Animated vs Burton Alice in Wonderland

Many of you know I am doing a Disney Canon rewatch over on my youtube channel.  I’ve honestly been surprised how different my experience has been with several films- with my either looking more highly or slightly down on films from my 2014 watch.  I mean there are very few Disney films I don’t like on some level, so I suppose degrees of liking will vary depending on mood/situation.

Anyway, I am up to week 13 which means Alice in Wonderland.  I love Alice in Wonderland and it ended up at #11 in my original Disney Canon ranking.  This time it could end up even higher.  What struck me on this watch is how it is nonsense but nonsense with a purpose.  Alice says she thinks the world would be better if it was nonsense and all books had pictures, right was left, up was down etc.  So when she gets to Wonderland she experiences her vision of what she thinks will be better and it turns out it isn’t.  There’s something interesting there.  How often in life do we think another world/lifestyle would be better but if we walked around in our dream world it might not be so great?

Alice’s journey is non-linear as far as plot.  She meets one character and experiences their version of nonsense.  Whether it is an insane tea party, an angry Queen of Hearts or a blubbering philosophizing caterpillar.  Some people don’t like that lack of structure but I love it.

I actually just read the book for the first time and posted a review on my other blog.  I loved the book as well.  It’s funny, endearing and magical. http://smilingldsgirl.com/2016/03/29/teaser-tuesday-alice-in-wonderland/

The voice cast here may be the best in Disney history and the artwork from Mary Blair and team is geometric and rich in detail.  I love it.

So here is my youtube review of the Animated Alice.

—————–

Now let’s talk about the 2010 Tim Burton version.  I did not like this movie when it came out in the theater but I knew I needed to rewatch it for the upcoming sequel so I tried to go in with an open mind….and boy do I still dislike this movie.

First of all, it entirely gets the purpose of Alice in Wonderland wrong.  She thinks that nonsense is better and she gets a chance to confront that belief.  In this version she is escaping a stuffy proposal because she’s a free spirit. Groan…They keep saying in the film it is her dream but what proof have we gotten of that in the real life segment?  And who dreams of these things?  It makes sense for Alice in the animated film to dream of a world of nonsense but who dreams of prophecies, battles, apocalyptic death and destruction?   That makes no sense where an angry version of nonsense does make sense.

Even if you accept a different purpose for the story, the purpose that they chose is incredibly generic and boring.  Alice is the chosen one we’ve seen in a million other movies who is prophesied to save Wonderland…oh excuse me Underland (gag me).  I mean how many movies from Twilight, Harry Potter, Narnia, Hunger Games do we see this story arc.  What they’ve done is take a bright unusual story and turn it into the most milk toast of stories.

Now about the visuals.  This film won Oscars for visual effects and costumes but to me it looks extremely flat and one-note.  Everything is gray and brown and a lot of it can feel quite garish and gross (how about the mote of heads…). I can see why they are pleasing to some palates but to me it is completely bland and seen it a million times. To me it is remarkable that Mary Blair with essentially black backgrounds gets more creativity and better world building in the animated film than all of this 2010 version accomplishes.

Then we have the performances and characters. Mia Wasikowska is completely generic and boring as Alice.  What is great about Kathryn Beaumont is she seems to have the personality of both a grown up and a child. Here she is a free spirited independent girl- yawn!

As far as the other performances, they don’t realize that in the animated film these characters are on screen very briefly so they don’t ware out their welcome.  Here Johnny Depp as the marose Mad Hatter is very annoying and nobody should want to hear Helena Bonham Carter shrieking for a nearly 2 hour movie.  It’s just awful. The one stand out for me is Alan Rickman as the Caterpillar who is perfect for the part.

I know a lot of people like this film but I really hate it.  On the rewatch I honestly dislike it just as much as Maleficent.  Just not for me I guess.

Here is my video review of 2010 Alice in Wonderland

—————————————————————————–

I know that is throwing a lot at you guys in one post but I would love to hear your thoughts on either film.  Thanks so much! And if you like my videos please give them a thumbs up and subscribe because each Wednesday I post my Disney Canon reviews. Next up Peter Pan.

Advertisements

Miracles From Heaven Review

miracles from heaven

I just wanted to share with you guys real quick my thoughts on the recently released faith-based film Miracles from Heaven.  I go over it in more detail on my youtube review but I’ll share a few things I really liked about it.

If you are open to faith-based films I think you should give this a watch because I felt it did a lot of things better than many in the genre.  It tells the story of the Beams family who’s little girl is taken ill with a gastrointestinal disorder.

Most of the movie revolves around Jennifer Garner’s character and how her faith is tested during this difficult time for her family.  Then a miracle happens (which they totally give away in the trailer) and that takes a new kind of faith.

The thing that impressed me about this film was how subtle it was compared to other faith-based films.  There are a lot of scenes that could have been very preachy but instead the film went with a softer more realistic approach.

For example, in one scene an anthiest father of a little girl has a conversation with Jennifer Garner about a cross necklace her daughter has given his daughter.  He explains his beliefs and asks her if she understands.  In movies such as War Room this would have gotten a big speech about belief and faith.  Instead, she said ‘I understand more than you know’.  That seemed like such a great response  for the situation.

There are a lot of moments like that within the film.  Whether the Miracles from Heaven will be attractive to non-believers I don’t know.  I guess it depends on how sensitive you are to people talking about faith and belief because it is in there.  I just thought it was handled much better than the genre typically allows.

It’s definitely a tearjerker so go with a box of tissues.  I think especially if you’ve experienced a chronic medical condition in your family you will relate to what they are going through.  I cried but I didn’t feel manipulated that much.

