Lightyear: Back In The 90s This Would Have Been A Good Idea

2.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The film that inspired Andy to buy Buzz in Toy Story.

I think this film makes a pretty clear cut argument for how Disney has slowly corrupted and ruined Pixar, forcing the studio to make sequels, prequels and spin-offs that don’t need to exist and to sacrifice their heart and soul in doing it.

I am not going to say this film is awful and needless all the way through because that isn’t true, it does have good moments here and there, but by and large the biggest issue here is that this film never justifies its existence.

I thought the writing was exceptionally weak, which is a shock coming from Pixar. This can be seen with lazy storytelling choices such as having the important crystal be destroyed but then moments later they just have a new one and can go back out into space, with no mention as to how that is. Moreover, the character journey of Buzz having to learn to trust other people and then having an older version of him be the villain of the piece just feels insultingly obvious and on the nose. I understand that this film is for kids so it is not going to have the best writing, but come on this is just so lazy.

Chris Evans is fairly fine as Buzz Lightyear, you forget it is him after a while and the difference between his voice and Tim Allen’s become less noticeable over time.

Overall, fairly meh. Nothing special.

Pros.

It is watchable

It has a few sweet moments

It is fairly short

Cons.

It doesn’t justify its existence

The writing is poor

It is very forgettable

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Bob’s Burgers The Movie: A Cinema Worthy Event?

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The Belcher family gets wrapped up in a murder investigation.

I am a big Bob’s Burgers fan and have watched the series all the way through many times over, as such when I heard about the show getting the movie treatment I was excited and thought it would be a significant event like The Simpsons Movie was. However, upon seeing it I am left feeling mixed.

My major issue with this film is that it didn’t feel like anything special to me. Unlike the previously mentioned Simpsons Movie it didn’t up the scale or do something that couldn’t be done on the small screen. The premise for this film could have worked well as a two or three part episode maybe, but for the series first film I just felt it was underwhelming.

On a more positive note, something I did enjoy about this film was how it gave us a deeper look into the series lore and we were given more information about some of the series big mysteries, such as how Louise, voiced by Kristen Schaal, came by her bunny ears. I also thought it was a nice touch to finally pay off the Tina, voiced by Dan Mintz, Jimmy Jr, voiced by H. Jon Benjamin romance that has run the course of the series. I hope these both play into the series going forward and aren’t just ignore for the sake of maintaining the shows status quo.

Overall, a fun time but maybe lower your expectations going in.  

Pros.

It is fun

It develops the series lore

It pays off one of the shows central romances

Cons.

It doesn’t feel special or like anything that couldn’t have been done on TV

The humour feels weaker

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The Queen’s Corgi: Not Suitable For Kids

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The Queen’s priced corgi Rex, voiced by Jack Whitehall, goes missing and must find his way back to the Palace.

In many ways this is not a film for kids. There are a lot of adult jokes and references that kids just won’t understand. Whilst I do enjoy this films lambasting of Trump, I think more broadly that this films comedy should have been toned down. For lack of a better terms these anthropopathic dogs are horny and make constant sex jokes which feels uncomfortable at times. Couple this with a sequence in which Rex is being hunted down by Trump’s female dog in order for the two of them to breed, which Rex, does not want, and is somewhat assaulted and you can see there is a lot of bad taste issues here.

The film as a whole is fairly by the numbers, it is a plot that you have seen many times before with cliched characters that you will have met many times over the years especially if you watch a lot of animated films. I would say that this film approaches so bad it is good range, but doesn’t quite get there as the bad taste stuff holds it back rather than adding any sort of charm to it. Ultimately you are left questioning the screen-play writer.

Overall, a strange film that most certainly isn’t for children.

Pros.

The Trump parody  

The Queen and Prince Phillips relationship

Cons.

The sex jokes

The icky and troublesome sequence with Trump’s dog

It is aggressively by the numbers  

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Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers: The Return Of Monstrous Sonic

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Yet another classic Disney property gets the reboot treatment.

I will preface this review by saying I did not grow up watching Chip an’ Dale and that this film was my first introduction to the characters. In that regard I felt like I understood who everyone was and what was going on so I appreciated that, there is nothing worse than watching a reboot and being entirely lost because it was based off an obscure property from a few decades ago.

Moreover, I did think this film had a few solid laughs, I enjoyed Ugly Sonic, voiced by Tim Robinson, and thought the film got a hell of a lot better when he was in it, I also thought J. K Simmons proved once again how great his comedic timing is and really shone as Captain Putty. The human characters fare far worse and really don’t need to be there at all, if KiKi Layne’s police officer character wasn’t in the film it wouldn’t really change it much at all.

