Friday, August 19, 2016

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)
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) 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Picture Kaleidoscope 8/10/16

Have not done one of these in quite a while. Apologies!
Life has been way too "interesting". Eek!
Skies around here have been fabulous the last couple of months. See for yourselves! :)

Great contrast between the clouds, no? :)
Full of hash marks - Heavenly tick tack toe? :P
Like the heavens were splitting in half - or a dimensional rift? :P
And what about these pastels? Also love how it splits the sky.
Some neat striation. :)
The sun is melting! Melting!
Can you see the cloud UFO? :P
Loved the cool colors and how the clouds are spread out. Looks almost like a painting. :)
Have a fab Wednesday!

Monday, August 08, 2016

Mind Sieve 8/8/16

Trying to at least get a pseudo post out this week. Not dead yet! :)

Storks Trailer #4 - so darn cute!!!!!  "Wolves, form a submarine" - SNORT!

Last time this song came on on the iphone I hit repeat 6 times. Love this bugger. So figured I should share. Love the way they have all the lyrics in the video. "A Millions Ways to Die" by Alan Jackson. Totally fab! lol.

Legion Official Trailer #1 - Oh! Xavier's son! Oh!

Wonder Woman CominCon Trailer - oh this looks awesome! Sweet!

Okay, I will let you escape now. Heh heh. Have a great week!

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Virtual Tourist - Grim Fandango 8/7/16

Morning everyone!
2016 continues its crazy ride. I'm surviving, but man it's getting old. :P
Grim Fandango
Year 1
Now that I have my buddy back we can finally leave this place and go after Meche.
One last look at Rubacava as I leave everything behind. Back to mopping once again.
Isn't that a gorgeous morning?
Year 2
And once more, Manny takes his new workplace and makes it his own. He's got skillz!
Meet Captain Manny Calavera. Heh heh. (Love the Aztec look an all the awesome chrome. Heh heh)
Oh yeah!
Still in touch with the revolutionaries.
The pigeons are still freaky. Love his helmet though. :P
Full view of Manny's awesome ride. :)
Then things go bad. They want Manny out of the way.
Such a clean and awesome engine control room. His boddu really does good work.
Have a great Sunday. Next weekend is Animefest. Will have to see if I get a chance to pre-prep some posts or not. Whee!

Friday, August 05, 2016

Movie Review - Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad

Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Joel Kinnaman, Jared Leto, Karen Fukuhara, Ben Affleck, and many more.
Directed by: David Ayer Written by: David Ayer Based on the comics by: John Ostrander Cinematography by: Roman Vasyanov Music by: Steven Price
Premise: After Superman's disappearance, there's been a growing concern. What if someone like him reappears. A super human who didn't care to play by the rules and decides to become a terrorist. Amanda Waller has a solution. Use a handful of dangerous, imprisoned felons to run covert operations. Expendable people who could be used to take out metahuman threats. And she's found a way to make them cooperate, whether they like it or not. (Rated PG-13)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Viola Davis proves once again why she is such a consummate actress. Her portrayal of Amanda Wallen is chilling. Will Smith showed multiple facets for the talented Deadshot. But it is Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn who steals the show. Her scenes with Jared Leto, who plays the Joker, have all manner of lovely subtext. :) Theirs is a complicated relationship to the extreme. :) 
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: The special effects were outstanding. And it was the little things that really ramped them up. The smoke and burning embers around the Enchantress. The beautiful dancing fire figures created by El Diablo. The gooey remains left during the brother's attacks. The one scene where the changed man's head undulates. Lots of wonderful little details.
And Deadshot's assassination and later his gun play show - awesome!
On a larger scale: we get lots of explosions, crashing helicopters, and a super cool looking magical death machine. The obligatory column of light and ring of matter looked fabulous! And wait till you see what El Diablo can truly do when he lets loose. :)
3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: Many of the characters who belong to the Suicide Squad I was already familiar with and others not so much. While the film does try to get the audience acquainted with most of the members; they do so in a briefing type style. Yet because of the number of members, it slowed the pace of the film quite a bit.
The "object lesson" character didn't get introduced much at all. Might have had more impact if they had - but they did already have their hands full. This is one of the biggest problem with films where you have a lot of headliners. Someone will lose out - be it the characters or the plot. And sometimes it's both.
Several themes and objects of "food for thought" are brought to the table. Mankind's duality, family, how adversity brings all sorts of people together. The different facets of love, and how it can free you or enslave you. Even how evil can come from all sorts of sources and in all sorts of ways.
And sadly, the previews give away almost all of Harley Quinn's lines. :(  (Though they got her so right! Mr. J, Pudding, even the hammer. Lol.) 
I do have to say that since June Moone is now an archeologist - she sure didn't act like one. She would have been kicked out of academia for willfully destroying the priceless artifact that got her into so much other trouble. *sigh*
No real surprises in the plot. Once it gets going it speeds along pretty well. And make sure to stay through the first part of the credits for a couple of more important minutes!
4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: There are a ton of stunts pretty much throughout the entire film. From fighting the inmates to fighting the bad things. Lots of close combat with guns, bats, fists, katana, and boomerangs. Almost too much stuff to follow all at once. :)
5) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: Some great makeup work in the film. El Diablo's tattoos were everywhere and looked fab. Harley's white skin and her funky eye and hair makeup were great. The Joker was also a fun bit of work. The tattoo on his hand of the laughing mouth was too fun! And let's not forget Killer Croc! The face getup and teeth were amazing. The Enchantress (despite her being a different take than in the comics) looked awesome as well. Super creepy. :)
Conclusion: "Suicide Squad" is a bit top heavy at the start, but still quite fun. No real surprises. Most of the snappy one liners have already been revealed. Yet it was still entertaining overall. Stay through the first half of the credits! 
Rating: 3.25 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again!)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Virtual Tourist - The Vanishing of Ethan Carter 7/24/16

