Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Aquaman: Rage of Atlantis Review


It’s time to look at the next big LEGO adventure. This time Aquaman takes the center stage as he tries to prove himself. It’s a pretty fun LEGO adventure and while it can’t quite match up to the best ones out there, it holds its own pretty well. We get some decent fight scenes and it’s always fun to see the Justice League return no matter what format it is. So without further ado let’s dive into this.

The film starts off with the Justice League sending out a call for help to Aquaman. He is delighted to hear this, especially because the villain is attacking a river so he’ll be able to do some real damage. Unfortunately this area is just called a river but it’s totally dry so Lobo beats Aquaman up. Aquaman struggles to hold onto his confidence but even the Justice League can barely defend him in faqront of the media and Ocean Master has now taken over Atlantis. If Aquaman doesn’t regain his confidence really soon I’m afraid that it’s going to be too late for him.

DC’s been doing quite well with the Lego adventures and this one continues the run of solid titles in the franchise. While Aquaman can’t hold his own film nearly as well as the Flash, he’s a fun enough lead. We really hadn’t seen him in the other specials so this was a good way to give him some focus with the league. Naturally a lot of his scenes are played for laughs. Most of the characters land a lot of burns at his expense but Aquaman does his best not to let it get to him. He still keeps on trying to be the best and after he gets drunk Aquaman finally experiences some clarity on what he has to do next. It took him a while to get to the answer, but better late than never right?

The Lego animation is fairly consistent with how all of the others were. Lego in general still isn’t my favorite style but this one still gives us some pretty good fight scenes. Superman surprisingly (well maybe it’s not too surprising) doesn’t look great in the battles though. Lobo is just too powerful and really deals out the pain to everyone who goes up against him. It’s always nice to see him looking good though since Lobo is often one of my favorite DC villains. I like his biker theme and the fact that he actually can fight with the likes of Superman. His appearances in the DCAU is really what got me into being a fan.

Meanwhile the humor is pretty sound as you’d expect. My favorite humor scenes are admittedly the ones that are poking fun at Aquaman a lot. It’s the low hanging fruit of course, but you can’t help but smirk when Ocean Master shows his little compilation video of Aquaman getting wrecked. The humor scenes that don’t work quite so well are the more over the top ones like when Wonder Woman gets dazed/confused for a while. Damian trying to act like a kid also doesn’t work quite as well. I was surprised to see him and Batgirl since they basically come out of nowhere, but the more guest stars the better.

Ocean Master makes for a fun villain. He may not always be the biggest mastermind but he did convince Aquaman to give up the throne without a fight which does take a good degree of skill. A lot of villains would love to be able to say that they took over Atlantis without having to lift a finger. It’s usually just not that easy though. Things may not have worked out well for him in the end, but if not for the rest of the heroes being around he probably could have pulled the whole thing off. There’s also the slight sympathy angle that any story with Ocean Master comes equipped with because Aquaman tends to put him down without realizing it. “It’s good to be king!” was definitely something that Ocean Master doesn’t need to hear from Aquaman on a daily basis. Still doesn’t make him any less of a villain though.

The most tragic part for Ocean Master though is the fact that he starts to be overshadowed by the other villains here like the Red Lanterns. How can he really hope to compete with powerful foes like that? Dex-starr and Atrocitus both get fun roles and you don’t really doubt that either one of them would be able to clobber Ocean Master. It was a cool team up though because that’s one of those out of the box pairings that seems like it would be interesting.

Meanwhile we have a full subplot about Jessica Cruz working to find confidence in being a Green Lantern. It’s not as good as the main plot, but it’s decent. Most of it involves her ring giving her a lot of snark as it constantly mocks Jessica and makes things tough for her on purpose. Honestly Jessica has enough trouble trying to be a fighter, the ring doing its thing really doesn’t end up helping matters at all. It just ends up getting in the way and making trouble for both of them. I lost a lot of sympathy for Jessica when she started making fun of Batman’s utility belt though. The first time you can write off as an accident, but after that it has to be intentional. It may have been a humor plot, but it still hurt Jessica all the same. Especially since Batman was the best character in the special. One simply does not disrespect the Dark Knight like that.

Overall, Rage of Atlantis is a fun DC special. There’s not a lot more to say beyond what I’ve already mentioned. If you like Aquaman or the new Green Lantern Jessica then you should enjoy this one. Quite a lot of characters show up and so the special is able to make the most of its longer run time. I wonder which hero will get a lego special next. I dare say that Green Lantern has earned his, but I wouldn’t mind another Batman centered JL special either. Those are always fun.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Lego Jurassic World: The Secret Exhibit Review


It’s time to take a look at another Lego Jurassic World special. This time it’s a two part adventure so there is a little more content here as we get time for two little adventures although both parts are connected to the same plot. I’d still have to give the edge to the last special I saw in the series, but this is a good follow-up. I think you’ll have a very tough time trying to guess what the secret exhibit is so the movie did a good job of hiding that.

The movie starts with Owen flying in some dinosaurs for Claire who is working on new projects in Jurassic World. It’s pretty tough for Owen to land safely, but he pulls it off and prepares to get paid. Unfortunately Claire hits him with the technicality that he won’t get paid until the dinosaur is actually on the right section of the island. In all fairness, she does have a point that he only semi delivered the dinosaur but I think there was a breakdown in communication between them early on. Now Owen is going to have to help Claire get all the way through but with the deadline getting crunched and some dinosaurs on the loose, they may not be able to make it in time.

