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Animation

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You can now watch the full first episode of the new Ducktales on YouTube


Can anyone spare a lucky dime? Anybody?
Aug 15
// Rick Lash
Maybe you knew, maybe not, but there’s a Ducktales reboot. The original series ran from 1987 to 1990 and was most definitely a kid’s show (I would know, I was one). The new iteration tries something a li...

Review: The Emoji Movie

Jul 28 // Drew Stuart
The Emoji Movie tells the tale of Gene, a 'meh' emoji who unbeknownst to his fellow emoji's in Textopolis, can experience more than one emotion. Unfortunately, when he's called upon to make his 'meh' face at the users request, he freaks out and makes the wrong face. Gene is then forced out of Textopolis, and embarks on a quest with his buddy Hi-5 and hacker Jailbreak to become normal like all the other emoji's. The setup is trite from the very beginning, and becomes more mundane the further along the story progresses. You already know all of the beats; our characters form a plan to solve their problems, the villain sends a force to stop them, they clash, one of the characters gets separated from them, the main character decides to rescue them instead of heading straight for their goal, blah blah blah. I could go on, but it's honestly not necessary; if you've seen a kids movie in the last 20 years, then you've seen The Emoji Movie. I've heard some people say that The Emoji Movie borrows steals lot of ideas from Inside Out, and that's just not true. Emoji also rips several ideas from Toy Story, The Lego Movie, and even Shrek. Situations are recreated almost verbatim from these movies, only serving to bore and annoy the audience even further. And it's not like Emoji needs any help with that; the humor and is so atrocious that I almost feel guilty calling this film a comedy. Here's what the 'comedy' amounts to; emoji's simply calling each other by their emoji names, or acting slightly different to each other depending on what emoji they are. That's really it. There's no humor that's so bad it becomes funny, or dialogue that you can ridicule. I didn't hear a single laugh from any of the children in the theater. Nothing. This movie is shamelessly hackneyed and vapid; it cannot be laughed at because it can't understand that it's being made fun of. It is impervious to snide criticism and witty retorts. All you can do is embrace The Emoji Movie, before shoving a pillow into its face. Without comedy, and without plot, the element that is thrust into the forefront of the viewers minds is the concept. And if you'd like me to elaborate on that, now's the time where I'd like to inform all the passengers along for today's flight that, as the title entails, this is in fact a review for The Emoji Movie, and you should be well aware by now that the concept is, on it's face, a bad one. I understand the motive behind it; The Lego Movie made more dough than a Three-Star michelin bakery, and Sony wants a piece of that pie, but it isn't gonna happen with something like Emoji's. The reason being that kids and adults alike adore Legos for their inherent creativity and playful, easy design, which incidentally lends itself incredibly well to a kids movie based around the theme of creativity and being yourself. The other reason being that no one cares about emoji's. Trying to make an emoji movie is such a blatant consumerism-driven cash-grab that I'm astounded Sony had the balls to even try it. Hell, in the opening narration, the movie acknowledges that emoji's only exist because people suck, specifically because they're lazy and don't want to type out their complete thoughts in a text message. So why would anyone even consider making a movie like this? I don't know. The point is, the concept of an emoji-based movie sucks.  Now, here's a weird bit of criticism I never thought I would have to say aloud: Did the entire cast phone in their performances? Sure, you might know that T.J. Miller, Steven Wright and Patrick Stewart were coaxed into this movie, but did you know that, *ahem*, Anna Faris, James Corden, Maya Rudolph, Jennifer Coolidge, Christina Aguilera, Sofia Vergara and more lend their voices to this project? No? Neither did I, until I glimpsed the cast list as I sulked out of the theater. Why do none of these people sound like themselves? Why even hire them if their voices are that unrecognizable? I just don't know. On top of the terrible plot, the terrible concept, and the terrible acting, all of the sensory elements in this movie suck too. The animation lacks any style or visual flair, (as is to be expected) but worse is how little detail there is in the animation. There are points where characters look blurry or unfinished, and nearly all of the backgrounds are painfully copied and pasted as needed. You can see this quite plainly if you compare the trailers to the movie; there are scenes in the trailer that occur in other settings in the final cut of the movie. It feels borderline amateur. Even worse has got to be the music. You'd think that Sony with all of it's music rights would plug today's pop-radio garbage into The Emoji Movie, but that's not the case. Instead, they plugged 2012's pop-radio garbage into The Emoji Movie. Did Sony not believe in this movie either? Why does this exist? Why am I here? You don't need me to tell you this movie is terrible. Just look at it. Some asshole at Sony actually thought this would be a good idea, and somehow convinced a bunch of other assholes to make this putrid movie. The Emoji Movie was farted into existence for the express purpose of seeing if they could do it. And now we all have to sit in its stink. 
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To live is to suffer
You know, for the longest time I thought that this movie was a joke. Something invented by film producers to have a laugh. A prank that writers bounced around, but never dared to seriously consider, lest their career be stamp...

