Mummies – Movie Review

TL;DR – While there are moments here, nothing saves this film that stumbles in all the most odd places.     

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is an end-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film.

the land of the living dead.

Mummies Review

Whenever you translate a film from one language to another, there is always a danger that something can get lost in translation. At least with an animated movie, you can edit the lip flaps and lose the synch issue that happens with dubbed films. Today we look at a movie that had its moments, but something did not make the jump from Spanish to English.

So to set the scene, thousands of years ago in Ancient Egypt, Thut (Joe Thomas) was racing around a stadium in a chariot. It is a brutal race with cheating and wheels full of spikes. Through some clever manoeuvring, Thut almost gets over for a win, that is, until his chariot disintegrates, sending him flying. Today, Lord Carnaby (Hugh Bonneville), a pompous archaeologist, is looking for the tomb of Princess Nefer (Eleanor Tomlinson). But when he opens the sarcophagus, he finds it empty. Because for some of the mummies, death was not the end.

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The Films from 2022 That Showed Off the Wonderful Glory of Animation

Animation is a form of filmmaking that is often related to second-tier status, something just for kids. This is by both the organisations giving out the awards and the guilds meant to promote their members’ work. However, they are not second-tier films; in many ways, animated films push the frontiers of filmmaking and what is possible, and they should be championed for their work.     

Animated films can be hand-drawn, stop/clay motion, or computer-generated, it does not matter, but all of them show the unique techniques of hundreds of artists that bring the work to life.

So without further ado, these animated films showed us the glory of animation in 2022. Be warned that there may be slight spoilers for the movies in question. Also, click on the banners/titles to go to the full reviews of each of the films 

The Nominees Are –

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Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio – Movie Review

TL;DR – A work of art that hits on every emotional level from start to finish.    

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this film.

Pinocchio but just a puppet.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio Review

Some names instantly intrigue you when you hear they are attached to a project. Which is entirely what happened when I heard that Guillermo del Toro was going to make a Pinocchio film. This alone was enough to interest me. Then you discover that it will be an animated film, not just that, a stop-motion animation film, and the masters of puppets, The Jim Henson Company, will produce it. Well, that is a combination that could not be missed, and I am fundamentally glad I watched it.   

 So to set the scene, master craftsman Geppetto (David Bradley) lost his only child Calro (Gregory Mann), during the Great War when he was only ten years old. A stray bomb destroyed the church that they were working in, and it is a loss that he has never recovered from. Sometime later, Sebastian J. Cricket (Ewan McGregor), a travelling cricket, came to live in the tree planted at Carlo’s grave and watched as a drunk Geppetto laments over his lost son. But as that is happening, some old spirits from the forest who typically ignore humanity hear the pleas of the grieving father and when he cuts down the pine tree that was planted at the grave to turn it into a puppet. So The Wood Sprite (Tilda Swinton) looks over the creation and then brings that puppet Pinocchio (Gregory Mann) to life.   

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Strange World – Movie Review

TL;DR – A visually stunning romp through an unknown world with danger at every turn    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ service that viewed this film

The airship descends into the unknown.

Strange World Review

There is always a particular joy when you sit down to an adventure film and get to be taken into a majestic new world with wonders at every turn. It is where danger and joy can switch in a moment or be intertwined. It is easy to give lip service to this genre without exploring the depths necessary to bring it off. But today, we look at a film that plums those depths both literally and figuratively.  

So to set the scene, we open in Avalonia, a beautiful land cut off from the rest of the world due to a ring of impassable mountains. Many people have tried to find a route, but all have failed, and most of them gave their lives in the process. But one family, The Clades, decided to buck that trend as father Jager (Dennis Quaid) and son Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal) fight through every obstacle to find a way through the mountains. However, one day when finding the way through the mountains, Searcher finds a green plant brimming with energy that could be Avalonia’s future. The two fight, and Jaeger walks into the icy gloom alone. Twenty-five years later. Searcher has married Meridian (Gabrielle Union), and they have a son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White) and make their lives farming and selling Pando. But when the Pando starts dying off, Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu), the president of Avalonia, arrives at the farm to go on an expedition to discover why, and Searcher, son of Jaeger, gets roped in, as does a stowaway or two.

