The Other Side of Animation 50: Underdogs Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)


Well, we are here yet again with another GOYA Award winner. I never made it my intention of criticizing/talking about this award system from Spain so much, but yet, it gives me a lot to talk about. When we live in a world where the movie-going individual has found admiration, respect, and love for animated films from overseas, it’s amazing how many clunkers there are that try to essentially be a DreamWorks, Disney, Pixar, or any of the riffraff that isn’t those big three. You can definitely find some interesting stories with some of these films, like with today’s target, the Argentina/Spain collaboration, Underdogs. This film, which is also known as The Unbeatables in the UK, and Metegol in Argentina, Underdogs has a very, peculiar history of being brought over to the states. It was fully translated, dubbed by celebrities, and was (and still is) being distributed by The Weinstein Company here in the states. Unfortunately, it kept being pushed back multiple times in 2015, but a week before its actual release, it was pulled from the release schedule and is now on Netflix and is now available on DVD. Boy, doesn’t that sound frightening? It sounded like The Weinstein Company made a very big mistake in investing in this movie, which is why they released it when no one even remembers or cares about it. It kind of screws over the big stars they brought on board for this, like Ariana Grande, Katie Holmes, John Leguizamo, Nicholas Hoult, and Mel Brooks, to name a few. Then again, I haven’t heard one interview where they talked about it. So, did they want to make sure no one saw this for a reason? Is it a huge disaster? Well, let’s see what the damage is.

The story revolves around a young man named Jake, voiced by Matthew Morrison. He lives in a small town where he works at a bar as a busboy. One day he gets into an encounter with the town bully, Ace, voiced by Nicholas Hoult, and challenges him to a foosball game. Jake beats Ace at a game, and humiliates him in front of everyone in the town, and impresses his love interest, Lara, voiced by Ariana Grande. Seven years pass, and Ace returns to the town as one of the biggest soccer players in the world. Ace, being one who doesn’t take losing lightly (even when that loss happened seven years ago!), he decides to buy the town and ruin everyone’s’ lives. Jake falls into despair, and due to the miracle of lazy scriptwriting, a tear falls from his face onto a foosball figure and brings it to life. This horrifying little individual is Captain Skip, voiced by Taran Killam. He decides to help Jake beat Ace at soccer, and save Lara. Can Jake and his team of tiny foosball players (who don’t really do much but provide slapstick comedy and force the humans to do all the work during the actual soccer match) save the day?

To be honest, I can see why this film was, how you say, quietly shown the door. The animation is not very good. Part of that reason is that a lot of the character designs are unappealing and quite frankly ugly-looking. Sometimes, a design doesn’t translate well from paper to CGI. There is a reason why Pixar and Disney have a set style for their characters, because they are appealing to look at. The only times the animation gets decent is during the soccer sequences, and even then, it’s still not impressive in the slightest. It’s like watching an action anime where you know the entire budget went into the action sequences, and what little was left went into making the other elements of the film passable. The resolution of the textures is just painful to look at. The voice acting was also very spotty, where the dub didn’t match the lip movements, and the actors didn’t care that they are getting paid to, you know, act! It’s like they went with a practice take, and didn’t need anything else! It doesn’t help the film either that the plot is not focused. It has boring characters, a romance that isn’t earned, and probably one of the most pathetic villains I have ever seen. Oh yeah, let’s talk about one of the top 5 most pathetic villains in all of cinema. Ace loses a foosball match, leaves for seven years, comes back, and basically ruins the small town because he was humiliated by that one match. How much of a pathetic waste of air do you have to be to have that ruin your entire life? Heck, the logic in this film makes no sense. Why would an entire town be afraid of one punk kid? It’s not like there isn’t a police force there, you see policemen, why didn’t they just billy-club the punk for being a terror of the town, and send him to jail? Why is there a magical tear in this movie? How do the other foosball players come alive when they weren’t hit by a magical plot item? Why was there genetic mutation going on, and yet is never brought up again? This entire film tries to pretzel itself with all these ideas to make sense, but it ends up with a pretzel with too many twist and turns. It’s also overbaked, and sits like a rock inside your belly when you eat it. There is zero satisfaction with watching this film from beginning to end. You just don’t freaking care about anyone, since the film doesn’t take time to develop anyone outside of one-dimensional tropes. It ends with a Rocky-style “the bad guy wins, but everyone loves the underdog!”, but it’s so boring, tired, and again, it doesn’t feel earned, and yes, you don’t even care!

