Moana

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I’m so happy that Disney’s been on top of the world this decade. It feels like the 90s all over again, when the studio would release success after success. While I  don’t think any of their recent “Revival Era” films have quite reached the heights of classics like “The Lion King”  or “Aladdin”, they’ve still proven to be fantastic and highly entertaining films that are worthy of the Disney name, and Moana is no different.

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Moana treads familiar ground during its first act. As the film is from the same creative team behind “The Little Mermaid”, parallels can be easily made between the two films. A feisty teenager longs to explore the world beyond her home and venture out into the open seas, but her stern father initially says “Nuh.” Eventually Discoveries are made, an adventure begins and memorable characters are introduced. There’s a bit more to it than that, but If you think that sounds straightforward, that’s because it kinda is. Moana doesn’t break new ground in terms of storytelling, but it does get a lot of mileage out of its terrific main characters characters. Where do I begin? First thing’s first; The demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) pleasantly surprised me. The trailers made the character look like little more than the comic relief, but there’s more to him then that. His backstory is interesting, he’s irresistibly charming throughout, and his back-and-fourth Dialogue with Moana results in some of the funniest comedy that Disney’s written.

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Speaking of Moana, she’s a solid lead. Her drive for wanting to explore the world beyond her island doesn’t come across as selfish or rash, but instead feels rather genuine and even heartfelt. (Teehee, those of you who’ve seen the movie will hopefully get it.) Even the Ocean is a character! There are several points in the film where the ocean assists Moana and Maui on their adventure, and while it’s mostly played up for comedy, it does carry a significant weight to the story that pays off nicely towards the end. There’s some fun comic relief to be had in the form of a dopey wall-eyed chicken that tags along for the ride, as well as a monstrous Crab who sings a catchy “flight of the Conchords” style song, but the real standouts are Maui and Moana, particularly when they share screentime. The animation is, of course, crisp and beautiful. Disney’s stepped it up yet again with endless shimmering oceans and  luscious green islands that make you wish you could leap into the screen to take it all in. There’s even some nice little bits of Traditional animation to be found, most notably mini-Maui (Maui’s living tattoo that serves as his conscience throughout the film, and also helps provide some of the biggest laughs.)

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Moana’s really good, but is it great? It doesn’t quite make it there, but almost. The biggest problem I had with with the film was it’s tendency to rush some of the character development. There’s A LOT that happens in the film, and because of this, some of the character development feels a tad light. I won’t spoil them here, but there’s a few turnarounds near the end of the film that feel a bit too quick and easy, causing them to feel less impactful. While the film is a lot of fun to watch, it doesn’t truly come alive until Moana and Maui meet eachother. The first act is fine, but it plays out a little too closely to your typical Disney Princess story, which was especially noticeable after films like Tangled and Frozen have really shaken up the genre. There’s also a reveal of the film’s antagonist a little too early on, leaving it’s grand entrance during the climax feeling a tad underwhelming. On a more positive note, the music in the film is very well done, with songs like “You’re welcome” and “Shiny” still stuck in my head as I write this review. The soundtrack itself is culturally unique and fresh, helping this film stand out amongst other Disney animated musicals.

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Moana may not be as surprising or inventive as Disney’s earlier 2016 film “Zootopia”, but it’s still a fun and enjoyable ride that easily fits in nice and snuggly with the rest of the “Revival Era” films. It’s actually nice to have two vastly Disney films in one year, with Zootopia being the more “out there and unique” one, and Moana being a very comforting classical Disney story. 2016, for the most part, has been a really weak year for film, but Moana will be fondly remembered as one of the good ones.

Casper Month: Introduction

 

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Part of the reason why Fall is my favourite season is because it feels like it begins and ends exactly when it needs to and it never seems to linger or arrive too early. I love the sense of new beginnings it brings out in me, and I might go as far to say that the first week of fall feels more fresh then something like the first day of January. So naturally, Halloween is one of my favourite holidays. And with Halloween comes truckloads of films and shows that I could talk about that relate to the holiday. Last Fall I discussed a few random films that I enjoyed watching at this time of year, but this year I wanted to do something a little more focused. I wanted to cover a franchise or a series of films that I had grown up with and knew a lot about, that also had a strong connection to Halloween and/or fall in general. I had quite a few properties to choose from, but the one that seemed like a no-brainer and I ultimately settled with happens to be the friendly ghost himself, Casper.

