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The Incredibles 2 (2018)
The Incredibles 2 (2018)
2018 | Action, Animation, Comedy
On Par With the Best
If The Incredibles isn’t one of the top five superhero films of all time, it’s definitely top ten. For awhile, I had it billed as the greatest. It has everything you need which created a tough act to follow. But follow it they did fourteen years later with The Incredibles 2. The sequel continues the story of the superhero family and their dealings with being abnormal in a normal world.

Acting: 10

Beginning: 10

Characters: 10
Jack-Jack. Just…Jack-Jack. I could go into sophisticated detail about the depth of each of these characters and their internal struggles, but all you really need to know is Jack-Jack.

Cinematography/Visuals: 10
The animation in this movie is, for lack of a better word, incredible. Pixar seems to age like a fine wine, constantly improving upon themselves. Facial features are crisp, colors are vivid leaving the screen bursting with life. It operates just like a big budget superhero film and, in some ways, even better. Animation has a leg up because it allows you to always capture the desired moment at the perfect time. Watching the family work in tandem and seeing all their powers come together on screen is reminiscent of the first Avengers film.

Conflict: 10
No good battles arise without a good villain and Incredibles 2 doesn’t disappoint here. The movie is action-packed beset with high stakes. There are a handful of slow points where the film hiccups, but the fight sequences more than make up for it. Any scene with Dash in it and you never know what’s going to happen! He’s growing in his powers but still has yet to realize his own strength which makes him fun to watch.

Genre: 8
Doesn’t quite rank in the upper echelon of top superhero movies of 2018 (Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War), but it’s not too far behind. It makes you feel, it makes you laugh, it makes you wow. Three things that make it a top choice for the year.

Memorability: 10
Jack-Jack Vs. The Raccoon is a scene I could watch a million times. Never gets old. The attention to detail in that scene and the way it unfolds is flawless. I also liked the fact that this movie seemed even darker than the first appealing more to adults at times than children. The first one toed the line, but the sequel jumped right over.

Pace: 8
As I mentioned earlier, there were some points in the movie where things got slow and you were waiting for it to pick back up. It didn’t happen often but definitely enough to be noticeable. Nothing that derailed the movie too much however as the action and hilarity more than made up for the slow points.

Plot: 8

Resolution: 10
Solid ending that ties the film up perfectly. It leaves you wanting more but, at the same time, if the series concluded here, I’d be good with it. No spoilers, but I’ll just say you’ll be satisfied.

Overall: 94
Incredibles 2 gets off to a fast start and doesn’t let you go. There is a scene with Edna and Jack-Jack that just makes me happy as hell and sums up my feeling for the whole movie experience. See it and love it.
Toy Story 4 (2019)
Toy Story 4 (2019)
2019 | Animation, Comedy, Sci-Fi
Thoughts on Toy Story 4

Characters – Woody is struggling with not being in control of the room anymore, he still wants to help make Bonnie happy, which sees him acting selfishly, he does try to fix his own mistakes which will see him facing a second chance, meeting an old friend and distancing himself from his current friends. Woody is the key figure in this film, this is very much his story. Forky is the newly created toy out of a spork and is learning everything as it unfolds even though he believes he is trash. Buzz Lightyear is trying to step up when Woody goes off, he does feel like a bigger idiot than we are used to, using his voice commands to help him, which seems like a huge step back on his character. Bo Peep coming back to the franchise is fun, she shows Woody a new life away from kids, where she helps toys, she is Woody’s big love in life too, kick ass fighter too. Gabby Gabby is an older toy like Woody, she has been damaged and is searching for something to hope she can be taken home one day, she is painted as the villain, though she is the weakest villain in the franchise. Duke Caboom is the best addition to the film a stuntman that has failed as a toy, he is always up for trying something new and is filled with confidence.
Story – The story here follows Woody trying to find himself a place in the world after becoming a smaller part in the life of his new owner Bonnie, he gets too involved and spends most of the story trying to make up for his mistake of letting Bonnie create a new toy, caught in the middle saving the day or breaking free. Now this is the 4th part of the franchise which did tie up nicely after the third one. The supporting characters do take a big back burner in the story which even sees Buzz getting less screen time, this is a full Woody story trying to figure out where his life is going on next. We do try to play on the heart strings, though it just doesn’t get to the levels it could have and has been there before. The new characters to bring the bright spark to the story, but we do end up going down the road, where this is becoming too unbelievable that these toys are acting like this.
Adventure/Comedy – The adventure side of this film comes from the idea that Woody will need to go on a new adventure to save Forky, only to see Buzz on his own adventure which does cross paths with Woody, only his feels like a simple side to everything. the comedy from the new characters hits very well, its just old character seem to fall short.
Settings – Having the film use an Antique story is great idea because we get to see known toys that could add comedy in places, the carnival also adds potential new characters too.
Animation – The animation is Pixar at its very best, it looks perfect like we know they are used to bring us, bringing us larger scale environment to everything going on.

