Morning Bleary-Eyed fans, hope everyone had an excellent weekend…well, at least better than Sony did with the new Ghostbusters film. Only have time for a quick recap of last weekend’s Box Office results, but I really have to apologize for the lack of posts recently and of course I want to spend just a moment to mourn all the lives lost in the past few weeks. I love films more than a lot of things, but escapism right now feels, I don’t know, wrong. Especially when so many are suffering. Now I don’t want to speak for anyone other than myself (Manchicken has his own opinions), and it’ll be quick. So just as simple as it can be: Black Lives Matter, White Lives Matter, All Minority Lives Matter, and NO ONE deserves to die at the hand of another other, absolute extreme circumstances notwithstanding.
Also, to keep in the spirit with the subject of the website, but honestly, they had the answer to the future’s woe’s back in 1989. It was in a slacker time travel comedy that starred a young Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, called Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure:
I honestly had a real plan for this article. It was going to be a week long event in which we had guest writers discussing things like #OscarsSoWhite, how terrible the panel is due to ridiculous rules, eligibility, and voting, but I just can’t seem to care enough about the award show to make a real effort at posting something profound.
In lieu of an article about how awful the Oscars have become (and pretty much always have been), I’m going to go over some of the major categories and see if we can find something of interest somewhere among them to talk about.
Academy Award for Best Actress
First off, I really don’t like the fact that we still distinguish between “Actresses” and “Actors” via gender. They are all actors and should be treated as such. In my opinion, we should really put Jennifer Lawrence (nominated this year for the movie Joy) up against Eddie Redmayne (nominated for his (her?) performance in The Danish Girl) or Matt Damon (nominated for The Martian). If you’ve seen Joy, you know it’s no where near the caliber of her past performances (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, etc.), but it’s still a well put together movie and for her part, she does everything right and again, showcases an immense amount of talent.
Anyway, there are other actors (yes, screw the word Actress) that are nominated as well, here is a quick round up:
Cate Blanchett, in Carol Aird, as Carol
Brie Larson, in Room, as Joy “Ma” Newsome
Jennifer Lawrence, in Joy, as Joy Mangano
Charlotte Rampling, in 45 Years, as Kate Mercer
Saoirse Ronan, in Brooklyn, as Eilis Lacey
IWTMM’s Prediction: Jennifer Lawrence
Of course it has to be Jennifer Lawrence. Everyone loves her (she is really seemingly charming by all accounts) and if the panel even recognized any other actor’s name in that pile, then I would be surprised. Just give her another one, let her trip on the stairs or her dress *cue laughter* and a “surprised” winning speech.
IWTMM’s “Who Should Have Won”: Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Seriously, you’ve likely seen Mad Max: Fury Road, the other nominations, not too likely. If you have (or even if you haven’t), Charlize Theron kicks so much ass in two hours than all the “Action Stars” of the 80’s combined. I totally think she should go all Kanye West on the Winner.
Academy Award for Best Actor
I believe they add, “in a Leading Role” to this title, but I don’t really care (that’s going to be a theme during this whole article). Let’s take a look at our powder-white nominees:
Bryan Cranston, in Trumbo, as Dalton Trumbo
Matt Damon, in The Martian, as Mark Watney
Leonardo DiCaprio, in The Revenant, as Hugh Glass
Michael Fassbender, in Steve Jobs, as Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, in The Danish Girl, as Lili Elbe / Einar Wegener
IWTMM’s Prediction: Leonardo DiCaprio
Leo has been passed over for this award in four separate years. They skipped a year between nominating him so it didn’t look too suspicious, but I believe DiCaprio has been thoroughly snubbed. It likely doesn’t make any difference to him. Did you see what he got to do in The Wolf of Wall Street?
I mean, come on, you think Leo cares? Does he want to win, probably, it’s seemingly a big deal to these Hollywood types. But if a little gold statue is more important than the millions he rakes in for almost every film he does, then I really think the “art” in film is moot.
Academy Award for Best….
You know what, I really don’t give a crap. The Oscars are horrible. The monologue is obnoxious and no matter who wins, someone is going to be upset. I don’t even have enough apathy to finish this article.
