The Secret Life of Pets

The Secret Life of Pets, all about the secret life of pets. Who woulda thought it? Cute talking animals and their perilous journey home. This is a fun, if standard film. Our main characters are Max and Duke, two dogs that get captured by dog catchers and escape. They must then make their way back home while bickering with each other.

Instead of having a unique plot, this movie has style and pizazz. It’s funny and fast-paced. In fact, this movie is lot more about funny situations rather than characters. Out of everyone, the most fully-realized character is the Bunny. I enjoyed his crazy antics, and I think he has the most depth of out all of them, even if it gets glossed over quick.

The other character I like is Gidget. She’s great, but I did think she needed more interaction with Max in the beginning. The movie moved on too fast from them so her later desire to help Max felt like it came out of nowhere.

The rest of the characters in the movie are mainly their for a joke or two. They do their one task and then are relegated to being in the background.

When I enjoyed the movie most was seeing the pets in their apartments having their secret lives. I also enjoyed the secret lives of the discarded pets. As for Max and Duke trying to find their way home, it’s a thing I saw a lot. And thanks to the fast pace of the movie, I never felt their conflict. They got over not liking each other really fast.

I also really liked the opening scene and the ending scene. It’s just unfortunate the plot of the movie is rather mundane.

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Ralph Breaks the Internet

The sequel to Wreck-it Ralph, Ralph Breaks the Internet. This time, Ralph and Vanellope must go to the internet to obtain a part needed to save Sugar Rush as the steering wheel broke. However, along the way, both of them discover certain things about what they want and reevaluate themselves.

One thing that surprised me was how little Felix and Calhoun were in the movie. They were set up with a subplot, but the movie chose not to show it, rather jumping to the end result later in the film. I would really have liked to see more of Felix and Calhoun, but I  could also see how they were not important to Ralph and Vanellope this time around. IT would be a fun added short, but not as part of the main film.

The internet visuals are great and imaginative. It’s bright, colorful and full of amzing technology. Sure, there are lots of real world products going on, but that’s fine. A movie can get distracting if they do weird things just to not reference the real world. Though this film kind of does both. They have real companies, but they also have their own versions, which they say are compareable in popularity.

The new characters in this film are pretty fun. Unfortunately, none of them have plot to themselves. Pretty much everything revolves around Ralph and Vanellope. But the new characters are interesting and memorable. I liked the pop-up guy a lot despite not liking real life pop-ups at all.

Since everything is about Ralph and Vanellope, how are they in the film? Vanellope, I liked a lot. Ralph is a loveable goofball for a good portion of the film, though I they turned up his goofball qualities compared to the first film. Ralph actually seems to be less mature now than before.

The movie doesn’t settle into a central conflict until later, leaving the early parts feeling a bit like just seeing Ralph and Vanellope going around doing fun stuff. It’s stylish with some funny parts, but more difficult to get into. It just seems they’re running around doing random things for most of the film. Once the conflict gets started, the film becomes much more engaging.

A highlight of the film is when Vanellope goes to the Disney website and meets the princesses. Sure, it might be considered self-indulgent of Disney, but I really like the princesses and they’re cool in the film. That part brought out a big smile when it happened. I want a Disney princess crossover movie. Infinite Wars.

Ralph Breaks the Internet is fun with great visuals. Aside from the main characters, everyone else is less interesting, though. It is a story that fully centers around the Ralph and Vanellope with no room for other things.

Fantastic Beasts, The Crimes of Grindlewald

I quite enjoyed some of the first movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This movie is much the same. I enjoyed part of it. Though I really liked those parts. This movie takes place about nine month after the first. Grindlewald has, of course, escaped. He must be stopped and recaptured before something bad happens.

This movie has less fantastic beasts, but they are there, and they’re still amazing. Some of my favorite parts of the movie are just seeing Newt at work, both in his magic conservation area and out in the field. The magical animals are wonderful. They look great and act great. This time, they’re much more tied into the main plot.

Still, I can’t help but want a movie not about dark wizards and all that. Just have Newt go on adventures with his friends finding magical creatures. It’s great fun whenever they show up.