I’m not saying it is a perfect movie but I did enjoy it very much.  I recommend you all go and see it if you can stomach faith-based movies at all.

Overall Grade- A-

(ps.  Make sure you are subscribed to my youtube channel because I don’t necessarily post everything from that channel on to this blog and vice versa. Would love your thumbs up and feedback on the video.  Thanks!).

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (Review)

greek wedding2Guys I feel genuinely sad. While everyone else is bummed out over an underwhelming Batman v Superman this weekend, I’m sad about My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.  It kind of broke my heart. 😦

I love the original Greek Wedding from 2002.  It’s one of my favorite comedies of all time.  Why does it work?  Because it is focused on one character Toula and her becoming an independent woman and getting married.  Along for the ride are her parents and crazy family.   The writing is funny and most people with loud obnoxious families can relate to what Toula goes through.  I certainly could.

So now all these years later we get a sequel and like  most comedy sequels it is a disaster.  Whether it be Dumb and Dumber 2, Zoolander 2, Caddyshack 2, most comedy sequels suck.

greek wedding3What did Greek Wedding 2 get wrong?  Well…

To begin with it decides to not focus on one person’s story but it splits up the focus on a variety of subplots.  We get Toula and her stale marriage, her daughter Paris going to prom, Paris deciding what college to go to, her parents finding out they aren’t actually married, her cousin revealing he is gay, her father wanting to be related to Alexander the Great, her trying to plan her parents wedding etc.  The list goes on.

None of these plots are given ample time by the screenplay to grow and be more than a sitcom.  It’s like I could practically hear the laugh track in the background behind every situation.

They also take jokes we liked from the first film and run them into the ground.  For example, Toula’s Aunt Voula has a great joke in original about a growth on her neck.  Here we get 3 jokes about her body including one about having one working ovary. Another example is Toula’s father and his making all words Greek.  In the original you get it twice.  Here it is repeated over and over again.  Same thing with the windex and the awkward sex talk/ sex situations we get at least 3 times.  All of these jokes land with a thud.

greek wedding7They even bring back Toula getting taunted by the girls at school over her strange lunch from the first one.  I wanted to say ‘let it go!’  Toula had moved on from such nonsense and become a strong woman and it felt petty and kind of judgemental on her part.

As I was watching I got angrier and more irritated.  So much so, I almost considered walking out of the theater. It was such a disappointment to these characters I loved in the original.

The other problem is they forget that the crazy family antics were relatively spaced out in the original.  A ton of time is spent on Toula, her and Ian’s relationship, their courtship and nice quiet moments between Toula and her brother, mother/family etc.  The craziness made you laugh because it felt believable within the context of a wedding or big family event. Weddings are nuts for big families.  That’s believable.

greek wedding6Here it is so overdone.  For example, Paris has a college career fair at school and the entire family- cousins, aunts, uncles, all come.  This becomes annoying instead of funny because it no longer feels like a heightened version of reality.  I mean there are a lot of grandkids in that family and if everyone comes to every college fair/minor activity than they must not get much done.  It is believable for a wedding or big event, not every day life.

greek wedding5The other disappointment in the film is Nia Vardalos’ acting  She’s wooden for much of her line delivery and her and John Corbett seem to have lost the chemistry that made them so great in the original. Her responses are either bland or way over the top. It’s one extreme or the other.  There is a scene for instance when she out of nowhere unleashes at her neighbors who are watching the commotion next door.  It frankly felt bizarre.

Other elements don’t work like the wedding being stopped because Toula’s father is tipsy at the alter.  You just feel sad for Lainie Kazan’s Mother character and I think the movie wants us to laugh.  Either way we haven’t spent enough time with her character to be emotionally invested in the situation.  It just ends up feeling awkward and uncomfortable.

greek wedding4Another example is they are setting up for a wedding and out of nowhere a man tells the Joey Fatone character something like ‘well, at least he isn’t hiding any more’ and it turns out they are partners. There’s nothing wrong with that storyline in the film but it is literally shoehorned into a cleaning scene and then quickly dispensed of- leaving no laughter or emotion for the audience.

It’s like they thought they had to give everyone in the family (even the Grandma gets a storyline) a subplot so they all leave us under-served and frustrated.

But most importantly they didn’t make me laugh. Family hijinx aren’t in and of themselves funny.  It has to be balanced amid people we care about or it is just annoying and that is the case here.

Lainie Kazan does her darndest to squeeze some emotion out of her desire to be proposed to by her husband but again the movie doesn’t focus on her enough leaving me unmoved in the end.

Some people on my facebook liked the film and that’s cool but it really bummed me out.  I know technically speaking Norm of the North and The Choice are more poorly made movies but as far as disappointing me My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is the worst movie I’ve seen in 2016.

At the very least it begs the question- YOU HAD 1 JOB AND THIS WAS THE BEST YOU COULD DO AFTER 15 YEARS!!!!  Darn it all…

Overall Grade- F

Batman v Superman Spoiler Review

batman v superman11I can’t sleep so might as well write.  This will be a spoiler review.  If you want my nonspoiler review click here.

Ah Batman v Superman…the movie that broke a million fanboys hearts. Immediately I got some flack on social media for being a ‘hater’ and a ‘Marvel fanboy’ (probably only time in my life I’ve been accused of being a dude but there you go).  It’s no secret that I am not a big Batman fan and I do prefer Marvel’s brand of movies.  However, I can honestly say that preference has no bearing on my response to this film. It really doesn’t. (I’m not that big a superhero person to begin with)  As you will see in this review none of my issues have anything to do with tone, characters, humor or any of those Marvel strengths.  My issues have to do with the way the story is laid out, Lex Luthor manipulation of Batman and especially the ending.

