Tag Archives: cartoons

Movie Review – Leap! (2017)

If you don’t leap, you’ll never learn how to fly.  However, if you don’t see this movie, you won’t miss much.

For years, Disney has been the behemoth to beat as rival studios vie to see who can produce a heartwarming child’s tale that has depth, range and becomes so touching that kids love it well into their own adulthood and share it with their own children.

The Weinstein Company is the latest studio to give this a go and…well, to quote Jon Lovitz’ the Critic, “It stinks.”

On paper, the plot has all the trappings of a kids’ story that should be beloved through the ages.  In the 1800s, two orphans from the French countryside, Felicie and Victor, escape their orphanage and head off to Paris to pursue their dreams.  Victor wants to become a great inventor, while Felicie dreams of becoming a ballerina.

Felicie beguiles her way into a ballet school but relies on ex-ballerina turned scullery maid Odette to teach her, paving the way for Mr. Miyagi style lessons as Odette gets her student to perform mundane tasks that cause her student to learn ballet.

With an interesting storyline and a historic backdrop featuring fights/chases on the scaffolding surrounding the Statue of Liberty and Eiffel Tower while they are being built, you’d think this would be a slam dunk.  Instead, it’s like the ball was pulled out of the hoop and flushed down the toilet.

I could go on and on about the problems in this movie but the main one is that this is a period piece and yet…there’s a lot of modern references.  Sure, Disney films aren’t exactly historical documentaries but they at least don’t go out of their way to break the period setting.

Meanwhile, this film contains a number of words/phrases from modern times that act like speed bumps, shaking up what might have otherwise a smooth ride.  The one that stands out in my mind is that the villainess of the film, the mother of a rival ballet student, chases Felicie around Paris with a hammer and shouts, “Stop!  Hammer time!”

I mean.  Seriously.  Holy shit.  Whoever allowed that line into this film, go stand in the corner and think about what you have done.

Worse, the use of modern pop music abounds.  The crux of the film rests on two rival ballerinas competing for a part in “The Nutcracker” yet during the final big dance routine, we don’t hear something like “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” but instead, Demi Lovato’s “Confident” blares.

Look, I have no idea how that decision was made but personally, I envision a dopey Hollywood executive shouting, “Oh no! Kids will never sit through classical music!  Crank up some Demi Lovato while this 19th century ballerinas compete!

Also, one of the ballerinas wears pink leg warmers and a headband that seem out of place.  Honestly, I can’t tell you for absolute certain that pink leg warmers didn’t exist in the 1800s but the kid basically walks around in an 1800s period piece looking like her mom dressed her with the help of the Target girls’ active wear department.

So…all in all, the Weinsteins had their chance and they blew it.  I know when I saw the trailers for this film I wondered if we might see a heartwarming, historic film that might make Disney sweat.  Instead, it was a pile of poop.

Say what you will about Disney, but they have their craft down and they keep in mind both the kids and the parents who bring them, creating a stories that work on different levels, reaching out to young and old alike.

Ultimately, that’s the key to whether or not an animated film stands the test of time.  The kids will like this and that of course is the most important thing, i.e. that the kids have a good time, but the parents who bring their kids are going to be looking at it as absolute drek.  Plus, when the kids who like it today become parents tomorrow, I don’t they’ll rush to show it to their kids as by then they will have grown up and realized that Demi Lovato songs ruin 1800s ballerina movies.

Perhaps the silver lining is that this movie will no doubt inspire a lot of extra sign ups for dance classes from little girls all over the country.  Good news for the girls, maybe lukewarm news for the parents who have to get up early and drive them to practice.

STATUS:  Not shelf-worthy.

 

 

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Movie Review – The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

Na na na na na na na na Batman!

VGRF here with a review of The Lego Batman Movie.

OBLIGATORY SPOILER ALERT.

Oh, 3.5 readers.  I’ve been enjoying myself so much since I broke up with that loser, BQB.  I have taken over the BQB HQ and now I get to go to movies without having to sit next to that nerd.

As it turns out, The Lego Movie was not a flash in the pan success.  Lego Batman is just as awesome.