So, was there anything I liked about this movie? Well, I sort of liked the little foosball players. Granted, most of the time, they were annoying, and John Leguizamo, god bless him, was trying, but he came off as grating most of the time. That being said, those little guys were definitely much more interesting than the actual humans. I also liked one joke, but that is not a sign of positivity in a film that isn’t funny or at all watchable.

Funny enough, the biggest piece of praise you can give this film is that it was smart enough to stay straight-to-DVD. They didn’t pull a Norm of the North and shove it into theaters, which I think was the original idea. Luckily for The Weinstein Company, they should know that I knew about the movie, and will make sure they, and everyone else, knows that they released a terrible movie. It’s easily the second worst animated film I have seen in 2016. Again, the only reason it’s not number one with Norm of the North, is because The Weinstein Company knew they would get crucified for releasing this waste of time on the big screens. I don’t get how this became popular, besides it being popular in countries that treat soccer as a religion. This is just pure garbage, and no, this might not have been an American-made film, but saying “I shouldn’t be criticizing this film because it was super popular in other countries” is pure ignorant bullocks. There are so many films from foreign countries that have come out over here, and were and still are amazing. The only reason this film was at all popular was because it is focused around a sport that everyone else treats like it’s the only thing worth living for. Plus, Spain and South America have made amazing animated films, like Boy and the World and Wrinkles, so there is no excuse for “it’s a country not known for animation”, since there have been amazing films that can quite frankly be better than what we make here in the states. Avoid this movie at all cost, and not even for a bad movie night. Just don’t waste your time on this horrendous excuse for animation. You know what? After watching so much schlock, I’m going to do as many positive film reviews as possible, so next time, we look at The Painting. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this review, and I hope you don’t buy this movie. See you all next time

Rating: The Worst/Blacklist

The Other Side of Animation 44: The Angry Birds Movie Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

This has been an odd year for video game movies. How? Well, how about the fact that we are getting movies that actually looks like their gaming counterparts. To be honest, I find that so shocking, since either due to technology or no one caring, it was always so hard for Hollywood to make these kinds of movies look like the games on which they are based. Too bad they still can’t be good movies, with this year’s Ratchet & Clank being one of the contenders for one of the worst movies of 2015. It might look like the game, have the same voice actors, and is basically the game turned into a movie, but it can’t save itself from sloppy storytelling and boring characters. That’s why today’s review of The Angry Birds Movie is such a surprise. It’s actually not bad! Released on May 20th, 2016, this CGI animated film directed by Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly, who both have animation film experiences, including films like Tangled, Hotel Transylvania, and Wreck-It-Ralph, The Angry Birds Movie is honestly the biggest surprise of this year. I mean, not a surprise that it’s fantastic, but it isn’t a mess on arrival. I think everyone was thinking The Angry Birds Movie was going to bomb, hard! So, how is it? Well, let’s find out!

The film takes place on this island full of flightless birds. The main story focuses on Red, voiced by Jason Sudekis. Red is an angry individual among a village of happy- go-lucky birds. After getting into an incident with a customer, he is forced to to attend anger management, run by a bird named Matilda, voiced by Maya Rudolph. While there, Red meets up with a few individuals like Chuck, voiced by Josh Gad, Bomb, voiced by Danny McBride, and Terrance, voiced, or grumbled by Sean Penn. While attending the class, a ship of pigs arrives on the island led by Leonard, voiced by Bill Hader. And if you have played the games at all, the pigs steal the eggs, and it is up to Red and the gang to find the Mighty Eagle and save the eggs before the pigs eats them. Can they get them back? Will the birds get angry?

