloa is a short, if good opening for the movie, but I loved its Polynesian sound and language. That is the major strength of this movie – finally we see a Disney movie that utilizes the culture it depicts in its soundtrack!

An Innocent Warrior is another strong Polynesian number, it has beautiful vocals and is really moving. But I disliked Where You Are quite a bit as it is so bland, so forgettable and it is probably the weakest song in the entire movie. I also disliked You’re Welcome which featured too much rap and Dwayne Johnson singing is not my cup of tea. That sequence is comedic and it explains his character well, but the tune as a whole was annoying.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Shiny is a much better rap song. I still dislike that that genre was featured here as it does not fit, but I found the song’s chorus to be very catchy and memorable. But I have to say that I strongly disliked how this song started, but more on that later. I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors) was to me such a powerful number and not that much in the tune itself, but in terms of storytelling and characterization, it probably succeeds the most out of any song here as it perfectly helps us prepare for the storm and is so emotional and with beautiful vocals.

Logo Te Pate is also such a catchy, fun number that I liked a lot. But the highlights are naturally How Far I’ll Go which was Oscar-nominated and We Know the Way. How Far I’ll Go is such a classic Disney song in its style and it perfectly helps develop the character of Moana while also having a great scene to accompany it with good imagery and such good lyrics. But it is so immensely catchy too.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

But to me We Know the Way is easily the highlight. I love this song so much! With superb lyrics and a great usage of Tokelauan language, it features such a great scene as a whole and I just loved that backstory in this movie. But it is such a catchy tune, so catchy and so fun that I actually have listened to it at least fifty times so far. It is a new Disney classic song in my opinion.

So naturally I love these songs so much and I think the soundtrack is mostly superb and stupendous, but I really disliked the musical direction in this film. For example, We Know the Way just sort of started and those transitions were not the most polished. But as I said above, Shiny starts in such an unappealing way with the character basically saying that he is going to sing. I disliked this meta approach to the songs so much as it basically adds another strong reason for musical haters to hate the genre. I would have liked a more respectful approach.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

I liked the humor in Moana quite a bit, but I liked that it was mostly dramatic and that it focused on adventure and drama the most. It is a high-spirited adventure, but it succeeds in emotion as well because a couple of scenes are just so powerful, either poignant or uplifting. And some scenes, such as the last couple of them, are grand and majestic in both scope and emotion. The film is definitely ambitious in some areas.

The animation is gorgeous to behold. I loved its use of hand-drawn animation, but this is the first computer animated film from Ron Clements and John Musker and the results are more than stellar. The character designs are pretty good, but the highlights are some of the highly memorable imagery and the ocean. The water is so well animated and a character in its own right.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

The film is well edited and well directed, I found the tone to be well handled and diverse and the film is emotionally engaging, but the dialogue needed to be much bigger to sell those abundant conversations and emotional scenes better. And because the film was too simplistic and definitely unoriginal in its storytelling, it never achieved the status of those Renaissance flicks from the nineties, but it came actually pretty close at times which I did not expect. And I loved that it was a return to classical Disney musicals and that is the major reason why I liked it more than Zootopia’ from the same year. it has its problems, but it is so wonderful and adventurous that it mostly succeeds.

Moana has its problems such as some typical plot points, a lack of stronger dialogue and I really dislike Maui and the film’s annoying meta approach at times, but the film succeeds as a high-spirited, grand adventure and it is a return to those classic musical adventure films from Disney which is why I loved it so much. The characters are mostly good, the film is very emotional at times, its lack of villains is admirable, some scenes are just beautiful and majestic to behold and the film’s Polynesian setting is so well utilized and intriguing. But the soundtrack is just fantastic with so many great, catchy or emotional numbers with the highlights being How Far I’ll Go and especially We Know the Way which are definitely future Disney classics.

My Rating – 4

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Havoc in Heaven (1964)

Havoc in Heaven Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

Havoc in Heaven Movie Review

Havoc in Heaven is a 1964 Chinese animated adventure film directed by Wan Laiming. It is a flawed, yet such an admirable, artistic endeavor.

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I humbly beg your Majesty to bring this monkey fiend to justice

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Havoc in Heaven Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

It follows Monkey King who rebels against the Jade Emperor of heaven. Now in terms of storytelling, this isn’t the greatest film. Of course I was fascinated by its story and mythology as China has a rich history. I loved those intriguing fights and scenery. But it just didn’t captivate me as much as the visuals did and sometimes it wasn’t that easy to follow and isn’t all that well crafted.

