Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that hits pretty much the same as the first, but I am not sure the first film was good enough to rest on your laurels    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

Knuckles walks through a coin portal

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Review

The first Sonic the Hedgehog film was one of those moments where you could tell that there was a good movie and idea out there, but that it had been so cluttered that it was hard to find. To let a spoiler out of the bag, I do think the sequel improves in some areas. However, on the whole, what we get here is more of the same than any actual development.

So to set the scene, Sonic (Ben Schwartz) has been living with Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie Wachowski (Tika Sumpter) for a while now, but secretly at night, he goes out to Seattle to try and fight crime. Tom is concerned that he is not mature enough for that, but as a test of faith, he leaves Sonic home alone while they go to Hawaii for the wedding of Maddie’s sister Rachel (Natasha Rothwell) to her new beau Randall (Shemar Moore). It is all going fine, but for the fact that on the Mushroom Planet, Doctor Robotnik (Jim Carrey) found a way to send a pulse into space, which summoned the Echidna with the fists and a feud with Sonic, Knuckles (Idris Elba) to the planet.

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The Bad Guys – Movie Review

TL;DR –  While it is not doing anything ground-breaking, strong animation and voice casting means that this was a blast from start to finish.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

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

The Bad Guys. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

The Bad Guys Review

If there is one genre of film that I typically enjoy, it is a good heist film. I love the setup, the planning, the twists, the betrayals, and the score at the end. I don’t mind if you are going for a hard heist film or a more loosey-goosey affair. So, I like my Ocean’s 11 and my Ocean’s 13. Well, when I was invited to a screening of a new animated heist film based on a beloved children’s book, I had a feeling I was going to have a good time, and I was right.

So to set the scene, we open with a heist in progress as Mr Wolf (Sam Rockwell) introduces us to himself, and as the car chase continues, the rest of the crew. We have Mr Snake (Marc Maron), a safecracker. Mr Piranha (Anthony Ramos), the muscle. Mr Shark (Craig Robinson), a master of disguise, and Ms Tarantula (Awkwafina), the tech wizard. As they celebrate Mr Snake’s birthday, they wonder what their next heist could be? Maybe the Golden Dolphin, the most un-stealable treasure in the city.

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Turning Red – Movie Review

TL;DR – A true delight of a film on an animation and narrative level.    

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ subscription that viewed this movie.

Turning Red. Image Credit: Disney+.

Turning Red Review

When it comes to depicting stories outside of its cultural expertise, the Disney Corporation has had a mixed track record. Even when trying to do something in good faith, they stumble. But they took their time making sure Moana worked, and then Bao showed they could nail a complicated narrative if they supported creatives with their vision. When I heard the writer/director of Bao is making a feature film, well, I had to check that out.

So to set the scene, Meilin “Mei” Lee (Rosalie Chiang) is a 13-year-old girl living in 2002 Toronto, Canada. She has become an adult, at least that is what she thinks, and has started making her mark in the world. Mei has three friends Miriam (Ava Morse), Abby (Hyein Park), and Priya (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), and together they make a core group trying to survive high school and live with joy with their mutual love of 4*Town. Mei works with her mother Ming (Sandra Oh) at their family’s temple that venerates their ancestors, including Sun Yee, who was famously friends with animals, including red pandas, which is quite a coincidence when Mei wakes up one morning to find herself turned into a giant red panda.   

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The Films from 2021 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 that are meant to promote their member’s work. However, they are not second-tier films, and in many ways, it is the animated films that push the frontiers of filmmaking and what is possible, and they should be championed for the work they do.     

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

So without further ado, these are the animated films that showed us the glory of animation in 2021. Be warned that there may be slight spoilers ahead for the films in question. Also, click on the banners/titles to go to the full reviews of each of the films 

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Luca – Movie Review

TL;DR –  A film that is a pure delight from start to finish.  

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ subscription that viewed this movie.

Luca. Image Credit: Disney.

Luca Review

We have a longing for those moments in our childhood when everything seemed to come together. I think this is an almost universal drive in people, the place and location might be different, but that drive is still the same. Today we look at a film that captures this drive and crafts it into a narrative that will delight.

So to set the scene, once evening off the coast of the Italian Riviera, two fishermen decide to fish close to Isola del Mare even though the reputation that monsters surround it, which was sort of true because around the island live a village of sea people. Among the sea people/monsters is Luca Paguro (Jacob Tremblay), who lives with his family herding goatfish. However, one day in the fields, a human approached collecting the flotsam on the bottom of the ocean. Luca runs but soon finds that this is not a human but another sea person called Alberto Scorfano (Jack Dylan Grazer). Alberto lives on the surface in a tower because once a sea person leaves the water, they can turn into a human when they dry out. 

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Star Trek: Lower Decks: Season 2 – TV Review

TL;DR – A joy to watch each week and one of the strongest full seasons of Star Trek we have gotten in a while.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Star Trek: Lower Decks: Season 2. Image Credit: Amazon Prime.

Star Trek: Lower Decks Review

When Star Trek: Lower Decks was first announced, some understandable eyebrows were raised. The last animated show was quietly ditched from canon, and a new show animated in the style of Rick and Morty or Solar Opposites was an unknown quantity. Also, some sectors of the Star Trek fandom are not really known for embracing change (I mean, case and point that one shot of a Ferengi in the Star Trek Discovery trailer). But Season One showed that there was no need to be concerned, and Season Two showed that this might be some of the best Trek.  

