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

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

A Bug’s Life Review


Lets look at a Bug’s Life. The film itself is nothing all that special compared to some of the other big animated films of the last decade, but it’s still a quality film. It doesn’t really do anything wrong and will keep you engaged from start to finish. It’s a fun adventure with good pacing, but you will get the feeling that it’s just lacking something. That extra impact to raise the film from a solid 7 to a great 8. I don’t know what that something is though so maybe the film would bring it for a sequel.

The plot starts by introducing us to the Ant pack. These guys are very strong in number, but they are rather passive. They aren’t even confident about going around a leaf without being told how to do it by one of the elders. Their own insecurities have led them to be tamed by the Grasshoppers even though the Ants badly outnumber them. Flik decides that Ants shouldn’t be working for grasshoppers like this and has begun making inventions to help make their lives easier. Unfortunately his inventions often backfire so he is convinced to leave the tribe under the pretense of recruiting powerful allies. That’s when Flik discovers a circus of powerful creatures and realizes that this is his chance. Will the performers want to help? Even if they do, can they possibly win against trained Grasshoppers?

It’s a fun enough plot. Naturally when a film is based around animals this can get pretty dicey but the film never goes that route which is fortunate. You wouldn’t really expect animal violence in this film anyway but it’s always good to have confirmation. The Grasshoppers make for pretty good villains. Some of them are even pretty vicious like the leader, Hopper or the one who is always foaming at the mouth. It makes for intense visuals and you do realize that the Ants are doomed in one on one fights. Even as a team they better have really good combos because otherwise they would be wiped out. The leader of the Grasshoppers is also the kind of villain who doesn’t give up easily. Even at the end Hopper was trying to reclaim his dominance at the top of the food chain. Unfortunately he ran into the best character of the film and one doesn’t often walk away from such an encounter. It was actually a rather vicious end for the guy.

If the film has a weak point, it would be that most of the characters aren’t all that engaging. I didn’t really care for anyone from the circus. The Ladybug who talks tough never actually acts tough when it’s climax time so he’s out. The others didn’t even try fighting at the end even though some of them look like they should be able to put up a good fight. They were also quick to walk away with the circus owner although I won’t put too much blame on them since the Ants did not want them. That brings me over to the Ants. The Ant Princess is definitely not a quality character and her plans are no good. Even after she figures out the main character’s deception, why send the circus troupe back? They definitely don’t have enough time to meet the Grasshoppers’ demands now so making do with these guys was her only option. Instead she just puts the Ants in a position to be ganged up on and eliminated. As the leader she needed to make a better call. The ex leader, aka the Queen wasn’t great either. She didn’t really do anything the whole time and was content to be on the sidelines. That’s not leadership material either.

As mentioned before, this doesn’t apply to the villains though. The Grasshoppers are certainly quite intimidating and the leader knows how to control his pack. If they dare cross him then they must take a punishment. He’s also bold enough to be surrounded by Ants and not care. If only the Ants were as brave. I haven’t talked much about the main character, but I’m afraid that he’s not very good so he fits in with the Ants. Even when the villain threatens to destroy one of the kids Flik backs up and decides to keep the peace. That’s definitely not something that any true main character would do. If you won’t stick up for your friends then you can’t be a hero.

The graphics aren’t bad. All of the character models appear to be on point. It definitely has more jungle type landscapes than the average film since most of it takes place in a grassy environment. There isn’t really much of a soundtrack though so don’t expect any great tunes to jam to. The writing is pretty good with a sound script. None of the characters seem over the top, at most they are just very naive like the average Ant. It’s almost hard to root for those guys since the Grasshoppers just seem a lot smarter and more strategic. The Ants have every possible advantage if they would just use it.

Overall, A Bug’s Life is a good film. It reminds you of the strength in numbers tactic and that you can’t submit to another species without a fight. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I would recommend checking it out. It’s a solid adventure film with a bit of action which makes for a pretty solid combo. Maybe one day these characters will show up in Kingdom Hearts. The movie doesn’t really leave any cliffhangers as it’s a complete ending but you could easily follow up on it by having another species decide to move in when they hear that the Grasshoppers have fallen. There are a lot of possibilities there.