The characterization is solid, but also not particularly remarkable. The characters are good, but not as memorable. Only the Monkey King is a memorable, interesting creation. He is a major figure in Chinese literature and mythology and this incarnation was pretty solid. The voice acting I also found to be pretty good.

The film succeeds as an action-adventure flick because it is so adventurous in its tone and charming while also featuring terrific action sequences. I absolutely loved the fights here as they were tremendously well choreographed, epic and exciting. Those scenes were some of the highlights of the film.

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Havoc in Heaven Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

But where Havoc in Heaven shines is in the animation. Wow, is this a beautiful movie! The animation here has to be the best that sixties had to offer, at least it is in my opinion. What Chinese animators did here was nothing short of miraculous. They took this great material and did the best they could with it, bringing polished and professional animation to the picture.

The colors are so bright and pleasing here, wonderful to witness. The movements were wonderfully well executed and of course the scenery is just fantastic. Some of the imagery here was actually mesmerizing to behold with the highlights being heaven scenes as well as the fight choreography. Also some of the underwater stuff was great too. This wasn’t the easiest film to animate, but they managed to do a great job which is commendable. Not only that, but I would also call this animation a work of art as it truly felt like a moving picture and a beauty to behold. The animation fascinated and captivated me and I wish that the rest of the movie was as great.

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Havoc in Heaven Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

Havoc in Heaven is pretty well edited and paced, but I watched the shorter version of one and a half hours so I wouldn’t know if the longer, two hour version is better or not. This one was polished, superbly well directed and well paced. The score I also found to be respectable and the sound effects in particular were awesome and realistic. They perfectly accompanied the fight sequences, creating wonderful scenes in the process. But despite its great technicalities, I again found the plot and particularly the dialogue to be lacking as it isn’t as sophisticated as its visuals are. Also, the movie was never particularly entertaining and sometimes it was a bit dull to me. I wish that the characters and the plot were stronger as it would have made this film a classic, but it is still a respectable, sometimes wondrous piece of filmmaking that somewhat deserves its praise as the finest Chinese animation of all time and it deserves the second viewing as I intend to do one day.

Havoc in Heaven is definitely lacking in terms of storytelling and characterization plus it isn’t particularly engaging, but it is a wondrous achievement technically as the sound effects and score are superb and of course the visuals are dazzling. It has such a beautiful, absolutely jaw-dropping stylistic animation that I would absolutely call a work of art. The visuals propel this movie to greater heights making it a respectable, albeit flawed effort.

My Rating – 4

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Tarzan (1999)

Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

Tarzan Movie Review

Tarzan is a 1999 animated adventure film that is the 37th Disney animated feature film. It is a bit underrated film that is one of my personal favorite Disney flicks.

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What am I doing? Captain!

Tell them you never found us!

After all, people get lost in the jungle all the time!

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Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

This famous story got a great treatment in the Disney form and truly it just might be the best ever adaptation of the novel. It is such a fun, joyous and charming adventure flick with a couple of genuinely dramatic and heartbreaking moments as well. It flowed mostly really well and it is a well crafted film, albeit a bit too rushed at times.

The ending is most certainly overly happy, but still satisfying. As for the highlights, all of those emotional scenes were the best. For example, the beginning is just breathtakingly beautiful and it just might be Disney’s finest opening, possibly inferior just to the one in The Lion King of course. I loved the sequence in which Tarzan and Jane first met. Beautifully shot, tremendously well scored and filled with an excellent silent and even poetic approach to it, it is one standout scene from beginning to end. The scenes between Tarzan and Kala were naturally some of the best as well.

Now is the perfect time to talk about the characters. Tarzan himself is really good. Too serious, but he has such a great, genuinely moving and powerful arc. He grew up a bit too fast, but his adult part is great. Jane is fantastic. I don’t know why she’s so underrated, but when it comes to Disney’s female characters, she is one of the most endearing and likable. I liked that she was a stereotype at first, but that she eventually changed. The romance between the two is very sweet.

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Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

Kala is such a sweet soul and a wonderful mother. Kerchak is superb and the relationship between him and Tarzan is possibly the strongest one in the film and that says a lot. He proved his worth near the end and watching Kerchak die and utter that line of acceptance to his adoptive son was just heartbreaking and wonderful to witness.

