The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Wes Anderson is one of the best kind of directors. The guy is so unapologetically comfortable with his own quirky and awkward style that It’s hard not to get completely immersed in the world’s he creates with his movies. These worlds are enhanced by the fact that the same reliable cast often returns for each of his films, and that fact that Wes writes all of his films as well as directing them. My personal favorite Wes Anderson film would have to be his 2012 picture, “Moonrise Kingdom” for it’s over the top tone, great performances and genuine heart. This year, Anderson and crew returns for his most finically successful live action film to date, The Grand Budapest Hotel.

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One of the most interesting things about The Grand Budapest hotel (I’ll call it GBH from here on out) is the structure of it’s story. It’s not simply a straightforward narrative, but is actually a story within a story, within a book. It’s hard to figure out exactly where the movie is going when it gives you all these plots at once, but it’s quickly established that the main story is the one being told in the 1930’s. The main plot of the movie is beyond engaging and hilarious. The film’s pacing is very quick, and because of this, the movie feels a little short. Having said that, the film still does make the most out of the time that it has. The jokes range from visual to verbal, and all of them are utterly hilarious. Most of it is dark humor, and it’s dark humor at it’s finest. It brings to mind much of the comedy present in Fawlty Towers and Tales From the Crypt. There is a point in the film, about midway through, where pacing gets a little slow, but it picks up again pretty quickly.  Like many of Wes Anderson’s films, the wacky visuals perfectly complement the witty writing, and if one were without the other, the movie wouldn’t have been nearly as effective.

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The characters are the highlight of the film, and all of them are quirky and interesting. The best of the bunch by far is Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), the Hotel’s concierge, and Zero (Tony Revolori), a lobby boy at the Hotel and a close friend of Gustave’s.  The two share a great chemistry and work well off each-other. Even though much of the movie is played for laughs,there are some genuinely touching moments between these two characters. The rest of the characters make relatively brief appearances, yet leave memorable impressions. I mentioned earlier that Wes Anderson uses the same cast for many of his films, and it’s no different here. Many familiar faces return, including Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, and Owen Wilson among others. Dafoe’s character, J.G. Jopling in particular, steals every scene he’s in. My favorite character has to be Inspector Henckels (Edward Norton), who is one of many characters chasing after Gustave and Zero throughout the film. He get some of the funniest dialogue.

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Out of all the films Wes Anderson has made, this film is quite possibly his most Wes Anderson-ey film to date. The visual style, music, and overall atmosphere is just dripping with Wes’s charming style. There’s even little bits of animation here and there. If you’ve never seen a Wes Anderson film before, I’ll try and explain his style. His films often convey a very awkward and over the top tone that stays consistent throughout the course of the entire film. It’s a little hard to explain, but there’s nothing quite like a Wes Anderson film, and his style is as distinct and recognizable (if not more so) then other successful directors like Tim Burton and Steven Spielberg. I honestly can’t tell you if you like this movie, or any Wes Anderson film in general because  it’s a very acquired taste. You either get his style and embrace it, or you don’t. I personally embrace it, but I will tell you that if you are new to his films, it may be a good idea to take a look at his previous work like Fantastic Mr Fox or Moonrise Kingdom to see if it’s your thing, Because GBH really does go all out when it comes to his style of filming.

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Stylistic, charming and delightful are the three words that come to my mind when thinking about this movie.The Grand Budapest Hotel really has everything. It’s writing is humorous and smart. It’s characters are well developed and memorable, It’s intense, it’s touching, And it’s wacky in the ways only Wes Anderson can provide. . If your not a fan of Wes Anderson, then this probably won’t win you over, But if you are a fan, then this is a must see. Moonrise Kingdom is still my favorite of his films, but Grand Budapest Hotel is a close second.

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Updates: Site Changes, Upcoming reviews and requests.

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I have a few exciting bits of news for you guys. First things first, My blog is going to be undergoing some design changes in the near future. It won’t be anything too drastic, but my goal is to make the site look nicer and easier to navigate around to find the reviews you want. Expect more updates on this in the next few weeks.

Next up, my upcoming reviews. I have four reviews coming your way for the next few weeks. Those films and release dates include:

The Grand Budapest Hotel ( April 30th. I apologize for getting this one out so late. Didn’t have time to see it until now.)

The Amazing Spider-man 2 ( May 9th or 10th. But my goal is to get the review out by the 9th)

Twilight’s Kingdom (MLP season 4 finale. May 11th or 12th. Again, primary goal is the 11th)

And of course, Godzilla. (May 20th. I have something special planned for this movie.)

As you can see, there will be plenty of reviews coming out in May, and there are even a few I have left off the list, so keep checking the site.