Overall 6/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

My Little Pony: The Movie Review


It’s time to finally take a look at the new My Little Pony film. After being a pocket fan of the series for a while, this was the last step I needed to really embrace the franchise. It was pretty eery walking into the theater as it was completely empty, but it help set the tone for the film. Gradually some little kids came in and I can say that the film succeeded in being an emotional roller coaster for them. They cried when Twilight Sparkle cried, laughed at some of the jokes, and even cheered a bit during the hype moments. Definitely a solid group all around. I definitely enjoyed the film and it hit a lot of the right notes. It could have been better if it had been a little more serious at times and made the Mane 6 more reasonable, but all in all you couldn’t ask for much more from the title. Now the series can finally be mainstream.

So the film starts off with Twilight Sparkle preparing a big party. She’s even going to have a singer show up to wow the crowd. Unfortunately Princess Celestia, Luna, and the other pony all say no to Twilight’s plan to make the party even more awesome. They explain that true friendship is knowing when not to lend a hoof in need. Twilight does her best with her friends but Pinkie Pie squashes the cake by mistake and embarrasses Twilight in front of the town. That’s when the Storm King’s minions show up and take over Equestria. Twilight Sparkle and her friends are wrecked in seconds and forced to flee. They must now find a legendary Queen to save them, but they’ll have to travel outside of their home for once. Going into the modern day cities will be tough since everyone is a swindler and the Ponies are used to dealing with nice folk. This could be tough.

Well, for starters I enjoyed the graphics. It feels like an interesting flash/CGI hybrid at times with how the designs look. They look more wholesome and detailed than the TV show, but at the same time I found myself missing the classic TV show versions once in a while. I think you very quickly get pulled back into the film though and this style certainly worked really well for the energy effects. They really stood out.

The soundtrack for the film is excellent as you would expect. The Open Your Eyes song is definitely catchy and even contained a brief origin story within it. The final song that the movie ends with was also quite good. During the movie the Mane 6 sang a few times as well. While the songs couldn’t quite match those 2, they were still really good. Mix that in with the danger themes in this film and you can see why it was so good. I would have liked to have seen the My Little Pony theme song, but I suppose that might have been too much to ask for.

One thing that the film does well is keeping up a sense of danger during the movie. We get the opening attack on Equestria which was quite good. A slice of life movie would have been solid as well but throwing in the action to make the film really feel special was a good move. We got mini action scenes throughout the film as well since the heroes were being pursued the whole time. The end of the movie doesn’t really have much action as it isn’t taken seriously anymore, but it’s better than nothing. I basically got what I expected in this department.

Unfortunately not all of the Mane 6 members look all that good. Twilight Sparkle is definitely a lot less impressive in combat than she should be in this film. At least the villains had an orb that can one shot any pony in their possession so that made the whole scene a little better. Twilight should have no problem with the minions though and using more magic would have helped them get to the goal a lot sooner. She also doesn’t act like a very nice pony at times like when she yells at Pinkie Pie. I do actually agree with her decision to steal from the other Ponies though. It’s nothing personal to the kids, but Twilight has a kingdom to save so she can’t let these “allies” waste a valuable resource like that. She’d bring it back afterwards anyway so it’s all good. It’s a shame that she couldn’t do that without getting tied up though. It’s a close match between her and Rainbow Dash as the best hero in this film. I’d probably give it to Rainbow Dash here though.

Rainbow Dash definitely gets her props as she helps a group of pirates learn how to be heroes again. Her sped is also put on full display for most of the film so you get to see just how strong she is. It’s a shame that Rainbow Dash didn’t get to actually fight at all though. Seeing her take down the villains would have definitely been really cool. Applejack fans won’t be thrilled as she doesn’t do much here. Some shade is thrown her way by the other ponies, but she takes it in stride for the most part. She just doesn’t get to do anything for most of the film.

Rarity is also basically a non factor here. She falls for Capper’s tricks a lot easier than the other Ponies and was one of the weaker characters here. She spends the majority of the film complaining, although most of the Mane 6 are guilty of that at one point or another. Twilight Sparkle may have had an easier time without her friends since they slowed her down quite a bit. Rarity’s a nice enough pony, she’s just really out of her element. Unfortunately, Fluttershy was probably the worst pony here. She spends most of the film crying or shaking in fear from the villains. I get that she is the nervous one of the group who is lacking in confidence for the most part, but I thought she was past that by now. To an extent this film can feel like a bit of a reboot in terms of character development t make it accessible to the general audience. Fluttershy simply fell victim to this.

