Tag Archives: children

Review: ‘Jurassic Kingdom – Where dinosaurs come to life’ by Eloise Stingemore

The dinosaurs have been let loose and have arrived at Cardiff’s, Bute Park.

The beautiful grounds of one of Cardiff’s most loved parks has been turned into a prehistoric world this summer, where over 30 interactive, life sized replicas rome the grounds. Brave explorers come face to face with a 26m long Diplodocus and the notorious Tyrannosaurus Rex, all of which come to life before your eyes, with their tails, eyes, heads and arms moving and making you jump with their raging roars.

In the education marque one can watch a 30-minute viewing experience produced by the BBC, which plays on a large projection screen and documents the dinosaurs time wandering the earth right up until the ice age.

One aspects of this attraction aside from the dinosaurs themselves which are fantastic, is the excavation, which will keep mini-dinosaur palaeontologists entertained for hours as they dig for bones.

There are a herd of street food and drink vendors for when the gang gets peckish or thirsty. A retail marquee sells a range of educational and entertaining branded merchandise so dinosaur-lovers can remember their experience.

This is the first outdoor dinosaur experience of its kind in the UK and a truly entertaining and educational experience for children of all ages.

The event is open daily from 10am to 6pm with last entry at 5pm. When selecting tickets you will be asked to select a time slot and entry is at hourly time slots from 10am to 5pm. Once inside the event visitors can stay as long they wish but it will close at 6pm.

Tour dates be found here: http://www.jurassickingdom.uk

Review Peter Rabbit by Jonathan Evans

 

(1 / 5)

Ow, my. What a waste of talented animators time and effort. Such a shame that pretty cinematography would be used to portray such pandering material. A cast that could lend itself to much better material yet is stuck in this feature that is trying so hard to impress yet comes off as desperate in the end.

Is this really the hardest thing to get right? A family of rabbits need to survive and there is a source of food in a nearby garden, so they go and take what they need from it, but the owner of the garden is the mean old Mr. McGregor. This is essentially a tale of Tom & Jerry but with a rabbit and a human.

We have the titled character Peter Rabbit (James Corden) getting up and getting ready for another day of stealing from old Mr. McGregor (Sam Neil). He takes his triplet sisters Cottontail (Daisey Ridley), Flopsy (Margo Robbie) and Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki) and their cousin Benjamin (Colin Moody). Instantly the problems start, Peter, is a motor-mouthed, obnoxious twit that believes themselves to be so great and even speaks right into the camera and addresses the audience telling them about how smart, fast, well dressed etc. he is.

The special effect people really have created good work in bringing the animal characters to life. They do look like the actual animals they’re based on and have found a way to have them stand on their hind legs and emote their faces without looking off or ending up in uncanny valley territory. The rendering of the fur and the denim jackets they wear are also rather convincing. It’s such a shame that all this effort was wasted on pandering, obnoxious characters.

One day, in the midst of a conflict old Mr. McGregor, dies of a heart attack and with his dead body laying there Peter repeatedly pokes him in the eye. Survearly distasteful. So with him gone his great-nephew Thomas McGregor (Donmhall Gleeson) has inherited him home. So now the rabbits have a whole new McGregor to deal with.

The dynamic between a hero and a villain is simple really. We root for the hero because they inhabit goals and morals we connect with while the villains oppose them. So through experiencing the story playout we root for our hero and hope they overcome the villain. There are variations on this but this is a basic staple. I more morally complex material we can understand the villain and why they do what they do but a sign of failure is when we agree with the villain. Thomas McGregor is uptight and quite odd but it is shown that he is indeed a hard worker and is capable of being considerate as well as having a reasonable goal. Now, these obnoxious rabbits break into his property and give him such a hard time. Sure the argument is made by Bea (Rose Byrne), the neighbor, that they’re animals following they’re basic instincts, but they’re not, we see that they talk and discuss and wear clothes, they are aware of their actions. So I’m rooting for the “mean” human that has a dream and is willing to put in the work while the hero is selfish and would support cooking him into that pie.

How is it that the moments with the human characters are so much more concise than the moments with the animated animals? It costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time to render these talking animals on-screen and yet the filmmakers seem to fall in love with the material the actors were either improvising behind the microphone or reading from the script and decided none of it need editing down or being cut out. It does, so much of this, a waste of time or isn’t funny and sometimes both.

When I was sitting in the theatre one child was laughing and the adult next to them was on their phone, I can’t say I blame them. This will probably make the children laugh but it won’t make them any smarter by the end of it and when they’re older they’ll probably realise it’s tripe.

If we took out all the animated rabbits and had an off-beat story about a city slicker coming to the country and being charmed by someone then we might have had something here. Yes, I know that that formula has been done to death but at least it would have been something stomachable. I have no patience for these rabbits.

For a well made, charming, intelligent children’s movie based on a British series of books, I point you towards Paddington.

 

Review Early Man by Jonathan Evans

 

(3 / 5)

 

Aardman don’t make animated movies like others. They are not Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks or Laika. They specialise in stop-motion and are known for their simple characters and plots but packing them with charm and creativity.

They take the familiar and layer it with the fantastical that animation can bring to things. In Early Man it is essentially a turf war story over a game of football, but told in the age of cavemen. Our story opens in Manchester when dinosaurs were still walking around and cavemen were also present. A meteor hits the earth and wipes out the dinosaurs and the cavemen merely get pushed back by the blast (I feel there are some scientific inaccuracies here!). The meteor is rather perfectly round shaped and the cavemen develop the game of football and make their home in the crater it causes. All this information is achieved without dialogue.

A few years later and the descendants of the original tribe that lived there are happily living their lives by hunting rabbits. The young Dug however believes that they are capable of more, like hunting mammoths. But one day big mammoths come marching in with plating on them, people get out and one of them is Lord Nooth that proclaims “The age of stone is over. So begins the age of bronze.” Dug’s tribe is powerless to fight them off but through story conveniences he learns about football and challenges the bronze people to a game.

Aardman have always been able to come up with creative visuals within their story. For example how does Cavemen alarm system work without electricity? Or where do sneakers come from? What exercise equipment can you get from this early age? There are answers to these and more and they’re all funny.

Behind the puppets are some stars but they way they are cast and perform you would never guess. The performances themselves area good no matter who’s behind them. Some characters are able to have a mix a sharp wit and being a dullard the next moment. Other characters are more basic and have a few lines to read and they don’t really go through an arc, but they read their lines well. But back to the matter at hand, I would have never guessed that Eddie Redmayne played Dug or Tom Hiddleston Nooth or it was Maisie Williams playing Goona. I guess it’s a testament to their talent and versatility.

The story is simple to grasp, the characters are not complex and everything has a lot of effort put into it but refined craftsmen. Young children will almost definitely be entertained by the falling down, expressive faces and easy narrative. Adults will find enough wit and winks to keep them happy in their seats during the run time.

Jonathan Evans

Review My Little Pony The Movie by Jonathan Evans

 

(3 / 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 / 5)