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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The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

The Lego Batman Movie Review……………………………………………………………………………..

The Lego Batman Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie is a 2017 animated superhero comedy film directed by Chris McKay and starring Will Arnett and Michael Cera. It is a pretty good film.

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Black. All good movies start with a black screen

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The Lego Batman Movie Review……………………………………………………………………………..

I liked the plot here quite a bit. It was definitely typical and so obvious in a couple of its plot points, but the overall storyline is actually quite dramatic and more meaningful than I thought it would be. Along with less action and better humor, its big heart is the reason why it is ultimately better than ‘The Lego Movie’.

As for the characters, most are really good, but some are lacking. Batman is absolutely fantastic and possibly one of the best interpretations of this character yet. He is a hero, but also arrogant and selfish. He has his problems, his past is explored and I loved his humor. He was the funniest and deepest character here and the heart and soul of the entire film.

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The Lego Batman Movie Review……………………………………………………………………………..

Joker is phenomenal as well. I loved how he was funny and amusing here and what they did with their relationship was genius. They basically have a bromance here which was so great to witness, not only in terms of the humor, but also in terms of characterization as it fits these characters and explains a lot about them in a comedic manner.

Robin is funny, typical but funny at times. And I loved his relationship with Batman and how they eventually became father and son. Alfred was also excellent and his interactions with Batman were some of the best here. I loved how they made him a guardian and Bats was an angry child, so funny, yet again fitting and clever.

Barbara Gordon is okay and serves her purpose, but she was somewhat typical and I wasn’t the biggest fan of her as she is ultimately too forgettable in comparison to the other major characters. Harley Quinn and most of the other villains were seriously underutilized and there lies the problem – the film is crowded with too many characters and cameos, but unfortunately most of them come and fly by quickly and just are not memorable enough.

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The Lego Batman Movie Review……………………………………………………………………………..

What they did with non-superhero villains is a two-edged sword. Again they were underutilized as there were too many of them and they weren’t as funny as they should have been. But I liked the overall idea behind it and that subplot was actually pretty intriguing and was very well incorporated into the overall story. Lord Voldemort and Sauron are the highlights there, both are frequently funny and the best used of these villains for sure.

The voice acting is phenomenal here. Rosario Dawson is forgettable as her character is and I wasn’t the biggest fan of Zach Galifianakis’ voice or performance here, but Michael Cera was suitably casted in this role and he did a really good job. Ralph Fiennes was also very good. But naturally the standout actor is Will Arnett. I just love his work here and he carried the entire movie on his shoulders. An excellent voice and an overall terrific comedic performance.

The Lego Batman Movie doesn’t have the most memorable animation in it. Don’t get me wrong, it is perfectly fine and respectable with the character designs again being terrific, but I wasn’t blown away by it as a whole with not enough particularly memorable imagery or sequences.

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The Lego Batman Movie Review……………………………………………………………………………..

Again the film has too much action, overwhelming at times. Its overall emotional arc is also typical and predictable, albeit very well done and with a lot of heart. As for its humor, I liked it quite a bit, but sometimes it was overly childish with typical jokes and slapstick oriented too much for the younger audience. The film overall should have been a bit more mature.

But the film did frequently make me laugh. The highlights were of course Batman, Joker and Robin. Everything surrounding Batman was great as he was hilarious with his larger than life, crazy personality. I loved his calmer moments, but his interactions with everyone were great. I loved the opening and closing credits, so humorous. His relationship with Joker also provided many chuckles and I liked the film’s various superhero and movie references, some were overwhelming, but most were clever and memorable. The film isn’t hilarious, but it is very funny at times and mostly satisfying in its humor.

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The Lego Batman Movie Review……………………………………………………………………………..

The Lego Batman Movie features sometimes interesting soundtrack, but it was mostly too angry and loud in tone, albeit that was fitting for the protagonist. The film is mostly quite well paced and is well directed and well scripted with some solid dialogue and a great emotional investment to it. Overall, it thoroughly succeeds as a spin-off because they picked the best character from the original and let him have his own movie and the results are more than stellar.

The Lego Batman Movie again has overwhelming action at times, it is definitely crowded with too many characters and some plot points are typical and obvious, but this is mostly a very good, satisfying spin-off with excellent voice acting, very good humor with many very funny lines and a great use of its characters with Batman in particular being not only funny, but also surprisingly well developed. It is ultimately an improvement over its predecessor because it is funnier and it has a much bigger heart.