Pinkie Pie looks pretty good. She is definitely a little on the hyper side as she makes jokes during moments that would be tense otherwise and helps to sabotage the heroes at times. At least she has heart though and is always smiling. Pinkie Pie was a good character here and I’d probably give her 3rd out of the Mane 6. It was also neat seeing all of the cameos in the background like Cheese Sandwich and Big Mac. It felt like the movie tried to get all of the supporting characters. I’d say that it’s a shame not seeing the Cutie Mark Crusaders much, but I can’t because I prefer the Mane 6 anyway.

Time for the film original characters. I liked Tempest Shadow quite a lot. She makes for a very cool villain with a neat design. She’s also quite powerful and is portrayed as one of the strongest ponies in the whole series. It would be cool if she were to start appearing in the TV show. At this point, Ponyville should be known as one of the strongest places in all of Equestria. I mean, I won’t say much about her role even if the trailer makes it pretty obvious but regardless I thought she was a cool character from start to finish. Sure, she’s rather naive the whole time, but every character has a flaw of some kind. I’d say that she got past it and is easily the best film character. The rest were rather lackluster to be honest.

We’ve got Grubber, who is the comic relief sidekick. He got in the good one liners which weren’t bad, but then he has to try and explain them which isn’t very funny. There wasn’t really a point to his scenes. The Storm King may be the main villain technically but he’s played off as a comic relief character for the most part. He could have easily won the day once and for all if he was a little smarter. Alas, he wasn’t and he ended up lowering his guard quite a bit. I definitely wouldn’t have minded if Tempest had simply betrayed him.

Capper is a smart cat who knows the ways of the world. The problem is that he’s a blatant ripoff of the main character’s sidekick in Zootopia down to his fast manner of speaking and mannerisms. He’s not a bad character as his only flaw is being generic, but I don’t think we really needed him. There was also Princess Skystar who showed up to learn about the powers of friendship but then missed out on the whole climax. So much for that character eh? Trying to guilt trip the Mane 6 certainly wasn’t very nice. There were also the Pirates but they didn’t do much either.

Now, I know for a film you want to use your newfound budget to make other backdrops and all, but I kind of wished we had stayed in Ponyville for a bigger chunk of the film. I much prefer that to the desert, ocean, or any of the other places we went too. I can’t fault the film for wanting to leave since most of the Pony episodes take place there, but it would have been neat to have seen it a little more. Perhaps next time. While the film original characters didn’t get the best of write ups, they weren’t bad. It’s just that the film may have tried to cram in too many of them into the film. At least they all had a purpose so in the end the Ponies could see how many people they reached in the end. After all, at the end of the day, the Ponies just want to make new friends.

If there’s something the next film could improve on, it’s the action. I want to see the Mane 6 take names. I was even expecting Derpy to jump in and start chopping the villains down to size. It doesn’t have to become a full blown action movie although I’d be down with that, but since the Ponies can fight, it would be nice to see them utilizing their abilities more. At the very least, Rainbow Dash can speed blitz most of these guys. We definitely got robbed of our Twilight Sparkle vs Tempest Shadow match.

Overall, My Little Pony is a film you should check out. It has a good amount of action and adventure within it. Twilight Sparkle is a nice character who always does her best even if the other Ponies don’t help her out all that much. Once she tunes them out and gets to work, nothing can stop her. It’s a shame that my favorite Pony Starlight Glimmer didn’t get to show up and wreck Tempest, but we all know how OP she is so it makes sense. Whether you’re a Pony fan or not, you’ll be able to enjoy the interactions between the characters and get invested in the story. The film never drags on so it’s a fun ride from start to finish.

Overall 8/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Charlotte’s Web Review


It’s time for a classic film which touched upon some pretty tricky themes like death and how we all grow up. The film is rather somber and the first time I saw it I apparently gave the film a score of 2/10. Watching it again, the film is better than I remembered it to be. Sure, the film probably would have gotten a 2 if Fern had not stopped her father in time. Luckily, she saved Wilbur as well as the film in one shot. That was definitely pretty impressive of her. I suspect you must have heard of this film over the years, but if not, here’s the story.

Wilbur is a small pig and as such, he has a hard time getting any food during the day. His owner decides that they should eat Wilbur as soon as possible since it has been a while since he had any meat. Fortunately, his daughter Fern saves him. Wilbur then meets a spider named Charlotte who decides to help ensure Wilbur’s permanent safety. She uses her web skills to write words down and gives Wilbur all the credit. This saves Wilbur from imminent destruction and allows him to have time to grow naturally. Now Wilbur is a hero, but Charlotte starts to get sick. Will she live long enough to see him get the glory?