Finally, I will gladly take on requests if someone wants me to review a film currently at theatres that I have not yet seen. (I also may accept an older movie if it’s getting a re-release on Blu-ray or something similar this year, But I’m primarily focusing on current films or films at theatres for now.)If you have any suggestions, comment below.

That’s all the news I have for you today. Enjoy the last few days of April, and get ready for a   hopefully awesome summer!

The Pirate Fairy

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One of my all time favourite stories is Peter Pan. Speaking as someone who would very much like to stay a kid forever, the tale holds a special place in my heart. That being said, I wasn’t all that thrilled when I heard that Disney was going to make a franchise out of Pan’s fairy, TinkerBell. It just didn’t sound all that appealing to me, and the generic-looking animation style didn’t help either. After watching the first film, I had no interest to see any others (save for the third one, “The great Fairy Rescue”, Which for what it was, was actually fairly decent.) However, a few things made me interested in “The Pirate Fairy”. For one, they seemed to finally have a premise that delved into some Peter Pan lore by reintroducing some familiar (and younger) characters and locations into the story. In addition, The casting of Tom Hiddleston ( You may remember him as Loki) as Captain Hook was a stroke of genius on the creators part. Because of this, I was actually rather excited too see this one. Is this the Peter Pan spinoff I’ve been waiting for? Umm…well….

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Let me start off with some positives. First off, the animation has been vastly improved since it’s predecessors. I mentioned that I’m not a fan of the visual style this franchise is going for and..yeah I still really REALLY dislike the character designs. They all just look tooBarbie dollish and baby faced. It’s not an eyesore, but it could use alot work. Everything else though? Gorgeous. Right from the opening shot, we are treated to some truly breathtaking landscape shots that feel very theatrical in their presentation. It’s not Pixar or Dreamworks quality,but for a direct to video film,it’s pretty damn impressive. But it doesn’t stop there. Everything from the lighting, to the attention to detail in the fairies home-world, to even the water is all consistently beautiful and a feast for the eyes. Even the character animation has improved. Now granted you still have to get past the less impressive designs, but as far as the way the characters are animated,it’s probably the best the series has ever seen.

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The characters are a mixed bag. Tinker Bell herself is surprisingly not given as much focus here as before. I’m still not sure why they’ve given her a inventor-like personality. I get that she has the word “Tinker” in her name, but did she ever “Tinker” with anything before this in any other adaptation? Not that I can recall. I guess they want to give her some more personality before she turns into the..to put it kindly..rude and snarky fairy that we all know and love from the original Disney films. Her and the other fairies seem all too reduced to a supporting cast when compared to the new characters, and are simply not given any development beyond the fact that they all get their powers switched. Ultimately, the best character in the film is the Pirate Fairy herself, Zarina. What makes her interesting is in some ways she’s the complete opposite of what Tinker-Bell was in the first movie,yet eerily similar. She’s curious, but not stupid. Just ambitious. When things fall apart around her, she’s quick to leave her home only to come back a year later to steal something that her family holds dear, all to please her newfound Pirate crew. Without giving too much away, there does come a point in the film where she becomes less interesting, and it does feel sudden and yes, it does bring the film down quite a bit.

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The humans fair much better. A great character is James Hook, voiced by Tom Hiddleston. Tom NAILS it as the young and naive soon-to-be arch nemesis of Peter Pan. This is a very different Hook then what we are used to. like the other characters he does suffer from having a rather mediocre design, but aside from that, this Hook comes off as an incredibly unique and fresh take on the character. We are truly witness the birth of one of the most iconic disney villains ever, and seeing him put on the classic Captain Hook outfit is just as satisfying as you hope it would be. The rest of the pirates are also fun, and have distinct personalities that, while they are new characters, are very reminiscent of the classic crew that Hook sails with in the Disney classic. There are a few other classic characters that make appearances, and they are all adorable and fit into the film nicely, even if a few of the characters only show up for brief cameos. (Hint: Stay through the credits).

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The story itself is nothing to write home about. For the risk of spoilers I won’t give it away, but I personally found many of the “Twists” rather predictable. Not too much character development is given to anyone save for Hook and Zarina. there is one musical number in the film that feels out of place. not because it’s bad per-say, but because there are no other songs in the movie. It just comes off as sort of awkward and unnecessary. That being said, it was great to hear Captain hook sing, and like I stated before, it’s not a bad song, just an oddly placed one. The rest of the score is surprisingly very good. The music in the last few Tinker Bell movies that i’ve seen have never really impressed me, but I can actually recall a few good melodies and memorable tunes from this one. It’s not the greatest score i’ve heard, but it gets the job done in a fashionable way.

