Saturday, December 14, 2019

MLEEP Reviews: Lady And The Tramp 2019 | #LadyAndTheTramp

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LADY AND THE TRAMP
Written By Andrew Bujalski and Kari Granlund
Composed By Joseph Trapanese
Produced By Brigham Taylor
Edited By Melissa Bretherton
Directed By Charlie Bean

Glad to know that shitty remakes also extend to Disney+ now...'Lady And The Tramp' is the latest live-action update that nobody asked for...but truth be told, I never really got that much into the original.  I mean, I watched it a lot as a kid and enjoyed it...but outside of the animation which is weirdly gorgeous, you kinda think they put more like 'The Aristocats'-style animation to a story like this.  But man, this has the elegance of like 'Cinderella': for some reason, it always takes one of these crappy live-action reboots to make me realize there was actually more to it than I probably originally thought...is this the live-action remake that finally breaks the mold of the past?  Let's find out, this is 'Lady And The Tramp'!

LADY AND THE TRAMP: An upper-middle-class American cocker spaniel named Lady and a street-smart, stray schnauzer called Tramp embark on many adventures

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The story is exactly the same: there's a little dog named Lady and she comes across this stray who is called the Tramp, their owners are having a baby which confuses her and it's all about her adapting and seeing this different lifestyle of living with a baby but then going away from that lifestyle living with the Tramp on the street and all the different point of view only this time around there's a big difference-nothing is likable!  Take the animation for example: at first, I wasn't really sure what to think of it because...yeah, they really do move like dogs and it's not quite like 'Cats & Dogs' where they're clearly just filming dogs that have no direction and they just make the mouths move.  Here they clearly have real dogs, but at times they switch them out with CG and...yeah, I'll admit it is kind of hard to tell which one's the CG dog and which one's the real dog as they keep the movements pretty similar.  At first, I thought that was kind of clever...but the more I watched it and during the emotional moments, they're trying to talk and their heads are still kind of jerking around and they're looking everywhere and...yeah it's like a dog, but it gets in the way of the heavier moments that are supposed to be going on.  Take the scene where we see the Tramp abandoned for example: it's a sad scene with how the owner throws a bone and then gets back in the car and drives away, but look at him-he licks his mouth before he gets this sad look and all I'm thinking to myself is 'would an emotionally heartbroken dog do that'.  I'm sure just the real dog did and then they're like 'oh, keep it in because it's like a real dog' but it's kind of like the live-action Lion King: they're going for more realism of the animal than realism of the character and there is a balance and they're not striking right.

By far, the biggest issue though is that everything that happens in this movie seems to have no weight since most of the scenes done in the movie are done like in the last movie usually in the same order...there's a little change here and there, but it's pretty much the same thing.  But in the original when something was said, a character really had to take it in: when they're told that Trusty can't smell, it's like a big deal...'what, no', they gasp, they're shocked and they're told like 'don't tell him, it would break his heart' and they have these sad faces, it's a really big thing whereas here they just say he can't smell and they go about their day.  When the baby's being born, you see this big shift in the adults and how they treat Lady and how Lady reacts to them and she's not sure why and again it really effects her...whereas here she's just kind of curious, they tell her what's going on and that's about it.  It feels more like a pitch meeting than an actual movie, somebody just saying and then this happens and then this happens and then this happens but there's little to no reaction what's going on since they treat it like a lame romantic comedy and...yeah it's weird that these live-action remakes make me realize it, but 'Lady And The Tramp' was more than just a lame romantic comedy: there was this elegance to it, there was this beauty, there was the sophistication, there was this respect for the characters and the music and the scenes.

I guess I should talk a little about the casting in this movie: as you probably pick up really quickly, most of the people in this are people of color.  At the top of my head, I can remember seeing one white guy in the early twentieth century when I saw the trailer: I thought this seemed a little forced and was gonna be distracting...but the more I think about it, I didn't really mind since there's different ethnicity in fairy tales or 'The Princess And The Frog': you know where people are treated very different than what they're displaying.  I guess I was a little surprised at how non-distracting it was: I don't know, it almost felt like a parallel universe where just racial differences just wasn't a big deal and...yeah it's a movie with talking dogs and I'm not gonna be that focused on the realism of it.  Of course it is a little funny that they take out the Siamese Cat song since they don't even have Siamese cats in there...you know you could've left them the same-just change the voices!  No, I see they're not bad enough for the House Of Mouse but way too bad here and they just replaced their song with the most forgettable beat...I can't remember a thing about it!  Honestly a lot of this would matter less if any of the actors were...well, acting-everyone has such a bland delivery in this, like they all have to be super chipper and happy like a Hallmark card or something with the only one who has any personality is Aunt Sarah and she's not in the movie for that long but yet I guess that matches the forgettable nature of the entire flick because that's what it is: forgettable, boring and unneeded!

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Overall...I know you're probably tired of me saying this whenever one of these remakes comes out, but watch the better version of 'Lady And The Tramp' if you want the better version.  As for this Disney+ opus, I'm gonna go watch 'The Mandalorian' again and that is why I'm giving the live-action remake of 'Lady And The Tramp' a rating of a 5 out of 10.