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Matt Groening's animated comedy Disenchantment greenlit by Netflix


With Blackjack! And Hookers!
Jul 25
// Drew Stuart
Matt Groening, you beautiful bastard. You've given us The Simpsons, Futurama (my favorite cartoon ever) and soon, a new animated comedy called Disenchantment. As of today, Netflix has green-lit 20 episodes of the new Mat...
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Rocko's Modern Life returning for one hour even more modern special


I'd wear Rocko's shirt in a heartbeat
Jul 21
// Matthew Razak
Rocko's Modern Life wasn't my favorite Nicktoon. It came out in the second (or third?) wave of Nicktoons where I was just getting a bit too old and "cool" to watch (until I got older and "cooler" and started watching aga...

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'The Incredibles 2' picks up where the first left off


I have no strong opinion either way
Jul 14
// Drew Stuart
The Incredibles ended on a high note, with the Parr family jumping into action to defeat The Underminer, and then a cut to black implying that their adventures would continue one day. Today we know that there is indeed a seco...
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The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature has a trailer


No: it's not Mel Gibson biopic
Jul 13
// Rick Lash
With a title like The Nut Job 2 being tossed about, my expectations were unusually high. So, it's not a Mel Gibson biopic. Big deal. And no, it's not a cleverly veiled marketing ploy for Charlie Sheen's 9/11 movie--whate...
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BoJack Horseman returns September 8th


What are you doing here?
Jul 10
// Drew Stuart
The last season of BoJack Horseman was by far the best yet. Each season has been good, but BoJack is the kind of show that only gets better as its concepts are explored further, and Season 3 was quite an achievement for this ...
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Netflix's Castlevania series renewed for season 2


A lot of viewers this morning, I guess
Jul 07
// Matthew Razak
We're pretty used to movies getting sequels before they're even released (hell, some get them before they even begin shooting), but television has been slower to pick up on the trend. Probably because they want to avoid awkwa...

