Never-Ending Story III: Return to Fantasia (1994)

Director: Peter MacDonald

Writer: Jeff Lieberman (Screenplay) Michael Ende (Characters)

Starring: Jason James Richter, Melody Kay, Jack Black, Carole Finn, Ryan Bollman, Freddie Jones

 

Plot: A young boy must restore order when a group of bullies steal the magical book that acts as a portal between Earth and the imaginary world of Fantasia.


Tagline –  It’s a brand new beginning in the adventure that never end
Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: What the Hell Happened?

 

Story: Never-Ending Story III: Return to Fantasia starts as Bastian (Richter) is moving in with his new step mum and sister Nicole (Kay), with a new school which also has new bullies known as the Nasties lead by Slip (Black). While escaping from the bullies Bastian jumps to Fantasia only to leave the book in the hands of Slip who starts causing havoc in the world.

Bastian must return to the human world to get the book back and save Fantasia once again and tackle the bullies in the real world.

 

Thoughts on Never-Ending Story III: Return to Fantasia

 

Characters – Bastian is older, but seemingly less wise, he must learn to adapt to a new school where he must once again save Fantasia from the human world this time. Nicole is the new step-sister of Bastian who doesn’t want him in her life ruining her social circles at school, she doesn’t believe him along the way of helping the residents of Fantasia. Slip is the leader of the Nasties, the school bullies that target Bastian and use the book to try and bring down Fantasia.

PerformancesThe performances from the kids are acceptable for the film, Jack Black is wildly over the top for a bully character, but this is largely terrible for performances when it comes to the voice over characters.

StoryThe story shows Bastian in a new home, new school facing a new problem with Fantasia when the creatures come into the real-world. This does make for an interesting twist, but is completely doesn’t work, first of all the attempted humour thrown into the movie misses so often. When Nicole gets the necklace she just uses it to go shopping, come on really is this the best writing we could come up with. The real world references don’t work either.

Adventure/Family/FantasyThe adventure throws us to the real world which doesn’t seem to work for where the film has gone before, the family might get more of the jokes, but won’t enjoy the adventure side because the fantasy world just doesn’t work for the film.

SettingsHaving the film set in the real world takes away the beauty in the landscapes that were created.

Special EffectsThe effects take a huge step back here because they all look terrible now.


Scene of the Movie –
There really isn’t one.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The awful attempt to make this a comedy.

Final ThoughtsThis was awful, what happened is the only question I have left for this movie because it takes so many steps back to become beyond awful viewing.

 

Overall: Terrible throughout.

Rating

 

 

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Christmas Holiday Weekend – The Holiday (2006)

Director: Nancy Meyers

Writer: Nancy Meyers (Screenplay)

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Eli Wallach, Edward Burns, Rufus Sewell

 

Plot: Two women troubled with guy-problems swap homes in each other’s countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Feel Good Christmas Film

 

Story: The Holiday starts as we see Iris (Winslet) a wedding columnist who is madly in love with a co-worker Jasper (Sewell) but discovers he is now engaged to a fellow co-worker destroying what she wanted in life. We move to LA where we meet Amanda (Diaz) who finds out her boyfriend has been cheating on her.

Both women want to spend Christmas away from home and the stresses of their lives find themselves swapping homes for a couple of weeks. Both women find themselves like a fish out of water, with Amanda befriending Iris’ brother Graham (Law), while Iris meets composer Miles (Black) and her 90-year old neighbour Arthur (Wallach) who is just as lonely as she finds herself.

With the story unfolding the two women get to learn a new way of life they could never imagine and find themselves learning they could one day love again.

 

Thoughts on The Holiday

 

Characters/PerformanceAmanda is a movie trailer cutter who breaks up with her boyfriend and goes searching for a getaway from her life, she finds herself in England meeting Graham who shows her a new way of life. Iris is an English woman that has found herself trapped hoping that one day she will end up with one co-worker. She agrees to go on the house swap to LA where she meets a man whose getting older and feels forgotten by his work as well as a man in Miles who is going through the same problems is. Graham is a single father trying to balance any sort of relationship with a career and raising his children. Miles is a music composer for movies that offers friendship for Iris but connection on the levels,

Performance Wise, Diaz shows once again she is great for romantic comedies, with Winslet showing here that she can handle comedy, Law shows he is always good for this type of role and Jack Black steps up to go toe to toe with true A-listers.

StoryThe story is about love, how we these women go through a bad patch but will find a way to be stronger once they come through it. While it is all very much created to say there will always be a quick fix after a break up, we do get to experience the joy they go through. By the end of the film you will have said you enjoyed the journey we go through.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy isn’t too heavy but comes off when it needs to, with the romance side of the story tackling break ups, letting people go and most of all taking a chance on someone new.

SettingsThe settings are used well to show the different worlds both Amanda and Iris have come from and how they get used to the new lives they are living for two weeks.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great Christmas film that gives us all hope when it comes to love even when we think we might have lost it all when it comes to hope.

 

Overall: Enjoyable Christmas film for all to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Alessandro Carloni

Writer: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Bryan Cranston, JK Simmons, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu

 

Plot: Continuing his “legendary adventures of awesomeness”, Po must face two hugely epic, but different threats: one supernatural and the other a little closer to his home.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Sequel

 

Story: Kung Fu Panda 3 starts as we see how Kai is trying to escape from the spirit world where he has been trapped for 500 years. Po on the other hand is being pushed into become the teacher which Po isn’t prepared for and when his father Li arrives in town, he gets to learn about his past.

Po must learn the art of chi to defeat Kai and only his real father claims to be able to teach him this skill, so Po goes on an adventure of self-discovery. With Po learning about his past the rest of the Furious Six must find a way to stop Kai before he takes all of the students of chi.