Friday, December 6, 2019

MLEEP Reviews: Playmobil - The Movie | #PlaymobilTheMovie

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PLAYMOBIL: THE MOVIE
Written By Blaise Hemingway, Greg Erb and Jason Oremland
Composed By Heitor Pereira
Produced By Aton Soumache, Dimitri Rassam, Moritz Borman,
Alexis Vonarb, Axel Von Maydell, Timothy Burrill and Bin Wu
Edited By Maurissa Horwitz
Directed By Lino DiSalvo

I actually remember Playmobil when I was a kid...I never played with them myself, but I did remember that they were a thing in toy stores.  From what I recall, there isn't much to them other than having simple themes like time periods and holidays and jobs and more and some sets can be big where some assembly may be required-kind of like LEGOs, but a lot more limited.  However even if they were not the toys for me, I cannot ignore how they became one of the most recognizable toy brands selling millions of figures and sets every year and expanded to become a big name franchise with games along with a television series, theme parks and now its own major motion picture where the Playmobils are bringing out their legacy to theaters with an all-star cast-I mean with Playmobil's great popularity, why else would they end up having their own feature film other than to jump into the trend of turning toy lines into animated features meant to cash in on the success of The LEGO Movie...it was pretty much inevitable.  So now that Playmobil is letting out their biggest set for the big screen, will the movie be able to turn playtime into an epic time or will this have the same durability and enjoyment as cheap plastic?  Let's find out, this is 'Playmobil: The Movie'!

PLAYMOBIL - THE MOVIE: A young woman travels to the animated world of Playmobil to find her missing younger brother Charlie. In order to bring him back home, she must embark on a thrilling adventure

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PROS:
  • The animation-despite the complete lack of originality, I'll give it that the animation is well executed: in fact, it's probably the only thing that is aware that the Playmobils are toys!  By looking into the designs, they emphasize on how the characters are toys by giving them lines that separate which parts can move along with giving them textures that make them look like they're completely made of plastic-in fact, the film pays close attention to make everything feel like plastic from the buildings to the objects they have in hand to even the environments around them...the film wants to highlight that the main characters are transported to this living toy set and it does so well along with smooth character animation, large environments to emphasize the scale of the action scenes and strong lighting that help pop out the colors.  Unfortunately, this is where my praise ends: as much as I'd like to find the positives to give it some credit, the issues of its core concept also hurts the visuals that end up making them look not as impressive as the work that was put into it.  While the designs may be aware that everything is a toy, the characters don't take much notice-this is most evident in their movements where they are fluid and highly articulated as a regular person which remove some of the illusion that they are a toy.  Again going back to The LEGO Movie, a part of what made the animation be considered innovative there is how the characters play with the limitations of how a real LEGO figurine moves and give the film the illusion of stop-motion to emphasize how they could move...in Playmobil however, there was only that one instance where the characters first entered the toy world where they notice their articulate limitations and then that immediately gets thrown out and it results in making the toy element feel useless with the feature's little attention that this is a Playmobil world.  I am aware that this does have a relatively large budget, but the lack of much notice makes the plastic textures of everything feel like it was done for budgetary reasons than for the sake of enhancing the world building and from there makes the areas like the Western world or the fantasy world or the Roman world feel dull and generic!


CONS:
  • The story-ever since this film was announced, many have speculated that this would be nothing more but a LEGO Movie ripoff as it is based on a set of toys that featured numerous of different settings, however it's not actually what one would expect...after seeing this movie myself, I could safely say that you have no idea of the length that it goes in order to copy every element of The LEGO Movie-it's nearly impossible to watch this without even thinking of that film!  I know some may claim that this is not fair, but be advised that there will be a good amount of comparisons to The LEGO Movie in this review since it wants to be that so bad.  A prominent example to start off is the tone and pacing where the movie delivers a high amount of actions scenes and a large supply of humor: while this worked in LEGO for its creativity and strong wit while staying aware of its source material, it fails in Playmobil because its intentions are both clear and unappealing-it shares the same tone not because it wants to deliver an exciting experience for the audience but rather that it wants to emulate the same experience already done by another movie and has no focus on crafting its own identity making the actions scenes unengaging and the comedy to be flat with no gags that would be worth a chuckle!  Also in terms of the story itself, it doesn't even try to create something new or have the characters be on an exciting adventure in this unique world...everything feels predictably formulaic with the opening setting up the events to come enter in this cartoon world to hop into different places for this one goal and finish it off with a finale that brings back elements from the beginning to deliver a happy ending for everyone!  But if there is one thing to point out that's the core of the movie's issues, it's unfortunately the core of the movie itself: the fact that it's based on Playmobil...like I said before, it's just a set of toys that have simple theming.  Sure LEGOs are nothing but a bunch of bricks, but at least that movie takes advantage of the concept of the toys by being all about the limitless imagination of building whatever you want!  However the film rarely acknowledges that it's set in the world of toys resulting the characters to just be jumping from one generic environment to the next like a cowboy world, a Colosseum, an evil high-tech lab and a few others-again, just like The LEGO Movie!  Because of how dull the concept itself is, it results in the whole movie to feel completely bland and have nothing engaging to enthusiastically bring viewers on board for the ride.  I'm not gonna pin the blame on the director or the writers on this, I'll give them that they tried to make something-it's just that it's too noticeable how they were ball and chained to executive decisions and a hopeless concept that they didn't have much to work with in the first place!
  • The characters-as it is a blatant ripoff of The LEGO Movie, some might expect that there are also characters that will bear some strong similarities...actually that's not really the case, well there are a few that do copy LEGO characters like Rex Dasher as the egomaniac with the gadgets that greatly helped the heroes like Batman and Charlie is like this brave chosen one destined to save the people in the style of Emmet.  The rest however are a bit more different...however just because they don't copy The LEGO Movie, that doesn't mean they get a pass: what is wrong with them instead is that they are very poorly written to not just be one-dimensional but they also can only perform with just that one trait they have-Marla is the protagonist looking for her brother, Del is the down-on-his-luck comic relief, the Fairy Godmother and Robotitron are the extra helpers for a scene or two, Emperor Maximus is the crazy villain and the people who hang out with Charlie include an alien bounty hunter, an Amazon warrior, a pirate captain and a caveman.  What they are is all they can deliver and considering the movie's incapability of delivering any humor that can actually work, they don't deliver much and end up running their personality into the ground.  What's worse is when the film tries to develop the main characters to give them a little more like an arc but end up making things so much worse...this is exactly the case with Marla and Charlie: we're in the opening live-action segments after the massive mood whiplash from singing a kiddie pop song to discovering that their parents died, they both become selfish and often irresponsible brats...and even when they become Playmobils, Marla finds a way to become even more despicable by some of the desperate lengths she goes to just to find her brother.  The most positive that I can go with them is that while some are not completely hateable, they mostly end up in the levels of somewhere between full-on forgettable and kind of annoying
  • The songs-I was prepared for the LEGO Movie comparisons and the bland execution, but I'll give it that I was not prepared for it to be a musical...and from the way the songs are executed, I don't think even the movie was prepared either.  I won't be spending a lot of time on this because there isn't a lot to talk about anyways especially when there are just about four to five songs that have a legit musical number.  The issue with the songs is that they feel like they were added in at the last minute where the script and some of the animation was well into development, but then the filmmakers got the memo that they have to include songs in an effort to make the film look a little more different to The LEGO Movie...maybe that's not the case, but the songs do give out that sense especially when numbers like 'Brothers In Arms' and 'Give The People What They Want' are only describing the current situation that the characters found themselves in.  There are also a few other songs like 'So Much World' and 'Run Like The River' that sound like they were always meant for the feature no matter what but originally for the purpose to give the feature kid-friendly pop hits in the hopes that they could go on the charts.  There are probably a few more like 'Rex Dasher', but they don't count because they're just meant as background music or only on for a few seconds for the sake of a gag...I wouldn't necessarily say that they're awful or unbearable, there's just no heart to them because it was obviously never meant to be a musical and some feel like they were meant more for marketing reasons than to actually help the movie

