Surf’s Up 2: Wave Mania Review

surfs-up2-3There are some projects that are just bad ideas. You get the most brilliant writers around and they might be passable films but the ideas are bad. Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania is one of those films. It’s just a bad idea from beginning to end. It’s such a bad idea that Sony, the studio behind Smurf’s 2 and the Emoji Movie, didn’t even have the confidence to release it in the theater.  It is an absolutely atrocious film in every way including the fact it stinks up a charming original film.

After all, Surf’s Up was nominated for an Oscar back in 2007. It was a unique little animated mockumentary about a Antarctic penguin who dreams of becoming a professional surfer. It’s not the greatest movie ever made but for what it is, it is an enjoyable watch. The writing is particularly good as it pokes fun at sports documentaries and movies.

Unfortunately all of the appeal of the original film is lost in this terrible sequel. The problems start with the premise. WWE stars play a group called The Hang 5 that Cody idolizes. This doesn’t jive with the original documentary because then his motivation was surfing not the Hang 5.

surfs-up2Even if I ignore that continuity problem, the premise is terrible. The Hang 5 are voiced by WWE wrestlers including John Cena, The Undertaker, Triple H and more. This stunt casting does nothing for the story except for to provide a couple of inside jokes that I did not understand.

Cody does hardly any surfing in the movie and it feels like it keeps reinventing itself every 10 minutes. One minute it is Indiana Jones, another it is Mission Impossible or Point Break. The list  could go on.  None of these characters have any charisma or personality

Jeremy Shada steps in for Shia LaBeoulf as Cody and you can tell. All of the voice acting feels bored but it is tough since the characters aren’t written in an interesting or satisfying way.

About 1/3rd of way through they are in the desert looking for some clue and I had no idea what they were doing with it but not in a good way. For most of it I was extremely bored and disengaged and I didn’t laugh at all

Normally I would be able to recommend something like this to kids but I really can’t here.  There is absoloutely nothing for a child’s intellect or creativity in all of this nonsense.

The animation isn’t even very good. It looks cheap because it was cheap.

I feel like I should have more to say on Surf’s Up 2 but I honestly don’t. It wasn’t funny, engaging, well executed or anything like the original film.

I just have to say to the WWE= get the heck out of my animated film!

Overall Grade- D-

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Sundance 2017 Recap

So, last week I attended the Sundance Film Festival for the first time. Last year I went to one movie at the festival but this was my first year actually attending. I would have updated you guys sooner but I’ve been very sick.

As far as the festival as a whole it was a good experience. I’m not sure if I will want to do it again because all the driving definitely got old. I’m not used to driving into Salt Lake every single day and it gave me a renewed appreciation for the people do that commute each day.  It would make me nuts!

I ended up seeing 10 movies. One film, Band Aid, that I wanted to see I arrived within the 15 minute window before the movie starts and they had given my spot away. This was very frustrating as I had left plenty of time but there were 3 accidents slowing things down.

The 10 movies I did see break down like this:

  1. My Life as a Zucchini- I reviewed this film so you have a pretty good idea of what I thought. It’s a very unusual film. Most adult animation isn’t as adorable as this one, which make it feel different. There are shocking story elements but also sweet moments. I can see why some love this film because the animation is amazing and it is refreshing to see something so unique. Still, I personally didn’t love it but liked it. Overall Grade- B
  2. Lady Macbeth- This movie was glossy garbage. Set up as a corset ripping gothic thriller it was laughably bad.  The cinematography is beautiful and the lead performance isn’t half bad but there is no chemistry between her and the man she is with. They keep making nonsensical choices and the direction makes odd choices in the guise of art. Like a tense scene will be punctuated by a long look at a cat staring at the camera. Even the fact these 2 people are together makes no sense. Tough to like a romantic thriller with little to no romance. My audience was laughing at supposedly tense scenes. Overall Grade- D-
  3. STEP- The highlight of the festival. This amazing documentary tells the story of 4 high school seniors who have been part of a special inner-city Baltimore charter school. The step competition is merely a footnote to the journey the girls go on. You get to know their families and love the girls so much. The school counselors and teachers work together to save each of these young women. It was inspiring and will make you feel good about the world for a change.  I LOVED it! It reminded me of Hoop Dreams. Put it on your calendar for this year.  Overall Grade A+
  4. RISE- This was actually 3 episodes of a docu-series about the Native American struggle particularly with the Dakota Pipeline. It was fine and they had good intentions; however, it felt pretty propagandish to me and these kind of political message documentaries aren’t my favorite. It was neat after the screening to hear from the participants and one man sang a Native song. That was better than the movie! Overall Grade- C
  5. Animation Spotlight- I was kind of disappointed by these animated shorts.  There were a couple clever shorts but for the most part they were underwhelming and felt derivative of other surrealists like Don Hertzfeldt. They all felt like I had seen better versions by better artists, and so it just ended up being boring.  This was a big disappointment as I love animated shorts. Overall Grade- C-
  6. The Good Postman- A wonderful documentary about a man in Bulgaria who decides to do something about the Syrian refugee problem he sees all around him, so he decides to run for mayor. His opponent is hilarious and the characters are delightful. It manages to make important points while still remaining light and cheerful. Could be tighter but still very enjoyable documentary. Overall Grade- B+
  7. Wilson- I was nervous about seeing this because of the content, which is quite strong. However, it’s not one of those comedies that has profanity just to be shocking. At its core it’s actually kind of a sweet story about a man with some seriously strange quirks! Great performances by Laura Dern and Woody Harrelson make it a heart-warming experience. It was  lot better than I thought it would be.  Overall Grade- B+
  8. The Hero- This is a film where the lead performance is great but the movie he’s in is average. Sam Elliott is terrific as an aging Western movie star (brilliant casting) who finds out he has cancer. The dialogue is well written particularly between Nick Offerman as his best friend and Sam. The romance; however, did not work for me at all and felt extremely contrived and predictable with no chemistry between the couple. Overall Grade- B-
  9. The Yellow Birds- This movie tackles a lot with a brutal story about a group of soldiers in Iraq. Alden Ehrenreich and Ty Sheridan were both great and the cinematography is stunning. It is very impressive how they pulled off the war scenes on such a small budget.  Jennifer Aniston is also fantastic as Sheridan’s mother. Unfortunately the movie is held back by using a non-linear timeline so it jumps all over the place from when they first met to overcoming PTSD.  The big reveal was shocking but I think it would have been more so with a traditional timeline. Overall Grade- B-
  10. Rebel in the Rye- Fairly standard but impressive biopic about JD Salinger. Nicholas Holt is very good in the lead role and the journey of his writing is well portrayed. His personal descent into isolation was less well done and didn’t feel accurate. Kevin Spacey is fantastic as his teacher who inspires him to write Catcher in the Rye. Overall Grade- B

So the highlight of the festival was definitely STEP and low point Lady Macbeth.

On Thursday I went and saw Silence because I didn’t get into Band Aid. I hated Silence and can read my review of that film here.

Do any of these films sound interesting to you? There were a bunch at Sundance I didn’t get a chance to see but heard great things about like Wind River, Ghost Story and Mudbound. It will be great to see those when they get released to the mainstream.

Blind Spot 14: THX 1138

This month for my blind spot pick we are diving back into the mind of George Lucas. After watching Attack of the Clones and Indy 4 I lost faith in the guy to tell a good story. So this month I decided to check his debut film THX 1138 off of my list. Who knows maybe I’d like young George better than old George?

thxYou know what I think I do! THX 1138 isn’t a perfect sci-film but it is solidly entertaining and very unique.

THX 1138 is set in a black and white dystopian world. (It feels a little bit like Tron but more stark). Every part of the people’s lives is controlled including mating and emotions. They all kind of work in these giant factories and have brief names like SEN and LUH. By changing out his drug, LUH is able to convince THX to have sex with her.

thx5The couple is then chased by an agent named SEN and the entire corporation that runs the world and forced to separate. I don’t want to give any more of the story away for those that are spoiler sensitive.

thxThe acting is pretty great especially for a George Lucas movie (who is notoriously bad at working with actors). I particularly liked Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasance and Maggie McOmie as the 3 main leads.

Visually the movie is stark, glaring and always interesting ot look at. That is probably it’s greatest strength.

thx4There are some problems, however, with THX 1138. I found the story to be kind of hard to understand at first. It does not take any time to give backstories or explain the world or the character motivations at all. The dialogue is also very simple.  It’s really a movie all about the visuals and the overall broad mess.

For those sensitive there is also a fair amount of nudity in the film, so be aware of that. It is only 95 minutes but it felt longer than that.

But problems aside, if you want to watch something that is different, that a million people could all get different interpretations on give THX 1138 a shot. I think you will really enjoy it.

 

Overall Grade- B

Disney Canon Youtube Reviews Finished!

Hey guys! I just wanted to quickly share something with you. Last week I finished my 56 week project of reviewing the Disney Canon on my youtube channel. I’m really proud of each of these videos and it was interesting to see how some opinions changed on rewatch:

Give the videos a watch and I would love to have your feedback.  Thanks!