But this movie is about a lot of things. Perhaps too much. Tina has her own stuff as an auror. Jacob and Queenie have something going on. Credence, yes, he’s back. No, it’s not a huge spoiler for the film. He has something going on. Then Grindlewald is doign stuff. Dumbledore and the ministry is doing stuff. There are whole new characters doing stuff. It’s all too much.

It gets to the point where I can’t follow everything that’s going on, so I’m not clear on what certain character’s motivations are. This movie feels like one of the later Harry Potter movies in that it’s trying to adapt a super-long book into something a few hours long. Only it’s not, yet it feels like I should have read the book to fully get what was going on sometimes.

For the returning characters, I still quite enjoy all of them. One thing I wanted was more Newt and Jacob hanging out, being pals. Unfortunately, they’re too busy chasing down other characters to do that. Newt is still is wonderfully awkward self. I still can’t quite get into Grindlewald, though he does have some nice, scenes in this film building him up as a future force to be reckoned with.

For new characters, we have young Dumbledore! And he’s quite great to see. Leta Lestrange is another great new character. She has a complete story and is pretty much one of the few characters with a complete arc in the film. It was a touching story, too. Theseus is Newt’s brother. I quite like the relationship the two of them have. They love each other but are also exasperated by each other, and I want to see more of them moving forwards.

Yusuf, on the other hand, feels unnecessary. He is like a subplot from the books that would have been cut for a movie adaptation. Unless he becomes really important going forwards, I think the movie would work better without his subplot. It just adds another direction to things. I also don’t think we needed Credence’s friend, the cursed woman. I know why they have someone around, because otherwise Credence would have been alone for most of the film. Still, it feels like one more thing to keep track of.

That is a large problem with the film. There’s just too much going on. Visually, it’s stunning. Magic effects are bigger than ever, and so are the magic creatures. Story, though, could be more focused. They’re mostly trying to set up things in this film for next time, and that doesn’t make for a satisfying story.

A bit more of my thoughts in the spoiler section. This won’t be heavy spoilers, but some.

Okay, here goes. This movie feels like the middle part of a trilogy. The first part introduces the concept. The middle part is where the bad guy wins and the heroes need to recover somehow. Yet, if all goes to plan, this move is the second part of five. I don’t know how Gindlewald will be engagin being the primary villain for the next three installments. They had better have other things for Newt and friends to actually win rather than them losing for two more films before the final showdown. We’ll see how things go moving forwards.

More Newt and friends working with animals!

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

This is a movie set in a fantastical world of four realms. The Realm of Flowers, the Realm of Ice, the Realm of Sweets and the Fourth Realm. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see much of that at all.

Clara is our main character. Her and her family are still dealing with the loss of their mother. On Christmas, she gets a gift that leads her on a strange adventure into a magical place. As for our Nutcracker, he’s more of a sidekick. So in a movie called the Nutcracker and the Four Realms, you barely see the realms and the Nutcracker is a side character. It leads to a plain movie, unfortunately.

Our main character, Clara, is fine. She’s a young girl coming to terms with what to do and finding strength in herself. There are several emotional moments for her, but they don’t really feel planned out or earned. She’s upset about something one moment and gets over it pretty quickly the next.

That seems to be a trouble throughout the movie. The characters don’t achieve any big emotional attachment to the viewers. Some of them are quirky, others are funny, but none are impactful. Perhaps the most impactful character is the Sugarplum Fairy, but even her backstory falls a bit flat.

The Nutcracker could have had potentially some cool backstory. Why is he the last one? Who knows. In the film, he feels like a normal guy. There are cool action scenes at times, but he’s not the one doing any of the interesting stuff. It’s all the other characters. Give the Nutcracker a cool fight scene at least!

While we only see the four realms for a bit, they do look great. The visuals in the rest of the movie are nice, too. They do evoke a fantastical feeling. The central palace is grand. The dark forest is spooky. It looks like a cool place to be in. The music is great, too. The costumes are also fantastic. Everyone is distinctive while still fitting together. There are a lot of recognizable songs from Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy and the Nutcracker retuned to fit the scene. It really makes the action better when accompanied by the music.

Also, this movie has some cool ballet scenes if you’re into that.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms needs better character moments. The story is fine. Nothing new but it’s good. The parts in the regular world is pretty interesting. It could have been much more magical.