Terk is definitely funny and it is great that we got a female comedic sidekick who is also a tomboy. She is genuinely funny with a couple of great lines and succeeds as a comic relief as well as being a great friend. Tantor is nowhere near as good as her, but he still has his moments and is better than most secondary sidekicks. Professor Porter is absolutely phenomenal. I just loved him as he is such a sweet, at times funny and always immensely likable person who brought a smile to my face. Clayton, on the other hand, is one of the film’s major weaknesses. I get that he was important to the story, but he was still a typical villain who didn’t really pose serious threat. He is well designed and definitely not bad, but still not great and his death is typically foolish and even ridiculous in a way.

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Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

Tarzan has excellent animation. Now there isn’t anything truly artistic here and some of the earlier Disney renaissance films were more inspired for sure, but it still looks terrific. The character designs I loved. I wasn’t crazy about Tarzan’s look, but the gorillas looked terrific and all of the other humans were great. But the highlights are the action which is stupendously well realized in movements and the natural scenery which is simply gorgeous. Some scenes here truly are breathtaking to witness.

Now the soundtrack is splendid. I get why some may find it cheesy, but I like Phil Collins and what he did here was great. All of the songs here are either moving or catchy and I liked that for once the characters do not sing, but the songs serve as a background. All of them serve as great plot drivers or character moments and thus they are successful.

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Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

Trashin’ the Camp is naturally the weakest of the five, but watching it and listening to it the second time, I do not dislike it as much as I did the first time around. It is still basically a non-song with silly singing, but the tune itself is catchy and the sequence is actually a lot of fun, although definitely a detour and even filler in terms of storytelling.

Strangers Like Me I don’t love as it is a bit boring to me when compared to the next three songs, but it is still solid and actually great in its lyrics and very fitting to the story. The entire scene is one of the film’s best, so well done and animated. I have a soft spot for Two Worlds. Not a lot of people love it as much as I do, but not only does it accompany a master class opening, but it is genuinely good in its own right with moving lyrics and a great, dramatic and inspirational change in rhythm near the end.

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Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

You’ll Be in My Heart is a deserved Oscar winner, a song that is emotional, even heartbreaking and is pleasantly reminiscent to Baby Mine from ‘Dumbo’. So well sung by both the mother and Phil Collins in the official version. But it is actually Son of Man that is the highlight of this great soundtrack. I just adore this song! It was a great, fun way to have Tarzan transition from child to adult without it being boring, the lyrics are good, the rhythm is so entertaining and it is just such an infectious, immensely catchy tune that is in my opinion one of Disney’s catchiest songs ever.

Tarzan is technically quite polished. The action is stupendous, so well done and exhilarating at times. It had a lot of action, but the kind of action that is adventurous and fun instead of dull. The humor is mostly charming and satisfying, the dialogue is solid and the movie’s admirable emotional approach is evident from the beginning (the way they explored family was beautiful to behold). The voice acting is top-notch, the direction is excellent and both the animation and the effects are fantastic. The pacing is one of my problems. It was just too rushed which is something I’ve only noticed watching it for the third or so time, but it was definitely noticeable. Some scenes were way too abrupt and the entire movie had such an epic, long story that needed to be told in at least 100 instead of 88 minutes.

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Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

That is the only flaw here, that along with the villain and a somewhat too happy, if still heartwarming ending. It felt way too convenient and to me unrealistic that Jane chose to live with him in the wild, but still watching her make that decision, jump into the water and kiss him at the shore was wonderful and watching the Professor join them with that very funny line made my day. The film has a couple of flaws for sure, but it is still one of Disney’s best films in my opinion. Not in the top five, but certainly near the top of the list and probably in my top ten.

With absolutely terrific animation, memorable and very well developed characters, greatly established relationships between each and every one of them, stupendously well executed action sequences and some great tunes with Son of Man being so catchy and a lot of fun, Tarzan is such an underrated Disney film that is one of my favorites from the studio, a film that is rushed in pacing and with a typical villain, but is simultaneously emotional, dramatic, romantic and adventurous and well crafted on almost every level. It was a great film to end the Disney Renaissance.

My Rating – 4.5

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Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review……………………………………………………………

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings is a 2016 stop-motion adventure film directed by Travis Knight. It is Laika’s fourth feature film and it is pretty disappointing.

