When toy cowboy ‘Woody’ (voiced by Tom Hanks) finds himself sidelined by new owner ‘Bonnie’ in favour of other toys, he finds new found purpose after Bonnie’s hand-made new toy ‘Forky’ goes missing at a carnival during a family road trip. At the same time Woody is reunited with his old flame, Bo Peep (Annie Potts).
I was looking forward to this. I’m a big fan of the other movies and couldn’t wait for the further adventures of Woody, Buzz and the gang. This time around we are introduced to a new villain, antique shop dwelling Doll ‘Gabby Gabby’ (Christina Hendricks). Yet despite initial promise with her brilliantly creepy Ventriloquist doll henchmen, she just failed to live up to her potential. The same could also be said for wasting the presence of such established characters as Jessie, T-Rex or even Buzz Lightyear (who is mostly demoted to a supporting role). Instead the movie focuses on Woody and Bo Peep which is at least different, even if Bo’s topical feminist symbolism was a bit too on the nose.
With that said, Forky is a welcome addition and gets all the best gags, and the movie looks as expected, stunning – the CGI animation often wowing this viewer. The caper at play here, if a little typical is still great fun too. The heart-strings get pulled firmly towards the end and the key characters are well written with at times real emotional depth. Overall though, this fails to be quite as sharp, clever or funny as what’s come before and the plot was not as engaging, Looking back, Toy Story 3 had everything come full circle. This however, whilst still worthwhile … didn’t have much more to say.
I don’t watch as many animated movies as I should be, and realize I’ve missed out this year some big hitters. However on browsing the latest rental releases, this took my interest as I recalled really enjoying the first movie. This long time coming sequel pretty much picks up where we left off, with our super-hero family having to go about their crime fighting adventures in secret, with a law having been passed outlawing people with powers. This brings in a wealthy brother and sister who propose to change things for the better by hiring Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter) to showcase just how good super heroes are to the masses.
I’m a little bit sick of this concept of the public unsure of or shunning super heroes. They almost becoming the enemy when there’s all too many actual enemies out there. A similar plot device was used in Captain America Civil War and Batman V Superman. Why does Hollywood think we want our heroes being portrayed with such distrust and fear? Aren’t they meant to be the heroes? Thankfully this admittedly very entertaining and visually arresting movie jumps between such plot threads and a twist on family responsibilities and throws in plenty of spectacular action. The villain though is sign posted a bit too well and I guessed their identity easily. Also there’s a clear feminist slant to the reversal of roles and some of the dialogue and themes, which yeah is everywhere right now. As unnecessary as it clearly is in a movie that was never just about the male lead anyway.
The voice work is top notch though including a welcome turn from Breaking Bad’s Bob Odenkirk, and Pixar’s animation is as gorgeous as ever (even if the character design is a bit ugly … what’s with Elastigirl’s massive ass?). Overall and considering the long wait for this, I was expecting a bit more … the villain is forgettable and cliched and the story adds nothing to the formula. As it stands though, this is still a lot of fun regardless of wasted potential.
So sad to hear that the legendary Stan Lee has passed away. The creator of many of our favourite super heroes, including Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk, he was the pioneer of many a kid’s childhood fantasies and well, we wouldn’t have the Marvel Cinematic Universe without his boundless imagination. He will be sadly missed.
When news reached me that beloved Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli were closing their doors, I was concerned that the type of movies seemingly unique to that studio, would never see the light of day again. Thankfully that concerned was quashed on hearing about this release from new studio ‘Studio Ponoc’ and directed by Ghibli stalwart Hiromasa Yonebayashi. Based on the children’s book ‘The Little Broomstick’ by author Mary Stewart, we have Mary, a spirited young girl who stumbles upon an enchanted broomstick one day after wondering into a misty forest. Soon she is transported to another world, a school for witchcraft not dissimilar to Hogwarts, where the colourful characters may be hiding a secret linked to a sacred flower.
This is where the movie revealed an identity crisis, that lingered throughout. Despite best intentions and a charming veneer of wonder and imagination with top-notch hand-drawn animation … echoes of the movie’s heritage and titles like Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service meant it all quickly began to feel overly familiar. No bad thing but the characters whilst interesting to look at and with some typically bonkers design … lacked personality. Apart from Mary herself, an endearing yet clichéd character for this type of movie … the villains and various side characters just came off as typical, with the villain’s scheme also not fully explored.
Yet a twist towards the end was welcome and brought the story full circle in a particularly satisfying way and add some fun action and plenty of energy – I still found a lot to enjoy. Ghibli-lite, but as (hopefully) the start of a new era for Japanese animation, this is a promising start.
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