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A Welcome (If Surprising) Return
I was certain that the combined efforts of Film 13 "The Wisdom of Friends" & The TV Series had made Littlefoot & his friends extinct. The arrival of this sequel both pleased and worried me. (But when you hit rock bottom, you have to go up in theory.) Well, I was pleasantly surprised. This acts as a sequel to Film X - "The Great Longneck Migration" and has a brief recap. As usual the gang face various dangers outside of The Great Valley and make new friends. I liked the pterodactyl, but the feathery one was annoying. (Seemed to be a relative of Guido from Film 12 "The Great Day of the Flyers.") I wasn't pleased to see Chomper & Ruby of the TV Series included, making that canon, but they're kept to a minimum. The animation is thankfully still in 2d and is a fair standard. The songs are forgettable. I briefly wondered where Shorty was, an obvious flaw in continuity; then forgot him again. It was fine with the focus on the main five. Less involvement from the adults worked in favour. It's an enjoyable adventure and I'll be curious to see if any more follow.
Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
This is my favourite of the current three films. Po is as lovable as ever as he goes on a journey of self-discovery. He is excited to meet his real Dad and a whole Panda clan; but his devotion to his Goose Father and friends at home is never in doubt. The cutest moments belong to Tigress though. She gains a special devotee. While Po hopes to become a Chi Master in time to defeat a returning evil, The Five fight without him. They aren't in that many scenes though, compared to 1 & 2. This is a Panda Adventure. There is plenty of humour and a great deal of heart. The animation is beautiful. The ending is spectacular. There are strong messages about helping people to discover their strengths and that failure is a learning tool. Success comes from trying again and accepting support from others. The important thing is to be you.
Ice Age: Collision Course (2016)
Welcome back, Buck! Fun, heartwarming adventure.
This series is a firm favourite, due to its lovable characters, great animation and sense of fun. Simon Pegg makes a welcome return as the swashbuckling Buck, stealing every scene he's in. Scrat has new misadventures in space; while the Herd race against time to save the Earth. There are new villains and love interests introduced, plus other creatures, but the film never feels overcrowded. (Unlike in The Pirate Adventure.) Diego is left on the sidelines, but will hopefully have a bigger role if they make a 6th instalment. I love the humour and the heartwarming moments. Perhaps the next step is to re-introduce Roshan (the baby from the original).
Innocent, original & fun.
This is undeniably silly. It's meant to be. I giggled through every episode. Matt Lucas is already a favourite actor of mine from previous TV shows & films. Hove and the dog interact brilliantly with him. While this series has been billed as "silent"; in actual fact all the characters speak. It's just in their own special "gibb-lish." The plots are easy to follow and full of comic visuals. Some of these are surreal. There is no crudity in the humour. Pompidou is an innocent who inadvertently causes trouble for everyone around him, especially Hove. He endears himself to the audience, occasionally breaking the 4th wall. This is evidently a project that Matt put his whole heart into and I hope he can make more. There's nothing wrong with SILLY, providing that's what you're looking for. And there's a special surprise for Little Britain fans. (Ep 5.)
Not now, Silent Singer! (A dark delirium of delight.)
I discovered this after enjoying Inside No 9. (Not a fan of The League.) Psychoville has twisted and memorable characters. The plot is gripping and successfully combines horror with humour. Also, Reece and Steve constantly homage their favourite films. One episode is set entirely in one location, reminding me of how No 9 works. Their commentaries on the DVDs are entertaining and informative. It is a shame Series 3 didn't go ahead, but there aren't any loose ends. I especially loved Reece's characters which include a bitter clown and an obsessive librarian. Dawn French is fabulous. Steve's best character is the man-child, David. There are no weak performances. The music adds to the atmosphere perfectly. Nothing is predictable. The Halloween Special is certainly the best I've seen. For the whole, Psychoville is a delicious treat at any time of the year!
Mumfie's Quest: The Movie (2014)
Cheerful adventure with catchy songs. Shame about cuts.
