Monday, October 14, 2019

MLEEP Reviews: Thomas & Friends - Rangers Of The Rails | #BigWorldBigAdventures

Season 23, Episode 24: Rangers Of The Rails
Written By Davey Moore
Directed By Dianna Basso


The engines of the North Western Railway have had some pretty big adventures throughout the years from making exciting discoveries to solving mysteries and stopping evildoers in the ultimate discovery of friendship...and Season 23 of 'Thomas & Friends' has certainly been an eventful season so far from discovering new kinds of music to jam along to meeting new arrivals on the railway and getting to explore new parts of the world yet to be discovered.  But as we near the end for this season of 'Thomas & Friends', it's time for some girl power after letting the boys have all the fun for a majority of the season.  Let's go go go on a big adventure with Emily, Nia and the 'Rangers Of The Rails'!


RANGERS OF THE RAILS: Emily wants to have an adventure while taking the Sodor Rangers camping, but gets more than she bargained for when she gets derailed by a fallen tree

---

PROS:
  • 'All The Girls Around The World'-not only is this an episode centered around Emily and Nia along with some moments with Rebecca even if she doesn't play a huge part in the episode, but it's been a while since we've had an all girl centered episode of 'Thomas & Friends'...and with gender equality being one of the global goals for Thomas through their partnership with the United Nations, who better to present this goal than the three female members of the new Steam Team.  On top of that, I don't think we've ever had an episode of 'Thomas & Friends' that has revolved around the concept of Scouting...and with this being an episode centered around the girls of the Steam Team, what better way to add on to this concept than to have Emily take a troop of Girl Scouts to the castle only for it to end up becoming a camping trip when Emily gets stuck by a fallen tree with Nia coming to Emily's rescue after an important truck was left behind!  I may have been involved with the Boy Scouts, but my sister and one of my aunts were a part of their own Girl Scout troops and I can definitely relate to this episode concept on a personal level...this really is the perfect episode for 'all the girls around the world' because now the time is theirs and they can do anything (see what I did there?)!
  • The fantasy sequences-with this now being one of the major selling points for the series, this sequence of Emily imagining being able to go on a big adventure like Thomas and her friend Nia did during the 'Big World Big Adventures' movie was very interesting to see since what is presented during the fantasy are all scenes from the movie but with Thomas' role swapped out with Emily from steaming through the African Savannah to the epic yet stormy bridge collapse in Brazil and it really makes you wonder how the movie would've played out if Emily were the one to go all the way around the world instead of Thomas...while it would've been cool to show a scene of Emily rescuing Nia in the Himalayas as well as possibly being in the North American Wild West, there's only so much that you can do within the time-span of a seven minute episode without going overboard and it doesn't really bother me since this was meant to show how close Emily and Nia have become as friends ever since Nia first arrived on Sodor!

CONS:
  • N/A

---


Overall despite not having the most interesting of fantasy sequences, 'Rangers Of The Rails' was quite honestly the biggest dose of girl power that 'Thomas & Friends' has ever seen...and especially since my family has a history of Scouting whether for boys or girls, I am a-okay with this episode's concept and that is why I'm gonna give this episode a rating of a 9.5 out of 10...see you all soon for the season finale as we go full steam ahead!




Sunday, October 13, 2019

MLEEP Reviews: The Banana Splits Movie | #BananaSplitsMovie

Image result for the banana splits movie
THE BANANA SPLITS MOVIE
Written By Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas
Composed By Patrick Stump
Edited By Michael P. Mason
Directed By Danishka Esterhazy


You guys have no idea how excited I am to satisfy my curiosity with this one...believe it or not when I was a kid, I actually saw The Banana Splits.  There was a little period during my childhood mostly when my family was at restaurants like Glory Days or Cici's Pizza when I would watch a whole bunch of Hanna-Barbera shows on Boomerang checking them out one by one rather it be 'The Flintstones' or 'The Jetsons' or 'Yogi Bear'.  I used to be into a lot of different Hanna-Barbera shows of course and a lot of them are really popular, but then you would also have some of the smaller shows that didn't necessarily last long and one of those was of course 'The Banana Splits': now I didn't necessarily care for the cartoons that would air during The Banana Splits because a lot of them were really the Johnny Quest-style action cartoons that Hanna-Barbera would often make, but I would watch The Banana Splits mainly for the live-action segments because they were a lot more psychedelic to look at and a lot more funny than the cartoons they were presenting since you just wanna hang out with the goofy characters that they have from Bingo to Drooper to Fleegle to Snorky.

