Sunday, October 27, 2019

MLEEP Reviews: The Incredibles - 15 Super Years | #TheIncredibles

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THE INCREDIBLES
Written By Brad Bird
Composed By Michael Giacchino
Produced By Brad Bird
Edited By Stephen Schaffer
Directed By Brad Bird

I have real mixed thoughts about 'The Incredibles' with my guess being that because it was bringing a lot of stuff to the big screen that I wanted to see for a while, but maybe that got me a little too overhyped.  For example, it was great seeing a computer-animated film by Brad Bird whose work I really enjoyed in 'The Iron Giant' and The Simpsons.  It was great seeing a comedic superhero movie which at the time we only sorta got 'The Tick' and maybe one or two other ones that didn't really go anywhere, so it was great seeing an awesome team of writers from Pixar take on a subject matter like this along with the fact that we had never seen the idea of a superhero family before which allowed for a lot of creative characters and powers with their abilities...but can these supers still be incredible after fifteen years?  Let's find out, this is 'The Incredibles'!

THE INCREDIBLES: In this lauded Pixar animated film, married superheroes Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl are forced to assume mundane lives as Bob and Helen Parr after all super-powered activities have been banned by the government. While Mr. Incredible loves his wife and kids, he longs to return to a life of adventure getting his chance when summoned to an island to battle an out-of-control robot resulting in getting himself in trouble and it's up to his family to save him.

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It's nice to see a Pixar film that actually focuses on people for once and what I like is that they don't try to make them look like actual people but rather look like three-dimensional cartoons.  Director Brad Bird always had great designs for his animation and they show here because it doesn't look like something that started being designed in a computer but rather being drawn first and then turned into a three-dimensional model making the designs as well as the characters much more memorable.  It's also nice to see Pixar continue with its dramatic tone since 'The Incredibles' actually doesn't have as many laughs as you would think it would since it focuses more on Mr. Parr/Mr. Incredible's mid-life crisis in how the color is sucked out of his world and how he wants a little sympathy from his family whether it's really deserving to him or not, but that's kind of a main problem for people with the film.

The movie is called 'The Incredibles', but a lot of people feel that it should've been called 'Mr. Incredible' and I can see where they're coming from because the focus is mostly on him and to be honest you can kinda get the idea of what he's going through in maybe the first ten minutes.  Don't get me wrong, the family gets focus too but not really until the last third which is a shame because I like the family a lot from the flexible Mrs. Parr/Elastigirl to super speedy Dash to force field wielding Violet to infant Jack-Jack who has the famous psychotic breakdown at the end.  I really wanted more of them in terms of their personalities through their interactions and their powers which we do get a lot of that in the last third like I said earlier, but a majority of it is dealing with Mr. Parr/Mr. Incredible's mid-life crisis which for a lot of people feels like it has too much focus.

However, there are still some redeeming qualities in the first two thirds like the really great fashion designer Edna Mode who is actually voiced by Brad Bird as well who designs the costumes for the family and it's a lot of fun just seeing her almost psychotic passion for what she does.  But voice acting aside, one of the sad weaknesses in Brad Bird's works is that the stories are often a little choppy because I'll be the first to admit that the narratives are not very flowing as much as I loved 'The Iron Giant' and a lot of his other works.  I mean, they work okay and the characters are what I think ultimately pulls it through but yet they always seem to jump around a bit and I always feel that one more rewrite would probably make these films a little stronger.

But that's in no way saying that 'The Incredibles' or Brad Bird's other works are any means failures because they're not since the strongest point of 'The Incredibles' is the last third like I said earlier where you see the powers being used while the family interacts through comedy and action...you pretty much see all the stuff that you're waiting for all at once and it is well worth the wait even though a lot of people wish we could've seen more of this in the first two thirds.  If they had done that, I think they would've really loved this movie...but for what it is when it does get to the parts that it does really well, it's a ton of fun while being smart and emotional and having some good jokes since I believe Brad Bird's biggest strength is his connections with families especially in the scene where Mrs. Parr/Elastigirl is talking to her children very much like how mothers in real life would talk to their children even if it is a very bizarre setup.  On top of that, I also like the way that Brad Bird writes kids-very energized but insecure as well, they're troublemakers but they're not stupid and they have a lot of personality.

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Overall while it does have its weaknesses, 'The Incredibles' is still very entertaining and creative even if it is a little inconsistent...it's a good film if you just manage to get through some of the slower scenes and it's great to finally see Pixar branching out and actually working with human characters like I said before, so I'm gonna give 'The Incredibles' a rating of a 9 out of 10.