The main focus of the special is really the banter between Owen and Claire. The two of them are bickering and debating throughout so you get to choose whose side you’re on. Either way it is entertaining though which does help the film maintain a fun tone as the adventure goes on. The special really feels like it goes by in a flash even with two parts although I did watch one part as a time so it felt like a good miniseries.

I was with Owen for most of the film, but ultimately I had to side with Claire. What gave her the edge here in the end was the fact that she was so close to making it back to base in time, but then Owen had to take a shortcut and of course it didn’t work out and nearly sabotaged their entire adventure. That is completely 100% on Owen and it’s not the kind of thing where you could say it was a misunderstanding. He simply messed it all up and when the stakes are this high (Claire could be fired) he probably should have reigned it in a bit.

Beyond that he was definitely a fun lead though. I always like his confidence and how he just jumps into every adventure. You always want to have someone like that on your adventures even if he won’t necessarily think things through all that well. Meanwhile Claire is definitely the more practical member of the group. That means she isn’t always as entertaining, but she does have some gusto. She does her best to be a go-getter from the start and is always trying to accomplish the mission and impress the boss. Claire does use a little deception to get her way which is a bit tricky so I can’t defend that, but it’s still a fun move. At the end of the day her boss is pretty crazy so it’s probably the best way she could have handled that anyway. She also had a good line at the end to satisfy the boss while also technically not lying about anything.

Meanwhile the boss definitely looks pretty bad although it was certainly intentional. He’s the comic relief character who is very absent minded and doesn’t really think things through all that well. Giving the villain the password to his computer was definitely his biggest mess up. I liked the boss’ enthusiasm but he definitely isn’t doing a great job of running the park. He really needs to step up his game or that’s really going to be it for the place.

Finally, the reveal of what the secret exhibit was turned out to be pretty fun. It’s definitely not exactly what I was expecting but it worked all the same. It actually made sense with the other bits we knew about the boss such as the fact that he thought the dinosaur cookies would be a really good idea. The whole time he was aiming the park towards kids so this exhibit/ride made a lot of sense. It doesn’t seem like the safest option out there, but since they’re all made of Legos I wouldn’t say it was a huge risk either.

Overall, The Secret Exhibit is a good follow up to the first special. It’s always nice to see the characters trying to navigate through this dinosaur infested world and the dinosaurs even try to help Owen and Claire out this time which was very wholesome. If you enjoy the Lego specials in general then you’ll definitely like this one. It’s got good humor at the ready and there’s even a cliffhanger for the next one. I’m not sure how serious the cliffhanger is, but I’d definitely be up for some more adventures.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Lego Marvel Spider-Man: Vexed by Venom Review


It’s time for the next Marvel Lego special and this time we get Spider-Man as the lead character. One nice thing about these lego adventures is that they always feel like they could take place in the real show. The Black Panther special was like something out of Avengers Assemble and this one is pretty close with the current Spider-Man title. It may not be exact and it certainly isn’t officially in continuity, but it does help make the whole thing gel together pretty well.
The plot of the special is that Venom and Green Goblin have joined forces to get this mystical key item. Spider-Man is on the scene right away, but isn’t able to take them down in his first encounter. He may need some extra tech to win in this round but he’ll have to move fast because these villains are not going to be waiting for anyone. He also may get some unexpected assistance.

Green Goblin and Venom teaming up is an interesting concept and I don’t believe that it has happened before. It makes sense for them to pair up as they are some of Spider-Man’s most dangerous adversaries, but both of them have a lot of pride and like to work solo so that’s probably why it would be difficult to get them on one page. From the two I’d say that Venom definitely gets the bigger role although you may have guessed that from the title of this special.

Green Goblin doesn’t look bad, but he just doesn’t seem to be much of a threat to Spider-Man. Spidey even mentions that he can dodge the villain’s attacks all day and never feels all that threatened. At least with Venom Spider-Man had to bring in his Spider Bot to try and get the upper hand. I didn’t see any of that tech against the goblin.

This special did a good job of really using the lego format to its advantage here by having so many different upgrades for Spider-Man. I liked all of the vehicles and they looked pretty good in their brief screen time. The fights are also good, considerably better than in the last special. A good reason for this is due to the special taking the action scenes more seriously. It’s a bit ironic but this special had more of a serious tone than the Black Panther one. The fights here are just so much better like with the climax as Mecha Spiderman and Ghost Spider take on Venom. It’s real solid.

We still do get some good humor though and Spider-Man is always able to pull that off pretty well. He gets a lot of good one liners and does his best to annoy and mock the villains as much as possible. Spider-Man also looks pretty experienced here and it’s got to be one of his more impressive portrayals recently. He thinks fast to protect civilians and even has a good moment where he uses his webs to stop Venom’s bearhug drop and turns the tables. Spiderman still does whine a lot, but I like to think it’s to get the villains to drop their guard. He’s not actually all that desperate.