I don’t think spoilers really exist for this film since it’s such a classic, but I’ll give you time to leave. I did mention the whole death theme and all..but pretend you didn’t hear that. All right, well the tragic part of the story is that Charlotte dies. It’s a shame since she was probably the best character here by a landslide. Not saying the other characters weren’t good of course, but she stole the show. She definitely saved Wilbur’s bacon with her web tricks and was pivotal in the film. She also doesn’t put up with any wisecracks and nearly murders the rat, Templeton.

Templeton is a fairly likable character as well. His personality is the polar opposite though as he’s not a very nice guy and only helps out when there is something in it for him. He’s not sympathetic to anyone’s cause and just looks for his next meal. He’s a pragmatic guy I suppose, but also a downer. He’s more charismatic than Wilbur though. Despite being the main character, it’s hard to like the Pig. He actually faints from shock on more than once occasion. I’ll admit that I actually forgot that part so it was intriguing to see first hand. Wilbur doesn’t take any of his trials well and just keeps on fainting and taking more losses. He also does make a lot of noise for his animal neighbors so I can see why they were getting upset as well. He’d cry all night long and run around like crazy during the day. Certainly a realistic neighbor I’d say.

Fern is the only human character to actually get a role and she doesn’t appear much after the opening act. It was cool that she let Wilbur live in the house for a while, but a shame that he was kicked out before long. Trust me, the other human characters were absolutely terrible the whole time. It’s just impossible to like them and they seem to get worse and worse with every scene. Fortunately, the reporters weren’t as nosy as usual and nobody tried to stay at the farm after hours. They would have learned the deadly secret of Charlotte’s above average intellect. Having a short life while living on the farm is probably a good thing.

The animation is pretty good and probably a little nostalgic as well. You can tell that the animation is a little old of course, but it holds up well. Perhaps not quite as well as the Snow White film despite that one being older, but it hits enough of the right notes. I have no real complaints with the animation except possibly for the various liquids. The water and such just don’t look right for some reason, but I couldn’t quite identify why. It’s a super minor thing though.

I’m typically not a big fan of films taking place on farms. I prefer city landscapes on principle and I also just get wary when animals are all around. It just doesn’t bode well for a movie most of the time. This film did a good job of dodging that issue so that was a good thing. It’s an enjoyable ride and is probably did one of the best jobs of showcasing death for an animal without getting gritty or unnecessary. Naturally I would have preferred if Charlotte had lived, but it could have been a whole lot worse.

Overall, Charlotte’s Web is a good film. It might not be the most fun one out there because of all the somber scenes throughout, but it’s definitely not bad. There’s a good amount of replay value here, especially considering that I’ve seen it quite a few times. The writing is good as well and I always have to take a double look at the pancakes during the beginning of the film. They look mighty crispy and I could use a few myself right now. It’s been even longer since I saw the sequel so I can’t really comment on how that one holds up, but this is a film that you shouldn’t miss.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Pinocchio Review


It’s time for another classic Disney movie from the older days. I’d say that it’s easily the darkest one of them all. I can’t say that I knew much about the film aside from the general premise so I can safely say that it was pretty surprising. It’s definitely a film that you’ll want to add to your collection and you won’t be forgetting it anytime soon.

Geppetto was an old man who was growing pretty bored with his set up. He has a cat and a gold fish, but he wanted a kid as well. He wished upon a falling star that he could finally have one and that’s when Pinocchio was born. He was a puppet boy, but he was still alive so I suppose that counts. Geppetto quickly tells Pinocchio that he has to go to school so the kid heads off, but is confronted by some shady fellows. They trick Pinocchio into being in a circus where he is forced to perform. His conscience, a man cricket named Jiminy gets him out of that mess, but then Pinocchio is sold into slavery on Pleasure Island. He gets drunk and smokes quite a lot, but the downside to this is that you turn into a Donkey. Meanwhile Geppetto falls into a whale and gets himself into a sticky situation. Can Pinocchio save him or is it too late?

You may not be surprised at this, but Pinocchio isn’t a very likable main character. He is easily swayed by the masses and ends up getting himself into a lot of trouble. He starts to drink quite a lot and smokes as well. We don’t see him get into drugs at least, but you can tell that the kid fell into hard times. If not for Jiminy, the experience would have been quite fatal. It just goes to show that you can’t go with the “cool” crowd for too long or you’ll end up taking some hits. The unfortunate part about all of this is that Pinocchio never really seems to learn his lesson. He makes the same mistakes multiple times in the film so you have to wonder how sincere he is. Also, I would have stayed as a puppet kid if I was him. It seems like it’d be pretty novel if you ask me.

