The Bad Guys


Viewed – 8 October 2022 online-rental

These days, the majority of animated movies are so beautiful looking that it’s easy to rate them all highly. So for me it’s a genre I’m particularly tough on. This latest Dreamworks effort follows a gang of career criminals; a sly wolf, a shark, a piranha, a snake and a tarantula. All creatures feared in society, so they find it easier to embrace being ‘bad guys’. However when their latest heist to steel a priceless award, goes wrong they’re given the opportunity to turn their lives around and go ‘good’.

This comedy-caper has a solid initial concept and is full of energy, action and personality. Voice acting is good, especially Sam Rockwell as the wolf. Add to this the slick, eye-melting animation, seemingly in that similar hand drawn meets CGI that worked so well in Spider-Man Enter The Spiderverse, and on paper this has it all.

However the script isn’t as sharp as it could have been, it leans a bit too heavily on the sentimental, and could have been a lot funnier. It’s never explained also, why animals live and talk like humans, alongside humans (!?). The villain is highly forgettable too. Overall well-made and fun, but not one to rush back to.

Verdict: Good

Top Ten 2021


It’s that time of year again! What with the pandemic, I feel it’s been a weird year movie release-wise and getting to the cinema has been a struggle. However I watched a total of 79 movies this year (new and old) and coming up with my ten favourite wasn’t easy.

However, the list below are the movies I enjoyed the most. A few may also be slightly older than 2021…

10.

Free Guy

9.

The Empty Man

8.

The Mitchells Vs The Machines

7.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

6.

Cruella

5.

Dune

4.

No Time To Die

3.

Raya and the Last Dragon

2.

The Father

Drum roll…

1

Last Night in Soho

There you have it. Of the movies I was disappointed by in 2021…. There was Bill & Ted Face the Music, Nomadland and Censor.

Happy New Year folks!

Craig.

Encanto


Viewed – 25 December 2021 Disney+

A family living in the Colombian mountains have been blessed with the magic of the Encanto, all except Mirabel. However, she soon may be the family’s last hope when she discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is now in danger.

An interesting premise drew me in and although it kind of falls into typical Disney tropes after a while, I was totally absorbed by the setting and the wealth of ideas and visual spender. Just to look at, this is nothing short of stunning, full of colour and imagination. The character designs, showcasing the multi-cultural people of Columbia is top notch (aided by some great song & dance numbers). Main character Mirabel will also likely become a personal favourite – and I loved the family members and their various magical abilities.

It’s a shame then that it’s in its story where this stumbles. As a Disney movie with no actual villain, the stakes never really seem high, and the reasoning surrounding why Mirabel didn’t receive her magic ability, I was left scratching my head about. However the ending was really feel good and I still managed to have a good time with this.

Verdict: Good

Raya and the Last Dragon


Viewed – 05 June 2021 Disney+

I’ve always enjoyed animation and few can argue that Disney (and Pixar) still lead the industry when it comes to animated movies. This latest offering tells the story of Raya, a young girl who grows up amidst fantastical tales of dragons who saved the world from an evil force that once turned people into stone. However their actions also lead to their mysterious disappearance, and when warring factions cause a sacred crystal to get damaged, the evil force returns to reclaim the land. Raya then takes it upon herself to seek out the fabled ‘last dragon’ in hope of banishing the evil for good.

You got a friend in me…

With a Far Eastern theme, similar to Mulan, this gorgeous looking, mystical fantasy adventure had it all. An engaging story, fun characters and some great action with a strong influence from Chinese cinema hits like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Raya (voiced by The Last Jedi’s Lisa Marie Tran), at first seems typical Disney Princess, yet develops into a fleshed-out and likeable lead, aided well by a bunch of quirky characters, including a mischievous baby, a lovable warrior from a rival clan … and especially Sifu as the Last Dragon, who proves this movies shining beacon.

It may not re-write the rule book when it comes to this kind of thing, and it’s themes of trusting / believing in one another are cliched … but done particularly well here, especially towards the end where I must admit it got me quite emotional. Another slam-dunk then for Disney, and possibly one of my favourites in a while from the house of mouse.

Verdict: Essential

The Mitchells Vs The Machines


Viewed – 15 May 2021 Netflix

A girl who dreams of making it in the film making industry, one day gets her wish when she is accepted to film school. However on the same day as she leaves to begin her new life, a megalomaniacal A.I. called ‘Pal’ decides to start a robot invasion after her creator chooses to discard her for a more advanced version. Think of it as if Apple’s Siri turned evil and suddenly wanted to rid the earth of mankind. Gulp.

“Mom, Dad … we’re mankind’s only hope!”

From the creative geniuses that brought us the acclaimed Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse, this is an energetic and highly entertaining experience, that blends family drama with a robot apocalypse action movie. Katie, our lead is a plucky, technology-obsessed, typical modern teenager and is reflective of the world we find ourselves in, where anyone with a bit of imagination can create movies and animation, on their phones or laptops. The animation style, like Spider-Man is sort of 2D art brought to life in 3D, is jam packed with ideas and detail and looks gorgeous. Occasionally I think it gets a bit over the top, with things popping up on screen to emphasis and over-emphasis moments … but mostly it works.

Although these kind of movies are not meant to be realistic, sometimes the action gets so crazy any hint of plausibility is thrown out of the window. Thankfully, a genuinely touching father and daughter sub-plot gives this its emotional crutch to rest all of the chaos upon. I get a feeling, being delivered as a Netflix original this could be over-looked, which is a shame because this has plenty of great moments, looks stunning, has real meaning and above all else is a ton of fun. Check it out.

Verdict: Recommended