The plot?  The Joker (Zach Galifinakis) is dismayed when Batman (Will Arnett) informs him that he isn’t the worst villain in his life.  Thus, the Joker goes out of his way to prove he is Batman’s worst villain and all manner of shenanigans ensue.

Along the way, Batman adopts Robin (Michael Cera) who completes his look by ripping off his pants and teams up with new Gotham PD Commissioner Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl (Rosario Dawson). Of course, no Batman film would be complete without Alfred (Ralph Fiennes).

For me, the best laughs came when Joker enlists every last Batman villain, including some of the lesser knowns (the ketchup and mustard shooting Condiment Man, for example).  Joker invites the audience to Google whether or not these villains were real and not just made up to poke fun at the Batman franchise.

Having no life, I did the Google search when I got home and low and behold, there really was a Condiment Man.

It’s fun for the kids but there’s also a lot of action…well, as much action as a movie about Lego toys can provide.  Also, it’s a non-stop parody of all of the past Batman movies as jokes abound about the Caped Crusader’s exploits, ranging from the latest Dark Knight films, to the 1980s and 1990s films, to the more campy 1960s series.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Fun for the whole family.  I don’t have a family so I took Bookshelf Q. Battle Dog.

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Could They Make It Today? – Transformers: The Movie (1986)

Happy Weekend, 3.5 readers.

Welcome to my new column, “Could They Make It Today?” in which I go back in time, take a look at the pop culture of my Gen X youth (we did exist though we seem to have been forgotten early) and discuss how movies and/or TV shows from the past couldn’t be made in the present (at least not without an extensive tuneup).

First up, Transformers: The Movie (1986).

Now, if you’re a member of Generation X, and again, millennials, I swear we existed…we are the Baby Boomers’ kids and you just know more about the Baby Boomers because they are hanging on for a really long time thanks to advances in science and medicine and shit.

Let me try again.  If you are are a member of Generation X, then you probably remember where you were when Optimus Prime died.

The year was 1986.  Transformers were a popular line of children’s toys that combined a childish love of vehicles and robots by having robots turn into vehicles.  Two toys in one.

There was a corresponding TV show in which Optimus Prime, a tractor trailer with a John Wayne style voice, commanded the Autobots in their war against the villainous Deceptions, lead by the evil Megatron.

So, after several years of a show where robots fired lasers at each other and missed, thus giving children a sense of excitement without burdening their young minds with thoughts of death, some dumb ass or collection of dumb asses got it in their heads to completely rewrite the direction of the series with a major motion film.

I went to it.  I was a little kid.  Had my popcorn.  Had my Transformer.  Had my seat.  I was ready to have a good time and then boom…literally every character I loved dies.

Seriously.  What the shit?  Who thought this was a good idea?

Optimus Prime and Megatron clash on the field of battle.  Megatron gets the upper hand and takes down Optimus.

OK.  That was sad.  I don’t think it was a great move for studio execs to kill off a beloved children’s character, especially the main one who carries the series.

But then it gets worse.  There’s a scene where the main contingent of Autobots (i.e. Ratchet and Ironhide, etc.), characters who had been with the series since the start, are flying a shuttle back to…I don’t know, Autobot Town, I’m an adult now so I don’t give as many shits as I used to.

Long story short, Megatron and his lackies break down the door and totally Wild Bunch the shit out of the Autobots.  I’m serious.  After years of lasers that never hit anyone, Megatron’s lasers hit everyone with great precision.

And it’s not just like, “Boom!  You’re dead!”  We see the lights in the Autobots’ eyes flicker and go out.  Smoke comes out of their mouths. Holes rip up their chassis.  It’s total carnage and mayhem.

Death has been a part of kids movies since the beginning of animation.  When Bambi’s mother dies, it introduces kids to concept they yeah, one day your grandparents are going to croak, then your parents, then pretty much everyone else you know until you end up all alone and the grim reaper puts his icy hand on your shoulder.

Personally, I didn’t even think it was cool for Disney to kill of Bambi’s mother but ok.  There’s a difference between Bambi’s mother dying and the stone cold political/ideological assassination that takes place in the Transformers movie.