So, what is actually good about this film? Well, the best element that the film has going for it is the bright, colorful, and fast animation. It actually looks better than what I was expecting. It definitely makes Ratchet & Clank look so much worse, in terms of textures. While the overall look of the birds might be odd with the feet and arms, the designs don’t look that bad. I also found the script to be not that bad. Sure, it doesn’t totally devoid itself from modern animated film tropes in terms of hip dialogue and pop cultural references, but there was a lot less of it than I was expecting. The script also led itself to some pretty funny jokes. Not all the jokes land, in fact, a lot of them don’t, but I did find myself laughing a couple of times. I think that is because the actors they did get for the roles of the characters actually put effort into their acting. It could have been so easy for this film to get actors who would do nothing more than play themselves. The celebrities they hired are mostly comedians and comedic actors from sketch shows, and I was praising the casting choices when I wrote about this film a few months back. And yes, there is stunt casting and celebrity cameos that really weren’t worth the money due to how few lines they are given during the film. Still, my favorite performances came from Jason Sudekis, due to how relatable he makes Red, Danny Mcbride since I’m a sucker for big dumb characters like Bomb, Bill Hadder as the main antagonist Lenard, Keegan-Michael Key, since, well, he is Keegan Michael Key, and he made that bird judge lively, and to my surprise, Sean Penn as Terrence. Honestly, the Sean Penn casting is pretty hilarious in a very meta way due to his past history of anger, and his character, who is a giant caveman-like angry bird. The biggest surprise from this entire experience is how much effort was honestly put into this film. This could have easily been worse than both Ratchet & Clank and Warcraft combined, and yet, this is probably the best video game movie adaptation of the year. Granted, we have to see how Assassin’s Creed does, but so far, The Angry Birds Movie has more effort put into an overall experience than the two other video game movies out right now. I’ll be honest though, Rovio, the company behind Angry Birds probably put their best time and consideration into this film, since they have been going into a downward spiral of popularity with all the recent financial losses and layoffs throughout the last couple of years.

With all that praise being said, this film still has a huge amount of problems. First off, the film suffers from the usual children’s animated film tropes of pop cultural references, fast musical elements, and potty humor. Can studios get it through their thick skulls that you don’t need to make a film around those elements? Like I said above, they really didn’t need to stunt cast so many of the celebrities due to how they don’t have many lines at all. It just seems like a pointless expense to worry about. The pacing also could have been better. Once you hit the halfway point, and to no surprise, the pigs steal the eggs. The film does waste so much time with this Mighty Eagle character, and that is such a huge disappointment. They get Peter Dinklage as this character, and unfortunately, the Mighty Eagle bit goes on for way too long, and has the worst jokes of the film. Oh, and what is with this film and its fetish with its butt-shaking jokes? Like, wow! There are so many butt jokes! The ending is enjoyable, since you get to see the birds fly from a sling shot into the pig’s kingdom, but the pacing during this scene could have been slower, due to how you can’t really take a breather. This is why when you get those quiet moments of the good guys trying to find what they are looking for, or running into the bad guy between the action sequences, it gives the viewers time to take in what has been happening.

Okay, let’s talk about the elephant in the room, the political undertone. A lot of critics have pointed out that apparently, The Angry Birds Movie has some political themes under its belt, with Red representing the conservative individual stuck in a liberal PC world, and some other elements. So, what do I think about all this? Well, while I can see where some of them are coming from, I think people were looking too deeply into a movie that has a Sean Penn caveman bird with some intentional or unintentional comedy with said character, and an extended peeing joke at the halfway point of the film. I think it’s unintentional timing due to the current political landscape. And that is about as political as you are going to see me get with these reviews.

