Virtual Tourist – My Time at Portia 4/22/18

My goodness! 2018 is turning out to be even more turbulent than 2016 and 2017. Oi!

Typically once I am out of the YE and audit circus, things settle down a bit. But not this year! First Quarter End was brutal. I worked three weeks worth of time in two weeks. Ugh. I’ve been a mental vegetable.

Mini Movie Reviews

Rampage

Rampage – The film is another piece of fun nostalgia. It’s loosely based on the console game Rampage. It was a fun ride all the way around. George, the albino gorilla, is a hoot! 3.75 out of 5. (Hubby’s Rating: Worth full price to see again!)

 

 

 

Isle Of Dogs

Isle of Dogs – this was a fun and super quirky film. They use both stop animation and film animation. They make subtle fun of all sorts of things. The dogs are awesome. Not everyone will like it, but we thought it was great! 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth full price of admission.)

 

 

 

My Time at Portia

I got a new game to detox with – My Time at Portia. It is very similar, yet also different from Stardew Valley (Another fun game). The central premise of both games is to help the community, grow in skills, mine, fish, farm, scavenge, fight, and more.  Aside from different mechanics and emphasis, My Time at Portia has an entirely different visual feel from Stardew Valley.

My Time at Portia - Central Square

This is the central square in town. A&G Construction, Commerce Center, and the Mayor’s office are here.

My Time at Portia -  Sonya

Since it is a community type game, you get experience for meeting people. This is my first meeting with Sonia. One thing this game adds to the townsfolk is the ability to spar with them, plays stone-paper-scissors, or even Go. If you win, you get additional relationship points and a bit of coin (or lose coin, too!)

My Time at Portia - Mayor's Office

This is the Mayor’s office. On the right is a list of active quests. The indicator over his head shows I need to go to him for an action. (And yes, that’s me!) 🙂

My Time at Portia - Knight game room

Game room at Django’s restaurant. There are lots of things reminiscent of Stardew Valley.

The Civil Corps building – they help fight monsters and keep the town safe. Had to take a pic of their mascot/statue as it is a pig flying. lol.

My Time at Portia - ruins can be seen in the distance

This is a post-apocalyptic world that is once more prospering. There are ruins that can be mined for old technologies. There are factions/guilds that are pro and anti old technology.

My Time at Portia - Ruins

View back towards town from the tree farm area. You can see the Church of Light on the right. They are anti old tech.

My Time at Portia - Inside the Church of Light

Inside the Church of Light. Quite impressive!

My Time at Portia - murals at the Church of Light

The murals depict some of the events before civilization collapsed.

My Time at Portia - Left side murals at the Church f Light

Here humanity is rising out of the dark ages.

More weird stuff was going on in life this past week. Hopefully, things will find a neutral ground, and I can get back to a regular schedule again. *fingercrossed*

 

 

 

Virtual Tourist – Wolfenstein The New Order 12/31/17

With all the holidays the last two weeks and trying not to catch a cold, my sense of what day it is is a little on the fritz! Lol. Almost forgot today is Sunday and Virtual Tourist Day! DOH!

Mini Movie Reviews

Star Wars The Last Jedi

Star Wars The Last Jedi – 3 out of 5 – mostly a smash of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi with unimaginative changes. For such a huge franchise, you’d think they’d try to do good scripts. Still better than Episode III (Movie 6) 😛

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

JUMANJI: Welcome to the Jungle – 4 out of 5 – I REALLY enjoyed this one! It had a lot more depth than you’d expect, lots of surprises, and the acting was fab! Jack Black outdid himself on this one. They all did. (We went home and immediately watched the original again. Found several nice tie backs!)

DownsizingDownsizing – 3.25 out of 5 – Hubby was wanting to see this one badly, and ended up very disappointed. The first half or so was fascinating! Then the pace came to grinding halt and took a left turn. I think they tried to do too much with the film and inadvertently lost their way. A pity.

 

Wolfenstein The New Order

After escaping the mental hospital, we hide at my girl’s grandparents. I brought along a souvenir. Time to get answers.

The little touches are always the best. Here is a poster that needs no translation. 🙂

A giant facility and checkpoint. We need to get through this to go to Berlin.

Should have lightened this one. Dang. Anyway, you can see my girl’s grandma and grandpa. Old but mean business. They are helping to sneak the two of us to Berlin.