So let’s get talking!

I was really with Batman v Superman for about the first hour.  I watched all 14 previous theatrically released Batman and Superman films going up to this film so I had just seen Man of Steel.  Some might call it apologetic to address the carnage and destruction caused in that film but I thought it was a really interesting way to set up conflict.

As we all know, Superman and Zod caused a lot of havoc in their fight and what we see in Batman v Superman is this destruction includes Wayne Enterprise’s Metropolis building.  In fact, Bruce is down on the street the day of the fight and saves a friend and a little girl from the falling building.  Seeing such power makes Bruce worried (and maybe a tiny bit jealous) about Superman and he wonders if something should be done to stop him before he turns evil and is unstoppable.

All of this set up works pretty well.  We get to see Bruce as this tougher, more grizzled Batman.  He has been through a lot and has become kind of reckless in the way he treats the criminals, even branding them with a bat when he captures them.  He also is willing to shoot people, which personally I didn’t have a problem with.

But there’s a problem that the movie also sets up with all this good Batman stuff.  He’s sort of shown as a private investigator looking into Lex Luthor and Superman. This makes him seem all the dopier later on when he is played so completely by Lex, which isn’t a good look for our Batman.  I don’t want a dopey Batman.

Meanwhile Clark Kent has some kind of understanding at the Daily Planet where he can get random stories but be gone for long segments as well.  Perry wants him to cover local football and not investigate Batman.  Superman’s beef with Batman is a lot less convincingly developed than Batman’s with Superman in the film. In fact, when it comes to the final fight Batman is a bit of a bully to Superman which is a strange sentence to write…

As part of Bruce’s investigation into Lex, Bruce attends a party at Lex’s house and Clark Kent is there too.  This is a fun scene but problematic also.  First of all, Bruce goes into the food prep area and finds all of Lex’s servers laid out without a lock or guard or anything.  He puts his transfer device on the server and in 7 minutes gets all of Lex’s files…really?

Now the movie tries to claim this is all part of Lex’s plan but Lex doesn’t even know Bruce is coming to party and how does he know that Bruce is Batman?  Same thing with Clark Kent being Superman?  We are given the impression this is the first time Clark has been to such a gathering and yet Lex introduces Clark and Bruce as if he knows who they are but nothing in the files seems to corroborate this kind of knowledge.  This is a major plothole in the film. In a world where Lois and Perry are the only one’s who know Clark’s alter-ego it doesn’t really make sense and they needed some kind of explanation on his super-secret knowledge.

Anyway, we also meet Diana Prince at the party and she see’s what Bruce is doing (everyone see’s what he is doing. Even Lex’s assistant does!).  Clark also figures out that Bruce is Batman at this point because he hears Alfred talking to Bruce (I didn’t realize Superman’s powers included that kind of hearing capabilities).

So, Diana see’s him making the transfer and takes the transfer device.  She tries to look at it later on but it is military encoded.  I liked Gal Gadot.  She’s sexy, strong and I look forward to her getting more time on screen.

At the same time, Lex is throwing the party because he wants to convince a senator played by Holly Hunter to turn over a piece of kryptonite found in the Indian Ocean.

They try to explain that Lex views Superman as the devil but for a dark gritty Batman movie he’s kind of an old school comic book movie villain, which makes it stand out.  He just kind of wants to get rid of the good guys because they are good guys spoiling his bad guy plans.  Like I said, Snyder gives us lots of speeches about God and Godlike power and that’s compelling motivation for Batman to be afraid of Superman but why that bothers Lex Luthor so much isn’t exactly clear, except it stops him from doing bad things. Kind of lame villain if you ask me.

I didn’t really like this version of Lex Luthor (I realize he is Lex’s son Alexander Luthor) but he just became kind of annoying because he didn’t really fit in with the feel and tone of the rest of the film.

But Lex is certainly quite the planner because he evidently had it all arranged that Batman would get the information,  investigate Superman and do everything that he wants him to do throughout the film.  Bruce learns about the metahumans from the files and this gives us some very awkward introductions to Aquaman, Cyborg, Wonder Woman etc.

Lex also seems to be able to predict Batman’s dreams (remember at this point we have no clue he knows Bruce or Clark from any other party guests).  Bruce has a dream of The Flash who can time travel and warn him about an impending threat. (Are you getting the feeling that the story is all over the place?)

Meanwhile, Superman is sad that people don’t like him but yet they do seem to like him.  The  movie is very inconsistent in that regard. Nevertheless, there is a hearing at the Senate with the Holly Hunter character.  Lex again predicts Superman will arrive and blows up the Senate.  This is a horrible act of terrorism and yet it seems to be forgotten by the movie and is never really talked about again…

Evidently Luthor is doing this to make people dislike Superman even more but this seems like an unnecessary step for Luthor.  If the main point of his plan is to get Batman to fight Superman who cares what the public is thinking?  They were already having a hearing.  Isn’t that enough to peak Batman’s interest and you know he has already stolen those files and is looking into it.

And Batman is a pretty lame private investigator.  You’d think with all of this he could find out about Clark, the Kents and everything else.  I mean these files are oddly specific and if Lex knows that Clark and Bruce are Superman and Batman, which he seems to at the party, why wouldn’t he have put all of that information on the files?  Wouldn’t he want Batman to know all about Superman?

If he doesn’t know about Clark and Bruce’s alter egos than his plan is nonsensical and he has the worst security on his home.  It’s hard to believe he has other motives for Bruce to have those files other than that he knows Bruce is Batman. It really makes no sense.   Well, and I guess he knows about Diana because she is on the files so why isn’t he trying to manipulate her?