At one point in the special Spider-Man decides to take Goblin’s lair for his own. It’s actually a pretty interesting idea that makes a lot of sense. As Spiderman mentioned, it’s not like Green Goblin will be using it anytime soon right? Why let a good lair go to rest? I’m thinking that the only big risk here would be if the villain bugged it with a lot of weapons and traps or some cameras and the hero ends up giving away key information. You’d definitely need to do a clean sweep of it, but otherwise it’s really not a bad idea.

The rest of the characters here are all solid as well. Ghost Spider definitely ends up helping out quite a lot in the end. Without her Spiderman would have definitely been in trouble. Then you have Spider-Man himself who was very solid as I mentioned earlier. It’s always nice to see him as an experienced veteran. Finally there’s Venom who is a very imposing villain with several forms. The voice for him was also quite fitting as it was very intimidating. Yeah, Venom was handled perfectly!

Overall, Vexed by Venom is a fun special. It’s got a good blend of plot, action, and humor. It’s easily one of Marvel’s better lego specials and as always the pacing is on point. This is the kind of special that probably could have been extended into a full film and been quite solid. Sometimes it’s best not to push it though. The 20 minutes were filled out quite well. If you haven’t checked this special out yet then you should do so. It’s pretty fun.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Lego Marvel Super Heroes Black Panther: Trouble in Wakanda Review


It’s time to take a look at a Marvel Lego special this time around. Historically they aren’t quite as good as the DC ones. The DC ones tend to have better fight scenes and more of a solid all around cast. The characters lend themselves to the Lego format really well partially because the core members of the Justice League are so well known. Guys like Batman and Superman basically write themselves. Still, this lego special still holds its own and makes for a fun watch.

The special starts with Black Panther giving an interview about how talking is great and all, but we need action. He intends to walk around in his Black Panther suit all day to get this message across, but he is interrupted by an attack from Thanos. Fortunately, the Avengers were eating nearby so they beat him pretty quickly. Looks like things are coming out all up for the heroes now right? Well, little do they know that Klaw and Killmonger have found Thanos and enlisted his aid for their upcoming conquest of Wakanda. The Avengers already had a lot to deal with facing Thanos, can they really beat this group of villains?

It must be tough being the ruler of Wakanda because it seems like everyone is always trying to get inside to steal the Vibranium. The place just never gets any peace. Panther is also the only really strong fighter there so without him everyone tends to get captured and kidnapped. He can’t be in two places at once after all so in a way I can see why he usually doesn’t want to be an Avenger since it would mean being away from home more.

Naturally the special is more comedy oriented than the main shows would be so it pokes fun at the villains a lot, but the general idea isn’t all that bad. They break into Wakanda to power up Thanos and in exchange he’ll let Killmonger rule the land. Sure, the odds of Thanos actually doing this are pretty slim, but he is one of the more honorable Marvel villains at times. Perhaps he actually would keep his end of the bargain and help the guy out. Considering that Thanos wants to end the planet though I find this to be pretty unlikely.

It’s nice to see Killmonger since he’s a pretty fun villain. The guy makes for a good antagonist to Black Panther and I could definitely see him appearing more frequently than he used to since he had his appearance from the film. Klaw is significantly less interesting though and I can’t say that any of his scenes were particularly engaging. Thanos is fun as always although he’s probably the biggest parody of himself. It’s hard to take Black Panther overpowering Thanos 1 on 1 very seriously in any context, but hey….Thanos finally met his match.

As always I’m not the biggest fan of the Lego animation but I do think it’s a little crisper than it used to be in the original days. It may not be as smooth as DC’s but it gets the job done. We do get real action scenes which is always good. The legos make for good destruction effects since they all break down so easily. The city environment is also good.

We get some nice humor scenes as well. While the more obvious ones like the villains not being very smart don’t pan out, the wording jokes are always the best. For example Iron-Man says it’s time to wrap things up…before getting the server to wrap up his sandwich rather than entering the fight. Puns and quick banter are always the best forms of humor if you ask me although you can get any kind to work if you achieve it properly.

Overall, the special is pretty quick so it’s all over before you know it. The special never drags on so that’s always a good sign and it was enjoyable. It felt like an episode of the recent Avengers Assemble show, especially since Black Panther was the main character. At this point it would almost be odd if he wasn’t a main character. This special probably won’t be blowing your mind away or anything like that, but it’s definitely a solid installment and stands up on its own. If you like the Lego specials then you’ll enjoy this one.

Overall 7/10

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Lego Jurassic World: The Indominus Escape Review


It’s time to look at a quick lego adventure. I’ve seen quite a few back in my day, but I actually hadn’t seen the Jurassic World one yet. It’s a fun adventure and one of the better Lego adventures. Perhaps it’s because there hadn’t been a dino one before, but this special does a great job of bringing in some new humor and situations rather than going for the same old stuff. It’s also just nostalgic to see the events of the movie even if it’s a little different.

The special starts off with a fun scene as the pilot trolls Claire by intentionally driving quite erratically. It’s good she’s made of legos or she probably would have had a concussion out of that because she hits her head a ton. The pilot ends up paying for this quite a bit though as he eventually latches onto a cage and falls out of the sky. At least he was playing Tetris so maybe he had fun. Owen manages to round up his flying dinosaurs and saves Claire from her fall out of the sky. There’s no time to waste as she wants to make a new dinosaur, but Owen thinks this is a bad idea. Will this new dinosaur really save Jurassic World or doom it?