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If you must blink, do it now

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Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review……………………………………………………………

The film revolves around Kubo who has magical powers and whose left eye was stolen. Accompanied by Monkey and Beetle, they must subdue the Sisters, Raiden the Moon King and his army of evil spirits. This is the kind of a film where it took me a while to realize just why I didn’t enjoy it more as it seems to be perfect in every way, but it just isn’t. And that is the point here – almost all of the plot points are very good, but the film is somehow not great as a sum of its parts and the story just isn’t all that fascinating.

I enjoy Eastern animation and I did enjoy its influence on this film, but in terms of storytelling and tone, it is too much of an American film. Let me elaborate. Japanese animation is mature and serious and this movie is like that many times and it deals with serious issues and it has some incredibly creepy moments, but the overall tone to it is frustratingly light-weight and comedic and it just doesn’t fit in with the story.

But Kubo definitely has a stupendous story. I liked all of its elements and I particularly liked the use of ancient music as well as the overall setting which was great. Those sisters were phenomenal foes and quite creepy actually. The horror elements here were awesome. And even though it somewhat affected it in terms of scope, the twist itself was very interesting and I didn’t see it coming at all.

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Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review……………………………………………………………

Kubo is a boring protagonist, but Monkey and Beetle are much more memorable. They aren’t that great individually, but in a group and together they are terrific and the character interactions were great here as was the overall group dynamic. As for the Moon King, I never really found him all that interesting as a major villain and, without spoiling anything, how they concluded his story was pretty odd and somewhat stupid in my opinion.

Kubo and the Two Strings has absolutely gorgeous stop-motion animation which has now become a standard for the Laika studio. I loved all of the details and the world building is mostly solid. It could have been much more epic in scope, but what we got was still good. Some of the character designs were pretty inspired with the sisters and Monkey being the highlights, so well done. And the color palette is excellent.

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Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review……………………………………………………………

Kubo is well paced and well directed by Travis Knight, but I just found its voice acting to be quite uninspired. It isn’t terrible, but it is far from great as both Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey gave weak performances and the casting in particular is quite bad in this one. And the other flaw is the emotion. The film is emotional and I guess melancholic, but because I just wasn’t that invested in its characters, I never really felt anything which was a big problem for me. And that is this movie in a nutshell – it is seemingly great, but to me personally it never quite came together as a whole and I was quite disappointed to be honest.

Kubo and the Two Strings has expectedly gorgeous stop-motion animation, good mythology, very interesting twist in the third act, it works great as an adventure film and most of its plot points are very good, but it isn’t that great as a sum of its parts, the tone is way too comedic and not fitting in with the plot and I just didn’t feel anything mainly because I didn’t connect with the characters and because I found the voice acting to be not that great.

My Rating – 3.5

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Finding Dory (2016)

Finding Dory Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory is a 2016 Pixar animated comedy adventure film directed by Andrew Stanton and starring Ellen DeGeneres. It is a solid, but way too typical sequel.

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For a guy with three hearts, you are not very nice

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Finding Dory Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

Finding Dory is the sequel to ‘Finding Nemo’ which came out thirteen years before and is considered to be one of Pixar’s best films. Full disclosure – I have never been a big fan of ‘Finding Nemo‘ and I actually consider it to be a bit overrated. It is a good film with its fair share of great themes and characters among other things, but it fails in comparison to Pixar’s best outings.

As for the sequel, I found it to be incredibly disappointing and nowhere near as good as the original film. In fact, this is definitely one of the most overrated Pixar films to date as I just have a big problem with critics giving it glowing reviews despite acknowledging its very obvious shortcomings. First of all, it is basically a rehash of the original. Dory goes to search for her parents and gets lost while Marlin and Nemo try to find her. That is basically everything that happened in the first movie only with characters being switched.

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Finding Dory Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

Another problem is that this movie just fails in the storytelling department and most especially in its themes. The original had quite a lot of sophisticated themes and issues in it, but this one just focuses on her short-term memory loss and there really isn’t anything deeper in it. The story itself is definitely well told despite being overly familiar, but the ending frustrated me. To me, the film would have been much more memorable and much more mature had she not found her parents. I thought they were going in that direction with the other fish telling Dory that her parents must be dead by now, but they never went in that territory and the fact that she found both her parents and her friends was an overly happy ending, even for family entertainment standards.