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DC League of Super-Pets (Super Pets) – Movie Review

TL;DR – A generally fun film, even if it does lack some of the substance of its contemporaries    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid and post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid to watch this film

Krypton pokes Clark Kent.

DC League of Super-Pets Review

To say that DC has had a rough couple of years at the movies would probably be a tremendous understatement. In the last couple of years, we have entered a phase where it has felt like they were throwing everything at the wall, seeing what would stick. Well, when you do that, eventually something will land, and today we look at just such a film.

So to set the scene, as Krypton starts collapsing, Jor-El (Alfred Molina) and Lara (Lena Headey) stuff their son into an escape pod so that one person may escape their doom. But as the capsule closes, the little child’s puppy jumps in unexpectedly. Many years later, on Earth, that little boy Kal-El is now Clark Kent, better known as Superman (John Krasinski), who fights crime with his trusty companion Krypto (Dwayne Johnson). However, when Lulu (Kate McKinnon), an old lab guinea pig of Lex Luthor (Marc Maron), captures some Orange Kryptonite and talks all the superheroes hostage. Krypto and a ragtag team of animals, Ace (Kevin Hart), PB (Vanessa Bayer), Merton McSnurtle (Natasha Lyonne), and Chip (Diego Luna), have to fight back and save Metropolis.     

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Puss in Boots: The Last Wish – Movie Review

TL;DR – A fun delight of a film that goes hard thanks to the charisma of Antonio Banderas   

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is something after the credits, but you do not need to stay for it

Disclosure – I was invited to a screening of this film

Goldilocks and the three bears.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish Review

When I think back, there will always be a soft spot in my heart for the Shrek series, even the later films that did not quite hit the same mark. The characters and world were always a delight as they took what was familiar and made a modern twist to it. One of those characters that shined was Puss in Boots, and today we see if they hold a whole film together with the sheer force of will that is Antonio Banderas’ charisma.

So to set the scene, Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) is galivanting around the world and is having a ball drinking, dualling, and having many musical interludes. In one such town, he usurps a Governor’s mansion and would have gotten away with it had it not been for a forest giant and a misplaced bell. Puss is on his last life, which should not be a problem until the Big Bad Wolf (Wagner Moura) arrives, wanting to take that final life. Running from the threat, Puss becomes an average lap cat which almost works until he hears of a fallen star and a hope that the one final wish could restore his lives. But he is not the only one out for that wish.

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Drifting Home (Ame wo Tsugeru Hyôryû Danchi/雨を告げる漂流団地) – Movie Review

TL;DR – A fascinating look back to the power that a home can have over us, more than just four walls and a roof.   

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this film.

The clouds over an ocean.

Drifting Home Review

At the end of last year, I realised that I had not watched enough animated films in 2021 and that needed to change in 2022. I think I succeeded on that front, but when I looked back, I realised that there was one hole in that catchup, Anime. Today I start fixing that blind spot by diving into a film full of mystery.    

 So to set the scene, in town in Japan at the onset of summer, there is an apparently haunted apartment block about to be torn down. While the old building is being removed to put something better, it is still considered ‘home’ for Natsume Touchi (Asami Seto) and Kosuke Kumagai (Mutsumi Tamura), who grew up there. However, since they moved out, the two have drifted apart as they went through separate lives. One day before they tear down the buildings, Kosuke and a group of boys visit one of the buildings and find Natsume hiding in their old apartment. As more school students show up, a concern about a mysterious boy called Noppo (Ayumu Murase), whom no one has met before but who lives in the building, raises the tension. It is all the building blocks for an argument between Natsume and Kosuke that had been percolating for months. As the two fight, Natsume slips off the roof, but before she hits the ground, a storm envelops the apartments, and the group finds themselves in the middle of the ocean, all alone.

