Monday, December 25, 2017

Movie Review: Ernest Saves Christmas

Ernest Saves Christmas
Touchstone Pictures, Silver Screen Partners III, Emshell Producers, USA, 1988.
Ernest Saves Christmas
Santa Claus (Douglas Seale) is thinking about retirement and is searching for a successor. Children's TV show host Joseph Carruthers (Oliver Clark) is the candidate. Goofy taxi-driver Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney) gives Santa a ride, but Santa's bag is left in the taxi. Meanwhile Santa's reindeer gets stuck in the customs, much bedazzling storage workers Chuck (Gailard Sartain) and Bobby (Bill Byrge). Ernest and runaway teen girl Harmony (Noelle Parker) decide to return the sack to the rightful owner.
Jim Varney
Douglas Seale
Noelle Parker
Joe's agent Marty (Robert Lesser) gets Joseph a role in a movie, and arranges Santa's arrest. However the role is in a horror movie that is not something Joe is comfortable with. If Joe doesn't become the next Santa, it could be the last Christmas ever! And can Ernest get the Santa's sleigh from the custom warehouse in time?
Christmas fish
Gailard Sartain and Bill Byrge
Chuck and Bobby
Ernest-comedies are nowadays quite rare but the folks who were kids in 1980s-90s remember these. Before Jim Carrey took the career as America's rubber face, it was Jim Varney whose slapstick hijinks's entertained the audiences and annoyed the critics. So Ernest-movies were stupid but benevolent, and so Ernest's Christmas adventure is a feel-good Season movie with good laughs utilizing Jim Varney's skills. Ernest masquerades himself as a slick bureaucrat, old granny and hillbilly. Ernest visits his never seen onscreen pal Vern, and for some reason starts ripping electric lines from the walls. "Miracle on the 34th Street" variation has Santa bringing Christmas spirit to unbelievers, and returning runaway shoplifter Melody to the right path. Recommended as a bit different family cult Christmas comedy.

Starring: Jim Varney, Douglas Seale, Oliver Clark, Noelle Parker, Gailard Sartain, Billie Bird, Bill Byrge, Robert Lesser, Key Howard, Jack Swanson, Buddy Douglas, Patty Maloney, Beecher Martin, Barry Brazell, George Kaplan, Bill Welter, Joe Candelora, Danny Dillon, Lindsey Alley, Phran Gauci, Bill Cordell, Larry Francer, Jackie Welch, Daniel Butler, Antonio Fabrizio, Bob Norris, Carmen J. Alexander, Miriam P. Saunders, Cyndi Vicino, Tom Nowicki, Michael O. Smith, Jesse Stone, Angelique Walker, Zachary Bowden, Donna Phillip Miller, Paul Darby, Cynthia Ergenbright, Bob Barnes, Mike Hutchinson, Douglas Brush, D. Christian Gottshall, Ray Russell, Brett Cipes, Jon Freda, Cindy Haroutunian, Rosa Nevin, Jennifer Peña
Director: John R. Cherry III

Friday, December 15, 2017

Movie Review: Zootopia

Zootopia a.k.a Zootropolis
Walt Disney Pictures, USA, 2016.
In a distant future evolution has allowed herbivores and carnivores to live peacefully together although prejudices still exists. Bunny named Judy (Ginnifer Goodwin) has a dream. She wants do leave country-life behind to become a big city cop. However small animals are discriminated against in the police force. Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) thinks that small animals can't be real cops so Judy finds herself writing parking tickets.
Chief Bogo
But there is a mystery to solve. Several animals have gone missing, and Judy decides to solve the case even without official support. Only Assistant Mayor Bellwether's (Jenny Slate) support helps Judy to continue the investigations. Judy teams up with a small-time con-artist fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) who knows the streets. Like Judy, Nick has a misunderstood but he has chosen to be a rascal. The unlikely duo finds a common cause as behind the missings there is a sinister conspiracy that threatens the balance of the whole city.
Piggy has a crime to report
Nick, Bellwether and Judy
Judy's and Nick's adventures are fun to watch, it is a buddy cop comedy with trendy neo-noir and caper film tones. The moral of the story is that the first appearences may be deceiving, and the person behind may be totally different from the expectations. The world is detailed with funny visual jokes, and some references to pop culture and the city is divided to different habitats, with suburbs for actic animals or small rodents. The duo meets also some shady characters from the criminal underworld so there are funny "Godfather" and "Breaking Bad" references.

As a funny joke, there is a scoundrel selling bootleg Disney movies. I would watch Pig Hero 6.