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Being a generic and forgettable animated kids flick is one thing...but when your only identity is to desperately be just like another successful animated film, that's when you've rendered yourself worthless.  'Playmobil: The Movie' is one of the most soulless and corporately manufactured animated features who's so desperate to be just like The LEGO Movie in every way without understanding why that movie works that it ended up not having any identity of its own and completely fails to deliver any form of quality entertainment.  At best it can present some decent animation...but with such a dreadfully predictable story along with unfunny comedy and unengaging action accompanied by characters that get on your nerves and easily forgettable songs for a blank concept of a whole movie based on the Playmobil toy line, it ultimately results in a feature that just wastes your time without giving any substance in return.  If this review isn't clear enough, my recommendation is instead to just watch The LEGO Movie because this tries so hard to be The LEGO Movie that all it does is make you wish that you're watching The LEGO Movie-heck, I recommend buying your own Playmobil set instead of watching this film because at least that'll give you ninety minutes of some form of enjoyment.  'Playmobil: The Movie' is not only soulless but also shameless in the way it presents itself as a low quality copycat...and for all those reasons, it is the exact kind of film that ends up with a rating of a 3 out of 10.  If you want to rip off The LEGO Movie the right way, then just copy the part where you end up making a good movie!

Monday, December 2, 2019

MLEEP Reviews: Toy Story That Time Forgot - 5 Years Of Dino Disasters | #ToyStoryThatTimeForgot

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TOY STORY THAT TIME FORGOT
Written By Steve Purcell
Composed By Michael Giacchino
Produced By Galyn Susman
Edited By David Suther
Directed By Steve Purcell

One year after the spooky fun that we had with 'Toy Story Of Terror', we have another Toy Story holiday special just in time for the Christmas season by the name of 'Toy Story That Time Forgot'.  Likewise, I'm happy to review this special as well for you guys...however unlike 'Toy Story Of Terror', 'Toy Story That Time Forgot' is unfortunately nowhere near as good.  Where did this special fall flat to the point of extinction?  Let's find out, this is 'Toy Story That Time Forgot'!

TOY STORY THAT TIME FORGOT: When Bonnie takes Woody, Buzz, Rex and Trixie with her on a post-Christmas play date, the toys are trapped in a room with some tough dinosaur toys called Battlesaurs and must escape if they ever want to return to Bonnie's house

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So why exactly is this twenty-minute special not as good as 'Toy Story Of Terror'? I would like to start by saying that I was really looking forward to seeing this one as it had a lot of people that I like and admire attached to it from the Comic Con promo poster being created by none other than 'Hellboy' creator Mike Mignola to the main Battlesaur by the name of Reptillus Maximus played by Kevin McKidd who was doing a hilarious parody of his character from the series 'Rome' in the same vein as Carl Weathers from last year's special and the writer/director of the special being none other than 'Sam & Max: Freelance Police' creator Steve Purcell...so excuse me if my expectations were a little bit higher this year.

