Screen Squinty’s “The BFG” Review.

Film: The BFG.
Directed and Produced by: Steven Spielberg.
Released: 2016.
Running Time: 117 min.

The BFG is an Disney American fantasy film based of of the classic children’s book of the same title by Ronald Dahl centering on the adventure of an Orphan named Sophie who is kidnapped by a friendly dream catching giant when she witnesses his presence and soon befriends him.

This is a film that centers exactly on what the title says: a Big Friendly Giant.

The strength of this movie lies in this simplicity. By maintaining the focus primarily on the relationship of BFG (Mark Rylance) with the other main character Sophie (Ruby Barnhill), the side characters and the antagonists, you get a very solid and somewhat focused film, and the character interactions, especially the dynamic between BFG and Sophie was the strongest yet so far in this year’s family film fair, which is particularly impressive when you consider the fact that Barnhill is interacting with a green screen figment of digital animation imagination.

Kudos goes to the voice acting of Rylance who really brought this character to life and was the perfect choice for BFG with his Shakespearean theatrical chops shining thorough especially well here.

The computer animation (through motion capture) done on BFG and the other giants was particularly good. He looked younger in the face then his cover art from the Dahl book and his depiction in the 1989 animated version, but it oddly works here when combined with the balding grayness as it somewhat helps pull across that sort of ageless quality inherent in the character (and remarked upon in the film).

Weta Digital did a good job with the the film’s special effects, particularly with the dream tree scene.

The plot meanwhile was fairly faithful to the book, if not quite capturing some of the couched darker tones of Dahl, with a pace that worked surprisingly swiftly for its run time in part carried by the relativity fluid transitions from one moment to the next carried on the back of the character byplay.

The only drawback to the film is that the less darker tone from the source material took away from the unique experience that comes from a Dahl work, and if your a Dahl fan, this will likely annoy you.

That being said it is a Disney film under the control of Spielberg which means that the “Family film” aspect will remain strictly traditional. Though its worth pointing out that with the increasing maturity of family television out there, the traditional notion is going to find a harder branch to perch on with young audiences.

Overall, while it isn’t exactly an epic film, it is a good film nonetheless that delivers on the promise of its premise with stellar acting, character designs on part of the giants, and visual effects and worth watching for all age groups.

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Screen Squinty’s “Zootopia” Review.

Film: Zootopia.
Directed by: Byron Howard and Rich Moore.
Running time: 108 min.
Released: 2016.

Zootopia is a Disney computer animation feature that centers on the story of Judy Hopps in a classic underbunny story of a small town nobody with big dreams of making it in the big city as a cop, yet finds that she still has to deal with being a prey animal in a predator dominated field.

While the story at its core is something that has been done many times before, a discrimination story, though a Furry version, Zootopia does at least present it in an interesting, engaging, and fresh manner by combining it with the premise of an entire world of evolved anthropomorphic mammals with an actual somewhat explained back history, and combines it with a really great bit of intrigue, well balanced humor, and great characters.

The animation, particularly on Zootopia and all its various environments are cleverly designed and gorgeously rendered giving a very real, very present feel to the setting, particularly combined with the really great character designs have its own unique charm.

The plot flows really well, playing with events and expectations a little, and not afraid to really build up the reveals, while taking time out to focus on the little moments, which gives it a more relaitable engagement and feel for the spectators instead of smashing from one scene to the next with nary a breath in-between, which has been a common problem with many films nowadays and outside of animated shorts and Steven Universe, has a presentation so smartly and wisely utilized its flow of time so perfectly.

The narrative meanwhile is really good! it is very much a serious series of events in which an overarching conspiracy/mystery is going on, and during the times when it is in focus, they treat it in a serious manner with surprising little humor, which they save for interactions between the various characters and background gags.

The film also utilizes its moral lesson smartly (though rather bluntly), but doesn’t tread that fine line in to rehash preaching that often turns off the viewer from a rather important lesson. No one here has the moral high ground, everyone has both obvious and subtle faults and points of view that are both conscious and subtle, and is used as a device for character development, adding a layer to the dynamic between Judy and Nick.

