All posts by Brent Pearce

About Brent Pearce

Brent joined BCDB because of his blog posts. Dave noticed this New Zealander's posts, and recruited him to also write for BCDB. Now Brent is our in-house movie reviewer, too. Want to say Hi? Send Brent a note here.

Some heroes are born to fly.… Rio Review

Rio

Rio

Rio opened here last night and it was with a great deal of plea­sure and relief to watch after the awful­ness of Hop. Rio is a gen­uine ani­mated fea­ture unlike Hop, and it has one thing over the bunny disaster.…namely quality!!

I wouldn’t go as far to say that Rio is great because it doesn’t quite lift itself into that league. It is made by the same peo­ple who brought us the Ice Age tril­ogy. I’m not overly fond of Ice Age as the ani­ma­tion isn’t quite to my taste, but I do admire the skill involved in its mak­ing, and hence, they are still worth watch­ing. I found the ani­ma­tion in Rio a step ahead of Ice Age and is of a very high cal­iber. It isn’t Rango ter­ri­tory, or Pixar even, but it is well above that of the recent Gnomeo and Juliet.

Over­all though Rio offers noth­ing new ani­ma­tion or plot wise. But this doesn’t mean Rio is a fail­ure, because it isn’t. It is stan­dard fare and I have found over the years that an ani­mated fea­ture like this is still of a con­sis­tently high stan­dard. And unlike Hop Rio is a movie that all ages will enjoy. It is aimed at the younger gen­er­a­tions to be sure, but any adult will get enough out of it and not be hor­ri­fied to have to sit through 90 min­utes of awful­ness for the kid­dies sake. I think most adults will actu­ally like Rio but not rave about it. There is cer­tainly enough ‘grown up ‘humor to be involved in with ref­er­ences to other movies and the likes if you are atten­tive enough to catch them. In one scene a bunch of mon­keys is beaten up by a bunch of birds, with one bird say­ing, ’ yippy i a, mon­key fella’.… Die Hard anyone??!!!

The movie moves along very quickly and I think the young ones will be hard pressed to fid­get and squirm as there won’t be time! The ani­ma­tion as stated is good and I think the kid­dies will love it. Rio de Janiero is col­ored beau­ti­fully whether day or night, and the ‘car­ni­val’ atmos­phere adds a pal­pa­ble and col­or­ful back­drop. Rio as a movie based in South Amer­ica has cap­tured the sight and sounds won­der­fully even though every­one speaks Eng­lish. But hey, it is more for the kids so what does it matter?!

The char­ac­ters, espe­cially the two main pro­tag­o­nists, a pair of Blue Macaws are lik­able. Blu is well voiced by Jesse Eisen­berg who per­fectly cap­tures his doubts and shel­tered upbring­ing ( he is a bird who can’t fly and has to learn in order to save his friends at the end of the movie ). The nas­ties are nasty and get their just desserts in the end. There is not one dud or out of place char­ac­ter which helps the movie move along well. All stan­dard stuff from an ani­mated fea­ture and of course sub­lim­i­ley aimed at the young ones, which I don’t have a prob­lem with. Sur­pris­ingly there are two songs in Rio which I wasn’t expect­ing and very Dis­ney like. I’m not overly fond of singing in ani­ma­tion but in Rio they are fit­ting and still humor­ous enough to not stop the flow of the movie.

So in Rio it is all there. The humor, the plot of look­ing out for your fam­ily and friends, any num­ber of sight gags that all ages will love, and some very good ani­ma­tion. Rio is a very col­or­ful movie and I think the kids will be very engaged by that alone. It is a fast pace humor­ous color fest, with the usual array of good and bad char­ac­ters. Blu’s fel­low, and very female, Macaw, voiced by Anne Hath­away, reminded me a girl I knew years ago who had the most beau­ti­ful blue, and heart­break­ing, doe eyes. I really enjoyed her char­ac­ter as the mak­ers really made her very female to look at! Her eyes are lovely and she is a real charmer as a char­ac­ter, very inde­pen­dent and full of life. Blu’s owner too is the very typ­i­cal ani­mated female with a gor­geously cliqued, per­fect fig­ure!! But hey, again, it is ani­ma­tion and it is escapism, so why can’t there be an ani­mated babe!!