My Rating – 4

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A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969)

A Boy Named Charlie Brown Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

A Boy Named Charlie Brown Movie Review

A Boy Named Charlie Brown is a 1969 animated comedy drama film directed by Bill Melendez. It is the first Peanuts feature film and actually one of my favorite animated films period.

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Well, I can understand how you feel.

You worked hard, studying for the spelling bee, and I suppose you feel you let everyone down,

and you made a fool of yourself and everything.

But did you notice something, Charlie Brown?

The world didn’t come to an end.

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A Boy Named Charlie Brown Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

I love this movie so much! To me it was such an almost perfect way to transition from specials to a feature and surely enough, this film is better than the majority of specials themselves, at least when it comes to my opinion. They managed to include as much of the classic Peanuts characters and humor and situations as possible and thus becoming a quintessential Peanuts outing.

I loved that it focused on the spelling bee instead of sports as that made it much more enjoyable for a non-sports fan like me. Every spelling bee scene was just terrific. Another highlight is Lucy’s scene in psychiatric booth, that was genius. To me this film is far from perfect and surely it does have too much musical numbers in it and the first act is sorely lacking in comparison to the rest of the film, but the rest is so great that I forgive those flaws.

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A Boy Named Charlie Brown Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

Of course the ending makes this movie. Wow, rarely have I seen a better conclusion in an animated film. Charlie Brown loses the game and closes in his room and refuses to ever come out. Linus comes in and tells him that he failed, but the universe didn’t come to an end because of it. That line in a nutshell is the reason why I respect this series as a whole. It never sugarcoats, but actually truthfully explains to children that they may continue losing and that winning is uncertain, but it isn’t the end of the world if you lose and that you should continue trying. A fantastic message in such a brilliant, wonderful ending.

Let’s talk about the characters. Charlie Brown is excellent! Rarely has he been this good in a special before or after. I loved that Peter Robbins voiced the character and I loved that he was at his angriest and most depressing mood here. He was relatable and you root for him throughout the entire movie.

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A Boy Named Charlie Brown Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

Peppermint Patty was surely missed here, but all of the others are here thankfully. Lucy is as hilarious as ever and some of her lines and moments made me laugh out loud. Snoopy was solid, but not as great as the others were. But thankfully this time around his scenes did not take as much screen time as they usually do. Schroeder and Sally are well used, but Linus is one the highlights in one of his best roles ever. I loved the emphasis on his security blanket and he is so endearing here, but he is also there for his friend which made him even more lovable.

A Boy Named Charlie Brown has a couple of songs in it so let me touch upon all of them. The Star-Spangled Banner was out of place and Failure Face is forgettable, albeit being a great scene, but I Before E is very catchy and a great way for children to learn spelling, Champion Charlie Brown is solid and the titular number is certainly quite charming and endearing. The songs are actually quite solid here, at least half of them are.

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A Boy Named Charlie Brown Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

The animation is really good and as pleasant as usual with the character designs being faithful and top-notch. The voice acting is of the best variety and using the best of the earlier voices. The score is quite good and the film is stupendously well made in terms of the technical aspects. It is not only well directed, but also polished in its shots and so deft in its editing as it is never slow and never rushed, it lasts for just the right amount of running time. It is always wonderful to watch, the dialogue is as clever as you would expect from the series and the humor is some of the best of the entire series as it made me laugh more than a couple of times with many hilarious parts. I loved its skillful tone too as it balanced light tone with humor and serious tone with drama and messages beautifully. It is overall a tremendously well realized movie and one of my favorite Peanuts stories and one of my favorite animated features as a whole.

A Boy Named Charlie Brown managed to bring everything you want from Peanuts to the table and it did that beautifully. The humor is excellent and some of the lines were hilarious, the characters are superbly utilized with Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus being the highlights, the film is very well made technically and of course the standout is the final scene which features such a respectable, truly great message for children and it was a beautiful, brave way to end the movie.

My Rating – 5

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Fantasia 2000 (1999 )

Fantasia Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Fantasia Movie Review

Fantasia 2000 is a 1999 animated musical film which is the 38th Disney animated feature film. It is a solid film that isn’t as inferior to the original as you would think.

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That age old question:

“What would happen if you gave a yo-yo to a flock of flamingos?

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Fantasia Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Now because I was never a huge fan of the original ‘Fantasia’, I do not find it to be an untouchable masterpiece. I do respect it, but it is an uneven work of art. The same goes for its sequel Fantasia 2000 which is actually one of a few Disney sequels that we’ve got so far. Yes, it seemed unnecessary, but they actually justified its existence thanks to a couple of awesome segments that rival the best from the original film. It is still a vastly uneven film, but when it succeeds, it succeeds in spades.