I thought that the story structure and character arcs were a little generic and also far too overly familiar. I understand that expecting quality writing from an animated film aimed at children might be too much to ask for but I am still going to point it out.

Overall, it was a slightly above average film with a few good laughs.

Pros.

Ugly Sonic

Simmons
Samberg is always likeable

Cons.

Layne

The characters across the board feel generic and fairly two dimensional

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The Sonic Shared Universe: The Real Challenge To The MCU

Written by Luke Barnes

In this piece I want to talk about The Sonic franchise and how I think it is the only shared universe that might rival Marvel, in time.

So for those of you that haven’t seen the Sonic sequel yet you might want to look away now, as there will be spoilers in this article.

The Dark Universe, The DCEU, The Power Rangers Universe all failed, in several cases horribly. Now why they failed is up for debate, but most agree that they either didn’t need to exist or were trying too hard to compete with the MCU and so rushed things out of the gate. I don’t think Sonic has either of these issues as firstly there is a strong fan base, as has been reflected by the box office for both films, but also the creatives seem to be in good communication with the fans and listen to what they want. Moreover,  the Sonic films have not rushed to have all their characters appear on screen together as such audiences will have to wait a few years before they get their first taste of Shadow. In other climates at different studios this would have already happened, we would have got twelve spin off films and fifty streaming series to set everything up but for the most part Paramount has been fairly sparing, the most we are getting is a Knuckles tv show.

It is for these reasons that I think the Sonic universe can rival the MCU, as they still have a lot of cool and crucially popular characters left to introduce and there are a number of projects and places where this universe could go next, it is quite exciting. I am obviously a big Sonic fan, I have enjoyed the games, the animated series and now the films so I want them to keep coming and maybe that is making me look at this shared universe future with pre-emptive rose tinted glasses, but hey I think the Knuckles show will be cool and I’d love a Shadow prequel so I won’t be complaining when we get them.

We can all just hope that Paramount keeps up the quality, the heart and the fan commitment that  has made the films so far good.

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The Good Dinosaur: Pixar’s Darkest Day

1.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young and very American dinosaur, voiced by Raymond Ochoa, goes on a journey of self-discovery after being washed down river.

I won’t go after the voice actor for the lead dinosaur, he was a kid at the time and as such it is low hanging fruit, however, it was a terrible performance. If someone else of more experience had voiced the lead dinosaur then maybe it would have been better than what we got, which was incredibly bland.

Indeed, lifeless and dull are two words that describe this film down to a tee. In the past I have said that I prefer films that are bad to ones that are boring and this is a perfect example of that. This film is so deeply by the numbers that it is neither good nor bad just incredibly forgettable.

The story of the film was likewise played out, you have seen this before it takes the concept nowhere new and has very little fun with it either. Think about the heart and soul of the Land Before Time films and imagine the same sort of idea but without any of the charm and you have this film.

Overall, certainly the worst of Pixar.

Pros.

It is watchable

Sam Elliot does a good job

Cons.

It is bland

It is generic

It doesn’t take the concept anywhere new

It lacks any kind of charm or heart

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Chicken Little: Zach Braff’s Illustrious Career

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A horribly rendered chicken, voiced by Zach Braff, thinks the sky is falling down and no one believes him.

This is one of those films that you look back on it now and ask how did this ever get made? It is the sort of film that only stoners could enjoy, as those of us who attempt to watch this sober have to deal with the frankly disturbing animation that belongs in the deepest recess of the uncanny valley or perhaps the lowest levels of hell.

Truly the animation is a barrier to entry. You can’t really afford the argument of oh that was years ago and CG animation was far less developed, because though there might be some truth to that it ignores the fact that Toy Story came out years before it and looks a million times better.

If you are brave enough to carry on past the awful animation then you will get caught in the reference zone, wherein this film will reference every single other Disney film in the back catalogue, or at least it feels like it does. There is nothing wrong with a few meta jokes here and there or even a lot if done right, but here it is just done for the sake of memberberies, with the references occurring at a speed that only a child could keep up with.

Overall, a very bad early attempt at CG animation by Disney.

Pros.

It is watchable

There is a so bad it is good quality to it

Cons.