That was the main selling point of The Banana Splits-you want to hang out with this cartoon band and it was just a lot of fun seeing their crazy shenanigans of which I actually got to see The Banana Splits performing at Hard Rock Park during the one year that it was open down in South Carolina back in 2008 and...while it's not necessarily my favorite of the Hanna-Barbera shows nor is it the most memorable, I do remember it as a period from my childhood and had a good time with them.  Fast forward many years later, The Banana Splits got back into the news...and not only would they return for a movie, but somehow they decided to turn The Banana Splits into an R-rated horror slasher film.  It was possibly one of the weirdest pieces of news that I have heard in recent years, but I knew that I wanted to go and check it out while hoping that this film would answer three big questions: why do they want to turn The Banana Splits into a horror movie, why do they want to make a Banana Splits movie after fifty years since it existed and why are Warner Brothers and the people handling the Hanna-Barbera properties okay with this.  Looks like it's time to find out and watch the madness unfold with 'The Banana Splits Movie'...let's take a look!

THE BANANA SPLITS MOVIE: A boy named Harley and his family attend a taping of The Banana Splits TV show which is supposed to be a fun-filled birthday for young Harley and business as usual for Rebecca-the producer of the series. But things take an unexpected turn and the body count quickly rises...can Harley, his mom and their new pals safely escape?

---

We live in an era where fans demand their nostalgia be vacuum sealed and placed on a golden pedestal, and here comes a movie based on a beloved kids series in which the cuddly animal rock ’n’ roll band comes to life and murders everybody in the audience: it’s bold, it’s subversive and it must be noted that it’s damn near apocalyptic as far as branding goes since Hanna-Barbera’s 'The Banana Splits' are a gory, R-rated horror franchise now and you’d have a lot of trouble putting them in an innocuous kids show now that the target wholesome demographic can also see Fleegle saw someone in half and celebrate as their guts fall out. That anarchic attitude towards a pop culture institution helps rescue 'The Banana Splits Movie' because it wouldn’t be a particularly noteworthy horror movie without its premise since the kills are satisfyingly gross and the cast is uniformly adequate and yet watching someone get bludgeoned to death with a cartoonishly over-sized hammer isn’t nearly as intriguing as watching a popular childhood icon do it which is what helps this movie succeed in the gore department with a satisfying sequence of slasher slays and lots of gross kills but yet the film relies so much on cognitive disconnect that it never feels like more than an ironic kill count. The decision to film the majority of them with muted tones while telegraphing all the horror to come, probably does the film’s raison d’ĂȘtre a disservice since it always looks like we’re watching an ultra-violent movie with the Banana Splits in it and never like we’re watching a Banana Splits episode with ultra-violence in it. Instead of feeling unwholesome while baked into the premise, The Banana Splits Movie feels a bit like a foregone conclusion.

The script by Scott Thomas and Jed Elinoff who also wrote 'The Jetsons & WWE: Robo-WrestleMania' wastes no time introducing a bunch of other fodder-sorry, “characters”-who will mostly meet gruesome ends from overbearing stage parents to selfish TV executives and even adult Banana Splits fans who stream everything on Instagram because they’re all on site to watch what we soon discover will be the last episode of The Banana Splits since the studio is under new management and the Splits even though they’re a cultural institution aren’t cool anymore...and if you think that’s bad, wait until you find out that the Banana Splits aren’t actually people in suits but life-sized super strong animatronic robots whose faulty programming demands that the show must go on always even if they have to kill everyone in the studio. Except for the protagonists, the characters almost all exist only to be horrifically murdered by childhood icons thus seeming like a calculated effort has been made to make most of the victims either terrible people or at least annoying enough to make us happy they’re finally off-camera. That’s par for the course in a slasher movie, but it’s just another example of The Banana Splits Movie relying on its premise to overcome the limitations of the story and yet that strategy mostly pays off.

---


Overall...oh boy, what an adventure! I know that I left a lot of nitpicks and criticisms, but let's be honest: all of that does not matter, it doesn't matter of the dumb things or the criticisms or the problems with 'The Banana Splits Movie' since it knows very well what it is. It's absolutely stupid, it's just supposed to be your typical slaughter film but with The Banana Splits and I will say...yeah, it's a bad and stupid movie but yet it knows what it is and it knows its kind of audience since you're just here to see The Banana Splits kill people in a very gory fashion and it did deliver what it's supposed to do on that front. I can't hate or fault it...and after watching this movie on SYFY for this year's Halloween season, I feel like 'you know what, it accomplishes its mission and it wanted to do what it wants to do...this movie succeeds in its mission' and I think it's worth it on that front. While it is uncertain if a sequel to 'The Banana Splits Movie' is in the future based off the cliffhanger we receive at the end, for now I'm gonna give 'The Banana Splits Movie' a rating of a 7.5 out of 10.