Scene of the Movie – Duke Caboom.
That Moment That Annoyed Me – Buzz seems to be dumber.
Final Thoughts – This does end up feeling like a cash grab sequel, it doesn’t have the heart the previous films do and fails to use the original characters well enough.

Overall: By the book sequel.
Brave (2012)
Brave (2012)
2012 | Animation, Comedy, Family
The digital wizards at Pixar have an incredible dossier of Academy award-winning animated films. Their latest film “Brave“, is a prime example of the bold new direction for the company behind such classics as “Finding Nemo“, “Toy Story“, “The Incredible’s“, and “Monsters, Inc.” just to name a few. This time out Scotland provides the setting for the animation masters to weave their magic, and they do in a splendid 3-D feast of sight, sound, and color that captures the breathtaking beauty of the Scottish Highlands.

For Princess Merida (Kelly Madonald), life is filled with joy and frustration. As the daughter to King Fergus (Billy Connolly), and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), she has to walk a fine line between the duties and expectation of her mother and her freewheeling lifestyle of daring and adventure. The young Princess is content to ride through the countryside astride her horse Angus, and perfect her already admirable archery skills.

When Merida learns that her parents have summoned the other major clans so that a worthy suitor can be chosen, Merida rebels openly at their plan and causes great embarrassment to her family during a competition. In a fit of rebellious anger, Merida rides into the woods, and comes upon a witch who promises to create for the young princess a spell that will forever change her destiny. Although not done out of malice, the spell has some on expected consequences that threatens the future of the kingdom as well as the safety of Merida’s family.

The film has some outstanding performances, not the least of which is Connolly, who was an absolute delight whenever his character was on screen. Supporting work by Craig Ferguson and Robbie Coltrane complement the leads well. Since my mother is a Scot, I am all-too-familiar with not only the history but culture of Scotland. I had been concerned when I first heard the project that it would play up on certain stereotypes and miss the true complexity and splendor of Scotland and its people, as well as it’s extremely rich history which is filled with numerous technical and literary achievements over the centuries.

Thankfully my concerns were allayed very early in the film not simply because of the amazing visual detail of the movie but also because of the lovable but quirky characters. The writers and animators managed to capture the very nature of the people and the culture, which is no easy thing in an animated film. Kudos for the casting of the mostly Scottish cast who played their roles with relish. I can honestly say hearing King Fergus address the clans brought to mind my aunts, uncles and cousins thanks to the distinct Scottish brogue. I especially liked the fact that when conflict erupted (of course) amongst even the best of friends, there are some very clever ways that laughs were gained without turning the characters into buffoons or being overly cute.

While the film plays it fairly safe with the story, Pixar’s first female heroine gives us a very fun and enjoyable tale that offers something for the entire family without talking down to the audience or having to resort to crude humor. A few scenes may be a bit intense for youngsters and while it will not be cited for any technological breakthroughs Brave, nonetheless, is highly entertaining.
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012)
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012)
2012 | Action, Animation, Comedy
7.1 (14 Ratings)
Movie Rating
After being shipped from New York to Madagascar and then leaving Madagascar only to end up stranded in Africa, our four favorite zoo animals are back and causing a ruckus once again, but this time in Europe.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted starts off where Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa left off, with Alex the lion(Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra(Chris Rock), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stranded in Africa longing to get back to their beloved zoo in New York City. They realize the only way they will be able to return home is by relying on their super competent penguin buddies who have made their way to Monte Carlo with their chimp powered plane and the loot of jewels and money they squandered upon in Africa during the second movie.

So the quartet of four legged lovable characters along with a few familiar lemurs, King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen), the self proclaimed King of Madagascar and his assistants Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer) and Mort (Andy Richter), decide to make their way to Monte Carlo, find the penguins, the chimpanzees, and head to New York.