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
Crossing the bridge into town. Is that not an awesome sky?
 Cascading waters
About to hit town
Looking back the way I came
Entering the first home and about to enter a weird puzzle. Loved the little sailboat plaque.
The doorway on the right has become a portal. Truly a creative puzzle.
Balcony on the same house. Another cool plaque. (The plaques are just cool and are not part of the room puzzle. :P)
There is a large building a ways down by the cascading river. But the way there will remain a mystery for a while.
Plants, dirt, and more can be found in the attic. :P
Figuring out the rooms puzzle will reveal a secret room! This is where everything started to go wrong for Ethan.
Is that not the most quaint and cutest thing? (Yes, I'm weird. But details so matter!)
Have a fabulous Sunday!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Movie Review - Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoë Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Joe Taslim, Lydia Wilson, and more.
Directed by: Justin Lin Written by: Simon Pegg and Doug Jung Based on the series by: Gene Roddenberry Cinematography by: Stephen F. Windon Music by: Michael Giacchino
Premise: Three years into their five year mission, Kirk is wondering if he doesn't need a change. While visiting the new Yorktown space station, the Enterprise gets an unexpected mission. They are tasked to go rescue a stranded crew in an uncharted nebula. But the mission turns out to be something else entirely. (Rated PG-13)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: The gang is back! And Karl Urban is too awesome. lol. I do love me some Dr. McCoy and he is so good at it! lol. Chris Pine does a nice job showing Kirk's drifting as he internally loses his way. Zachary Quinto continues to deliver those great flat line punche. And also we get some surprises from him as well. Anton Yelchin truly puts his stamp as Chekov this time around, which will make us miss him all the more. Sofia Boutella adds a nice extra layer as Jaylah. 
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: Some amazing stuff this time around with the special effects. Yorktown is super cool. Though I wish they'd slowed down the fast panning when we get our first look - it went way too fast. Which is a pity since it was so awesome! Let us enjoy your work! 
Kudos on making the bad guys' blasters/energy discharges look different. The energy had a funky shape, which was neat. The buildings and machinery of the ancient dwellings were rather neat. They definitely spoke of it being a different culture.
Though they were all still humanoid, we did get to see a whole range of new species in the film, which was awesome. I could not take my eyes off of Tyvanna and her cauliflower like layered head.
The swarm ships were rather nifty and looked cool. They way they were employed was rather brilliant. The Federation needs to get ahold of this metal!
If you see the film in 3D, the credits are a super treat as they show different planets, nebulas, and other gas fields. (Keep your eyes peeled for the giant green hand! I kid you not! lol) Lots of lovely work throughout the film.
3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: I've pretty much given up on the science making sense in this franchise anymore, so I don't even try. So if you can turn that part of your brain off, the film can be quite enjoyable. 
This is the film that bridges the old with the new. It's like we are at the cusp of them being at the point where we first meet them in the original series. They merge the new theme music with the old theme music even more than in the past. Snippets and lines get thrown in that are well known and even in-jokes allude to the old series. And at the end they wrap it up with those words we all know so well.
Kirk and Spock finds themselves at a cross-roads. It is for different reasons, yet the decisions they are poised to make can change everything. Kirk's ends up resonating as a recurring theme for several characters and even the main plot. There are some unexpected layers to why things are happening. So some things will seem odd until the explanations finally reveal what is not yet known. 
4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Lots of phaser combat on the ship and on the planet. Explosions, gravity shifts, and more get people thrown all over the place. Nice job!
5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: As I mentioned earlier, they took the pan views of Yorktown way too fast. For the rest of the shots, however, you get some great views of the areas. The shots in space of the hive, the station, and the general mayhem in the first attack were fabulous.
Conclusion: Star Trek Beyond ties the old and new together. They still have issues with bad science. But if you can ignoring those, the film moves well and has plenty for audiences to enjoy. Some lovely in-jokes too!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again)
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