 Within the facility/checkpoint structure.

Another one I should have lightened. Boo! I’m sneaking my way further into the facility.

Some cool truck plans in the garage area. Some very subtle foreshadowing as you will soon see. 😛

View of a smaller secondary gate. We’re almost through.

Surprise! This is what the weird truck specs were for. Transporting mechanized warrior units. Eek!

A full view of the beastie. Nasty sucker. They pop two of those for you to get rid off. Ugh!

Hope you and yours have a great New Years Eve!

 

Movie Review – Moana

Moana

Starring: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk, Oscar Kightley, Troy Polamalu, Puanani Cravalho, and Louise Bush.

Directed by: Ron Clements, Don Hall, John Musker, and Chris Williams Screenplay by: Jared Bush Story by: Ron Clements, John Musker, Chris Williams, Don Hall, Pamela Ribon, Aaron Kandell, and Jordan Kandell Music by: Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda

Premise: Moana has always been fascinated by the ocean and what might lay beyond the protective reef around her home. As the chieftain’s daughter and heir, however, she tries to put those desires aside and learn how to become a good leader. But when pestilence and lack of fish begin to plague her island home, Moana realizes she must go and find the demigod Maui and get him to make things right again. (Rated PG)

Review:

1) Voice Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Auli’i Cravalho as Moana was a treat. Her boundless energy comes across in every line. Dwayne Johnson is a hoot as Maui. The two worked well together, and you could feel the bonds growing between the characters. Alan Tudyk as Heihei was a surprise, but what fun! (Especially as it isn’t a speaking part.) Rachel House and Jemaine Clement added some additional angles to the scope of the film as well. (Clement’s final line after the credits is awesome! :P)

2) Artwork/Animation – Total Thumbs Up: Walt Disney Animation Studios outdid themselves with Moana. The film is gorgeous! Fantastic textures, colors, and they do awesome things with the water. The section where Moana is at the beach as a baby was sublime. It will make you feel like you’re actually in Hawaii.

A ton of attention to detail on all things. They use the 3D to full advantage, even making facial crinkles and wrinkles. Moana and Maui’s hair would make anyone jealous!

Heihei fits the “too stupid to die” type character category. They have so much fun with him! Maui’s tattoos are awesome. His mini tattoo version of himself is great. Like a living conscience. When Maui shapeshifts, stay on the lookout for the fishhook and how it’s incorporated into each of his forms. Nice little detail. 🙂

The island goddess and the lava monster were excellent. The cooling lava and resulting igneous rock turned out fantastic. The monster zone and the Kakamoji peoples and boats were fascinating.

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: While the film has the look and feel of Hawaii, after doing some quick research, it doesn’t appear that the tale told has anything to do with the legends of the chain of islands. Despite that, it does hold a lot of the trappings of stories dealing with humans and gods. It also definitely has a Hawaiian feel to it.

A lot of themes run through the film. Responsibility, dreams, finding who you are, and more.

The film uses some anachronistic terms/dialogue. But though out of place, some of it is quite humorous. Several in-jokes are tucked away here and there. For example, Maui moving his mini tattoo from one side of his chest to another by muscle movement. A move we’ve seen Dwayne Johnson do in other films. 😛 (There’s a big in-joke at the end of the credits, too! Relates back to the Little Mermaid. :))

Conclusion: Moana is a gorgeous film. Would recommend seeing it in 3D for the spanning views alone. Lots of fun moments and has plenty to keep the kids and adults well entertained.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Movie Review – Storks

Storks

Starring: Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, Anton Starkman, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Danny Trejo, Stephen Kramer Glickman, and more.

Directed by: Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland Written by: Nicholas Stoller Cinematography by: Simon Dunsdon Music by: Jeff Dana and Mychael Danna

Premise: Storks used to deliver babies to expectant parents. But that is a function they’ve not provided for almost two decades. They now deliver packages worldwide. And Junior’s been told he’s about to be promoted to “Boss”. All he has to do is fire the human – Tulip. The storks are responsible for taking care of her ever since her failed baby delivery 18 years before. Now that she’s come of age, though, she’s no longer their problem and Hunter wants her out. Junior can’t bring himself to fire her outright though. And through a series of events, Tulip inadvertently activates the baby factory.  Due to a messed up wing, Junior must have Tulip’s help to deliver the produced baby before Hunter finds out about it and his chance to be the “Boss” is ruined. (Rated PG)

Review:

1) Voice Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Andy Samberg and Katie Crown play off each other well  as Junior and Tulip. Kelsey Grammer was awesome as the head stork, Hunter. (The whole “Bossssss” sequences are too funny!) Anton Starkman was adorable as the lonely and ignored Nate Gardner. Jennifer Aniston and Ty Burrell as Nate’s over achieving parents were a hoot. And I adored Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele as Alpha and Beta Wolf. (The wolves rocked!)

