Saturday, July 30, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Stranger Than Fan Fiction

Season 6, Episode 13: Stranger Than Fan Fiction
Written By Josh Haber and Michael Vogel

Well…that was a short hiatus, but it feels great to be back reviewing episodes again and…no sooner do I get back from a Brony convention and the mid-Season 6 premiere is convention-themed.  Not only that, we have Patton Oswalt guest voicing!  I can tell we're in for an awesome episode, but will this short hiatus help or harm Friendship Is Magic?  Let’s take a look at ‘Stranger Than Fan Fiction’!

Rainbow Dash attends the Daring Do Convention in Manehattan and meets a pony named Quibble Pants (voiced by Patton Oswalt) who despises the later Daring Do books as much as she loves them. The two of them soon get wrapped up in a real life Daring Do adventure and must settle their differences if they have any chance of surviving the convention.  I’ll be honest, I was extremely excited to see this episode when I first heard about it-not only because of Patton Oswalt, but I was excited to see how the staff of MLP would go all out in poking fun at the many conventions that the show has and sure enough…this episode managed to exceed my expectations.

When it comes to the story, the way that the MLP staff poke fun at their many conventions actually contains a lot of subtext about the Brony community and I can guarantee that anyone who has ever been to a My Little Pony convention whether it's BronyCon or Everfree Northwest will easily be able to recognize the many things that makes these conventions so special from the varying quality of people cosplaying as their favorite characters to the fan-made merchandise in the vendor halls that you really can't find anywhere else...but speaking of the Brony community subtext, this is where the moral shines through as they show that it's okay for fans to not agree on what makes their interests so enjoyable as stated by Quibble Pants at the end.

As for the animation, it's great to see that the team at DHX hasn't lost its charm during the hiatus and it really comes into play when the show staff were poking fun at Brony conventions and also expanding on the world of Daring Do with the new locations and trying to make it as action-packed of an adventure as possible.

And when it comes to the characters...due to the hidden subtext of the Brony community, Rainbow Dash and Quibble Pants played off each other brilliantly as the dedicated fans who couldn't agree on everything that Daring Do has been a part of as neither side of the argument had the moral high ground and it was like watching an argument between Bronies on which seasons of My Little Pony are better than others as well as those who couldn't get into it when they first discovered it-bravo to Ashleigh Ball, Patton Oswalt and even Chiara Zanni as Daring Do for delivering some truly awesome performances!

Overall, 'Stranger Than Fan Fiction' is not only easily one of the best love letters to the My Little Pony community I've ever seen...but easily one of the best Rainbow Dash episodes ever and gets a rating from me of a 10 out of 10.

Friday, July 22, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Thomas & Friends/DC Super Friends Double Feature


First up, in the exclusive short for San Diego Comic Con, Thomas and Diesel both dream about being their favorite DC Comics superheroes-Batman and Superman-as they battle the forces of evil in the form of Brainiac (James) and The Riddler (Charlie).  Being someone who enjoyed the DC Super Friends short from last year, I was excited to see what they had in store for this year and to my surprise...this year's short was even better than last year.

When it comes to the story....whereas last year's short felt more like a Justice League daydream fantasy, this year's felt a lot more natural and it stayed true to the universes of both Batman and Superman by having the fantasies take place in the universe of that engine's favorite superhero dream.  Not only that, but there was plenty of humor to keep it entertaining with highlights like Diesel at Mr. Bubbles' Puzzle Emporium.

As for the animation, it stays true to the style of DC Comics comic books but they also try to animate the panels as well which really helps bring the story to life in my opinion.  I also noticed that it was a lot more sketchy like the comic books than it was last time where it looked kind of basic.

And when it comes to the characters, the characters they chose to fill the roles of the DC heroes and villains were great like Thomas as Superman and Diesel as Batman...but the one that had me bursting out laughing was Charlie as The Riddler-my God, I swear that this crossover happened just so they could cast him in that role...and this is coming from someone who hates Charlie with a burning passion.  Not only that, but the side characters that appeared worked great as well...but I have to ask: why isn't there a MINIS Ryan or Annie and Clarabel?

Overall, as a short to continue the DC Comics crossover in the MINIS range, this will definitely be one worth checking out at this year's San Diego Comic Con and I give this a rating of a 10 out of 10.


Finally, in this new project by the #ThomasCreatorCollective team, Superman Thomas and Batman Diesel meet up in the biggest crossover ever...and the only small thing about it are the MINIS.  Being someone who has loved the past Creator Collective projects, I was excited to see what they could do with the MINIS brand and sure enough...the team managed to surprise me once again.

When it comes to the story, it can easily be described as the movie 'Batman V. Superman' done correctly because if you know your DC Comics films...'Batman V. Superman' was the one crossover film that everyone wanted to see this year, but never wanted to see again after they did as the Nostalgia Critic and Angry Joe said so in their review of it back in April.  So, the team at #ThomasCreatorCollective took every advantage they could in this new short to poke fun at and make jabs at how bad the film was...and I'll admit that I was laughing throughout the entire thing.

As for the animation, this is the very first Creator Collective project to use the MINIS brand of merchandise and the team really knew how to think big when it came to small-sized engines from the backgrounds like the Batcave designed by MrConductorFan1406 to the face animation on the engines...not to mention the beautifully CG-crafted warehouse scenes done by DieselD199.  In fact, at the very beginning, they even poke fun at how cheap of a budget the team has when Henry says "where did that fishing wire come from?"

And when it comes to the characters, the Creator Collective team really knew how to ham up the performances of the engines in order to make the numerous jabs at 'Batman V. Superman' like how egotistical Batman is and I have to congratulate everyone on the voice cast for some truly memorable performances.