Let’s now talk about each and every character, both old and new. First, Dory. I have to praise the filmmakers for managing to successfully make a Dory-centric film because that was just a giant obstacle for two reasons. One is that sidekicks and supporting characters usually have hard time transitioning to the lead role and another is that she suffers from this memory condition which is a big problem in terms of basic storytelling. But they managed to get around that and actually make a solid movie which is commendable. She is both funny and extremely sympathetic and she is just as good, if not better than she was in the original film.

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Finding Dory Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

Marlin and Nemo are not as bad as they easily could have been, but I still found them overly forgettable. But the new characters is where the movie shines. This is a sequel that successfully adds a lot of new characters to the table which is admirable and so satisfying. Hank has to be the highlight as this cranky octopus or septopus as Dory called him. I really liked him because he is the type of character that is ripe for animated films – cranky and seemingly cold and selfish, yet with the heart of gold. That means that he is far from original, but given his humor, voice acting and incredible animation in his wonderful design, he succeeds in spades and is the film’s brightest spot.

Jenny and Charlie as Dory’s parents are solid and some of their scenes were quite moving. Destiny as this near-sighted shark is another character with a physical disability which I admired a lot and that is something that this now series is famous and praiseworthy for. And although her humor was a bit annoying, the relationship between her and Dory was really pleasant. Bailey is a memorable beluga whale and his echolocation sequences were incredibly entertaining. The sea lions were some of the funniest creatures as watching those two forbid the third one to come on the rock was really funny. Crush the turtle is as insufferable as he was before, but Becky the loon was really funny albeit the depiction of birds as these very dumb animals was troublesome on many fronts.

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Finding Dory Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

The voice acting in Finding Dory is absolutely phenomenal. Ellen is as great as he was in the original and you can’t deny her great and emotional work here and it again goes to show that she really gave in both movies one of the most memorable and best voice performances ever in animation. Kaitlin Olson is really good as is Ty Burrell, but Ed O’Neill is just terrific in the role of Hank, so memorable, funny and just likable and I wish he’d do more roles in animation from now on.

The animation is excellent, so pleasing to the eye. The colors are wonderful and the film is so polished and just beautiful to look in its sea water imagery. However, one problem that I’ve had here is that the animation of the ocean is so amazing that the land animation seems inferior in comparison and the difference between the two bothered me. But the film is so great in presenting these fish mostly accurately and the octopus is also pretty accurately portrayed. I liked the use of Sea World, but those scenes were too similar to the original.

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Finding Dory Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

Finding Dory is well edited and it quickly flies by how incredibly entertaining it is. The humor isn’t the greatest, but is quite good at times and quite funny in some scenes. It is well made and it is as good as the sequel to ‘Finding Nemo’ could have been, but it still remains awfully simplistic and too rehashed to be considered great. It has a lot going for it, but it also has a lot going against it and it is a major disappointment for sure.

Finding Dory has a lot going for it such as terrific animation with excellent character designs, pretty good humor, some moving scenes, top-notch voice acting and great character development with all of the new characters being so memorable with Hank the octopus being fantastic, but the movie is such a rehash of the original with way too many similarities between the two and it is just so thematically slight and so incredibly weak in terms of storytelling that it ended up being undoubtedly one of Pixar’s weakest films.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Movie Review………………………………………………………

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Movie Review

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a 2010 fantasy adventure film which is the third installment in the Narnia franchise and undoubtedly the weakest one.

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You know, extraordinary things happen to extraordinary people.

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Movie Review………………………………………………………

I was immensely disappointed in this adaptation. I adore ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ and it is one of my favorite Narnia novels. But this movie adaptation fails on many levels and rarely succeeds at bringing this wonderful source material to the big screen. Now, the book is so wonderfully adventurous, but the movie isn’t. It is much more boring and slower than the novel and despite a couple of great sequences, most of it is uninspired and ruined.

The movie fails in terms of the character development. By bringing this ridiculous green mist, they sacrificed the true drama of the novel in favor of some stupid fantasy exposition. In the novel, all of the characters are on an ordeal and they have to conquer their worst tendencies and become better people in the progress. But here some of it is only present, but most of it is done in a supernatural manner which leads me to believe that the filmmakers didn’t even understand Lewis’s work.