2)  Artwork/Animation – Total Thumbs Up: Warner Brothers Animation did a great job on the film. The texture for the feathers, especially when ruffled, looked great. They also seemed to have had a lot of fun playing with Tulip’s hair. (Her bored scene and changes in hair to pretend to be other people was too funny!)

The baby at the crux of the problem is beyond adorable. And the babies later on are an overdose of cuteness!

The wolves were such a fun treat! Not only funny, but they have mad skillz! ROFL. Animating their antics and making them look believable definitely deserve some well earned kudos.

A lot of subtext in the art with regards to buildings and working environments. And the Titanic reference was priceless!

Loved all the cool inventions, too. The fully working baby factory was awesome! 🙂

The Ninjago short before the main film was darn funny and looked great. The Chicken vs. the Master. (Since hubby’s been killed by a chicken on an MMO, it made this even funnier! heh heh)

3) Plot/Story – Total Thumbs Up: A simple premise filled with a lot of deep issues and themes. Storks are not the only way to get babies. They did mention this important detail for when we’re informed they stopped delivering kids – lol. Junior seems to be living the dream, rising quickly to the top. But as the story unfolds, we get bits and hints showing all is not as wonderful as everyone thinks they are.

The same is true for Nate. His parents are go getters. They run a successful house selling business from their home, but they’ve lost their way. They’ve forgotten that by only craving success they’ve left something even more precious behind.

Lots of interesting characters and bizarre personalities!  Pidgeon Toady is a little scary. 😛

Family, responsibility, denial, and allowing oneself to care for others than money – these are just a few of the themes explored. If you’ve ever been a parent, you’ll see a lot in there that will make you nod. You’ll know exactly what they’re experiencing because you’ve been there. lol.

Conclusion: Storks is an adorable and surprisingly deep film. Lots of unexpected and cute bits. And the power of the pack! Go Wolves!

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Pay Full Price to See Again)

Movie Review – Kubo and the Two Strings

Kubo and the Two Strings

Starring: Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Rooney Mara, Brenda Vaccaro, and more.

Directed by: Travis Knight Screenplay by: Marc Haimes and Chris Butler Story by: Shannon Tindle and Marc Haimes Cinematography by: Frank Passingham Music by: Dario Marianelli

Premise: Kubo enjoys telling stories. It lets him connect to others and also to his ailing mother. In her lucid moments, she’s warned him time and again never to be out after dark. That those who took his eye as a baby will be able to find him and take his other eye as well. Despite his intentions to do as he’s been told, Kubo doesn’t make it back in time one day. His mother’s otherworldly sisters catch his scent. Now he has no choice but to run and try to find the fabled mystic armor pieces in his stories to save try to himself. (Rated PG)

Review:

1) Voice Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Art Parkinson is adorable as Kubo. His emotions come across very well. Charlize Theron as the reserved Monkey was also a lot of fun. Matthew McConaughey does a great job as the cursed samurai Beetle. Brenda Vaccaro and George Takei add a nice, amusing backdrop for Kubo’s normal days at the village.

2) Artwork/Animation – Total Thumbs Up: Laika does amazing stop motion films. “Kubo and the Two Strings” is another fine addition to their gorgeous repertoire of work. The use of paper and moving origami was inspired. A neat new tactile and visual realm to explore. Gorgeous!

Amazing visuals appear throughout the film. The giant waves at the beginning were amazing. And though he is but a bit of paper, the origami samurai is totally awesome. It adds a neat non-verbal character to the mix. (All the stories told via moving origami were so cool!)