Friday, October 25, 2019

MLEEP Reviews: Maleficent - Mistress Of Evil | #Maleficent

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MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL
Written By Linda Woolverton, Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue
Composed By Geoff Zanelli
Produced By Joe Roth, Angelina Jolie and Duncan Henderson
Edited By Laura Jennings and Craig Wood
Directed By Joachim Ronning


Looking back at Disney's 2014 re-imagining of their 1959 animated classic 'Sleeping Beauty', Maleficent is a film that as time moves on and the more I think about it...the more I realized that it's actually really really really really really dumb.  Granted there are some good things to note about the feature like Angelina Jolie did deliver a great performance as the Mistress Of All Evil and the visuals are well done, but it's just that everything else is a complete disaster.  Even with Angelina Jolie putting effort, some of the cast is terrible with people who are either under-acting or over-acting and the writing is absolutely hopeless since what was supposed to be a remake of the animated film told through the perspective of the villain became this convoluted story that feels like a broken down rip-off of 'Wicked' covered with pointless characters along with embarrassing comedy and a message of feminism that is so badly executed and forcefully hammered in that it actually did more damage to women representation in cinema than actually helping it because nothing says girl power more than turning Disney's greatest villain into Bayonetta.

However despite whatever flaws this movie carries, it still ended up becoming a major hit at the box office...and with Hollywood's addiction to creating franchises out of literally anything, there's no surprise Disney decided to cast the spell to summon Maleficent once again.  Yes...as if the animated film didn't suffer enough, here comes the sequel to kill off whatever dignity the original had because I guess this is one of those stories that we must know what happened after the characters' happily ever after.  Also right from the start, there's already something that's annoying me about this movie: they didn't call this 'Maleficent 2' but rather 'Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil'.  Yeah, sure I get that they're still trying to capitalize on what the public knows the character best in terms of marketing purposes and I understand that for sure...but are you telling me that you have made an entire feature film to go and spread the message and to put it out there that this new version of Maleficent is not the bad guy, that she is not the evil one and then suddenly you decide to go and release a sequel where you are literally LITERALLY calling her the Mistress Of Evil?!  Come on...if you can't be consistent with your marketing, then how can I trust the movie?!  In the words of Maleficent, 'oh dear...what an awkward situation'...let's just get this over with, this is 'Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil'!

MALEFICENT - MISTRESS OF EVIL: A formidable queen causes a rift between Maleficent and Princess Aurora who must face new allies and enemies in a bid to protect the magical lands which they share

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I'll admit, I certainly did underestimate this movie...I didn't expect that it would end up becoming this stupid!  Where do I even begin with this one?  How about we start with the writing since at least that'll help organize my mind for now: this isn't just ordinary bad writing, this movie has a script that's so bad that it's amazing how a big studio like Disney could even approve of something that's so blatantly broken!  It is nearly a textbook example of what can go wrong with a plot: the story is shamelessly predictable where the entire feature can be guessed right from the beginning, some characters required to be dumb as a post in order for the actions to proceed, there are many elements that feel like they are flat-out copied from other movies like the villain Queen Ingrith being too similar to Jafar from the Aladdin remake where their goal is to rule the land so that they can declare war, the dialogue is hilariously bad while the actual comedy is cringy, it has no idea what subtlety means and the whole movie is covered with a desperately hammered in message with the difference this time being that it wants to speak about choosing peace instead of war and that we should all be united as one instead of fighting each other because we're different-yes, it's a good and nice message but it gets intolerable when the film has to keep preaching it again and again and again for two hours straight!  Ironically, most of the movie is nothing but set-up for the epic war at the end of Queen Ingrith's Kingdom versus the Dark Fey where the battle itself isn't even all that impressive or intense since it's all just waiting for Maleficent to come in and say 'here I come to save the day'.  The only promising thing that the writing presents is prominently showing the origin of Maleficent's species the Dark Fey like where they come from and what happened to them.  However while the concept is promising, the execution ruined it to be the typical 'hiding endangered species' or 'a supernatural native tribe with a hatred for humans' complete with the one guy whose every line is literally just 'humans are bad and we should go to war against them'.

Technically, that shouldn't be all that surprising considering that they brought back the same writer to work on this film along with some new help for the screenplay which is why this movie ended up having the same problems but it's just that the real shock factor is the fact of how bad these problems ended up becoming.  But of course, the writer wasn't the only one that came back for this movie as do some of the cast along with some newcomers: now with the cast of Maleficent at least in terms of the first film, it really was a mixed bag with some people that are really good and then you also got others that are pretty much terrible...and in the case of the sequel just like the writing, that did not change.  For this one, I'm gonna start off with the bad stuff and then climb my way up to the good at least to get the rest of the negatives out of the way: when the acting is bad in the sequel, the actors seem lifeless like they show as much emotion as the animals do in the Lion King remake whether it be with the Queen's assistant or the absent-minded Prince Phillip...and then there's the princess herself, the one with the gift of blandness: Aurora, played by Elle Fanning who one of the worst performances in the predecessor came from her as she went through the movie like she still had a bit of the sleeping curse.  In the new film, it tries to give Aurora a more prominent role as she's going to marry Phillip and then slowly discover the Queen's nefarious plans...but throughout the film, Fanning always gives this blank expression with a monotone voice that looks like the wheels in her head aren't turning and could start drooling at any moment.  Granted she did actually show some form of emotion by the end of the film, but her performance is on par with Emma Watson from the 2017 Beauty And The Beast remake...and yet with the wooden performance she delivers, it's kind of frustrating how she can get away with it.