Once the gang arrives in Monte Carlo it doesn’t take long for them to incite panic. Enter Captain Chantal Dubois (Francis McDormand), an impassive, somewhat indestructible animal control officer, who wants nothing more than to add a lion to her already impressive collection of animal heads mounted on her office wall. Due to her relentless pursuit and unconventional hunting techniques the animals are forced to take refuge aboard a circus train where they are welcomed by a simple-minded sea lion named Stefano (Martin Short). Stefano introduces the group to the rest of the animal circus performers and they each demonstrate their amazing tricks. The train is on its way to London and the circus crew hopes their show will garner the attention of a big time U.S. circus promoter looking to bring a show to New York. This was Alex and company’s ticket home! But would they be up to the challenge of putting on the greatest show anyone has ever seen AND evade Dubois who is hot on their tails every step of the way?

The simple storyline of animals wanting to get home has been the common thread in all three Madagascar movies. Dreamworks Animation rarely reaches the emotional expertise of Pixar, but they always manage to create movies that are still very much engaging, humorous and visually stunning. Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath, who directed the first two movies, come together once again and steer clear from the choppy, thrown together sequence of events that have plagued some sequels and trilogies. I truly believe that keeping with the same directoral chemistry plays a big part in this movie’s well-paced and entertaining storyline.

This movie is definitely geared toward the kindergarten and preschool aged audience with much of the action in the movie involving the circus performance and its Cirque du Soleil-type entertainment. Let’s add the 3D component and voila! An amazing, kaleidoscope of lights and pyrotechnics along with wonderful performances of acrobats, seal shot from cannon, high wire dancing giraffe and hippo, and flying penguins. It’s like a box of animal crackers come to life!
Toy Story 3 (2010)
Toy Story 3 (2010)
2010 | Animation, Comedy, Family
Character-Driven Masterpiece
There aren’t a lot of movie series’ that get better with each movie, but the Toy Story franchise has definitely accomplished that. Toy Story 3 is not just the best movie of the franchise to date, but it’s also one of the greatest movies ever made. Also, before I go any further: DAMN, it feels good to be posting another review. To quote John Wick: “Yeah, I’m thinking I’m back!” But I digress…In this third installment, Andy is all grown up and the gang sets their sights on a preschool where they hope to get played with everyday for eternity.

Acting: 10
It’s almost unfair when you think about the amazing cast of the Toy Story franchise. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as Woody ad Buzz really have a way of putting you dead in the moment. These are toys, yet, somehow, the phenomenal acting jobs truly brings them to life as sentient beings. Their pain as well as their triumphs are felt throughout.

Beginning: 10
Yet another thing this franchise has gotten down to a science. The first five minutes of the movie puts you in a grand adventure where all the toys are facing off against each other. Then the next five minutes are heartbreaking. It’s a pleasant rollercoaster that sets the story up perfectly.

Characters: 10
The gang’s all here, including Cowgirl Jessie from the last movie and her horse Bullseye. In addition to having their own flavor and personality, I can really appreciate how Buzz and Woody continue to develop as characters. Buzz continues to try and be the voice of reason while Woody relies mainly on his emotion. I really enjoyed Lotso (Ned Beatty) as well, a purple teddy who smells like strawberries and walks with a cane. If those were his only interesting quirks that would be enough, but there is so much more to appreciate about his character that I won’t give away.

Cinematography/Visuals: 10
You know the visuals are at masterpiece levels when I’m marveling at a trash bag. A trash bag for God’s sake! But man the detail on this bag, the way it moved just so perfectly. I know, I’m a nutcase, but this trash bag! It’s the sheer attention to detail that blows my mind. There is another shot, and this one is probably my favorite, of Lotso stepping into the lights of a Tonka truck with his cronies to approach Buzz and the gang. The way the light hits perfectly casting shadows definitely tells me there are no shortages of geniuses at Pixar.

Conflict: 10

Entertainment Value: 10
Toy Story 3 is why I love movies. From bottom to top, it checks all the boxes. You will experience a wave of emotions and have fun the whole way.

Memorability: 10
The movie casts a memorable message about our ability to let go and move on. Watching this at different points in my life, every single time I could relate to Woody and his struggles with letting go. Oh yeah, and the film is super fun too. I can’t count the number of moments where I marveled at how this movie does things that creatively surpass the other two. Like Up, this is a movie that sticks with you long after you watch it.

Pace: 10
The longest of the three, yet it somehow feels like the shortest. There is always something exciting that’s happening. Its ebbs and flows move the story along with every single detail somehow feeling important.