Loved how Hanzo looked like Toshiro Mifune. (The Moon King looks like Peter Cushing! Nice choice! heh heh)

3) Plot/Story – Neutral: As amazing as the stop motion animation is, the plot overall was a major letdown. They do a lot of build up on the importance and power of the sword and armor. But when they get them, the three objects are actually pretty useless. Yet these pieces were supposedly the main driving force for two sets of events! As powerless as the objects turned out to be, the importance placed on them made no sense. 🙁

Some of Monkey’s attitudes don’t jyve later when we find out one of the reveals. Also, though the Japanese believe in spirits and magic, it seemed out of place that the villagers didn’t make more of Kubo’s super unusual skills. (Aside from loving his storytelling that is.)

Old Japanese stories are usually tragic. This one definitely continues the trend as well, but then they try to cheat and fool the audience into a supposed “happy ending”. But it isn’t… *sigh*

Several themes are explored – the meaning of humanity, of family, treasuring the little things, light and darkness, ying and yang. There are a few minor surprises. One of which made some of the earlier sections of the film not make sense. Oh well…

4) Music – Total Thumbs Up: Dario Marianelli’s score was lovely. Lots of string music with a marked oriental feel. Nice!

Conclusion: Kubo and the Two Strings is an amazing piece of animation. Unfortunately, the story itself wasn’t of the same caliber. Gorgeous work though.

Rating: 3 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Movie Review – The Secret Life of Pets

The Secret Life of Pets

Starring: Louis C. K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Albert Brooks, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Chris Renaud, Steve Coogan, Michael Beattie, and more.

Directed by: Yarrow Cheney and Chris Renaud Written by: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio, and Brian Lynch Art Direction by: Colin Stimpson Music by: Alexandre Desplat

Premise: Max loves his owner. She is everything to him. Then one day she brings home a huge dog named Duke. They don’t get along. Each tries to get rid of the other until they get in a situation they can’t escape, except by relying on one another. If they survive, maybe they will make it back home. (Rated PG)

Review:

1) Voice Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Illumination picked a great cast for the film. Louis C.K. does a great job as Max. His love for his master and resentment at the intruder Duke rings clear. Eric Stonestreet also does a good job as the new dog, Duke. His warring need to fit in and be top dog was well played.

Kevin Hart was a ton of fun as the rebellion leading bunny, Snowball. But it was Jenny Slate, Albert Brooks, and Lake Bell that brought the most fun to the table as Gidget, Tiberius, and Chloe. Gidget totally rocked! Dana Carvey was a hoot as Pops.

2) Artwork/Animation – Total Thumbs Up: Illumination did awesome work as usual. The Minions Mowing story short at the beginning will have Minion fans rolling. One bit that was too cute was how the lawn gnome in the short ends up also being used during the main feature.

They did several other cute segues to other Illumination films. The radio playing “Happy” which tied back to “Despicable Me 2”. The poster on the back of a city bus for their next film “Sing”. There are doubtless more of them to discover. 🙂

The film pays lovely homage to the city of New York. The lovely pan across Central Park and the amazing night views from Max’s apartment are but two of many amazing recreated sights.

Nice work on the textures as well. They dealt with fur, feathers, scales, long hair, short hair, and even hairless. And there were plenty of lovely visual gags. Several will catch you off guard and you will find yourself laughing out loud. As that’s normally rare for me, I was quite pleased. (The end of the viper sequence was a riot!)

3) Plot/Story – Total Thumbs Up: Despite all the jillion commercials we’ve been pounded with for six months or more – they didn’t give everything away. In fact, the story takes some unexpected sharp turns several times. And they didn’t spoil the best jokes or moments. So there was a lot to still be discovered. Which was great!

Max and Duke are rather nasty to each other when they’re first forced to be together. So much so you almost don’t want to root for either one. Eventually we get to know more about their true selves and we get on board. Much more surprising though was how the big heroes of the film aren’t Max or Duke. The biggest hero is actually Gidget! Once she realizes Max has disappeared she is the driving force to finding a way to go look for him. Sweet puppy love! 🙂

The Flushed Pets Rebels were a fun bunch. So were the feral cat gang. There were a lot of elements from the streets, older films/musicals, and pet behavior. It’s amazing how it all came together so well.

The Wiener King nirvana sequence will touch older audience members with weird psychedelic nostalgia. Even the song was perfect for the scene.

Conclusion: The Secret Life of Pets is quirky, fun, and full of surprises. Lots of great laugh out loud moments for the kids and adults. There’s a extra bit of fun during the end credits. 😛

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again.)

Movie Review – Finding Dori

Finding Dori

Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Hayden Rolence, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene, Levy, Sloane Murray, Idris Elba, and more.