How is it that some can unironically state that the animated Aurora is the worst Disney Princess while hypocritically claim that the one in the Maleficent movies is better with that combo of bad writing and bad acting?!  I get that she doesn't do much in the cartoon, but at least give the original some credit...at least the performance by Mary Costa was well done both acting and singing-wise, only she could present some form of a personality with her kind-hearted nature and the way she is drawn can show that she could be human and able to express many emotions!  With the live-action Aurora, there is no emotion in her face and her performance doesn't make her human...and while she does more actions, they're only to progress an awful story and can often have some seriously stupid moments!  Maybe there are some better performances from her in other movies, but come on...you're being paid probably millions of dollars to star in a big budget Disney movie next to A-list celebrities, is it too much to ask to pretend like you care or put some effort?!  But keep in mind, there are some good performances as well like from Angelina Jolie as well as Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michelle Pfeiffer yet there's no amount of acting that can help fix these characters at all with such a disastrous script and yet there is one that stands out among the rest which is surprisingly Sam Riley as Diaval who actually supplied some decent entertainment along with some enjoyable lines.

While I did go hard on this movie, there is one good thing that eases the pain of its flaws.  It may not be good, but I will say that it is a good looking movie: the sets are highly impressive, the costumes and makeup really look nice and the visual effects help amplify the fantasy elements to give audiences a nice feast for the eyes.  Maybe there are some moments where the effects can look weird, but it feels good knowing that in a movie where certain key members put no effort that there is something in this that actually cares about making something work.  You know, it's funny that this movie actually has some great looking visuals because...as a movie based on Disney's 'Sleeping Beauty', it did make me reflect upon the true meaning of beauty: now this can be very pleasing to the eyes and it can look great...but if there's nothing within when you go deep into it and you find that you're not really having a good time or your feeling with them doesn't feel all that great and it feels unpleasant, then that exterior beauty would be meaningless and it's no longer appealing and...in the case of this Maleficent sequel, I could give it credit that it has great looking visuals but yet it doesn't make it a good movie.

What's funny to note is that I may not think about the first Maleficent movie highly, but I will give it that I can see a creative purpose of it: it's to go and create a new updated version of a Disney classic...sure it didn't do it well, but at least creatively there is a point and it gave itself a reason to go and exist to give filmmakers a little bit of an experiment to do something while giving us this one-off story.  But with the sequel however, it ends up raising so many questions: what is the purpose to have this movie in particular, why is it that we need this update on what's happening with Maleficent after the first movie and was there really that much of a demand that the public is pretty much pleading for us to have another Maleficent movie.  Honestly, I can't really find much of an answer to it...and by looking at the sequel, I feel like the only reason why it does exist is mainly because the first one made a lot of money thus Disney wants to go and figure out if they can go and try to do it again with the sequel.  When you go and make a movie like that, it's really obvious that the movie itself will end up not having a soul and they'll realize that the purpose of it is just extremely hollow and...at the end of the day, the big question about 'Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil' is what's the point.  Really, here's something that I want to ask you: what is the point of 'Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil' and it's a little bit tricky because it's extremely difficult to find a real good answer for it that it's not money....try to do that, you'll see it's a little bit tricky

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Overall, 'Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil' is a prominent example of when capitalizing the Disney live-action remake trend goes too far by now making franchises out of them.  While there is some noticeable effort to make some quality entertainment with great visuals that present good effects and sets along with makeup and costumes and some of the acting is well done, they're far from enough to cover the flaws that completely destroyed this movie like the other actors that gave a dreadful performance and absolutely hopeless writing that ultimately killed the core of the feature where there's nothing anyone could do to make it good.  If you asked for my recommendation, I'd say to just skip this movie entirely-in fact, forget this and the first one since the only thing that's worth watching is the 1959 animated film...at least that one has a simple and better told story, better characters and a better Aurora that can actually act.  Did Maleficent ever need a sequel, the answer is obviously no with this film and that is why I'm giving this a 4 out of 10...this movie can be quite a cruel mistress!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