The special is around 30 minutes so it definitely goes by very quickly. It does do a good job of abridging all of the key scenes while having some fun. All of the characters here are a blast and the writing is a lot of fun. There are a lot of scenes that aren’t trying too hard to be funny and so end up being fairly humorous. Typically I tend to like the subtle background gags of the dinosaurs just wrecking the humans. After a while it’s not so subtle but it still works out pretty well. Additionally the heroes being pretty oblivious in putting the other workers in danger works out pretty well.

Lego animation may not be my favorite style but it works out well enough for this. This special is more of a comedy than the comedy/action mix you see in the superhero ones so they don’t have to worry about fight scenes. Lego can give good action scenes as well, but especially in a comedy movie you can just brush past the fact that they’re all legos. The level of detail in the lego pieces is quite solid. Mix that in with the solid writing and pacing and you’ve got a pretty fun way to spend 30 minutes.

The character cast is also strong which is always important. Owen checks all of the boxes for the confident lead you want to see in this kind of movie. He doesn’t bat an eye at having to work with a bunch of dangerous dinosaurs and even when he’s wrong Owen speaks with confidence. Then you have Claire who may be a little out of her depth at times, but all in all she just wants to make Jurassic World as fun as can be. If it means she has to make a dinosaur then that’s exactly what she’s going to do. On paper it’s a fairly decent idea……right? You’ve got to give her points for persistence.

One character in the special is a pushover though and that’s definitely the hot dog man. He lets the heroes put him in a dinosaur costume for a while, but then he nearly dies every time so then he puts on a hot dog costume and nearly gets eaten. It’s his job and at least he is getting paid for it, but the guy should have made sure that nobody would take advantage of him in this way. The guy is easily manipulated. The Dinosaurs are all fun as expected. They’ve got a lot of personality and brighten up every scene they’re in. The Dinosaurs are part of what makes the special so much fun.

Overall, There’s not a whole lot more to say about the special because it is pretty short. How much you enjoy it will really depend on how you enjoy the humor. I personally enjoyed it. They do a good job of making the funny scenes feel natural and not over the top. A lot of it is visual humor and dialogue based jokes which are solid. Quick wit can really make any phrase work quite well. I look forward to seeing some more Lego Dinosaur adventures to see how they stack up. This is a combo that is definitely working so I’d recommend checking this one out.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Batman: Hush Review


It’s time to look at the most recent Batman film to come out. It’s adapting what I consider to be one of the most well known Batman arcs out there. I’m still waiting for Battle for the Cowl, but it’s always nice to have more adaptions at the ready. I haven’t read Hush yet so it was interesting to go into it fresh. (Of course I already knew about the Superman fight though) It’s a good story although some parts of it were a bit weak which keeps this from being one of the best Batman films. It definitely gets obliterated by Bad Blood which is quickly becoming one of the definitive Batman titles.

The movie starts with Catwoman being back in town and back to her thieving ways. Batman is disappointed but he goes in to stop her only to be shot from behind and knocked out. A new villain named Hush is around and he has been following Batman for quite a while. Somehow he is getting a lot of the villains in Gotham to make a move so Batman is busier than he has ever been before. He still believes that Catwoman can be changed and so one part of the plot is that he’s hanging out with her both as Batman and as Bruce Wayne. Meanwhile you have Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Riddler, Joker, Bane, and a bunch of other Batman villains running around. Batman does have his support staff of Nightwing, Batgirl, Damian, and others but will they be enough to stop this new threat?

Well, let’s look at the good things first. As always the animation is great. Regardless of how the films have been in other areas at times, the animation has been consistently great for all of the main-line DC films. It’s quite top notch and the closest thing you’ll see to the classic DCAU animation. It’s really come into its own and all of the fight scenes are very good. The wind effects after each blow is swung are handled very well and the choreography is great. The character designs are all really good and same goes for the backgrounds.

The story is engaging as always. You’ll be eager to see what’s next at all times. This movie also feels like a crossover of sorts as you see guys like Superman and Lex Luthor show up as well as Nightwing, Batgirl, and Damian. While the latter 3 are Batman characters you still don’t see everyone show up like that all too often. Batgirl in particular feels like a bit of a guest star character as she shows up for one quick fight scene and then leaves again. Personally I feel like she should be able to defeat Catwoman, but typically that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Now I think where the film is at its weakest is with the romance here. Batman is borderline out of character for a good chunk of the movie. As always he lets his interest in Catwoman get personal but to a greater degree than usual. There’s quite a lot of romance in this film and it’s not like Batman to let such things distract him during such a dangerous time. He knows Hush is around so he has no time to be with Catwoman right now. Taking up time as both Bruce and Batman is also time he could be using to solve the case. He was even awfully close to letting her convince him to leave the city for a while even with the villain at large.

Batman also loses control of himself in the scene with Joker awfully quick. I get that it was a big moment, but I don’t see how it hit him quite so hard. Surely it’s not quite as traumatic as what happened to Jason Todd and Batman was able to control himself a lot better there. You could make the case that it’s how these situations keep piling up which pushed him over the edge, but I think it’s a bit of a stretch. Batman is portrayed as extremely emotional in this film compared to the others and I don’t think this was a good idea. He just doesn’t feel like Batman at times. Damian is the voice of reason instead and it’s too bad that he only got a cameo here.