Directed by: Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane Original Story by: Andrew Stanton Screenplay by: Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strouse, and Bob Peterson Cinematography by: Jeremy Lasky Music by: Thomas Newman

Premise: Dori has issues with her short term memory. A small accident causes her to remember things she’d forgotten from her childhood – like her parents. For a brief moment, she actually remembers where she came from. And Nemo keeps the name for her. Dori helped Marlin find his son when he was lost. Now Marlin and Nemo will help Dori to find her forgotten family. (Rated PG)

Review:

1) Voice Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Though it’s been 13 years since “Finding Nemo” hit the theaters, you wouldn’t know it from watching the sequel. Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks reprise their roles as Dori and Marlin as if they’d never been away. Some of the characters from the first film make an appearance, but we’re also introduced to a slew of new and memorable characters. Ed O’Neill was a ton of fun as the octopus named Hank. The kids will get a blast from his awesome chameleon powers. 🙂 (They can also try to spot him during the first part of the end credits!)

2) Artwork/Animation – Total Thumbs Up: “Piper” is the name of the short film that plays before the main feature of “Finding Dori”. It is beyond adorable! And the animation for it was fantastic. The water, the bubbles, the sand and more were super detailed – the beach looked real. The birds, too. And Piper was so cute!

Here’s a taste!

“Finding Dori” itself also had superb animation. Some lovely transitions between the ocean and surface worlds. Some ‘jaw-dropping’ moments as well. The art was phenomenal in several places. Did some fabulous work with textures, too. From Hank’s pitted, semi-slimy skin to the hard tortoises shells, you could visually feel the textures. Great work!

The end credits (stay all the way to the end!) have the algae filled water in the middle section and it is populated with all manner of species of fish who swim lazily by as the names roll past. The variety of fish represented was amazing. It was like going to the aquarium without ever leaving your seat. Kudos guys!

And Becky was one weird, but fun bird. lol. (So was the third seal – even with those creepy, shifty eyes of his. Heh heh.)

3) Plot/Story – Total Thumbs Up: When I heard they were doing a sequel to “Finding Nemo” and that it would center around Dori, I had my doubts as to what we would get. But my worry, much like Marlin’s, was unnecessary. By introducing flashes of Dori’s returning memories as events moved along, they got the audience invested in the quest and finding more about Dori. And we got a chance to see a side of Dori we’d not seen before. (She was also the cutest baby fish EVER!)

As in the original, the film dives to different depths to explore themes and emotions during the story. There were some quite poignant moments which get revealed during the tale without being heavy handed. It also gave us a true taste of what it would feel like to have Dori’s condition, and how strong and determined she truly is.

A range of themes are woven through the film as well. The meaning of family, of belonging, perseverance, trust, friendship, and more.

There are also all sorts of gags through the movie. Watching Hank moving through the MLI was a ton of fun. They even build on a few of the jokes in tiny bits – stay till the end of the credits for the final one. 🙂

Conclusion: “Finding Dori” is a great sequel to “Finding Nemo”. The animation is fabulous and there are lots of fun characters to fall in love with. You’ll probably also find yourself thinking: “What would Dori do?” 🙂

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Movie Review – The Angry Birds Movie

The Angry Birds Movie

Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage, Sean Penn, Keegan-Michael Key, Kate McKinnon, and more.

Directed by: Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly Written by: Jon Vitti Music by: Heitor Pereira Art Direction by: Pete Oswald

Premise: An orphan and with unusually large eyebrows, Red has always had a hard time fitting in, all the kids making fun of him because he’s different. As an adult, things have not gotten easier, his streaks of bad luck not helping to keep him from getting angry.  Then the pigs arrive. Red tries to tell the village that there’s something not right about them, but the smooth talking Leonard has a rebuttal for everything. Do the pigs have an ulterior motive for coming to the island or is Red just being paranoid? (Rated PG)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Jason Sudeikis does a great job as the pragmatic and unlucky Red. Josh Gad is a blast as super fast Chuck. Danny McBride did a nice job as the awkward Bomb. Peter Dinklage as the Might Eagle was hoot. 🙂 Bill Hader had way too much fun as Leonard. Maya Rudolph added a lot cute bits as Matilda. Sean Penn doesn’t say much, but his character Terence brought some definite fun to the table.