Overall, The Angry Birds Movie is a surprise. It’s not a great movie by any means since it falls into so many of the traps seen in bad kids films, but it was still so much more enjoyable than a lot of the animated films that have come out and will be coming out from the likes of LionsGate. I have already seen the worst movie of the year, Norm of the North, so anything that actually put effort into the overall package gets my thumbs up. I don’t know if I would recommend picking it up at release, but it’s not going to be the worst purchase or viewing in the world or of this year. Well, we are going from a surprise, to a new modern day classic with Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet. Thanks for reading, and see you all next time!

Rating: Rent It

The Other Side of Animation 35: Nocturna Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Last time we looked at a GOYA Award-winning animated film, it was the less than stellar Tad: The Lost Explorer. I know I was admittedly harsh on the award system for not having enough high quality films, but I was being harsh for a reason. When you have such great movies like Nocturna, Wrinkles, and Chico & Rita, they set a standard of how good these films should be, but they seem to either not make a lot of animated films over in Spain, or the barrier of entry is low. When your list of winners includes Planet 51, The Missing Lynx, Pinocchio 3000, and the previously reviewed Tad: The Lost Explorer, then you need to start making the barrier of entry higher and more controlled in terms of quality. That is why I wanted to talk about today’s film, Nocturna, because it is simply one of the best animated films to come out of Spain. Nocturna was originally released back in 2007, and was brought over by GKIDS in 2014. It was created by Filmax Animation, and was directed by Adria Garcia and Victor Maldonado. So, was this film worthy of winning its GOYA Award? Well, let’s find out!

The story revolves around a young boy named Tim, who lives in an orphanage. Every night, he sleeps by the window in the moonlight since it protects him from his fear of the dark. One night, after some kids decide to become jerks, Tim runs out to the top of the building, where he usually likes to be during the day. That night, though, changes when he realizes that a star that he has called his own, vanishes. After almost falling to his death, he is saved by an unknown being called the Cat Shepard, a humanoid balloon-like being that herds cats around the night. Tim then finds out that there is a whole other world at night known as Nocturna, where these unusual characters and creatures do different things during the night. Accidentally, Cat Shepard tells Tim that Moka, the ruler/boss of Nocturna, can help him with his problem. Will Tim be able to solve what is going on before the entire world of Nocturna is destroyed by a big shadowy monster? Well, you have to watch to find out!

Let’s get started with the animation and creativity, the film’s strongest elements. The 2D animation is amazingly smooth. It’s gorgeous to look at, and the character designs are whimsical. The entire world of Nocturna is creative. Think of it like M.I.B, but for nighttime situations. How do you get messy hair? They’ve got individuals for that! What about fresh dew? They’ve got people for that. Those cricket sounds? Well, they are beings that ride bikes that sound like crickets. Heck, dreams are basically TV/movie scripts that are read to you by specialists. It’s such a creative world, and they take advantage of any trope that goes on at night. The film does take its time to invest you into the world in which the story takes place. The entire art direction is just gorgeous. It looks stylized, and it reminds me of if Tim Burton did something more lighthearted. I also like the idea of the overall twist in the film being that Tim’s fear of the dark is what is causing all the problems. It’s not just a villain who wants to take over the world or anything of that caliber. Something that I have liked about foreign animated films is that they want to be more about the characters, the world, and the stories. Even the little clichéd elements like the “the lie that breaks the two apart” is done better with no huge amounts of moping around. Both Tim and Cat Shepard go do their own thing, but still end up together. It’s not drawn out or boring.

One of my few problems with Nocturna is the sound design. I don’t know if it was a transfer thing for the Blu-ray version I have, but at some points in the movie, the English dub is hard to hear. It’s like watching a UK-based crime drama. Sometimes they can speak clearly, but other times, the accents get in the way. It’s actually like that joke in Hot Fuzz! Anyway, another nitpicky problem I have with this movie is the way the big twist is handled. So, the main villain is Tim’s physical manifestation of his fear of the dark. It’s interesting in terms of design, and is beautifully animated. But Moka, the big boss of all Nocturna, is really unwilling to help or tell the boy about the situation. I guess the story wanted to be like “you need to face your fears by yourself” and all, but it doesn’t feel fully fleshed out due to Moka being so curmudgeonly about the whole situation. At first, I thought it was Moka who was making the stars disappear, but in the end, it wasn’t. I think this is one element of the story that could have been developed more.

