Abominable – Review

What’s with all these animated yeti movies? In the last two years we’ve have Smallfoot, Missing Link and now Abominable. Sure three isn’t exactly a lot but three different animation studios making them in such a short space of time is at least a pattern.

It’s a fun movie but nowhere near DreamWorks’ best. It’s actually harmed by the release of those other two yeti movies as storywise this was probably the weakest out of the three. It’s still a charming movie though but outside of the visuals it’s not that memorable.

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The main appeal of this movie is the animation itself. I think CellSpex described it pretty well when she said it had an “idealistic tourism of China vibe” but even though this is the case beautiful animation is still beautiful animation and it’s the main thing that pushes this above Smallfoot. Though I did find the song choice in one of the “look how pretty our animation is” scenes odd (it was Coldplay’s Fix You, but with violin music in the background).

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If you don’t have a cinema membership I wouldn’t say there’s much point in seeing this in the cinema unless you’re just going for the animation or you’re taking a child to see it. I am curious in seeing what Pearl Studios’ movies will be like now that they’re no longer part of DreamWorks, looks like they’ve got a Netflix movie coming out next year and a decent list of other projects planned.

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Batman: Hush – Review

Joker wasn’t the only Batman movie to come out this year. I’d been meaning to get around to watching this one for a while. I haven’t read the original comic arc but I am aware it’s one that is both praised and criticised by various DC fans and looking at the reactions the same seems to be the case with the movie.

It’s decent. Most of its weaknesses are common problems with the DC Animated Movie Universe and the unfortunate budget limits of WB’s direct to DVD animated movies in general. Accepting these details the movie itself is enjoyable and surprisingly doesn’t feel rushed considering how much happens in it. For the most part it can work as a stand alone movie but there is a scene that nods to the events of the recent Death of Superman movies (which I haven’t seen).

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The main strength of the film is the Batman and Catwoman storyline. It does a very good job depicting their complicated relationship with a lot more focus on Catwoman’s perspective that I’ve seen before. Other characters are of varying qualities, Joker for example has a terrible voice in this but its not as big a deal since he has a very minor role in the film.

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As for Hush himself he’s alright. The most interesting thing about him is the fact they changed his identity, something that is made obvious even without reading the comic just because of who he ends up being. But unlike Gotham by Gaslight this change of identity at least fits the character enough that I won’t say who it is. Overall this film is enjoyable but not a stand out. Looking at the various Batman films there’s about 14 that I haven’t seen yet, I’m not going to watch all of them this month but I will try and watch a few of the more notable ones.

Joker – Review

I’m going to say this right away, I was never sucked into the hype surrounding this film. There were a lot of people who were really impressed by the trailers while I was never that fussed about them. The way the people who made the movie would talk about it really didn’t help either, especially when the director would use the phrase “real movie” to describe it.

It’s fine. There’s a decent amount of things to like about it such as the cinematography and Joaquin Phoenix’s performance but it’s nowhere near the masterpiece I’ve seen people make it out to be. It varies in quality, especially when it comes to being subtle where in one scene they leave a detail vague enough for the audience to think about it themselves while in another they’re practically sat next to you saying “do you get it?” (one of the worst examples being near the end where they could have cut at the setup of a scene instead of showing the whole thing).

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One thing I really didn’t like going into the movie was the design for the Joker. I really hate fake smiles on the Joker and much like The Dark Knight they feel the need to highlight the face he’s wearing makeup by having his skin still visible on his face. Fortunately being an origin story he doesn’t have that look for most of the movie and proceeds to highlight all the reasons why the design is terrible by having scenes where his real smile is sinister. So you have most of this movie where they rely on Phoenix’s performance and the film making to make the Joker look creepy and then ruin it at the end by slapping a big red blob on his mouth instead of just giving him lipstick.

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Despite its flaws there’s still plenty of things to like about this film, I just don’t think it’s as good as other people are saying. You might disagree with me though, I have friends who think this was the best movie of the year so far so if this movie appeals to you there’s a good chance you’ll agree more with them than me. I’ve still got at least three more Odeon films to see this month but this movie has reminded me that I still need to get around to watching a bunch of Batman movies so you’ll probably see a few reviews for them mixed in with the new films, not a full marathon but I will focus on some of the more notable films I’ve missed.

The Farewell – Review

While I was writing my previous review I saw a tweet from a friend about this film and how good he thought it was. After taking a look at the short trailer in his tweet I was interested and as luck would have it there were a few screenings at the Picturehouse so I saw it the following day.

It’s really good and deserves to be showing in more cinemas, especially considering the fact I only ended up seeing two films in the cinema last month when it came out. I really like the way the film handles the characters who speak multiple languages and the different levels of understanding they have. It’s a small detail but one that ties very well with the main themes of the film.

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This is only the fourth film I’ve seen Awkwafina in and so far she’s been really good in all of them with this being her best performance so far. It’s also a very different role for her that really helps show her range as an actress. And this isn’t just because it’s a more serious role either.

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I’m glad I got to see this. If you have a cinema that is still showing it and you’re looking for something to watch I highly recommend this. Part of the reason this review is so late is that I was struggling to find a good way of talking about the film because many of the best details are things I would consider spoilers or are just tricky for me to describe.