So, what's wrong with 'Toy Story That Time Forgot'? Well, simply that it should've been retitled 'Toy Story That Time Repeated' since this special dealt with a lot of plot elements that were pretty much already covered and concluded in the movies like there being a group of toys who don't know that they're toys...oh, you mean like Buzz in the first movie?! I kid you not, there is little to no difference between Buzz's realization scene and the one with Reptillus Maximus in this special with the only real difference being that the original film allowed for Buzz to slowly and more realistically come to terms with his reality whereas here with Reptillus Maximus when he finds out that he is an action figure and almost immediately becomes content with his new role.

Then, there's the overall portrayal of Buzz and Woody in this: now don't get me wrong, Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are still great voice actors, but in this special it seems like they are there to be nothing more than helpless victims which is something that Buzz and Woody have never been since they never give up and their cleverness to get out of precarious situations has no boundaries and not to mention that they have been in this situation before. They have both dealt with delusional toys that thought they were real-in fact, you could say that they are the experts at dealing with this particular situation yet they do nothing but take unnecessary amounts of abuse here! Towards the end, The Cleric-the leader of the Battlesaurs who is played by Steve Purcell himself-is going to kill them by dropping them into an open vent and they do nothing...uh, they've been in bigger scrapes than this before-seriously, what the hell?! In 'Toy Story 3', it took an impossible situation for them to give up...what's their excuse here?! And then after Trixie enlightens the Battlesaurs and saves the day, The Cleric who kept his society ignorant to maintain his rule as well as hurting and torturing the rest of Mason's toys on top of almost killing Buzz and Woody doesn't get his comeuppance...seriously, he doesn't even get a slap on the wrist!

But the absolute biggest failing in 'Toy Story That Time Forgot' is Trixie's character arc of being fed up with Bonnie not playing with her in the way she wants to be played with...really, that's your dilemma?! The whole plot of 'Toy Story 3' was how the toys were being neglected and their struggle to find an owner that would play with them again...and in this special, Trixie who has always had an owner that plays with her and takes care of her is whining about it?! It just seems petty, bratty and it diminishes what Buzz and Woody and the rest of the toys went through in 'Toy Story 3' to the point where you wish that Buzz or Woody or Jessie at least once would've gotten on to her for being such a whiner and yet it never happens!

One of the most shocking facts that I found out about 'Toy Story That Time Forgot' was that it took three years to make...really, three years?! I'm sorry, but I don't see three years of work here but rather a year and a half at the most. It's really hard to believe that the script for this was work-shopped for that long let alone that it was written by one of the best writers out there...and while we're on the subject of Toy Story, people who haven't seen 'Toy Story 4' yet ask me what I thought of it and to that I say...click here!

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In conclusion while the animation as well as the voice and design work are definitely up to Pixar quality, the writing of 'Toy Story That Time Forgot' is not up to par with the previous films or 'Toy Story Of Terror' and for that earns a rating of a 5 out of 10...if you've never seen anything Toy Story related before, I recommend you check out the movies first and I only recommend this special to hardcore fans of the franchise.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

MLEEP Reviews: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation | #ChristmasVacation30

Image result for national lampoon's christmas vacation
NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION
Written By John Hughes
Composed By Angelo Badalamenti
Produced By John Hughes and Tom Jacobson
Edited By Jerry Greenberg and Michael A. Stevenson
Directed By Jeremiah S. Chechik

Much like Home Alone, 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation' knew how to combine the annoyances but also the charm of staying home for Christmas. What I really like about this movie is that it focuses on a lot of details: sure it has all the pratfalls and slapstick like many physical comedies, but it also has all the little moments that you don't think about but always recognize like the grandparents asleep on the chairs or someone just mindlessly watching a Christmas show and ESPECIALLY the family conversations.
The film got all the bits that people find annoying, but also surprisingly endearing about Christmas time; that and I'm always shocked that even though Chevy Chase plays such a filthy dirty a-hole, he still seems to be likable in his naivety. All he wants is the perfect vacation which of course never happens, but by the end he realizes all the memories it's left behind and how they'll enjoy them forever. Funny, detailed and capturing every Christmas moment, 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation' knew how to expose this holiday for the enjoyable curse that it is.

Friday, November 29, 2019

MLEEP Reviews: Frozen 2 | #Frozen2

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FROZEN 2
Written By Jennifer Lee and Allison Schroeder
Composed By Christophe Beck, Robert and Kristen Anderson-Lopez
Produced By Peter Del Vecho
Edited By Jeff Draheim
Directed By Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee

After several years since Elsa was crowned as the new queen, it is time to go back to Arendelle and experience some new magic that's just waiting for us to discover...when looking back at the first movie, there's no secret as to why it earned an official sequel instead of Disney's other fairy tale based animated features-okay yeah, it's because it's one of Disney's most profitable properties and the movie went on to win multiple awards and had the title of the highest grossing animated film of all time-but there is a good reason why it became a phenomenon.  After seventy years of Disney trying to make a film adaptation of 'The Snow Queen' by Hans Christian Andersen, they finally hit their mark with a feature that strongly connected with audiences with its powerful story along with stunning animation and memorable characters and not to mention some of the most well-known and beloved songs featured in a movie in recent years...it proved how the timeless Disney formula still resonates with audiences to this day and what The Lion King did back in the 1990's is what Frozen did in the 2010's.  But now that the Royal Family is heading into the unknown, will Elsa still have enough magic to enchant the movie like before or will the sequel leave its viewers in the cold...let's find out, this is 'Frozen 2'!