IWTMM’s Prediction for Best Director: Adam McKay for The Big Short
IWTMM’s Prediction for Best Picture: The Big Short
Seriously, I don’t care. The Big Short was a phenomenal movie with excellent actors, a horrifying reality, and was honestly both entertaining and filmed very well. It’s on the “Unicorn List”. It’s both entertaining and “Critically” acclaimed. So, for my money, it’s going to come out the winner, but I really don’t care. The whole thing is just a big Hollywood circlejer…….
…..and that’s all I have to say about that. At least I get to see Zootopia next weekend.
I don’t have kids. That’s Manchicken’s job. He’s got three boys that are probably the coolest little monsters I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. Regardless of the lack of Darkmovienight offspring (seriously, the world is better off), I absolutely love animated comedies. Some of the absolute best films of all time are animated comedies and we owe it all to just a few people and studios: Disney, Pixar, Don Bluth, and Dreamworks. Now I know I’m likely missing out on a few key people (Steve Jobs and George Lucas had a LOT to do with the creation of Pixar), but as I see it, those studios and Mr. Bluth are the reasons we have cinematic gems like Kung Fu Panda 3.
Despite my unhealthy enjoyment of children’s movies (this doesn’t hurt since Mrs. Darkmovienight and I only have the attention span of 90 minutes anyway), I can still spot a good one, a classic, or just a disaster. Sadly in today’s age, we’re only given those options. For every Toy Story, there are at least four Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. Now to kids, this really doesn’t make much of a difference. I’ve seen some misses where the kids in the audience don’t even laugh (see last year’s The Good Dinosaur), but typically they’ll enjoy anything colorful you put them in front of for an hour and a half.
All of the mediocre children’s entertainment out there, it is extremely refreshing and relieving that Dreamworks decided to make a quality animated trilogy based on a Kung Fu Panda. In almost all regards, these films shouldn’t work. But somehow, they took a ridiculous idea, one of the largest, clumsiest, and cutest animals out there and turn them into an amazing warrior, sticking Jack Black’s voice in the titular character, and then unleashing it upon the cinematic world. Well, in 2008 the first Kung Fu Panda was introduced to the public and collected about $215M from the Domestic box office. Was it the star power? Sure, you had Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Jackie Chan, and the immortal Dustin Hoffman, but those names meant nothing to the kids. Nah, what you had was an excellent premise, fun looking slapstick action, and of course, a touching story of becoming more than you thought you could ever be.
Well, eight years from the original Kung Fu Panda, Dreamworks releases the third (and hopefully final) chapter to this epic tale of inner peace, humor, kicking butt, and of course…noodles & dumplings. If they choose to end the franchise right here and right now, then I believe Dreamworks will have succeeded in making one of the most complete trilogies in film during the modern era of animation.
If you’re not familiar with the Kung Fu Panda franchise, let me give you the nickle recap. A lowly Panda named Po, voiced by Jack Black has an utter obsession with Kung Fu and the protectors of the valley in which he lives: The Furious Five. These heroes of Kung Fu consist of Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Lui), Crane (David Cross), and Monkey (Jackie Chan). They’re also under the tutelage of Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman).
In the first film, an important ceremony is held in which the Elderly Master Oogway (a tortoise voiced by Randall Duk Kim who is a relative unknown, but tied to many martial arts films), chooses “The Dragon Warrior”. Prophesies and such as they are, point to The Dragon Warrior mastering Kung Fu, saving the Valley, and bringing the neurotic Master Shifu “Inner Peace”. Through several slapstick moments and the usual cartoon foolery, Po accidentally interrupts the ceremony and is chosen as The Dragon Warrior to everyone’s disbelief. Two things then stand out from this film: acceptance of yourself and not judging a Panda by his belly. Shifu eventually trains Po in the ways of Kung Fu through Po’s exceptional appetite. The main antagonist, Tai Lung (voiced by the insanely good Ian McShane) is defeated by Po as the Dragon Warrior by not only using Kung Fu, but his true abilities: his bouncy stomach and a lot of luck. Oh and an amazing and advanced Kung Fu technique called the “Wuxi Finger Hold”. Shown below the Wuxi Finger Hold is what equates to the Kung Fu version of “The Nuclear Option”.
