Rick And Morty: Night Family

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The family program their sleeping selves to do all of the things they don’t want to do.

I think this was probably the best episode so far of the new season. I liked the premise and thought that it mixed in a nice amount of horror into the usual science fiction formula, Night Summer, played by Spencer Grammar, was especially creepy.

I also enjoyed the bond between Jerry and Night Jerry, both voiced by Chris Parnell, I thought that the relationship between the two was nice to see and moreover, it is just nice to see someone treat Jerry like an actual human being for once.

The downside of this episode for me was that it all just boiled down to one big car chase which whilst entertaining feels like the most mediocre way to end things. What’s more the whole thing ends up feeling redundant as in the end the Night family win anyway, which further adds to the powering down of Rick, voiced by Justin Roiland, this season.

Overall, a fun episode but not the best the show has ever done.

Pros.

The horror elements

The friendship between Jerry and Night Jerry

It is a good premise

A number of funny moments

Cons.

The ending feels a bit lackluster

Rick is far too easily beaten

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Rick and Morty: Bethic Twinstinct

2.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Beth, voiced by Sarah Chalke, begins an affair with her clone and the rest of the family try and process it.

I think that for a while now Rick and Morty has become more and more mean spirited and depressing, I know there has always been an element of it in the show, but now it is getting hard to watch. The way non-space Beth treats her husband her is really quite unpleasant and makes the whole thing hard to watch.

I enjoyed the Summer, voiced by Spencer Grammar, and Morty, voiced by Justin Roiland, b plot slightly more. I thought the idea of hyper realistic videogames was cool and I enjoyed how the episode showed them reacting to their mum’s affair. I thought they became great stand-ins for the audience here.

Overall, mostly just a depressing episode.

Pros.

The videogame stuff was interesting

Summer and Morty had some good moments

There were a few funny jokes

Cons.

It feels mean spirited

It is quite uncomfortable viewing

It isn’t enjoyable

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Rick And Morty: Rick, A Mort Well Lived

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Morty, voiced by Justin Roiland, gets stuck inside a videogame and Rick, also voiced by Roiland, has to go in and save him. Meanwhile Summer, voiced by Spencer Grammar, has to do a Die Hard.

I thought this was better than the first episode of the series, but was still fairly flawed in a number of ways. During the video game sequence when the various different parts of Morty decided whether they wanted to leave the game and return to the real world with Rick things got far too philosophical. I thought the idea of the using this moment to force Rick to confront how he felt about his grandson and show some warmth was a nice touch and did manage to save this side of the episode from being a total mess.

Summer doing a Die Hard was definitely the highlight of the episode for me as it was fun. Far too much recently Rick And Morty as a show has delved into deep emotional waters whilst ignoring the fun that made the show so watchable in the early days. If you just have a bunch of heavy storylines then it quickly becomes a bummer to watch. In this respect I enjoyed the dumb fun of seeing Summer mow down a group of alien terrorists and thought that it made for a nice break from the heavier elements within the episode.

Overall, a lot better than the first episode, but still not great.

Pros.

Summer doing a Die Hard

Rick saying how he feels about Morty

The ending

Cons.

It gets a bit too philosophical at times  

The pacing

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Rick And Morty: Solaricks

1/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Rick And Morty return with such a low effort whimper that it makes you question why they even returned at all.

Honestly this episode was crap. I was looking forward to the new season starting and was hoping for a return to more breezy one off episodes rather than the heavy cannon focus we got towards the end of last season and boy was I let down.

This episode basically just goes over everything that happened in the season finale again just in case you had forgotten. That is all it does, no new adventure, some lame portal gun shenanigans is stuffed in as a b plot but even that doesn’t go far enough to be interesting. We get the tease of the evil Rick clone that killed our Rick’s wife and kid being out in the open, and the episode suggests that maybe our Rick will kill him but this just peters out into nothing.

In addition to all of those issues the episode is also majorly depressing and not particularly fun to watch in any way. The episode’s dialogue is basically just the characters saying how bad things are now and how they are sorry for letting things get this way which feels more aptly like the writers acknowledging their fault.

Overall, a terrible start to the season.

Pros.

Space Beth returns

Cons.