FROZEN 2: Three years after the events of the first film, Elsa starts to hear a strange sound from the north calling her. Together with her sister Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven, they embark on a new journey beyond their homeland of Arendelle in order to discover the origin of Elsa's magical powers and save their kingdom

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PROS:
  • The animation-while the story may be lacking compared to the original, thankfully the animation is still as great as ever...say what you will about this feature, but there is no denying that this is a beautiful looking movie: in fact now that it is set during the fall season, it results in being a lot more colorful than before not only to bring more life to Arendelle and the Enchanted Forest but also to collaborate with the lighting to really set the mood.  Speaking of the areas with how this movie takes importance to world building, it takes its time to make the backgrounds feel as immersive as possible: while audiences are familiar with the Norwegian style kingdom of Arendelle that many people call home, the Enchanted Forest is a highly detailed area that is meant to present nature at its finest and rarely touched by men but contains some magical secrets to deliver some elements of surprise.  As for the look of the characters, the designs are still great like they were from the previous film with the only addition being the new people that the family encounters in the Enchanted Forest while also presenting the elemental spirits as the standout new characters to the Frozen world...but when it comes to the character animation, the animators have given their all to make the film visually engaging through the movements of the characters: they help enforce the emotions of the moments especially to make the musical numbers stronger and the action more intense to keep audiences at the edge of their seats.  But if there's one standout component of the animation that makes this a true visual spectacle, it's the use of effects: the first movie did a great job with Elsa's ice powers, but now the sequel has plenty of new elements to play with and uses them quite effectively to enhance the magic of the movie's environment along with staying true to that Frozen spirit where the magic plays a big role in the characters' identity like with Elsa
  • The characters-part of what builds a great amount of anticipation for the sequel is to see the beloved characters return on another epic adventure, the good news is that most of them come back presenting what made them Disney icons in the first place...however the key word here is most: starting off with the royal sisters Anna and Elsa, it's like I said before...they supply the heart of the movie with their family love for one another.  Now that they're spending more time together after the years of isolation, this quest to seek the truth about Arendelle and their family's past put their bond to the test: while each sister also has an important goal to accomplish for it, Elsa wants to figure out what's that voice she's been hearing in the hopes that it could answer many questions for herself while Anna wants to keep Elsa safe and make sure to stick by her side so that they don't up distant from each other again.  Olaf also has a prominent role in this new installment and at first I was worried if his goofy sense of nature would be too out of place for a movie that might want to take itself a little more seriously...as it turns out, he's actually a well needed comic relief: it's possible that his humor might not connect with everyone, but his role is to balance the tone by supplying his innocent personality and light-hearted comedy like a moment for audiences to breathe easily after an intensely serious moment.  As for the new characters, they don't play that much of a significant role in the feature itself: for the most part, they're meant to enhance the world building of the Enchanted Forest...but among all the people of Frozen, none have gotten more of an unfortunate downgrade than Kristoff: his problem is that he has this side plot that serves little to no purpose in the main story where he tries throughout the feature to propose to Anna...being this tedious trope is one thing, but it makes it worse with the fact that Disney has already done this is one of their older animated sequels with Bernard in 'The Rescuers Down Under'!  However regardless of which character it is rather it be great or flawed, there is one thing that helps embolden the cast: just like the crew making this film, the actors have this strong sense of passion for making this movie the best it can be and deliver a fantastic voice-over performance that helps strengthen each character...they play a vital role in easing some of their issues and carry a positive note to keep some form of likability onto them.
  • The songs-out of all the elements of the movie, the songs are most likely the ones that would have the toughest act to follow after what the first established: keep in mind that with the first Frozen, they're some of the most well-known and beloved songs that came out of the movie in the entire decade.  While the story and some of the characters may not get that same standard as the first, the musical numbers surprisingly do: they contain the same strong sense of emotion, that impact, that epic feeling that made the older ones viral sensations.  They start out on a strong note with a lullaby-like melody called 'All Is Found' which encompasses the whole feature and set the story.  There are also a few songs that aim to be a little more comical or joyful that end up with some mixed results: there's 'Some Things Never Change' that feel like a throwaway for the sake of moving the plot forward while others like 'When I Am Older' and 'Lost In The Woods' are enjoyable where Olaf's song adds a bit of naive fun to play more with his character while Kristoff's song is possibly the funniest in the way that it parodies those 1980's style love songs.  But then there are Elsa's numbers: some say that it can't be done to make something equally as powerful and unforgettable as 'Let It Go', but this movie found a way with not one but two songs with 'Into The Unknown' and 'Show Yourself': they're the ones that let out the biggest emotion and deliver the best moments of the movie that make it feel like a true spectacle and I'll even give credit to 'The Next Right Thing' to have it be Anna's strong solo moment-I'd also like to add that the visuals really helped with the musical numbers to amplify the mood rather it be to make things funnier, meaningful or even more grand.