At any rate, Kung Fu Panda succeeded on all levels: animation, storytelling, character development, comedy, action, and a well tuned lesson to both children and adults. Not to mention the absolutely jaw-dropping escape of Tai Lung from his prison in a mountain. Not only is it possibly the best animated fight scene I’ve ever seen, but it truly blows you away with gorgeous animation and A-FREAKING-MAZING audio. I just have to show it, see below.
Kung Fu Panda 2 followed a lot of the same plot and of course added 3D, another prophecy, and the villain, Shen, voiced by Gary Oldman (which is again a step up from so many other animated films). This prophecy was about how a warrior of “White and Black” would eventually defeat Shen and save all of China. Shen attempts panda genocide and Po goes all Moses in a radish basket. It ends much the same way with good action, some pretty funny dialogue, and excellent animation. Still, it falls into the dreaded “Sophomore Slump” and doesn’t exactly have the most vibrant life from the first movie.
The first two films in the series do great jobs of everything discussed, but Kung Fu Panda 3 does something even more special: it ends a series well. Again, this is so rare that you just have to admire Dreamworks for finishing strong. It really did come full circle. If you watched the first two, there are so many jokes that have continued throughout the entire series and they find their way into the third iteration with ease.
As far as the animation, it was beautiful, but I’ll be honest that it seems we’ve hit a plateau for computer generated animated features. I honestly don’t know what is the next jump, but it’ll likely be about water, hair or grass…so we probably won’t even notice.
Again, taking Kung Fu Panda as an entire connected trilogy, you definitely see the growth of every main character (Dustin Hoffman’s consistent exasperation with Po learning complicated Kung Fu concepts that should take years is kinda brilliant). Along with the characters that have grown well over the past few movies, the story continues to be stellar. If you’ve seen the trailer, then you know Po attempts to train other pandas in the ways of Kung Fu. Not only does this concept bring the series full circle, as Po teaches them Kung Fu that fits each of the other pandas’ skills, just as Shifu did for him in the first movie. I really loved that symmetry.
While the first few films dealt with prophecies, Kung Fu Panda 3 concerns itself with legends. This an important distinction and one of the reasons why I feel it was brilliant and will ultimately end the Kung Fu adventures of Po. The latest baddie is Kai, again, voiced by the phenomenal J.K. Simmons, is out to take over all of Kung Fu and conquer China. Only the Dragon Warrior can stand in his way.
My only hope is that Dreamworks quits while it is ahead. I’m sure that everyone went and saw Kung Fu Panda 3 this week, so it made money. I just really want them to be smart and let this film be the end. I know there will be HUGE temptations to keep going, but there are plenty of examples that show why a franchise shouldn’t go too long (I’m looking at you Pirates of the Caribbean franchise).
Didn’t read my fancy words, here is the short version:
Kung Fu Panda 3 succeeded on all levels just like the first film: slick animation, compelling storytelling, true character development over three films, comedy with tons of call backs throughout the entire franchise, killer Kung Fu action, and finally the lesson that this series has consistently hammered- believe in yourself and you can do anything. I loved it and at least up North, you and your kids have been stuck inside all week and you’re bouncing off the wall, so go see this film, you won’t regret it at all. Every kid will love it and it has everything that you loved about the first few movies. Just be ready for a little bit of Kung Fu Fighting:
So, the quick review is that I love this film. It’s everything that a childhood hero film should be, and it shows us a good example of how revenge for hurt can be destructive and turn us into something we never wanted to be.
I love this film, my kids love this film, my girlfriend loves this film, you will also love this film. If you don’t love this film, just mention it in the comments section the purchase price for this review will be refunded to you.
Hiro Hamada – Ryan Potter
Tadashi Hamada – Daniel Henney
Baymax – Scott Adsit
Fred – T.J. Miller
Go Go – Jamie Chung
Wasabi – Damon Wayans Jr.
Honey Lemon – Genesis Rodriguez
Robert Callaghan – James Cromwell
What-it (Plot Summary)
Set in the city of San Fransokyo (yes, half San Franciso half Tokyo) Hiro Hamada is a kid genius – who graduated high school at 14 years old – who is throwing his talent away making fighting robots and hustling others out of money betting on his own fights. His older brother, Tadashi, is off at his “nerd school” doing research on his project to make a personal medical companion.