Jiminy is the better character here for the most part. He’s not perfect as his polite exterior cracks a few times, but he is persistent when it comes to helping Pinocchio. It’s not an easy job either so most crickets would have caved in after a while. Jiminy definitely has most of the best lines in the film and it’s fitting since his voice is also the most charismatic. The film wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable without him in it. He’s easily the best character here. Unfortunately, Geppetto was not a good character. He just comes across as very demanding and not very smart. You’d think that he would escort Pinocchio to school on his first day since he doesn’t even know how to be a person yet right? Nah, Geppetto is far too busy for that. He really should have been a whole lot more careful. I don’t even know how he got stuck in a whale. Maybe his car’s GPS was broken.

Honest John was the first villain to show up and he is pretty cunning. When all else fails…he doesn’t. His plans aren’t half bad even if they revolve around the fact that Pinocchio doesn’t know how to fight back. His name also just makes so much sense for the character. A sly fox may not be the most original idea out there, but as this film is so old, most films ended up copying from this one’s example. There are a few other supporting characters like a cat and a gold fish, but neither of them had much of a role here. They didn’t really add anything to the equation.

Pinocchio made a friend over at the bar and I guess he was semi important. He helped to remind Pinocchio that you can drown your conscience away in beer and he was also a crack shot at pool. He had one of the most intense lines in the film as it quickly became literal due to the circumstances. I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of this guy. He was a bad influence to be sure, but at least he knew it. The kid just embraced this fact after a while.

The soundtrack is definitely a lot weaker than the other Disney films. That’s probably because Pinocchio can’t sing as well as any of the famous Disney princesses. He tries his best of course, but the Avengers retake on the “I have no strings on me” song was a lot more impressive. Still, at least the film had a soundtrack, that’s always a good thing since many films just don’t have them or just have a few tunes and call it a day. There’s a lot of music that pops up now and again in this film.

While Pinocchio has a happy ending, the characters never actually stop the main villain. That was a little surprising since the Donkey seller just got away scot free in the end. Maybe a sequel would fix that, but I have a feeling that it’s just a forgotten plot point. You can’t help but feel bad for all of the other kids. Having a human trafficking plot in a kid’s Disney film must have been somewhat controversial back in the day. I mean, they did turn the kids into donkeys first though so maybe it was subtle enough for everyone to miss that little detail back in the day. The fact that the villain gets away is probably my only real negative with the film. I was hoping that he would be brought to justice. Having an arrest is always a good moral booster for the heroes.

Overall, Pinocchio is a solid film. It fits right in with the rest of the Disney films even if it is a lot darker. Forget everything you think you know about the character as you sit down to watch this film. Odds are that your childhood recollections about this movie are completely different from what is actually happening in the movie. It’s sort of like how the Berenstain Bears have altered the spelling a few times since the good ole days even if the Internet seems to not remember this. The intriguing cosmic revelations from this are fun to think about. Do Parrallel dimensions exist and does it even matter if they do? You’ll be thinking about these concepts as you watch the movie. The pacing is pretty good though so you won’t get too many chances to think about this so make the most of your opportunities.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron Review

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I remember hearing about how Spirit was the “King of his herd” a while back on the blog and this film had been hyped up for quite a while. I can see why people enjoyed this film so much. It’s a pleasant enough movie and while the silence caught me off guard for a second, I quickly adjusted to what was happening. The film handled the plots pretty well and it’s a title that I can recommend to all viewers.

Spirit grew up in a nice crew of horses and grew up to be a strong stallion. He became the leader of the pack and protected it from wild cats and all other threats. Unfortunately, that’s when the settlers came and Spirit distracted them long enough for his family to get away. The army tried their best to break Spirit, but he wasn’t having any of that. He would have his freedom and then one day he would find his family. He meets another horse along the way along with an Indian and together they try to stop the oppressors.

The cast here is pretty small since the film mostly focuses on the main horse. Spirit is as good a lead as you are likely to find anywhere. He absolutely refuses to be tamed by the villains and never stops trying to get home. He helps out as many people as he can along the way and comes across as very noble. He is quite mischievous as well and likes to mess with Little Creek, but always gets serious when the need arises. He is able to communicate his actions rather well considering that he never speaks and is also quite resilient. Spirit doesn’t lose his nerve even after being kept without food and water for 3 days. He defeats the Colonel in the end and shows why he really is the King of his herd.