Anyway, despite being a very suspect person Luthor is able to gain access to the kryptonite, Zod’s spaceship and Zod himself which seemed highly implausible.  And not just that but there are power outages caused by his activities and he is in there for quite some time learning from the Zod spaceship.  Don’t you think someone from the government might monitor that kind of access? I mean call me crazy but I don’t think he would be able to make Doomsday and activate the ship like he does without anyone realizing it.

But there’s also more of his plan…(It’s quite the plan and I remind you this is all in a gritty comic book movie not a Schumacher silliness movie).  He ends up obtaining the kryptonite. Batman tries to stop him in a long car chase but instead they kill lots of people and destroy property.  Whatever it’s a decent car chase.

Then Batman ends up breaking into Lex’s offices and stealing the kryptonite and this is all supposedly part of Lex’s plan to pit Batman vs Superman.  This is quite the plan! How does he even know that Batman knows about the kryptonite at all?I guess there is the car chase but Lex isn’t there.  They are just a bunch of cronies and how did Lex get to take possession of the kryptonite in the first place?  He makes a deal with a lolly rancher guy but this is quite the leap a private citizen would get access to a major radioactive substance, an alien vessel and alien body for no reason at all…

Anyway, Batman gets it and Lex wants him to have it.  That’s the part that makes no sense.  How could he possibly predict all of this is going to happen and that it is all going to lead to the takedown of Superman?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to use the kryptonite himself instead of orchestrating Batman to do it?

But that’s what he does and Batman begins training to take on Superman.  He designs a new suit and does some crossfit.  It’s very exciting.

Then we have Lex further mad scientisting himself in the spaceship and he combines his DNA with Zod’s because evidently the ‘Genesis Chamber’ tells him what to do.  He creates a Doomsday creature which was  a generic kind of crappy looking CG creature. I was shocked at how bad it looked.

He abducts Lois to try and lure Superman out of hiding and she gets rescued for the umpteenth time in the film (I didn’t think Lois and Clark had good chemistry in this version).  But that’s not all he has done.  He has captured Martha Kent, Clark’s Mother (again how he knows Clark/Superman backstory doesn’t really make sense).  This manipulates  Superman to go and confront Batman.

Batman is there in his super duper Batsuit having been totally manipulated by Lex into designing a kryptonite spear and gas pellets to take down Superman.  Superman tries to talk to Batman about his mother but he won’t listen and the two fight.  It’s an Ok fight but more smashing into things than a martial arts style match if that makes sense.

I was a little surprised how close to taking down Superman it got but that makes the ending even worse.  Batman is just about to spear Superman with the kryptonite spear and Superman says ‘Martha’.  Now we saw earlier in the film Bruce’s mother’s name is Martha, as is Clark’s mother.  This is it and he not only stops killing Superman but he agrees to go with him and save his mother.  This is completely ridiculous.

It’s not like this is a spur of the  moment angry fist match and Martha would wake him up.  This is a plan that has been in the works for months.  That he has thought about and weighed out.  He has trained, made weapons, even had that warning from Flash in his dream about the future.  There is no creditable way that Martha would have made him stop killing Superman at that moment.  It makes no sense to this admittedly dopey but dark and gritty character they’d built up to that point.  You can’t have him killing lots of people and branding people and then have something so lame stop the Batman v Superman match.

And then they don’t stop there!  Not only do they work together to find Superman’s Mother but he refers to Superman as his friend!  Are you kidding me?  And he is mourning him later as if they were so close.  I don’t think one word away from killing him is a friend…

When Lex realizes his plan for Batman to take down Superman hasn’t worked he unleashes Doomsday and we get a tedious segment that seemed right out of the Raimi Spiderman movies more than a dark and gritty comic book movie. You’ve got your one note cheesy monster fighting Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.  (Like really how different is Doomsday than Sandman in Spiderman 3?)

And here’s where I really got annoyed with the film.  We all know there is a Justice League coming out in 2017. And not only do we know that but the movie hints at it again and again with all the Metahuman file shoehorned bits.  So with that knowledge…

They kill Superman.  And not only do they kill Superman but they have a long drawn out funeral, processional and mourning process with Bruce, Lois and Diana grieving. This really irritated me because I felt like the movie was trying to invoke phony emotion out of me.  I don’t feel sad about Superman dying because I know it isn’t real.

Now you can make the argument that Zack Snyder knows we know and this is all just a fun little teaser for Justice League but that almost annoys me more! We already know from the earlier dream you have introduced a time traveler in The Flash. I’m not stupid Zack.  I know exactly what is going to happen and it greatly annoyed me.

I think he thinks we are all stupid.  That we are going to somehow find this intriguing and that there is going to be debate about what might happen next, kind of like the ending of Force Awakens did with Luke.  Force Awakens is fun speculation because we don’t know what is going to happen with Luke or what he is going to be like.  We all absolutely know for sure that Superman is going to be in the freakin Justice League! Give me a break!

There is even a shot of the coffin that greatly insinuates The Flash and the time travel and everything else and it all just makes me groan!

So in conclusion, Batman v Superman started out promising with the bounce off of Man of Steel.  The charisma of most of the performances kept me from being miserable.  However, Lex Luthor’s plan has so many plot holes as well as the script as a whole.  How he gets permission for certain things, knows about certain things, and how the Senate explosion is never talked about again.

Batman is cool but he is also kind of stupid if we believe he is a pawn in Lex’s scheme.  Wonder Woman is cool but underused.  Lex is annoying. Lois is a damsel in distress.  Superman stands around a lot and while people are making speeches about God.

