Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension (Dan Povenmire and Robert F. Hughes, 2011) Review
It seems like just another day of summer as Phineas (Vincent Martella) and his step-brother Ferb (Thomas Brodie-Sangster...when he actually speaks) however their latest day plan sends them straight into the lair of Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz' (Dan Povernmire) lair. The boys help Dr. Doof's latest machine that sends them into an alternate dimension where Doof is ruler of the Tri-State Area. The boys' pet platypus, Perry (Dee Bradley Baker), interviens and reveals his secret identity as Agent P to them for the first time. Now Phineas, Ferb and Agent P have to find a way to return to their own dimension in one piece with the help of their alternate selves. Wow, writing that plot out was...really weird.
I do have to congratulate the film on managing to not only capture the feel of an average episode but also up the stakes as a good "TV show: the movie" style film should do. However, this only applies to the main plot. The sub-plot about Phineas and Ferb's sister Candace (Ashley Tisdale) trying to work out where they've gone isn't that engaging and feels a bit too much like I'm just watching an episode. I'd rather they introduced her into the main plot earlier to save us the trouble. I'm also concerned about the absence of certain main characters such as Doof's daughter Vanessa and Norm is barely in it. In addition (or...the opposite of addition), for a film titled Phineas AND Ferb, it feels off that Phineas is the one to take on the alternate Doof while Ferb almost does nothing during the whole climax. Ferb being my favourite character from the show,
Now, the main thing about Phineas and Ferb that keeps me coming back and is probably the best thing about it is the music. The show has churned out some great and catchy tunes (my personal favourites being 'Aint' Got Rhythm', 'A-G-L-E-T' and 'Busted') and the movie is no different....mostly. For some reason, someone figured it was a good idea to start off with all the best songs meaning that the later half of the film's songs just aren't as good. 'Summer (Where do we begin)', 'Brand New Best Friend' and 'Everything's Better with Perry' are all in the first half...I can't even name the songs in the second half. However, the songs I mentioned are still great songs that I....may or may not have on my iPod...
Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the Second Dimension (that's a mouthful) is a good enough attempt at a feature length Phineas and Ferb adventure. The music is great as always although all of the best songs are thrown out in the first half. The animation is about ont he same level as the show itself albeit a few scenes to look nicer with minor shading and other such effects. The voice acting is good, just as the show and..really that sums it up. "Just like the show". However, maybe it's TOO much like the show. Aw well.
While to feels WAY too much like the show, it does still capture what made the show enjoyable in the first place.
And yes, Phineas facing front looks....scary...
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
10 years after the events of the first film, the virus epidemic has spread world wide and wiped out most of the human race. This leaves a clan of intelligent apes, led by Caeser (Andy Serkis), to build their own civilization by themselves. Things change for the apes when discover a group of humans scouting the woods in search of a dam that can power their makeshift base in an abandoned San Francisco. The leader of the humans, Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), sends the group out again, headed by Malcolm (Jason Clarke), to reason with Caeser and compromise for use of the dam. Caeser's willingness to co-operate causes a stir with his own pack as his best friend Koba (Toby Kebbell) starts to question his decisions and finds his won methods of dealing with the human's presence.
2014 is truly a fantastic year for film. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The LEGO Movie and we can now add Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to that list. Naturally, Andy Serkis is wonderful as he reprises his role a Caeser from the first film and the expanded cast of apes helps make it even more awe-inspiring to see the large amount of well done CGI creations. The choice of motion capture is still a great one and this works well for Koba's actor Tony Kebbell (who replaces the original actor from the first film) who also delivers a strong performance that stands against Serkis. The humans are also well cast. Gary Oldman as the leader Dreyfus is arguably the most sympathetic character in the film. That scene with his photos really was heart wrenching. I was a bit sceptical of Jason Clarke at first since it did seem like he would try to replace James Franco as the "only good human" role but he does find his own identity in this mad world, much better than the likes of Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Godzilla.
At 2 hours and 10 minutes, I was a bit worried that this film would end up dragging, especially because the trailers didn't focus on much except for the fighting. I'm actually glad that the trails didn't give much away at all. In fact, it manipulates the film to make it look different to how it actually is, especially the portrayal of Dreyfus. I'm also glad it takes a non bias stance on the human/ape argument. Rise of the Planet of the Apes was very one sided by making humans the devil. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes shows that there are good and bad on each side and doesn't make you feel bad about which you sided with....unlike Avatar (the lackluster film, not the god-like TV show).
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a surprisingly mature film considering it involves scenes with apes riding horses firing machine guns..it's as awesome as it sounds. It's unbiased and handles its characters and their development well. Koba is especially well developed. The CGI is also amazing and the acting accompanying this is magnificent. This is another film to add to this plethora of amazing films this year. Here's hoping Guardians of the Galaxy is just as good as the rest of them as it's shaping up to be.