Rating: Very good

Voice actors: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, Shakira, Raymond S. Persi, Della Saba, Maurice LaMarche, Phil Johnston, Fuschia!, John DiMaggio, Katie Lowes, Gita Reddy, Jesse Corti, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister, Josh Dallas, Leah Latham, Rich Moore, Kath Soucie, Peter Mansbridge, Byron Howard, Jared Bush, Mark Rhino Smith, Josie Trinidad, John Lavelle, Kristen Bell, Evelyn Wilson Bresee, Hewitt Bush, Jill Cordes, Madeleine Curry, Terri Douglas, Melissa Goodwin Shepherd, Zach King, Dave Kohut, Jeremy Milton, Pace Paulsen, Fabienne Rawley, Brad Simonsen, Claire K. Smith, Jackson Stein, David A. Thibodeau, John Wheeler, Hannah G. Williams, Vassos Alexander, Ricardo Boechat, David Campbell, Koura Kazumasa, Nicholas Guest
Directors: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Movie Review: Yellowbird (2014)

Yellowbird (Gus - Petit oiseau, grand voyage)
TeamTO, Haut et Court, La Compagnie Cinématographique, Panache Productions, Rhône-Alpes Cinéma, Belgacom, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Région Rhône-Alpes, Région Ile-de-France, Ciné+, Gulli, Backup Media, Piste Rouge, France, Belgium, 2014.
Yellowbird (Seth Green) is an orphaned bird raised by Ladybug (Yvette Nicole Brown) and family of bunnies. He is afraid to leave home but Ladybug tricks him to go see the world. While outside Yellowbird meets a dying big blue bird Darius (Danny Glover), who needs someone to guide his flock to Africa. The problem is that Yellowbird has no sense of direction.
Yellowbird and Ladybug
The Flock
In the flock there are girl bird Delf (Dakota Fanning), hippie bird Max (Zachary Gordon), Delf's not-boyfriend Willy (Brady Corbet) and his little brother Fleck (Jadon Sand) and a bunch of little birds and their parents. Grouchy Karl (Jim Rash), who wanted to be Darius' follower, doubts Yellowbird's navigational skills for a reason. The migration becomes dangerous as Yellowbird guides the flock in the wrong direction. Also the iron birds (airplanes) are a constant threat to birds who fly too high. At what point should Yellowbird tell that he really has no clue about where they are, and how will the flock react to that and will they survive?
Yellowbird and Delf
The owl
Rabbit family
Euro-animation has nice visuals with European country-side and cartoony characters whose layered paper mimicking design makes them look a bit like piñatas. Especially the flying sequences look pretty. The characters are quite usual for these kind of adventures, but quite likable too. There are couple of romances too that are not too underlined, but bring some interesting extra arcs to the story.

As the "leader" of the flock Yellowbird is kind of goof, but he is inventive too. Some of the funniest side characters are jovial sea lions and an owl (Elliott Gould) who is a sneaky innkeeper. The story has the familiar growing up story with many falls and triumphs and some thrills in a sinking ship. Overall it is a nice little film to watch for both kids and adults.

Rating: Good

Voice actors: Christine Baranski, Yvette Nicole Brown, Brady Corbet, Dakota Fanning, Danny Glover, Zachary Gordon, Elliott Gould, Seth Green, Richard Kind, Ryan Lee, Christopher L. Parson, Cristina Pucelli, Jim Rash, Jadon Sand
Director: Christian De Vita

Monday, November 20, 2017

Movie Review: Superfast!

3 in the Box, The Safran Company, USA, 2015.
Another so called parody from Friedberg/Seltzer.
Very bad.
Maybe I should watch the movie first. 

Lucas White (Alex Ashbaugh) is a white (duh) cop who tries to infiltrate multi-culti street racer gang. Their leader is Vin Serento (Dale Pavinski) with pretty sister Jordana (Lili Mirojnick). Other members are jealous Curtis (Daniel Booko) and not-so-unobviously lesbian Michelle (Andrea Navedo). Against all odds Lucas gains their trust. Crime lord Juan Carlos de la Sol (Omar Chaparro) sets them up and during a shoot-out Lucas accidentally shoots his boss Detective Hanover (Gonzalo Menendez), oops. Vin and the gang plan revenge by robbing crime lord's money. Incredibly stupid Detective Rock Johnson (Dio Johnson) tries to catch the gang but is too busy rubbing baby oil on his muscles.
Alex Ashbaugh
Lucas White
Dale Pavinski, Andrea Navedo, Daniel Booko, Lili Mirojnick
Vin, Michelle Curtis and Jordana

Cesar and Senor de la Sol
"Fast and the Furious" series has grown to such self-parody nowadays that spoofing it is kind of wasted effort. The nonessential plot is modeled from FF parts one and five. There is something funny in the way the stock characters are named as Rapper Cameo, Model Turned Actress and Cool Asian Guy. Also the main gang looked a lot like the originals and Rock-parody was quite fun. Otherwise the jokes were either recycled from better parodies, overlong and unfunny or just gross-out. On the positive side the z-grade celebrity jokes were kept at minimum and the story kept the focus of the parody in one film series. However cheap pop-culture references and pseudo-commercial jokes that are obscure to everyone but Americans are still there. This is not a good movie but considering the cinematic atrocities FriedChicken/AlkaSeltzer duo has put out ("Meet the Spartans" "Epic Movie", "Disaster Movie"...) this is a step to right direction. Maybe the lowest point of parody genre has been reached already. But it is still a thousand mile trip back up.
Dio Johnson
Rock Johnson
Rapper Cameo (Rogelio Douglas Jr.)