But all this would have been fine if they hadn’t had the climatic fight end so unbelievably, bland Doomsday sequences, and the cheap, phony trick of killing off Superman.  That was unpardonable and it really irritated me.

And some people may be inclined to say ‘oh, it’s just a fun popcorn movie Rachel.  Just turn off your brain and have fun with it’.  I poo-poo that idea because don’t try to sell me on darker, grittier realistic Batman and Superman and then expect me to go with such nonsense.  Wasn’t that the whole appeal of Man of Steel is that it wasn’t the man with the red underwear saving people?  It was more than the old school popcorn movies?  Now they want to have it both ways. No way.

Also, someone said would I be as annoyed if they killed off Captain America in Civil War?  No because we’ve had 3 Captain America movies and 2 Avengers.  It is a lot less obvious we need Cap in Infinity Wars as we need Superman in Justice League.  Therefore, such an ending has that debate and feels more authentic and believable. There is no way Superman is dead where I could believe Cap really is dead (hopefully not though as that would break my heart!).

Well, and Zack Snyder has already said ‘I’m a comic book guy. I was trying to be 100% accurate to the comic books’.  I’m no expert on Frank Miller and dark and gritty comic books but I’m pretty sure they don’t involve crackpot scientist with elaborate schemes that manipulate Batman.  Plus, you are making a MOVIE not a comic book, not a video game, not a music video.  You need to tell a coherent story with a satisfying ending for this movie.  It comes off as not only a weak excuse but kind of blaming the comic books for the problems of the film. Not goona fly.

So there you have it.  My long rambling spoiler filled thoughts on Batman v Superman.

Overall Grade- C- although more I think about it the more annoyed I get.

Animated News 3/24/16

Hi guys!  It’s time for another week in animated news. Here’s the video with all the latest:

Major points I cover-

  1. Zootopia takes 3rd top spot at box office dropping only 25.9% from last week (typical drops are 50%).  It made $38 million in the states and $64.8 internationally creating a combined total of $591.7 million.  I am thrilled to see it do so well because I really loved Zootopia.
    1. If you haven’t checked out my in depth discussion of Zootopia with  my friend AJ click here
  2. Little Prince is picked up by Netflix.  Last week we discussed Paramount’s bizarre drop of The Little Prince a week before its US release.  This week we learned that Netflix has optioned the film and it will be available to stream sometime this year.
  3. Bubbles MJ project- the makers of Anomalisa have announced a new stop motion project that will revolve around Michael Jackson’s pet chimp named Bubbles.  I can’t even imagine this project but it has a script co-written by Dan Harmon, creator of Community and other funny shows, so who knows?
  4.  April and the Extraordinary World Voice Cast- We learned the English voice cast for April and the Extraordinary World.  This includes Paul Giamatti, Tony Hale, Susan Sarandon and JK Simmons. April debuted this weekend in LA and NYC and will come to Utah April 22 (The reviews are great on April so I am getting very excited).
  5. Lego Batman trailer-

      All you lovely Lego Movie fans we got our first peak at the spinoff movie Lego Batman today.  This will feature Will Arnett, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis, Maria Carey.  I liked the trailer a lot.  I think I am particularly anxious for this film with the superhero overkill I’m currently feeling.  I can’t wait to have some of the same hilarious writing of the Lego Movie skewering comic book movies.  I wish it was out today!

  6. Alex Hirsch show- Last news is Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch is developing a new animated show for Fox for next year.  I can only assume this will be part of their Sunday animation line up and I’m really excited.  I loved Gravity Falls and am curious to see what his sensibilities are like in a more grown up non-Disney platform.

So there you have it.  What do you think of these news items?  Are you excited by the Lego Batman trailer?

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  🙂

Also if you ever hear of news I should include tweet or email me at smilingldsgirl@yahoo.com.  That would be so helpful.

Batman v Superman Spoiler Free Review

batman v superman11I was going to wait to do a spoiler free review of Batman v Superman until I see it Thursday (I ended up getting into an early screening today!).  But I felt I should put a few comments down because some people will want to take their children to this movie and might hope I could give them some guidance in that regard.  This review is spoiler free so I can’t say what happens but something happens that I think could seriously upset small kids.  Just trust me.

Now let’s get on with my initial thoughts.

First I will remind you guys I’m not that rabid a Batman fan to begin with.  The movies tend to focus too much on villains and Batman is usually a bore.  I like my superhero movies to be about heroes rather than villains.

That said, I went to Batman v Superman optimistic and hopeful it would be a fun comic book movie.  And for about an hour in I was enjoying it on that level and then unfortunately it takes a turn I did not like at all.

I will also say that my brother who is a huge Batman fan hated the movie, so take that for what you will. He was very upset and not in a good way.

It’s hard because one of the things that didn’t work at all is highly spoilery but suffice it to say that Zack Snyder thinks we are all stupid.  He somehow thinks he can make a movie with a million hints at the Justice League Movie coming in 2017 and yet expect us to buy the ending…Come on? When you guys see it you will know what I mean.  There is no way the ending is legitimate and it is all done to squeeze phony emotion out of fans and leave you in a phony cliffhanger for those dumb enough to buy it.

Ok. Off soapbox.  There were things that worked quite well.  Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was actually quite good.  If you had told me going into it that one of my favorite things about Batman v Superman would be Wonder Woman I would have said you were crazy but there it is.

Also, I liked some of the character development we got in the first hour of Batman and Superman.  Ben Affleck was good as Batman although he is manipulated rather easily.  But I thought the building off of the destruction of Man of Steel and questioning Superman’s powers was pretty good.  Cavill is fine in the film but I still don’t see any chemistry between him and Amy Adams’ Lois Lane.