I really love Nocturna. It’s pretty to look at, has a fleshed-out world, and any time we can get traditional 2D animation is a good thing to me. You can either get a Blu-ray version or a DVD version. I think pick your personal choice, since most video game consoles and DVD players can play both. I wish GKIDS did a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, but you deal with the cards given to you. Well, that was a lot of fun looking at another GKIDS film. Let’s take a look at a DC animated film next time with Justice League vs. Teen Titans. Thanks for reading, I hope you like what you read, and see you all next time!

Rating: Go See It!

The Other Side of Animation: Henry & Me Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Sometimes, it’s hard to tackle certain animated films. This is especially true when the film has obvious problems, and is really schmaltzy, but you feel bad or at least a little uncomfortable criticizing since it’s about a kid going through cancer. Yeah, this is review is about Henry & Me. This animated film was directed by Barrett Esposito, created by Reveal Animation Studios, distributed by Henry & Me Productions, and was released on August 18th, 2014. This is an interesting movie. It’s definitely a lot more interesting to talk about than most of the animated schlock that comes out. It’s a 2D animated film with some CGI elements and a cast that includes Richard Gere, Chazz Palminteri, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, and a slew of famous New York Yankee players from past to present. So, how well executed is this animated film of baseball and a child going through cancer? Well, let’s find out.

The story revolves around a young boy named Jack, voiced by Austin Williams, who was living a good life until cancer shows up and, well, ruins it. As he is waiting in the hospital by his loving parents and nurse played by Cyndi Lauper, Jack is greeted by a magical individual. The individual himself is a man named Henry, voiced by Richard Gere. Henry decides to take Jack through a dream-like experience, meeting both past and current New York Yankee players to cheer him on through the experience.

I feel more comfortable talking about the positives first since I don’t want to come off like a jerk reviewing a film about this subject. First off, the animation is actually better than I was thinking. The 2D hand-drawn stuff is gorgeous to look at. Sure, it doesn’t blend well with the CGI, but seeing it at all in this day of CGI animation is quite nice. I also like the voice cast. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but they do a serviceable performance, considering what kind of film this is. You actually get a tiny bit invested in a film that has some, quite honestly, corny lines. Even the child actor, who is usually the more challenging to take seriously as an actor, does a decent job. I also like the bright vibrant colors. In an industry that seems like you can only have drab colors, it’s nice to see something with vibrant colors. I also give the film credit for getting a lot of actual Yankee players to actually “act” in the film as themselves.

That said, Henry & Me, has a lot of problems. I hate to criticize this film due to the subject matter, but it is way too sweet and mushy for its own good.  There is just too much overly cheerful dialogue and “you can do it” speeches, and it can be a bit much. Speaking of “you can do it” speeches, the film is rather repetitive since each person Jack and Henry meet, tells him the same thing. I wouldn’t mind this, but it’s basically the same thing over and over again in a film that already doesn’t have a lot of substance to it. It also feels a tad cynical, since it is all about the most popular players in Yankees’ history, and, well, they do skip over a few glaring/bad moments in the history like Alex Rodriguez’s drug fiasco. A bit of my cynical side also tells me that this was just to support the purchase of Yankee merchandise. I know that seems harsh, but this film does have a lot of stuff to poke fun at. It also takes a bit of a weird twist where you think the entire thing was a dream, but then, yeah…you can kind of guess what happens in the end.

