Tag Archives: animation

Review My Little Pony The Movie by Jonathan Evans

 

3 Stars3 / 5

 

Probably to the shock and awe of everyone when we got another iteration of the My Little Pony franchise it’s standard of quality was higher than we expected but it also gathered a large audience from not just little girls but boys and not little boys elderly men. They are known as Bronies, so the show had an extra audience that they probably didn’t count on. I know about this because I am one.

Our main group of characters are (bare with me, these names are real I swear) Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) the book smart but also neurotic and worrisome, Applejack (Ashleigh Ball) the hardworking, salt of the earth type, Rainbow Dash (Also voiced by Ball) the hot-headed enthusiastic one, Pinkie-Pie (Andrea Libman) the colorful, bouncing, party obsessed funny one, Fluttershy (Also voiced by Libman) the shy, delicate one who will be the last one to start or join a fight, Rarity (Tabitha St. Garmain) the fashion obsessed fussy one and finally is Spike (Cathy Weseluck) the little dragon who is always there for support. These are the typical archetypes that we’ve come to know for a group dynamic but they work here because they’re still distinctive from the other archetypes, few are as mad and fast talking as Pinkie Pie, or quite as intricately paranoid as Twilight. Reusing a formula is OK as long as you make it distinctive, which they do here, so there’s still something to connect and remember.

For the plot our group is gathered together for a special celebration, all is happy and going fine but a dark cloud approaches and from it emerge invaders that take the castle. Our heroes escape and now need to travel the lands and find allies.

The animation is an upgrade from the show, having much wider and detailed range of expressions from the characters as well as wider shots along with more sweeping movements from the camera. None of this is able to compete with Disney, Dreamworks or Ghibli but who says it has to? The show has its own style and it gets more effort put into it here.

This is is up there with one of the most vividly colourful movies I’ve ever seen (equal with Trolls). There is every single bright colour used here, from primary’s to others like turquoises, fuchsia and creams. But it never becomes saturated because each character has their main colour and the backgrounds are distinct so even if you squint you will know who is who. This is a good use of the tool.

This is a musical adventure. Though I must say that the songs are the weakest part of the movie. I can’t recall one of them from memory. They play at moments of plot-points or to expediently have a character tell you a lot about them. They may have other young fans singing them and buying the soundtrack but these aren’t the high-points of the movie.

For the big screen they gathered celebrity casting as you’d expect. The names are impressive with names like Zoe Saldana, Liev Shreiber and Michael Pena as-well as others. But they all fill their roles very well and are not distracting. These are actors that know how to be behind the microphone and create a character using only their vocals. Probably the biggest is super star Sia, essentially playing herself as a big musical star.

The main antagonist Tempest is easily the best part of the movie. Her darker colours contrast the others as-well as the world. The animators clearly put in effort with her facial expressions, most prominently her eyebrows. Emily Blunt puts on an American accent flawlessly and enjoys sinking her teeth into this no-nonsense, very fearsome threat.

For young children this movie will definitely entertain as well as comes with basic but fundamental lessons. For the older fans (which do exist) they will be glad to see their characters on the big screen in a bigger scenario. But the true appeal of the movie is probably what got young girls and older males to become fans, it has a distinct and undeniable charm.

Hanazuki Review

The opening short for this movie is a journey of colour, imagination and friendship. it is actually doing all the movie seeks to do and does it better.

It is instantly accessible, charming beyond belief and tells a full story. I would be glad to see this again as well as have it shown to children.

5 Stars5 / 5

Review The LEGO Ninjago Movie by Jonathan Evans

 

3 Stars3 / 5

I am shocked that an obvious big budget toy commercial are able to create such fun and well made (pun intended) movies. The LEGO Movie was number one on the year it was released and earlier this year I had a blast watching The LEGO Batman Movie. Now we have another and surprise I’m excited for it.

After an introductory opening sequence in live action we are transported to a LEGO constructed world and the city of Ninjago, where on a regular basis (daily) evil forces merge from a nearby volcano and attempt to conquer it, lead by the all black, four armed Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux). Luckily for the cities inhabitants there is a group of ninjas with giant mech’s to fight and win against them.

In the forefront is the Green Ninja, Lloyd (Dave Franco), Red Ninja (Michael Pena), Blue Ninja (Kumail Nanjiani), Silver Ninja (Abbi Jackson), Black Ninja (Fred Armisen) and the White Ninja (Zack Woods) who’s probably a robot for some reason. They all have their special power and design of giant robot as well as distinguishing personality but as the movie goes on they get lost amongst other things. The ninjas are revered by the towns people but it turns out that in his civilian life Llyod is Garmadon’s son (da-da-dah!). This leads to regular hate, blame and judgement from nearly all the other civilians.

Another character is Master Wu played by legendary martial arts star Jackie Chan. This is doubtless the role where Chan is having the most fun, how can he not when he is given a script with so many funny lines. He is the martial arts master that teaches the ninjas how to better themselves. But he comes out with either too blunt or too cryptic ways of going bout it. He is also amazing at laying the flute.

All the other movies have had the initial presentation of a crazy colourful world with comedy at a fast passe. However through the watching it is revealed that there is an emotional center to it that ties the movie together. Here it is the father son relationship between Lloyd and Garmadon. About how a father and son can become astray and the outward devastation that can cause. It’s just presented with larger than life scenarios and jokes tying it together and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The comedy is very tongue-in-cheek and that is the overall style that these movies have adopted. Having their source material and playing within it but never be beyond poking fun of the world or archetypes they have.

The animation still embraces the limitations of the real plastic of the LEGO pieces however they allow themselves some more lapses than the other movies animation. They unhinge the arms from their sockets, squash some other pieces and have water instead of a vast amount of moving blue pieces. It’s a valid artistic choice to make but the previous movies commitment to the real limitations was so impressive that this somehow feel like a letdown.

Something I feel is a drawback for the movie is that it doesn’t have much access to as many resources as the previous LEGO movies did. The first had the entirety of the franchises that LEGO has worked with and Batman had not just the Dark Knight but a a bunch of other DC lore to bring in.

Even if this isn’t as good as the other two movies to come out this ones still fun with a lot of talent and enthusiasm put into it. There is so much creativity put into the setting it up  and has an emotional core that ties it all together.

Jonathan Evans