Jeremy Irons is good as Alfred although underused and Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White had a few moments of comic relief.  Holly Hunter as a senator was kind of wasted.

Jesse Eisenberg didn’t work for me as Lex Luthor’s son but it’s not entirely his fault.  The screenplay makes some leaps that I found hard to believe.  He is granted clearance to things he really shouldn’t be.  He’s places that don’t make sense for him to be at and he seems to know Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne’s alter-egos when he is first being introduced to both of them.  He also manipulates Bruce very easily.

Let’s talk about the action.  There’s really only one extended fight scene and then 2 dream sequences. The dreams were kind of annoying.  The long fight scene is ok but the way it ends does not make sense for either character.

We all knew they would go from being enemies to friends within the movie.  It’s in the title so I don’t think that is a spoiler but how that happens did not feel authentic or believable at all.   Batman makes such a drastic shift and for a reason that I didn’t buy.

Boy it sounds like I really hated it.  I guess the charisma of the stars provided enough marginal enjoyment for me to give it a ‘meh’ rating.  I can totally see why my brother hated it.

I think a lot of fans will phantom menace this movie.  It has a very low rotten tomatoes score and already I’m hearing defenses and ( if you liked it that’s awesome) but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people come down on this movie once the novelty has faded and they look at it more objectively.  We will see.

Oh and Doomsday looks terrible.  I couldn’t believe how bad the CG was on him.  Usually Zack Snyder at least gets that kind of thing right.

I just don’t know how anyone defends that ending.  Zack Snyder tried to trick me and it’s not going to work! I may not be a huge Batman fan but I’m not stupid either.

Overall Grade- C-

I also don’t think Man of Steel fans will like this movie.  It doesn’t have any of the sci-fi or edgier elements of that film.  It’s a lot of people talking about Gods and God-like powers and not much of the showing like in Man of Steel.

My youtube review.  A bit rambling but say what I needed to say.

Transformers: The Movie (1986) Review

Hey guys!  I just wanted to quickly share with you my latest Obscure Animation review.  This is a monthly series I do over on my youtube channel profiling an animated film that is less well known and why you should see it.  This month’s pick, Transformers: The Movie, is loved by many but I still feel like it counts as it isn’t as well known as say a Disney or Pixar film.

People might be surprised to see me praise a Transformers movie as I am not a fan of any of the recent live action versions by schlockmeister Michael Bay.  It’s frustrating because this film is actually a good scifi movie with emotion and heart which none of the Bay films have and I feel it is maligned by association when it shouldn’t be.

There are a lot of things Transformers: The Movie does right, which the live action films don’t do.  First of all, it gets us right into the action.  There is no origin story or lame humans finding the transformers.  This is a movie about transformers!

Spoiler alert! (It’s 30 years old guys. See it!)

It starts out with the Decepticons and Autobots fighting and Optimus Prime is battling Megatron to protect Autobot City. They battle and it is awesome but Optimus Prime is wounded in the fighting.  And then in an emotional scene Optimus Prime hands over the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Mangus and then dies.

It was a bold move to kill off your lead character but it is handled so well and creates an emotional tie to all the action throughout the rest of the movie.  It’s interesting because they had cynical motives of wanting to sell new toys so they killed off a bunch of characters to introduce new characters, but it works.  It creates real stakes behind the story and isn’t just mindless dopey action like Bay films.

So Megatron and the Decepticons end up getting gathered by a giant planet transformer named Unicron who makes a deal with Megatron.  He turns Megatron into Galvatron and in return he must get Unicron the Matrix of Leadership.

This starts our story (great start right!) and we get a ton of cool characters like Hot Rod, Kup, Ultra Mangus, Arcee, Springer, Perceptor.  There are only 2 humans in the film Daniel and his father Spike but they are treated just like any other characters and used sparingly.  It really is a scifi story and the story is taken seriously by all involved.

Director Nelson Shin does a wonderful job with the animation which is bright and colorful and the story by Ron Friedman is smart, keeps you guessing and has moments to breath combined with the great action. It’s a movie you can watch multiple times and get new things out of it on each viewing.

The voice cast is iconic with Leonard Nimoy as Galvatron, Orson Wells as Unicron, Judd Nelson as Hot Rod, and Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime.  And the music by Vince DiCola is intense and entertaining.

I feel like many reading will discount this movie as silly nonsense but I would encourage you to watch it with an open mind as it is a very good film. It has a good story with action, emotion, and fun. The animation is well done, and it has a nice message about leadership and finding your calling.  It dares to take kids seriously and challenge them with themes of death, loss, sacrifice and even war, but it still entertains them at the same time.

Give it a shot.  I think you just might like it

Overall Grade- A

(and if you feel so inclined I would love if you watched my video review and left a comment/thumbs up.  Thanks.  Also, if you have any suggestions for Obscure Animation let me know! Obscure animation doesn’t have to be unheard of but just less celebrated than the Disney or Pixar classics).

All Superman Movies Quick Thoughts

So I did it!  I set a goal to watch all the Superman and Batman movies before Batman v Superman.  Watching Superman movies was interesting because most of them I hadn’t seen in a long time so it was kind of like watching them fresh.  I’ve never been that big of a comic book movie person and Superman was always pretty far down my list, but I do have nice memories of Christopher Reeves.  When I was in high school I read his autobiography and was very moved by his personal story.

Superman is a fun character because he is so pure.  He’s practically the definition of a hero because his mere existence is to help humans and spread hope.  Some of the versions miss this sense of hope and some forget it in favor of ridiculous comedy.  I’d say you get a little bit of everything with Superman.  At his core he should be a hero.