Smurfs, The Lost Village

I am not a large watcher of the Smurfs. I haven’t even seen the other movies (which is a different continuity, I think). Still, I found this and gave it a whirl! Smurfs are a village of small blue people, each one with a trait or characteristic, and you can tell what that is because it’s their name. They are all male, except for Smurfette, the sole female, and she isn’t even a real Smurf. She was created to infiltrate them but decided to join them instead.

Smurfette is actually the main character of the film. It centers around what being a Smurf means to her, an artificial Smurf, and her trying to help out a newly discovered separate village. Brainy Smurf, Hefty Smurf and Clumsy Smurf join her in warning the new village about the dangerous wizard that wants to steal smurf energy.

What follows is a fun story with some sight gags, character conflict, character introspection and all that stuff. The main bad guy is humorous most of the time but can get threatening. Overall, it’s a nice film, but nothing really stands out.

I don’t have much Smurf experience to compare to, but I had a good time watching this. But I feel that this movie is sort of easy-watching. Nothing is bad about it, but nothing stands out. There’s zaniness and a fine, if simple, story. It’s bright, colorful, and there are a few musical numbers.

Smurfs, the Lost Village, is an apt introduction to the world of Smurfs, and is entertaining. It’s not any more than that, though.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this movie. I knew it was by the guys from Lonely Island, and I kind of wanted a long movie based on those zany music antics. There was a good amount of antics, but it was different from their music videos. It’s more down to earth and plausible rather than quirky and weird.

Popstar tells the standard story of a guy that gets famous and then crashes. It stars Andy Samberg as Connor, who started with a band but went solo and took off in popularity. His former band members, Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer) and Owen (Jorma Taccone) are upset, of course. Lawrence goes his own way but, and I like this turn, Owen stays with Connor as his DJ. Owen is like the bridge that wants to reunite the band. He’s nice and takes a lot of unappreciation.

The movie isn’t too long, which is good. It told a fine story about the rise, fall and return of Connor. There’s no real surprises here, but the actors are fun to watch. They’re animated and get thrown into wild situations. And there are a lot of appearanced by musicians as themselves. It really makes the movie feel like a documentary on the greatest musician ever.

Popstar has some fun music in a similar style to their Lonely Island stuff. I really wanted more of that, but the end song was fun to watch. I sort of wanted the entire movie to be wackier, like Lonely Island, but it was probably made to be something more serious while still having a lot of humor.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a parody of those musical stories told with hints of that Lonely Island flair. The band members aren’t together enough during the movie, but it’s great when they are.

Trolls

This is the animated childrens film released in 2016. And this movie is a childrens film through and through. Though instead of popular modern songs, they go for remixes of older songs. Yeah, it was the stuff I heard when I was a kid, so I actually really liked the music. And there is a decent amount of lewd humor thrown in.

But the movie is fun, bright, with a strange mixture of being super sweet and kinda dark. In the film, the trolls are magical beings that, when eaten, gives great happiness. Yes, when eating. And there are the bergens, who are incable of experiecing happiness unless they eat trolls.

Now, upon seeing the first few scenes, I had a prediction for how the movie was going to play out, and it did. That isn’t a bad thing, though. I really liked the way the movie goes. And the journey along the way was fun and sparkle-filled. I will say that I did not expect a Cinderella plot, but it weaves in really nicely.

Poppy, our main character, is outgoing in the face of all adversity. Branch, our other main character, is cynical at all times. And they are great together. Poppy is skilled and smart, so she’s not just a naive princess. And Branch shows himself to be caring even in the beginning.

You feel for all of the major characters. They all have their vulnerable scenes, some better than others.

Trolls is a pretty fun film. Its fun, colorful and has lots of interesting characters. While yes, it can be predictable and is solidly a children’s film, it’s a pretty good one.

There are more things to go into in the spoilers section, so here we go.

The bergens. Just from how they’re introduced, I felt they wouldn’t be the bad guys. They’re just misunderstood. And some of my favorite parts involve Poppy getting to know Bridget, the bergen scullery maid.

My second favorite scene is just Poppy and Branche’s travel to Bergen town. It runs on all sorts of cartoon logic, but there’s just so many interesting things to see that I don’t care nothing makes sense.

Hair up!