Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around


Animation

Review: Cars 3

Jun 19 // Drew Stuart
 photo
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...

 photo

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 ...
This Corner of the World photo
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...
 photo

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.
Cars 3 trailer photo
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. 
HTDI: Power Rangers photo
There's a wrong way, and there's a Morphinominal way
The Power Rangers series is an odd one. It started out as one of Saban Entertainment's many attempts to re-dub a Japanese kids show for American audiences and turned into a juggernaut spanning 21 seasons, comics, videogames, ...

Castlevania poster photo
Castlevania poster

Adi Shankar releases teaser poster for the Castlevania series on Netflix


Needs more stupid Medusa heads
Feb 23
// Hubert Vigilla
Castlevania producer Adi Shankar has been using Facebook as a hype machine. Years ago he teased the potential series on his Facebook page. Shankar would then take to Facebook to confirm two seasons of Castlevania are in the w...
NYICFF 2017 photo
NYICFF 2017

The New York International Children's Film Festival (NYICFF) starts Friday 2/24


20 years of exceptional children's films
Feb 22
// Hubert Vigilla
Now in its 20th year, the New York International Children's Film Festival is one of NYC's more reliable film fests. They screen some of the best films aimed at children, teens, and families, with some impeccable curation and ...
Power Rangers photo
Power Rangers

Castlevania showrunner wants to do an R rated Power Rangers cartoon


Adi Shankar up to his old tricks
Feb 10
// Nick Valdez
Adi Shankar, who was recently revealed to be part of an animated Castlevania series on Netflix, is no stranger to weird, violent projects. Known in fan circles for his "Bootleg Universe," he's made fan films based on Venom, T...

Review: The Lego Batman Movie

Feb 10 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221270:43398:0[/embed] The Lego Batman MovieDirector: Chris McKayRelease Date: February 10, 2017Rating: PG The Lego Batman Movie opening with Batman (Will Arnett) parodying traditional film credits and openings (narrating over the DC Comics logo, etc.) pretty much tells you all you need to know about the film. This is indeed a love letter to Batman's goofy past, and isn't afraid to openly mock the mistakes DC's live action films have made. In this film, Batman is happy being alone. He eats alone, laughs at romantic comedies, and groans when his butler/surrogate father Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) tells him what to do. Aping Batman's more childish tendencies this Batman ignores the help and warnings of others; especially the new police commissioner, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson). But when the Joker (Zack Galifianakis) kickstarts a plan to destroy Gotham City and prove to Batman that he's his number one enemy, Batman must learn to work together with his new makeshift family. Including a son, Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), who Batman unwillingly adopts and brings along as his crime fighting partner.  Wearing its heart and fun on its sleeve, Lego Batman goes for a full-on kitchen sink approach. There's tons of fan service as it alludes to every iteration of the Batman, ranging from the 60's show to the famous animated series, and as much of its 78 year long comic history as it can. Villains like Condiment King and friggin' Orca, DC heroes like Apache Chief and even some pretty damn great surprises from its Warner Bros licensor pop up here. This stuff is certainly going to be great visual candy for its adult fan audience, and the voice cameos are great for everyone (Mariah Carey is the mayor, folks), but it's definitely going to fly over the heads of most of the audience. But there's so much going on at a time, Lego Batman feels too packed to work. It's literally bursting at the seams every scene with visual information packing every corner of the screen. It's so rife and busy with gags, it's tough to suss out what your eyes are supposed to focus on.  To make its visual matters worse, Lego Batman often features tons of rapid-fire jokes (sharing a problem with weaker animated films), and while some of the gags hit hard, a good amount of them are average. The film compounds its bad joke ratio by offering so many, and there were times where I wish it relaxed on them a bit more given how affecting its emotional core can be. The emotional core of Batman learning the meaning of ohana (and no one gets left behind) is drowned out by the chaos. It's even more of a bummer considering how great the film can be when it actually focuses for second. For example, the opening is fantastic as it provides a packed, yet focused narrative. Broken down it's basically: Joker and some villains attack Gotham with a bomb, Batman saves the day, and Batman goes home alone. Yet the opening features tons of characters, an original theme (with beat boxing and guitar solos), establishes its central conflict (as Batman refuses to let anyone into his life, even his most hated enemy). and wonderfully characterizes this Batman as a lonely, showboating blowhard. It's just a shame the film never reaches the same level of awesomeness as its opening twenty minutes.  The Lego Batman Movie's weakness are stemmed from trying to mine a narrative from a one-note character we've already seen the full extent of in another film. Will Arnett is great as a lead, but his performance reeks of diminishing returns. As his Batman constantly speaks, the blowhard nature of the character crosses over into annoying territory. Luckily, Rosario Dawson and Ralph Fiennes pick up the slack. Just as how Batman stole the show in The Lego Movie as a supporting character, however, Michael Cera's Robin is the clear standout in Lego Batman. His Dick Grayson is infectiously joyous, the character has a cute design (those bug-eyed glasses are inspired) thus amplifying the naivete Cera gives him, and Robin is tasked with driving the familial themes of the plot forward. He also gets the best running gag, constantly referring to Batman as various versions of "Papa," also. It's pretty funny to see Lego Batman showcasing someone other than its main character like its predecessor.  I've been trying my hardest not to compare The Lego Batman Movie to 2014's The Lego Movie, but it's hard not to when the films are ultimately similar. Aspects of the first film's production which worked so well for me before, just don't share the same level of finesse in its spin-off. The Lego Batman Movie works well as a loving parody of Batman fiction, but it's not going to carry as much weight to those who don't really know (or care) too much about it.  The Lego Batman Movie just isn't as complex as I had hoped it'd be. Sure it's nuts to ask a children's film to be complex, but after its predecessor balanced its audiences so well it stings to watch Batman Movie to go for such cheap gags and greatly limit its audience to a very distinct subset of viewers.  But at least it's not a gritty and mean Batman. Little victories. 
Lego Batman Review photo
Better than Batman v Superman anyway
The Lego Movie was my favorite animated film of 2014. It felt fresh, had a story and jokes fit for both children and their parents, and even managed to deliver a heartfelt message at the end. The big standout was Will Arnett ...