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Lightyear – Movie Review

TL;DR – While a solid entry, it did feel like the narrative push to the end didn’t land    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid, an end credit scene, and a post-end credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ service that viewed this film.

Buzz looks into the reflection on his helmet.

Lightyear Review

I have made no secret over the years just how much I love the Toy Story movies. Toy Story 3 comes in at number 3 in my all-time favourite animated films, and I even thought Toy Story 4 worked in the context of being an epilogue for the series. But the question is, Can they turn Toy Story from a series of excellent films into a bonified franchise? Well, with today’s film, we are about to find out.

So to set the scene, in 1995, Andy got a Buzz Lightyear toy for his birthday, but this is the film’s story that inspired the toy. This means in uncharted space 4.2 million lightyears from Earth, The Star Command SC-01 exploration vessel with a crew of 1200 is looking for uncharted planets to … well, to chart. Captain Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) diverts the vessel’s course after finding a new world, and when they land, the rangers start to explore the planet. When they get attacked by vines and bugs, they must evacuate before the ship is destroyed. But Buzz needs to save the rookie (Bill Hader) from death as Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) reboots the ship, and while they almost escape, they crash the ship and have to make an emergency landing. When testing a new propulsion device to escape the planet and go home, Buzz jumps four years into the future, feeling guilty for stranding everyone, he keeps making jumps until one day he comes back, and the colony is occupied by Zyclops robots led by Zurg (James Brolin).

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The Sea Beast – Movie Review

TL;DR – You will probably see the shape of this film for the first couple of minutes, but that does not take away how delightful the time is as we go diving through a world of monsters.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this movie.

Red stares down the crew.

The Sea Beast Review

I think animation, especially animation focused on younger audiences, gets a bad rap. Sure, there is a lot of nonsense out there made to fill time, but that does not mean that an animated film directed toward children will be inherently bad. There are films where you can see the artistry and craft that have gone into every moment. Well, today we look at just such a film with the nautical adventure The Sea Best.  

So to set the scene, for over a hundred years, there has been a war across the seas of this world. Great sea beasts stalked the oceans taking ships to a watery grave, even swiping people from the coastline as they were tending their gardens. To fight this menace, the royalty of Three Bridges hired great hunters to take the fight to monsters and keep the waters safe. The Hunters live by a clear code that all must follow, even those on the most famous hunting ship, The Inevitable. Under their Captain Crow (Jared Harris) and his forebears, they have kept the seas clear, with only the great red beast alluding them. Well, the King (Jim Carter) and Queen (Doon Mackichan) have become tired of paying Hunters to kill the beasts, so they make their own ship, The Imperator, to do the work for them. Seeing their future fall apart, Jacob Holland (Karl Urban) makes a deal with the royals, a race, and if The Inevitable gets the sea beast before The Imperator, well then, they keep working with the Hunters.     

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Minions: The Rise of Gru – Movie Review

TL;DR – While it might not hit as hard as its predecessors, it was still a joy to be back in this world.     

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film

Gru and the Minions in the one bed.

Minions: The Rise of Gru Review

This may be due to my never having children, much to my mother’s chagrin, but I have always liked the Despicable Me films. Gru (Steve Carell) discovering who he is through the prism of his daughter’s love and then becoming a better person for it. Well, that is some compelling stuff. Heck, I even like those quirky little minions always up to mischief. I think I was the only one who laughed at their cameo in Mortal Engines. I am sure that would have changed if I had been subjected to them time after time. But coming in here, I thought that Despicable Me 3 might have started to show the limits of this story, and I wondered could a prequel help?

So to set the scene, it is 1976, and a very different set of villains torment the globe, which the film wastes no time showing as we see Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson) race through town, evading the authorities at every turn. In the lair of The Vicious 6, she reveals to their leader Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin) a map to an ancient stone pendent of power. Well, one trip to Asia later, one betrayal, and one Bond-inspired title sequence later, there is now a free spot open in The Vicious 6, and a young Gru wants in.

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