Because this is basically a package film in a way, I would structurally organize this review as I usually do with such films meaning that I will go through each of its eight segments one by one and I will comment upon the overall technical aspects afterwards.

So let us begin. The first segment is Symphony No. 5 by Ludwig van Beethoven. Now Fantasia 2000 follows the pattern of the original film and thus we begin with the abstract segment first. This one features colorful butterflies and besides the obviously very good animation in it and of course great music, there is nothing else in it really. I do not like abstract pieces and this one is as basic as they come.

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Fantasia Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi is really good. The only problem here is that it is too slow and actually boring at times, but other than that, this segment is actually quite impressive in terms of the animation which is absolutely gorgeous to behold and the character designs are great. Watching those whales swim was beautiful. The movements were polished and the segment is not only artistic, but sometimes even magical.

Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin is my second favorite Fantasia 2000 segment without a doubt. It is set in New York City in the 1930s and we follow four individuals with each one of them getting their wish fulfilled at the end. I loved it not only for its of course terrific technicalities, but mostly because of its heart and charm. I love the 30s so I naturally loved its setting and time period, but the characters felt relatable, likable and I rooted for them.

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Fantasia Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Piano Concerto No. 2, Allegro, Opus 102 by Dmitri Shostakovich is a weak part. The Steadfast Tin Soldier is a famous fairy tale, but I just did not think that it received justice in this adaptation which was problematic. The characterization and action are weak and this animation is my least favorite of the entire movie.

The Carnival of the Animals, Finale by Camille Saint-Saens is another weak segment. This is where the film really slowed down and weakened significantly which is a testament to its uneven quality. What would happen if you gave a yo-yo to a flock of flamingos? Yes, that is a basic concept here and needless to say, it was overly simplistic, cartoony and just too short and kind of pointless.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is naturally a classic, but I did not get the need to revisit it again here other than to acquaint the movie with the newer audiences. It just made the movie cheaper than it should have been and this was definitely a needless rehash and they should have just made another original segment instead.

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Fantasia Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Pomp and Circumstance – Marches 1, 2, 3 and 4 by Edwald Elgar is based on the story of Noah’s Ark. I just loved this one! It is my favorite segment from the entire movie. Every story that features Donald Duck is a winner in my book and this is no exception as I just love this guy. Daisy is also stupendous here and their romance is sweet and endearing. The ending is simply wonderful. But the reason why it succeeds lies in its beautiful animation with excellent designs of all the animals and of course the score is superb and not only my favorite composition here, but also one of my personal favorites when it comes to classical music. I love this piece and I love the entire segment.

The movie finishes off with Firebird Suite – 1919 version by Igor Stravinsky. Now this is obviously a very poetic, emotional and actually quite artistic experiment with a gorgeous, epic conclusion that brings to mind the conclusion of the original film and was a perfect ending to the entire film, but it was still disappointing to me as it was overly slow, sometimes even boring and prolonged.

Fantasia 2000 features gorgeous animation and I liked the variety of styles present here. Almost all of the segments were beautifully animated and the animation is even artistic at times. It isn’t as inspired as in the original, but still very good in its own right and frequently great. The compositions that they chose were probably even better than before and I liked the use of animals and Donald Duck in it. Donald was also hilarious in one in-between segment along with Mickey. Quite charming and endearing.

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Fantasia Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Now let’s talk about those segments in-between. I strongly disliked them. And they are the worst thing about this movie. Let me elaborate. They brought in celebrities and famous actors and actresses, mostly comedians, to do the introductions to the segments and most of them did a cringe-worthy job with Steve Martin being forgettable and Penn & Teller being just so off-putting that they annoyed me immensely. Some got less to do, others got a lot more, but I disliked most of those introductions and it really hurt the movie in the long run. But it is otherwise a solid sequel in the Disney canon that still is weaker than all of the Renaissance movies prior to it which is why it counts as the first film in the Disney’s Second Dark Age.

Fantasia 2000 is a pretty solid Disney sequel with off-putting and cringe-worthy introductions to the segments and some segments are weaker as the film is quite an uneven work as a whole, but most of the segments are very good with my favorites being Rhapsody in Blue and Pomp and Circumstance which are awesome. Donald Duck is as lovable as ever and the technical aspects are impressive with excellent classical music and sometimes quite inspired animation.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Wind in the Willows (1983)

The Wind in the Willows Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………….

The Wind in the Willows Movie Review

The Wind in the Willows is a 1983 stop-motion animated film which is one of the many versions of this famous story. It is a solid movie.

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I’ve been told you are a criminal of deepest guilt,

and matchless artfulness and resource…

whatever that means.