Plot: 10
Watching this made me think, “Oh my goodness, they could do a hundred more of these and it would never get old.” This story stands alone and has actual plausibility…well, as toy stories go anyway. At one point, the movie moves from new adventure to crazy heist to prison break. And I’m here for all of it, every last piece.

Resolution: 10

Overall: 100
Watching a movie like this is like watching a talented gymnast perform an unforgettable routine. You know you want to give it a perfect score provided they stick the landing. Beginning, middle, and end Toy Story 3 establishes credibility as being epic and damn-near perfect. Landing stuck.
John Carter (2012)
John Carter (2012)
2012 | Action, Family, Horror
7.0 (24 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Edgar Rice Burroughs is famous for literary creations that have inspired countless generations and given birth to numerous film and television projects. You would be hard-pressed to find anybody not familiar with Tarzan, one of Burrough’s great series. John Carter of Mars is another one, and at long last has finally made it to the big screen.

The film is based on the first book of eleven, a series that began in 1911 and ran through 1964 when the last book was published posthumously. John Carter stars Tylor Kitsch as the title character, a bitter Civil War veteran who, despite an accomplished service record, no longer wants anything to do with the military. Instead he is fixated upon finding a cave of gold.

Despite the fact that he served for the Confederacy, John Carter draws the attention of the U.S. Cavalry whose leader is anxious to recruit an officer of Carter’s skills and experience to aid them in their skirmishes with the Apache tribes. No longer willing to fight or get involved, Carter declines the offer but soon finds himself caught in the middle of an unplanned battle between both sides. As he attempts to find shelter for himself and a wounded officer, Carter accidentally stumbles upon the cave of gold he was seeking.

Carter’s surprise soon turns to shock when he’s attacked by a mysterious individual who presses a glowing amulet in his hand and utters a phrase that transports John Carter instantly to the planet Mars. Of course, Carter at first has no idea where he is but soon realizes that he has incredible leaping abilities due to the lower gravity of the planet.
Shortly after his arrival he gains the attention of Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe), the chief of a race of tall, skinny, four armed alien warriors. At first intrigued by Carter, Tarkas and his people become divided over what to do with the new arrival. This becomes further complicated when airships arrive and begin a massive gunbattle. Carter immediately leaps into action with his newfound ability which quickly gains the attention of Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), princess of the city of Helium.

It is learned that Princess Dejah is being forced to marry an evil warlord who possesses an awesome destructive ability and is using it to subjugate all those he encounters. Desperate to save their city, the princess is offered up to appease the warlord. Naturally this does not sit well with the free-spirited and feisty princess and before long she and John Carter find themselves united in their quest to save Helium. Despite his reluctance to get involved and fight, Carter realizes the princess may be his only way to get home.

A stranger in a strange land, with danger all around him, John Carter takes his audience on an epic adventure. Despite having little star power, the movie works exceptionally well with amazing special effects. The CGI used to create the various alien characters infuses them with personality and vitality rarely seen in artificially created characters. The film is visually spectacular from the legions of aliens locked in combat, to the stark splendor of the planet and its inhabitants.

Even though the film was presented in converted 3-D which, as many of you will know has long been a very touchy subject with me, the final product was actually better than most conversions. While it was nowhere near the quality of films shot in 3-D, it nonetheless offered an immersive quality to epic battle scenes and did not rely on the gimmicky trick of trying to make things pop out of the screen in order to sell the film.

Kitsch does a great job handling the action of the film and manages to interact with his CGI costars in a believable enough manner to establish as much chemistry with them as he did with the flesh and blood Collins. Although some moments of the film drag, it does have enough action to sustain the nearly two-hour runtime with a touch of humor and romance thrown in for good measure.

I first became aware of the film a year ago at the D23 Expo when Disney showed a few clips and had Kitsch, Collins and Dafoeon hand to promote the pending release. While intriguing, I did not see anything that really made the film stand out as a must-see. I am very happy to say that upon seeing the completed film, the scenes that were shown to us not only had even greater effects in the finished product but were also much more entertaining and dynamic once shown within the full context of the story line.

Director Andrew Stanton, who has made a name for himself with his animated films at Pixar, skillfully blends live-action and CGI to create a very energetic and enjoyable action-adventure film that was a very pleasant surprise.
While the acting, character development, and plot are nothing spectacular in and of themselves, they combined well and set the stage effectively for what should be a series of John Carter films in the future.
Love, Death & Robots
Love, Death & Robots
2019 | Action, Animation, Comedy
CGI is amazing (1 more)
The Perfect Mix of Morbid Humour and Gore
The episodes are so short! (0 more)
A Masterpiece of the Weird and Fantastical
This is going to be a long one, I'm going to review each episode as they aren't linked or related in any way, but just know, they are all gorgeous works of art and you should totally go watch the whole thing ?.