Henry & Me is tough to talk about in a couple of ways. It’s not a great movie by a long shot, due to a lot of problems. On the other hand, it is touching, and it wasn’t just made to promote the Yankees. I can understand if some child who might be going through the horrible experience of cancer gets inspired to keep pushing and make sure to stomp cancer into the ground, but you could also argue that it has a limited market and limited mass appeal. Like I said though, it feels like a film that had nothing but good intentions in its creation. I would see if you can find a way to check out this film if you are curious. Not the greatest baseball-focused movie ever, but you can do a lot worse. Well, I might not like Henry & Me much, but considering what I may be reviewing for my 30th review, Henry & Me is going to look like a masterpiece! Thanks for reading! I hope you liked this article, and see you next time!

Rating: Rent It!

The Other Side of Animation: The Book of Life

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I wouldn’t blame everyone or anyone saying that animated movies, anime, and animated shows all look the same today. I mean, this isn’t new, like how in the 90s, most Warner Bros and Don Bluth films were trying to look like Disney. In the 2000s to now, third-party animation studios want to look like the Dreamworks or Pixar/Disney films. A lot of animated cartoons look like Adventure Time. Anime today, with the exception of the rare few, all look the same. Sure, sometimes, the reasons why they make these artistic decisions are easy to explain, like how the Adventure Time look is easier to animate, and so on. However, it does end up making everything look really forgettable or mediocre when it’s done wrong. I know that in the end, it‘s what the show and movie offer in terms of story and character, but you have to admit that everything starts to blend together at one point. This is why I adore The Book of Life. While it has its problems, it’s a visually pleasing film that has a unique look that stands out from everyone who’s trying to copy and failing to be the next Dreamworks. For those that want some info on this film, The Book of Life was released back in 2014 in October by Free Birds’ studio Reel FX Entertainment, and was directed by Jorge Gutiérrez, the individual behind El Tigre. Now then, let’s get started!

The story revolves around a group of snotty classmates as they arrive at a museum and are taken inside to check out a Mexican folk and myths exhibit. The tour guide, Mary Beth, voiced by Christina Applegate, begins the tour by opening up The Book of Life. The book includes all the stories within the world, and out of all the stories, she picks one about two young men and a woman. The actual story begins (yeah, I know, it’s annoying) with the focus on three individuals, Manolo Sánchez, voiced by Diego Luna, Maria Posada, voiced by Zoe Saldana, and Joaquin Mondragon, voiced by Channing Tatum. It’s your basic love triangle story, but it’s only when two gods enter the story that things become interesting. One god is La Muerte, the ruler of the Land of the Remembered, voiced by Kate Del Castillo, and Xibalba, the ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, voiced by the always awesome Ron Pearlman. The two gods make a deal as to who will win the heart of Maria. Of course, Xibalba tricks Manolo and ends up getting him killed to win the bet. Manolo then ends up in the Land of the Remembered, and it is up to him, with the help of his ancestors, to get back to the world of the living.

Now that I got that out of the way, what’s good about the film? First off, it’s very unique-looking, due to the director Jorge Gutiérrez’s art style. I adore the wooden puppet character design, the really vibrant colors, and just how well the art style transfers well to 3D character models. The animation is also so expressive and smooth. It’s obvious that either the studio got more of a budget, or better talent due to how amazing it looks compared to their first big film, Free Birds. I also love the fact that it does tackle themes of death and losing a loved one, being yourself, and for Manolo’s case, finding an alternate solution that does not use violence. I also like a lot of the characters, like Manolo, the two Gods, Manolo’s family, and even the Candle Maker character was not as annoying as I thought he would be alongside Manolo’s musical friends. The voice cast was great. While they do have individuals like Ron Pearlman and Channing Tatum, the rest of the cast is Hispanic. Granted, seeing Ice Cube, was a tad off-putting at first, and I do think they could have gotten a Hispanic actor instead of him, but he did a great job as the Candle Maker. While the music is somewhat forgettable, it fits in better than the 900 different pop songs that are forced into Strange Magic. There are some original songs, and they are fine.