MLEEP Reviews: My Little Pony - A Decade Of Pony | #MLPSeriesFinale

MY LITTLE PONY: A DECADE OF PONY

When it was announced in February that Season 9 would be the final season of 'My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic', it shook the entire fandom with everyone reeling from the news that this year would be the final year for this much beloved series. But after nine seasons on television with over two hundred episodes, it seemed like a good time to end it. After starting this journey within the fandom back in 2013, I've seen a lot of ups and downs through the years...and this year is when it all ends. But before we close the book on our adventures in Equestria for this final season of My Little Pony's fourth generation, it's time to look back over the past ten years of magical friendship we've shared with six little ponies in a special documentary called 'My Little Pony: A Decade Of Pony'! Let's take a look...

MY LITTLE PONY - A DECADE OF PONY: The new special 'My Little Pony - A Decade of Pony' invites fans to watch as creators, animators and voice actors behind the beloved series share their favorite memories from the past nine seasons and go into the recording studio to witness the magic that goes into making an episode. Fans will gain never-before-seen access to the making of the series featuring an historical overview of the brand and interviews with Mane Six cast members, creator Lauren Faust and others.

---

I have to admit, watching some of these scenes along with the creators and everyone talking about how much this fourth generation of My Little Pony affected their lives really made me feel nostalgic. Hearing each of the creators and writers as well as the voice actors and songwriters and even the storyboard artists...just everyone that was involved in the production made me feel excited and it brought me back to the early days of the fandom when I was just getting introduced to the series and even back then just as all of these show creators did that there was something truly special here. Listening to series creator Lauren Faust talk about her work so many years after she was initially pitching the idea because she would play with the My Little Pony toys from the 1980's series as a kid which was followed years later by Hasbro approaching her saying 'hey, could you do something with this property', Lauren kind of jumped at the chance and kind of started playing around with her toys again so to speak.

Thinking about each of the voice actresses ranging from Tara Strong and Andrea Libman to Ashleigh Ball and Tabitha St. Germain as well as Rebecca Shoichet, so many of them who had no idea it would last anywhere near as long-in fact, I think one of the initial lines in this documentary from writer Josh Haber is 'you never expect a job to go more than a season or two seasons...three seasons is a success, but no one expected us to go for an entire nine seasons' and...yeah, I didn't expect the show to go this long since I remember way back in the day when Season 3 was just getting underway and there were rumors going about that it might have been the last season of the show and a case of 'well, let's get up to sixty five episodes and call it there' and yet getting well over two hundred is quite an accomplishment.

Hearing each of the writers and voice actresses talk about these early seasons and watching those little clips like when Twilight Sparkle met Fluttershy for the first time back in the series pilot, I will admit that it gave me jitters since it was kind of melting my heart remembering exactly what drew me into the show in the first place and listening to them talk about how the 1980's series was kind of empowering for little girls and a part of why they wanted to make this newer series is because they wanted to appeal not only to a new generation of children but also the mothers who grew up watching the original 1980's show and how they wanted mothers and their children to watch the show together. Not one of them would have expected so many adult fans or those who didn't even grow up with the show to start falling in love with it and just enjoying every single moment...that certainly threw me for a loop way back in the day when I first heard that there was a big fandom that was surrounding this new generation of My Little Pony to the point where I was like 'really...really?!' and being just confused, but I kept hearing more and more about it and I am so glad that I took the steps to 'hey, let's see what this show is about...hey, let's see what this community is about...oh goodness, there's so much to talk about and I want to put my voice out there'.

The creators talk about how it's changed their lives in so many ways and it's changed the lives of so many fans including myself over the years and...yeah. Watching a special like this really tugs at your heartstrings not only making you feel so nostalgic, but I believe as Ashleigh Ball puts it towards the end of the special: "I don't want it to be over, it's weird...it's like, thinking about some of these song sessions and how I wanted to pull my hair out a lot of the time and now I'm like 'I'm never gonna have that again'". Yeah, it is gonna feel weird...it is gonna feel like a chapter is closing, and then listening to Daniel Ingram talk about how many songs he's put together over the years as well as how at least one episode every season was kind of a musical montage and...yeah, listening to the pieces from years back makes me want to go back and watch this series all the way through again. It's been so long since I've revisited some of those early seasons in particular...and then watching as so many of the storyboard artists and the writers, they work in spaces that are surrounded in pony memorabilia-posters, plushes, figurines, little toys, you name it! Yeah, it's kind of fun going to work every day and being surrounded by all this pony merchandise getting to enjoy what you do.