MLEEP Reviews: Big Hero 6 - 5 Years Of Fighting For The Future | #BigHero6

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BIG HERO 6
Written By Jordan Roberts, Robert L. Baird and Dan Gerson
Composed By Henry Jackman
Produced By Roy Conli
Edited By Tim Mertens
Directed By Don Hall and Chris Williams


Ever since 'Big Hero 6' came out, everyone was telling me to see the movie they all said was incredible since both critics and audiences loved it and it was the number one movie for a couple weeks at the time of its release.  Naturally, I got pretty excited to see Disney do kind of a superhero film as I don't think we've actually seen one from them before when I really thought about it-I mean, we've definitely seen heroes in their movies but not as much comic book characters.  After having seen this movie again after five years, let me tell ya...I have never felt an overwhelming sensation that a film was one hundred percent okay-it's honestly hard to think of what else to even say about it, it's okay.  The fighting's okay, the characters are okay, the visuals are okay, to be honest I'm really dumbfounded why so many people are talking about 'Big Hero 6'...it's not bad, it's not good, it's just okay since it's about the most standard superhero film I've seen in a while.  Not that it has nothing new, it's just that all the new stuff is okay...is there something that I'm missing when it comes to this now five-year classic?  Let's find out, this is 'Big Hero 6'!

BIG HERO 6: Next to his older brother Tadashi, the closest companion to robotics prodigy Hiro who lives in the city of San Fransokyo is Baymax-a robot whose sole purpose is to take care of people. When a devastating turn of events throws Hiro into the middle of a dangerous plot, he transforms Baymax and his other friends Go Go Tamago, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and Fred into a band of high-tech heroes.

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I'm not gonna lie...without having any context of the source material prior to watching the movie, literally I predicted who was gonna die as well as who was gonna be the villain and even how the movie was gonna end.  I wouldn't usually mind as it's more part of the journey, but the movie seemed really bent on surprising us with its twists as well as its comedy and both were unbelievably predictable.  It was really strange to see all these characters that seemed to be designed well, but I felt like I had seen them in a million other projects from the stoner loser Fred to the hyper geek Honey Lemon to the cool one who chews the gum with Go Go Tamago and most of their dialogue is just centered around the fact that they're making catchphrases that they're gonna repeat later...and when they do, it is so forced.  Don't get me wrong, I know that a lot of these superhero stories have a lot of that traditional manipulation and saying catchphrases while defeating super villains among all that good stuff...but superhero films have come a long way recently with movies like 'Batman' and 'The Dark Knight' as well as of course all of the Marvel movies that are coming out now that ironically this is a part of are lightyears beyond what this movie is trying to do.

The only thing that sticks out about 'Big Hero 6' at all which I guess is kinda traditional Disney is the relationship between Hiro and Baymax-it's cute and simple, but never seems to go too forced.  Baymax seems to keep to his exact programming yet we still feel something for him-it's not like he breaks it and says he wants to be human or something, he just stays the exact being he's supposed to be and the best parts of 'Big Hero 6' are with Baymax trying to help Hiro deal with the loss of his brother.  When the movie focuses on that element, it's good...but when it actually tries to be a superhero film, it's kinda dull.  It's not like there's no imagination put into it, it's just imagination that I've seen in a million other places before.  It's not like I didn't see characters, I just kinda saw characters that were ten years behind the curve...but like I said, I can't think of anything that was awful but rather just kinda predictable and kinda been done before.  Even with San Fransokyo-the idea of combining these two cities together is a stellar one, but look at it...it's creative and it's not lazy or anything, but doesn't it also kinda look like a million other futuristic cities you've seen before with a million other characters you've already kinda seen before?  Maybe if they kept it more simple just focusing on Hiro and Baymax, I would've enjoyed it a lot more...

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Overall as it is, 'Big Hero 6' is just okay-nothing terrible, nothing spectacular, just okay.  But maybe that's not what you'll think, maybe you'll go and see it as spectacular like a majority of people did and that's fair enough since there's nothing really that bad in this movie...maybe I'm just not the right person who can see the greatness of it, but I'll be nice and give 'Big Hero 6' an ironic rating of a 6 out of 10.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

MLEEP Reviews: Thomas & Friends - Steam Team To The Rescue! | #BigWorldBigAdventures

Season 23, Episodes 25-26: Steam Team To The Rescue!
Written By Davey Moore
Directed By Joey So


Back in Season 21 of 'Thomas & Friends', the wintry conditions of the North Western Railway caused delays with some deliveries which really effected the steam engines when a delivery of coal to keep them running was delayed as well especially when the weather became much colder freezing everything up...and while the diesels were put to work doing the steam engines' jobs to keep the railway running, poor Thomas had to spend the freezing cold night at Kellsthorpe Road Station with Annie and Clarabel after not listening to Sir Topham Hatt's orders to return to Tidmouth Sheds until Diesel came to the rescue with the long awaited coal delivery.  But what would happen if we swapped the roles of this fan acclaimed story...would it make things better or worse?  Let's find out and go go go on a big adventure in the Season 23 finale of 'Thomas & Friends' because it's the 'Steam Team To The Rescue'!