Tadashi convinces Hiro to try his hand at applying for the university, and then gets him to make a project which would allow him in. After a very successful demonstration and presentation, a seemingly-accidental fire breaks out. In the course of re-entering the building to rescue his mentor, Tadashi tragically dies leaving Hiro alone and paralyzed with grief.
He stumbles upon a nefarious plot involving his brother’s death, and seeks to deliver justice to the wrong-doer with the help of his brother’s college lab buddies, and the help of his brother’s science project. They all become what every kid has wanted to be: a super hero.
How’s-it (Voice Acting and Animation)
I really enjoyed the voice-acting in this film, as well as the animation. The detail in the animation is amazing. Hiro’s hair has so much detail you can make out strands of hair. When they show carbon-fiber mesh you can see individual bound fibers. Somehow, though, it still remains true-to-form for an animated feature: it’s more colorful than real life, it still feels more fantastical, and the features of faces and other things are glorious caricatures of their real life analogs.
Ryan Potter gives a voice acting performance that I hope will has opened some doors for him. It’s compelling, and it fits the character perfectly. Likewise, Daniel Henney made me believe that he was his animated character (though it’s not his time acting in a comic film). Scott Adsit does amazing in his role as the robotic voice of Baymax, and my kids all lose their marbles when he delivers the line “hairy baby.”
The city of San Fransokyo is amazing as well. The Golden Gate bridge has been merged with very stylized traditional Japanese architecture to make something neat and different. Also, this film’s animation succeeded where so many other animated films fail or seem to avoid: the action-packed dark room.
I won’t spoil any more of this for you, but it’s just great.
I really enjoy this film. I bought this on Disney Blu-Ray and I think my kids and I have watched it at least three times. I also remember going to watch this with my two oldest kids and my girlfriend as a group and it was a treat in theaters as well (IF YOU GET THE CHANCE TO SEE THIS ON THE BIG SCREEN, DO IT).
I really hope you enjoy this film as much as I did.
The Toonsday Review Segment
Every Tuesday I will endeavor to review an animated or comics-related feature film. This time it was Big Hero 6, next time I don’t know what I will pick (I’m spontaneous, what can I say?). If you have an animated film you would like me to review, please say so in the comments and I’ll be happy to add that to my list.
I love this film, I think you will, too. I took my two older boys (four and seven) to this film, and they liked it as well. I think your kids will understand and love the film as well. This is Pixar at its finest, which is something we haven’t seen a whole lot of lately.
The Premise of the Film
The story is that of a girl from birth up to adolescence, following how different aspects of her life form her personality, feels about things, and how all of that affects her decision making skills. All of this is manifest through the characters which are her feelings, which are:
Joy (Amy Poehler)
Fear (Bill Hader)
Anger (Lewis Black)
Disgust (Mindy Kaling)
Sadness (Phyllis Smith)
You get to see glimpses into how other characters in the film have their feelings arranged as well, which is nice.
As the young girl’s parents move the family for her father’s new company, you get to see how those changes affect her and how that combined with the angst of adolescence take her feelings on a rather action-packed journey of discovery, change, and growth.
What I liked
I liked how all of the characters interacted with one another, and the ways that they chose to manifest the feelings in the young girl. Most of all, I really enjoyed the animation style, the whimsical nature of the animation and story flow, and I found the voice acting to be a joy in and of itself. I could have watched this film blind-folded and I would have still found it super fun.
Amy Poehler was amazing as Joy, and Lewis Black was his usual amazing self as Angry (he’s very believable). I think the real amazing star here was Phyllis Smith, as Sad. She pulled off the funniest depression I’ve ever seen portrayed ever, and I think that between Sadness and Joy we all got a really clear picture of what the film was trying to say about how sadness isn’t a bad thing.
What I didn’t like
I think that fear and disgust were really throw-away characters. I think that they could have done a lot more with those characters and they really wasted an opportunity. Sure, Fear did a great job of lousing things up as fear usually does, but as supporting characters Fear and Disgust were just weaksauce.
I really enjoyed this film, I will probably buy it on Blu-Ray. I give it four out of five broccoli crowns.