Review: Despicable Me 3

Jun 30 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221638:43623:0[/embed] Despicable Me 3Directors: Eric Guillon, Kyle Balda, and Pierre CoffinRelease Date: June 30th, 2017Rated: PG After failing to capture former child star turned supervillain Balthasar Bratt (Trey Parker), Gru (Steve Carell) loses his job at the Anti-Villain League. While he's trying to figure out what to do with his life next, his long lost twin brother Dru (Steve Carell) contacts him and tells him about their family's villainous legacy. Now Gru has to decide whether or not to please his minions and commit crimes or do what's best for his family. Also his family is there doing a thing each because that's all there's time for this go around, and the minions are farting around in a prison or something. You can basically take the old "long-lost relative" TV trope and copy/paste its plot here and you'll get the gist.  When a TV show resorts to a long-lost relative plot featuring some guest star, it usually means the show is out of organic ideas and has to force in another entity in order to breathe any kind of life into its husk. It's like continuing impassioned CPR when the person you're trying to save is already gone. Every movement you make is futile, and you're only doing damage to their body. Sitting through Despicable Me 3 parallels this hopelessness all too well. It's made worse by the film's constant allusions to comedies of cinema past. At one point, the Minions are driving underwater and speed past two clownfish that look like Finding Nemo's Marlin and Nemo, only pouring salt into the wound. It was a grim reminder that I could've seen something else, and knowing I still had another 80 minutes to go only exacerbated my apathy.  But so what if I slowly fell asleep, what about the kids? Didn't they enjoy the funny funnies? Well, they did not. I not only noticed a huge group of kids shuffling around in their seats during the super potent Minion rendition of "I Am the Very Modern Major General" from the very timely referenced 1800s opera The Pirates of Penzance, but also saw how they failed to react when the Minions went to prison. But alas, we were all trapped in Despicable Me 3's prison together. At least the kids were still treated as human beings and got brief reprieves from this comedic wasteland every time a Minion made a fart or said boobs or something. I have to admit, even I laughed when the Minions ended up being super successful in prison and acted like some gang from a 50s musical. But was that a laugh out of pure necessity? Did I force myself to react in order to re-affirm my humanity? Then soon, I realized I made myself sick drinking so much out of this small oasis of humor in my perilously dry journey.  One has to wonder how much this cast is getting paid for keeping this farce going. Trey Parker is slightly entertaining as he portrays yet another manchild, but he's clearly just cashing a check here. Steve Carell, bless him, is the one gleaming hope in this dark world and gets the space to emotionally play around with Grudru once the Minions and the family are out of the picture. Seriously, I think Gru interacts with his family, like, twice? It's very odd considering where the series began. As for the rest of the family, the girls are all still cute as ever but they're not given anything meaty to do. Stuck repeating past catchphrases and forever glued to the same age they were seven years ago. Wait, it's only been seven years and we've gotten four of these movies? And Minions 2 is coming out soon also?  I...I just can't do this anymore.  Look, if you're reading this review you're not going to give a shit about what I write here and go see this anyway because you think the Minions are cute. It's fine, I get it. The Minions are oversaturated on the Internet, playing parts in memes with everything from how bad Mondays are to abortion. With how prevalent they've become, it's impossible to not buy into them at this point. So honestly, does it really matter how I end this? I put more thought here than anything Despicable Me 3 had to offer me, so I'll just leave you with one of my favorite quotes in the film.  *fart noise* 
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Kill m3
Despicable Me was a revelation when it first hit theaters. A villain choosing fatherhood over his proclivity for evil deeds was a novel idea, and it was much more than the minion flavored marketing would have you believe. The...

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'Ricky and Morty' Season 3 drops July 30th, new trailer out


Wubba Lubba Dub Dub!
Jun 30
// Drew Stuart
Let's wind the clock back for just a moment. It's 2015. You're watching the Season 2 finale of Rick and Morty. There's a big cliffhanger that sets up the next season, and all of the sudden, you're face to face with an old fri...

Review: Cars 3

Jun 19 // Drew Stuart
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Here in my Car(s 3)
Pixar has made a name for itself these past few decades by delivering quality kids films that everyone can enjoy, regardless of age. Yet among those films, the Cars series is rarely included, and for good reason. The storytel...

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New DuckTales opening is surprising in a few ways


Still no idea what a duck blur is
Jun 14
// Matthew Razak
I don't know if I'm going to be heavily invested in the new DuckTales cartoon like I was the original. That's mostly because I'm not a kid anymore, and I sadly don't have Saturday mornings to plop down and watch all the ...
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This Corner of the World

Trailer: Acclaimed anime In This Corner of the World looks like a moving war-torn romance


This looks like something special
Jun 14
// Hubert Vigilla
I'm not familiar with the films of Sunao Katabuchi, but after watching the trailer for In This Corner of the World, I want to seek out his previous anime features: Princess Arete and Mai Mai Miracle. Katabuchi was also a...
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Steven Spielberg is resurrecting Animaniacs for an unnamed platform


...which will probably be Netflix
May 30
// Drew Stuart
Animaniacs is getting new, original episodes according to a report by IndieWire. Warner Bros. Animation and Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television are reportedly rebooting the show sometime in the the near future. However, what...