It is depressing

It just rehashes the last episode’s plot

It feels tired

It starts the season off on a bad note

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Luck: Mindless Slop That Isn’t Worth Your Kids Time

1/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Unlucky Sam, voiced by Eva Nobelzada, discovers the world of luck.

I have written before about the fact that often animated films aimed at families and children don’t feel the need to try to be good or to match the standards that people would expect from films with the idea that children will eat up any old slop, and this really does embody that idea.

In many ways this film feels dead behind the eyes and truly soulless, there is nothing of meaningful substance here, instead it just went through the motions and churned out tired fantasy tropes that we have seen again and again. They also force in some songs for who knows what reason, probably because a focus group recommended it, and in these song and dance numbers we get another good luck at again studio executives trying to pander to the youth of today in the most cringe way.

I think the vocal performances across the board were nearly consistently terrible, with Nobezada sound bored and asleep at the wheel with the line delivery of low battery robot and Simon Pegg doing his best Mike Myers as Shrek impression. I am a huge fan of Pegg as an actor but I question why he was cast here, he really doesn’t bring much to the film and someone possessing a real Scottish accent who is also a talented voice actor say someone like James McAvoy could have done a much better job of it.

Overall, don’t subject your kids to this, they won’t look at you the same way afterwards.

Pros.

It is pretty bad but it is not unwatchable or offensive

Cons.

Nobelzada

Pegg

The story is stupid and contrived

The songs

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DC League Of Super-Pets: The Horniest Turtle You Will Ever Meet

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Krypto, voiced by Dwayne Johnson and a rag tag group of other pets must come together to save the Justice League after they are bested by Lex Luthor’s Guinea Pig, voiced by Kate McKinnon.

I think this film is very watchable and has a lot of good elements within it, do I think this film is going to set the world on fire? No, obviously not, but I think there are worse ways to spend a few hours.

With the exception of one character that I will get to later, most of the characters are fairly one note of forgettable, and their respective voice actors don’t do all that much to liven up proceedings. Natasha Lyonne does her best as a horny turtle and lands a few laughs but even she can’t save this film on a performance front. Hell even Keanu Reeves himself, the man who can single-handedly save any movie, as Batman isn’t enough. Those are words I never thought I would have to write.  

The one exception to this however is Kevin Hart as Ace. The leader of the stray pack and a dog who was chucked out of his home after saving a little girl from falling down the stairs has a massive amount of depth and heart put into his character and Hart really delivers on a warm and tender yet also funny vocal performance. I think truly that this is Kevin Hart’s film and that he outshines all of his co-stars and forms a soon to be beloved animated character.

I also enjoyed all the reference in this film to other films such as the throwaway Warriors bit. Though most audiences of this film won’t have watched that, I found it to be funny. Moreover, on the whole I found myself laughing quite a few times during this film and do think the humour works quite well.

Overall, a watchable and somewhat entertaining animated film with one really strong character, sadly the rest of the characters aren’t quite on the mark.

Pros.

Hart

It is funny

The references

The ending

Cons.

The voice cast is mostly wasted

It has pacing issues

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South Park Streaming Wars Part 2

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Randy, voiced by Trey Parker, must find the duality within himself in order to save the world from Manbearpig and to finally end the streaming wars.

I think this was better than the last special but still not great. I liked that they acknowledge that the character of Randy has become one note, and frankly annoying, and I was even pleased to see that they were going to change him back to how he used to be before he became the weed guy and was an actual character. However, then the ending comes along as seems to dump all over that idea suggesting that more weed Randy is to come, oh joy.

Moreover, though I liked the meta commentary on streaming wars and Matt Stone and Trey Parker using the special as a means to complain about their own experiences, I think that the formatting of the whole thing was off and that it illustrates perfectly how South Park works far better as a disconnected series, rather than interconnected specials. I would really like them to go back to how the show used to be before they forced in serialisation.

The comedy this time around was also marginally better than in the last special and I found I was laughing more throughout. I am also glad they greatly reduced Cartman’s role down as he was really quite annoying in the previous part of this event, verging on loathsome.

Overall, better than the last Streaming Wars but maybe they should stop with the specials soon as they are becoming long in the tooth.

Pros.