Meanwhile Catwoman also looks pretty bad here. She does do a good job of trying to get past her thieving ways to an extent although it’s hard to really buy into it since she’s said this many times before. (Albeit, not in this continuity) The way her character arc ends doesn’t make any sense though. The way she acts at the end doesn’t make any sense because what happened shouldn’t have been new information for her. I’d understand if we saw something more drastic, but Batman didn’t do anything that you wouldn’t expect him to do. It makes Catwoman appear a bit shallow. She’s never been one of my favorite characters anyway but it’s still not great for her.

Then we’ve got Joker who looks downright terrible here. The guy is usually not a bit player that everyone has their way with, but you wouldn’t know that from this film. He’s completely overwhelmed and out of his depth from the start. He doesn’t even realize that he is walking into a trap. Usually the Joker is able to match wits with Batman so this was odd. I was expecting him to look more like how he did in Phantasm where he turned the tables pretty quick. Here all he did was get wrecked for a while and do a terrible job of trying to explain what was going on. Harley Quinn did better as she was at least doing something about the situation.

We get other villains but they don’t get as big of a role. Poison Ivy kept some of her hype here since Hush was worried enough about her abilities to have a bomb at the ready. Poison Ivy may not be one of the biggest Batman enemies, but she is definitely one of the most dangerous. Her plants are just really handy to have around. Bane and Clayface are just here for cameos but they are cool to see as well. Superman is the biggest guest appearance, but he looks pretty terrible as well. There’s no conceivable way that Poison Ivy should have been able to get the drop on him. I don’t care if she had Kryptonite make-up and a green suit, he should have been ready. The instant she got close he would have detected it but not been weak enough to faint. That’s when it’s time to dash out of there. I also wish he had more will power since he tends to get mind controlled in every other film. Lex looked good at least and he has a point that Batman should treat him with more respect since he is now a League member. Without him Batman would have been in trouble.

How about Hush? Well, he’s definitely a solid villain. It’s always nice to have a villain that can really test Batman’s deductive abilities. Hush does a good job of keeping everyone wary and he has a good design/voice. The guy is an intimidating villain and you’ll be interested in seeing who his true identity was. The movie did a good job of giving you a fair chance to make the connection without making it obvious. I wasn’t able to figure out who it was before the film ended so the movie did good there. He also gives us a solid fight scene at the end of the film.

Batman movies usually have some kind of mystery in it and that’s part of the draw. So having a solid mystery with Hush in it does help this movie stay interesting. Then you’ve also got a solid array of fight scenes which help support the movie. The pacing is solid and something is always happening here. It’s really just the romance and some of the characters being out of character that holds this film back. Put it this way, I’d put this movie above Son of Batman, Batman vs Robin, Batman Year One, Gotham Knights, and Mystery of the Batwomen, but I’d put it under Sub-Zero, Mask of the Phantasm, Bad Blood, Return of the Joker, and Red Hood. I’m probably missing a Batman film or two, but these are the ones I knew off the top of my head. It’s a reasonable ranking and that puts this movie around the middle of the pack which is pretty good.

Overall, While I had my issues with Batman Hush it is still a very good movie. It’s the kind of title where even if you know the outcome of the mystery it still works pretty well for re-watches. There is a lot of replay value to be found here and any Batman fan can quickly get into the film and enjoy it. If you haven’t seen this movie yet then you should definitely check it out. I can see why the arc is pretty well known as one of the big Batman arcs. Now I hope we can get a Battle for the Cowl arc soon. We’ve got all of the necessary characters introduced into the series already so it would definitely work and we’re running out of Batman arcs to use anyway. I think it’s the next logical step.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Cricket on The Hearth Review


It’s time to look at a short Christmas film I saw last year. I haven’t seen too many films with a cricket in the lead, but typically it’s worked pretty well since crickets are just a lot of fun to hang out with. This one is a little weaker than the average Christmas title though because the characters aren’t great and the story is a little on the weak side. Still, it’s entertaining enough and makes for a good viewing even if you don’t need to see it again.

So the film starts off with Bertha and a nice young man being together. It looks like this will be a happy little romantic tale, but then he is called into war when everyone is drafted. Unfortunately he does not return and Bertha’s household is quite poor. Her father Caleb does his best to make ends meet as an inventor and falls into the hands of a selfish business man. The guy uses Caleb for all he’s worth but the man endures in the hopes of at least getting enough money to keep Bertha safe. Still, the situation isn’t getting any better and now this owner wants to marry Bertha. What will they do?

The plot may sound pretty terrible here, but there are a few details I left out. Why would Bertha ever even think about marrying this guy? Well, the trauma of losing her man was too much for her so she ultimately went blind. Then Caleb figured that he should try to let her think that everything is okay so he gave her a very optimistic look at things. He was not an accurate pair of eyes for her and he also made the corrupt business owner sound good which was his biggest mistake if you ask me. So as far as Bertha knows this guy is actually pretty nice and has helped the family a lot over the years. It’s all trust based upon a lie which is unfortunate.

Still, you can probably tell that this isn’t really my kind of plot. Everyone’s a little at fault here. Lets start with Bertha, she really shouldn’t have become blind just from hearing a lot of bad news. No matter how tragic it is it’s just hard to buy into that. I’d also have liked her to have stayed strong and not want to marry anyone. The man’s body was never found so if anything this would still feel like a rebound. Bertha just wasn’t a great heroine for me, she was too passive.

