Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

They already made four of these movies… But 2004 Incredibles will have its first sequel next year!

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Directed by Pierre Coffin (the Despicable Me franchise) and Kyle Balda (Lorax), Despicable Me 3 is the third feature-length movie about former villain Gru (Steve Carell) and the fourth feature-length movie of the franchise (Minions is the third).

After a failed mission, Felonious Gru has been removed from the Anti-Villain League Agency. Despite the attempts of comforting him by his wife Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), he still feels purposeless… Then, an invitation from his long-lost brother Dru Gru (also Carell) changes his perspective on things. Now, he knows he is from a long line of supervillains. Out of this new knowledge, he faces the choice to go back to being evil or remain a good guy.

I remember when the first movie took the world by storm with its quirky slapstick humor and its adorable characters. I am happy to say that the humor is still present. Especially with animation, there is a tendency for the humor to decrease…sometimes exponentially (eg. Shrek Forever After). The slapstick is still funny, and the kids will love it.

I also appreciate how the filmmakers learned from their mistake regarding the Minions. You see, certain minor characters may shine even more than the stars themselves, but it only worked because they were presented in short bursts. Giving them a spin-off with the same shtick often results to a very boring product. Such was the case with Minions (2015). I’m happy to see that the Minions were not trying to hog the spotlight.

And that is where it ends, folks…

SPOILER ALERT

The positive I gave for the Minions was quickly removed because the Minions serve no purpose at all in the story. Remove all of the Minions scenes, and the story will still be exactly the same. Some might argue that the moment the Minions left their leader was one of the turning points in Gru’s “slump plot”. That is not the case. After having his hundreds of Minions leaving him, Gru never truly grieved about it…which was actually a bummer because we have seen the relationship between them (Gru knows them all by name, for example). But the movie never gave Gru a chance to digest what happened.

Also, the characters of Gru’s adoptive daughters were downplayed at an exponential rate! They did not really deliver something substantial to the plot.

Also, the basic conflict that could have been (Should I be good or bad?) was not addressed at all because it was not challenged or presented at all! When Dru asked his brother to be evil again, Gru accepted…not because he wants to be bad…but because he wants to prove to The Agency that he is still capable of doing something right. There was not a moment for him to ponder the situation he is in…which for me is such a wasted potential.

Despicable Me 3 has a poster that is very truthful…because it sums up what I felt after seeing this movie (look at the featured image again)… Though entertaining (especially to kids), it will not grow old well because of its unnecessary characters and a wasted huge potential for conflict. Once the kids who enjoyably watched this grows up, they will soon realize this is not as good as they remember it to be. This movie is…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY

The Lego Batman Movie Film Review

yet another Lego film filled with fantastic humor and incredible fun

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A spin-off of The Lego MovieThe Lego Batman Movie is directed by Chris McKay, whose directorial works has been mostly Robot Chicken episodes. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the writers and directors of the 2014 The Lego Movie, only served as producers.

The film follows the adventures of an egocentric Batman (Will Arnett) who attempts to stop the evil plans of The Joker. Along the way, he accidentally adopts the orphan Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) and reluctantly works (at first) with the new GCPD commissioner, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson).

This film absolutely bursts with fun, humor, entertainment, and a rare heartfelt moment about family and friendship.

The film had amazing special effects. Each individual piece looks like real Lego toys (except of course for the eyes and mouth). And though each character moves in spectacular ways, they are still limited by the physical capabilities of their Lego form. I can only imagine the immense planning the animators went through.

Besides Batman, the biggest selling point of the film is its humor. From the very start…and I do mean the very start of the film, it presents to you the level of humor the film has. Like last year’s hit Deadpool, this film is very meta in its humor. Good comedic timing from each character and very colorful visuals make this film such a sight to behold.

Also, the soundtrack of the film just screams of Batman, action, and humor. You know it’s an animated film, but you have this feeling that you’re listening to a Hans Zimmer-esque soundtrack.