So to set the scene, at the end of Season One, the USS Cerritos found itself on the unexpected end of a Pakled attack. While the help of Rutherford’s (Eugene Cordero) computer virus and Shaxs’ (Fred Tatasciore) sacrifice, they could defeat one ship, but not the other three that warped in afterwards. Looking certain doom in the face, all was lost until the USS Titan under the command of Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) warped in. Mariner (Tawny Newsome) and her mum, Captain Freeman (Dawnn Lewis), formed a truce in the aftermath. Tendi (Noël Wells) was sad to see that Rutherford had lost all his memories, and Boimler (Jack Quaid) took a promotion to the Titan. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.  

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Encanto – Movie Review

TL;DR – This visually stunning film is held back by unneeded musical moments that feel more like filler than integral.     

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ subscription that viewed this movie.

Encanto. Image Credit: Disney.

Encanto Review

Animation is a medium that, when used to its best, can radically transform your experience of a story, but which is usually related to being a lower form of filmmaking. Today we look at a film that uses the strengths of animation but then also feels like the medium held it back from its true potential.   

 So to set the scene, 50-years before the start of the film, the Madrigal family and their community were on the run from enemies, and just when they were surrounded, and all was lost, magic happened. A magic candle created a sanctuary for the community and a sentient house and gave the family magical powers. This continued from Abuela Alma Madrigal (María Cecilia Botero) to her daughters and grandchildren. However, when it was Mirabel’s (Noemi Josefina Flores) turn, there was no magic power for her. Now grown up, Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz) works to prove herself for the family as her cousin Camilo (Rhenzy Feliz) prepares to find his magical power. However, while things go well, cracks start appearing in the house, and soon all the magic is trouble.       

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Star Trek: Prodigy – Lost & Found – TV Review

TL;DR – This was an episode full of charm that sucked me right into this world and story.  

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Paramount+ service that viewed this episode.

Star Trek: Prodigy - Lost & Found. Image Credit: Paramount+

Star Trek: Prodigy Review

We might be living through a new Golden Age in Science Fiction, but one thing is sure, we are living through a new era of Star Trek with five series currently in production and more on the way. Today we get to look at the latest new series on the horizon that blasted onto the screen full of charm and style.

So to set the scene, off in the Delta Quadrant, there is a prison colony called Tars Lamora. Here the prisoners mine the planetoid for Chimerium, a valuable crystal. One of those prisoners is Dal R’El (Brett Gray), who has dreamed of escaping his confinement and gets close a few times. But his attempts put him on the radar of the ruler of the prison Solum/The Diviner (John Noble), who fears he is working with Fugitive Zero (Angus Imrie). Dal has two options, the nice route with Solum’s daughter Gwyn (Ella Purnell), where he helps her find Fugitive Zero or the bad route with Drednok (Jimmi Simpson). But as he is looking for Zero in the deep core with Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui), they discover something much more valuable hiding in the depths. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead. 

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Space Jam: A New Legacy – Movie Review

TL;DR – Take the first Space Jam, introduce it to Tron Legacy while giving Ready Player One a run for its money.      

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene but some pictures in the mid-credits

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

Space Jam: A New Legacy. Image Credit: Warner Brothers.

Space Jam: A New Legacy Review

When there are 25 years between entries in a film franchise, there is always a fear of who will be your target audience. Are you trying to bring in new fans, or are you catering for those who liked the last film? Today we get a movie that tried to bridge both groups with an entertaining film for kids but filled with moments that only the parents will get.

So to set the scene, we open in Akron, Ohio, in 1998. A young LeBron (Stephen Kankole) is practising, but his coach thinks his head is not in the game, and he has to ditch all the distractions. One montage of LeBron’s career later, and a now champion LeBron James (LeBron James) is raising a family. While he is all about basketball, his son Dominic “Dom” James (Cedric Joe) likes to code and has built a video game. This is heading towards conflict when at Warner Brother Studios, their inbuilt algorithm Al-G Rhythm (Don Cheadle) has devised a plan. A plan that pits son against father and makes the Looney Tunes fight for their very lives.

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The Mitchells vs. The Machines – Movie Review

TL;DR – A blast from start to finish

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene, but like a lot of work went into the credits, and there are some snippets of stuff here and there.

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix subscription that viewed this movie info here

The Mitchells vs. The Machines. Image Credit: Netflix.

The Mitchells vs. The Machines Review

For the longest time, Sony Animation was this studio that shows immense potential, but they always seemed to be chasing trends, which never led them to make anything that stood out. The Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs showed they had potential, but then Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse came out of nowhere and exploded onto the screen. Now, Sony Animation was setting the trends, and it made me wonder where can they go next. Well, today, we get to see that with the charmingly odd The Mitchells vs. The Machines.

So to set the scene, the Mitchells are your standard quirky/dysfunctional family heading towards their first major crisis. As time has gone on, father Rick (Danny McBride) and daughter Katie (Abbi Jacobson) have become equally frustrated with each other, and no amount of work from mum Linda (Maya Rudolph) and brother Aaron (Mike Rianda) can fix this divide. However, Katie is about to go across the country to college, and if she leaves while the relationship is still broken, well, that could be irreparable damage. Well then, the family decides to make one last-ditch effort to fix the unfixable by going on a long road trip to drop Katie off at college, on the same week that techbro Mark Browman (Eric Andre) of PAL Labs inadvertently starts a robot invasion after upsetting his AI PAL (Olivia Colman).   

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