Starring: Alex Ashbaugh, Dale Pavinski, Lili Mirojnick, Andrea Navedo, Daniel Booko, Rogelio Douglas Jr., Chris Pang, Omar Chaparro, Joseph Julian Soria, Dio Johnson, Amin Joseph, Cuete Yeska, Gonzalo Menendez, Shantel Wislawski, Luis Chávez, DaJuan Johnson, Alexis Lopez, William Barney, Shakira Barrera, Eric Mccoy, Dres Reid, Christine Clayburg, Chanel Celaya, Mickey Friedberg, Nick Rey Angelus, Chris Trouble Delfosse, Michael Flores, Anthony Martins, Shad Roberts, Rick Silver, Kenny Yates
Directors: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Now and Then Blogathon (Now): Independence Day Resurgence (2016)

Independence Day Resurgence (2016)
Twentieth Century Fox, TSG Entertainment, Centropolis Entertainment, Electric Entertainment, USA, 2016. 
Participating the Now and Then 2017 Blogathon event, arranged by Realweegiemidget Reviews and Thoughts of All Sorts! This is part 2 (Now!) of 2 part post.
20 years have passed since the space alien attack was struck back barely saving the humans from extinction. The ex-President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) suffers from telepathic scars caused by the previous encounter. David Levinson (Jeff Glodblum) and his father Julius (Judd Hirsch) are still around but Will Smith's character is not so fighter pilot ace Steven Hiller had to die in a flight accident. However his son Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher) continues his legacy.
Sela Ward and Bill Pullman
New President Lanford (Sela Ward) and ex-President Whitmore
Jessie T. Usher and Angelababy
Dylan Hiller and Rain Lao
Of the younger generation are also President's daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe) and hotshot pilot Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), and his teammate Charlie Miller (Travis Tope) and Chinese pilot Rain Lao (Angelababy). Dylan and Jake have a drudge, Patricia wants to help her father and Charlie wants a romance with Rain.
Maika Monroe
Patricia Whitmore
Liam Hemsworth
Jake Morrison
Deobia Oparei and Jeff Goldblum
Dikembe Umbutu and David Levinson
New weapons based on alien technologies has been developed and David Levinson is now the Director of Earth Space Defense. Someday the aliens will return...

In Africa guerilla leader Dikembe Umbutu (Deobia Oparei) has been waging war against the remaining aliens. He has invited scientist Catherine Marceaux (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and David to nvestigate strange things happening at stranded spaceship. All points to that a new war is beginning. A continent-sized spaceship appears and uproots whole cities. How can humankind survive this time?
Charlotte Gainsbourg and Jeff Goldblum
Catherine Marceaux and David
Don't park here
Whereas last time the on-screen desruction was still relatively limited, this time Roland Emmerich does so grand scale destruction scenes that physicists rip their hairs off. The alien spaceship has its own gravity and plows half of the Earth while landing. Spectacular, yes, but not very believable. Better to leave the brain out and just enjoy it as a popcorn movie. The story goes on the familiar path of last minute saves, adventures of the survivors, and some new and old friends making sudden appearances. There are some updates to the formula of "Independence Day", last time it was America saving the day, but now in the style of "Pacific Rim" the cast is a more multicultural team of heroes. Couple of budding bromances are there too.

It is nice to have many characters from the first film around, however overall the characterizations feel weaker, as the turbo-charged plot does not allow much character development and lacks the heart and bombastic fun that the prequel had. This is visually impressive with huge spaceships and bigger alien monsters, it is occassionally fun but sacrifices the plot to special effects. With the recent flood of big scifi/superhero films it fits in the trend, but it is just one more spectacular movie in the crowd. Also in the end it is clear that there will be at least a trilogy of these films.