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The Pirate Fairy gets some things right. It gives us a few interesting side characters and some incredible visuals. But overall, the film falls flat thanks to a fairly uninteresting story and some equally uninteresting main characters. The stuff that it does well it does very well, but It didn’t quite win me over like I was hoping it would. If you have kids that already love this franchise, then it’s harmless enough, and they will probably love it. Otherwise, it’s a fairly weak entry in the series. Not a complete waste, but not the best the series has to offer.

My top five most anticipated summer movies of 2014

Best film of 2014. Right here.

Best film of 2014. Right here.

The summer movie season has officially begun. Captain America: The Winter Soldier kicked us off last week, and this year,some pretty big blockbusters are coming our way. These are the five that I’m most excited for.

5: Maleficent

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While my overall thoughts about how this film could turn out are mixed, I feel like the good outweighs the bad. From what I’ve seen, I love the look and style of the movie. I love the way Angelina Jolie is portraying one of the most famous Disney villains, and I’m also intrigued that it’s the directorial debut of Robert Stormberg. This could be a gem.

4: How to Train your Dragon 2

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Definitely one of my most anticipated animated movies of the year (second only to Disney’s Big Hero 6). What makes me so excited about Dragon 2 is seeing the characters we know and love from the first movie evolve and grow. his sequel looks grittier darker, and more mature then it’s predecessor, while still keeping the wild creativity, charm and beautiful animation that made the first movie so great. Here’s hoping!!

3: Guardians of the Galaxy

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Undoubtedly one of the more “Out-there” looking films being released this year. Guardians looks truly unique, thanks to it’s bizarre looking cast of characters and new locations. If the trailers are any indication, this movie’s also going to be the funniest Marvel film yet, harkening back to the Avengers where the comedy was almost as frequent as the action. This is a big risk for marvel, as it really could either make or break their cinematic universe that they’ve been building up to since the first Iron Man. Best case scenario, we are going to have an epic adventure that’s unlike any other this summer.

2: the Amazing Spider-man 2.

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Yet another Marvel film. Say what you will about the Amazing Spiderman reboot that came out in 2012, but I loved that film. I thought it captured the essence of what Spider-man is in the comics in a way that the Sam Rami films hadn’t (that being said, I still do love the Rami films, and consider spider-man 2 my favorite Spidey film thus far). This time around, it looks like we are going to learn more about the mystery surrounding Peter Parker’s parents, and it also looks like this may be the most action packed film of the summer, with three villains for Spidey to face! Thankfully, it looks like this one will also have just the right amount of emotional beats, thanks to the great onscreen chemistry of Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey. it will be interesting to see where their relationship goes from here. Although, if your a fan of the comics, you know that it may not end well… Either way, this is a must-see for me.

1: Godzilla

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Who else saw this coming? If you know me, you know that I’ve been a huge Godzilla fan for almost my entire life. This new film, Directed by Gareth Edwards (who also directed the unique and awesome 2010 film “Monsters”) has had a very promising marketing campaign as well as a wicked supporting cast. But what really excites ME about this film is monsters themselves. Both Godzilla and the antagonist monster Muto have looked fantastic in all of the trailers and TV spots, and that paired up with some intense and heartfelt performances, makes me think this one will be a winner. ( Of course, it will be a winner either way for me. If i’m being bias.)

So those are my picks for the summer movie season. Do you agree or disagree? Which movies are you looking forward to most this summer? Let me know in the comments!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Welcome to the Summer movie season! It’s starting a little earlier then usual, but who’s complaining? Kicking us off this April is the much anticipated and praised sequel, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”. Out of all the films being released this year, The Winter Soldier was high on my Must-watch list. the reasons being that I was a huge fan of the first Captain America movie that came out in 2011, and that the Winter Solder was one of my favorite comic book stories, as well as one of my favorite villains in the Marvel universe. Since the movie was released ,the general reaction has been extremely positive, with some calling it not only the best marvel movie ever made, but possibly even one of the best superhero movies ever made! After seeing the movie myself, and thinking about it, I think that Captain America: The Winter Solder is a little overrated.

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Now that’s not to say I think it’s a bad movie. In fact, far from it. I think the things that work in this movie REALLY work. One of the strongest aspects of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (TWS for short), is it’s story. The concept of “where do we draw the line between freedom and fear” is the main focus of the story. it’s dark,mature, and new for Marvel. Without giving anything away, the way the plot unfolds is intense and very engaging. Like many of the recent Marvel movies, there are lots of twists and turns throughout, and while a few of them are easy to predict, others will definitely catch you by surprise.

