Lego Movie (2014)

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Writers: Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Will Ferrell

Rating: ★★★★½

The Lego Movie is all about reconnecting to the creative, imaginative, fun and happy childlike mind-set you were in as kid when playing with one of the world’s most famous franchises. It’s an absolutely hilarious film the crafting being complete genius, making for a hundred minutes of laughs and reminiscing. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously and that is what makes for such a great and entertaining watch, alongside some brilliant film references, famous voices, and a well-thought and written concept and ending making for one of the most surprisingly good films I’ve seen in recent years.

Emmet (Chris Pratt) is just an ordinary construction worker, following the instruction manual just like every other Lego mini-figure living in a whole world made from Lego bricks, blocks and bits. After his work-shift Emmet spots something strange but before he knows, he is kidnapped and taken away by Bad Cop (Liam Neeson), under the order of Lord Business (Will Ferrell). Emmet is seconds away from being melted into a tiny block of plastic when he gets rescued by WildStyle (Elizabeth Banks) who enlightens Emmet about him being the prophesied “Special”, the only person who can save the Lego Universe from the evil tyrant Lord Business. As Emmet goes on an adventure to save the universe he must both learn how to use his special gift whilst defeating and avoiding the traps of Lord Business.

The story is fun and entertaining, as Emmet adventures on through his mission he meets all kinds of people from batman, superman, and green lantern, to even a repressive happy pink unicorn. Eventually the film fizzles out to an ending which reminded me of the much famous Star Wars, the ending rounds of the film very nicely whilst showing of some brilliant thoughts and film-writing.  Lego Movie gives off a very nice message, for me it was all about being free to create what you want and to be what you want in life, doing what makes you happy without following the instruction manual.

The characters were all fantastic, all being hilarious, well written and well voiced by some famous names. Emmet was fun and well written; although Pratt voice didn’t jump out too much I felt overall it worked well. Liam Neeson as Good Cop/Bad Cop was by far my favourite; it was outrageously funny and genius. As his faced changed from good to bad or from raised eyebrows to angry, I couldn’t help but laugh whilst Neeson’s voice couldn’t have been more fitting. Writers and directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, comical geniuses in my eyes, deserve a lot credit for what they have made, whilst fellow writers Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman shouldn’t be forgotten.

The way in which Lego Movie has been made is film craft and animation at its finest, not a detail missed and this only increased my admiration. The water scenes were for me most impressive, with each splash being a handful of blue little bricks thrown up into the air. Every block and Lego-made character brought back memory after memory of childhood fun, and it amazes me how all this came across on a big screen.

It’s hard to find things I disliked about Lego Movie, it had everything from humour  to great visuals however I found its theme song, “Everything is Awesome” one of the most annoying aspects and one of, if not the, most annoying film song I have heard for a long while despite it being ridiculously catchy. It brought a very silly aspect to this film with it also reminding me how this is a kid film, despite its appeal to the older viewers, this was also something it seemed to dodge and avoid throughout but couldn’t for a few frustratingly catchy scenes.

Lego Movie I’m sure will be remembered for a long while by both children and adults alike, not only for its song but for a fun-filled film which relights childhood feelings making it too hard not to enjoy. Written and directed greatly, a host of well-known voices and an overall concept which aims to please makes Lego Movie a surprisingly enjoyable film and one of the biggest and surprising releases this year so far. It is a must-see entertaining watch which won’t disappoint!

 

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Frozen (2013)

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Animation

Directors: Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck

Writers: Hans Christian Andersen, Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Shane Morris, Dean Wellins

Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad

Rating: ★★★★

Frozen wasn’t the type of film I thought I would enjoy, I am not exactly the over joyous lover of princesses or all things singing and dancing unless it’s in the form of Reservoir Dogs. I can see where the appeal is for Disney’s latest phenomenon although I might have not attained it. The story is well structured, funny and has elements for every member of the audience, whilst once again Disney creates visuals that are flawless for the eye to witness. However the aspect that saw box-office storm and audiences flood was its musical twist, which although not too great in my head, was a refreshing, clever touch.

The story surrounds two princesses, sisters Anna and Elsa, tracking them through their childhood then skipping into the future. Anna is the youngest sister, a brave believer but Elsa, the oldest, is a troubled girl with a deep dark secret. Elsa is secretly been blessed as the “snow queen” with a simple and single touch can turn anything, anyone and everything into ice or snow. However when her emotions overflow this secret is exposed and trouble arises as Elsa with her magical icy powers locks their home kingdom of Arendelle in an eternal winter. Anna takes on the epic adventure and decides to look for and bring her now runaway and magical sister back home. Anna is not alone and is teamed up on her mission with newly romanced Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven; on a mountain of a mission they encounter everything from mystic trolls to a humorous snowman named Olaf. They soon become close to finding what seems to be a crazed Elsa, but her troubled sister believes her magical ability is only turning her into a monster.

