REVIEW: 捉妖記 [Zhuō yāo jì] [Monster Hunt] [2015]

“You gave birth to a white radish” Even if 捉妖記 [Zhuō Yāo Jì] [Monster Hunt] were billed in America with “from Raman Hui, the supervising animator of everyone’s favorite Dreamworks player the Gingerbread Man and co-director of Shrek the Third, comes a magical adventure of man and beast” on the posters, it wouldn’t be enough. But that’s okay because Hui didn’t make it for American audiences. Instead it stemmed from a desire back in 2005 to make an animated film in China after spending so much time with Steven Spielberg‘s…

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REVIEW: Penguins of Madagascar [2014]

“Venetian blinded again” Is Penguins of Madagascar a total cash grab? Not quite. It’s one thing when a studio hones in on a successful franchise’s periphery character and deems it worthy of a spin-off by pretending it possessed enough depth to carry a feature of its own, but it’s another when the filmmakers embrace its appeal and simply expanded upon that element. Puss in Boots was painted as a hero to begin with and supplying him an origin wasn’t a giant leap past Shrek. The “cute and cuddly” penguins from…

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REVIEW: The Croods [2013]

“Never not be afraid” One credit has fascinated me since The Croods opened in theaters: story by John Cleese. That John Cleese? Surprisingly, yes. It’s a somewhat convoluted journey from his failed adaptation of Roald Dahl‘s The Twits with Kirk DeMicco catching the eye of Dreamworks and earning them the pick of the litter as far as in production pitches at the studio. They chose one about a stereotypical caveman and his “modern” counterpart running from the volcanic apocalypse plate tectonics wrought. It was set up at Aardman, left for…

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REVIEW: Hotel Transylvania [2012]

“What? Now there’s no sheep in the road.” After the abysmal failure of That’s My Boy, seeing Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg highlight another film’s marquee this year didn’t instill confidence. Cartoon or not, the pairing still left a sour taste in my mouth that the addition of their larger-than-life comedic buddies Kevin James, David Spade, and Molly Shannon did nothing to alleviate. Only the names behind the scenes gave me a sliver of hope that Hotel Transylvania could end up a fun hybrid of writers Robert Smigel (“SNL’s” TV…

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REVIEW: Madagascar [2005]

“Just smile and wave boys. Smile and wave.” Made as though in opposition to Pixar’s brand of magical storytelling, Dreamworks Animation’s Madagascar ushered in the studio’s want for broader comedy and adolescent appeal. With Shrek, they found a franchise that subverted Disney’s use of fairy tales for cinematic fodder and created a nice hybrid of laughs and story with an underdog hero inside an ugly duckling tale. But after a steady stream of Pixar work including Monsters Inc. and the previous year’s The Incredibles, you have to believe that Dreamworks…

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REVIEW: Puss in Boots [2011]

“We don’t have any baby muffins” Before Shrek left his swamp to spawn a four-feature franchise I sadly had no real interest in continuing past the original, a Latino kitty cat roamed the lands of Far Far Away. Without a home once San Ricardo turned its back after the public bank was robbed with him left holding the moneybags, Puss in Boots must survive on the fringes of society to woo the ladies and endlessly thieve. Needing a big score for an influx of cash, Puss returns to his adopted…

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REVIEW: Cars 2 [2011]

“I vant to siphon your gas” Being that I was not in what appeared to be a vast majority of people who thought Cars was ‘lesser’ Pixar, I can’t say I was too surprised to find I was on the outside of the even bigger group of critics who trashed Cars 2 as a sequel based solely on toy manufacturing profit. Yes, it is totally a cash-grab—I’m not questioning that fact—but alongside this is an attempt to create something the studio has yet to do, an entertaining comedy existing on…

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REVIEW: Kung Fu Panda [2008]

“Can you handle the crazy feet?” Pixar is where it is at for me animation-wise in Hollywood. Maybe that makes me a snob, but something about their films resonate on a level that the others can’t even begin to touch. Sure Shrek and Madagascar are funny, but besides the off-belly laugh, they are kind of shallow and hollow. With that said, I went to check out Dreamworks new foray into computer graphic cinema, Kung Fu Panda. Admittedly, I knew very little about this thing other than the fact that Jack…

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REVIEW: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe [2005]

I remember the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis very fondly from my elementary school days. Never having read the Lord of Rings until college, once the films began to be made, Narnia was my one outlet into fantasy. Yes, there were a couple BBC productions that our librarian showed us while reading the epic saga, but being over a decade ago, having a reboot seemed like a perfect idea. Piggybacking on the fantasy train during the mid-2000’s was a no-brainer and who better to direct than family friendly man…

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REVIEW: Over the Hedge [2006]

“Let’s call it Steve” There are so many animated films coming out a year that it is tough to bring yourself to see any of them. Sure the Pixar brand means instant gold, however, the multitude of studios popping up with computer graphics are really watering down the quality. Especially with every studio releasing the same thing in competition, how many free from the zoo films did we sit through, it is a true surprise when one of these films surprises you. When I first saw the commercials for Dreamworks’…

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