I'm delighted to discover my favourite animated TV series has re-surfaced. Mumfie possesses optimism and bravery. He meets lovable characters, each with a unique characteristic, and helps to re-inspire them. In return, they give him the friendship he's been looking for. There is plenty of adventure, mystery, danger and especially, hope. The songs are catchy and I love the quirky dialogue/narration. It's also in refreshing 2d. I enjoyed the story as much as ever. It's just a shame that for reasons of length and flow, certain songs/scenes were cut. This will only be jarring for the biggest fans though. I strongly recommend the movie to everyone of any age. It's full of absolute charm and heart.
Jolie perfect for re-imagined tale. Some flaws.
While there are nods to the original classic, the story and characters have been re-imagined. The narrator explains this at the beginning. This leads to various strengths and weaknesses.
Angelina Jolie is excellent as Maleficent, who is given greater motivation for her actions. The costume is perfect.
My favourite character is Diaval (Sam Riley), the raven-familiar. He shape-shifts as required.
Aurora (Elle Fanning) a.k.a. "Beastie" has a sweet relationship with both of them.
Maleficent's magical forest subjects are delightful also.
Exciting action scenes are well balanced by tenderer sequences.
This was my first 3D experience. No cheesy FX or discomfort.
The 3 Good Fairies have thankfully been re-named. They are of no use whatsoever and are simply annoying. They are insults to the originals.
Prince Philip is not developed at all and is barely seen.
King Stefan has more to do, but he is no longer gentle.
Both the animation and live-action versions have their faults, but they are both equally entertaining. Maleficent is always a treat.
Modern Ferngully. Fantastic animation. Funny characters.
I love Blue Sky's "Ice Age" series and I was delighted to see Scrat in the logo. This leads to a beautiful and energetic opening sequence. Epic has just the right mix of action, emotional scenes and humour. Perhaps the main characters are generic, but I cared about them and their quest. While it does have "Ferngully" plot elements, especially the shrinking & the destructive evil power against the benign forces of nature; these are much bigger and exciting. No preaching involved. The comic relief snail & slug are amusing and have an essential role in the plot. The scene stealer is often Ozzy the dog, who also has his part. Watch out for one of the villain's guards too. I enjoyed the creativity of the background flower, mushroom, twig population. Also the armour worn by the evil forces. The animation for the action sequences is especially impressive. The voice talent is excellent.
Alpha and Omega (2010)
I suspected from the trailer that this wouldn't be good. Being a fan of wolves & animation though; I gave it a chance. First, the good. There are sweet moments for B couple, Lilly & Garth. Also, there are beautiful backgrounds. A cuddly bear cub scene-steals. Unfortunately these are over- shadowed by the BAD. The attempts at humour are dreadful. Too much "bathroom" for a start. The golfing goose & his duck companion just don't work as comic relief. Instead their presence reminds us of a better wolf film - BALTO. The big names are wasted in this poor fodder. The plot could have been interesting, but was too much old ground. The log sledging & Kate's acrobatics get repeated over & over. Maybe not a problem for younger children. Adults will get bored. I certainly won't be watching the sequels.
Inside No. 9 (2014)
Dark & twisty. Love Reece.
While I'm not a "League of Gentlemen" fan; I loved Reece's performance in "A Field in England." Therefore I was prepared to give "No 9." a go. This series has an impressive line up of guest stars from Katherine Parkinson to Tamsin Greig. Each episode is a mini-play set in a different location. I especially liked the creepy mansion in the final one. The stories contain twists, humour & horror. Only one of them ("The Last Gasp") disappointed me. The make-up and costumes for Reece & Steve are great. "Sardines" has a terrific end to hook viewers in. "A Quiet Night In" is full of surprises. "Tom & Gerri", my favourite, is a compelling moral tale. "The Understudy" examines the price of success. "The Harrowing" is traditional horror with a scene stealing role for Reece. I look forward to a second series.