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Movie Review………………………………………………………

It was absolutely ridiculous to me that Edmund of all people gets to battle his inner demons the most when he should be the calmest and most sane person of the group as he had already conquered those doubts and fears in the first book and movie. Lucy is better developed, but even she isn’t as great as she was in the book. Caspian has his moments, but is boring. The only ones who weren’t destroyed here were Eustace and Reepicheep who are both terrific. Eustace is excellent and, though most of the actors were weak, Will Poulter was pretty good and was brilliantly cast. All of the drama surrounding him was very well put to use and he remained a dragon much more in this movie and that is the only change that is done even for the better as it strengthened his relationship with the mouse who was here as memorable as in the book.

The ending was emotional as in the novel and I loved Aslan’s role and how everything ended. The movie also starts well, but everything in the middle is very unfortunate as it tended to focus on action instead of adventure. Yes, the sea serpent is memorable, but that action sequence is awfully prolonged and boring and to me they ruined this material and presented it is in the worst blockbuster fashion. Almost none of it is as magical as it should have been and even Coriakin and Dufflepuds were too me weakly put to use.

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Movie Review………………………………………………………

Now frankly, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader does look good. I imagined it even better as the descriptions were so vivid, but they mostly managed to make it right with good special effects and some pretty solid scenery. The ending and the boat in particular looked fine. I liked that the running time wasn’t as extended this time around and although somewhat slow, the film isn’t boring and is even more engaging than sometimes pretty dull ‘Prince Caspian’. But having in mind how the book was simply magical, the charm was lost in this very disappointing adaptation.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader does look good, Eustace and Reepicheep are very well utilized and some scenes are moving and great, but this is mostly a very disappointing and weak adaptation that is more likely to please those not familiar with the source material, but to me it was such a problematic adaptation of a great novel with a poor focus, very badly interpreted message and a tendency to focus more on action instead of adventure. It is okay as it has its moments, but it is never as magical as it should have been.

My Rating – 3

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Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Pete's Dragon Movie Review………………………………………………………

Pete’s Dragon Movie Review

Pete’s Dragon is a 2016 family fantasy adventure film directed by David Lowery and it is the newest Disney live-action remake. It is a solid, but typical endeavor.

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You can’t say ‘dragon’ over the radio

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Pete's Dragon Movie Review………………………………………………………

The film tells the story of an orphaned boy who befriends a dragon in the forest and the ensuing repercussions of their discovery by the town’s local residents. It is the remake of the 1977 eponymous movie and it succeeds as a remake for two reasons. One is that the original itself is one of the weakest, if not the weakest, live-action animated Disney feature so it was pretty easy to top it which this one did. And the second reason is that it abandons the original’s storyline in pursuit of its own.

And that latter approach is done for better and for worse. On the one hand, it certainly works better to have a live-action adaptation that isn’t a cheesy, overlong musical and is rather a straightforward adventure movie. But the problem here lies in its familiarity. We’ve seen this countless times before. Just in this movie you can see the influences of ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘How to Train Your Dragon’. It is never original and it never has anything truly unique or interesting in it.

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Pete's Dragon Movie Review………………………………………………………

Pete’s Dragon is still done really well despite its tired plot. The execution is so good that it is actually one of the better kids’ flicks of this type. I particularly liked its third act which featured some pretty good action scenes and a very good conclusion with a strong emotional payoff.

But the characters and their actors are not the greatest. All of the characters are as typical and as forgettable as you would expect from this type of family film. And by the way, the entire film is incredibly forgettable, both the remake and the original, which is something that this property never managed to overcome. And the actors are very weak or they gave weak performances. The child performances are solid, but Bryce Dallas Howard was much better and much more memorable in ‘Jurassic World’ and Robert Redford is… well, let’s just say that he seemed like he didn’t want to be there. That is his performance in a nutshell.

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Pete's Dragon Movie Review………………………………………………………

But even though I criticize it too much, Pete’s Dragon is actually a good or solid at least movie with especially good CGI. I did find it typical for today’s movie to have an animal that acts like a dog, but Elliot was otherwise really solid both in his look and in his personality. And the relationship between the two is been there, done that, but at least it is very well done and sometimes actually quite moving and warm. The soundtrack is good and definitely fitting in its country genre, but it still had way too many songs in it. The structure of the movie is good, but it is sometimes a bit too slow and uninvolving. And the beginning was weird as it just kind of started, but the other parts are all good with the entire third act being a real winner. All in all, it is a solid live-action adaptation, but both ‘Cinderella and ‘The Jungle Book’ were much better in my opinion.