Then you’ve got Caleb who goes way to far in trying to make Bertha think things are okay. I don’t have anything against the sentiment of trying to help her get through this, but there are limits to how far you can stretch the truth before it just becomes a lie. He could have at least told her that the owner was no good. I feel like she should have been able to figure it out, but the lion’s share of the blame still goes to Caleb. He really took them down a dangerous path.

As for the cricket himself, he’s a good guy. At least he is actually trying to sabotage Bertha’s efforts, unfortunately the villain was actually quite smart. He figures out that it is the cricket almost right away which is really scary since most people would not have jumped to that conclusion so quickly. He sicks a bunch of animals after the cricket and then destroys them. Why didn’t he destroy the cricket? I dunno, but this guy was definitely pretty merciless. I was not expecting the gunshots at all, especially not in what was otherwise a light hearted Christmas special. The villain may not be a good guy, but he definitely knows how to execute a strategy as well as silencing underlings. The film handles this animal violence as well as it could with the whole thing being off screen as you just hear the gun and the villain laughing, but it wasn’t exactly needed to show how ruthless the guy was. If anything then the film should have given him human underlings to bump off. Nobody would mind them getting shot away.

The animation isn’t bad. It’s definitely got that retro feel to it and flows pretty well from scene to scene. I don’t think it’ll come across as all that memorable, but works out well in what it sets out to do. Meanwhile we get a few songs. They all basically sound the same, but are also solid. I can definitely work with these and it does give the film a grander feel even if the plot doesn’t really warrant it. I’m always up for seeing some songs in a film.

Overall, Cricket on the Hearth is not a film that will really be making my rounds in future Christmas viewings. There just isn’t a whole lot in this film to make it stand out in the crowd or compete with the bigger titles. The characters aren’t all that likable and the cricket isn’t as helpful as you would expect. He loses just about every fight he is in and never seems to be a match for the villains. He just gets lucky that they always choose not to finish him off. The main guy who vanished at sea has a plot twist that everyone saw coming, but I don’t think that quest aged well either. It’s not a bad movie so if you want to check out a quick Christmas film then by all means go ahead. It just won’t really do anything for you and you’ll quickly head back to something a little more classic like Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.

Overall 5/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer Review


It’s time to look at a very well known Christmas film from back in the day. The title already lets you know that this is either going to be a meme worthy film or it’s going to be terribly mean spirited. It’s the former and the film is a complete success. The movie just rolls with this crazy premise and it’s one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen in a long while. The characters are all portrayed perfectly and the only negative with the film is that it ends so early. I could have kept going with this movie for at least another half hour or so.

The movie starts by introducing us to the cast. Grandma’s run a successful store for a very long time. Unfortunately she is so nice that the town tends to take advantage of her by going in and doing shopping, but then remembering that they “forgot” to bring some money so they have to take it on credit. Cousin Mel has had enough of this and tells Grandma to charge these people. Grandma will do no such thing, but Mel knows that soon they will all be bankrupt. She needs to find a way to get some money for her family. That’s when Austin shows up. He’s an ultra rich guy who has bought all of the stores in the city with Grandma’s being the only one left. If Mel can find a way to bump off the grandparents or get them to sign a deal to sell the place she will be able to make herself rich…and pay for the family to live well enough. It’s mission time!

Wait a sec…what about the title right? Well, Grandma gets run over by a reindeer early on in the film and vanishes. She is presumed dead by most, but Jake believes that she is still out there somewhere and he aims to find her. The scene of her getting run over is definitely surreal as Grandpa sees this happen, but actually gets really happy about it. He’s borderline ecstatic which is surprising since later on they act like the two are still on good terms. The rest of the family doesn’t see this and they prevent Jake from going outside for a while because they are so sure she is okay. By the time they go outside she is gone.

The film is very ambitious with this as we get a 9-12 month timeskip where Grandma is gone the whole time. That’s actually pretty dark for the characters if you’re thinking about it. I certainly felt bad for good ole Grandma. There’s a twist about where she is although you would probably be able to put two and two together in this case. Grandma’s a good character, but maybe a bit overly idealistic. You can’t realistically give things away for free too often because people will take advantage of you. Especially those who are your “friends” if they realize that they can get benefits for being nice. It’s a dangerous game she was playing.

Jake’s parents are good for the most part, but they have one scene where they look bad early on. Grandma needs to bring some cookies over to the nearest shelter/soup kitchen and nobody offers to go with her. Keep in mind that it’s super late and dangerous outside which the parents are sure to tell her about, but then they still don’t go with her. Why even half heartedly ask her to stay if you aren’t going to help? It was definitely pretty odd with Jake being the only dependable guy around.

Jake was actually a standout character. Usually I’m not a big fan of the kids, but I have to give him some major props because at least he was actually trying to do something the whole time. He repeatedly ran for the door to help Grandma even if the adults stopped him. Then he never gave up the search for a whole year as he tried to locate to Grandma and even skated into the villain’s headquarters multiple times to stop the corrupt dealings in there. There’s nothing else I could have asked him to do and so that means he perfectly handled the situation. I don’t expect I’ll see another kid quite as competent as Jake in a long time. Most characters could learn a thing or two from him.