However, my only gripe with it is it has moments of slow pacing, especially the scenes where it addresses Batman’s fear. It only builds up when the same moments ended with a sudden joke. There was not much moment to address or digest it. Only in its final reveal or epiphany did we get a clear answer, but because of the way it was handled it did not mean that much as it should be. It was just fortunate that I know a lot of the Batman mythos and have invested a lot in the character.

The Lego Batman Movie is a film for all ages, especially for Batman fans. A lot of Batman reference and pop culture Easter eggs are scattered in the film. Tons of action and humor make this film…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY

Sing Film Review

The director of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the production company that gave us The Secret Life of Pets combine forces for an animated musical. This is a “hit or miss” situation.

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Let’s face it. The Secret Life of Pets, another 2016 animated animal-based movie from Illumination Entertainment, was ultimately disappointing. So when Sing premiered, one might have the notion that it would be just another kids movie. Fortunately, that is not the case.

Realizing his theater is on the verge of foreclosure, optimistic  Buster Moon the Koala (Matthew McConaughey) starts a singing competition and promises $100 000 to the winner. Dozens of animals auditioned, including pigs Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) and Gunter (Nick Kroll), self-centered Mike the Rat (Seth MacFarlene), rocker Ash the Porcupine (Scarlett Johansson), shy Meena the Elephant (Tori Kelly), and reluctant criminal Johnny the Gorilla (Taron Egerton). There is only one problem with the competition… there is no $100 000!

It is just so nice to hear these actors… well … sing! MacFarlene has regularly shown us his singing chops in Family Guy; Johansson, Egerton, and Witherspoon teased us in 2016’s Jungle Book, Eddie the Eagle, and 2005’s Walk the Line, respectively; and Kelly is an American Idol alumnus. Because of the expected (and surprising) singing talent, the climax of the film delivered in all levels.

Also, each character’s personal narrative was given enough screen time to let us know them. These are not just a bunch of individuals grouped together just to sing. They have separate lives, and the singing competition added (or removed) something to it.

The visuals and character designs were stunning. The squid scenes, for example, burst with colors!

The only negative thing I can think about this film is that it is a story we have seen countless times, conflicts we have seen over and over again, and resolutions that have become a cliche. But the film managed to be a feel-good one, and everything enters the Entertaining Zone once the music starts hitting.

Sing delivered what is expected from a musical. Despite having an overdone story, it has such a superb voice-acting and singing from its cast, colorful visuals, and laughs the entire family will enjoy. Because of this, this is definitely a…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY

Saving Sally Film Review

A breath of fresh air…

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Director Avid Liongoren offers a love story featuring penis shaped monsters, crazy inventions, amazing visuals, and the ever beautiful ray of sunshine that is Rhian Ramos (Sally).

Saving Sally stars Marty (Enzo Marcos) as a nerdy graphic artist who’s in love with his bestfriend, Sally (Ramos), an eccentric inventor. Daily routines with Sally became part of Marty’s life … until Nick the Dick (TJ Trinidad) becomes her boyfriend.

The moment the opening scene starts, it is quite clear that this film is not the usual films that you see in the cinema. These days, it’s either a horrible comedy or a third party movie. With its artsy and humorous animated backgrounds, Saving Sally is extremely pleasing to the eyes. Looking for some visual jokes and pop culture reference is surely a treat.

Most of the actors in the film delivered well. Rhian Ramos simply glowed such radiant beauty in each shot it is hard not to like the character of Sally (She was 19 when this was made). The parents of Marty gave funny portrayals of the overloving mother and the clueless father. Marty’s employer from Renegade Publishing stole every scene he was in.

The story about Marty’s love for Sally was seen a lot of times. An underdog falling in love, a douche of a boyfriend, and falling in love with a friend are some of the usual tropes we have seen time and time again. But what separates Saving Sally apart is its execution. Humor, animation, and cute chemistry between the characters make this film so unique.

SPOILER ALERT

However, after the enjoyable ride this film takes you…it just ends. Yes, it ends in a good way, but a few scenes or dialogues could have ended the film with a much more lasting impact to the audience.