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I’ve been Watching Casper since I was in kindergarden and next to Godzilla, he is one of my favourite fictional characters. I can’t really pinpoint an exact reason why I find the character so endearing, but I think that it might have something to do with the fact that he was a great role model. Growing up, I wanted to be like Casper. Optimistic, Open minded and of course, kind.  While some adaptations of the character fare better then others, Casper has remained mostly consistent and reliable with only a few exceptions. This month, I’m going to cover all five of the Casper movies. Content for this month won’t be limited to just Casper related stuff however, as I’ll still post my normal movie reviews alongside them.So for the month of October, let’s take an in depth look at the friendliest ghost you’ve ever seen.

 

My Top Five Most Anticipated Films Of Fall 2014

Beautiful-Fall-Wallpapers-autumn-15496207-1600-1200I think we can safely say that the summer movie season has come and gone. While it was an impressive season, we are far from done looking at some of 2014’s biggest releases. We still have both this fall and winter to look forward to. With that said, here’s my top five most anticipated films of 2014 that are being released in my favorite season, fall. (Warning: there will be puns)

Number 5:

Ghostbusters (30th anniversary re-release)35z0e2pmnmz7zmpI may be cheating on this one. Seeing as how the film’s a re-release and technically comes out at the end of august. but who cares? It’s Ghostbusters! It just so happens that this year is the 30th anniversary of the classic comedy, and what better way to celebrate that then seeing it on the big screen? I couldn’t think of a better way to set the tone for the rest of the season.

Ghostbusters will haunt theaters on August 29th for one week only.(Expect a review for this flick to be released shortly after I see it again on the big screen)

Number 4:

The Box Trolls

the-boxtrolls-24676-1280x800Laika (the creative team behind Coraline and ParaNorman) will hit the scene yet again with an adaptation of the novel “Here Be Monsters!” As to be expected from the studio, the stop-motion looks spectacular, and the designs of the trolls themselves are unique and somewhat adorable. While I was a little underwhelmed by their last film, ParaNorman, I look forward to seeing what they have in store with this one.

The Box Trolls will invade theaters on September 26th.

Number 3:

Monsters: Dark Continent

_13772011762010’s “Monsters” was an independent creature feature that focused more on the human angle rather than the Monsters. The result was a Monster movie unlike any other, and one that I happened to really like. That being said, I was surprised when a sequel was announced. I wasn’t too thrilled about the concept when I heard that the original director, Gareth Edwards (who also directed the latest Godzilla film) wasn’t going to be in the directors chair, but upon revisiting the trailer a few more times, My anticipation for the film has increased significantly, and I think we could have another gem with this one if it’s done right.

Monsters: Dark Continent: Will smash it’s way into theaters on September 25th (UPDATE: The release date has been recently changed to November 28th.)

Number 2:

Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks

Twilight_holding_a_microphone_EG2Possibly my most bias choice. I was one of the few people who really enjoyed 2013’s Equestria Girls, as I found it captured the spirit of the show as well as being an entertaining and sweet film in it’s own right. Much like Dark Continent however, I wasn’t expecting a sequel, yet here we are. The music themed followup promises to deliver 12 new songs by Daniel Ingram (the song writer for the show) as well as an interesting new trio of villains that could very well be Sirens in disguise. And hey, anything involving ancient Equestria lore is enough to get me excited.

Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks shreds it’s way into theaters on September 27th for a limited time.

Number 1:

The Book of Life

60Audiences and Critics alike often crave for something that’s unlike anything they’ve ever seen. If The Book of Life’s trailer in any indication, it looks like we’ll be getting just that. The story looks original (although there are a few echos of the corps Bride here and there) But what REALLY has me excited about this movie is it’s visual style. It looks like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and I love that. Everything from the environments, to the character design looks absolutely gorgeous and creative. The film hasn’t even been released yet, and I’m already in love with the world it’s created. And that’s why it’s my most anticipated film of this fall.

 The Book of Life arrives in theaters on October 17th

And that’s my list. I hope you all had a wonderful summer and that you have an equally awesome rest of the year!. This is Ipaidforthat, signing off!

Updates 2: Future movie reviews, Book review and more variety

Transformers-Age-of-Extinction-HD-ImagesWelcome to my second set of updates. i’ve got some exciting news for you all today, so let’s get started!

1: Future Movie reviews. This month you will definitely be getting “Transformers: Age of Extinction” as well as “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”. I would like to see more, but it all depends on my schedule. My Transformers: Age of Extinction review will hopefully be up on July 3rd.

2: Book review. I recently obtained the “Journal of the two Sisters” Novel based off one of my favourite shows, Friendship is Magic”. I’m not used to doing reviews for literature as I am for film, but I thought it would be a neat experiment to tie it a try. Expect that shortly.

3: More variety. While I love writing movie reviews, I would like to start expressing my interests in different ways. Expect more top 5 lists, articles and maybe even some videos coming soon!

That’s all for now. Have a great day everyone!

 

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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.