2) Artwork/Animation – Total Thumbs Up: Rovio Animation has taken the beloved little game of Angry Birds and made it into a fun film. The textures are nicely done, giving a different look and feel not only to make our feathered friends look fluffy, but even differentiating between the different feather types on their bodies. Nice work!

Bird Island and Piggy Island each have their own distinct look and feel. They even worked the loosey-goosey building style the pigs use in the different incarnations of the game on the pigs’ city.

This loosey-goosey style is also extended to their technology, which makes for a lot of fun. That they haven’t blown themselves up before this point is amazing! 😛

If you go see it in 3D, they have several cute gags they use the 3D on for good effect. 🙂 And Terence is awesome. Speaking volumes with but a look.

And they could not make the bird kids look any cuter! OMG! If they ever make plushies of the kids, I’m not going to be able to help myself. They are so CUTE!

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: I have to give some definite praise to Jon Vitti for taking the premise of the Angry Birds game and actually building it out into a full plot for a movie. Thankfully animated films are expected to be ‘fantasy’ so that helped as well. Best not to look behind the curtain – as they say.

Red has anger issues, but he’s come by them honestly. Though the island purports to only bring happiness, the adults tends to ignore things they don’t like, and so poor Red was made fun of by his classmates for not knowing things and for looking different without anyone intervening on his behalf. Add his streaks of bad luck and I don’t blame him for being angry. Several themes revolve around Red and friends – community, social blindness, suppressing feelings, individuality, and several others.

They make sure we know the birds in this universe do not fly – that only the Mighty Eagle can – and most think him but a myth. I found it quite amusing that the pigs are the ones who introduce them the idea of the slingshots. Their hubris was also their undoing.

Some of the characters and who they represent in the Angry Bird game universe are obvious, some less so. Half the fun is watching them do their thing. And the pigs are a riot! lol.

Make sure to stay through part of the credits. Super cute scene with the triplets. 🙂

Conclusion: The Angry Birds Movie is a must for anyone who has ever enjoyed the Angry bird games. Prepare yourself for large dozes of cuteness, some crude humor, and fun.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Movie Review – Ratchet and Clank

Ratchet and Clank

Starring: James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Jim Ward, Rosario Dawson, Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Dean Redman, Armin Shimerman, Sylvester Stallone, Alessandro Juliani and more.

Directed by: Kevin Munroe and Jericca Cleland Written by: T.J. Fixman, Kevin Munroe, and Gerry Swallow Cinematography by: Anthony Di Ninno Music by: Evan Wise

Premise: Ratchet has admired the Galactic Rangers since he was little. So when a chance pops up to try and join during a recruitment campaign in his backwater world, he’s eager to go. His carefree past, however, proves a giant stumbling block. At least until he makes the unexpected acquaintance of a small defective robot he calls Clank. Suddenly, Ratchet finds himself dumped in the path of one of the biggest threats to the Galaxy and another chance at his dream. (Rated PG)

Review:

1.Voice Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Loads of great voice talents for this one. Loved Paul Giamatti as Chairman Drek – so ruthless and so dense. Heh heh. Armin Shimerman brought some nice lunacy into evil Dr. Nefarious. Sylvester Stallone was too fun as Victor Von Ion. Rosario Dawson did great as Elaris – just a touch of manic in there for flavor. Jim Ward, James Arnold Taylor, and David Kaye meshed quite nicely together as our three principal characters!

2. Artwork/Animation – Total Thumbs Up: We saw the film in 3D – CGI always converts quite nicely to the medium. They had some cool 3D moments and used it to good effect. The space shots were lovely! The 3D also made for some fast moves down a narrow canyon.

The animation was quite detailed and came across very well. Ratchet’s fur looked fluffy and soft while Captain Qwark looked as superficial as his personality. 😛 Elaris’ horns/hair were very reminiscent of Galaxy Quest. 🙂

Some lovely color palettes used to good effect especially for subtext. Blues and Greens were for good, reds and oranges for bad. This placed Ratchet somewhat in the middle before joining the Rangers, which was rather apt with his tendency to get into trouble.

3. Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: The Ratchet and Clank film is based on a PlayStation game from 2003 (and has had several sequel games). As such, the film is filled with tons of lovely snark. They even do a countdown at the beginning to the evil speech. 😛

Several themes are used/explored in the film – belonging, responsibility, big dreams, that friendship runs both ways, as well as the fickleness of fame and addiction to it. Best of all, the little biases that can cause so much harm to others.