STEAM TEAM TO THE RESCUE: The steam engines must work overtime to unload cargo from the docks when a series of accidents put all of the diesel engines out of action

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PROS:
  • The story-while the story to this special may feel like a role reversal of Season 21's "The Big Freeze" which had the diesels doing the jobs of the steam engines when they all ran out of coal, I was one of the many fans who actually loved 'The Big Freeze' for how much it reminded us of the series finale to Thomas' sister series TUGS known as 'Bigg Freeze' and extending the normal episode length of Thomas to match that of TUGS allowed for plenty of story potential for our cast of characters...and man did they deliver quite a lot of suspense and humor throughout the special even as far as setting up the events of the story where the Brendam Docks crew are so worn out from loading and unloading cargo that Cranky and Carly not only knock Salty off the rails and send him splashing into the sea but also Porter as well with a helping of 'flour power'...and as if matters couldn't get any worse, Salty's slippery seaweed sends Den slipping and sliding into the control panels of the Dieselworks trapping the other diesels in their sheds and Carly is in danger of falling over from the clusterf--k that has become Brendam Docks! But that doesn't mean the special didn't have its laugh-out-loud moments because there were quite a few from Sidney accidentally celebrating the diesels still being trapped in their sheds when the doors only open a bit to Gordon accidentally leaving his coaches behind and having to be told by Thomas especially after the way Gordon mocked Thomas for doing the same thing when he first arrived on Sodor and especially Paxton trying to make it through the gap of his closed shed door only to smash his face in and leave an imprint in the metal door which reminded me a lot of a couple times when this happened in pre-movie SpongeBob Squarepants!
  • 'Don't Stop'-while the 'Digs & Discoveries two-parter may not have had any songs apart from Lorenzo and Beppe singing opera together after Thomas discovers them in the mine up until the end of the special, 'Here Comes The Steam Team' however amends this mistake by having a brand new song to add to the line-up in the series which for a lot of fans in the community reminded them of the hit Queen song 'Don't Stop Me Now' of which they immediately jumped on in making short little parodies or music videos on...but if I had to choose between the first time we hear the song and the reprise towards the end when the Steam Team are helping to rescue Percy and the cranes at Brendam Docks, I actually have to choose the first time since we not only get to see both the old and new versions of the Steam Team all working together especially with us getting to see Edward and Henry as well as Toby in the spotlight in order to keep the hardcore nostalgic fans quiet but we also get to see more of the side character steam engines at work as well like Stanley and Rosie along with Caitlin and Luke to show that there are more steam engines on Sodor other than the main cast. However if you look closely in Luke's scene of the song, you'll see that not all of the diesels were put out of actions since 'Arry and Bert can be seen working in the quarry...
  • The fantasy sequences-with this now being one of the major selling points for the series, we are treated to not one but two fantasy sequences in the episode with the first one being of the three Brendam Docks cranes imagining what will happen if all of the crates get mixed up unless someone doesn't come to help sort them out from a passenger eating a brick in the dining car to chickens riding aboard the express and the second one being triggered by Sir Topham Hatt reminding Thomas how running a railway is like a balancing act eventually followed by a fantasy of Sir Topham juggling his engines on the map as a circus act was really humorous especially with the dialogue from the engines who are questioning their controller's sanity in what he's doing only for Sir Topham to drop all of his engines and Thomas to be reminded that he needs to help Percy out of the clusterf--k that has become Brendam Docks...but you really have to wonder how Sir Topham Hatt still has a job as a railway controller if he can't even keep his own railway under control for one friggin' day!

CONS:
  • N/A

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Overall, 'Steam Team To The Rescue' is gonna be a very divisive special among the fandom: either you'll hate it for how much they really push the Steam Team concept especially with Edward and Henry being 'replaced' by Nia and Rebecca of which fans are still upset about that even after a year since the Big World Big Adventures revamp first started or you'll absolutely love the special for its suspense and comedy as well as that kickass song 'Don't Stop'. As for my opinion while 'Steam Team To The Rescue' may look like a role reversal of Season 21's "The Big Freeze" upon first glance, it still managed to be a pretty great conclusion to the twenty-third season of Thomas & Friends...and that is why I am giving it a 9 out of 10 as well as giving Season 23 a rating of an 8.63 out of 10-it may share the same quality as Season 22, but it was still quite the big adventure!