Speaking of Judy, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White from Once Upon a Time), and Nick voiced by Jason Bateman (Michael Bluth in Arrested Development)- and did a stellar job with the voice acting- brought character dynamic that was just brilliant! Their growing relationship provided not only some of the best dialogue,and the way they worked off each other in action scenes, humorous scenes, and the final confrontation felt very natural and between them carried the overall tone of the movie all the way through (also unrelievedly this was a non-romantic pair for once, kudos for going against an overused trope, particularly for something from Disney).

Overall this was a feature that super-seceded expectations by presenting an all-around great film by taking a common sometimes overused concept and made it interesting with some creative and well thought out animation, narrative flow, and some great characters.

A definite recommend for viewers of all ages.

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Screen Squinty’s Top Favorite Animation AMV’s (or Equivelent).

In this section I will list out a selection of my top favorite AMV’s based on animated shows and films or characters that have since been animated, and shows with strong animated elements that are listed in no particular order.

So Close (Rose & Pearl) ✫ Steven Universe AMV

I particularly enjoyed this one created by PurviewProductions for it’s wonderful depiction of Rose and Pearl from the television show Steven Universe, one of my favorite Romances from television (one that should be given a bit more screen time in my opinion, but that’s a personal opinion).

The Musical choice of “So Close” from the Enchanted soundtrack was a great choice, nothing to poppy, but very well suited for the content being depicted.

 AMV – [MEP] Anime’s Got Talent

This is an amv that was pure fun both to watch, listen to, and in concept.

The editor did a fantastic job of utilizing various sources to create a sort of Got Talent reality show parody using various characters. I think my laugh of amusement was particularly loud when Vegta leaped on stage.

The creator did a good job of creating a coherent, smooth presentation that worked seamlessly well, and the music was perfectly chosen for the visuals and concept.

 「AMV」Anime Mix- Murder Melody

This AMV caught my attention not to long ago, and was glad it did.

This AmV took a variety of images from different animes and combined it with just the right song to create a nice little macabre number that highlights some of the fun yet darker themes and images strewn out the popular animated medium.

One Piece AMV- Get Up.

This one is purely instrumental, but what is so enjoyable about it is the great imagery and editing choices from One Piece from finish to end with some great cinematic epic style music. You get not only a good sense of a story line here, which is something not always done in AMV’s, but you get a sense of the emotion and connection that was part and partial of the cannon. This was a nice homage to the source material.

FARSCAPE – The Wonders I’ve Seen

The editor of this AMV did an amazing job in capturing the pure visual splendor that was this show, emphasizing the computer animation, animatronics, make-up artistry and puppet animation that made up Farscape.

I wasn’t able to post the video here through the youtube selector, so click this link here, its well worth the watch, promise.

Steven Universe MV: Finale (Madeon)

This AMV was created by mkatwood, based again on the Steven Universe content, highlighted more the action unique/quirky visuals that the show was known for as  well as the emotional connections.

The  editing was very tight in this one, attention to transitions and the timing with particular attention to timing in relation to the lyrics and pace of the song, which was “Finale” by Madeon.

 Team Gargoyles ( Teen Titans ) Fan Made Intro

This was a fun little fanmade intro that did a decent job combining Gargoyles with the Teen Titan intro.

the editor kept in mind the style of image presentation from Teen Titans, and did a decent job applying it to the Gargoyles imagery, everything was well timed with the intro lyrics, and an overall fun little number.

How Far We’ve Come – Gravity Falls AMV

This AMV did a good job at capturing the essence of the show Gravity Falls, by capturing some of the overarching narrative’s darker themes with the humor and light heartedness as well as the weirdness that was this show. This was a nice homage to the end of a great show.

Bitter and Sick ✨Rick and Morty AMV

This AMV, while not exactly catching the humor of the source material, did do a good job in accenting the sort of tired nihilism that ran throughout the show, and chose a decent song to combine with the imagery to portray the overall concept quite well.