Just like with Batman, the Superman movies have their highs, lows and mehs.  And just like with Batman I am going to do it Best Shot style and pick one image from each film that summarizes my experience watching it.

My thoughts on all the Batman movies here

So here we go…

Superman: The Movie

I’ll be honest this movie didn’t hold up for me the way I thought it would.  Richard Donner’s film was a trailblazer in the world of comic book movies but my problem was how long it took to get going.  It takes an hour before you meet Christopher Reeves’ Clark Kent/Superman and he doesn’t fly until almost the 1 1/2 hour mark.  That was too slow for me.

Some of the origin story is compelling.  I like Marlon Brando as Jor-El and his role as a kind of Savior character is interesting, but it just takes so long.  I got bored.  Now once we get to Christopher Reeves it is wonderful.  He does such a good job differentiating the nerdy Clark Kent and the suave Superman.

I also felt that Margot Kidder as Lois Lane was wonderful and her and Reeves have excellent chemistry.  My favorite scenes of the film was their date and the first time they fly together.  I’m not the biggest fan of Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor.  I don’t mind a silly villain but he wasn’t charming silly but just annoying.  John Williams theme is of course iconic and overall it’s an entertaining film, just not quite as great as I remembered it.

superman1-8Superman 2

This was my favorite of the Superman films I watched.  I saw the Donner cut because Richard Lester took over as director and made it a lot sillier. I didn’t have time to compare the Lester version so take that for what you will.

Still I liked that this film focused on Zod, Ursa and Non coming back to have revenge on Superman for their banishment.  They are strong villains but the movie wisely focuses the most on Superman and his inner struggle over saving humanity vs having a loving happy life with Lois Lane.  This gives a nice emotion and Reeves is very good in these scenes. Plus, you still have the great chemistry between Kidder and Reeves.

There is a little bit of Lex Luthor but luckily it keeps it to a minimum and the violence is strong but in shorter bursts.  But mostly this film is great because of the journey of Superman and Reeves strong performance.

superman 2-3Superman 3

Now we get into the bad films.  In Superman 3 Richard Lester is given full control and it’s not really even ‘so bad it’s good’.  For something to be that kind of guilty pleasure it has to be sincerely trying to be good but this is just a boring, lazy, stupid movie.

Right from the beginning you know they are going for total slapstick with a pratfall routine where telephone booths are toppled over.  It gets worse from there.

I felt bad for Richard Pryor because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie where an actor looked more intoxicated while filming.  There were times you couldn’t understand what he was saying it was so slurred together.  He plays a programmer who is used by a CEO to do all kinds of dastardly deeds.

Reeves is fine and there is an entertaining scene with him fighting both sides of himself- evil vs good Superman.  But they remove Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane and give us Annette O’Toole as Lana Lang who he has no chemistry with.

I picked this shot of Richard Pryor because it showcases the problem of the movie with him skiing down the side of a building and then landing with no injuries.  It’s just so stupid.

superman3Superman 4

As bad as Superman 3 is, Superman 4 is even worse.  The production team famously took all the money out of the budget so everything looks horrible.  Everything from the costumes, special effects, script are horrible.

I guess only good thing about it is you get Margot Kidder back as Lois Lane but it sucks that things had to go out this way for her and Reeves, who were so wonderful together.  You have so many cliches with the mean boss at the Daily Planet with the daughter who has hots for Clark (Superman/Clark Kent go on a double date with Lois/Lacy for a long segment).

We get the return of Lex Luthor who creates Nuclear Man which is embarrassing.  Superman gives a speech at the UN and you can’t help but cringe.  Maybe some people find this ‘so bad it’s good’ but it’s hard when nobody was even trying to make something good.

superman4Superman Returns

Bryan Singer took a break from X-men to make his version of Superman in 2006.  It’s not terrible but did we really need to see Lois as a bitter single mother?  Brandon Routh is fine as Superman but he is off screen for long segments of time.  It really could be called Lois Lane Movie because of the focus given her.

We get Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor who I thought was surprisingly flat in the role.  He’s kind of a bully to his assistant played by Parker Posey (who cries most of the film) and not a believable foe for Superman.  Maybe I just don’t like the character of Lex Luthor?  We’ll see if Batman v Superman can change my mind.

It does have a nice look to it and some impressive sequences.  I particularly liked a scene where Superman stops a crashing plane.  I liked it visually but also because it took brains and brawn to make it happen.  That was cool twist for the character.  Overall not a terrible watch but a little bit dry.

It does have many homages to the Donner films and I don’t know if it quite got that balance of originality vs reboot right? It’s tricky.

superman returnsMan of Steel

Honestly it is the most divisive movie in history.  I have grown weary discussing it with people, but I must own I didn’t hate it this time around.  I was more ‘meh’.  It’s takes Superman into a scifi direction and then adds a disaster movie component.  I said while tweeting ‘it’s Superman if you combined Star Trek and San Andreas’ and I think that is accurate.

I hate the flashback structure and it’s not that the destruction exists it’s just gratuitous and repetitive.   Do we need to destroy all of Smallville and then destroy building after building of Metropolis?  Couldn’t the point be made more succinctly?  They also screwed up Lois and Clark relationship. There is not near enough time with them together to believe their relationship or what happens/how she is used.

Michael Shannon is fine as Zod and his motivations are interesting.  He is trying to save his people and I liked that.  I also love Henry Cavill who is a very beautiful man.  I just wish they gave us a few more moments like the kissing scene with him and Lois where he jokes about kissing an alien.  It doesn’t have to be a joke but the whole movie he seems depressed.

Diane Lane is excellent as his mother but I didn’t like Kevin Costner as Pa Kent or how they wrote that character at all.