Saving Sally is a film that is a rare gem in a sea of repetitive mediocre comedy and kabit* movies. With its mix of humor, cute visuals, Rhian Ramos, and unique (and wonderful) execution of a story told a million times over, this film is surely…

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*third party/infidelity

Moana Film Review

There are two things I learned from the stars of the latest Disney film: Dwayne Johnson can do anything and Auli’i Cravalho is a star everyone should watch out.

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Directed by  Ron Clements and John Musker (the guys who gave us Aladdin and Hercules), Moana stars Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson as the titular Moana and the demi-god Maui, respectively.

The film stars Moana (Cravalho), a daughter of a chief on a small Polynesian island. When crops started to rot and fishes left the area, Moana learned that a 1 000 year old robbery done by the demi-god Maui (Johnson) causes the said disaster. With the encouragement of her grandma Tala (Rachel House), she sails away from her island to look for Maui and return the stolen gem/heart to its rightful location.

Right off the bat, it has to be officially said that Dwayne Johnson can absolutely do anything*! He has done action, comedy, music, and wrestling. We can now add voice acting to the list. WWE has branded him “the most electrifying man in sports entertainment”. Well, Johnson has truly brought energy in the film. His song You’re Welcome was just perfect for his voice. The character of Maui is such a well-rounded character, but it was such a waste not to explore on his past or his motives that much.

Auli’i Cravalho is a promising talent. Her song How Far I’ll Go proves that Disney hasn’t lost its touch with musicals. The future is bright for this lady.

The film’s soundtrack is another marvel. All of the songs were magnificent. Jemaine Clement’s Shiny is a gem on its own.

Round of applause also for Alan Tudyk’s take as Hei Hei the Chicken.

Moana is a feel good film that the entire family can enjoy. The actors’ voice acting, the soundtrack, and the incorporated Polynesian mythology make this film…

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* Figuratively, of course…

Storks Film Review

We have seen our fair share of animated bird movies. Some were good; some were bad. Storks attempts to fly high.

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From the director of the Neighbors franchise (Nicholas Stoller) and one of the animators of Pixar films (Doug Sweetland), Storks stars Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, and Kelsey Grammer in a film that is centered in the old answer to the old question “Where do babies come from?”

18 years since the Stork company shut down its baby making factory, CEO Hunter (Grammer) asks the assistance of Junior (Samberg), the top delivery clerk, to fire the company’s only human employee, Tulip (Crown). Taking pity on Tulip, Junior reassigned her in the mail department. Meanwhile, Nate Gardner (Anton Starkman), who does not know that the Storks only deliver packages now, writes a letter to the Storks to request a baby brother. Receiving the mail, Tulip placed the letter in a slot in a room outside the mail department. The slot turns out to be the baby making machine. To hide the big mistake he made, Junior reluctantly helps Tulip deliver the baby to the Gardners.

The best thing about Storks is the sub-plot of the Gardners. The story was more engaging and more relatable to the audience. Nate’s need for a younger brother was the catalyst of both the build the house and deliver the baby narratives.

It was honestly a wasted potential not to focus more on the Gardners. The baby delivery of Tulip and Junior seems to be the prolonged sub-plot of the film. It was not engaging enough for someone to invest much his time.

The film’s humor was definitely for kids. Much of the humor comes from scenes similar to those random scenes in Family Guy. Some fall flat; some were laugh out loud funny. Alpha and Beta (Keegan-Michael Key & Jordan Peele) stole the show with their pack’s insane physics defying maneuvers.

Hunter (Grammer) was an antagonist for the sake of the film to have one. His motivations for his actions were not explored enough (though he is right in a business standpoint).

The last scene, however, was a bit of a mystery. Are those same-sex couples featured in the storks deliver the babies montage? If yes, props to the animation studio.

Storks has its hits and a lot of misses. Due to inconsistent humor and a wrongly prioritized narrative, this film is only…

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