Listening to the writers talk about how they're putting together these ideas and scripts while getting so excited when they see the first animatics of something that they put together...yeah, it is a tremendously fun feeling in that I can only claim to feel just a tad bit of what they feel when I get to see something that I was coming up with an idea for and suddenly see it spring into life many months later. I can only imagine what that would be like going through that year after year for episode after episode thinking as many of the show creators had pointed out that Generation 4 of My Little Pony has kind of changed the ballgame in that there is children's content especially for little girls that has been influenced by this generation of My Little Pony and...yeah, I'm kind of looking forward to seeing what new creators come up with because they were fans of the show or were working on the show.

With how much I've been praising this celebratory documentary, is there however a down side to this whole thing? Unfortunately, there is since it premiered the day before the series finale of My Little Pony was supposed to air as a prime-time event and this documentary was filled to the brim with spoilers especially during the last five minutes from the storyboard artists and animators working on scenes from the finale to the voice actresses recording their lines whether speaking or singing for the finale song 'The Magic Of Friendship Grows'...and knowing how the Bronies and Pegasisters within the community can get all butt-hurt over spoilers and leaks and early releases when all they want to do is stick to the Discovery Family schedule, there were no shortage of people online going absolutely bonkers telling everyone online not to watch the documentary until the series finale has officially premiered. Being someone who watched the series finale back when it was 'leaked' to the public by mistake, this didn't bother me as much but yet all I can say about those who still get upset over spoilers after having been a part of the fandom for the past six years is that...as much fun as I've had, there are things in this fandom that can really be improved!

---

Overall...despite poor timing on Discovery Family's part of airing this before the series finale of My Little Pony, it is quite a trip watching 'My Little Pony: A Decade Of Pony' thinking about all the years that have gone by and how far everyone has come. I encourage more people to seek out this documentary...it's fairly short around the length of a normal episode of the series and the last five minutes are flooded with spoilers like I said earlier. Even though it's gonna feel weird and maybe even a little sad to see everything come to an end, I am glad I stuck around until the very end of the series getting to spend those last few minutes with the characters that we've all grown to love and enjoy while thinking about where everything will go from here. Despite the problems I may have with the fandom, I'm not finished with this community just yet and I hope a lot of you out there aren't either...for that, I am gonna give 'My Little Pony: A Decade Of Pony' a rating of a 9 out of 10. Thank you, My Little Pony...friendship was, is and always will be magic!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

MLEEP Reviews: Thomas & Friends - Too Loud, Thomas! | #BigWorldBigAdventures

Season 23, Episode 23: Too Loud, Thomas!
Written By Becky Overton
Directed By Dianna Basso

When Season 23 of 'Thomas & Friends' first began, Thomas had traveled to Brazil where he learned about their special party music that they called batucada and even got to give some performers a musical ride as he went about his work with his 'musical cargo' as well as getting to start the carnival with a blast of his whistle after accidentally bringing a rusty old tanker to start the show...but what sort of musical adventures will Thomas get up to in Italy when he reunites with his friends Lorenzo and Beppe?  Let's go go go on a big world adventure back to Italy as we lower the volume with 'Too Loud, Thomas'!

TOO LOUD, THOMAS: Thomas wants to perform opera like Lorenzo and Beppe, but finds it a lot more difficult than he first thought