CONS:
  • The story-as Elsa and her family take on a brand new adventure in the Enchanted Forest to discover the truth of their family's past, they find themselves in honestly a bit of a mess...and I don't mean they got themselves in a sticky situation, I mean that the story itself is poorly planned out.  This is unfortunately the biggest issue with the sequel that makes it a bit of a downgrade to the original: in terms of the plot itself and the story structure, they're just not as well handled as the first and results in a predictable and clumsy outcome.  The foreshadowing makes things obvious, there's no balance on what the movie should be about, there's a pointless side plot with Kristoff and there's a good amount of questions that end up getting unanswered...I don't necessarily blame the filmmakers for this because it is noticeable that they were having a hard time to figure out how to continue the story and to do so while maintaining the high standard of the first.  Disney is amazing at making timeless animated films, but let's be real: follow-ups are not their specialty.  However even though it's not a great story, that doesn't mean it's hopeless since the writing still tries everything it can to make the most out of the concepts while maintaining the elements that audiences love the most from the predecessor: yes, the story itself can be debatably weak...but it still provides a strong amount of heart from the sisterly bond between Anna and Elsa as well the light-hearted humor that helps balance out the serious and dark moments that gives the film a sweet charm and some surprisingly intense moments coming from the musical numbers and the action scenes.  It also does well on the world building to make the Enchanted Forest highly immersive with the elemental spirits in charge of the place in the history between the Arendellian soldiers and the Northuldra tribe: if it cannot deliver in the concepts, then it tries all it can to make up for it with the execution to make it as epic and engaging as possible while still staying true to the spirit of the first film

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Is 'Frozen 2' as good as the first movie, honestly no...does it still have that same wow factor and masterclass craftsmanship that's worth checking out, absolutely.  'Frozen 2' may be a minor downgrade from the legendary original, but it is still a greatly built animated feature that keeps the spirit of Frozen alive and deliver what made the first one one of the most iconic movies of the 2010 decade.  While the story may be poorly organized, the movie is still highly engaging with intense action and enjoyable humor along with the return of beloved characters with amazing voice acting accompanied by beautiful animation and songs that are on par to the ones of the original.  For my recommendations, I believe that the ones who will enjoy this the most will be fans of the first...if you like the original Frozen, then this is worth checking out however I don't think I would say the same for those who are not.  I don't believe this would really change the minds of those who are doubtful of Frozen, then again I could be wrong just by glancing at the wide variety of reactions.  Is there a point to having a 'Frozen 2', probably not but the effort to prove its worth is certainly admirable and for that earns a rating of a 9 out of 10.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

MLEEP Reviews: Thomas & Friends - Thomas And Percy's Mountain Adventure | #HappyThanksgiving

Written By Britt Allcroft and David Mitton
Composed By Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell
Produced By Britt Allcroft and David Mitton
Edited By John L. Wright
Directed By David Mitton

Happy Thanksgiving, everypony!  True Blue here with a new editorial to mark this special occasion, so let's talk about the American narration of the 'Thomas & Friends' television series: now we all know that when Thomas The Tank Engine first aired on Shining Time Station in the U.S., series creator Britt Allcroft changed the terms trucks to cars as well as goods to freight and so on in order to use terminology that the new target audience would be familiar with.  Now this is understandable, but Britt Allcroft also changed the titles of numerous stories when they were released in America: 'Thomas And Gordon' became 'Thomas Gets Tricked', 'The Sad Story Of Henry' became 'Come Out Henry' and so on and so forth throughout the first few seasons.  This has always struck me as strange as there was really no reason to do this when the titles didn't mention trucks or The Fat Controller, but I'm not here to talk about those episodes...I'm here to talk about the one episode that was completely rewritten just to coincide with a Shining Time Station episode and I'm of course talking about the infamous 'Thomas And Percy's Christmas Mountain Adventure'.

Originally titled 'Thomas And Percy's Christmas Adventure' in the U.K., the episode centered around Thomas and Percy trying to provide food for Christmas dinner to villagers stranded by a snowstorm...but when the episode aired on the Shining Time Station episode 'Billy's Party' in 1993, it focused on Thanksgiving rather than Christmas to fit the Thanksgiving theme of the Shining Time Station episode.  How strange did this classic episode get due to the rewrite?  Well, it only made sense to revisit this iconic episode from the classic era of the series to compare and contrast the two versions and see which one is superior...and I think we can all figure out where this is going, this is 'Thomas And Percy's Christmas Mountain Adventure'!

THOMAS AND PERCY'S CHRISTMAS MOUNTAIN ADVENTURE: Harold, Terence, Thomas and Percy rescue villagers stranded in a snowstorm

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'It's nearly Christmas Thanksgiving and I'll bring you lots of letters and parcels'

The episode starts out pretty well as we see Thomas making his way to the village of Ulfstead nestled deep in the heart of the Island Of Sodor, but it is fifteen seconds into the episode when we enter the village of Ulfstead that our biggest problem with this rewritten episode lies when Thomas is giving 'season's greetings' to all his friends in the village: in the U.K. version where the holiday being represented is very obviously Christmas in the month of December, the U.S. version says it takes place at the time of Thanksgiving in November...the problem here is that Thanksgiving is an AMERICAN holiday and Sodor happens to be a British island with British engines, they wouldn't celebrate Thanksgiving on Sodor thus it doesn't make sense to have a Thanksgiving episode of the series!


After Thomas leaves the village of Ulfstead, we go full steam ahead into our plot device for the episode in the form of an early snow storm a week later leaving the Island Of Sodor covered with thick snow and the engines either finding their work difficult like James trying to free some buried tankers to no avail while others like Donald are helping to clear snow from the track while the workmen hack away at the frozen banks of ice.  Okay, I know I said the whole Thanksgiving was the major issue with this rewrite but yet this is another big thing since it hardly ever snows that much in November in the U.K. and it hardly ever snows in November where I live-this is coming from someone who lives in a place that is stereotypical in snowiness.

'Driver says there's lots of mail for the village, I'll need an extra car for it all'
'It's not fair, you're not leaving any mail for me!'