The animation

The references

Braff

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Sonic 2: Idris Elba Redeems Himself For Cats

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Sonic, voiced by Ben Schwartz, returns this time caught up in a chaotic adventure centring around the Master Emerald, an object of cosmic power that ties back to Sonic’s origins.

This is everything you would want from a Sonic sequel, it is more of the same fun from the first film, it has a lot of heart and warmth to it and it introduces a bunch of new characters which will be very familiar to all those who have played the games.

In that vein, I really liked what this film did with both Tails, voiced by Colleen O’ Shaughnessey and Knuckles, voiced by Idris Elba. I thought both new characters were introduced well and given an importance to justify them being there rather than them just feeling forced in for the sake of it. Knuckles turn from villain to hero was blindingly obvious, especially for those who have played the games, but you don’t mind it because once he joins the team him and Sonic have a really good back and forth.

Moreover, Jim Carrey kills it once again as Dr Robotnik, stealing almost every scene he is in and having what looks like a lot of fun doing it. If this truly is Carrey’s last film then he is going out on a high note, though it is a shame as if this film gets another sequel it would feel as though it was missing something if Carrey didn’t make an appearance.

The James Marsden human sub-plot has its moments and does build to something resembling relevancy, however, it is the weakest part of the film for sure and definitely goes on for longer than it needs to.

Overall, just as good as the first film if not better. Strongly recommend.

Pros.

Tails and Knuckles

Carrey

The heart

It is a lot of fun

The post credits scene, which you definitely need to stick around for

Cons.

The wedding side plot drags on for far too long

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Cheaper By The Dozen: An Advertisement For Birth Control

0.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

What the hell is this? Who asked for or wanted this? Is Martin Scorsese right is cinema dying?

Everyone knew this was going to be bad, who wanted a reboot of Cheaper By The Dozen after all, but no one knew just how bad it was going to be.

Firstly right off the bat this film reads like a diversity checklist, there is nothing wrong with having a diverse cast, but there is everything wrong with turning it into a checklist where these characters only exist to fit a representational quota. This is furthered by the fact that a lot of these characters read as racial stereotypes, and feel so far over the top that quite frankly it is offensive.

Secondly, this film is the most cringey, out of touch film I have seen in the last few years. The script reads as though it was written by a group of executives shouting out trendy buzz words they have learnt on twitter, and through the one time their grandkid showed them TikTok. Speaking of this film is clearly sponsored by TikTok as the film makes constant mention of it in nearly every scene. An example of everything wrong with the writing of this film can be boiled down to one bit of dialogue early in the film wherein the narrator explains that their dogs are called ‘Bark Obama and Joe Biten’, that is the claibur of film we are dealing with here.

Finally, the very worse crime of this film is that it has no reason to exist. It does nothing new with the property, all it does is rehash and try and recapture what the Steve Martin films did all those years ago, this highlights just how creatively bankrupt Disney and Hollywood both are.

Overall, Disney pumps out trash like this to distract you from the fact that they are removing any trace of LGBTQ+ identity from their releases and are filming near forced labour camps in China.

Pros.

Zach Braff is getting some work

Cons.

The diversity checklist approach

There is no need for this to exist

It feels cynical and hollow

It is cringe

All of the references to TikTok

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Turning Red: No One Fears This Hormone Monster

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young girl, voiced by Rosalie Chiang, confronts her coming womanhood through the form of an ancient curse that turns her into a giant red panda.

I will admit this film was a lot better than I was expecting it to be. In many ways I was expecting something more akin to Wish Dragon, a blatant effort to pander to the Chinese box office with a sprinkling of pro party propaganda forced in, usually as a means to secure a release. However, this film stayed well clear of that and instead stuck to what Pixar do well telling stories about parent-child strife and familial disfunction.

I thought the narrative and message of this film was beautiful, the notion of embracing change and your coming hormones whilst also trying to do right by those you love was conveyed in such an expert way that it would be impossible for you to feel nothing at it. Furthermore, I think it is highly commendable that this film tackled coming of age issues that are often not talked about, especially not in animation, I think it is vital we see more films like this that approach the same old story structures but from different, less-covered, points of view.

My only issue with this film is that there are a few lines that feel quite cringe, these are particularly present in Mei’s, voiced by Chiang, introductory scene. This came off to me as an ageing writers room struggling to write for a youthful modernish voice, luckily as the film goes on this becomes less of an issue.

Overall, a sweet film that reminds us all of the power of Pixar.

Pros.

The message

The emotion

The coming of age journey

The characters

Cons.

A few cringe lines early in the film

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