---

PROS:
  • The animation-even if they had to reuse a lot of assets from Sodor in order to create the railways of Italy like they did for the movie such as Lower Suddery Station and the shunting yards, you can't deny that the team at Jam Filled still did an amazing job in capturing the beauty and serenity of Italy from the lush green valleys filled with trees to the magnificent mountains and beautiful beaches where we get to see the return of a rather huge and amphibious old friend who I was so happy to see again since his debut in the 'Digs & Discoveries' two part special...I may not have ever been to Italy myself, but I adore how gorgeous it looks and authentic it sounds in the music department thanks to the compositions by Chris Renshaw-what else can you say except 'bravo, bellissimo'!
  • The fantasy sequences-with this now being one of the major selling points for the series, this sequence of Thomas painted in white with clown makeup on his face singing opera as a nod to the famous Italian clown-based opera 'Pagliacci' amazed me in how authentic the stage environment was and how true it stuck to the original source material which I'm sure that the adults will easily be able to pick up on even if this is a reference that will more than likely fly over the heads of the kids and a majority of the fandom ...it's funny how now both of my favorite animated shows have referenced 'Pagliacci' this year alone: the My Little Pony episode 'Between Dark And Dawn' where a rather agitated Princess Celestia was dragged by Princess Luna into seeing 'Ponygliacci' while on their sister trip, and now here with 'Thomas & Friends' in an entirely opera-based episode especially considering that the most opera we have seen in the series is any of the appearances from Alicia Botti ever since her debut in Season 6!
  • The return of Ester-although she doesn't appear on screen as much as Stefano does, Ester still makes for a pretty enjoyable character since we have never had a female excavator in the world of Thomas before seeing as we've only had Alfie and Oliver from The Pack who made their return in the second part of the 'Digs & Discoveries' two part special and we can see that she gets very excitable about the archaeological dig that she is working on with Gina...while we may not have gotten to fully dive deep into her character, it was great knowing her while we did!
  • The return of Stefano-just from his legendary beach landing alone, Stefano has certainly made a grand entrance into the Thomas & Friends universe since we've never had a 'super cruiser' as Mattel calls him in Thomas before-in fact as his character bio states, he is quite charming and gentle despite him being a bit of a showboat who loves to wow everyone with his amphibious abilities and revels in their surprise...but I really wish that a majority of the fandom would stop making D-Day jokes about Stefano every time that he enters and exits the beach when talking to Thomas-guys, it's flat out insulting to history and to those men who gave their lives so that we could continue to live ours!

CONS:
  • 'Singing Sucks'-I understand what this episode was going for in terms of Thomas failing to sing opera like Lorenzo and Beppe, but the thing that irritates me to no end is honestly what the episode is showcasing and that is Thomas singing horribly since both of Thomas' current voice actors John Hasler (UK) and Joseph May (US) have both sung fairly well as the number one engine in the past as well as there being times when they're pretty spot on in modern 'Thomas & Friends'...and with this episode, it's like they were trying to make it horribly off key on purpose which is made worse by the fact that this takes up a majority of the episode which I feel could really irritate a lot of the fandom since it's like being at a karaoke bar full of nothing but singers who are drunk off their asses or have no singing chops whatsoever!  Like I said, I understand what this episode was trying to do with its concept...but it just feels weird when you know that the actors working behind the scenes have sung much better in the past

---

Overall despite having hitting some sour notes, 'Too Loud, Thomas' made for a pretty good conclusion to our adventures in beautiful Italy...whether or not we see our friends Gina or Stefano or even Lorenzo and Beppe again is up for debate at this point, but for now I am gonna give 'Too Loud, Thomas' a rating of an 8 out of 10.


MLEEP Reviews: Thomas & Friends - Lorenzo's Solo | #BigWorldBigAdventures

Season 23, Episode 22: Lorenzo's Solo
Written By Becky Overton
Directed By Dianna Basso

When Thomas went on a big world adventure to help on the railways of Italy, he had heard from the amphibious giant Stefano about the legendary yet curious lost engine Lorenzo who along with his coach Beppe in tow traveled from Rome to Napoli searching for rare hidden treasures until he got stuck in a closed mine unable to move...and it was a real surprise for Thomas along with Gina and Stefano as well as Thomas' construction friends from The Pack when Thomas discovered that the legend of the lost engine was in fact real when he found the pair of best friends while wishing to make an exciting discovery.  But now that Lorenzo and Beppe are repaired and good as new, what curious adventures will these two get up to now?  Let's go go go on a big world adventure and find out as we sing along to 'Lorenzo's Solo'!

LORENZO'S SOLO: Lorenzo decides to take a bigger coach so he can pull famous opera singer Dame Bella Canto, but he is soon lost without his good friend Beppe

---

PROS:
  • The animation-even if they had to reuse a lot of assets from Sodor in order to create the railways of Italy like they did for the movie such as the Shunting Yards and Lower Suddery Station, you can't deny that the team at Jam Filled still did an amazing job in capturing the beauty and serenity of Italy from the lush green valleys filled with trees to the magnificent mountains and beautiful beaches even going as far as animating the Italian Scrapyards of which I'm surprised that the Italians just dump their trash onto what was once a very beautiful landscape as well as the Colosseum where Dame Bella Canto performs...I may not have ever been to Italy myself, but I adore how gorgeous it looks and authentic it sounds in the music department thanks to the compositions by Chris Renshaw-what else can you say except 'bravo, bellissimo'!
  • The fantasy sequences-with this now being one of the major selling points for the series, this sequence fueled by Lorenzo's starstruck ego of singing along in perfect harmony with Dame Bella Canto as they travel the scenic route while Gina and Beppe take the orchestra along a different track was actually very interesting as we see the two opera singers on the same stage that we saw Lorenzo on earlier this year when the 'Lorenzo's Song' music video was released over YouTube on the Smyths YouTube channel...but considering the fact that we have two massive egos going at each other when there is room for only one soloist in Italy, this unfortunately will lead to the episode's greatest downfall in its career and it looks like it's time to get into the Cons section of this review!