One of those characters would be Grandpa because he just looks terrible throughout. First off he wouldn’t help Grandma and then he crumbles under pressure when Mel shows up. At first he had some potential there as he randomly started to sing, but then he let the age catch up to him and got delirious enough to sign the papers. At that point I had to shake my head because he was making every kind of mistake that he possibly could. I expected better from this guy. While Slime was a villain, at least she was really good at her job. I liked her confidence and she even managed to negotiate a pretty good commission for herself.

Mel is one of the biggest characters here though and she is an exceptional villain. She makes a lot of good points and while she invalidates them all by resorting to kidnapping at least you can understand where she is coming from. Her motives are anything but pure even if I made it sound that way in the summary. She just wants to be rich and will do anything in order to achieve that dream. Mel is resourceful and determined, two traits that are important for any character to have. She was also willing to talk in court when most villains would have played dumb there. She doesn’t do anything half heartedly and you can respect that.

Finally we have Austin who is probably the most reasonable billionaire I’ve ever seen. Most of these guys are treated as corrupt villains who will do anything to get the store. That’s not Austin’s way. He’s willing to dress up as an elf in order to broker a deal and makes sure to do everything legally. He even gives the heroes the benefit of the doubt when they ask him to wait. I was surprised at how well his character was handled. I’m also glad that the film didn’t go out of its way to give him a mean ending either because he didnm’t deserve one. The guy was just a really good business owner and this points to how good the writing in this film was. The guy was just realistic and downright likable. He reminded me of the lawyer who also appeared in the film later on. That guy was pretty good too as he reminded the jury that they had to be impartial and only consider the facts. It’s not like he wanted to slam Santa or anything like that, the guy was just doing his job and doing it well at that.

The animation here is really smooth. The characters all look good and everything is very bright and detailed. There’s a lot of fluid movement here and the characters are very expressive. It’s just a very great feature all around. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which may not be the most inspired, but it has some good tunes. The song of Mel and Slime talking about how they were going to get rich was solid and the Grandpa’s song may not have been the best, but I loved the segway into it. It was also a scene that showed how cunning Mel was as she played along in order to get what she wanted.

It goes without saying that the film is pretty good at comedy as well. Pretty much all of the jokes land and it was one of the funnier specials that I’ve seen in a long time. It’s because the movie uses the quick wit style of humor that I always enjoy more than the long build up to a joke style that others use. A quick remark or a fast comeback just goes a long way. Mix that in with the film’s top notch writing and you’ve definitely got yourself a winner.

Overall, Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer is a great film. You really need to see this one for Christmas because it’s just a lot of fun. Nothing about the film feels like it was cheaply made. You’d think that it was slapped together but the film has a lot of heart in it. I dare say that the only weak part of the film is the song that it was named after. That song isn’t particularly catchy but since we got the film as a result of it I’ll cut it some slack. This is the kind of movie where I’d be nervous for a remake or sequel because it’s incredibly unlikely that it could top this one.

Overall 8/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Twas the Night Before Christmas Review


It’s time to look at a fairly old Christmas special from back in the day. The saying is pretty popular, but I imagine a lot of people haven’t actually seen this special. It’s a fun little adventure that may be over in the blink of an eye but still gives you an entertaining adventure. Santa doesn’t look great here though as he is pretty easily tricked and that’s dangerous for someone who has the power to travel the whole world in an instant. Hopefully this experience will teach him a thing or two.

So the plot of the film is that Santa doesn’t appear to be coming to the local town for Christmas this year. The reason for that is because he got a letter from the town saying that they didn’t want him around. It turns out that Albert and a bunch of the other kids sent the message and since they signed it as being from the whole town Santa decided not to show up this time. The grown ups are definitely dismayed at this because they count on Santa to get all of the presents. The Mayor and the rest of the council aren’t sure what to do, but Joshua has an idea. He’ll build a clock that has the sound of everyone singing and it’ll get Santa to come back. It sounds like a good plan, but the kids can’t let this happen. Will Joshua be able to make the clock in time or will some kind of “accident” occur which ends up stopping him?

Albert is really the antagonist here even if he isn’t evil. He’s really just a kid who doesn’t believe in Santa although his sending a letter to the guy was pretty extreme. He was smart enough to deliver it to Santa though and throughout the special we see that he is pretty smart so it worked out pretty well for him. He’s a decent villain, but as a character he is definitely annoying. These kids not believing in Santa isn’t an issue but by sending a letter they are sort of admitting that he is real aren’t they? Regardless the plan worked.

Father Mouse does his best to reign Albert in, but it’s tough since the kid loves talking with really large words to throw the guy off the trail. Father Mouse isn’t ultimately able to do a lot, but he does try to spread the good morals around and show Albert that you’re supposed to be a nice person around Christmas. I mean, it’d be great if you were nice throughout the year, but 1 day is better than none right? The real standout character here is the Mayor. I like how he takes control whenever he is on screen. He may not be very forgiving as he benches Joshua right away after a single failure with the clock. In theory he should have at least given him until Christmas to fix it. What’s the worst that can happen? If the clock doesn’t work then they are no worse off than if they didn’t use it. Still, the Mayor doesn’t second guess himself and that is very important for any ruler.