If I was to grade Rio I would give it 7/10. It is all there as I have stated and is a very com­pe­tent fea­ture. It is not in the great realm, but is well above aver­age and is for all ages to enjoy. I think the kid­dies won’t be engaged so much dia­logue wise as they will be color wise. It is quite some­thing and even the oldies will admire what the mak­ers have achieved. It may have a child like slant but any adult or par­ent who takes the kids to Rio will also enjoy it enough to make it a pleas­ant time out for all.

Another good qual­ity ani­mated fea­ture that is for all. While it isn’t in the great league it is cer­tainly among the plethora of very good above aver­age movies mak­ing the rounds. Rio can be watched over and over by the kids when released on DVD and not annoy the par­ents who will more than likely par­take! Above aver­age, enjoy­able, fun for all.

Wrangling Rango, A Review

Rango

Rango

Movie night! And it is my weekly trip to the local cin­ema with tonight’s offer­ing the ani­mated flick Rango. I had seen the pro­mos for some time and found they gave no real indi­ca­tion of this movie at all. They are some­what mis­lead­ing, but in an unusual way in that Rango is far from just another ani­mated film.

The feel­ing you get from the pro­mos is that this is ani­ma­tion pri­mar­ily aimed a younger audi­ence but which adults would enjoy to. It is the norm with ani­mated films today. But this couldn’t be fur­ther from the truth. Rango is ani­ma­tion for adults and if adults take kid­dies along so be it. Bums on seats equates to more bucks so a film mak­ers aren’t going to cut out a poten­tial mar­ket by push­ing it as solely adult ori­en­tated. I have con­sis­tently stated through­out my movie watch­ing life that ani­ma­tion isn’t solely the domain of chil­dren and have tried hard in break­ing down this bar­rier of igno­rance within adults. If Rango doesn’t finally get through to adults then I sadly fail to won­der what ever will.

This reluc­tance of adults to watch­ing ani­mated films is ridicu­lous. You watch The Simp­sons don’t you? And you can­not seri­ously tell me that our yel­low four fin­gered friends are for a younger audi­ence. No, they are strictly aimed at adults.

So Rango for me is a real breath of fresh air. OK it is some­what under mar­keted in terms of the audi­ence it is aimed at, but ani­mated film mak­ers are all too aware how dif­fi­cult it is to get adults into an ani­mated fea­ture. So unfor­tu­nately Rango suf­fers from being under pro­moted in try­ing to be all things to all peo­ple. It is a shame because it a very good ani­mated film for adults.

I don’t need to go into a syn­op­sis for by now most of you out there are aware of the film or have seen it. All I need to go into is what I liked about it and more impor­tantly , is it any good.

So what did I like about Rango? Well…everything! And I mean every­thing. I can­not fault this movie in any­way, that is a good way to start is it not?! Where to start though?! I sup­pose since it is ani­mated it must be the ani­ma­tion. And what ani­ma­tion it is! Hon­estly it is sim­ply unbelievable…breath taking…jaw dropping..incredible, and will just blow your mind with its crisp­ness and clar­ity. The detail is just stag­ger­ing, it is so good that this is as close as ani­ma­tion can get to repli­cat­ing real life imagery.

And here again, why is this just the domain of chil­dren? I don’t believe kid­dies could ever com­pre­hend and enjoy the crafts­man­ship of Rango. It is flaw­lessly ani­mated and the viewer can only sit watch­ing slack jawed as one amaz­ing scene after another comes before their feast­ing eyes. And that is what it is, a visual feast. It is so good that it is a pity that most will never see it in all its glory on the big screen. I will tell you now that I intend to see this film in the the­ater sev­eral more times just to let my eyes gorge them­selves on this visual wonderment.