Beyond the Aquila Rift - CGI was beautiful from the moment it started, I was like 'shiiiit this series is going to be everything I love'. This one is about a crew making a delivery in space, however nothing quite goes to plan. For me, it had a very 'Mass Effect' feel with the FTL travel. I was not expecting a full out sex scene in the first 6 minutes but then again the episodes are on average only 16 minutes long. It was rauncy yet somehow, still quite tasteful, but as with most animated stuff there was an excessive amount of topless boob shots. I won't spoil it, but it ended up as a horrific mind fuck that left a shiver down my spine ?.

Secret War - Again, CGI was epic and the story was the perfect mix of unsettling, gory, and tragic. It follows a platoon of Red Army soldiers who are hunting down mysterious 'monsters'. There's blood, there's guts, a guy has an arm off at one point - what more could you ask for?

Sonnie's Edge - Immediately feels hellishly grunge and rave. I absolutely adored the blacklight effects and a strong female styling, the fight is gorgeous, the monsters have almost a Kaju feel which really made me happy as I love Pacific Rim. Of course this epicness is immediately ruined by a sloppy scene (I won't spoil it) which cemented the fact in my mind this was written by a man (I checked later and found I was correct), it does save itself with a fantastic twist at the end though so it was still an amazing short.

Sucker of Souls - This had a great grungy cartooning that felt half Kill Bill, half 2003 TMNT. It ended up being a real bad day for an archaeological expedition. Gore injected with humour is always a favourite of mine and this ticked all those boxes, including a wisecracking explosives expert (looking at you Gary!) If we've learnt anything from Indiana Jones and Rick O'Connell it's, don't fuck with tombs. This time was no different.

Three Robots - There's something just so fucking fantastic about robots going on holiday and speculating about 'human' stuff. It's just the perfect injection of morbid humour and I love it. The twist at the end had me laughing harder than I had any right to ?.

Ice Age - I haven't seen Topher Grace since That 70's Show so I was like 'heeeey cool'. This was the first one that wasn't soley animation so that was really cool. They find a civilization in their freezer - yes, you read that right, their freezer - and the story is awesome ?. It's a neat reflection on humans and our place in the world.

The Witness - Set in a brightly coloured city the animation here feels very Borderlands-y, which is super cool because I fricking love that game ?. There's murder, full frontal nudity, erotic dancing, and an ending that will tear your head right off. Pretty neat all in all.

Suits - Great Googamooga, this is my absolutely favourite so far, a perfectly normal looking farm, complete with adorable hick accents, discovers a breach in their fence. This isn't just any breach, this is an alien style swarm complete with Mech Warrior suits and a woman named Mel, who I'm convinced is Tank Girl as an old lady. 17 minutes of utter badassery you do not want to miss. Utterly LOVED it, and would 10/10 watch this as its own series.

When the Yogurt Took Over - Ok so the name - I was like 'should I take this seriously? Oooor' ?. Weirdly serious - yet hysterical. A five minute journey into what happened when Yogurt became sentient. You will not be disaappointed ?.

Good Hunting - With animation that reminds me of The Last Airbender, it's a story of magic, friendship, and the industrial age. A beautiful and tragic story, with horrific overtones of what greed and 'progress' can do.

The Dump - The animation this reminds me of would be sorta like, if the people at Pixar got high with Tim Burton. There was one random thing - I found Pearly's dick swing in the wind much funnier than any sane person probably would ?. A great story about man's best friend and let me tell ya, everyone needs an Otto ❤.

Shape-Shifter - There's something so deeply interesting about putting the supernatural into regular life. Two men, who are not human, in the US marines. Insanely intense story for under 15 minutes. Gorgeous CGI work too.

Helping Hand - This had a great "Gravity" feel to it, when everything goes wrong you just keep going, give a little and then a little more and you achieve the impossible. Breathtaking space visuals is just an added bonus ?.

Fish Night - Telltale style animation, depicts a story of a father and son on the road. The car breaks down and something both magical and tragic happens. The ending left me reeling ?.

Lucky 13 - The CGI in this one was so good it took me half the time to figure out that it wasn't real. Lucky 13 was to Cutter like the Normandy was to Joker. Just - the best goddamn ship ❤.