Little Creek helped Spirit escape from the army and that’s how the two became friends. He seems like a nice enough guy. Little Creek doesn’t mind Spirit’s antics all that much and just goes with the flow. His tribe gives the horses a lot of freedom so it’s a great improvement from the army conditions. Rain is a horse that Spirit meets during his time with the tribe and they get along pretty well. At first, she doesn’t want to leave with Spirit, but after he helps save the tribe, she decides that it is time to go. She’s a pretty tough horse herself and has personality, making her a solid fighter to have in the pack. Finally, there’s the Colonel. He has a lot of self confidence and believes that he can tame any horse. Well, he soon realizes that this is not really the case. He’s described as a snake although he’s not nearly as bad as you would expect from that. He’s certainly more drastic than the other soldiers though since most of them were being as nice as they could be under the circumstances. In a way, you could say that Spirit tamed the Colonel in the end. I’m sure that the guy will be a lot more careful when he meets another horse.

The animation was pretty good and holds up well to this day. The character designs for the Horses look really good. They come across as strong and athletic which is certainly very important in a design. The environments and backdrops all look good as well and the flame effects were handled well. There are a lot of songs in this movie as well. They may not be the most catchy themes out there, but they get the job done. It adds some more emotional value to the film, which is always appreciated.

I also have to give the film some props for avoiding any major animal violence. Lets face it, you sort of expect some dicey moments to occur in any film about animals. When Rain was injured, it was a little concerning although I figured she would be okay. Luckily, none of the Horses got shot and Spirit did a good job of stopping all of the Army attacks. A lesser film would have had the hot iron actually hit Spirit and I’m glad that didn’t happen. I can’t give the whole army montage enough credit, it was really handled to perfection with how Spirit persevered. Since the whole film’s point is about how Spirit is a stallion who cannot be tamed, it was necessary to get the point across. Agent Carter could learn a thing or two from this.

It’s also impressive that the film was so good without almost any dialogue at all. I was fully expecting the Horses to talk the whole time, but they never did so it gradually sunk in that they weren’t going to. It was a rather bold move and one that could have easily backfired, but the film was able to handle it really well. It also had a very good ending, the kind of uplifting climax that I would like to see more often. You don’t need an ending that is kind of sad or mellow to try and win some Oscars. A very happy, satisfying ending will work every time and that’s what happens here. The film had its tension and dangerous situations, but managed to wrap them all up in time for the ending. It’s the gold standard for animal films and if they were all like this, I’d actually be glad to have more. It’s just that for ever Spirit, there are 100 Lassie or Watership Down kind of titles.

It was interesting to see the U.S. appear as the villains this time around. They ran around destroying Indian villages and enslaving Horses and the film never portrayed them as anything but antagonists. I prefer to see America taking the limelight as the heroes of history, but I suppose it’s good to see things from the other side once in a while. After all, not even America can be the good guys every single time right? I was definitely rooting for them to lose this time since they didn’t give the Horses the freedom that they deserved. It’s hard to say what the best part of the film was here. I liked the beginning with Spirit protecting the herd and just wandering around, but I also liked seeing him humiliate the army. No parts of the film are actually bad though and they just range from good to very good. It’s a pretty good sign in a film.

Overall, Spirit was a very solid film and maybe even a little better than I was expecting it to be. It’s a fundamentally sound film from top to bottom. The writing was good, the characters were likable, the pacing was solid, and it had a good ending. It is really filled with only positives around the board and I certainly enjoyed it a lot. It may not be a film for everyone, but if you like Horses or enjoy a good adventure, then you should check it out. It has some action and wit to coincide with the good plot and that’s a winning formula. I was even tempted to give this an 8, but while it doesn’t make any mistakes, it’s just hard to get quite that high without some extra kick of some sort. It’s a very fun film of course, but an 8 is usually something that I could instantly re watch. Usually that is due to cool fight scenes or something or that nature and I’d want to wait a little while before re watching this film. If I allowed half numbers like a 7.5, then this would probably have earned that extra spot. Regardless, this is definitely a solid film to check out. With Netflix getting a sequel series soon, it’ll be interesting to see if it can compete with this movie. It’ll be tough to do, but there’s always a chance.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Finding Dory Review


Are you ready? It’s time to take a look at the Finding Nemo sequel. I saw the original quite a few times over the years and even purchased the game recently. It’s definitely a fun series. Finding Dory takes itself a little more seriously at times and makes Dory’s past a little sadder than is used to be. It’s a pretty solid film that actually has a great ending so don’t listen to the doubters. Everyone told me what a bad ending the film had so I was expecting something really sad or tragic, but it was actually solid. Ah well, maybe people weren’t ready for a happy ending this time.