Overall, the #ThomasCreatorCollective team has done it again...they managed to deliver a truly epic and humorous adventure on quite possibly the smallest scale yet and I'm proud to give this short a 10 out of 10.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Ice Age - Collision Course

Ice age collision course.jpg
Written By Michael J. Wilson, Micheal Berg and Yoni Brenner
Composed By John Debney
Produced By Lori Forte
Edited By James Palumbo
Directed By Mike Thurmeier

Just finished watching 'Ice Age: Collision Course' via a link to the entire movie and...for a film that I wasn't looking forward to seeing since I think the Ice Age franchise should've gone extinct after 'Continental Drift', could this fifth installment prove me wrong like last time? The answer is...nope.

When it comes to the story, stop me if you've heard this before: our main characters get separated from the group of animals due to the world changing around them and they now have to find a way to get back to the...yeah, it's extremely obvious what Blue Sky did here: they once again took the total lazy route and not only copied the plot of 'The Meltdown', but combined it with 'Dawn Of The Dinosaurs'...WHY?!? 'Ice Age: The Meltdown' was the worst film of the series in my opinion...taking a plot from another movie is one thing, but taking a plot from another film that's from your own series is taking it to a whole new level. However, much like 'Continental Drift', this isn't an exact copy of the second film since they do add and change things to make it different...but they unfortunately don't add anything to the plot since it feels more like they're trying to fill their time limit. So yeah, you're probably wondering 'is there anything good about the story?!?'...well, there is and it's the subplot with Scrat since it has nothing to do with the main plot and it's easily the funniest thing about the movie.

As for the animation, the team at Blue Sky once again refuse to give us anything new in terms of the Ice Age franchise (unless you count 'Dawn Of The Dinosaurs') since all you're watching is basically watching extinct animals on icy and snowy landscapes. Don't get me wrong, it still looks great with things like the texture of the different animal furs as well as the backgrounds...but we've seen this so many times now to the point where it becomes dull to talk about. Also, there were times when the characters would get way too close to the screen in order to do a 3-D effect in certain theater screenings...but I'd rather not have to look at a face that looks disgusting and just makes me feel uncomfortable while watching.

And when it comes to the characters, they once again did the "He's A Screw-Up" plot with Sid when they shouldn't have since he has proven time and time again that he can still make things right. As for Diego and Manny, they are portrayed in the exact same way that they were in 'The Meltdown'. Next, we have Ellie and the possums (Crash and Eddie) as well as Peaches, I'm glad that they have a bigger role in this film compared to how they were treated last time...but what the hell happened to Louis, Peaches' molehog love interest from the last movie?!? Then, we have Buck...who I'm just gonna say right now that I wasn't looking forward to seeing when I found out he was going to be a part of this film since he hasn't changed a bit since he last appeared. And finally, we have Scrat and I'm so happy to see that he is still his acorn-obsessed self and he is why I feel so relieved whenever he is on screen since he has easily the best scenes in the movie...and it's not even worth talking about the new characters since I don't remember any of them.

Overall, I wanted to like this film...but 'Ice Age: Collision Course' is an obvious sign that the 'Ice Age' franchise has really overstayed its welcome and needs to end soon before any more damage can be done. As much as I didn't want to do this, I unfortunately have to give this film a 4 out of 10. All I can really say at this point is...PLEASE SAVE ME, 'SAUSAGE PARTY'!!!

MLEEP Reviews: The Secret Life Of Pets

The Secret Life of Pets poster.jpg
Written By Brian Lynch, Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio
Composed By Alexandre Desplat
Produced By Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy
Edited By Ken Schretzmann
Directed By Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney

Just finished watching 'The Secret Life Of Pets' via a link to the entire movie and...can Illumination Entertainment show that they make great comedies that aren't about despicable villains and their minions?  The answer is...sort of.

When it comes to the story, it openly explains what is going to happen for the rest of the film once Katie introduces Duke to Max and after you get through all the scenes that you saw in the teaser trailer; thus making it feel really predictable and something that we've seen before in other films to the point where it takes away all the suspense that the film was trying to build up.  If anything, this movie can easily be described as a combined re-tread of 'Toy Story' and 'Oliver & Company' when you look at the bare backbone of the film...all you really have to do is replace Max and Duke with Woody and Buzz.  However, the execution is what saves the story in order to help make it successfully comedic along with the dialogue delivered by the voice cast and the relationship between the pets and their owners.

Much like the story, the animation may be nothing special...but the execution makes it nice to watch.  Sure, the idea of talking animals in New York City is nothing new...but the character design stays true to Illumination's style from the 'Despicable Me' franchise and puts an emphasis on shape-yeah, it may look weird, but it really shines in term of the design of the animals in order to help with their cuteness and the comedy.  Not only that, but this is one of those rare films that truly captures the feeling of New York City without having to go to the famous landmarks or mentioning obvious things that make people think of New York...and as for the character animation, the animators spent a good amount of time researching animal movement and the many ways to get laughs out of them like with Buddy and Snowball.

And as for the characters, they are easily what people will remember the most about this film since the performances are what truly brings them to life and makes them likeable like Jenny Slate (who you may remember as Assistant Mayor Bellwether from 'Zootopia' earlier this year) as Gidget and Kevin Hart as Snowball.  Sure, they may not be the strongest characters ever written on paper...but the performances are what gives them that comedic edge and what truly elevates them to become memorable.

Overall, it may not be one of Illumination Entertainment's best animated films...but 'The Secret Life Of Pets' isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.  If anything, it's actually quite a charmingly cute movie and I'm gonna give it a 7 out of 10.