We then see Thomas and Percy at Arlesburgh Harbor collecting important mail for Christmas Thanksgiving and Thomas is bragging about there being lots of mail for the village to the point where he'll need an extra mail car for it all leaving Percy feeling very left out at the thought of Thomas not leaving any mail for him...really, is Thomas gonna take all of the mail on the island leaving none left for Percy-I'm sorry, but I'm calling B.S. (aka 'Bad Steamer') on that one!  But the squabble of the best friends is interrupted when a change of plans from Sir Topham Hatt sends Thomas to Knapford Station while Percy is to take Thomas' train to the village of Ulfstead leaving Percy feeling delighted but Thomas feeling sad that he won't be able to say 'Happy Christmas Thanksgiving' to all of his friends despite Percy offering to do it for him-that's right, because you live in Britain and Thanksgiving is an AMERICAN holiday...everyone you know that celebrates Thanksgiving probably lives thousands of miles away!


Percy is making good time on his way to the village of Ulfstead when his driver spots a fogman by the line holding a red light informing them that the village is cut off by the snow and that they need snowplows, workmen and a helicopter thus prompting Percy to leave his mail cars in a siding and race to Harold's airfield at Dryaw calling upon the helicopter for his help in the rescue...and with Percy calling Harold 'lazy wings', I'm surprised Harold didn't respond that he wasn't going anywhere until Percy took back his remark.  Once Harold takes off, Percy then finds Thomas with Terence The Tractor and a works train...and with that, the rescue team of friends head back to Ulfstead where the rescue operation begins with Thomas and Percy clearing the lines and Terence The Tractor plowing the 'lovely stuff' as he says away from the streets and roads while Harold The Helicopter is busily dropping food for Christmas Thanksgiving dinner to the people below-if you listen very carefully, you can hear the villagers calling up to Harold going 'stop dropping turkeys, we have food...we don't even celebrate Thanksgiving!'

'Well done, Percy!  Well done, Thomas!'

Once the rescue mission is complete, the villagers thank Thomas and Percy for everything they've done while Thomas remembers that Percy's mail train is still back at the siding leaving Percy hurrying back to fetch it...but wait a second, there was a huge chunk of dialogue missing there!  Here is what was said in the U.K. version:

'Well done, Percy! Well done, Thomas!
You're the best Santa Claus this village has ever had!'
'What's a Santa Claus?'
'Santa Claus is someone who drops presents down chimneys during Christmas time'
'I wonder if...'
'No! Chimneys, Percy! Not funnels!'

That is a brilliant little bit between Thomas and Percy...why, why did they cut that-oh yeah, because of the Thanksgiving theme!
We then see Toby and Henrietta arrive with lots of hot drinks and food for the villagers until the engines go back to their sheds, but Toby and Henrietta stay behind in the village where the villagers have made a plan to thank the engines for all their hard work as they load paint pots and parcels into Henrietta before setting off into the moonlit countryside...but in this 'Thanksgiving' version of the episode when it was originally released on the 'Percy's Ghostly Trick' video cassette, did anyone just hear Percy whistle? That's because without that little bit of dialogue between Thomas and Percy about Santa Claus in the U.K. version, the music and sound effects are way out of sync: now they do try to fix this issue in the version seen on the 'Thomas' Christmas Wonderland' release, but it is now the narrations that are way out of sync since they used the footage and orchestrations from the U.K. version...just watch both versions and see for yourself, that's just lazy editing! While Toby has no idea what the villagers are going to do, he knows that it's going to be a big surprise...
Turns out Toby is right since it is a big surprise as the engines cannot believe their eyes when they wake up the next morning as they find that the sheds have been repainted and decorated with parcels laying everywhere around a huge tree...for Christmas?! I-I thought this was a Thanksgiving episode, didn't you...and thus concludes 'Thomas And Percy's Christmas Mountain Adventure'.
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Overall, what is the point...what is the point of this episode?! I understand wanting to make a Shining Time Station episode that's Thanksgiving themed because Shining Time Station is set in the United States, but does it really have to have an episode that's almost completely rewritten?! There are plenty of pre-existing episodes that have themes about being thankful and grateful for the people and things around you: the Shining Time Station episode wouldn't have suffered if they had just re-used some old stories and the U.S. wouldn't have lost a great Christmas episode, but at least they didn't change the name of Christmas into some silly generic non-denominational holiday for the sake of political correctness...like they say in the television series, 'but that's another story'. Until next time, I'm True Blue wishing all of my friends and family in the United States a very happy Thanksgiving and...brace yourselves, the winter holidays are coming!

Monday, November 25, 2019

MLEEP Reviews: The Princess And The Frog - 10 Years Of Going Down The Bayou | #PrincessAndTheFrog10

Image result for the princess and the frog
THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG
Written By Ron Clements and John Musker
Composed By Alan Menken
Produced By John Musker and Howard Ashman
Edited By Mark Hester
Directed By Ron Clements and John Musker


For a while, the 2-D Disney Animation Studio was shut down because the last few movies that were made were not huge financial successes and half of them weren't even critical successes. So after a long time away, Disney decided to finally return to its roots: go back to the fairy tales, go back to the happily ever afters and go back to the magical stuff. This is where 'The Princess And The Frog' comes in: let me tell you, I was excited to see an animated 2-D Disney film on the big screen again...and not just a satire one like 'Enchanted', I mean a real one. Can Tiana and Naveen still find a way to 'Dig A Little Deeper' and deliver a traditionally animated masterpiece after ten years? Let's find out, this is 'The Princess And The Frog'!