Miles Morales – This song saved my life

While this isn’t technically from an animation, Miles Moralies was in an episode or two of the latest TV series incarnation of Spiderman, so it sort of counts.

What made this one in particular stand out was the good use of comic book images combined with the emotion of the song. It felt like a really good introduction into Miles, and his motivations as the new spider man.

 

Well, I hope you enjoyed my personal favorites, comment and let me know what your favorite amv’s are.

 

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The Good Dinosaur: A Review.

Film: The Good Dinosaur.
Directed by: Peter Sohn.
Released: 2015.
Running Time: 100 min.

This is a Pixar-Disney animated “boy and his dog” coming of age, feel good animated film but with dinosaurs and cave boys. Arlo (Raymond Ochoa), the youngest of a farming Apatosaurus family, loses his father to Disney’s Death-of-parent(s) syndrome while chasing a pesky caveboy varmint. Another encounter between the two causes Arlo to become lost with the cave boy far away from home, and the two have to work together to get Arlo home.

From the technical end of things, we have an interesting juxtaposition of a very cartoonily designed protagonist with some rather realistic blend of scenery and texture and moments of very real moments of physical pain. When Arlo gets hit in the head with a rock, you can almost feel it. The sense of physical presence is always appreciated in a film, if a bit surreal.

The music was refreshingly subdued for a movie from something associated with Disney. If there was any character song numbers in this it likely would have hindered this film, especially given the choice in visuals and a strong technical choice.

Moving on to the character end of things, we have Arlo the main protagonist, who is a bit of a adorkable scardy-dino, yet tries so hard to “make his mark” in his small corner of the world (subtle guys, really *rolls eyes*). His personal journey was interesting to watch, a well done progression of struggle and personal growth worked well through-out his journey back, and Arlo himself is somewhat likable, with Ocha doing a good job with Arlo’s voice, which well wit the main character’s personality, a professional job for his breakout into a big main character role such as this.

Spot the faithful caveboy (Jack Bright) definitely wins the best expressions in this film. We aren’t given much to go on in terms of what his story is, but then again, this is more focused on Arlo, and Spot is the “dog” in this relationship, and not much is expected in terms of character depth for the “dog.” His efforts in keeping Arlo alive was fun to watch, and his design blended better in the rocky outback environment then the dinosaurs’ that inhabited it.

The side characters were fun here and there with the rancher tyrannosaurs family (Sam Elliott, Anna Paquin, and A.J Buckley) especially engaging, and the choice to make the antagonists the storm chaser gang of pterodactyls lead by Thunderclap, who was hilarious by the way, more side characters then main protagonist foils was a good choice in this instance. It was very much about Arlo conquering an aspect of himself and that’s where the main conflict should reside, with the storm cult being merely there as incentive for Arlo to overcome himself.

Finally, we move onto the story.

This is perhaps where the movie was somewhat weaker. It wasn’t a bad story, they utilized the overused boy and his dog journey formula well, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a cliché. The premise was promising; the devastating meteorite that many postulate was the reason behind the extinction of the Dinosaurs misses the planet in this reality. Unfortunately the follow through was…well, not bad, but more safe then anything. There was no envelope pushing here, something odd for a Pixar, which at least tries in most of its films whether the execution was good or bad. Here there was nothing overly memorable about the story. It felt like they didn’t really know how to handle the possibilities of the premise, as if they had decided on the relatively safe formula first and the premise second.

The only other nitpick would be that the fact that the caveboy was displaying obvious moments of intelligence and communication with Arlo that should have been reacted to with a great deal more shock or at least some level of surprise, given the fact that the dinosaurs look at these beings as critters worth for killing, eating, or making pets of, in general how humans treat beings with non-sentience. This isn’t the first time that films have done it though, so let’s just throw our hands up in the air on this one and shrug.

Overall, the movie is a decent watch. There is some good animation, some funny and touching moments that really give you the feels, and some decent characters. It is a generally safe film that most ages can watch, if not entirely ground breaking or uniquely memorable, but nevertheless entertaining for an afternoon at the movies.

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