As for Joshua, he means well. His clock building skills are pretty good. While I think he should have tried to do more to get the clock working, he realistically put about as much effort as you can expect. If you’re banned from going to the clock tower then there’s not much more you can do. I doubt he would want to go to jail for a clock…that wouldn’t even be impressive among the fellow inmates. A character who didn’t try hard is Santa Claus. Holding a grudge against an entire town over a single letter is pretty petty. At the very least he should have gone into town to find out if that’s how they really felt about him. Maybe go incognito as a villager and ask around. I understand that he is pressed for time, but the special made him look pretty gullible. This is also low key the worst Santa design I’ve ever seen, but that’s less important.

As far as the animation goes, I’d say that the movie has aged pretty well. The character designs are on point and I like the backgrounds. A good amount of effort was put in here. I’m not really sure about the music. The Christmas songs are always fun to hear though even if this isn’t the best one. It at least gives the movie some festive cheer so on a technical level this film is good. I also thought the plot was pretty good even if the film didn’t take the concept as far as it could have. With only around 30 minutes to work with the special had to move at a very fast pace the whole time.

Overall, Twas the Night Before Christmas is a good special. It’s a fun Christmas story that will keep you engaged. The writing is solid and the characters do a good job of not being extreme versions of themselves. You can feel how sad the town is at the prospect of Santa not showing up and there is no point in the special where you’ll get bored. I don’t really think this special will be remembered in the same way as something like Rudolph, but it’s one that I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending to anyone who wants a good Christmas story. If you haven’t seen this one yet then you should change that. It’s just a pleasant special.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown Review


It’s tie to look at a more recent Peanuts special. This one stars Rerun as the main character and I believe it is the first time he was the lead. It’s interesting to have someone who isn’t Charlie Brown as the focus although it’s hardly the first time. I don’t think Rerun can hold his own adventure quite as well, but it’s a reasonable adventure. It’s not quite as solid as some of the ones that came before it, but I’d say that it checks off all of the usual boxes.

Rerun’s main dilemma is that he wants to have a dog. The problem here is the fact that he is still a little kid so realistically if his parents got one then they would have to do all of the work. A lot of kids want a pet, but very few of them are actually able to handle one. That’s why I’m actually on the Mom’s side with this one as she keeps telling him no. Rerun is just not ready and I’d say that you’ve got to be 13-14 before you’re actually ready for some of the responsibility. Even then I would have my doubts. A good chunk of the special is Rerun trying to at least hang out with Snoopy, but that dog will only come for snacks. Otherwise Rerun is on his own.

We also get some subplots like Lucy still trying to get together with the piano player. He really doesn’t have time to even entertain this though as he harshly shuts her down each time. He flipped her off the piano quite a bit and I’d say that she’s definitely getting on his last nerve by this point. He just really seemed like he wasn’t in the mood for their usual banter this time. The whole town seemed to be on edge though like with how Rerun was suspended from school pretty suddenly. I suppose going to France is a little dicey during Christmas season since the airplane fare would be a lot higher but it still seemed like a bit of a drastic measure.

I ended up missing Charlie Brown quite a bit because in his few scenes he looked so good. It was nice to see him turn the tables on Rerun by explaining what No meant since the kid kept bugging him at home. Rerun just needed to give up on trying to play with Snoopy by that point. At least Snoopy was nice enough to play with him once right? Snoopy was also busy dealing with all of the other pets. We saw through flashbacks that Snoopy’s family tried to come over so he tricked them into going to another person’s house and in a different instance he took them on one of his WW II fights. That scared em off pretty quick. As always Snoopy is definitely the best character. He’s always got a lot of confidence and is pretty low-key great at whatever he does. Snoopy is just a fierce opponent and someone that you definitely want to have on your side at all times.

Rerun isn’t my favorite lead, but he does have some good traits. I liked the scenes of him trying to act smart and talking about the future. Trying to write up his opinions and doing the math was pretty good since he was at least thinking of ways to get out from under everyone’s shadows. His plans were doomed from the start since he’s younger than the rest and can’t hold his own, but that’s why thinking outside the box was good. He did prevent Lucy from breaking his tower by mentioning things that could happen in 20 years. It’s a big bluff of course, but it paid off and that’s the right strategy for him at the moment.

The animation is about the same as with all of the other specials. Either you like the pencil style or you don’t. By this point I’m pretty well used to it. It’s certainly one of the weaker styles out there, but it’s not like the series is going for fight scenes or anything so it works well enough. At the very least the characters are pretty distinct so you won’t be mixing any of them up with other characters. Then you’ve got the same song that plays on loop for all of the specials which is fairly catchy. I would like to see some more change with the newer ones, but I imagine that it would be a pretty big risk since people want the series to stay consistent. Changing everything up could backfire, but I’d like to see them give it a try at some point.

Overall, The Charlie Brown specials are only as good as the main stories within. This story here is enjoyable even if Rerun doesn’t make for the most engaging lead. You’ll be entertained throughout the adventure and it’s not like it’s a super long one either so it goes by pretty quick. I don’t think it’ll have much replay value, but most of these specials are meant to be watched once and then you move on to the next one. One of these days I really want a special with the grownups taking center stage. Now that would be awesome, but definitely one of those big changes that would be controversial. Well, if you like the Charlie Brown specials then you’ll like this one.

Overall 6/10