Netflixvania photo
Netflixvania

Netflix Castlevania: Producer Adi Shankar says 2 seasons in works, both written by Warren Ellis


Netflix-vania
Feb 09
// Hubert Vigilla
The animated Netflix Castlevania series was announced yesterday, although it was buried in a press release. Producer Adi Shankar, who teased the series back in 2015 on Facebook, took to social media again to share some small,...
Netflix Castlevania photo
It's on like Donkey...vania
Netflix is making a series based on Castlevania, which will debut later this year. The first season of the series has been written by comics scribe Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Iron Man, Planetary). According to Poly...

 photo

Samurai Jack is back: 5th season has new trailer


Feb 07
// Rick Lash
Diehard fans and casual observers of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim will likely be familiar with Samurai Jack. I'm not sure if the show, created by Genndy Tartakovsky, was breakthrough material or just incredibly unique. Either...
Trump = The Joker photo
Trump = The Joker

Mark Hamill reads Donald Trump's thin-skinned tweet as The Joker, which totally fits


It did read like a supervaillain tweet
Jan 08
// Hubert Vigilla
While Donald Trump was running for president, Billy West recorded a number of the candidate's dumber statements in the voice of Futurama's Zap Brannigan. It was funny. And now that Donald Trump is President-elect, it's just k...
Castlevania show photo
Castlevania show

Adventure Time producer hints at possible Castlevania TV series


Stupid Medusa heads
Dec 30
// Hubert Vigilla
More than a year ago we mentioned that a super violent Castelvania miniseries was in the works. Producer Adi Shankar made the announcement via Facebook and mentioned Fred Seibert (founder of Frederator Studios and Advent...
Logan trailer in LEGO photo
Logan trailer in LEGO

Watch the trailer for Logan recreated with LEGO


Johnny Cash's "Hurt" cover with LEGOs
Dec 27
// Hubert Vigilla
The trailer for Logan really impressed me. If Hugh Jackman's last ride as Wolverine is a post-apocalyptic road movie western, I am all for that. Better it's something distinctly non-X-Men-looking rather than some dumb, rote X...
Wes Anderson Isle of Dogs photo
Wes Anderson Isle of Dogs