Official Cars 3 trailer looks like the Rocky III and IV of the franchise

Apr 26 // Hubert Vigilla
Despite the promising teases, this looks like a pretty run-of-the-mill Cars movie. I just hope the movie ends with Lightning McQueen, winded and bloodied, saying the following lines: If I can change gears... and you can change gears... EVERYBODY CAN CHANGE GEARS! Cars 3 arrives in theaters June 16th.
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If I can change gears...
The first teaser for Cars 3 from last year suggested some dark tragedy for Lightning McQueen--possibly even death. An extended look at Cars 3 from earlier this year suggested the movie would be like Rocky III. Now we hav...

Tom and Jerry photo
Tom and Jerry

Tom and Jerry defile Charlie and the Chocolate Factory


This is the weirdest
Apr 24
// Matthew Razak
To begin: Tom and Jerry are still a thing. Not like a retro thing, but, evidently, an actual, current thing that is created here and now.  What form are they taking now that they've exhausted every plot line of cat and m...
Carmen Sandiego Netflix photo
Carmen Sandiego Netflix

New Carmen Sandiego animated series coming to Netflix in 2019


Needs more Rockapella
Apr 18
// Hubert Vigilla
If you're a person of a certain age (i.e., you're old), you probably have some fond memories of Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? There were the computer games in the 80s and 90s, which spun off into a children's game sh...
R-rated Watchmen cartoon photo
R-rated Watchmen cartoon

Warner Bros making R-rated animated Watchmen adaptation that no one wants


Milk that IP until it bleeds
Apr 15
// Hubert Vigilla
According to Comic Book Resources, Warner Bros. will release a cartoon adaptation of Watchmen that will likely be rated R. CBR obtained a screenshot from a WB "A-List Community" survey that describes the project as a faithful made-for-video adaptation of the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons comic. Hurm. Here's the screenshot in question:
Mary and Witch's Flower photo
Mary and Witch's Flower

New Mary and the Witch's Flower trailer showcases magic from ex-Ghibli talent


From Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Apr 13
// Hubert Vigilla
Even though Hayao Miyazaki is no longer retired, Studio Ghibli is in a transition period. The venerable studio went on a hiatus in 2014. The following year, producer Yoshiaki Nishimura and other Ghibli members started their o...

Review: My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea

Apr 13 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220922:43512:0[/embed] My Entire High School Sinking Into the SeaDirector: Dash ShawRating: PG-13Release Date: April 14, 2017 The set-up is at least sort of promising. An earthquake sends a high school on a hill by the ocean crashing down into the water. Students have to swim from floor to floor for air and survival, with a stratified class hierarchy--freshmen on the bottom and seniors on top. There's something questlike about it all, structured like a videogame with different kinds of levels--one sequence is even presented like a screen from the original Double Dragon, with characters throwing punches and jumpkicks with the same poses as Billy and Jimmy Lee. But Shaw takes all of these potentially interesting ideas and dials them down to the same level of slacker disinterest. The voice actors deliver their lines in a uniform indifferent monotone, as if they've begrudgingly recorded their dialogue one afternoon and left. The jokes are never distinct from the asides or the exposition. Apart from the heroic Lorraine the Lunch Lady (voiced by Sarandon), everyone sounds interchangeable. Since none of the voices stand out, it makes the all-star indie cast seem like needless stunt casting for the indie cachet. Lots of the dialogue gets lost in the audio mix, with any hint of personality drowned in the repetitive, overbearing, wall-to-wall score. This is a 77-minute movie that just drones on and on. It doesn't help that the protagonist, Dash (Schwartzman), is the least interesting character in the entire film. He's a self-important high school journalist and stand-in for the real life Dash Shaw. Yes, how twee, this fictional story is supposed to be semi-autobiographical. Dash is the type of tepid lead who gets in the way of the more worthy supporting players. His fellow staff members on the newspaper, Assaf (Watts) and Verti (Rudolph), have a warmth to them as well as a burgeoning crush that would have been great to watch unfold front and center. Even Dunham's overachieving all-goodnik Mary could have been the compelling hub of the story--a class president go-getter in survival mode. But no, it's boring old Dash, the "ugh, that guy" sort of hipster dude. There are moments of beauty in My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea, like the opening animation of Dash in silhouette running to class, or select flashbacks rendered with great care, or parts of the conclusion that have a zen-like quality. Most of it, though, looks like a hodgepodge of watercolor, acrylic, and magic marker, with a wonky, unrefined aesthetic. It simulates the stuff made while screwing around in a high school art class. The choice makes sense, but it's not always interesting to look at in full wobbly motion. It's animation with a sort of haphazard craft--art as marginalia rather than a point of focus, a talented person's creative assignment put together the night before. I was particularly put off by the film's defensiveness. At points, Dash and Assaf brag about being great writers whose genius and talent no one will understand. That metatextual boast always irks me. I rarely feel that a creative work should gird itself against criticism so overtly, and in such an insecure manner. Especially in this case, in which there's so little at stake and so little offered. Why be so precious over an animated shrug?
Entire High School review photo
A shrugworthy mumblecore cartoon
There are so many possibilities in My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea, the directorial debut of indie comics artist Dash Shaw. There's the image of an entire high school building adrift on the ocean and sinking. Think...