Pete’s Dragon is sometimes uninvolving, definitely forgettable, weakly acted and overly familiar in its storyline, but it is also pretty heartwarming at times, its third act is very good, the special effects are solid and the movie succeeds as a remake because they took a different approach that worked in its favor and it ended up being much better than the original which was very weak.

My Rating – 3.5

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The BFG (2016)

The BFG Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG is a 2016 family fantasy film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill. It is a very good, underappreciated family flick.

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Why did you take me?

Because I hears your lonely heart,

in all the secret whisperings of the world

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The BFG Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

An orphan human girl befriends a benevolent giant who takes her to Giant Country where they attempt to stop the man-eating giants that are invading the human world. I really enjoyed this movie and I found the plot to be mostly very good, which is expected from a Roald Dahl material. It is such a wonderful, old-fashioned family fantasy adventure that it is such a shame that it did poorly at the box office. My appreciation for Spielberg’s lesser valued movies over those more well liked ones continues with The BFG.

The first half is splendid, magical and just wonderful to behold. I loved how fantastical it is, but also adventurous. And I admired its childlike approach with less darkness and more light. That was unexpected for this age which is why I found it pleasant and quite welcome. And yes, the second half is silly. The protagonist coming with the giant to see the Queen of England naturally leads to silliness. However, even though it was a bit too silly, I still liked it as I found the humor there to be pretty funny and charming, if admittedly juvenile.

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The BFG Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

I loved the characters. Yes, the girl could be a bit annoying at times, buts she is mostly likable and the relationship between the two drives the movie as it is simply beautiful and so effervescent. This movie is the best Disney film that Disney has never made, that is the best way to describe it and to explain why I dug it so much. The titular Big Friendly Giant is absolutely magnificent and such a wonderful creation. All of the other giants are typically malicious, but memorable and I liked the queen quite a bit.

Mark Rylance destroyed this movie and he made it totally his own. It is amazing to behold how wonderfully they mixed his performance within motion-capture and he truly gave one heck of a performance. His smile is infectious and the look in his eyes is so warm and just wonderful to behold how he achieved a lot with just his looks. He is easily the best part of the movie and it is such a shame that he received an Oscar for his not so great performance in ‘Bridge of Spies’ when he is obviously so much better here. Infinitely better.

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3……………………………………………………………….

The BFG is well directed by Spielberg, but also very well shot and exquisitely looking in special effects. Some of it was a bit too like an animated movie, but most of it was pretty good and the highlights were those dream making sequences as they were filled with wonderful colors and such beautiful visuals. The film is awkwardly paced and a bit too long, but it is mostly very engaging which was great. Ruby Barnhill was quite weak at times and she was a problem in a movie which needed her great performance just as much as it needed Rylance. But she is a child actor which is why I am not holding much against her. Overall, the movie is definitely flawed, but it is so good for the most part that I found it to be wonderful.

The BFG is an obviously flawed movie with a weak child performance at its center, somewhat problematic pacing and a silly second half, but that second half is funny and entertaining, the entire movie is wonderfully old-fashioned and childlike, it is visually pleasant, the relationship at the center of it is so moving and it benefits from a particularly inspired performance from Mark Rylance who carried the entire movie on his shoulders. Such an underrated film.

My Rating – 4

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Duma (2005)

Duma Movie Review………………………………………………

Duma Movie Review

Duma is a 2005 family adventure film directed by Carroll Ballard. It is a traditional and mostly very pleasant family flick.

It is about a South African boy who befriends a cheetah. This is a movie that feels so old-fashioned as it came from the nineties instead of 2000s as everything about it reminded me from the movies of my childhood – a grand adventure and a film about ecology and animals. Here we have a cheetah which is an interesting and rare choice and I loved that authenticity in it. But otherwise the movie is pretty typical and sometimes unfortunately more familiar than pleasantly old-fashioned.

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People go when they are ready to go, not when you are.

We are all just travelers on the same river, grandparents, parents, sons and daughters.

We all have our time on the river.

We do what we can before we disappear

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Duma Movie Review………………………………………………

The film is very heartwarming and mostly quite wonderful. The cheetah is first cute, then elegant and dignified. The boy is typical, yet mostly likable. And I liked Ripkuna quite a bit and their relationship was great. But of course the relationship between boy and cheetah is the standout one and although the film is clichéd and the beginning and ending are highly familiar, I still really enjoyed that ending where they separated as it was done in the best way possible – moving, yet powerful and with a great message for kids.