By the end of the film, new Autobots take over.  “Rodimus Prime” takes Optimus’ place and as a kid, it’s basically the equivalent of your how you feel when your mom kicks dad out of the house and starts dating some new guy and wants you to call him “Dad.”

RODIMUS PRIME:  Autobots, roll out!

1980s’ Kids:  F%*k you!  Only Optimus can say that!  You’re not my real Autobot leader!

Like many cartoon shows, Transformers was a vehicle to sell toys.  Kids bond with the characters on TV, look at them as if they are friends, and then want their parents to buy them a friend they can play with in the form of toys.

But some young 1980s Baby Boomer screwed the pooch because kids were highly displeased, so much so that Optimus Prime is brought back to life by the end of the series.

The whole movie was intended to reset the series and bring it to a futuristic 2005 (which, sadly, is now in the past) with the robots turning into sleeker, more futuristic robots.

Clearly, the assumption in the board room was that they’ll kill off all the main characters (even Megatron and company get converted into new characters) and then the kids will throw away all their old toys and buy these new toys.

Just as clearly, these people did not know kids.  Have you ever tried to pry a beloved toy out of a kid’s hand?  Good luck.  Kids kept playing with their old transformers.  In the battles that played out on living room furniture, Optimus and friends were still alive.  T

The new replacements were seen as wannabe step-dads trying to buy our love with ice cream and thus, the series didn’t last much longer after that.  The movie pretty much blew up the whole enterprise.

The idea went over like a lead balloon and was so widely rejected by kids that a GI Joe movie that came out around the same time was quickly rewritten to prevent Duke from dying.  Those suits were totally gunning for Duke and he was only saved because Optimus’ death went over so poorly.

Could they make it today?  Well, they do make it today.  Now the Transformers films have become these grand scale Michael Bay action/disaster movies with plenty of action and very little plot.  And yes, occasionally a Transformer will buy the farm in these movies but the millennials didn’t grow up with them and Generation X is still too old to care.

Although personally, I was sad when Jazz gets ripped apart in one of the new films.

I think the film taught the toy/cartoon industry complex a valuable lesson.  You don’t have to kill off characters just to introduce new toys/characters.  There was no reason why the Autobots couldn’t have lived and still made friends with new characters/toys that could be sold at parental wallet draining prices.

This is what frustrates me with the millennials.  They think the baby boomers are mean and greedy and hey, I feel your pain.  I’ve been feeling it ever since some Gordon Gecko-esque fancy suit wearing 1980s baby boomer prick decided that subjecting my young self to a scene where all my favorite toy characters suffer from political assassination was a good idea.

In conclusion, Generation X exists, and while Transformers movies continue to go on strong, the powers that be have learned to not kill off beloved children’s characters all willy-nilly.

 

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BQB in Disney – Gaston’s Tavern

Has there ever been a character more unjustly vilified in Disney lore than Gaston, 3.5 readers?

Overconfident? Yes. Cocky? Sure. Kind of a douche? You bet.

Hell, when you’re a big time winner in a world full of epic losers it’s hard not to be a douche.

But when that douche heard that Belle had been kidnapped by and held hostage by a hideous dog monster, Gaston manned up and went off to rescue her.

And how’d Belle thank him for his trouble?

She gets Stockholm Syndrome, falls in love with her captor and spoiler alert, Gaston gets his French ass thrown off a damn castle.

Sigh. Some women just can’t appreciate a winner.

Anyway, the G-Man lives on at a tavern named for him in the Magic Kingdom.

Try the LeFou’s Brew. Frozen apple juice, toasted marshmallow, mango.

Mmm that douche makes a good brew.

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Movie Review – Finding Dory (2016)

Oh those irascible fish and their wacky shenanigans.

I’m not really going to do an in-depth review, other than to say I liked it. I remember seeing the first one, back when I was young and you know, still believed in shit.

The Pixar technology was still relatively new and therefore impressive because people hadn’t seen that much of it at the time.

It is a big undertaking to do a sequel to a perfect classic but sure enough, Disney/Pixar made a worthy sequel. It’s touching, funny and without offering a spoiler, there’s a part in it I found pretty hilarious.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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How the West Was Zombed – BQB’s Mockups of Chapters 64 and 65

Hey 3.5 Readers.