Wes Anderson announces next film, a star-studded stop-motion movie called Isle of Dogs


Win a small role in the film
Dec 22
// Hubert Vigilla
Yesterday Wes Anderson release a video announcing his next movie, a stop-motion feature called Isle of Dogs. The movie will come out some time in 2018, released by Fox Searchlight. Set in Japan, Isle of Dogs is about a b...
Mononoke back in theaters photo
20th anniversary, 76th birthday
Hayao Miyazaki (who is no longer retired from filmmaking) turns 76 years old on January 5th. His film Princess Mononoke turns 20 years old in 2017. To celebrate these two landmark occasions, GKIDS and Fathom Events are bringi...

HTTYD3 photo
HTTYD3

How to Train Your Dragon 3 delayed yet again


Bad dragon! No! No!
Dec 06
// Matthew Razak
Remember when we were all supposed to have already seen How to Train Your Dragon 3 in June of this year? Yea, that didn't happen. Then we were supposed to get in sometime in 2017. Then 2018. Now, and hopefully finally, t...
Final Space photo
Final Space

Conan O'Brien brings Olan Rogers' Final Space to TBS: Watch the animated show's teaser/pilot


More Conan-related stuff on TBS
Dec 05
// Hubert Vigilla
Conan O'Brien is staking more territory over at TBS. In addition to his own talk show, Conanco (O'Brien's production company) is set to produce an all new animated television show called Final Space. Created by Olan Rogers an...

Review: Moana

Nov 23 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221047:43203:0[/embed] MoanaDirectors: John Musker and Ron ClementsRelease Date: November 23, 2016Rating: PG Moana follows the titular Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), a teenager who's always dreamed of traveling the seas beyond her island village, but is next in line for village chieftain and must stay home. When darkness begins rotting away her home, brought on when the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) steals the heart of the ancient goddess Te Fiti, Moana must journey across the sea, find Maui and ask him for help, and return the Heart of Te Fiti from where it came. From its core, Moana is much different from Disney's other princess films. Choosing instead to follow Moana on a hero's journey, rather than a quest for love, the film allows for individual character development thanks to its simplicity. While this simplicity may mirror Disney's previous films a bit too much, it is honestly what makes Moana work as well as it does.  Directors Musker and Clements have experience creating lasting Disney legacies with the two of them directing hits like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and The Great Mouse Detective. Basically, these two are responsible for a good deal of your favorite Disney moments and it's the same with Moana. The film may share too many structural similarities with previous films because of their choices, but it's also sure to make up for that simplicity with a complex emotional through line and culture. It's what previous Disney Princess films had lacked, and it's what Frozen experimented with. With a simplified tale, the film allows the characters to add layers of depth. Instead of growing as a character in relation to another person, i.e when Ariel changes herself for Prince Eric, for example, Moana's tale is all about self-improvement. It's not complicated with extraneous plot like a third act twist villain or jokes from a cartoon sidekick, Moana instead sticks to its heart with its two central characters and builds everything around them.  