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In the world of big-time cinematic animation, we tend to think of Pixar as the big artistic achiever and Walt Disney Animation as the song-and-dance populist, while both are adept at the unabashed tugging of heartstrings. And then you have DreamWorks Animation, the goofball cousin with a looser, slightly weirder sensibility, but with no less attention to the pushing of emotional buttons.

“Abominable” is the latest animated offering from DreamWorks, one that fits right in with that perceived dynamic. It isn’t as ambitious as a Pixar film, nor as slick as a Disney; instead, it’s silly and sincere in equal measure, a sweet and well-made 97-minutes of quality kiddie fare.

There’s a message, of course. There always is – in this case, it’s a fairly simple moral about family and friendship and moving forward. But the film is also interested in giving us juvenile (in a good way) humor and a handful of impressive set pieces … and writer/director (and animation vet) Jill Culton is here to make sure we get plenty of that too.

It’s the right choice.

Published in Movies

It took all of one weekend for it to be clear that there would be a sequel to 2014’s “The Lego Movie.” It was embraced by audiences of all ages and made just an absolute crapload of money – almost $470 million all told – so making another was a no-brainer.

The danger, however, is that capturing that kind of lightning in a bottle twice isn’t easy. There were elements of the original that simply could not be replicated – would a sequel still be able to resonate with audiences?

Ultimately, “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” is able to answer that question with a “yes.” The sequel – directed by Mike Mitchell, although Christopher Miller and Phil Lord (who directed the first film) did the screenplay – shares a sensibility with the original; while it doesn’t quite manage the same degree of emotional resonance, the jokes come fast and furious and the cast is as top-notch as ever.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 28 November 2018 14:04

‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ really connects

In a cinematic landscape featuring more animated offerings than ever before, it’s tough to find ways to stand out. But even in a crowded field, Disney stands ears-and-shoulders above the competition.

Even leaving aside the fact that Pixar is a Disney concern, Walt Disney Animation has had a heck of a run over the past half-decade or so. Yes, things were a little underwhelming in the earlier part of the 21st century, but there’s no arguing the quality of the studio’s recent run – “Wreck-It Ralph” (2012), “Frozen” (2013), “Big Hero 6” (2014), “Zootopia” (2016) and “Moana” (2016) were all hugely successful both commercially and critically; “Frozen” and “Zootopia” even won Oscars.

The latest offering – the first sequel in this new wave – is “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” A sequel to “Wreck-It Ralph,” it melds the retro charm of the original’s characters with an updated, more modern setting. The combination of old and new is an undeniable success; not only are there some delightful jokes and clever pop culture nods, there’s a surprising depth to the emotions explored. Funny gags AND genuine connection – we’re talking top-tier animated fare.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 15 February 2017 12:45

The Dark Knight rebuilt

“The Lego Batman Movie” a fun romp

Published in Movies
Thursday, 11 July 2013 10:03

A not-so-despicable sequel

Despicable Me 2' offers plenty of fun

Movies for kids are pretty hit or miss in general. It seems like every time you buy a ticket, you've got about a 50/50 chance of getting a good one. And even if you do get a good one, that just means that there's going to be a sequel and that's when the law of diminishing returns raises its ugly, money-grubbing little head.

So it's a nice surprise when an animated follow-up manages to maintain some of the spirit of the original. 'Despicable Me 2' is definitely one such surprise.

Published in Movies

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