The breaking of Zod’s neck makes sense in theory but it’s at the end of one building after another and it feels gratuitous after such exhaustion.

Snyder needs to learn the art of subtlety and that sometimes less is more.  This includes his Messianic imagery.  This shot really captured the film for me.  Cavill- great. Snyder’s excess- not so great.

man of steel quoteAnd there you have it.  I oddly had more to say about the Superman films than Batman.  Go figure.  I hope you enjoyed all of them.

What is your favorite Superman movie?  Put in the comments sections and let’s talk! On to Batman v Superman.

My youtube review of Superman 1 and 2.  If you feel so inclined give it a thumbs up.

All Batman Movies Quick Thoughts

I must confess- Batman and I have a rather troubled relationship.  You know how some people just don’t get Star Wars and why everyone loves it?  Well, that’s what Batman is for me.  Out of all of the versions of Batman I only really love 1 of them. Only 1 would make my top 200 favorite movies list.

That’s not to say that I hate them. In fact, most of them I find watchable and even enjoy, but it’s just not my fandom.My biggest problem with most Batman movies is that Batman gets sidelined in favor of the villains.  I like my superhero movies to be about heroes not villains.

That said, I’m going into this week’s Batman v Superman with an open mind and perhaps less insane expectations than the fanboys.  I hope I will like it!

Nevertheless, it had been years since I had seen most of the Batman films so I gave them all a rewatch.  I decided to do kind of a Hit Me with Your Best Shot treatment to all these movies and picked one shot that I think captures the movie best and then add a few thoughts on each film:

(For my thoughts on all the Superman movies click here)

Batman 1966- charming and completely ridiculous. Wears out its welcome at nearly 2 hours but the villains are silly fun and Adam West is very dapper as Batman. I like how everything is labeled. That cracks me up. Batman 1966-2This is my favorite example of the labeling I will just add because I think it is so funny.  They label the entrance to the bat cave and Dick and Bruce’s poles.

batcaveBatman 1989- I didn’t like it. People talk about Michael Keaton being so great, but he’s hardly in the movie. Next time you watch it pay attention to how much dialogue and screen time Keaton actually has and it will surprise you.   Jack Nicholson as the Joker just shouts a lot.  I mean there’s a long unnecessary Prince musical number in the middle?  I don’t get the appeal to be honest. Even the makeup I don’t really like. batman 1989-2Batman Returns- Starts strong and Penguin/Catwoman are creepy and memorable. But  it gets too fetishy for my taste. Almost no Batman in this film- like seriously there are long segments with the villains and then Batman/Bruce Wayne appears briefly. Cinematography and art design is cool and feels like a Tim Burton movie, so at least it has that going for it.  The Penguin running for office plotline is a snoozefest. It scared me as a little girl and definitely has some horror elements but now it feels more icky than scary for a good chunk of movie.Batman REturns2Batman Forever- Jim Carrey is fun as Riddler but Tommy Lee Jones is awful. For a movie meant for children it earns its PG-13 rating with violence and sensuality. Plan by Riddler to overtake all the brains in Gotham with his TV device sure gets implemented quickly and is very silly. It needed to be developed more but instead we get lots of shouting, lame action and Nicole Kidman spouting 90s era pop psychology. The whole movie is silly and special effects look really bad. Batman forever2Batman and Robin- Some so bad its good appeal. Unfortunately even that is marred by a surprising amount of male erotica (and female) for a film made to sell children’s toys.  The action is ridiculous with characters defying gravity and having powers that don’t make sense. The one liners are groan inducing especially from Arnold and Uma Thurman is so bad. Careers were ruined all over the place. Batman and Robin2Batman: Mask of Phantasm- Love it. My favorite Batman movie.  I love the animation, and I love the relationship between Bruce and Andrea Beaumont. It’s a Batman movie actually about Batman! Imagine that! The script is so good.  I particularly love the conversation at the end with Alfred and Bruce about walking the line between good and evil.  Mark Hamil is fantastic as the Joker and he is used more sparingly than Dark Knight. Great Shirley Walker score. (I’ll do a full review of this one of these days)mask of phantasm2Batman Begins- Overlong  but I like it because it is about Batman. I think the cinematography is good and I like that it embraces comic book sensibilities a little bit more than other Nolan films (microwave emitter and all). Liam Nieson is good as Ra’s al Ghul and one of the more complex Batman villains.batman beings33Dark Knight- I’m not as high on this as everyone else but it is well done. Heath Ledger is great. I’m just not that into crime dramas and think the movie suffers when Joker is off screen. Plus, Harvey Dent’s transformation is so sudden from renegade DA to threatening to kill a child. I needed more time with him and Rachel to buy their relationship and the drastic change. Batman/Bruce Wayne is lost a bit because Joker is so strong. But I totally get why you love it so don’t kill me.Dark Knight222Dark Knight Rises I like the more hopeful tone and Anne Hathaway is great. Bane’s Marxist revolution and the focus on manipulating the masses is interesting. More focus on Batman/Bruce Wayne than Dark Knight. I like my Batman movies to be about Batman! There is too much of Bruce watching the action instead of participating and Marion Cotillard character is weak.  However, as with all the Nolan films, it looks great and is well done.  It was better than I expected it to be (I saw for first time a few weeks ago).Dark knight rises battleIn general, I guess I’m just not that big of a Batman girl but we’ll see how Batman v Superman does. Maybe it can win me over? Here’s hoping! batman v superman11Can any of you relate to my feelings on any of these films?  What do you think of them? I would love to hear your thoughts.

My Family Movie Night youtube review of Batman 1966