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Lazy Animation Combined with Old Hit Remarketing
3.2 of 10. If you're choosing which theater cartoon to see with kids this holiday, Moana is the clear and easy winner. Trolls is a lazy cartoon from beginning to end. From the low-quality of the animation itself to the story and music selection, there's is nothing innovative, ambitious, or worth viewing on anything other than free TV, and only then to keep the kids quiet and out of trouble.
The 1 redeeming quality in the story is that it's about happiness not being found/gained through consumption, but instead through hugs and friends.
As for the cartoon quality, you see much better in TV standards for kids like Spongebob Squarepants and Adventure Time. The music and audio in them is also surprisingly better. The music you get in this is a selection of 80s/90s pop hits that you hear/have heard far more than you want to already. Nothing original.
Disappointing and cheaply done cartoon that provides nothing new. The very least they could have done is select some obscure or new music that fits in with the story, but they seem more interested in selling film space to existing corporate elevator music.
Sausage Party (2016)
In the Category of Best Cartoon Ever
9.6 of 10. Being a mix of Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Betty Boop, while the animation doesn't do anything technically new or amazing, the character drawing and subtleties combined with the voices and story make for a grand experience as a whole. Easily the best cartoon of the past 3 years.
Sure, it's not for kids, but a lot is beyond their ability to comprehend anyway. It's far more intellectual than you'd expect in a cartoon. Teens and up should be viewing this, not that requiring it will be necessary. The combination of comedy, sexual innuendo, music, and action will draw viewers to it and keep interest rising. If not that, the desire to experience what it's like to see the world through Stephen Hawking's brain when really f'k'n' high.
What's wrong with it? Hmmm, I would have preferred a more lasting, graphic display of the sausages getting up into the buns. It's the least they could do for their puppet masters.
Bad Santa 2 (2016)
Definitely not up to the greatness of the original
6.9 of 10. An amusing, funny sequel, but it lacks the depth and insight of the first. It still works in many ways as a gross-out comedy and satirical critique of the Christmas industry.
Like the 2003 original, it's probably still too much for the typical holiday film viewer. Gross out humor has come a long way and become much more the norm, but it's far from family viewing cartoons with Santa's elves.
As to elves, 13 years later, little people/elves are also at the peak of their popularity. Even tiny hands seem to be big. But they are definitely not heroes in this film, though they definitely get to show off their skills - as do the fat, overfed fastfood kids.
Enjoyable Cartoon Covering Hawaiian Culture and Youth
7.1 of 10. Not up to the high standards that Sausage Party set for cartoons this year, but it definitely fulfills Disney's standard for creating inspirational stories for youth that intertwine with mythology and culture.
It's also better than Kubo and the Two Strings, which it's more likely to be compared to given the importance of water in the story. The water animation itself is also better in Moana, from the transparency to the movement of the creatures in it.
This should be a very enjoyable cartoon for girls and young women. Certainly above the crop of 2015 cartoons.
Michael Moore in TrumpLand (2016)
Not Difficult to Say 3 Good Things about Michael Moore after Watching
8.9 of 10.
1. Michael Moore can do stand-up comedy. He is funny, witty, and quick on his feet for someone who moves around so slowly.
2. Moore can do Colbert-like roasting satire.
3. Moore should run for President in 2020 regardless of whether Hillary Clinton turns into America's version of Pope Francis. It will make a good practice run and he has great ideas worthy of prime-time debates regardless of whether he can execute an executive order to have postal carriers actually deliver marijuana to every home on every Friday. Maybe, if Hillary turns out really great, she'll voluntarily relinquish power, something Trump would definitely never do.
While this isn't a documentary, it definitely has documentary-like qualities. Obscure parts of history are revealed, including long impressive connections with leaders in other nations and the respect that Hillary has from them.
As for Trumpland, another documentary aspect of this film is the insight given into a small part of Ohio known as Clinton County.
Deepwater Horizon (2016)
The Muddy Reality of Offshore Oil Drilling Brought to Horrific Life
9.1 of 10. Makes a documentary-style, based-on-true events film into a stunning special FX action-thriller with the sort of technical detail that you'd expect Star Trek nerds to demand and enjoy.
2 people really impress here: Peter Berg for putting this film together and John Malkovich for his acting. Berg clearly expresses a passion for this that brings to life a film based on an investigative news article. As for Malkovich, pretty much everyone but him could have been replaced with another actor.
They definitely released this at the correct time. There's a not so obvious Halloween element in this film. Those looking for horror and gore without being stuck with slightly different versions of the same old horror clichés will prefer this over any made-for-Halloween film. You will feel truly scared and surprised watching this film without a single gimmick.
The Good Neighbor (2016)
Does for Halloween what Bad Santa did for Christmas
7.5 of 10. While not quite up to the original Bad Santa (2003), Good Neighbor definitely does for Halloween what Bad Santa did for Santa Claus Day.
Rather than conventional horror, you get a mystery based in reality that takes advantage of the characters' both known and unknown beliefs in ghosts and the paranormal. Blood, violence, and sudden loud sounds still play a critical role, but without the directionless excess that recent big studio horror releases rely upon to the point of tedium.
Caan fortunately plays a more laid back role to a film that really doesn't need star power. It succeeds through a well-crafted story and exceptional casting of relative unknowns in all the other roles. Then when you don't expect it, things stay lively with a surprising and enjoyable soundtrack.
An Inspiring, Sexy Addition to the Documentaries
9 of 10. For me, the only significant missing part was Pfc. Bradley (Chelsea) Manning's and other earlier whistleblowers influence on how Edward Snowden decided to go about whistleblowing. Other than that, this film fills in all the gaps you want from a film based on a true story that's following up on documentaries.
One of the surprises involves Shailene Woodley's addition of sex appeal to the story. She added the emotional and relationship context expected, but, while it's not what I was looking for, I'm sure many will appreciate the flesh she adds.
Definitely a much needed and inspiring telling of the NSA and general government military spy ops that too many people might otherwise not spend the time they should thinking about. While John Oliver's "dick pics" added some humor and awareness, I think Oliver Stone provides a lot more known, non-hypothetical variants that drive the same point home, sometimes with humor, sometimes with sex, sometimes with sadness.
The Childhood of a Leader (2015)
The Worst Fascism Film Ever
2.5 of 10. Rounded down instead of up. Given that there's a desperate need for more documentaries or even portrayals of fascism as it happened historically, the 1 remarkable thing about this film is that it completely fails to capture any unique element of fascism or fascists.
As a film on the spoiled brats of leaders in general, it's not bad. Not original and not insightful either. It's more like the writer and director threw a tantrum together.
It's not the worst possible rating essentially because the acting and music are entertaining enough to keep the film from causing your head from bouncing off the floor, but that's about it.
Now You See Me 2 (2016)
The Kind of Sequel that has you Hoping for a Trilogy
8.25 of 10. I found the first a disappointing attempt to do a film like Ocean's Twelve and 13. This creates it's own space and provides a more fitting role for Woody Harrelson to fit in. The nature of the film, however, will disappoint young, naive magic fans who came for Daniel Radcliffe.
What makes this different from a magic or tech film is that it combines the 2 and goes further, mixing in international intrigue and national security issues. As a result, we have something like Edward Snowden meets David Copperfield (who is a co-producer).
Whether there's a trilogy now or not, this fulfills the promise of the first film and can leave us content with the series.