So yes the ani­ma­tion is some­thing really spe­cial! So clear, crisp and stun­ning. And if you don’t believe me then you haven’t seen the scene where Rango meets ’ the man with no name’! You can hon­estly believe it was Clint East­wood him­self stand­ing there! The fea­tures are so true to life, as are all the ani­mals of the town, warts and all!

The sto­ry­line has the oblig­a­tory moral tone of all ani­mated fea­tures. There are sev­eral here per­tain­ing to telling the truth as lying makes things worse, and being true to your­self and oth­ers, etc. They rarely vary but I will never knock this within ani­ma­tion. If it puts a good mes­sage into a kids head through humor and fun then all for the good I say. But again this is an adults movie. It is very west­ern based and if you are immersed in west­ern watch­ing you’ll love this movie. It is all there. Posses, gun­fights, gam­bling, drink­ing, women of dubi­ous char­ac­ter, saloons, desert, cac­tus, sher­iffs, guns for hire, the sup­pressed, and the loner good guy in the guise of Rango who even­tu­ally saves the day.

Yes, all you west­ern watch­ers will love it. There are many so many in house jokes and sub­tle ref­er­ences to famous west­erns you have to be on your toes to rec­og­nize them all. But it is visu­ally a west­ern to. The scenery is Utah, Death Val­ley etc of west­ern fame. The dust, heat, and sheer bar­ren­ness are beau­ti­fully por­trayed. This may be ani­ma­tion but I can’t see why it can’t be called a west­ern in the tra­di­tional sense. It is a remark­able ani­mated film as I can think of no other that has attempted this genre.

It even goes as far as par­o­dy­ing the Star Wars films but within a west­ern type of way. Great stuff, and immensely enjoy­able as a true film watcher will ‘get’ all the inhouse­ness and parodying.

Johnny Depp is a mar­vel as Rango! He is fan­tas­tic as a chameleon who doesn’t know who is. His voice and whole sense of char­ac­ter comes through mag­nif­i­cently and it is hard to imag­ine another actor being as good. Depp was just born to be Rango as he could play the char­ac­ter in a true to life film just as well.

All in all Rango is as per­fect a ani­mated fea­ture as you can get. The sto­ry­line is good and con­ducive to its west­ern theme, the voices, espe­cially of Depp, are won­der­ful, the char­ac­ters are believ­able and rec­og­niz­able. This really comes down to it being a ‘must’ see, because for no other rea­son the ani­ma­tion is flaw­less and just stun­ning. You’ll want to see it again on the big screen because it is just that good.

For valid rea­son that I stated above the mak­ers couldn’t push this solely as an adult fea­ture. My advice to you is to see it with­out the kids because I doubt they’ll be able to absorb Rango. If they start fid­get­ing and whin­ing then you’ll miss out yourself.

So come on all you adults out there, get over your igno­rance and prej­u­dice of ani­mated films!! If you watch The Simp­sons, Fam­ily Guy, etc why not a full length fea­ture film? This one is aimed at you, and whilst not rude or crude it is still damn good fun and I promise you this…you will enjoy your­self, and I’ll be very sur­prised if you don’t come out mar­veling at some of the best ani­ma­tion you are ever likely to see. Pixar had bet­ter start look­ing over their shoulders!

Cartoon Review ~ Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda

This is one of the abun­dantly clear things about Kung Fu Panda as a film: It is very pop­u­lar across all spec­trum and ages of soci­ety. I rec­om­mended this film to many peo­ple who took my advice and told me later how much they loved it. I think adults have for­got­ten that when ani­ma­tion first hit the big screen with Snow White etc it was not specif­i­cally aimed at children.

It is a mis­take that is slowly fad­ing as I find more adults going to ani­mated films at later ses­sions to avoid chil­dren and have an exclu­sive adult audi­ence. Well this is a review of a film, and not a social com­men­tary, so I had bet­ter get back to it!