Frozen has a strong story one which is very well structured, as you would expect from Disney. It may involve princesses but really this for me is a story about a real life occurrence involving siblings; Elsa presents the wayward stereotype whilst Anna just wants her attention, respect and love, something common of the younger sibling. It is however sugar coated and covered in funny subplots, typical hidden humour and newly the intervention of singing, to somewhat hide this realistic message. The events which unfold throughout the film are all very good, each fulfilling a purpose, however most didn’t entertain me, perhaps due to me not fitting the height or age of Frozen’s target audience. The character of Olaf however for me is a highlight which shows fully some excellent writing and script work as he brings a host of witty lines which are a little more accessible, for the same reason too Sven and Kristoff provide the same humour. It doesn’t mean however that the two main characters didn’t impress me; I found it very connecting at times with myself buying into both of their sorrow.

Disney is always showing improvements and amazement in visuals with every new release and Frozen had a number of eye-catching scenes and elements. I found myself somewhat amazed at the things that Elsa was making throughout with her magical ice powers, in particular the ice staircase which eventually led to an entire ice castle. It was visually great but more so inventive and it was easy to see the fun the writers obviously had. The inclusion too of the troll was very good and the animation was simply brilliant.

The flaws I have with Frozen aren’t something the film should be criticised for but it was elements that personally irritated me. Ironically my biggest annoyance with Frozen is something it has had the highest praise for, its musical touch. I didn’t expect singing when I first viewed Frozen so when it appeared I was surprised, however its initial appearance for me was refreshing, but eventually becoming a regular occurrence it did become draining, emphasising slightly the childish feel which in some aspects ruined my experience and connection despite my enjoyment with other children’s animation. My feeling for the music is simply demonstrated by the song “Do you want to build a Snowman”, once first heard it was warming and somewhat pleasant, but after a replay or two it is anything but.

I personally out of the animated films released from last year and of course those in the running for the Oscar, preferred Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University over Disney’s Frozen, but its Oscar for best animated feature was justifiable. I enjoyed many elements, the script, characters, and visuals but ultimately the film was knocked by the musical side and inclusion. However taking my personal taste aside Frozen is a very entertaining and fun film to watch, which should and will most likely win over much of its audience. Although it wasn’t exactly my perfect film type or choice I will still respect and appreciate a brilliantly crafted piece of animation which is essentially worth-while.

 

 

Suprising Films of 2013

I have concluded my favourite films of 2013 but I thought those that didn’t make the list did deserve at least some recognition and credit as there were many releases that took me by surprise and entertained emphatically.

#5

The World’s End was absolutely great and was a popular release and favourite for many but it took me by surprise as I expected a huge let down compared to the likes of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz that are now hilarious classics but Pegg and Wright teamed up again to round off a great trilogy with no let downs.

#4

Dark Skies wasn’t perfect but it does deserve credit as a good horror in a year when the genre didn’t really glorify itself. With a good storyline and execution I really enjoyed it much to my surprise.

#3

Despicable Me 2 was a huge box office success and a huge family favourite of 2013. After seeing and enjoying Despicable Me I was expecting this sequel to be more of the same but instead the refreshing twist and hilarious minions made it more enjoyable than first imagined.

#2

This is The End was one of my favourite comedies of the year in a genre that really flourished. When I saw trailers I assumed it would be much like the other previous releases where we watch Rogan smoke a few joints and crack a joke or two, being funny but average, however with the huge ensemble of great a cast it was just brilliant!

#1

The Heat was my favourite comedy of the year making me laugh non-stop! What surprised me most is the diversity Bullock showed from providing great comedy to a great classic in Gravity. The Heat didn’t look all good at first with some dodgy airbrushing but it proved me wrong!

Fell free to comment below and tell me your top surprises of 2013!

My Challenge Progress- Pixar Shorts

A week has passed and that means I only have one week left, so far I haven’t failed my challenge and I hope you’ve been following along. I have so far managed to review and watch 10 Pixar animated shorts, here are the links to my reviews and my current ranking, I hope you enjoy and I do really appreciate it if you’ve been following along.