Rating: Average

Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Jessie T. Usher, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Sela Ward, William Fichtner, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Patrick St. Esprit, Vivica A. Fox, Angelababy, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Deobia Oparei, Nicolas Wright, Travis Tope, Chin Han, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Robert Loggia, John Storey, Joey King, Jenna Purdy, Garrett Wareing, Hays Wellford, Mckenna Grace, James A. Woods, Robert Neary, Joshua Mikel, Joel Virgel, Arturo del Puerto, Matthew Munroe, Jacob Browne, Ryan Cartwright, Travis Hammer, Lance Lim, Zeb Sanders, Donovan Tyee Smith, Stafford Douglas, Jade Scott Lewis, Beth Bailey, Mona Malec, Omar Diop, Ron Yuan, Grace Huang, Stephen Oyoung, J.P. Murrieta, Casey Messer, Ben Wang, Nicholas Ballas, Jonathan Richards, Ivan G'Vera, Michael Davis, Brandon K. Hampton, Sam Quinn
Director: Roland Emmerich 

Now and Then Blogathon (Then): Independence Day (1996)

Independence Day (1996) a.k.a ID4
Twentieth Century Fox, Centropolis Entertainment, USA, 1996.
Participating the Now and Then 2017 Blogathon event, arranged by Realweegiemidget Reviews and Thoughts of All Sorts! This is part 1 (Then!) of 2 part post.

Independence Day of the United States is approaching and so is a gigantic spaceship. The President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman) suffers from waning popularity. Although he was a popular war hero, media says that his achievements as the leader of the country have been disappointing. His day becomes worse when a gigantic UFO emitting a strange signal sends smaller smaller spaceships above major cities. SETI scientists open Champagne bottles but cable-TV technician (and former university guy) David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) cracks the code and notices that the signal send by the spaceship is a countdown to destruction.
This is not a weather balloon!
Bill Pullman
Thomas J. Whitmore
Jeff Goldblum
David Levinson
The humans try peaceful greeting but the extraterrestrials answer by blowing whole cities up. After a worldwide destruction, the survivors try to save their families who have been lost in the chaos. Army attempts a strike back (nuke 'em!), but that only makes aliens laugh. However some promising technology is hidden in Area 51. Eccentric scientist Dr. Okun (Brent Spiner, Data from Star Trek TNG) shows the secret alien artifacts retrieved after the Roswell Incident.
Brent Spiner
Dr. Okun
Alien warrior
After David and his daddy Julius (Judd Hirsch) invent a way to destroy the mother ship, the different nations join the counter attack. And should they win, the Fourth of July will no longer be only an American holiday, but the Independence Day of the whole Earth! ID4 is a shamelessly patriotic movie with good old flag waving.
Judd Hirsch
Saving the world are drunk pilot Russell Casse (Randy Quaid) and his family, hotshot pilot Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) and his girlfriend Jasmine (Vivica A. Fox). There is also important motivator for David, his ex-wife and President's Communication's Director Constance Spano (Margaret Colin). David and Constance separated because David was unambitious with his career and more interested in protecting the environment. Well, now he has a chance to save the world. Helping the heroes is also Major Mitchell (Adam Baldwin). Interestingly, Adam played also part in latter X-Files episodes as an alien-human hybrid supersoldier.
Vivica A. Fox and Will Smith
Jasmine and Steven
Randy Quaid
Adam Baldwin and Margaret Colin
Major Mitchell and Constance Spano
The movie come out when the space aliens were hot and I had spent considerable time watching "The X-Files" and playing "UFO: Enemy Unknown", so the movie left a big impression. It was a perfect movie for the 1990s UFO boom. The combination of disaster film and B-film style alien attack film made with a big budget made it a summer box office hit film, with thrills, drama and witty one-liners.

The all-star cast had a bunch of new faces and already established actors. Will Smith was still in the early phase of his film career, at the time that he made his iconic roles (in "Bad Boys", "Men In Black" and "Enemy of the State") and here he does great action-comedy. Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman take care of the dramatic arc while Judd Hirsch and Randy Quaid have more comical characters. For Vivica A Fox this movie was very important for her career. James Duval plays here Russell's son, he is rarely seen in big budget films and has apperared more in indie films.

Rating: Very good

Starring: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Robert Loggia, Randy Quaid, Margaret Colin, Vivica A. Fox, James Rebhorn, Harvey Fierstein, Adam Baldwin, Brent Spiner, James Duval, Lisa Jakub, Giuseppe Andrews, Ross Bagley, Bill Smitrovich, Mae Whitman, Harry Connick Jr., Kiersten Warren, John Storey, Frank Novak, Devon Gummersall, Leland Orser, Mirron E. Willis, Ross Lacy, David Pressman, Vivian Palermo, Raphael Sbarge, Bobby Hosea, Dan Lauri, Steve Giannelli, Eric Paskel, Carlos Lacamara, John Bennett Perry, Troy Willis, Tim Kelleher, Wayne Wilderson, Jay Acovone, James Wong, Thom Barry, Jana Marie Hupp, Matt Pashkow, Robert Pine...
Director: Roland Emmerich

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