I, in a nut shell, loved Kung Fu Panda. It had me laugh­ing from the open­ing scenes, which were ani­ma­tion within ani­ma­tion. you have to see it to under­stand what I mean there. Dream­Works along with Pixar, and to a lesser extent now, Dis­ney, are one of the pre­mium ani­mated film pro­duc­ers. I like their style of ani­ma­tion and it is always of a high quality.

This is one of the bet­ter films they have released recently. A sequel is due to be released soon , and it is fair to say it has big shoes to fill!. It is also a film that has spawned sev­eral short half hour tele­vi­sion spe­cials that have aired over the last few Christ­mases. My nephews ( and I!) par­tic­u­larly liked the more recent one where Po had to pro­vide an annual Christ­mas ban­quet for the kung-fu mas­ters. Very funny, with a sui­ci­dal bunny who wanted to ‘die with honor’ for dis­grac­ing his vil­lage. We then see him try­ing to get Po to help him using var­i­ous kitchen uten­sils. It has a moral, namely Christ­mas is for fam­ily and there is noth­ing more impor­tant at that time of year.

Read the rest of the review at Big Car­toon DataBase

Disney’s Tangled (Review)

I went out to Have­lock North to see this film. I could have seen it in Napier but I wanted to see the film that fol­lowed this one so it made sense to see both at the same theater.

I went to the 5.30 p.m ses­sion on Jan­u­ary 2nd. There were four chil­dren who went ahead of me. The woman on the counter called me ‘a big kid’ for see­ing Tan­gled.

Her com­ment again high­lights so much adult prej­u­dice with ani­ma­tion. It is just not the sole domain of chil­dren. In the film Rapun­zel is almost eigh­teen. The kids watch­ing it with me were no older then ten. What do they know about being a teenager? I, as an, adult had more under­stand­ing of the char­ac­ters than a child could.

I really can’t fig­ure this men­tally out. There is just a raft of good qual­ity ani­ma­tion com­ing out and most adults don’t really real­ize what they are miss­ing. As I’ve said pre­vi­ously I love ani­ma­tion. It, like hor­rors, west­erns, dra­mas, etc, are a genre, and like all gen­res there is the good, the aver­age, and the awful.

Tan­gle is in the good cat­e­gory . In my opin­ion it is one of the best ani­mated Dis­ney films in some years. The ani­ma­tion is just bril­liant, the songs are snappy, and the humor is of a very high stan­dard. I just can’t fault any­thing in this film. I truly loved it. In fact so much so I have since seen it again here in Napier! My two nephews raved about it and I have found the chil­dren I’ve spo­ken to have been pos­i­tive towards it. The few adults who have seen it have been full of praise.

It really is the Dis­ney stu­dio at their very best. Rapun­zel is a lovely char­ac­ter with an unbe­liev­ably neat lit­tle fig­ure!! But my favorite char­ac­ter was Max­imus the horse. I find that no other stu­dio human­izes ani­mals and makes them a stand alone char­ac­ter like Dis­ney. Max­imus is a great exam­ple of this. He starts out being tough and staunch but as the rela­tion­ship between Flynn Rider and Rapun­zel deep­ens his heart soft­ens. At first he and Rider hate each other and con­stantly fight, which brings some of the fun­ni­est moments of the film.

Like all ani­ma­tion it has the moral tone. It is very sub­tle and in my expe­ri­ence most kids never pick it up. They like ani­ma­tion for the humor, and I have always found that is what kids talk about after a film. But I aren’t say­ing it shouldn’t be there. It adds to a sto­ry­line and kids shouldn’t be sub­jected to the com­pli­ca­tions of the adult world. So the moral­ity is a good thing.

It is in a nut shell a film every­one can watch. It is aimed as a fam­ily film but any­one of any age will enjoy it. It is an ani­mated film of the high­est qual­ity, in fact I don’t think they come much better!

See it and enjoy, as it will not disappoint!!!