Being a character first type of fairy tale, Moana trusts in its two stars to make it work. Thankfully, Dwayne Johnson and the awesomely talented newcomer, Auli’i Cravalho more than hold their own. Johnson as Maui is energetic and as charming as he ever is, but, coupled with Maui's slightly mischievous character design, now has a slight edge missing from some of Johnson's work. His song, "You're Welcome" is also fantastic. His single is definitely a standout with a blend of humor and musicality. But I don't think I'll ever be able to fully express how impressed I am by the young Auli’i Cravalho. You would never be able to tell, but as her first major starring role, Cravalho is an absolute delight. Once again marrying character design and performance, Cravalho makes Moana a believable kid. Moana is astonishingly the first Disney Princess to act like an actual young girl. She's awkward sometimes, but has an endearing moxie that characterized classic princesses like Mulan, Ariel, and Tiana. But unlike the other Princesses, Moana is allowed to have non-romantic flaws.  You're probably a bit worried since I keep comparing Moana to previous films, but it's entirely intentional. Musker and Clements intended to recapture the spirit of the 2D films. Every part of its production fully embraces nostalgia, while making sure to change enough to keep the film from repeating the past too much. Thanks to the phenomenal soundtrack from Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa'i, and Mark Mancina, every scene has just a bit more punch. The opening, for example, is kind of incredible. As the film introduces its setting and unique culture (as the Oceanic island culture is far more three dimensional than cultures seen in films past), its punctuated by an incredible chant-like song mirroring The Lion King's now prolific opening. While I'm not sure if its lead single's, "How Far I'll Go," contemporary style will outlast the Broadway appeal of its predecessor, it's still heart-opening. Jemaine Clement's surprise song performance is pretty great too, as it plays to his creepy wheelhouse. Also, the most beautiful song and performance overall is the ancestor song. I don't want to spoil it, but just trust that it's fantastic. But none of this character work or music would succeed without Moana's unbelievable visuals. Moana has Disney's most exemplary animation to date with its luscious landscape and gorgeous ocean animations. The setting itself is a main character, and somehow feels fantasical yet attainable. It's an island paradise capturing the mythical nature of its fairy tale, but also looks grounded enough to exist in our world. There's no skirting the Pacific Islander culture here, unlike the other Princess' films dilution of ethnicity. The character body design is diverse, with Moana herself looking less plastic and moving more fluidly than humans seen in Tangled or Frozen. Thanks to its full embrace of what makes it different, the story's complex emotion and culture seem simplistic. See? Full circle. It's simplicity by design. Blending its depth so well and sneaking in character development through song, I didn't realize how much I had experienced until I started writing this review. The only real problem I had with Moana overall was how some of its contemporary jokes and song arrangements (There's a Twitter reference and other meta jokes) betray the timeless quality of its setting, but honestly it's not that big of a deal. Moana is definitely one of the better theatrical experiences of 2016, and in a year full of strife, it's what we need right now.  Its nostalgic quality may turn some off of Moana, but the film is still incredibly fresh despite these parallels to the past. It's a Disney Princess film taking the successes of the past, fixes their problems, and injects a breath of life into Disney they haven't had for quite some time. Moana is for the child in you, your children, and even their children. And who knows? Moana may just go down as a "classic" years down the line. 
Moana Review photo
Hawaiian roller coaster ride
Disney Animation has had one critical success after another since they're in the middle of a new creative renaissance. Fully embracing CG animation, Disney has produced hits like Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Zootopia, and most im...