It is funnier

It acknowledges what went wrong with Randy

The characters feel more likeable then they did in the first part

Cons.

The ending and Randy’s future

It would have worked better a one off episode of the series rather than as a big flashy special     

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The Sea Beast: An Underwater How To Train Your Dragon

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

In a world of Hunters and Sea Beasts, the two sides finally realise that the real evil in the world are corrupt monarchies that pit them against each other.

I thought that this was one of the best Netflix originals that I have seen in some time. I enjoyed the world and the characters tremendously and thought that it had a lot to say about life and about the current state of our own world. I also enjoyed the fact that every time Karl Urban spoke he reminded me of his character from The Boys, the accents are basically the same, that gave me some happy flashbacks.

The film as a whole has a strong How To Train Your Dragon’s vibe, with some plot elements feeling almost beat for beat the same. However, where in other instances I would lambast this film for its lack of creativity and originality I actually like the elements here on display despite the fact they are so obviously copied over. I thought that the sea beast that we meet are all quite memorable and cute looking; Netflix really should start selling more merch from their films and shows.

My issues with the film mainly come from a pacing perspective as I think this film could do with being about twenty minutes shorter as there is a lot of needless bloat wherein not much happens around the second act, which could be removed to the film’s betterment.  

Overall, fun but not perfect.

Pros.

The ending

The sea beasts themselves

It is a lot of fun

Urban

Cons.

The pacing

It is very familiar

It doesn’t service all its characters and a lot of them remain undeveloped

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The Simpsons Movie: The Ending We Deserved?

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The Simpson family are forced out of Springfield after seemingly dooming it, however they of course come together to try and save the town.

I remember watching this in the cinema when it first came out and it was a huge deal. I enjoyed it a lot then, but my question was would it hold up now after all these years. In short it does, there are one or two lazy elements here and there but for the most part a lot of what made and makes, yes I like modern Simpsons, so great is fully on display here.

I think the best thing about this film is how far they push the concept. They go all out in a way that they simply couldn’t do on an episode of the show or even in a two-parter, and show us things we have never seen before in the show. When you compare this to other series that have also translated to the big screen like the Bob’s Burgers movie you see the difference between what is theatrical and what isn’t.

Moreover, the Simpson family and their various dynamics are kept at the heart of this film and I truly think that is why it is as good as it is. Rather than try and spread its focus amongst a bunch of supporting character, as newer episodes do, this film keeps the focus on the family and that really helps it to thrive. I particularly think the Homer, voiced by Dan Castellaneta, and Bart, voiced by Nancy Cartwright, storyline is quite interesting as it advances the relationship between the two characters into an area we haven’t seen them before where Bart seemingly truly abandons Homer.

My only real criticism of this film is that the writing is a little obvious and crucially convenient. Whereas early seasons of the show would go out of there way to be clever and even subversive, everything that happens here is incredibly signposted and obvious and as such the surprise is lacking.

Overall, a strong ending for a show that would go on for many more seasons after it.

Pros.

The Homer/Bart storyline

The scope

The comedy

It is very quotable

Cons.

The writing is a little predictable and dumb

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Minions The Rise Of Gru: A Surprising Good Time

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Telling the tale of Gru’s early life, as he tries to become a member of the Vicious Six.

Full disclosure I did not like the first Minions film, so I went into this with incredibly low expectations, but found myself pleasantly surprised. To my shock the film was actually quite funny, it had me laughing on several occasions, and I also thought it was mostly sweet throughout as well, I liked the emotional core of the story.

Moreover, the more gimmicky and irritating elements of Illumination’s style, the dumb jokes and over abuse of license music, didn’t strike me as being so egregious here though they did still show up  on occasion.

The minions themselves each had their own moments to shine but I would say the real stand out was Steve Carell’s performance as Gru. Carell really is the heart and soul of this franchise and I would say that without him this film wouldn’t have worked even half as well, I think seeing his character at this younger stage really allows for us to explore a different side to him and see him in a whole new light.

Overall, a welcome treat that is both funny and sweet.

Pros.

Carell

The ending

The minions themselves, especially when they get powered up

The humour and the emotion

Cons.

A few little irritating nostalgia baiting moments

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