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG: Hardworking and ambitious, Tiana dreams of one day opening the finest restaurant in New Orleans...but her dream takes a slight detour when she meets Prince Naveen who has been turned into an amphibian by evil Dr. Facilier. Mistaking her for a princess and hoping to break the spell, Naveen plants a kiss on poor Tiana thereby turning her into a frog as well resulting in the pair hopping along on an adventure through the bayous to seek the help of a powerful voodoo priestess.

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Let’s look at our characters starting with Tiana who at the time of the film's release was probably the best female lead since Belle from 'Beauty And The Beast'-she’s a fast thinker, she’s positive and she’s a workaholic...gosh, never thought you would see that in a Disney Princess! Prince Naveen is also a lot of fun-he’s full of himself, but he’s also got a lot of innocence to him. Tiana’s best friend Charlotte La Bouff is f--king hilarious since I haven’t seen a Disney character this funny in a long time-every second she is on screen, she just cracks me up. The villain Dr. Facilier is also a lot of fun-the fact that he’s into voodoo allows for a lot of creative visuals and a lot of great possibilities while they take advantage of them all. On top of that, the rest of the side characters are also very memorable from Louis The Alligator who wants to be a musician to Ray The Cajun Firefly who thinks he’s in love with a star in the sky and a witch doctor by the name of Mama Odie who always has the answer to every question.

So okay, this film sounds about as good as the classic traditional great Disney movies...what could possibly go wrong with it? Well, there’s only one problem with the movie and sadly it’s kind of a big one: the story. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just...a little too complicated-I mean okay I told you the basics, but I didn’t even tell you about the fact that Dr. Facilier has a deal with the underworld so that he can take control of the town...but in order to take control of the town, he has to have the guy who looks like the prince marry the daughter of the mayor of the town...but in order to do that, they constantly need the blood of the frog prince to constantly give to that guy or else his disguise will fade away...but it turns out the prince has to be kissed by the daughter of the mayor because the mayor always appoints himself the king of the parade which technically makes her a princess...but that has to be done before midnight on the certain day....but on top of that, you also have to have the two main characters fall in love with each other while they're discovering how to fix their own faults as well as each other’s...oh, and did I mention that there’s also a totally unnecessary death and a totally goofy silly funeral scene that’ll either make you laugh or cry or both-oh my gosh, it’s too much!

I always said that this should’ve been called "Loophole: The Movie" because that’s what it always seems like: every second, they’re trying to look for a new loophole to get around something. Now I guess it's not a major problem, but here's the thing: one of the charms of movies like 'The Little Mermaid', 'Beauty and the Beast', 'Aladdin' and so forth is that the stories were always very flowing since they knew exactly how much to give to the characters and exactly how much to give to the details while 'The Princess And The Frog' has way too many details going on...but it’s not that bad like I said, it’s just not as good as the other Disney flicks had it put together. Yes, the songs are by Randy Newman and two of them are pretty good to be fair with "Friends on the Other Side" being a great villain song and "Almost There" actually having a very memorable nice beat to it. The others however, I don’t remember them and I guess again that is a problem with the movie...but then again to the movie’s credit, it does take place in New Orleans and at least the musical style does match even if it’s not all memorable.

I guess I should talk about some of the controversy that surrounded 'The Princess And The Frog' before I wrap up: of course, Tiana was the first black princess and there was a lot of talk about the fact that she was originally supposed to be a chambermaid yet they changed it and made her a waitress while that caused a lot of uproar too..."oh, it’s changing history...it’s changing the way things were back then!" Well, you know what...there’s a f--king talking frog, I think we’ll live! Yeah it’s changing things, but you know what...we’re always gonna have reminders of how things really work because this is a fairy tale, let the kids have their fairy tale. On top of that, there’s also controversy about why the film didn’t do as well as Disney was hoping: now let me clarify that, it didn’t bomb...but it wasn’t the gigantic hit they were hoping for. Was it racism, was the world just not ready for a black princess yet? I guess it could be, but I have my own theory: I think it is a prejudice, but it’s not against black people but rather against hand-drawn films.

It’s been a while since one has been marketed to both adults and kids...and let’s be honest, this is still a family picture and the majority of family pictures coming out nowadays are either live-action or 3-D. Personally, I think a lot of adults still see hand-drawn films as kid stuff. I mean, it could get people in the seats if it was really doing something new like 'The Little Mermaid' or just did it spectacularly like 'Beauty and the Beast'...and to be fair even though I like this film, it really didn’t since it updated the fairy tale very nicely and very cleverly and yet the problems with the story do hold it back from being anything spectacular. Like I said before, only a few of the Randy Newman songs are memorable since there’s no "Be Our Guest" in there...so that’s my theory. But to be honest, it still made money and I’d be more concerned if nobody saw it...but you know what, people did-it wasn't a ton of them but a lot of the past 2D-animated Disney films didn't have a ton of people looking at them at the same time and nobody screamed racism at that. But I don’t know all the people in the world, so it’s anybody’s guess...it’s just a theory.

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Overall on the whole though, I really enjoyed 'The Princess And The Frog' since I felt just like I was seeing 'The Little Mermaid' or 'Beauty and the Beast' again. It was great to see it on the big screen, it was great to see these characters and I had a lot of fun watching it: the animation's great, the colors are great, the characters are great...I enjoyed watching it and I know I’ll be seeing it a few more times in the future, so 'The Princess And The Frog' for that gets a rating of an 8 out of 10.