Friday, October 18, 2019

MLEEP Reviews: The Addams Family | #TheAddamsFamily

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THE ADDAMS FAMILY
Written By Matt Lieberman and Pamela Pettler
Composed By Mychael and Jeff Danna
Produced By Gail Berman, Conrad Vernon, Alex Schwartz and Alison O'Brien
Edited By Kevin Pavlovic and David Ian Salter
Directed By Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan

There aren't many fictional families that have made a great cultural impact influencing many different genres and The Addams Family is not only one of them but they also stand out among the rest-in fact, that's the whole point of them!  Originally developed as one panel cartoons by Charles Addams, the family went on to impact several fields in order to make the creepy and the macabre look charming and fun: they had several television shows both live-action and animated, got a few successful cult movies, had a Broadway show and many many more to become true pop culture icons and let's not forget about that legendary theme song.

But then came the 2010 decade where Hollywood decided to take the long journey in bringing The Addams Family back into the mainstream and return them to their cartoon origins.  It was originally gonna be a stop-motion feature by Illumination Entertainment with Tim Burton...but then when they gave up on those plans, MGM stepped in to take the charge in making the animated Addams Family movie that the world deserves.  So now that they're back for a family reunion, will they deliver a fun-filled fright with a snap or will we need Thing's help to give this movie an additional thumbs down?  Let's find out, this is 'The Addams Family'!

THE ADDAMS FAMILY: Members of the mysterious and spooky Addams family-Gomez, Morticia, Pugsley, Wednesday, Uncle Fester and Grandma-are readily preparing for a visit from their even creepier relatives, but trouble soon arises when shady TV personality Margaux Needler realizes that the Addams' eerie hilltop mansion is standing in the way of her dream to sell all the houses in the neighborhood.

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PROS:
  • The animation-I am aware that there are people out there immediately put off by the movie's looks and its unappealing animation which is not the kind that can make the Addams fun yet I however understand what it's trying to do since they stay true to the original cartoons by Charles Addams in terms of the designs while emphasizing on the macabre look onto both the characters and their environment.  With that said, it's probably the best thing this movie did since it does play a lot with the creepy and dark theming while even turning the entire house itself into a living character to its credit and the visual gags are a bit more effective than the weak comedy to deliver some entertainment.  However, that's where the praise ends since the creepy and kooky novelty does wear off pretty quickly like I said earlier and it ends up running out of materials where the only thing it can do is just rehash the same gags that it did before to progress the plot.  I mean, it can be executed well with the character animation and the effects but yet that sense of wonder with what it's visually presenting to its viewers get weaker as the film continues and again gets quickly repetitive.  Funny enough, while the Addams and their creepy nature are decently executed visually...it's actually what is considered normal that's the most off-putting with the animation: while it does well in adapting the original Charles Addams art, it has trouble expanding outside of the macabre elements since the town itself is just average and dull while the people have this awkward design where they look like they belong in an Illumination film with how ridiculously skinny they look or in something like 'Big Mouth' especially with Parker who looks like she's getting advice from a hormone monster


CONS:
  • The story-you can no longer expect anything ordinary and predictable to happen when the Addams Family comes to your neighborhood and yet it ended up having the opposite effect when they came to theaters with their new animated feature...I might as well start this off with the biggest problem of the movie: it's so boring and the story is the most prominent evidence of that since there are several plot lines happening at the same time while the main one is the Addams and the average town nearby are beginning to notice each other where the town at first mainly resents the newly discovered family but slowly learns to accept them with the exception of the villain.  Yep, this is the typical 'fish out of water' story as you can tell complete with the usual moral of being true to yourself and it's okay to be weird when everything around you wants to be normal.  As the film progresses, the message feels a lot more hammered in and excruciating and I'd also add that part of the issue comes from the fact that subtlety is not one of the movie's strengths especially when they moved into a little town called Assimilation while the side plots are only there to make things worse whether it be Wednesday becoming more curious of the world outside of her gruesome home or Pugsley struggling to prepare himself for his mazurka to become a man worthy of the Addams name resulting in giving the movie a highly generic plot that makes it immediately predictable with nothing new to make itself different ironically turning the family that's all about being out of the norm into an average and easily forgettable family flick.  But speaking of the Addams themselves, you're probably hoping that their signature charm can help brighten the mood and the answer is that it does for only a few minutes and I'll give it that there is some effort to capture that old spirit of what made the family so lovable all these years but yet it quickly wears off after the first ten minutes and the macabre novelty then gets repetitive with the humor not helping either consisting mainly of one-liners and pushing the novelty until it overstays its welcome
  • The characters-the biggest reason to watch 'The Addams Family' is to see the family since their personalities are equally as iconic as their dark theming...and as long as the filmmakers can get this right, then the movie wi-okay, no point getting around this one: yes, even the characters suck in this movie!  I mean, I will say that the actors did well in their respective roles but yet there's nothing they could do to fix what was broken beyond repair with how incredibly weak the script is: with the main 'head over heels' couple Gomez and Morticia, they're just the concerning parents looking after their respective kid and worried if they're going down the wrong path rather it be with Gomez preparing bombing expert Pugsley for his mazurka in order to become a man in the traditional Addams way without much success or Morticia looking after Wednesday's safety from the outside world when she joins the group of cliche characters in seeing what new things are out there for her to discover.  Of course, other family members are there like Uncle Fester and Grandmama to Thing and Lurch but yet they contribute nothing to the plot and are only meant as comic reliefs-yes, Cousin It also makes an appearance but yet he might as well be considered just a cameo along with his obviously censored version of 'Drop It Like It's Hot'.  Outside of the family, the only character that is significant to the plot is the home designing television host Margaux who is determined to take down the Addams Family in order to have everything in her town be in her exact vision along with being a neglectful parent to her daughter Parker who befriends Wednesday and is inspired by her style to rebel against her mother.  Without going into details for spoiler reasons and while Margaux is the generic villain for these types of stories, I will say what happens to her in the end is very confusing-yeah, her secrets get exposed in front of the whole town but yet she doesn't get any consequences for it with her conclusion ending up raising so many questions