CONS:
  • Lorenzo-when we were first introduced to Lorenzo back in the 'Digs & Discoveries' two part special, I was actually looking forward to seeing more of him in the future with how adventurous he was while being a curious soul much like his new friend Thomas when he was working the railways of Italy alongside Gina...but then came this episode and I was left completely disappointed since Lorenzo had absolutely no reason to blame Beppe for not being chose to take Dame Bella Canto (who we'll get to in a minute) and her orchestra to the concert nor was it right of him to trick Beppe and take a larger coach in order for him to still get what he wanted while Gina took the orchestra especially when they had shown since their debut that these two best friends are inseparable...while it is nice that they once again reference Lorenzo's curiosity getting him lost from what we had seen back in 'Digs & Discoveries', it doesn't make up for the fact that Lorenzo was portrayed as a completely egotistical jerk for a majority of the episode to the point where you're just sitting there waiting for him to realize his mistake!  Guess I have to unfortunately add Lorenzo to the list of arrogant tender engines in the series...but speaking of arrogance, next topic!
  • Dame Bella Canto-what could've been a golden opportunity to see Alicia Botti return in her presumable homeland after the amount of times that we have seen her on Sodor was unfortunately wasted by introducing a new opera singer by the name of Dame Bella Canto who while being an interesting parallel to how egotistical Lorenzo was behaving towards Beppe for a majority of the episode when it came to how she treated her orchestra and the porter at the station was unfortunately too arrogant in order to leave a lasting impression on me since she goes through the exact same steps that Alicia Botti went through when we first met her back in Season 6 with how she chose Percy to take her to the concert despite his dirty appearance especially after Thomas' squeaky guest aboard his coaches...at least Alicia Botti would've been more understanding and accepting of Beppe initially than Dame Bella Canto ever was and what makes it worse is that this was her only episode!


---

Overall as the episode to welcome us back into the beauty of Italy, 'Lorenzo's Solo' unfortunately started us off on a sour note because a character who I was really looking forward to seeing again ended up doing a complete one-eighty and unfortunately continued the trend of arrogant tender engines who think they know better than everyone else...I am so sorry to do this to both Lorenzo and Beppe for their very first solo episode of the series, but I unfortunately have to give 'Lorenzo's Solo' a 6.5 out of 10.


MLEEP Reviews: Thomas & Friends - Deep Trouble | #BigWorldBigAdventures

Season 23, Episode 21: Deep Trouble
Written By Michael White
Directed By Dianna Basso

Despite being as hardworking as the rest of their colleagues in The Pack, Max and Monty are usually devious and manipulative trucks who cause trouble for everyone they come into contact with until they are sternly scolded by Miss Jenny or any other form of authority when they are found out...and it seems like they may have gotten themselves into deep trouble when working at the lead mines on Thomas' branch line. Let's go go go on a big adventure with Max and Monty as we get into some 'Deep Trouble'!

DEEP TROUBLE: Careless Monty ignores the warning flags and gets himself into very deep trouble