Invader Zim teaser photo
Invader Zim teaser

Listen to Invader Zim and GIR's teaser for their TV movie return


Doom doom doom doom-doom-doom doom...
Apr 06
// Hubert Vigilla
The other day we told you insolent meatbags that an Invader Zim TV movie is in the works. Creator Jhonen Vasquez will make the film for Nickelodeon, collecting all of your nostalgia ducats in the process. The original voice c...
Invader Zim TV movie photo
Invader Zim TV movie

Invader Zim will return in TV movie form, meatbags!


I LOVEDED YOU, PIGGY!
Apr 04
// Hubert Vigilla
Jhonen Vasquez was an important cultish part of my teenage years, and I can still find his creative fingerprints in my sense of humor. I loved his comics Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Squee (these days especially the l...

Review: Your Name

Apr 04 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]221337:43448:0[/embed] Your Name (Kimi no Na wa, 君の名は。)Director: Makoto ShinkaiRating: PGRelease Date: August 26, 2016 (Japan); April 7, 2017 (USA)Country: Japan Our two body-swapped and star-crossed heroes are a country girl named Mitsuha and a city boy named Taki. Apropos of nothing, the two teens swap bodies. At first they think they're dreaming--as Mitsuha in Taki's body struggles as a waiter in a restaurant, she wonders when her long and bizarre dream will end. Taki in Mitsuha's body begins each morning copping a feel like a creeper. They intermittently lead each other's lives, and they come to enjoy the ability to live a life so different from their own day-to-day. The allure, like most body swap films, is in the contrast of experiences--metropolitan and pastoral, modern and traditional, the social norms of male and female, etc. My enjoyment of Your Name can be broken into quarters. I loved the first quarter of the movie, which was a great modern take on the body swap genre. The city boy and the country girl get to know each other obliquely, corresponding through their own cellphones with do's and don'ts about each other's lives. Shinkai closes that opening quarter with a fantastic montage of the joys and frustrations of living another life only to return to the mucked-up nature of your own. I liked the second quarter of Your Name, which, without spoilers, involves a mystery and a journey. Tonally it reminded me a little of Hirokazu Koreeda's charming I Wish, though an adolescent version. As for the last half of Your Name? It was all right. "Generally acceptable" may be a more accurate phrase. So much about Your Name hinges on a major plot twist and the way the narrative treats this revealed information. If I wasn't on board with the first portion of the film, the swerve at the halfway mark would have soured me on the whole movie. It's all dependent on a series of narrative conveniences that the story doesn't attempt to explain: spotty memory, technological failure, the loose rules of the body swapping, a lack of common sense from the characters, lapses in human curiosity. And yet, somehow, I think Your Name still works by the end because it is so earnest about its teenage feelings. There's the desire to be understood by someone, to forge a lasting connection, to make sense of your own life. That's all there. I watched the movie in a crowded theater full of teens and young adults. As a plot twist occurred in the second half, gasps rustled through the crowd. After that emotional gut reaction, the analytical bits in my brain stepped forward and processed the information. No, a little too convenient, but just go with it. This kept happening in the last half of the movie. I found myself liking moments even though I was of two minds about them. There's a gorgeous scene set at dusk before a dimming