The plot is pretty straight forward with a few small surprises and lots of subtext and snark. They even make fun of the Wilhelm scream. lol. Chairman Drek was both brilliant and dense – and his minions are social media fools! lol. Dr. Nefarious is so insane he actually made mad science work! (Loved the Sheep-i-nator!)

A couple of items are a little far fetched (rust takes time guys!), but it is enough fun it’s easily overlooked.

Once the film shows the voice actors names at the end, there’s a bit more (and more snark) then one last bit after all the credits. Well worth it. Heh heh.

Conclusion: Ratchet and Clank is a fun ride full of snark and cute little moments. The lovely animation made the cool gadgets, guns, spaceships and space look awesome.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Movie Review – Zootopia

Zootopia

Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, J.K. Simmons, Alan Tudyk, Shakira, Della Saba, Maurice LeMarche, Raymond S. Persi, and many more.

Directed by: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Jared Bush Screenplay by: Jared Bush and Phil Johnston Story by: Byron Howard, Jared bush, Rich Moore, Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee, Josie Trinidad, Jim Reardon, and Dan Fogelman Art Direction by: Matthias Lechner Music by: Michael Giacchino

Premise: Judy’s dream since she was a little girl was to become a police officer. Everyone discouraged her, but she stubbornly clung to her dreams until she becomes the first bunny officer. Yet it’s when she starts to work in District 1 that she realizes the obstacles to her dream are far from over. If anything, they’ve become greater than before. Putting her job on the line to prove herself, she must place her trust in on a hustling fox to track down a missing otter. Yet this is but the beginning of the mystery of something very wrong going on in Zootopia. (Rated PG)

 

Review:
1) Acting – Toal Thumbs Up: Ginnifer Goodwin was perfect for the role of Judy Hopps. Her voice oozed with the bounciness and the speed you’d expect from a rabbit. Jason Bateman was a lot of fun as the voice of Nick Wilde and made for a good foil to Ginnifer’s Judy. Maurice LaMarche did wonderful work as Mr. Big. Loved Idris Elba’s portrayal of Chief Bogo.  Jenny Slate was adorable as the ever suffering Bellwether. Raymond S. Persi as Flash was a hoot. And Alan Tudyk as the Duke Weaselton? Priceless. 😛

2) Artwork/Animation – Total Thumbs Up: Walt Disney Animation Studios did a marvellous job with the film. The textures were amazing. The wool of Bellwether’s hair, the fluffy bunny fur, the thicker fox hair, you could tell at a glance how they would feel and which would be softer or bouncier than another. As the credits and the film itself will show, they spent a ton of time on research for the plethora of animals represented in the film. The attention to detail was riveting.

Just as fascinating as the different species of animals were to see, the city of Zootopia was a wonder to behold. I especially adored the palm tree building made out of what looked like Tiffany crystal. All one has to do is look at how the city is split to realize the large range of species that live there. It even has weather zones! Each zone (and some areas were zones within zones) was entirely unique, with District 1, the hub of the city, looking eerily familiar.

Lots of little jokes in the details. Especially the neon signs scattered everywhere. This one will be a fun film to see with the DVD player, so you can stop and take your time catching all the cute background additions and fabulous vistas. Too fun!

3) Plot/Story – Total Thumbs Up: Though there is a lot to keep the younger kiddos entertained, this particular film’s plot was geared more for the tweens and adults. Lots of delicious layers and themes were explored. Following your dreams, being held back, dreams destroyed and dreams found. Prejudice (from both sides of the predator and non-predator sides), assumptions, the fact actions have consequences – even when you’re not aware of it, forgiveness, understanding, and the fact everyone has a part to play no matter their size or origins.

The mystery of the disappearances was fun and rather unique. Even as one facet of the mystery was solved, more answers remained to be found. There were several lovely twists. And just watching the society in general was a real treat.

4) Music – Total Thumbs Up: Not only is there a totally addicting song from Shakira, but there are several old favorites brought up for the soundtrack as well. Best of all are the BGM/OST tracks by Michael Giacchino as he gives each zone and the story itself some lovely, unique music.

Conclusion: Zootopia is visually and mentally fun! Gorgeous animation, likeable characters, and the complex story make this one a definite winner in my book!

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again!)