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Overall...they're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, they're all together ooky but not in this movie!  'The Addams Family' is such a beloved franchise over the years that one would have to figure out how to put in actual effort to make them look bad and this movie managed to find a way since this was a painfully bland feature that is against everything that the family stands for.  While it does try to deliver some decent animation and solid voice acting, they're not enough to excuse it for the terrible writing that plays too safe giving out an uninspiring story along with a sense of repetitiveness in weak jokes and taking the iconic characters and turning them into a forgettable cast.  The good news from all of this is that there are plenty of better options than this in case you need your Addams fill whether it be the 1990's movies or any of the television shows and I recommend sticking to those if you want to have an actual good time with the family since this film however managed to make The Addams Family boring and generic and that's a fail so bad that I have to give this one a rating of a 4 out of 10.

MLEEP Reviews: Barney The Dinosaur - Childhood Classic Or Toddler Torture?


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BARNEY THE DINOSAUR:
CHILDHOOD CLASSIC OR TODDLER TORTURE?

Well, with the recent announcement from Mattel about a movie in development...this editorial was inevitably gonna happen at some point

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Barney is one of the most fascinating children's icons who ever existed: not because he had much lasting value for kids or adults, but because of the raw undiluted hatred everybody had for him. Unless you were somewhere between the ages of one and five, chances are you despised this early 90's educational phenomenon. Everywhere you looked, you either saw Barney or someone making fun of Barney.  There was no one who saw him as just okay: you either liked him as a little kid or loathed him at every other age...it was kind of amazing.  I'm not gonna lie, I hated this lumpy prune with mouth-guard teeth too but it wasn't until recently I started asking myself "why?"  I mean, it's for little kids and we don't find ourselves getting this upset at Sesame Street, Dora, Super Why or Word Girl.  But something about Barney just ignited a fire within most viewers who have little kids and were forced to watch it-heck, even people without little kids found themselves repulsed by his ability to delight toddlers! Yeah, it is weird that we got so angry at this but why exactly did he irk people so much?

Coming from someone who unfortunately grew up with this eye-a-saurus, it is hitting me with more clarity why it's so easy to dislike him.  One of the biggest reasons: he's creepy-looking!  When you compare him to Disney characters or the Muppets who spent years trying to perfect their designs, you can start to tell why.  First off, the eyes: they're the most expressive part of the face, so either making them very large and complex or smaller and simpler can make a big difference.  Barney's eyes are both big in the wrong way and small in the wrong way: the actual size of his eyes are tiny but not simple enough to leave a gentle impact yet his pupils are huge and literally glassy always looking dead stone or possessed by Yoshi Satan.  On top of that, his weird-ass teeth: again, Disney and the Muppets rarely incorporated that much dental, unless they want them to look intentionally weird.  You probably noticed a big smile with a lot of teeth often comes across as domineering or even a little scary and not making them sharp if anything kind of makes it even more creepy.  Remember when Sonic had normal-looking teeth...remember when sharks were Photoshopped with normal teeth? It didn't help anything, it just made shit scarier!  So before Barney even says a word whether in the series or the movies, you're already put off by him!