---

PROS:
  • 'The Rise And Fall Of The Lead Mines'-with The Pack's newest construction site being at the old lead mines on Thomas' branch lines where they are being turned into a visitors' park, naturally it made sense for Thomas to be the one that takes Jack and Alfie to the site like he did during the days of the 'Jack And The Pack' spinoff series...and while we end up getting yet another reference to Season 1's "Down The Mine" for the umpteenth time, Thomas is actually using common sense and brings up a good logical reason as to why he doesn't want to make the same mistakes twice in how the ground may not be strong enough to hold his weight-in fact, this could very well be considered as a Jack And The Pack themed version of 'Down The Mine' considering the events that happen within this episode in terms of Max and Monty thinking that they know better than others with more experience like Darcy when they think the grounds of the lead mines are strong enough to hold their weight only to be proven wrong and make things right with those that they wronged at the start of the episode!
  • The return of Jack And The Pack-I don't know how many fans in the community really wanted to see Jack And The Pack again in the series especially ever since the Big World Big Adventures revamp first started, but I am probably in the minority when I say that I loved Jack And The Pack during the model era of the series as well as in Season 20's "Mucking About" since they were a very cool concept albeit only having one or two episodes in the series every so often...also if you really think about it, Jack And The Pack will be having more appearances and screen time in this one season than they've had in the entirety of the series prior to this unless you count the half-completed spin-off series that happened between Seasons 7 and 8 of the television series!  Also, there have been quite a few changes to the construction crew from Nathan Clarke no longer voicing Alfie The Excavator after Season 20's "Mucking About" as well as seeing more characters other than Thomas and Percy interacting with The Pack like they did during the model era days of the series on top of there being a couple of new recruits to join the team and balance out the genders...but we'll get to her in a moment!
  • The return of Miss Jenny-the marketing may say that Jack The Frontloader is the leader of The Pack, but the real credit goes to the manager of the company and that is none other than the stern but friendly Miss Jenny Packard making her highly anticipated return to the series after a decade since Season 12's "Percy And The Bandstand" albeit in a non-speaking role since her last official role in the series was actually in the Jack And The Pack spinoff episode 'Mud Glorious Mud'...but regardless of when she last appeared, it is so great to see Miss Jenny again after so long and what's also great is that writer Michael White who has closely worked with Andrew Brenner kept her personality intact when entering into the newly CG-environment of the Thomas & Friends universe from her stern but friendly personality to her Irish accent supplied by newcomer to the voice cast Harriet Kershaw who will also supply the voice of Darcy The Tunnel Boring Machine.  What else can you except...Miss Jenny, you'd make a mother proud!
  • The fantasy sequences-with this now being one of the major selling points for the series, this sequence fueled by Max fearing the worst of leaving Monty in the deep hole he got himself into by ignoring the warning flags was actually pretty damn funny with Monty constantly falling and landing on ledges going the classic route of cartoony slapstick to match the fantasy sequences concept perfectly before crashing right through a hole into the heart of Australia of all places where we see Shane make a return since earlier in the season with 'Laid Back Shane'...it seems like the fantasy sequences that writer Michael White incorporates into the series are usually the funniest while also being the most creative!

CONS:
  • N/A


---


Overall for what was basically a Jack And The Pack-themed version of Season 1's "Down The Mine", 'Deep Trouble' hardly caused any trouble at all in bringing our adventures with Jack And The Pack for Season 23 as a whole to a close...from discovering in Italy to digging on Sodor, there is nothing that this team of construction vehicles can't do and that is why I'm giving 'Deep Trouble' a rating of a 9 out of 10.



Saturday, October 5, 2019

MLEEP Reviews: The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad - 70 Years Of Frightful Fun | #IchabodAndMrToad70

Image result for the adventures of ichabod and mr. toad
THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD
Written By Erdman Penner, Winston Hibbler, Joe Rinaldi,
Ted Sears, Homer Brightman and Harry Reeves
Composed By Oliver Wallace
Produced By Walt Disney
Edited By John O. Young
Directed By Jack Kinney, Clyde Geronimi and James Algar

So we went from a bunch of shorts in 'Make Mine Music' to just two in 'Fun And Fancy Free' to a bunch of shorts in 'Melody Time' to just two again with the movie we're taking a look at today-the only exception for this time being that the stories they picked were much more out of the norm since they weren't really fairy tales but rather just classic stories.  Both of them have their funny upbeat moments, but both have this very underlying dark tone throughout the whole film and even the setting for the narrators is a little off being set in this dark dark library-you don't even see the narrator, it's just these books sorta floating and the stained glass window with a candle in it.  When I was a kid, I loved it and I still love it as an adult...but can these two shorts still scare up some fun after seventy years?  Let's find out, this is 'The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad'!

THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD: Two animated adaptations of classic literature make up this Disney film. In "The Wind in the Willows," wealthy Mr. Toad yearns for all the newest fads setting out to get an automobile in any way he can...and in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," gangling schoolmaster Ichabod Crane falls for the beautiful Katrina Van Tassel but soon fears from a local legend called the Headless Horseman while caught in a love triangle with Katrina and Brom Bones.

---

First up, we have 'The Wind In The Willows' which when you get down to it is another very strange book...the weird part is not that animals are walking and talking, it's the fact that everybody else in the world is human and also the fact that they're to scale-the rat is literally the size of a rat, that just looks so odd!  But the rest of the story seems to follow pretty closely to the book with Mr. Toad being the extremist all over anything that's new and hot-as the Brits call it, 'mania'-resulting in him making a really stupid deal while handing over a toad-haul in exchange for a motorcar with a man named Mr. Winky who I'm sure is some sort of ethnic stereotype that eventually tells a different story in court of the fact that Mr. Toad stole the car resulting in Mr. Toad being thrown in jail with only his friends being able to save him...speaking of which, Moley and Ratty are a lot of fun along with Mr. Toad himself being enjoyably crazy and even the horse Cyril Proudbottom gets a few good one-liners like when explaining to the judge how the only way a gentleman gets anything being the honest way with the judge not knowing what the honest way is-that scene just cracks me up every time!

