Saturday, March 26, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: The Crystalling

Season 6, Episodes 1-2: THE CRYSTALLING
Written By Josh Haber

Well, Season 6 of "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic" has come upon us (quite early, might I add) and with it comes the season premiere simply titled "The Crystalling" and...after last season's interesting but weak finale, can the show staff pull themselves out of the ditch? Let's take a look!

So, what’s our story for the sixth season premiere? Well, in what can be described as a follow-up to Season 5's “The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows” and “The Cutie Re-Mark”, the Mane 6 travel to the Crystal Empire to attend the Crystalling of Shining Armor and Princess Cadence’s new baby by the name of Flurry Heart and Twilight Sparkle gives Starlight Glimmer her first friendship lesson…but trouble soon strikes when the Crystal Empire is in danger of an eternal winter and Starlight struggles after the failed reunion with her old friend Sunburst.

Now, when I first heard about this episode and saw the teaser clip, I had made the assumption that this was going to be the My Little Pony equivalent of the Fairly Oddparents special "Fairly Odd Baby". But I did my best to go into this episode with an open mind and much to my surprise...I was totally right. The story was exactly what I thought it was going to be and the humor was hit-and-miss with some jokes catching me off-guard and others where I knew what the outcome was going to be; thus making the overall episode feel boring and tedious to get through. As for Starlight Glimmer and Sunburst's plotline, it of course led into the inevitable "liar revealed" plotline which (as many of you Bronies know) I hate especially when you realize that the two of them are gonna feel like idiots and get back together in the end anyway.

In terms of the animation, the team at DHX always tries to outdo themselves with every episode/movie that is released in the My Little Pony franchise and I can see that they really amped up their game in terms of what they're capable of doing with Adobe Flash and it really comes into play during the pretty intense climax and the comedic sequences.

And when it comes to the characters, it feels great to see that our favorite heroines and side-characters haven't changed a bit since we last saw them...but as for the Royal Family, yeah...you could very easily swap them with Cosmo, Wanda, Timmy and Poof from Fairly Oddparents and nothing would change it. As for Starlight Glimmer and Sunburst, I can definitely tell that Starlight is trying to change for the better after everything she went through during Season 5 and I like her new mane style...Sunburst, on the other hand, I knew right away that he would be living a lie when it came to being "an all-powerful wizard"...but at least he manages to save the day along with Starlight as well as the Royal Sisters and Twilight, so that's gotta count for something.

Overall, while I did enjoy the spectacle of this episode...much like how "The Cutie Re-Mark" was the weakest of the season finales, "The Crystalling" is easily the weakest of the season premieres and thus I have to give this episode a rating of a 7.5 out of 10. Not the best, but not the worst either...just alright.

Monday, March 21, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Kung Fu Panda 3

Kung Fu Panda 3
KUNG FU PANDA 3
Written By Jonathan Aibel and Greg Berger
Composed By Hans Zimmer
Produced By Melissa Cobb
Edited By Clare Knight
Directed By Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni

Got back from seeing "Kung Fu Panda 3" with my friends CJ and Brad not too long ago and...while it's not as good as the second film, this one comes pretty damn close.
While the story doesn't take itself seriously like the first two films did and while I did notice that the Kung Fu Panda film series has become pretty formulaic, I will say that it is the funniest of the three films that we have so far since the film puts the majority of its focus on the Panda Village and the un...ique characters that reside there. That doesn't mean that it's bad because it is still executed very nicely with its action-packed scenes and strong heart/moral of accepting who you are, but it could've used another fighting scene here or there.

When it comes to the animation, what hasn't already been said about the animation quality of the films in the Kung Fu Panda series-they really show what DreamWorks is capable of doing in terms of animation, especially considering the fact that this was their first collab with their Chinese counterpart Oriental DreamWorks. Seeing as it tries to be more stylized for the third installment, the lighting plays a key factor and is made more present during the montages and the colors really help make it look comic book-esque. Not only that, but the character animation is at its finest once again-especially during the pretty intense fighting scenes. And once again, the backgrounds look absolutely gorgeous with two new locations-the Panda Village and the Spirit World.

And when it comes to the characters, it's good to see our favorite characters returning...but it feels like we don't learn anything new about since Po is still the passionate kung-fu loving geek who loves eating and the Furious Five as well as Master Shifu act more like allies to Po; thus making Mr. Ping the only real helping character in the film. As for the new characters, Li Shan as well as the pandas in the village didn't have as big of a role like I thought they would and Kai felt like he wanted to be more comedic than threatening which upsets me because the concept of his character really made him feel interesting.

While Kung Fu Panda 3 wasn't as good as the second film like I said in the beginning, it's still overall a pretty damn good third installment in an awesome series of films...even if it's starting to repeat itself a little bit, but that won't stop me from giving Kung Fu Panda 3 a rating of 8.5 out of 10.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Thomas & Friends 4D - Bubbling Boilers

THOMAS & FRIENDS 4-D: BUBBLING BOILERS

Just finished watching the new 4-D special "Thomas & Friends: Bubbling Boilers" and...for an idea that had me both interested and split on, this managed to surprise me in every way.

When it comes to the story, I went into this special thinking that the show staff had taken a giant step backwards to the era that many of us fans would like to regret. You know, I've really gotta stop doubting the current show staff and what they're capable of doing with Thomas because they lately have a knack of taking episodes that didn't work or had nothing going for them to begin with and improving on them in every way possible and this special is no exception because this was pretty much Season 13's "Creaky Cranky" and "Slippy Sodor" done right-heck, this special can even be described as Season 12's "The Party Surprise" done right as it was much more action-packed and fun than those episodes and there was plenty of humor and nods to previous episodes in the series...hell, they even paid tribute to the famous mine chase/waterfall jump sequence from the 2008 special "The Great Discovery".

When it comes to the animation, the team at Arc went above and beyond in quality considering that they were animating for a 4-D attraction and it really shows how far they've come in terms of animating for our little blue tank engine because even though I wasn't watching this in the theater, the team at Arc really helped manage to give the story that epic size and scope that you can get with a 4D attraction from the swooping angle aerial shots at the beginning to the mine chase scenes where I know that those motion theater seats will certainly be put through their paces.

And when it comes to the characters, they were all in top form-especially Cranky, who I can definitely say that I related to on a personal level when it came to this special because I sometimes feel unappreciated for all the hard work that I put in day and night-especially when it comes to the numerous videos that I put out on my YouTube channel...yeah, looking at all you Internet trolls!

Overall, I can definitely say that "Thomas & Friends 4-D: Bubbling Boilers" is a 4-D attraction worth checking out...but I'd say that the only downside to this is that it will only be screening at the Museum Of Science in Boston from April 9th and more than likely at Drayton Manor's Thomas Land as well, however that won't stop me from being proud to give this a rating of 10 out of 10.