Apes...riding horses....firing machine guns. That is all.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
This list will be sticking to the new era of Doctor Who starting from 2005 with Christopher Eccelston as the 9th Doctor to 2013 with Matt Smith as the 11th because we have yet to see Capaldi in action and I haven't seen enough classic episodes to have a fair opinion of them.
10. The Army of Ghosts/Doomsday
Daleks are in almost every series of Doctor Who now and have slowly become less of a threat because of it. The show seems to enjoy pointing out as many flaws as possible about the supposed "supreme beings". However, Dalek was the first time we saw a Dalek in the new era and it is still the best Dalek related episode so far. At this point in the show, the game is simple. One Time Lord vs one Dalek. No complications, no deus ex machina, just pure fear. The first moments when The Doctor realises what's going on and is as scared as he's ever been should set the bar of what a Dalek's presence should mean. They should be feared and yet, this episode also highlights the fact that they aren't just mindless machines. In fact, they are living organisms for feel and have needs....yet still need orders and a Dalek without orders leads to a one Dalek army. Don't lie, you freaked out when you first saw it levitate up the stairs. While they have been overused now, I can still look back on their first appearance with fondest...even though this episode is now set in the past (this one is set in 2012...ouch).
Doctor Who is a show that, in it's heyday, was infamous for scaring the living daylights out of audiences and leaving them hiding behind their sofas. Excluding the next entry since I didn't even know what Doctor Who was, I have screamed twice watching it. The Forest of the Dead with all that Vashta Narada and deformed gltich people business and Blink for the God damn Weeping Angels. Sure, they have lost their appeal because Moffat won't stop milking them but when they first appeared, you can bet they left an impression. Acting as a 'Doctor-lite' episode as he barley makes an appearance, we see clever mind games involved in guiding Sally Sparrow (believe it or not, played by Carey Mulligan) to the TARDIS as The Doctor and Martha have been ambushed by Weeping Angels and send back in time. Nightmare fuel ensues as Doctor Who adds statues to the list of things we are now afraid of. Don't think that ending didn't make us paranoid.
7. The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances
5. The Girl in the Fireplace
Who ordered their episode that delivers a massive gut punch and leaves you in a pool of your own tears? The Girl in the Fireplace is the episode for you. Something that Doctor Who hasn't really done (as far as I know) is having characters get emotionally invested in a historical figure. Fires of Pompeii did well with Donna feeling sorrow for the doomed citizens of Pompeii (including Peter Capaldi and Karen Gillan...seriously) however it was The Girl in the Fireplace that perfected it. The Doctor, Rose and Mickey travel to an abandoned spaceship to find a time portal that takes The Doctor through to France throughout the 18th century and grows a relationship with Madame De Pompadour. The catch is that what may seem like minutes on the spaceship is years in France. As you might guess, there is only one way it can end and leaves us on one of the saddest notes of the series.
3. The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords
I suppose you may be wondering who or what my favourite Doctor Who baddie is. After all, they can make or break an episode. I can reveal that my favourite is The Master. It may seem quite cliche to simply pit a hero against an evil version of himself (okay, there's more to it...he's not the Valeyard) but this is the episode that completely turns that on it's head. The reason this episode works so well can be summed up in it's first scene. The Master has already won. Right as the episode starts, he is already in power and in control. The Doctor has no TARDIS, he, along with Jack and Martha, are on top of the public enemy list and The Master is almost ready to decimate the human population. The stakes are the highest they have ever been and we see The Doctor fall into the mercy of his maniac of a former friend. The Master's insanity is explored with great depth and almost becomes sympathetic if it weren't for the constant barrage of evil and shocking strokes of psychotic torture and desolation. A truly thrilling romp from start to finish that ends on a bittersweet ending thanks for beautiful music and some of David Tennant's finest acting.
2. Vincent and the Doctor
I may be making myself out to be a David Tennant fanboy with no broad scope on this list. That's only partially true. Yes, he's my favourite Doctor but I still have place in my heart of Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor. I am aware that the best episode that highlights his Doctor is The Beast Below...or The Rings of Akhaten but I will tell you why Vincent and the Doctor does so many things right. It nails what the show was supposed to do in the first place and that is explore time and highlight historical figures as well as explore their real life turmoil in a fresh way. Vincent Van Gogh is played wonderfully by Tony Curran and we see his real life suffering portrayed in a heart-breaking fashion (the ending still hurts) tied in wonderfully to the narrative by making great use of his talent and unique mind. However, there is one moment that lets this episode skyrocket up the list and that is when The Doctor takes Vincent to a museum showcasing his artwork. Whoever chose the music for this scene deserves a bloody raise because I can't hear that song without getting teary eyed. The music, the acting and even the cinematography is beautiful and is probably the most emotional I've ever been watching anything. Yes, I cried....every time.