sky. It's quiet, it's memorable, it was enough for me to disregard a lapse in logic a few scenes before. A young woman in the crowd, excited by the connection that occurred on screen, whispered an elated "Yes". Minutes later, sighs from the crowd, crestfallen, like everyone had breathed out at once. I couldn't help but be moved as well--I felt what someone else was feeling, which is what Your Name is about at its best. Oddly, some of my qualms come from understanding Shinkai's point of view as a storyteller. To affect the audience the way he wants to, Shinkai needs to move the story in direction P, therefore actions L, M, N, and O have to occur. I saw the movie with Steve over at Unseen Films, and his immediate feelings for the movie were far more tepid than mine. The logical lapses were so apparent to him. My own fondness for the first half of the film led me to justify those logical lapses to him even though I noticed them as well. And I have to admit, my justification was because I understood Shinkai's storytelling motivations rather than any diegetic explanation provided by the film. I can't recall who said this or if I'm even getting it right, but there's a sandwich rule when it comes to storytelling. Say you make a movie. Part of it doesn't make sense. If an audience member doesn't realize there's a lapse in logic until hours later when they're making a sandwich, the story is successful. Your Name didn't pass the sandwich test with me, but I could sense it did with many others in the crowd. Even without the sandwich test, there was a lot to admire. If only the last half had hooked me more, not by plot twists but through the characters, not by letters signifying Shinkai's moves but rather that ineffable emotional stuff that's harder to figure out and impossible to name.
Review: Your Name photo
The body swap movie with a swerve
Makoto Shinkai's Your Name is the highest-grossing anime film of all-time, and it hasn't even come out in the United States yet. It beat Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away; give it a few more months and Your Name may beat Spirite...

Captain Underpants photo
Captain Underpants

First trailer for Captain Underpants surprisingly light on underpants


What is this?
Mar 22
// Matthew Razak
I am out of the loop. Or out of whatever loop the Captain Underpants worldwide phenomenon was occurring in. For that I am sorry, for it seems I was missing out on something quite clever and funny.  The first trailer...

The first teaser trailer for Pixar's Coco is all about music, magic, and dead people

Mar 15 // Hubert Vigilla
As our own Nick Valdez put it, "Oh cool. Pixar made Book of Life 2." Here's an official synopsis: Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history. Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”). Coco comes to theaters on November 22nd. [via Disney/Pixar on YouTube]
Pixar's Coco trailer photo
Seriously, that's a cool looking guitar
Pixar's Coco was one of our most anticipated movies of 2017. Disney and Pixar released the first teaser trailer for the film today, and it looks like a magical blend of music, mariachis, Dia de Muertos, and ghosts. This is the best kind of blend. Honest. Plus, check out that guitar. It is freakin' cool looking. Watch the teaser trailer for Coco below.

Your Name US trailers photo
Your Name US trailers

Watch the US trailers for Makoto Shinkai's anime mega-hit Your Name


Dubbed or subbed for your pleasure
Mar 14
// Hubert Vigilla
Despite some of my qualms about its second half, Makoto Shinkai's Your Name was a good coming-of-age body swap film with an undeniable teenage earnestness. It's a major anime mega-hit in Japan. Not only was it Japan's biggest...