Dory wakes up one morning and realizes that she has parents. She sort of knew this deep down, but now she realizes that she has to go find them. They’re over by the aquarium/sea world park that Dory used to be at. It’ll be quite the journey, but it’s worth it to find her folks. She gets Nemo and Marlin to help her out with this. Getting across the planet would be tough for most fish…but Marlin knows a guy. The three of them set out and prepare for a big adventure, but little do they know that the team will be splitting right away.

Marlin was surprisingly a great character here. Maybe he always was and I just forgot about it. His “I know a guy” line was easily the best one in the film thanks to the great delivery (Pause and slow build up) and the way that he looked to the side while saying it. Marlin’s a little more confident than he used to be and since he did rescue Nemo from crazy circumstances, he has a right to be. He also comes through in the clutch when it matters and shows that he is a team player. I can’t say the same for Nemo though. Nemo’s very annoying in this film as he constantly takes shots at Marlin and acts like a know it all. Any scene with Nemo is one where I had to wince a little inside. It feels like Nemo hasn’t improved at all since the fist film and if anything…he’s gotten worse.

Dory is a nice character as always. Her origin was especially tragic this time as he memory got a lot worse. It was mostly just used as comedy in the first film while it’s very serious and dramatic this time. I would have preferred if it wasn’t so serious, but Dory gets through her trials with determination and persistence. She comes up with a plan in the end and has her big moment. Dory may not be as likable as Marlin, but she’s a good character. Dory’s just not my kind of protagonist and I don’t think she can hold her own film, but the subplots had enough screen time where it wasn’t too much of an issue. I still think that this film should have been about finding Nemo’s Mom, but maybe that’ll be for the third film in the trilogy.

Hank is one of the new characters for the film and he is definitely great. Hank is one of the standouts here as he plays the tough James Bond esque role. He has a lot of experience and has seen things over the years. He just wants to give up and head to the land of peace, but Dory is in his way. He agrees to help her in exchange for a pass that will get him there, but it’s a tougher ordeal than he would have thought since Dory keeps forgetting the plan. He had a lot of the witty banter and great lines in the film. It’s safe to say that he made the film a lot better.

Dory also had other friends who appeared like Destiny and other aquatic animals who wanted to pitch in. They were a little too quirky, but weren’t bad characters in the end. They’re nice pals to have around and it was good for Dory that they showed up. Still, they could have been a little more interesting. The main cast from the first film are the ones who really had to hold the film on their own with the exception of Hank since he was a really good new character.

One thing that subtlety holds Finding Dory back is the character roster. Even the best characters are only pretty good. There are no downright great characters. The closest two are Marlin and Hank. The problem is that Hank’s character was already used in Zootopia, but handled better. Marlin’s character type hasn’t been done all that often, but while he is fun, he isn’t a show stealer. Aside from those two characters, the rest of the cast struggle to be passable. Some of the characters are just really annoying like the two seals and the bird. The bird should have been cool, but did the film have to give him the worst design possible? I actually had a problem with quite a few of the designs. Even baby Dory looked a little off as the eyes were so big that it looked physically painful.

The animation was good overall though so I don’t want to take shots at it. It’s the character designs that are to blame here. I can’t say that the animation is much better than Finding Nemo’s though and considering how old that film is…it’s certainly worth noting. Unfortunately, there isn’t really a soundtrack to be found here. You won’t remember any of the tunes afterwards, which is a little regrettable. On a technical level, the film is all right. It gets the job done, but nothing more to that.

Finally, another problem is that you’re just never invested in the film. It goes through the motions and you follow along, but that’s about it. The story isn’t boring or anything….but it’s just not that exciting either. This last bit of the review may sound rather negative, but it’s just because the film could have been so much more. As it is, it’s a good film that is good for a quick watch, but you probably won’t want to be re watching it anytime soon.

To end this review on a high note, lets go back to the ending. After everyone told me how bad it was, I expected the parents to either be A. really mean or patronizing once they were found or B. Dead. If either of those scenarios had happened, this could have dropped to a 5. Luckily, the ending was really good. I’m guessing people thought that it was too happy and perfect or something like that, but I could definitely get into it. I also ended up liking Dory’s parents. Their roles were naturally very small, but they were likable and I’m sure that a third film could find a good role for them.