1. Human Nature/The Family of Blood
For many years now, I've been parading about claiming that Vincent and the Doctor is my favourite episode...that is until I stumbled upon this masterpiece when re watching the show. This is the episode that cemented The 10th Doctor as my favourite fictional character. We are shown an impossible vision of The Doctor living a human existence with no memory of his life as a Time Lord and having to deal with real human issues having now been torn down to our level. Love, loss, regret, pride. It conveys that, while from another world, he is still human at heart. The parallel's between The Doctor and John Smith make for wonderful commentary and are introduced to an enemy clearly out to destroy The Doctor's livelihood and everything he cares about as well as being introduced to Joan Redfern who works alongside John through is identity crisis in an archaic but lovely setting. In a way, it proves that anyone can make a difference and there is true power stored in even the smallest man. This is a truly inspiring episode but it's the ending that solidifies this as number one for me. The Fury of the Time Lord. One thing is for certain: Don't. Mess. With. The Doctor. He is a force to be reckoned with. He's labelled as the Oncoming Storm for a reason. This is the episode that makes me realise that he isn't really a hero...but in a good way. Hero is a label, it's just a title. The Doctor can antagonise, he can save galaxies and entire civilizations, he can destroy people's livelihoods through one sentence or action. A major case of "Be careful what you wish for" tied up with a perfect ending that pulls together aspects from earlier points in an effort to say "this was going somewhere". A well thought out, beautifully written episode that captures the true essence of The Doctor and the show as a whole. And two Game of Thrones actors helps.
Also the Scarecrows were cool.
Love and Monsters
The Doctor's Daughter
Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead
The Rings of Akhaten
The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky
It would appear that from all these episodes that Series 3 is evidently my favourite. I can't quite make that claim but it certainly delivered some tremendous episodes, didn't it.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
5 years after the events of the first film, Berk is now a land where dragons live freely with people. While Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Astrid (America Ferrera) are exploring a new land on their dragons, they are attacked by dragon traps led by Eret (Kit Harington), son of Eret, who works for a madman named Drago (Djimon Hounsou). Hiccup attempts to reach Drago and reason with him to stop his growing dragon army but is ambushed along the way by an unknown dragon rider who holds a long kept secret from Hiccup.
I went into this film with one big fear and that is that the original had the surprise factor as no-one had a clue of how amazing it would be but, this time, we had expectations high for an even more amazing film. Dont' fear though because this film delivers impeccably and is another example of Dreamworks creating some of the best animation films out there. I knew things would be okay with David Powell returning to provide the spectacular soundtrack as he did before. How to Train Your Dragon always had an amazing soundtrack and the sequel continues this trend. We also get some great voice acting from the veterans of the first film such as Jay Baruchel and Gerard Butler but new additions such as Kit Harington and Cate Blanchett fit in extremely well into this universe and I hope to see them in later installments.
The main thing that these films boast are it's incredible animation. Heck, even the TV series the film spawned looks great! This one ups the ante of everything on screen (one moment even gave me a Pacific Rim vibe) with a much larger scale. It made me realise that Dreamworks could do a good Shadow of the Colossus adaptation since this borderlines that. The detail one the characters and dragons is commendable and is Dreamworks' best looking film to date. It's a shame I can't see 3D since I'm sure this would look incredible with the great flying sections and use of scale and perspective. The plot is also a step up. The heart of the first film was the developing relationship between Hiccup and Toothless which is still evident but they threw in some complications in order to test their relationship. The second half of the film had me constantly on the edge of my seat as I had no idea where it was going. I almost thought we'd be left on a cliffhanger.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 is an impeccable feat in animation. Dreamworks continue to prove that with every Turbo or The Croods, there is a film like this to balance everything out. Beautifully animated, wonderfully scored, well voiced and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. All I can say is...good luck beating this Disney...because Big Hero 6 doesn't look like it's going to. How to Train Your Dragon 2 is so close to as perfect as a sequel can get. Good job to everyone on board.
Proof the Dreamworks know what their doing and that they can deliver a beautiful, well crafted sequel to an already almost perfect film.
Monday, July 14, 2014
After being shipwrecked on an seemingly desert island, a couple face against a leopard labeled as Sabor only to meet their end after an attack. Their baby is left alone in their makeshift home and is taken in by a gorilla named Kala (Glenn Close). the baby, named Tarzan (Tony Goldwyn), grows up as one of the apes with his ape friend Terk (Rosie O'Donnell....that's a name I didn't want on this site) and an elephant named Tantor (Wayne Knight). Things get complicated when a group of human explorers arrive on an expedition to find wild apes. Tarzan saves a woman named Jane (Minnie Driver) who introduces him to her father (Nigel Hawthorne) and their bodyguard Clayton (Brian Blessed). As ne tries to teach Tarzan about human life, Clayton grows impatience and insists that Tarzan leads them to the apes for his own reasons.