Finally, the third and final big factor in why people hate Barney so much: his personality!  I mean, you could have a kid insult Barney and all he did was laugh-something which could work for some characters, but you know Barney's just gonna be happy and that's it...and believe it or not even for little kids, that's not very relatable.  Think about other children's icons stayed with you because they showed they were more than one emotion: Mr. Rogers could talk about sad things like death and depression along with difficult emotions while Big Bird could feel awful when he finds out he's never gonna see someone ever again.  It's not just one emotion a great children's character can express: it's a gamut of emotions that all kids feel, to understand those feelings and to better respond to them is what I feel is the most important task in our world.  Barney would never feel sad or angry or confused: he was just happy all the time which after a while comes across as phony and even kind of shallow.  Don't get me wrong, I know it's weird to analyze something meant for like little little kids...but you're talking to someone who is still into Thomas The Tank Engine ever since he was two years old and part of this analysis is figuring out why everyone else hated one of his biggest competitors so much.  Part of that may be because we remember relating to other kids in media because it taught us how emotions and conflict work as well as numbers and letters and all they had to do was simply have more than one emotion. Imagine Barney having any other emotion other than happy: it would be crazy because neither his physical nor emotional design support it. He couldn't have the conversations they had on Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers because there was so little to him and it would just turn out insane if they did yet Daniel Tiger who was nothing more than a sock puppet does it and it feels more genuine because he isn't obnoxiously happy all the time. Kids can process their emotions as well as information without even knowing they're doing it and Barney flat-out rejects that.

All of that in my opinion is why he gets on so many people's nerves.

MLEEP Reviews: Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed | #ScoobyDoo

Image result for scooby doo 2 monsters unleashed
SCOOBY-DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED
Written By James Gunn
Composed By David Newman
Produced By Charles Roven and Richard Suckle
Edited By Kent Beyda
Directed By Raja Gosnell

For over fifty years, Scooby-Doo has been the ultimate nostalgic dream: it existed long ago, it exists today, it'll probably continue to exist in the future. Whatever it is, there's just some sort of weird and awkward yet simple charm to the original that is apparently trying to carry through...but does it work in this f--king piece of shit?! The answer to that question is a big fat nope.
Sure, it's true that Scooby-Doo as a show is silly and not the best animated but yet one thing it always had was a good mystery for kids: it taught them deductive reasoning and problem-solving skills, it was a show that made them smarter in every episode and that was this movie's ultimate failure since it didn't have a good mystery. Sure, the sets were nice and there was an occasional funny scene the actors could pull off...but yet the effects were awful, the jokes fell flat and a multi-million dollar movie couldn't tell a better mystery than every episode of the shoestring budget cartoon which is what makes it last through all these incarnations: not just the silly characters, but the fact that it's making you more observant without even knowing it as the best kind of teaching should be.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

MLEEP Reviews: Scooby-Doo | #ScoobyDoo

Image result for scooby doo 2002
SCOOBY-DOO
Written By James Gunn
Composed By David Newman
Produced By Charles Roven and Richard Suckle
Edited By Kent Beyda
Directed By Raja Gosnell

For over fifty years, Scooby-Doo has been the ultimate nostalgic dream: it existed long ago, it exists today, it'll probably continue to exist in the future. Whatever it is, there's just some sort of weird and awkward yet simple charm to the original that is apparently trying to carry through...but does it work in this f--king piece of shit?! The answer to that question is a big fat nope.
For whatever reasons, Scooby-Doo continues to keep going: there's tons of reincarnations, there's tons of different versions, there's a ton of different takes but most of them keep what is essentially the Scooby-Doo formula and characters...except for f--king this! If it wanted to be a satire, fine...if it wanted to be an homage, fine...but this is just a cluttered unfocused mess: the effects are horrible, the jokes fall flat and the characters aren't identifiable unless you watched the show-even then, they're not that loyal to them since they're mostly just cardboard cutouts or stereotypes of the original characters and even then they're not really half the time stereotypes of the original characters since they're just stereotypes of stereotypes! It's incredible not only how much this movie misses the point and the ideas of the original show but how many different moods and angles it's trying to attack it with and how many of them don't work
But the worst of all was without a doubt making Scrappy-Doo the villain! From the point of view from someone years from now, you probably don't remember watching the show at all thus inserting Scrappy as the bad guy makes no sense as a film on its own...and from the standpoint of someone who grew up with the series, it made no sense because you knew the characters and the characters would never do this: Scrappy-Doo would never be evil, Scooby-Doo would never abandon him on the side of the street and the series would never be this mean-spirited...and from the present day point of view, it doesn't make sense because it wasn't fully developed from a comedic standpoint. Why? Because the movie doesn't know if it wants to be mean-spirited, light-hearted or both...but whatever it's trying to be, it doesn't work since it just straight up fails and it straight up sucks.

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

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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

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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?

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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.

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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.