Zima Blues - Animated in a style similiar to Archer, this was an interesting piece about art and how it effects us, we search for meaning through it sometimes it's about appreciating the little things ❤.

Blindspot - 90's animation and a rad story about robots. This is my second favourite after Suits, would 10/10 watch as its own movie ?.

Alternate Histories - Did not stop laughing the entire time. Utter gold. I will recommend one thing - pause it at the blue screen bit, you won't be disappointed ?.

The only thing I'm sad about is there wasn't more of this to watch, it was incredible ?.

Daniel Boyd (1065 KP) Apr 22, 2019

Really enjoyed reading through your individual reviews, agree with you 1000% about Sonnie's Edge


Emma @ The Movies (1783 KP) rated Wonder Park (2019) in Movies

Jun 22, 2019 (Updated Sep 25, 2019)  
Wonder Park (2019)
Wonder Park (2019)
2019 | Adventure, Animation, Comedy
Contains spoilers, click to show
First off, this is going to be awash with spoilers because I was absolutely amazed by the reaction I had to it. It's not unheard of for movies to turn out differently to how the trailer portrays them but in this case it felt like a rather low blow. I think there should have been some clues to what lay ahead without having to read reviews.

Second thing to get out of the way... the park is called Wonderland... why is the movie called Wonder Park? Pick one and stick to it!

June and her mum create their very own amusement park, it has amazing rides and its animal mascots love to amuse the crowds as they see the wonders that Wonderland has in store. The pair happily create together until June's mum is too sick to carry on. She needs treatment, which means that June and her father need to hold the fort while she's away. Playing with Wonderland isn't the same without her mother and in that moment she decides to pack everything away. Where fun once stood are now bare walls and a serious June who is hellbent on making sure her father doesn't stumble into anything bad.

What I had expected from the trailers was something comedic, the park was surely run down because June had grown up and make believe wasn't cool anymore... What I was served was something with a much more emotional twist of the knife. As soon as June's mother started looking unwell I knew it would be nothing like I'd expected.

We're never privy to what June's mum has, but the whole illness is a much more "glamorous" version of how real life goes. Ultimately we see her leave for treatment and then she comes back "better". No returning home between treatments, no visiting her at the hospital. In this, illness is obviously treated with magic, and while the film shows the more real aspects of the emotions it glosses over the rest.

Let's go to the cast of characters for a bit, and here comes a massive gripe... The UK version and the US version have a different cast. For whatever reason it's only the US cast that got an IMDb listing so I went off for a Google. Here's a quick comparison:

Peanut - Norbert Leo Butz
Greta - Milas Kunis
Steve - John Oliver
Gus & Cooper - UK version: Joe Sugg & Casper Lee, US version: Kenan Thompson & Ken Jeong
Boomer - UK version: Tom Baker, US version: Ken Hudson Campbell

I am at a loss. This film is absolutely not set in the UK, so why would you sub in a different cast when you have so much talent on the original roster? Suggs and Lee were weak and lacked any kind of dramatic quality. Kenan & Ken... I can hear them in my head now, they would have been wonderful together. I love Tom Baker, but he wasn't right either. It was a rather flat performance that needed a little more pep to boost the slightly bland character. My other query would be why John Oliver was cast as Steve for both versions. After seeing the "backing up" bit in the trailer I had hoped for something better in the expanded scene but no, it really was delivered that badly and the rest of his performance was no different. Having him up against Milas Kunis just added to the disaster, while Greta wasn't a great character Kunis did at least give us a good show.

Back to the story. June is sent off to math camp but on the way she has a panic about what might happen to him while he's on his own. There's actually quite a fun little montage here and that convinces her to get off the bus with the help of her friend so she can return home. Scheme executed she dashes off into the forest to make her way home... ba-da-bing ba-da-boom... magic tree portal.

We find that Wonderland is in tatters because it's cuddly little army of toys are dismantling everything that's fun and sacrificing it to the big black swirling vortex in the sky, a vortex that appeared just after the creative voice stopped whispering design ideas into Peanut's ear for the park... that's right... the swirling doom is June's depression, worry and anxiety caused by her mother going away because of her illness... well, shiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

Of course this movie land though, we know everything is going to get better. Our animal friends go from liking June to hating her when she admits the changes were her fault. She then has to redeem herself and everyone lives happily ever after.

I may be paraphrasing a whole section of the film there but that's the basic gist.