Finally, you have 'The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow' which in terms of story layout even to the original book is so odd to me and yet I really love it because of that with most of the short just being Ichabod Crane and how he interacts with the people in the town including having both a bully and a girlfriend while being caught in a love triangle who I'm pretty sure in terms of their designs went on to inspire Gaston from 'Beauty And The Beast' and Cinderella from...well, 'Cinderella'-heck, I'm not surprised since the very next animated film that Disney would ever produce after this movie is 'Cinderella'!  Most of the story is done through mime-yeah, Bing Crosby narrates the story but people don't really talk for the most part and yet so much character still comes out of them including the fact that something I never noticed as a kid being Ichabod himself being a dick.  When you look at what he wants to do, he wants to marry Katrina and mainly get her money-I mean, he's already fantasizing about her father being out of the picture!

I think a lot of people when they look back think of Ichabod Crane as this innocent that gets killed by the Headless Horseman, but no-he was actually sort of a bastard which for Disney is kinda interesting with the fact it's one of the few times where you actually have sort of a jerk being your lead.  In fact, you could make the argument that Brom Bones though being a bully is much more of a good guy-I mean, he doesn't do anything really wrong or at least not as wrong as Ichabod and for all we know maybe he'd make a better boyfriend to Katrina...who knows?  But of course, the part that everyone remembers is the built up appearance of the Headless Horseman...oh lord, that laugh is cool and I think it's one of those rare times that a lot of kids found themselves both scared and laughing at the same time making the climax a lot of fun in that way being sorta like 'Evil Dead 2'-in fact, I'd be shocked if director Sam Raimi didn't take a lot of the atmosphere and tone directly from this cartoon!  It's just your classic ghost story with a classic ghost story ending...

---

Overall, the two shorts that make up 'The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad' seem to actually go pretty well together taking advantage of the fact that it's cinematic resulting in getting a lot of fun camera angles while also sticking true to their stories and taking some creative liberties.  Whenever anyone thinks of 'The Wind In The Willows' or 'The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow', these are usually the first two versions that come in mind and that's probably not so bad-it's of course good to read the originals, but these are pretty good adaptations.  Heavy on the dark but also big on the laughs, I am proud to give 'The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad' a rating of a 9 out of 10...either one is great on its own, but they work just as good back-to-back.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

MLEEP Reviews: Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers - Big Things Come In Small Packages | #RescueRangers30

Image
CHIP 'N' DALE RESCUE RANGERS:
BIG THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES

Now we're talking, 'Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers' was the famous chipmunk duo forming a team to help them save anyone in danger...think of them as an anti-Pinky and the Brain. You know Chip and Dale of course...but on top of that there was Gadget, Zipper and Monterey Jack. While these characters were memorable and extremely likable, it did suddenly make me realize the traditional team formula that lingered over most kid shows: for example you have the inventor, you have the muscle, you have the leader, you have the goof-off and of course the little cute one that's just so darn adorable. But let's be fair, this is when that formula was just starting to be put into effect and give the show credit for putting two popular characters on a team instead of just keeping it two people whose real voices sound like Babs Bunny and the Crazy Taxi guy fighting over the same woman. Most of their time was spent fighting off evil schemes usually from the diabolical Fat Cat...and surprisingly he has no political tie-ins despite the fact that his name is in fact Fat Cat, though I guess he does look a touch like Christopher Christie. While we're on the subject, did you know that Chip and Dale were actually modeled after Indiana Jones and Magnum P.I.? Gosh, wouldn't that have been a totally different show if it matched their personalities too?

The characters allowed for a lot of inventive story-lines and ideas like Gadget being the rodent equivalent of MacGyver-I mean, good lord just look at half the things she makes. A lot of the characters lent their way to learning some good lessons too like always be yourself, have confidence in your work...don't join cults?! Yeah, there was actually an episode about the dangers of following a cult and I like most kids around my age found out what a cult was by watching this episode-hey, it's better than finding out other ways! It's actually a pretty clever social satire where a group of mice mistake a Cola commercial-you know, the ones that always say you don't belong unless you buy our product-and they turn it into a literal interpretation...and I'll be damned if I can't remember one algebraic equation from all my days of school, but yet years later I still remember every f--king word of the Coo-Coo Cola song.

It was cute, it was clever, it had characters we could never forget...it was a whole lot of fun.