There are two things that one comes to expect with an animated Disney film: wonderful animation and a strong soundtrack. Firstly, Tarzan does not disappoint with the animation as it continues the main aspect I loved about Aladdin and The Lion King's animation was the great lighting and colours. Their vibrant and stand out against the great backgrounds although, with Tarzan, its a bit more obvious that all the backgrounds are computer generated. I have to appreciate the new take of Tarzan's movement as he not only swings through the trees but is given much more ways of maneuvering such as grinding down branches and leaping from tree to tree. It looks great and is fun to watch.
The other big aspect is the music (or sound, since I'm going to talk about the voice acting too). Straying away from Disney norm, Tarzan uses non-diegetic music as Phil Collins provides songs rather than the characters themselves singing. In any other Disney film, this would be a disappointment but here it works because Tarzan is a much darker film in the Disney line-up so it wouldn't quite fit in. We have catchy songs and they don't ruin the tone. What's not to like...unless you don't like Phil Collins in which case, I'm sorry. Of course, we can't ignore BRIAN BLESSED! can we? The cast are just great. Yes, even Rosie O'Donnell...but Brian takes the cake because his booming voice has been asking to be animated and here we are!
Tarzan, while not Disney's strongest animated film, holds it's own very well. It's much darker in comparison to Disney's usual style but the lovely animation (mainly the lighting and the colours), strong voice acting and great take on the source material. It's worthy of being part of the Disney Renaissance but it's just a shame that it's the very last one of that era of Disney...god damn it Dinosaur.
Well animated (although those backgrounds are dated), well voiced and all around well put together.
Monday, July 7, 2014
Please excuse the sudden hiatus I've been on. I've had essays piled on me and just fought my way through 3/4 of them with about 75% of the 4th one left. In my spare time, I've been compiling two new lists instead of reviews because I haven't had time to watch films recently (well, films I haven't already reviewed) so let's take a look at my first list. This is my first list, outside of Top 10 films of the year, to be about film since my last one was TV related as is the one after this.
A good friend of mine recently uploaded his Top Ten Episodes of Game of Thrones on his blog dubbed Incoherent Clarity which got me thinking about my text Top Ten list. I was unsure about what to pick however, on my daily medley of Disney songs, it dawned on me. Disney Sequels are always fun to debate because...they're mostly terrible. I therefore put in upon myself to bring you five Disney sequels that are actually worth watching and also the main five you should avoid at all cost!
5. An Extremely Goofy Movie
4. The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride
Disney is first and full most an animation company so the quality of the animation in their feature films are one of the most important aspects. That being said, many Disney sequels skimp on the animation just to make a quick buck (someone Planes managed it) however this isn't the case with The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. While not as colourful or fluid looking as the first one, it looks very good for a Disney sequel and continuing the trend of Shakespeare by having this one based on Romeo and Juliet wasn't a bad idea either. Catchy song, memorable new characters and nice animation, this one does well although it does feel a bit too pandering for my tastes.
2. Rescuers Down Under
1. Aladdin and the King of Thieves
5. The Fox and the Hound 2
4. Brother Bear 2
or the first one...
3. Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas
You'd think Tim Curry could make anything good. After all, he's been in many duff films and I always enjoy his performance (don't want to tread on the toes of FernGully fans but...I'll get to that one). Another thing, tell me what you like most about the first film? Guess what, it's not in this one. I don't care what you were thinking, it's not here! Blandness is the true spirit of this film. Nothing stands out and in fact I barely remember a thing about it. All I know is that every second this thing dragged on, I was praying to just watch the first one again. I hear that there is in fact a third Beauty and the Beast but I dare not even take a look. From what I've seen...it looks WORSE!
2. Atlantis The Lost Empire 2: Milo's Return
1. The Hunchback of Note Dame II
So there you have it. Some hidden gems and some real stinkers. We can live in the comfort that Disney hasn't made a direct-to-video (or I guess DVD now) film in a long time. While they have announced sequels to Wreck-it Ralph and Frozen, the former is deserving of a sequel that is welcomed (so much potential) while the latter may have difficulty because Frozen seemed to be a good standalone story it at least it can't be as bad as the bottom 5, right? What's the moral of the story? SHOW YOUR KIDS THE ORIGINALS.....and the top five films on this list.
Oh wait, I forgot all about the Tinkerbell films...MAE WHITMAN, WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO US?!