1- Day & Night (2010)  – ★★★★½

2- Boundin’ (2003) – ★★★★½

3- For the Birds (2000) – ★★★★½

4- Geri’s Game (1997) – ★★★★

5- Paperman (2012) – ★★★★

6- Knick Knack (1989) – ★★★★

7- Red’s Dream (1987) – ★★★½

8- Luxo Jr. (1986) – ★★★½

9- Tin Toy (1988) – ★★★

10- Adventures of Andre and Wally B (1984) – ★★½

 

Geri’s Game (1997)

Genre: Short, Animation, Comedy

Director: Jan Pinkava

Writers: Jan Pinkava

Staring; Bob Peterson

Rating: ★★★★

Geri’s Game was Pixar’s return to short films after an eight year gap without making one, with that came a new writer and director in Jan Pinkava that made a change due to John Lasseter’s dominance previously. The story itself is different and in a whole Geri’s Game is refreshing and unique. You can certainly see that in those eight years a lot had changed, with the quality of the animation taking a huge leap forward furthermore our main character is actually human. We follow Geri an old lonely man with a passion for chess, we see him in a tough game against his biggest opponent himself. It’s completely different and in a way bizarre but it works and is absolutely hilarious.

Jan Pinkava deserves a lot of credit for an inventive idea that is superbly executed from sound, story and animation. Geri sitting in a completely empty park begins the game and switches seats physically moving from black then white, as the game looks to heading to only one conclusion Geri makes an aggressive move that changes the whole game. It’s crazy to think that there’s a film focusing on an old man playing himself at chess but its even more crazy to think that it’s so entertaining and funny. The short film lasting just under five minutes was released with Pixar’s very popular feature film A Bug’s Life  and deservedly won an Oscar. It was definitely with the eight year weight as its simply brilliant, one of my favourites.

Watch Geri’s Game here and tell me what you think?

Knick Knack (1989)

Genre: Animation, Short, Family

Director: John Lasseter

Writer: John Lasseter

Rating: ★★★★

Knick Knack is another Pixar animated short, again the ever so talented John Lasseter playing creator. In my opinion this is the most hilarious and funny story yet providing many laughs, its also accompanied by a fun feeling score only adding to the entertainment. This time Pixar bring a bunch of holiday souvenirs to life as the story follows a snowman trapped in a snow-globe who attempts to escape in order to attend a hot party with the other souvenirs however the dome around him causes more than a few problems. As the other souvenirs watch on the snowman attempts to smash the dome, drill through the globe and even blow it up but that only leads to more trouble as the globe frantically leans over the edge of the shelf. The attempts provide us with many laughs and the persistency of the snowman only makes it more entertaining.

Knick Knack is certainly funny with a good inventive story by John Lasseter but for me the adding of the fun score is why this animated short stands out from those previously made. More so the addition of more “characters” and those extra details just show how amazing Pixar have progressed. The short film of just over three and a half minutes was released with the feature of Finding Nemo (2003) but surprisingly didn’t win an academy-award nor get a mentionable nomination. Out of those watched so far I think that Knick Knack is my favourite just for its fun feel, it also has more of that modern Pixar touch. Simply brilliant and unique.

Let me know your views on Knick Knack, watch it here.

Tin Toy (1988)

Genre: Family, Animation, Short

Director: John Lasseter

Writer: John Lasseter

Rating: ★★★

Pixar and more so John Lasseter by 1988 had started to get the hang of making animated short films and in their latest edition Tin Toy it well and truly showed. Just falling short of five minutes long it shows how a one man band tin toy has to choose between survival and doing its job. Fun, Inventive and simply brilliant Tin Toy shows the life from a toys perspective bringing objects to life once again. A one-man wind-up toy finds trouble with a big destructive baby, doing everything to flee and survive he hides under the sofa however when the baby falls to the floor and begins to cry he chooses to do what a toy does and risk his safety. Its hilarious and at the same time adorable due to the behaviour of both our characters and the expressions shown by the fantastic animation.

The animation for a 1988 production is unbelievable and the progress from their first “The Adventures of Andre and Wally B” is remarkable and this was deservedly noticed as it won an Oscar. The expressions and from the characters is amazing and so is the detail surrounding them, something that’s improved. The sound also plays an important role in the film. Tin Toy was released with Toy Story in 1995 one of Pixar’s biggest features and names. It will make you laugh and chuckle, and the whole thing together has that special feeling, simply brilliant.

Let me know what you think and watch it here.