Review: My Life as a Zucchini

Mar 03 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]221336:43439:0[/embed] My Life as a Zucchini (Ma vie de Courgette)Director: Claude BarrasRating: PG-13Release Date: October 19, 2016 (France/Switzerland); February 24, 2017 (limited)Country: France/Switzerland My Life as a Zucchini opens with the accidental death of a boy's abusive, alcoholic mother. His father isn't around and never shows up, but he draws an idealized, superhero version of him on a homemade kite. The boy calls himself Zucchini (Erick Abbate), and as a police officer drives him to an orphanage, he flies the kite out of the car window. The moment is both beautiful and sad, just like so many other moments in My Life is a Zucchini. The other children at the orphanage are neglected, have had their parents deported, lost their parents in violent ways, or were physically or sexually abused. They're each around 10 years old. This is absolutely bleak material, and it's reflected in the look of the stop-motion puppets of the children. When a new girl named Camille (Ness Krell) arrives, one of the children remarks that she has sad eyes. It's a quality all of the children share. They all have huge, Margaret Keane-painting eyes, but they look wounded rather than doe-like, as if each of them might burst into tears at any moment out of sadness or a fleeting joy. While the situations these children face are so dark, My Life as a Zucchini is a hopeful film, and brimming with sympathy and empathy. I found myself crying through a lot of the film, which is a testament to the effectiveness of the animation. There's something important about the tactile nature of stop-motion I can't put my finger on. Maybe it's because the characters look like toys, and the settings feel like playsets--like the entire film functions as a space for a child to work through the dark things in their head. The English-language voice acting is commendable. The child actors sounded like actors rather than kids acting, if the distinction makes sense. Abbate and Krell have to do so much heavylifting whenever their characters are on screen, but there's no strain to it. I was so wrapped up in the emotion of the film that I didn't sense a flat line read or a sour delivery. Somehow, effortlessly, the child actors sounded vulnerable and true. The adult voice cast was good as well, with Nick Offerman, Will Forte, and Ellen Page disappearing into their roles as caretakers. Amy Sedaris' voice was distinct--very Strangers with Candy--though it fits with the brash, prickly character she portrays. Barras depicts kindness in various gestures between the kids and their caretakers at the orphanage. There's a snow trip with a tiny techno dance party in a cabin. There's play time. There's dress up and parties. When the children grow up, the psychological repercussions of what they've faced might be daunting, but at least there's this orphanage and these people who care about them. The adults try to create some semblance of a normal life free from from solitude and abuse. Things that seems so commonplace are suddenly imbued with a tremendous expression of love and humanity. How good it is, even if just briefly, to give someone the joy of a carefree childhood. My Life as a Zucchini is about children, but it's not a children's movie. That may have held it back in awards season. It was such a longshot to win a Golden Globe or an Oscar (Zootopia took both awards), and its bleakness didn't help matters. The film did wind up winning Best Animated Film and Best Adapted Screenplay at the Cesar Awards, however. Saying all this, part of me wonders how traumatized children might respond to the film. Would they feel less alone? Would they feel loved? Those concerns are more important than a statuette; they're what's most important in life.
My Life as a Zucchini photo
About kids but not a children's movie
There's this pervasive idea that children are resilient, that they're able to cope well even in dire circumstances. In stories about forlorn kids, a combination of optimistic pluck and boundless imagination helps them through...