Cars 3 photo
Cars 3

This Cars 3 teaser trailer is short and awesome


It looks...good?
Nov 21
// Nick Valdez
Cars is overall the worst Pixar series to date, but maybe Pixar is pulling a Toy Story 3 with the third film? This teaser trailer for Cars 3 is short, but it hits quite harder than I'd expect. It's already better than the first two, but I'm waiting for the comedy shoe to drop.  Cars 3 releases June 16th next year. 
Hayao Miyazaki is back photo
Some good news in 2016 for once
Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement from filmmaking back in 2013 with the release of The Wind Rises. That directing bug is strong, however, and he couldn't completely step away from animation. Back in July 2015, Miyazaki ...

Review: Pokemon: The First Movie

Nov 03 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221011:43182:0[/embed] Pokemon: The First MovieDirectors: Kunihiko Yuyama and Michael HaigneyRating: GRelease Date: November 6, 1999 (USA); November 1, 2016 (special event re-release) When a group of scientists sucessfully clone an ancient pokemon known as Mew, the resulting super pokemon breaks loose and wreaks havoc. The super clone, Mewtwo (Philip Bartlett), now in search of a purpose, invites the strongest pokemon trainers to a mysterious island to battle him. Ash Ketchum (Veronica Taylor), together with his friends Misty (Rachael Lillis), Brock (Eric Stuart), and Pikachu, meet Mewtwo's challenge and soon figure out there's more to this pokemon than they realized.  First things first, The First Movie is incredibly brisk. Choosing not to overstay its welcome (if you don't include the Pikachu's Island Adventure short), it instead tightly focuses on developing its central antagonist. Mewtwo themself is well defined with a clear existential crisis (as they try to clear the clouds of their mind, not so subtly represented by the storm they whip up with their powers), and it's a greater deal of characterization than anyone else gets in the film. It's such a well put together back story, in fact, it's surprising The First Movie is able to explore as much thematic territory as it does. It ends up questioning the philosophy behind the Pokémon series in full as it briefly challenges the "fighting vs. battling" argument within the Poké world. The film doesn't get as deep as I would've hoped, as the argument gives way to a hokey climax, but this amount of self-awareness is impressive for a children's film.  The laser focus on Mewtwo may help the film's pace within its short run time (as it rarely goes on tangents), but it's hard to care about anyone else involved with the plot since they fail to get the same attention. Since the film assumes the audience has working knowledge of the Pokémon TV series, and it's a fair assumption given the branding, Ash and his friends (along with Team Rocket, introduced into the plot in a Rosencrantz/Gildenstern, outsider looking in fashion) don't really have a reason to be involved. Their usual schtick of wandering into a plot in motion may work for a TV series needing a fresh story every week, but it falls flat here. Along with introducing seemingly important ancillary characters (like the kidnapped Nurse Joy or the random lady who knows storms or something) only to serve no purpose, The First Movie fails to turn Ash into a compelling protagonist.  With no real personality of his own, Ash instead becomes a moral mouthpiece. His base love for his pokemon is exaggerated into a love for everything and grand declarations of peace. It's a far cry from an Ash who, just minutes before, was willing to pit his pokemon against Mewtwo. The First Movie betrays its emotional themes with its own world, really. It's greater desire to stop senseless violence goes against everything Pokémon is known for. So it's okay to use your pokemon to fight when they use their abilities? Since there's never a clear difference between how Mewtwo forces a fight and how trainers could force a fight, the overall moral is clouded. Rather than focus on, say, the friendship between trainers and their pokes (thus enhancing its narrative overall), the film goes with a generic message. It almost feels like a cop out.  But in the end, Pokémon: The First Movie makes up for its shortcomings with pure entertainment value. Once you get passed the cheesy dialogue (complete with puns and jokes that didn't age well in the slightest) and the murky themes (which I give the film credit for attempting), there are plenty of rewards in store. A well written antagonist, slick animation, and a score that includes the ironically lovable "Brother Against Brother" song.  No matter what score I put here, it literally doesn't matter. You love it, you hate it, you already had an opinion 18 years in the making. But it was great to confirm that I liked a good thing back then, instead of figuring out yet another product from my childhood was hot garbage. My critic brain may settle on "Good," but my nostalgic one adds about 30 points. 
Pokemon The First Movie photo
"...and we succeeded"
One weekend, too many years ago, I spent a night over at my aunt's place. She didn't have cable, but she had a VCR. Which meant I could watch any movie I brought with me when I was bored of doing dumb kid stuff. Not thinking ...

Shaun the Sheep 2 photo
Shaun the Sheep 2

Aardman says a Shaun the Sheep Movie sequel is in the works


Everyday feels like summer with you
Oct 25
// Hubert Vigilla
Two of my favorite films last year reminded me of great comedies of the past. There's Mad Max: Fury Road, which owes a lot to Buster Keaton's The General. And then there's Shaun the Sheep Movie, which seems to offer several n...
Pokemon: The First Movie photo
Pokemon: The First Movie

Pokemon: The First Movie is coming back to theaters October 29th and November 1st


Gotta catch em at Cinemark
Oct 24
// Hubert Vigilla
The popularity of Pokemon Go spawned a forthcoming Detective Pikachu movie from Legendary Pictures. With the Pokemon resurgence, it should come as no surprise that the Pokemon Company is going to milk all of its adorable...
Moana Trailer photo
Oh my gosh.
With as good of a roll Disney has been on lately, I've seen many people joke along the lines of "I will push children out of the way to see this" and for the first time, I completely agree. While this newest trailer gives awa...

Pokemon Generations photo
Pokemon Generations

Watch the trailer for Pokemon Generations, a new animated web series coming to YouTube


Make it so, Pikachu
Sep 13
// Hubert Vigilla
Not too long ago we reported on the live-action Detective Pikachu Pokemon movie being put together by Legendary. Since that project is just getting underway, here's another Pokemon project to whet your appetite: Pokemon Gener...

Auto-loading more stories ... un momento, corazón ...