There's quite an odd balance in the film, it feels like we hardly get to see much of the park itself, and certainly not a lot in its full glory. The storyline is quite family heavy which for obvious reasons is a little on the serious side. We chop and change between events so quickly that we don't really get to know any of the characters at all, and it's difficult to see how they thought that was sensible in such a short space of time.

The animation is fine, nothing to write home about, but it just seemed to be a little bland on the scale of things. This is really not to say it's bad, we're just lucky to have so much great stuff around at the moment with a standard that is so high.

Wonder Park seems like it's trying to hit a Disney/Pixar level. The message is a surprisingly emotional one and I was surprised how much it affected me, I honestly don't know how I managed to contain my sobbing and on more than one occasion I had tears streaming down my face... there was nothing I could do about it, and I wasn't the only one.

Sadly overall this is a pretty mediocre film but it was so close to being something wonderful. I enjoyed it but there was a lot that could have made it so much better.

What you should do

All of the kids at the screening enjoyed it, for the adults it may well go either way. It definitely deserves a watch at some point.

Movie thing you wish you could take home

If I could have my own magic marker that requires nothing but imagination, I would be unstoppable.

Charlie Cobra Reviews (1840 KP) rated Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) in Movies

Mar 20, 2021 (Updated Mar 27, 2021)  
Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)
Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)
2021 | Animation, Family
Beautiful animation and good character design (2 more)
Voice acting/voice actors
Pretty good setup or start of story going into the movie
$29.99 on top of a Disney plus subscription (2 more)
More often than not pretty predictable and not enough surprises
Not enough stakes or characters never really felt like they were ever in danger to me
Raya, A Really Good Movie That Could Have Been Great
This movie was really good. I really liked it, from the character design to the excellent voice-actors and the setup of the story going into it in the beginning, it really had a lot going for it. This movie had a pretty good all-star cast of Asian voice actors and really liked Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina's performances. Awkwafina was really funny to me and her voice fit naturally for her character Sisu. The character designs were interesting to me and I liked the way they differed for the different tribes. I heard a lot of people were giving comparisons to Avatar: The Last Airbender and I can see why people would say that but for me there really isn't that much of a comparison. Avatar is by far a way better show but it also has a lot more episodes to be a better show and tell a better story. I feel this movie wasn't able to live up to the hype and the Disney standard in the long run but that doesn't stop it from trying. I just think that a lot of it is predictable and nothing really surprising, also as likable as the characters were, there wasn't a lot of character development outside of the main character and nothing to really make you feel enough for the other characters to make them really, really matter to the viewer/audience. The beginning like I said was a decent setup of the legend of how the people had the dragons protecting them from these evil spirits and how the last dragons used their power to save everyone. That was a pretty cool concept and I definitely like the way it lead into the introduction of the different tribal lands and tribes which exist in the present. The training scene with Chief Benja and Raya reminded me of something, from another movie but it was pretty cool. There are also some pretty funny and cool characters you meet later like the charismatic young boy Boun, the hilarious little baby Noi and let's not forget the adorable Tuk-Tuk, Raya's best friend. There's a lot more that I want to go over but I'll save it for the spoiler section because I don't want to ruin this movie for those who still want to see it. This movie doesn't get my must-see seal of approval but it did come close. Main reason is the additional $29.99 price tag on top of Disney plus subscription required for most people to see it at home. If you can see it without having to pay that price then I would say it's definitely worth checking out and if you're going to see it in theaters then it's worth taking the family too. But if your short on cash I'd say wait for this one to be free on Disney plus around June 4th. The rating I give for this movie is going to be a 7/10. It was really good but not great but I enjoyed it.