BQB here.  As you all know, I’m a perfectionist.  I need everything to be one-hundred percent genuine.

If you read Chapter 64 and Chapter 65 of my Zombie Western novel, you know that Becker, a damn werewolf, charged at Miss Bonnie.

In turn, Miss Bonnie shot Becker in the head with a silver tipped bullet.

Slade opened the front door to the church, pulled Miss Bonnie out of the way in the nick of time, but alas, Blake was not so lucky.

In the last few moments of his life, Becker kept running, only to fall and crush Blake under his massive werewolf weight.

But that’s ok because Blake was a douche.

There was a lot of science involved in this scene.  Newton’s laws of gravity and such.  I needed to sketch it out to see if it all worked on paper and low and behold, it all added up.

Check it out:

ILLUSTRATION #1

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Nope I didn’t have a kid draw this.  This was all me.  OK, so here we see a stupid werewolf who is running.  Miss Bonnie has a gun (I felt the need to make a note of that because some have suggested, if you can believe it, that my artistic skills are lacking).

Everybody’s a critic.

Meanwhile, as you can see to the right, Blake and Gunther are arguing with each other, not paying attention to their surroundings.

ILLUSTRATION #2

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Here, we catch our first real life glimpse of the macho stud muffin that is Marshal Slade. As you can see above, he grabs Miss Bonnie and pushes her out of the stupid werewolf’s path just in time.

ILLUSTRATION #3

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And finally, we see the untimely demise of the group’s agitator, Martin Blake.  He was too busy getting the last word in during his argument with Gunther to pay attention to the oncoming werewolf and alas, ended up being crushed underneath the hairy remains.

You can see Blake’s head sticking out.  The rest of Blake’s body is crushed underneath the stupid werewolf.

Doc, a believer in the curative properties of cocaine (because it was 1880) offers Blake a sip of his Miracle Cure-All but it is of no use.

OBSERVATIONS

  • Clearly, this all checks out and none of it is far fetched at all.  If anything, this all seems so plausible I now live in fear that I might get crushed underneath a stupid werewolf.
  • Miss Bonnie looks way too happy during all of this.
  • Damn Slade is sexy.  No wonder he has chicks fighting over him and shit.
  • Doc is truly a dedicated medical professional.

MOST IMPORTANTLY…

Money is tight around BQB Headquarters but luckily, this exercise has made me realize that I am a gifted artist.  I can save a bundle on what I was going to shell out on a cover illustrator and just design the book cover on my own.

Thank you for reading How the West Was Zombed, 3.5 readers.  If there are any other chapters you’d like me to illustrate, let me know and I’ll put pen to paper.

Shit, I’m so good at this I might turn this entire thing into a graphic novel.

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Yeti Krabs!

So, the other day I’m flipping through the channels and what do I find:

Yeti Krabs!  (a character on Nickelodeon's Spongebob Squarepants)

Yeti Krabs! (a character on Nickelodeon’s Spongebob Squarepants)

BQB:  The Yeti!  Are you seeing this?  I’m a trendsetter!  I start talking about Yetis on my blog and suddenly everyone has Yeti fever!

THE YETI:  Roar roar.  Check your ego at the door.  No one reads your stupid blog.

BQB:  Thanks Yeti.  I can always count on you to keep me grounded.

Curious, I googled “yeti krabs” to discover this:

Yeti Krab!

Yeti Krab!

BQB:  The Yeti!  Are you serious?  Yeti Krabs are real?  WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THAT YETI KRABS ARE REAL?!

THE YETI:  You didn’t ask.  They are our tiny, furry, pinchy cousins and are angrier than we are.

BQB:  That’s pretty angry, since you literally rip Bookshelf Battle HQ apart every day.  I feel like all I ever do is clean up after you anymore.

THE YETI:  I am Oscar to your Felix.  Roar.

Well anyway folks, it feels like this blog has been all about yetis lately so all I can say is keep those twitter follows coming because I’m 140 away from giving this snow beast his walking papers.

THE YETI:  It will never happen.  I’ve seen rocks with moss growing on them that are funnier than you are.

BQB:  Shut up, The Yeti.

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