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Another thing that really works in this movie (for the most part) is the characters. Captain America (Chris Evans) himself quickly becomes one of Marvels more complex characters to date. He spends most of the movie trying to adjust to our current society, but hardly any of it is played for laughs. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is given a much Larger role in this film then ever before, and his character has never been better realized then it is here. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is also given more screen-time, but her character is a little “been there done that” as we don’t learn alot about her that we didn’t already know. Falcon (Anthony Mackie) is a welcome addition to the team, and provides much of the movie’s humor. Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) is another complex character, and The best character however, in my eyes, is The Winter Soldier himself (Sebastian Stan). much like Bane from the Dark knight Rises, The Winter Solder has a truly frightening onscreen presence. Everytime he’s onscreen, he steals the show, and the fight sequences between him and Captain America are intense as they are emotional. Next to Loki, he is now my new favorite Marvel villain.

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Sadly, the film has flaws that prevent it from reaching the same heights as the other Marvel movies for me. The story, if you’ve seen all the other marvel films, can be a little predicable, and not as interesting. The fight sequences,while cool, all go on for longer then they really need to. The score is entirely forgettable, and I can’t recall one theme. My main problem with this movie however, is it’s VERY slow pacing. As I mentioned, all the fight scenes go on for far too long, and at points it stops being intense and becomes boring. If your not already a marvel fan, then this movie is probably not going to be the one to win you over. Overall, I personally found it a little underwhelming.

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That being said, I did like the film. I just don’t think it holds a candle to some of the other recent Movies that Marvel has been releasing. Should you go see it? Well… If your not a fan of this franchise, then it’s best to at least watch the other films before giving this one a watch. Regardless, It’s still a big fun Super hero movie with some big fun action and a good story that’s not afraid to delve into some dark and mature themes. If that interests you, then I say give it a watch. Captain America: The Winter Soldier may not be my favorite movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but for what it is, it’s still a fun Summer movie.

Noah

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What can be said about Noah that hasn’t already been said? Chances are if your reading this review you probably have your own opinions and views on the film whether you’ve seen it or not. It’s fairly hard not to. Noah is arguably the most controversial biblical film since The Passion of the Christ, but for different reasons. There’s no clear verdict on how the film is being received just yet. Some think it’s a unique and brilliant take on the story of Noah’s Ark, while others are offended by the liberties Aronofsky and crew have taken to change the story from it’s old testament origins. But controversy aside, how does the movie itself hold up?

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Believe it or not, in some ways Noah is the first comic-book movie of the year. (or graphic novel,to be more specific.) Based off the original script for the film, Darren Aronofsky teamed up with one of his fellow writers from his film “The Fountain” to write a dramatized version of Noah’s Ark with material borrowed heavily from the Midrash.(which is jewish commentary on the biblical story and Jewish writings that aren’t in the bible.) The graphic novel was finished a few years ago, but was released to america just last month.

From a technical standpoint, Noah is sensational. The cinematography is done with such sophistication that it harkens back to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The movie’s truly epic, and the world that it creates had me hooked almost instantly. What’s fascinating about this adaptation is that it doesn’t specify what time period it takes place in. It never states that it takes place in the past, or in the future. It has a sci-fi edge despite there being no sign of technology in sight, unless the Watchers, (giant angel rock monsters,) remind you of Bionicles/Transformers. More on them later. The effects are a little on the stylistic side, but are overall really convincing. it looks like the summer movie season already has some competition, as the action sequences in Noah are fast, energetic, and intense. The acting in the film is great all across the board, with Russell Crowe and the Ray Winstone giving especially good performances as Noah and the film’s villain Tubal-cain. I think my favourite character though would have to be Noah’s grandfather Methuslah (Played by Anthony Hopkins). He provides the film with some warmth, and he often lightens up the mood at times, which is nice, since Noah is a very, very dark movie.

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I’d like to take a moment and talk about The Watchers. They aren’t shown in any previews for the movie,yet are major characters and important to the story. The Watchers are fallen angels that look like giant rock monsters. Sound a little bizarre? I thought so when I first heard about them. It seemed random to throw in these rock monsters into the movie, especially when they weren’t shown in ANY of the promotional material. But after looking into it, I’ve discovered that the Watchers are indeed from the bible and are expanded on in The jewish Midrash as well as extra biblical books. They are animated in such a way that they almost look stop-motion (specifically from the Ray Harryhausen era) They are in the majority of the movie, and since the film is very pro-earth in the first place, it seemed fitting to have them take the form of rock creatures. I really enjoyed them, and don’t think they were out of place.

