Monster Trucks (2016)

Director: Chris Wedge

Writer: Derek Connolly (Screenplay) Matthew Robinson, Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger (Story)

Starring: Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Thomas Lennon, Barry Pepper, Rob Lowe, Danny Glover, Amy Ryan, Holt McCallany

 

Plot: A young man working at a small town junkyard discovers and befriends a creature which feeds on oil being sought by a fracking company.


Tagline – On January 13, meet Creech

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Family Film

 

Story: Monster Trucks starts as we see how the oil company run by Reece Tenneson (Lowe) has an accident on one of their sites which see three creatures discovered underground, where one escapes. We meet Tripp (Till) a high school student that struggles to concentrate, who works at the local scrapyard to stay away from his step-father Sheriff Rick (Pepper).

When Tripp finds the creature in the scrapyard the two become friends as it hides in his truck, with fellow student Meredith (Levy) trying to explain the biological side to the creature, while Reece is trying to figure out how to solve a potential problem to the eco-system and his oil drilling.

 

Thoughts on Monster Trucks

 

Characters – Tripp is a high school student, living with his mother and step-father, he comes off like a slacker with dreams of leaving the small town. He works at the scrapyard working on his escape with the truck he has been building, when he befriends the unknown creature he gets to go on an adventure to save the new species. Meredith is a fellow student that works with Tripp to understand the creature but her character plays out with the idea of being a damsel in distress.  Jim works for the oil company, he learns of the intelligence the creatures have and wants to help make them free not destroying their environment. Sheriff Rick is the step-father of Tripp who must try to keep up with Tripp without letting him get in trouble, he isn’t a direct enemy of Tripp’s though. Reece Tenneson is the oil tycoon that is losing money with the creatures being alive and now he will do anything to get rid of them.

PerformancesLucas Till is good in this leading role even though himself and Jane Levy both feel too old for the high school role as we have seen both in more adult roles. Thomas Lennon makes good for the extra comic relief even though most of his jokes miss, Rob Lowe is a good businessman villain too.

StoryThe story follows an undiscovered creature being found in an oil drilling location, making it a battle to see whether the oil company can be bought down before destroying the creatures home. This works for the story, it may not be the most original idea but it brings us the character we can relate too who want to do right and the ones that don’t with their greed. We get good moments of unlikely friendships coming through different locations too.

Action/Adventure/Comedy/Fantasy/Sci-FiWe hit a lot of genres here, the action comes from the chase sequences that are pure fun once you switch your brain off, the adventure takes Tripp on a journey he never imagined he would be going on. The comedy is hit or miss though but the fantasy elements are part fantasy and part a potential reality because you never know about new species. This is designed well for a family film though.

SettingsThe film takes part in and around a small town in North Dakota, this idea is that you might not make it out of this town and this shows what could happen for the characters.

Special EffectsThe effects work well enough for the film without being the absolute best because with the budget the film has you would expect better.


Scene of the Movie –
The final chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Meredith could have been written stronger.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun film, don’t expect greatness but just something you could enjoy with ease.

 

Overall: Enjoyable family film.

Rating

 

 

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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

 

 

Trolls (2016)

trollsDirector: Walt Dohrn, Mike Mitchell

Writer: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, Erica Rivinoja (Screenplay) Thomas Dam (Good Luck Trolls)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooe Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christine Baranski, Russell Brand, Gwen Stefani

 

Plot: After the Bergens invade Troll Village, Poppy, the happiest Troll ever born, and the curmudgeonly Branch set off on a journey to rescue her friends.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Animated Story

 

Story: Trolls starts with the Trolls living a happy life but the Bergens discover them and learn that eating a troll will make them happy. On the grand day of Prince Gristle is to be feed his first troll the Trolls escape to rebuild their society.

20 years later Princess Poppy continues the stories of how they escaped and continue to be positive with single and dancing but on troll Branch doesn’t believe they will ever be safe from the Bergens.

When the Bergens find the trolls Princess Poppy must team up with Branch to save the taken trolls from the Bergen and save the day.

 

Thoughts on Trolls

 

StoryThe story feels like it could just be another episode of the Smurfs really because it is about a small group of creatures Trolls that get taken by bigger creatures Bergens that want to eat them. Everything that goes on through the is generic with the reluctant hero having to work with the overly cheerful character to beat a villain that is using the royal figure to get what they want. This all works for keeping things simple without being anything overly original.

Animation/Comedy/Family/MusicalThe animation is all good and works for the world of toy trolls but the comedy misses on most levels but would work for the young audience. I don’t feel this has enough for all ages but the musical songs used will bring back memories for the fans of the music of people’ youths.

Characters/PerformancePoppy is your typical heroine for this style of film plucky and over ambitious while Branch is your reluctant hero. The villains all come off like Gargamel from Smurfs while the others feel like mis-lead over the years. The choice of Kendrick and Timberlake in the lead singer characters does work because know they are great singers.

SettingsThe settings all would be what you would expect from the world of Trolls with nothing else coming off too exceptional.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good film to stick on for the kids to enjoy but otherwise it will be hard to get through.

 

Overall: Easy to watch kids distraction film.

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