Spoiler Section Review:
I thought this movie was really good but it definitely had a lot of flaws. One of those wasn't the character designs or animation which were looked awesome. Also the voice actors were really good and Awkwafina's performance really surprised me but was understandably one of the better performance's and reminded me of such great comedians who have leant their voices for roles like Robin Williams as Genie in Aladdin and Eddie Murphy as Mushu in Mulan and Donkey in Shrek. I mentioned in the first part of the review that the opening story of the legend of how the dragons saved everyone was a really cool concept I thought worked well into introducing the different tribes and then the main characters. That opening scene of Raya breaking into the orb chamber and training with her father reminded me of a scene from another movie. Not sure if it was Pacific Rim: Uprising where John Boyega's character Jake is stealing something from one of the giant robots or a scene from Indiana Jones but it felt very familiar. Which brings me to another big thing that I didn't like about this movie, which is that most if not all the movie was pretty predictable for me. Which doesn't necessary make it a bad thing or a bad movie but takes some of the fun out of it. One of the things that I didn't predict was how after making friends with Namaari in the beginning of the movie that she would totally backstab Raya the way she did. That was such a gripping and tense moment where Chief Benja had to come to Raya's rescue as the Fang tribe moves in to steal the orb. I really liked the part where he can see in the reflection of his sword that Raya was ready to continue fighting alongside him against all the enemies even when the other tribes came to steal the orb for themselves as well. The character designs and animation were really awesome too. I liked Raya's costume and how she transitioned from what she wore as a child to the time skip as well as the different attire that the different tribes had. I liked how they all were quite different beside just their clothes too, like how Raya's tribe was the Heart and they wore green and blue but their home was the most full of life, with plants and water, the Fang looked more like a city but like a capital militaristic feel to it, with much being about law and order or rule. The spine was more in the colder region and had big people wearing multiple layer clothing for warmth and Tail which little is known about even though it was the first one we're shown because it has been wiped out by the Druun and it is supposed to be a mainly dried up desert region and have small pockets of villages. The last one, Talon was probably one of the most colorful ones and smart in how they dealt with the Druun as well. They built their houses on stilts right on the water and had a huge marketplace where it seemed like a festival or party was going on because there was so many people going on as if there wasn't any danger. Another thing I liked about the movie was how Raya didn't have to have powers and she didn't have to be the rescued princess but instead was a strong capable person on her own. I also liked how it seemed the more the movie went on, she kept adding people to her group/crew on her journey. Kind of like Magnificent Seven. One thing I didn't like was that it never really felt like their were enough stakes along the way. Characters kept making mistakes but nothing bad really happened or mattered for long enough to impact the characters in a bad way. The part that got me the most was in the very beginning scene where the tribes try to steal the orb and it falls and breaks and Chief Benja gets shot by an arrow in the leg and tries his hardest to save Raya from the Druun as they come back and start devouring everyone turning them to stone. I heard a lot of people say that he didn't need to sacrifice himself and throw Raya into the river to save her if he just kept running; and that he probably could have hopped more on the other leg. If you think about it though he probably made it pretty far even though he had that injury and couldn't go on any further. I admit that this part got me a little emotional but for many people that knew it was a Disney movie and not Pixar figured that it didn't mean everyone would stay as stone. I however thought back to the beginning of the film and remember that even the dragons stayed as stone meaning it was possible that these people might never turn back to normal. The other part that got me was also a part I had a hard time with was when Namaari first sees Sisu and then her actions later after she tells her mother. I felt that Sisu should have told her something or vice-versa but I guess she stayed in shock. Also when she told her mother and the mother already knew I really felt like her Mother was the bad guy of the film but when Raya gives Namaari her pendant back and sets up a meeting with her, I really felt like I knew what would happen next. Namaari's mother, Virana would have a bunch of guards show up and it would be a setup and Namaari wouldn't have known about it and it would be a time for her character to redeem herself. Instead Namaari pulls out a crossbow when she sees Raya has all the pieces of the orb and while Sisu tries to talk her down Raya takes a chance to attack Namaari and Sisu gets struck with an arrow and falls into the river to die. I could totally see this happening but what I couldn't predict was that Namaari would blame it all on Raya and say it was all her fault and none of this would of happened if it wasn't for her. This was like the stupidest line in the movie and made no sense to me because Namaari was the one when she was a girl who backstabbed Raya and betrayed her as soon as she found out the location of the orb. So the scene where Raya is super pissed and trying to kill her was very gratifying to me because it made a lot of sense that Raya was mad and didn't care about anything but revenge in that part. Namaari tells her that she's lost everything already and doesn't care, and Raya decides to help her friends with her orb piece. As the pieces start losing power and they are becoming surrounded by the Druun, what doesn't make sense to me is how Raya chooses to put her faith in Namaari and let's herself become consumed by the Druun. Her friends decide to follow her example and do the same and eventually when Namaari is the only one she's able to put the pieces of the orb back together vanquishing the Druun and bringing everyone back to life including Sisu and all the dragons. I don't know to me it just seemed like Namaari was pretty irredeemable after all that she had done and didn't seem like it was a sure thing and this kind of bothered me. It seemed like the movie had a message about wanting to be able to trust people but showed more and more how sometimes you can't so had me pretty mixed about what the movie was really about. Anyways I think I went off a little too long for this review but it's because it was a fun watch for me. So like I said, I give this movie a 7/10 and say it's a really good movie.