What I found odd is the film’s structure. It basically rushed its plot to the protagonist’s losing his father to cheetah’s adulthood in the matter of minutes which was way too abrupt and then it kind of slowed down too much and the desert scenes took too much screen time. I liked them and most of the scenes there were great, but some were typical and prolonged.

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Duma Movie Review………………………………………………

Duma is wonderful to look at, well acted and well directed. The African scenery is stunning and the film is beautifully shot. But the score is just splendid with the use of African songs being appropriate and those songs were catchy and very beautiful. The film is well made and emotional and I really liked it despite its many flaws. It is even a bit underrated as not a lot of people talk about it which is a real shame.

Duma is definitely familiar in its storyline and it has an odd structure for sure, but the film is so wonderfully old-fashioned and charming that its flaws are easily forgotten. It has beautiful scenery and a great use of African music, it is moving in its ending and it has such an adventurous spirit that it thoroughly succeeds as a family adventure flick.

My Rating – 4

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The Adventures of Mark Twain (1985)

The Adventures of Mark Twain Movie Review…………………………………………………………..

The Adventures of Mark Twain Movie Review

The Adventures of Mark Twain is a 1985 stop-motion animated adventure film directed by Will Vinton. It is a solid, visually admirable film.

The film is basically a series of vignettes built around the plot in which Mark Twain attempts to catch up with Halley’s Comet. It is a sort of a package film, but pretty solidly edited for this type of a film. I found it to be very adventurous as its energetic and imaginative spirit is undeniable. But it also has its moving moments near the end.

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The human race, in all its poverty, has only one truly effective weapon: laughter. Against the assault of laughter – ha-ha-ha-ha! – nothing can stand.

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The Adventures of Mark Twain Movie Review…………………………………………………………..

Of its various segments, the best one is the Adam and Eve segment which is pretty interesting and the basic plot itself is very strong and I loved most of its fantastical elements as they were quite magical. Every scene with Mark Twain was the winning one as he is the best character here and the most fascinating. I loved how they’ve taken the parts from his books while framing them with his comet quest which was a great touch as he really wanted and actually did die when the comet arrived which is incredible.

Unfortunately, all of the other characters are so boring and even flat that they ruined the experience for me. This film is one of the most frustrating animated films I’ve seen recently as it does most of the things right, but the things that it does poorly damage it significantly. One of those things is the character development of the supporting characters and the kids themselves. Adam and Eve are great, but Tom, Huck and Becky are so dull and forgettable and that was a problem as they are important characters here. So disappointing.

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The Adventures of Mark Twain Movie Review…………………………………………………………..

The same goes for the acting. I just found all of the voices here really unfortunate. They not only sounded too modern, but the performances themselves weren’t great. The voices were dull and sometimes even annoying and they definitely affected the movie.

Now, let’s talk about the animation. The Adventures of Mark Twain is beautifully animated and that is easily its finest aspect. This stop-motion work is one of the great examples of how wonderful this medium can be. For the eighties, it looks stunning and what Will Vinton did here with the characters and the overall world was terrific. I loved the clay animation here as they didn’t cheap out on it. Everything looks so polished and so exceptional that it was a marvel watching its every fantasy element and its every setting, all beautifully brought to life. Some of the imagery here is truly memorable and striking.

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The Adventures of Mark Twain Movie Review…………………………………………………………..

But other than its animation, the film isn’t particularly well paced and it is quite slow and at times even uninvolving which is a problem as it should have been riveting having in mind its intriguing story and its fantasy adventure elements. But it just never was as entertaining as I hoped it would have been. It is really well made and at times even quite inspired, but as a sum of its parts, it doesn’t quite succeed as it succeeds individually in some segments. I really liked its ending as it had some very interesting quotes in it plus the whole message about laughter being humans’ greatest strength is on-point and awesome. I just wish that the whole movie had as great a dialogue as it was in that part. Overall, it is a pretty solid, even underrated flick, but a lost potential for greatness nonetheless.

The Adventures of Mark Twain is a frustrating movie as it is never as great as it could have owing to some pretty subpar voice acting as well as some flat characters, but the film is still quote solid and sometimes even inspired, it is very adventurous, the story is mostly quite interesting, the ending is great with a terrific message and its stop-motion animation is its strongest suit as it is so polished and beautiful to look at.

My Rating – 3.5

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