Hustlers – Review

Here’s a movie I probably wouldn’t have watched if it wasn’t for the fact barely anything came out in September and several critics and content creators I follow were giving this movie positive reviews and recommending it. So I figured I might as well see it because otherwise the other film I’d have seen in the cinema this month would have been Downton Abbey.

It’s an interesting story with a talented cast that deserves a lot of the praise it’s getting, especially the praise for the cast. Also considering this is a movie about strippers the fact they’re depicted in a completely different light to pretty much any other movie I can think of that includes strippers is a good change of pace, especially for a crime movie where they’re usually just props for the celebration scenes.

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The main strength of the movie is the performances from the two leads. Jennifer Lopez in particular has gotten a lot of media attention for her performance here but just as much praise should also go to Constance Wu as both of them are at their best when playing off each other. If you like either of these two in other movies you will like them in this.

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Being unfamiliar with the true story this was based on I can’t really speak for how accurate it was but considering the phrasing used to call attention to it’s true story roots is “inspired by the true story” I can understand any differences being for narrative purposes. With this I’ve seen only two films in the cinema during September but looking forward at this month I shouldn’t have trouble making up for it.

Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans – Review

Last year’s Teen Titans Go! To the Movies was pretty decent and featured a mid-credits teaser featuring the Teen Titans from the 2003 series saying they’d found a way back. This scene excited fans of that series who have been hoping for the original show to make a comeback. Personally I felt the show already had a satisfying final season and epilogue movie so while I’d be happy to have more I’m also happy with what we got. Anyway that teaser was actually for this movie.

This movie is fun, but is more for fans of Go! than the 2003 series. That’s not to say there aren’t details that fans of the original won’t appreciate but that was always the case for Go! to begin with. I think the biggest problem going against this movie is that the two shows each have a much better movie of their own, when you know both shows can do better it’s a shame they couldn’t be their best when brought together.

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The strength of the movie has to be the voice cast. The voice actors for both shows are the same so this movie really does highlight the differences in their performances for the different versions of the characters. Some are drastic differences while others are more subtle. As well as all the main cast there’s also some fun voice cameos including Weird Al as Gentleman Ghost (along with another character at the end) and when they visit other universes Sean Maher plays Nightwing from the universe with Phil Bourassa’s art style (for those unaware he played Nightwing in multiple DC Animated Movie Universe movies which use said art style).

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Overall I’d say this makes a pretty decent episode of Teen Titans Go! but an ok movie. Also since it’s a common discussion yes the 2003 Titans don’t quite look right but it is clear this is because it’s animated in the Teen Titans Go! style with similar appearances from characters with Phil Bourassa’s art style also being animated differently from the DC animated movies and Young Justice. I point this out because while budget certainly plays a part in a lot of the weaknesses of WB’s direct to DVD animated movies in this particular case it’s because these are characters designed to be animated in a different way. Now, time for the ranking image;

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Without intending to I just watched three WB animated movies in a row. While I do plan on watching a few more this year I really should see something else in the cinema before September ends, even if I can’t meet my three Odeon film goal this month I should at least see two.

Scooby-Doo! Return to Zombie Island – Review

Earlier this year we got a sequel movie to The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo that was underwhelming and at times insulting to the original that had some charming elements to it. At the time I wasn’t expecting to watch another Scooby-Doo movie this year unless I did a marathon but then I found out they were doing a similar sequel to Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island and from the way it was being advertised it felt like it was going to have many of the same problems.

This was worse, much worse. Curse of the 13th Ghost at least had things like Daphne’s character arc and Maurice LaMarche as Vincent Van Ghoul, this movie is a mess. Not only does it have many of the same flaws as the previous sequel but worse it also spends way too much time focusing on the making of a movie and subplots about Fred missing the Mystery Machine (because this is also a sequel to Curse of the 13th Ghost where he sold it) and the rest of the gang promising not to solve any mysteries to Shaggy and Scooby. So much of the Zombie Island stuff takes a back seat to these subplots, but when it actually does focus on the Zombie Island stuff that’s when the movie is at its worst.

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I said in my Curse of the 13th Ghost review that the character that suffered the most from WB’s direction with their Scooby Doo movies was Velma and that continues to be the case here. At least with the events of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo she wasn’t there so her “I don’t believe the Chest of Demons and all the ghosts you faced were real” stance is understandable but here despite the fact she was present for Zombie Island and accepted the fact the zombies and cat people were real in that movie she is now obsessed with proving that the events of that movie were fake too with her final conclusion being “it was the same people we caught this time and swamp gas last time, mystery solved”. No evidence, just something she pulled out of nowhere so she doesn’t have to accept that real ghosts might do exist. Velma is supposed to be smart but this movie makes her a delusional conspiracy theorist. Does WB hate Velma or are they using her to express their hate for real monster Scooby-Doo media?

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If you prefer Scooby-Doo stories where the ghosts and monsters are fake that’s fine, and I have no problem with WB wanting to stick to that formula. But you can’t use that approach when making nostalgia movies for media where the ghosts and monsters are real. I really hope they don’t make more of these Scooby-Doo sequels but considering the Mystery Machine isn’t back by the end and there was a throwaway gag about The Reluctant Werewolf I’m sure they’ve got at least one more planned. I don’t know what next year’s theatrical Scooby-Doo movie Scoob will be like but at the very least it should be better than this.