 

Thoughts on Kung Fu Panda 3

 

Characters Po is ready for the next step of being a master and that is to become the teacher, but as he isn’t ready he searches advice from his father only to learn that his real father is still alive and willing to teach him chi. Li is the real father of Po who wants to bring him home with the promise of teaching him chi. Kai is a vengeful spirit who was once a feared warrior but now he is obsessed with getting all the chi in the world to make him the most powerful creature on Earth. The Furious Six are barely used through this outing with Tigress being the only one who is involved in the main story. The world building of characters is good here as we learn more about the past with other warriors and future with new warriors.

StoryThe story here does show us how Po is continuing his development in training to be a grand master, we have the biggest threat in the villain who isn’t just well trained but has supernatural abilities. This is a huge improvement on the last outing and makes us want to follow the story on the deeper level. The dealing with the parent issues also does come off as an important lesson.

Action/Comedy/FamilyThe action once again is great and entertaining with the comedy being hit or miss throughout. This does seem to be for the family and will entertain the whole family more than the last outing.

SettingsThe settings once again look great and dive more into fantasy this time which is great to see.

AnimationThe animation looks fantastic which is something we have come to know in this franchise now.

Final ThoughtsThis is an improvement on the last outing and I feel is more entertaining than the first one, so I do believe this is the best in the franchise for the story of Po.

 

Overall: Enjoy the third chapter of this franchise.

Rating

 

Franchise Weekend – Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Writer: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu

 

Plot: Po and his friends fight to stop a peacock villain from conquering China with a deadly new weapon, but first the Dragon Warrior must come to terms with his past.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Weaker Sequel

 

Story: Kung Fu Panda 2 starts as we learn of an evil peacock named Shen who has mastered the art of fireworks and has gone into hiding to make the perfect weapon. Meanwhile Po is continuing his training working as a unit in the now Furious Six and when not fighting he is training with Shifu.

With the Furious Six going into battle against Shen, Po must face the truth about where he came from as he finally confronts the realization he was adopted and what happened to his parents.

 

Thoughts on Kung Fu Panda 2

 

Characters Po is still clumsy but a warrior never the less but this time he must face his past while seeing his heroes disappoint him. Shifu lets his team do the work this time not being overly involved in the story. Shen is the peacock looking to conquer China with his powerful unstoppable weapon. The Furious Six all play their part again too with Tigress seemingly getting the biggest part. The characters do all work for the film and do make this feel like a sequel adventure for the characters taking on a new villain.

StoryThe story does feel slightly flatter this time around, now Po is trained it is just the group taking on a new villain as we try to learn about where Po came from and why he is the only Panda around. It feels like a sequel but lacks the punch the first one had by trying to go overly emotional.

Action/Comedy/FamilyThe action is all what we expect, big and martial arts that only works for animated, the comedy seems to have dried up more just not clicking enough. This is fine for a family film though that will keep the kids happier than the adults.

SettingsOnce again the settings do look great for battling kingdoms which are surrounded with smaller town.

AnimationWe know the animation is fantastic and once again it doesn’t let us down.

Final ThoughtsThis is a weaker sequel that just seems to lack the heart the first film had, leaving it all feel like it could have been a straight to DVD sequel.

 

Overall: Weak sequel you just can’t enjoy as much.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Kung Fu Panda (2008)

Director: Mark Osborne, John Stevenson

Writer: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger (Screenplay) Cyrus Voris, Ethan Reiff (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu

 

Plot: The Dragon Warrior has to clash against the savage Tai Lung as China’s fate hangs in the balance: However, the Dragon Warrior mantle is supposedly mistaken to be bestowed upon an obese panda who is a tyro in martial arts.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Family Film

 

Story: Kung Fu Panda starts as panda Po dreams of being a martial arts warrior joining the furious five Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper and Crane. All trained under their master Shifu but when Tai Lung escapes from prison, Shifu must accept a new student from the wise Oogway who holds a contest to retrieve the dragon scroll declaring Po as the latest Dragon Warrior.

Po is rejected by Shifu, who pushes him to the limits hoping he will quit, but Po isn’t going to just give up. This gives Shifu a chance to fulfil his destiny of training a dragon warrior to defeat his once greatest warrior Tai Lung before his evil ways take over once again.

 

Thoughts on Kung Fu Panda

 

CharactersPo is a clumsy panda that dreams of leaving his family business and becoming a warrior next to the Furious Five. When he gets picked as the next Dragon Warrior he must overcome his own fears to prove to everyone wrong. Shifu is the master that wants nothing to do with Po but when his best student is coming for what he claims to be his, he must train Po to defeat him. Tai Lung is the former student that grew in darkness which led to him being captured but once he escapes he looks to continue his rampage across the country. The Furious Five are great warriors with their own different strengths and weakness. All the characters do add to the story, we also get the inclusion of the different species which get their trademark moves to defeat opponents in battle.

StoryThe story focuses on an unlikely hero coming from nothing to become the hero in a battle against an evil that will put a former master back on the right path when he searches for the mistake he once made. This all comes off extremely well getting everything you need without making anything complicated for a family audience.

Action/Comedy/FamilyThe action is martial arts sequences you couldn’t pull off in real life movies which gives us no limits to what we could see and also used to add comedy to everything going on, most of the comedy is slapstick which works for the martial arts theme which fits into the family genre without getting too violent or crude with jokes.

SettingsThe settings all look fantastic for everything going on showing where Po comes from and where he could end up once he is fully trained.

AnimationThe animation all looks stunning like you would expect when you see budget this big.

Final ThoughtsThis took a while for me to see but now I have I can say I did enjoy this movie more than I thought.

 

Overall: Enjoyable action family movie.

Rating