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It may sound like I’m in love with this movie, and in some ways I am. I love the way lot of it is handled, and I think that the first half is really a great film. What I’m not so crazy about is the second half,that takes place on the Ark during the flood. There are small hints of it earlier on, but it’s here that noah becomes a REALLY unlikeable character. Some of his actions just seem Most of the time that’s spent on the ark just makes the film really unpleasant and at times it feels needlessly drawn out. The pacing alot takes a turn for the worse at this point, and the movie goes from being epic to downright depressing. And I know that that’s what they were probably going for, they wanted to bring noah and his family to their lowest point, but I just didn’t enjoy the way it was executed,and it unfortunately takes up much of the second half of the movie.

I’m not sure exactly what the verdict of this film is yet either. I really do love the first half, I love the world it creates, I love the grand epic scale of everything, I love the acting and I love the Watchers. It just feels like the movie drastically shifts gears once the second half hit and it felt very jarring for me. I still think that it’s overall a very well made film, and if your going to see it, seeing it on the big screen is worthwhile. The film has a fairly strong environmental message throughout, and I thought it was integrated into the story nicely. At the moment, I think Noah is good. There are things I loved about it, and there were things I wasn’t a big fan of. But I’m glad i saw it.

Muppets Most Wanted

Muppets-Most-Wanted-Poster There is a moment in Muppets Most Wanted that caught me off guard. Right in the first musical number, the characters state “ We’re doing a sequel, that’s what we do in Hollywood and everybody knows the sequel’s never quite as good.” I know that the muppets are all about self-aware humour, but this line,and the opening musical number in general, really does set the tone of the rest of the movie.

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I was a huge fan of the last Muppet movie that came out in 2011. To me,it captured all the wit and charm we’ve come to expect from the Muppets, yet it also had lots of heart. The Muppets was one of my favorite movies of 2011 because of it’s sincerity and respect it gave to the long legacy of the muppets, while still managing to feel fresh and new. With Muppets Most Wanted however, they abandon most of the sentimental moments in favor of an off the wall caper film. In some ways it feels like a step backwards, seeing as how wonderful and creative the last film was, but at the same time, had they tried to re-create the 2011 film too much, it could’ve been alot worse. The plot of this film is nothing special. If you’ve seen the trailers,you’ll know exactly what I mean. The film’s two storylines are the mistaking identity story,and any given heist/caper story. It’s really just an excuse to take the muppets all around the world for two hours, and the film knows it. it doesn’t try to be anything more then what it is, and luckily, what it is is a very fun muppet Film.

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As expected from this franchise, there are celebrity cameos through the roof. I won’t spoil some of the best ones, but keep your eyes peeled, as many of them leave as quickly as they appear. The cameos are all hilarious, if a little brief. Then again, that’s part of the charm. There are three major guest stars in the film that get alot of screentime however. Ricky Gervais plays an accomplice to the film’s main villain. Ty Burrell plays a Pink panther style cop hot on the trail of the antagonists (and he’s even paired up with Sam Eagle ) And finally, we have Tina Fay who plays a strict prison guard that takes a liking to Kermit.

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The Muppets themselves haven’t changed one bit and are all as likable as ever. Walter (an avid fan of the muppets and the main character of the first movie) is the only recurring new character from the first movie, and he remains a welcome addition. Kermit and the gang get much more screentime this time around then they did in the previous movie, so it feels much more like a classic style Muppet adventure, which is great. There is one new face on the seen, and that is Constantine The worlds most dangerous criminal who bares a striking resemblance to Kermit. This character is just fantastic. It really takes something special to make a frog puppet an intimidating and charismatic villain, and Constantine pulls this off flawlessly.

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Of course, I can’t talk about a Muppet Movie without mentioning the soundtrack, now can I? The songs in this installment,in my opinion, are some of the strongest the franchise has ever produced. The opening musical number “We’re doing a sequel” sets the tone for the rest of the film perfectly. Other songs such as “I’m number one” and “The big house” are also delightful to listen to. One thing in particular I find worth noting about the film’s score is Constantine’s main theme. Every time his character gets introduced,we are greeted with some of the most epic themes Ive ever heard for a villain. it harkens back to themes such as Bane’s theme and the imperial march from Star Wars.

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The film does have problems. I feel like it goes on for a little too long (clocking in at JUST under two hours) and the story is nothing to write home about. But other then that, it’s pretty hard to dislike such a energetic and innocent film like Muppets Most Wanted. I think Kermit and Fozzy were right at the beginning of the film when they made the “ the Sequel won’t be quite as good” remark. but despite that, Muppets Most Wanted manages to stand alone as a very enjoyable Muppet movie.