It’s all the more of a shame that with all the great stuff The Book of Life does, that the story and some of the characters have a lot of problems. Like Hotel Transylvania, the story has too many clichés that should be dead or done better/differently. You have the two guys fighting over a girl, the modern-day audience being told of the story, the liar revealed, the secondary villain since the God of Death is not enough, modern talk in a time in the past, modern songs, and a female character that has some personality, but not a whole lot. I love this movie, but I don’t want to ignore my criticisms toward it. I also don’t care for how the ending plays out. Basically, this whole film that has death as a focus on the story, plays it off like an episode of Dragon Ball Z, where in the end, death is like a mosquito bite. And before you ask, I did try and think of other anime that gave the middle finger to death, but couldn’t since, well, it’s Dragon Ball Z. My biggest complaint about the film is the modern-day school kid group element. They really didn’t need to be there, and they really brought me out of the immersion of the film by popping in from time to time. Heck, the whole museum set-up was interesting, but if it was just the museum tour guide and the janitor, it would have been so much better.

I might have criticized this film a lot since this was released in 2014, and by now, we should know certain tropes should die off, but The Book of Life was and still is a great movie. Its negative aspects don’t outweigh the positive elements. I would definitely recommend seeing this film, since it’s unique in a lot of areas, like being the first mainstream Hispanic fairytale, and having that beautiful colorful puppet art style. Well, we might have been on a positive streak, but depending on what you all voted for, we might have to dip right back into the infamous negativity. Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Rating: Go See It!

Hit or Miss Trailer Predictions: Capture the Flag

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Welcome back to Hit or Miss Trailer Predictions. This is a series of first impression articles covering the newest trailers on animated films, and breaking down the good or bad that the trailer offers.

When you watch a trailer for a movie, you want to make sure what you see is easily translatable to the normal moviegoer. You want them to know the set-up, the characters, and maybe throw in a few jokes/action sequences to fill up the trailer. Basically, you don’t want to confuse the moviegoer with what kind of story your movie is telling. Apparently, no one told that to the individual who edited the English trailer for Capture the Flag, a Spanish-animated film being directed by Enruique Gato, who you might know as the director of Tad the Lost Explorer. Definitely off to a good start, aren’t we? (Once again, notice my sarcasm). Let’s get to it. Here is a trailer for the film, and you can make your own conclusions.


The Animation

Honestly, the animation doesn’t look terrible. This film seems to have a bigger budget for the animation department than many other foreign CGI animated films, and it doesn’t look as clunky as say, Tad the Lost Explorer or The Snow Queen. It still doesn’t look as good as anything Disney or Pixar releases, but you can tell they put a little more effort into the overall presentation.


The Story

Unfortunately, this is where I have the biggest problem with the trailer; the story looks to be all over the place. Capture the Flag seems to have four different movies in one. You have a surfing movie, a ‘kid trying to bring his family back together’ movie, a space flight movie, and then a family-oriented sci-fi movie at the end. It should never be this complicated. For example, you watch the trailer for Ernest & Celestine, one of my all-time favorite films, and the trailer shows off an offbeat/quirky friendship that the two characters make, and one that their respective societies don’t think should happen. It’s easy to get into, and you aren’t confused by the end of it. Capture the Flag just looks confused in what it wants to be.


Art Direction

I honestly don’t have much to say about this part of the film. It has a generic Pixar-style look. It at least looks better than Snow Queens or Legend of Oz: Dorothy’s Return.



This is sadly another part about which I don’t have a lot to say. The humor sounds generic, and I’m not saying this film needs to be laugh-out-loud hilarious, but it would help if the writing was better, and I couldn’t see the jokes coming a mile away. Or, just make the writing more charming.


Any last minute good/bad comments?

Capture the Flag sounds like it’s trying to be hip and ‘with it’. With all the surfing and terms like “dude” being used, this would have been more fitting, even if still dated, if it relwased in the 90s. It reminds me again why films like How to Train your Dragon, Toy Story, Beauty and the Beast, and Song of the Sea work. Just be your own thing, and not stress out about being modern with the young kids. Remember, the kids who are seeing this are probably being taken by their parents. Entertain both!


Prediction: Critical Miss Maybe?