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The Wind in the Willows Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………….

I really like this story and I loved Disney’s version of it featured in ‘The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad’. This 1983 version was admittedly solid and very well made and respectable, but it felt inferior to the aforementioned example because the story was just never as interesting or as exciting. Some plot points were excellent, but some were lacking such as that inferior, prolonged and dull beginning.

But the character development is actually quite strong. All of the characters are very well developed and quite likable. Mole and Rat were quite endearing and they served great as a team, charmingly British too. Toad was expectedly goofy, amusing and sometimes very funny. The character interactions between the three of them were top-notch.

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The Wind in the Willows Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………….

The voice acting is also quite good as all of the voices were fittingly British and elegant in style and again quite charming. I loved Toad’s amusing voice too. However, the voices were poorly incorporated with the animation itself as it never accompanies the movements of the characters well. This is something that early stop-motion films struggled with constantly and I don’t blame them as much because the technology just wasn’t there yet, but this is one of worse examples of it as it just felt too jerky, too choppy and plain unfinished. It is the only area of the film which felt like a TV movie. This is actually a TV movie, but it never felt like it as the story and animation are great, but the movements did feel TV for sure.

The animation in The Wind in the Willows is excellent. Very effervescent and very endearing. The character designs are exquisite, detailed and all of them look great and are well clothed as well. Their movements are again subpar, but the imagery is pretty good and some of it was very pleasant and memorable.

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The Wind in the Willows Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………….

The Wind in the Willows is also really well edited and the film flows well for its short running time, but it isn’t as engaging as it should have been and it should have had more action in it. That goes without question as the film was too mild in my opinion. The humor is pretty good and the characterization is great, but it should have been brisker and more entertaining. The score is fine, but the songs are so-so. Some are solid, but some are dull and they were overwhelming in their presence. Overall, it is a solid, but inherently flawed movie.

The 1983 version of The Wind in the Willows is quite solid with excellent animation, very good character development with great interactions between the three major characters and the film is charmingly British, but the songs are lackluster, the movements are not well synched with the voice acting at all and the film should have been brisker and more entertaining in its approach.

My Rating – 3.5

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Trolls (2016)

Trolls Movie Review………………………………………………………..

Trolls Movie Review

Trolls is a 2016 animated musical comedy film which is the 33rd movie from DreamWorks Animation. It features the voices of Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake and it is a surprisingly solid flick.

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Hey, I know it’s not all cupcakes and rainbows,

but I’d rather go through life thinking

that it mostly is instead of being like you.

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Trolls Movie Review………………………………………………………..

It follows two trolls who set out to save their village and kidnapped trolls from the Bergens, creatures who eat trolls. The plot here is pretty simple and also quite familiar. The biggest problem is its predictability as it is thoroughly predictable from start to finish with every plot point being expected. That was incredibly annoying. But what I liked about it is its emotional resonance as the movie is quite moving at times. Some of the emotion felt forced at first, but the third act is so moving and its message about positivity felt super simplistic, yet great for the kids.

The characters I found to be okay. They are far from great, but far from bad too. Princess Poppy was a bit annoying to me, but Branch is very likable and although a typical creation, they did the best they could with such a personality and I loved his backstory. Bridget is so endearing and she is my favorite character in the movie. I loved her interactions with the trolls as well as Prince Gristle who is also a memorable character. But Chef is such a typical, clichéd over-the-top villain and the weakest one for sure.

I found the voice acting to be solid, yet annoying as DreamWorks once again incorporated too many celebrities in the cast. Anna Kendrick wasn’t the greatest, but Justin Timberlake was actually quite solid and not that recognizable. Christine Baranski’s work was typical, but Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Zooey Deschanel were actually quite good in their charming roles.

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Trolls Movie Review………………………………………………………..

Now, the animation. Well, Trolls is definitely an interesting looking movie, that’s for sure. On the negative side, its bright colors were sometimes a nuisance and it definitely felt too garish and colorful in some parts. However, it felt quite charming in some scenes and I really liked the character designs. They aren’t the most original, yet they are pleasantly cartoony and endearing. But the highlight is definitely the sequence in which the trolls turn gray and then one by one, after regaining hope, they regain their true colors. I found that part to be pretty impressive in terms of the visuals and although a bit too on the nose, both the song and the animation accompanied that great scene really well leading to the best part of the entire film.

Trolls features the mix of new songs and remixes of old songs in its soundtrack with mixed results. Some numbers felt super out of place such as The Sound of Silence, but True Colors was, as I said above, well utilized and Hello was pretty solid too. Of the new songs, most felt like typical cheesy pop songs such as Hair Up, but of course the highlight is Can’t Stop the Feeling! I really like this song as it is such a catchy and fun number that was perfect for this movie and it rightfully received the Academy Award for Best Original Song nomination.