How To Do It: Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Reboot

Mar 03 // Nick Valdez
1. Start over from the beginning. In the press release, the new film is classified as a "re-imagining" of the old show. This makes perfect sense given most of the audience of the first couple of seasons have now grown up and are willing to thrown down major cash on a nostalgic property. The problem with this is, those same people have too fond memories of the show. They've built it up to some pedestal, so any new film is already needing to prove itself. What most of you all out there need to remember is, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is really, really bad. Bad dialogue, bad acting, and some of the most 90s situations you'll find on children's television.  But that's also not a bad thing. If we go into this new movie with an open mind, and the new film starts over from the beginning,  then we're in for a good time. So to be successful, the reboot needs to use the bankable names of the original five (maybe six) "teenagers with attitude" (Zack, Kimberly, Billy, Trini, Jason) because those are the names we'll remember. Most old fans won't remember who played those characters, so it's not important to bring the actors back, but we will remember the names. Start over from the beginning, tell the same simple origin story (teenagers are chosen by a floating space man to fight monsters), and we're golden. No need to reinvent the wheel.  2. Don't bring back old actors from the show.  When movie studios "reimagine" properties, they cast an entirely new set of people to play the characters we all know and love. That's going to be the case here. In order to completely separate itself (and thus create a new universe of movies), keep the television actors away. For example, Jason David Frank (who played Tommy in over 242 episodes of Power Rangers, and is arguably the most popular actor in the series) is already lobbying his fans to write to "lion gates" in order to get in the new movie. If they have to bring him (or anyone) back, and chances are they will, make sure it's only in a cameo capacity. Maybe have Tommy run the juice bar (like in the Wild Force episode, "Forever Red"), pass the torch to the new kids, and then disappear forever. As much as we might like the guy, seeing a thirty year old man run over in a tight spandex suit for a kid's show (like he is in the upcoming Power Rangers Super Megaforce finale) is kind of sad. Besides, the new kids watching this movie won't really know or care who Jason David Frank or any of these older actors are.  3. Use actors who can believably do their own stunts (and real suits!) One of the reasons Power Rangers became such a hit was because it delivered on things we've never had before. Although the acting and dialogue were bad, it had great action. It had cartoon action brought to real life, and it was pretty f**king cool. The series also still has some of the best fight choreography around. It's important to bring that back. Can you imagine what the fight effects could look like with a larger budget? Remember what the fights looked like in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie? Never mind, those were terrible. But a bigger budget could lead to bigger things. It's simple. Keep the suits real, but CG everything else. Like any other superhero, it's all about tangibility.  And that comes from the actors too. In the show, the teens would still kick butt out of the suits. Story wise, it shows the audience the effect of the power coins, and quality wise, it helps the audience attach the person to the hero. It's very important for us to remember who's in the suits. It's not enough for people to put them on, we have to believe people are in them.  4. Have a good villain.  Whether the new film goes with Rita Repulsa, Lord Zedd or even Ivan Ooze, it's important to have a memorable bad guy. Once again, don't reinvent the wheel. Don't create a new, generic villain for the film unless the right person is behind it (Paul Freeman was the only reason Ivan Ooze worked in the movie), and there's plenty of material to draw from so there's no reason to create a new one anyway. If I could have it my way, I'd go for Rita Repulsa. She's the greater villain since she posed a threat, her powers led to the "Green With Evil" storyline which introduced a sixth ranger, and she has some of the best catchphrases ("You're giving me a headache!" "Magic wand, make my monster grow!").  If they went that route, they could introduce Lord Zedd for the sequel (just don't make him overtly dark or scary, remember it's for kids!), lead in to their wedding, Serpentera, and the possible stories are endless. All I'm saying is the material is there, so Lionsgate would be wise to use it.  5. Do it for the kids.  This is hardest thing to say, but this new movie isn't going to be for me or you, it's for the kids. Although the name is there to get butts to the seats, Saban's probably trying to make this work into a children's franchise. It's going to be an all ages affair, so don't expect a dark and gritty take on these heroes. No blood, no adult situations, and the word "kill" will be replaced with "destroy." But that's the way it's always been, and it's always worked, so no reason to be worried about that now.  As long as the new movie gets the tone right. That's actually the most important thing on this list. Please don't take this movie seriously as nothing about the Power Rangers is serious. And even when the show decides to lean toward heavier subjects, it's only because they're destroying all of the current zords to introduce a new line of zords/toys to kids.  6. Don't forget to have fun.  With the rising amount of gritty reboots these days (just look at Man of Steel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spider-Man, and Transformers), I'm a little worried about how this'll turn out. Power Rangers has survived all these years despite its bevy of bad decisions because it's so lovably goofy. It's always so sincere about its laughably bad puns, heavy handed messages of protecting the environment and teamwork, and telling its stories with a half baked seriousness. Although every week a new monster threatens to destroy the world, there's still time to ride dirt bikes as part of the high school dirt bike club or something. It just all meshes together in a tone that works for everyone.  There's action, comedy, giant robots punching other giant things in the face, and lots of attractive men and women. If the new movie gets even one of those right, that'll be morphinominal. 
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