I feel like this film will probably be a critical bomb on release here in the states, but who knows. It could be like Dreamwork’s Sinbad film where it tries too hard to be for the younger crowd, but still has all of those elements that make any Sinbad film fun to watch. I’m glad to see the animation is better than most, but if they would just dial back on the pandering, take out a few of the plot elements, and be a more relatable or stable film, it would be much better. I don’t think Paramount, Capture The Flag’s distributor, has a huge hit on their hands, but we will have to see.

The Other Side of Animation: Room on the Broom Review

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Originally, I was going to review The Book of Life as the second part of this Halloween double feature alongside the first Hotel Transylvania film. However, I remembered a while back about a short film called Possessions that was nominated for the 86th Academy Awards Best Short Film. I looked up the rest of the nominations that were in that award show, and spotted a short film that I have seen on Netflix called Room on the Broom. Directed by Max Lang, known for the short film, The Gruffalo, and Jan Lachauer, Room on the Broom is based off the picture book of the same name by Julia Donaldson. Another distinction it has is how it is described as a 3D stop-motion film where a majority of the film is in stop-motion, and some CGI effects were put in to help with the limitations of making everything with clay. This film is also well known for its surprising cast of actors, but we will get to them later. Now then, shall we see if this witch’s broom had room to win an Academy Award? Let’s find out.

The story is about a witch, voiced by Gillian Anderson of X-Files fame, who, well, has a broom, and a pet cat voiced by Rob Brydon. The overall story is about their travels across the land, meeting new characters like a dog, voiced by Martin Clunes, a bird, voiced by Sally Hawkins, a frog, voiced by David Walliams, and they even encounter a dragon, voiced by Timothy Spall. Oh, and to round out the talent, the narrator is voiced by Simon Pegg.

So, for a short film based on a children’s book, how is it? Well, let’s talk about the good stuff, first. For 27 minutes, the film’s mix of Claymation and CGI is done quite well. It’s bright, colorful, and the animation is expressive. There is a really nice calming atmosphere to the overall journey. It helps that Simon Pegg does a wonderful job telling the story, using a quiet tone that fits the overall mood of everything. It’s not a super intense book, or a story that is hyper. It’s a soothing narration that could easily help a child close his or her eyes on the way to slumberland. The experience also has some simple morals any young person could recognize, like sharing, friendship, and overcoming adversity. The other voice actors do a good job with their roles, even though they don’t have many actual lines.

The overall package is simple, but I do have some complaints. First off, why did the film need big-named actors like Gillian Anderson or Timothy Spall? I understand Simon Pegg, but for characters who don’t talk much, they got some big named people. Granted, I doubt expanding this kind of story would have been worth the time and budget, but the characters are a bit simple, and don’t have a whole lot of personality to them. They are likable enough, but there isn’t much to them. I respect the organization that sets up the Academy Awards for nominating this movie, but compared to other films that were in this category like Possessions and Mr. Hublot, it might be a tad too simple to have actually won. Do I think it didn’t deserve to be nominated at all? Of course not! I’m not too familiar with animated short films, and as one of the few that I have watched, I could understand why it deserved to be on the list. Or, you know, they wanted to find candidates so Disney wasn’t the only one on there.

It’s honestly quite hard to really make this a complex review. It’s such a simple story, and it’s innocent. I didn’t find anything insulting or demeaning to children, which is pretty much a good thing. You can make a simple story, but everything needs to be executed correctly, or else complications can happen that might ruin whatever message or story you are trying to tell. I found it hard to hate such a film that had nothing, but good intentions. It passes with flying colors. With great animation and a whimsical charm to the overall product, Room on the Broom is a fun little romp. Just go in knowing this is written for a younger audience. Well, now that we got that film out of the way, we are getting close to the 10th review on The Other Side of Animation, so we might as well cover two infamously terrible films. Let’s start with a film that blatantly rode on the pigtails of Frozen’s hype with The Snow Queen. Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Rating: Go See It!