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Trolls Movie Review………………………………………………………..

I found the humor okay at times, but mostly mediocre. The tone should have been a bit darker in the more dangerous scenes in my opinion and the movie was too bright and happy, but admittedly some of those scenes felt charming. The dialogue is quite weak, childish and just immensely typical which is why those emotional sequences weren’t as great as they should have been.

I found the movie overly hyperactive in its first half plus the beginning was really off-putting and not the greatest way to start your movie, but thankfully it became much better and slowed down significantly later on leading to a pretty solid second half. The editing is problematic, but it is as good as these types of children’s flicks can be.

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Trolls Movie Review………………………………………………………..

Yes, I really liked that Trolls was a children’s film and a traditional cartoon and I don’t know why that is such a bad thing in today’s world. From time to time, I like to watch these loud, funny and entertaining kids’ flicks and this one fulfilled that role remarkably well for me. It is in the end a perfectly solid flick and actually one that received the twentieth place on my list of all the 33 DreamWorks Animated films which ain’t that bad and it certainly left me satisfied and actually surprised how solid it turned out to be.

Yes, it is overly hyperactive, most of the jokes are juvenile, the plot is familiar and the mix of remixed old and some new songs in its soundtrack led to mixed results, but Oscar-nominated Can’t Stop the Feeling! is such a fun, immensely catchy tune, the characters are solid, the voice acting is mostly good and the film’s emotional resonance was admirable and it led to some pretty great scenes. The animation is too colorful, but sometimes quite inspired. It is such a surprisingly solid DreamWorks animated film which was pleasantly cartoony and a lot of fun.

My Rating – 3.5

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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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Gay Purr-ee (1962)

Gay Purr-ee Movie Review………………………………………………………….

Gay Purr-ee Movie Review

Gay Purr-ee is a 1962 animated musical film from Warner Bros. starring Judy Garland. It is a very disappointing, frankly quite weak movie.

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Boys, if you ever marry, marry for love… of money.

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Gay Purr-ee Movie Review………………………………………………………….

The plot is nothing special and is quite ordinary and at times even dull. Now obviously Disney’s ‘The Aristocats’ was influenced by this movie and in some plot points it might even be called a rip-off. But to me the aforementioned movie is much better with better characters, animation and music. The plot is weak in both movies and here it tried to have many different things in it, but ultimately doesn’t succeed in either of them.

The characters are quite weak. Mewsette is your typical female love interest and Jaune Tom is likable, yet forgettable. Robespierre is a typical, but solid sidekick and he is actually better developed and more memorable than the aforementioned two. Meowrice is actually a quite capable villain, but even he disappointed me near the end. His character doesn’t work because Paul Frees gave an infuriatingly weak performance and all of the others are weak as well. They made the movie look cheap along with its animation.

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Gay Purr-ee Movie Review………………………………………………………….

Yes, the animation is cheap here and yes, it does look unprofessional and if it was still in the development process. However, I still admired its aesthetics because some of the imagery is excellent and some of the designs were great. The scene with the parody of major works from major artists definitely felt like a detour in terms of storytelling, but in terms of the animation, it was quite inspired and even artistic. I just wish that the film got a polished look and it would have been great, but this way it just felt unfinished and unprofessional.

Gay Purr-ee features some quite mediocre musical numbers. As a musical, it doesn’t succeed even though it has a couple of solid songs in it. The Overture is a quite solid opening for the movie and Mewsette is pretty solid as well. Take My Hand, Paree is catchy and in tone it is fittingly French to accompany its setting. Little Drops of Rain is emotional and serves the story well. But all of the other numbers are very weak and even poor in some instances.

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Gay Purr-ee Movie Review………………………………………………………….

Gay Purr-ee is a problematic movie because it is just too slow paced to become engaging and it was even boring and felt overlong despite its short running time and that is never a good sign. The drama and the villainy was solid, but the action was dull and the entire third act was too cartoony. In the end, it is a further proof of Disney’s dominance during the 60s and how Warner Bros’ unfortunately could not compete and this flick is a testament to that.

Gay Purr-ee has a couple of solid musical numbers, some good scenes and a couple of inspired animated moments, but the overall animation, although obviously featuring solid designs and scenery, felt unfinished and cheap, the characters are not the greatest, the voice acting is quite poor and most of the songs were weak leading to a pretty weak Warner Bros. animated effort.

My Rating – 3

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