Overall, Finding Dory was a good sequel. It’s not quite as good as the original Finding Nemo if you ask me, but the film goes along at a brisk pace and doesn’t get boring. The writing is certainly on point and I actually really liked the ending. It was a highlight. While this film won’t move you the same way that Inside Out, Zootopia, Frozen, and other big animated films as of late have, it is still a good movie. I’d recommend checking it out if you haven’t already. You don’t really need to watch Finding Nemo to enjoy this film since they recap it through dialogue anyway, but you should check out the first film as well. It’s a classic at this point.

Overall 6/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Scooby Doo Mecha Mutt Menace Review

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Time for the next Scooby Doo special! This one looked a little more interesting immediately because we’re getting a Giant Robot Dog! Are you hyped yet? It’s essentially the return of the Zoids and as that was a very underrated franchise, it’s good to see it make a comeback. I can safely say that this villain was a lot more intense so get ready for some fights.

Scooby and the gang were having a good ole time when they happened upon the convention. They were aiming to win this one with Fred’s new trap that throws you into a glued net after disarming you of all metals. Instead he catches a shifty lady who is the daughter of one of the world’s greatest scientists. She quickly becomes the first suspect since all new characters foot the bill and she seems to want to make an enemy out of Daphne. (Unintentional I’m sure…) The Giant Robot Dog that her father owns goes on a rampage though and disappears. Her father dashes away and the cops aren’t so sure of what’s about to happen next. We also learn that the father didn’t actually invent the dog and one scientist is resentful of that. Hmmmmm. There’s also a creepy scientist who likes the daughter and isn’t afraid to admit it, but nobody takes him seriously and he makes a big mess of things whenever he is around. The show makes him as exaggerated as possible so it’s hard to find him even remotely likable.

Let’s get the technical aspects out of the way from the get go. The animation is good as always. We actually get some laser blasts and punches thrown so that’s always great. Everyone looks sharp and the character models are accurate. The soundtrack is pretty standard, but it gets the job done. That’s what count I suppose. Scooby Doo is technically consistent and has been for a very long time at this point.

Naturally, the big draw for the film is the villain. The giant robo dog is great. He can fire lasers and has quite the large amount of raw power. With one slap, he was able to knock Scooby Doo’s large dog robot through a lot of canisters and dented a wall. It was probably the most action packed moment that we’ve seen in Scooby Doo in quite a while. A good villain can always up the stakes for a film…and the intensity quite a bit. That’s what the robot did here.

One plot that wasn’t quite as good though was the one between the daughter and Fred. Why do we need a fake/forced romance here when we all know how this is going to end. At least Melanie played the friend zone card right away, but Fred didn’t really get the memo and it can get a little sad. Haven’t we seen this very same plot many, many times over the years. It never gets interesting to be honest, but it’s not as terrible as the Velma romance that we got back in the day. Now That was very wince worthy and hurt the film. This plot doesn’t really hurt the film since it’s not all that bad, but it doesn’t exactly help it either.

Another thing that I found a little iffy was how Shaggy and Scooby enjoyed the space food so much. I’m not saying that it’s terrible, but the goop just doesn’t look visually appealing. Give me a nice pizza or a Cheeseburger any day! They better enjoy it though because for 3 months that’s all that they’re going to get. Let’s ignore the ramifications of how this looks for the space station since it doesn’t really matter. Isn’t this a super tragic ending for the two? Being alone in space for 3 months without any supplies is really sad. They’ll have the food rations of course, but with their appetite, I have to wonder if it will last. Also, if this was going to be an unmanned rocket…then maybe there is no food. In that case, I’m going to assume that chronologically this is the final Scooby Doo film and they didn’t live through the experience. Ah well…better luck next time I suppose! Meanwhile, it was good to see Fred’s genius showed for once. He actually invented something practical and useful so just think about that for a second. He’s an excellent/capable leader as well as a genius apparently. No wonder he’s the leader of the Mystery Gang, he’s certainly earned it as this point.

Overall, This was another solid Scooby Doo special. The mecha fights were definitely the best scenes to be found here. The ending is also actually a little tragic when you think about it and was quite unexpected. I definitely recommend checking out this one. It’s really short since it’s also about 1 episode’s length so the pacing is always very smooth. You’ll be missing out if you miss out on this one.

Overall 7/10