Archives for posts with tag: animation

Grade A


Super powered family — The Incredibles — are back in “Incredibles 2,” living in a world where superheroes are outlawed from using their super powers.   Homeless and broke, The Incredibles — headed by Holly Hunter (who plays the mom) and Craig T. Nelson (who plays the dad) — are holed up in a motel paid for by the government; in a few days, they are out and on their own.  Either Hunter or Nelson must get a regular job, while the other stays home to care for the kids.   Before a decision is made, a wealthy pair of siblings offers Hunter an opportunity to show the world how important and beneficial it is for the world to have superheroes do their thing.   The idea is to use public approval to change laws about superheroes.

Hunter is definitely down with the project; and Nelson is just down, taking a back seat to his wife, staying out of public view and being a stay at home dad.  What he thinks is an easy job turns out to be an endless struggle of parental guidance; and then there is the situation with Nelson’s infant son who shows signs of being a very powerful super.

On Hunter’s end, all seems to go well with her crime fighting activities; but a shadowy figure who can hypnotize people into doing evil things makes an appearance, and this person may be the biggest threat that any super has fought.

I was going to be politically correct and say my most memorable, movie moment of “Incredibles 2” is the scene when the Incredibles are having a tense discussion about being forced to not use their super powers…to be shut out.  The subtext of course is intolerance of those who are different.  Sounds good, right?  Screw that.  I hate political correctness.  My most memorable, movie moment of “Incredibles 2” is the scene when Hunter is walking up a long set of steps and the camera angle shows her butt for several seconds.

“Incredibles 2” lives up to the hype with an interesting plot; large, action sequences that would make James Bond producers envious; likeable characters and many funny moments.

— M

Grade A

Disney has produced another hit with “Moana.”  Playing the title role, Auli’i Cravalho is a princess of a South Pacific island.  Kind, intelligent, brave and adventurous, her desire to see what is beyond her island home is impeded by her father’s warnings of the dangers that are out in the deep ocean and Cravalho’s duty to stay home and learn how to be the next chief of the people.   She reluctantly gives up her dream of sailing into the ocean far from home…until the plant and fish that Cravalho’s people depend on to survive either die off or disappear.

Learning of an ancient tale of a demigod named Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) who stole a precious stone that provided life to the ocean and islands, Cravalho goes on a treacherous journey to find Johnson and force him to put the stone back; and hope that would bring balance, peace, and life back to her world.  There will be many challenges for the young princess: she lacks knowledge of deep ocean sailing; she has a mentally challenged chicken as a stowaway; Johnson does not share Cravalho’s eagerness to return the stone back to where it belongs; a swarm of tiny, coconut-headed pirates roam the ocean; Johnson’s magic hook must be taken from a giant crab who will not give it up so easily; and a fearsome god made of lava guards the entrance to where the stone must be returned.  Yup, it’s going to take a team of brilliant writers to get her through all this!

My most memorable, movie moment of “Moana” is the scene when the princess gets a visit from her grandmother at a time when the princess is at her lowest, ready to give up and go home.  It is a touching scene, especially to viewers who have lost a loved one and believe that our spirits go on, and one day we will see them again.

Fully realized, likeable characters; a great story; positive messages; amazing animation; scenes that are very funny and scenes that put a lump in your throat; catchy songs…these are all present in “Moana.”  Bottom line, it’s a great movie that adults will enjoy with their children because, like most Disney movies, it just makes you feel better about life.

— M

The first time I saw “Watership Down” was on t.v., back in the early 80s.  I saw the commercial for it and I just had to watch it.  I loved the movie as a boy, and I love it now as an adult.

“Watership Down” is a British animated movie about a group of rabbits who leave their warren because they believe something bad will happen to their old home very soon.  But leaving isn’t so easy, because the warren is run like an oppressive government, led by a Chief Rabbit whose orders must be obeyed, and the orders are enforced by soldier/policemen rabbits.   The rabbits who want to leave (led by a rabbit voiced by John Hurt — you know, that dude who had a baby alien burst out of his chest in the movie “Aliens”) make a break for it anyway; and they encounter many dangers in order to find that perfect home where they can live peacefully and come and go as they please.

But finding a new home is only part of the problem, because all the rabbits in Hurt’s group are male.   So, in order to make their lives and new home whole with new mates and the possibility of future baby rabbits, they look to another warren where male and female rabbits want to leave.  This other warren is run by a huge, tyrant, warrior rabbit called The General; and he has many vicious, soldier rabbits under his command who will kill any rabbit who crosses him.  So, of course, Hurt’s group is going to find it difficult to release the female and male rabbits who are in The General’s warren.

When I first watched “Watership Down,” I don’t think I was aware of the political messages of the movie; but as an adult, yes, I see and hear what the movie is truly about, which makes the story more profound, especially in today’s political climate.  As a kid, though, I mostly remembered the little guy fighting the big guy for what he believed in.  And that leads me to my most memorable, movie moment of “Watership Down”: the scene when one of the good rabbits called Bigwig fought The General, who is twice Bigwig’s size.  Boiled down to a child’s perspective, it’s a person fighting a bully when there is no other choice but to fight.  Fighting the good fight, even though the odds are against the little guy.  I know, I’ve been there, because I’ve had my share of dealing with bullies when I was younger.  Sometimes I stood up to them.  Sometimes I got my ass kicked, sometimes it was a draw, and sometimes it led to no physical altercation.  But I never regretted those moments when I stood up to those idiots despite some of the negative outcomes.

Walk away if you can, but if that’s not possible, then stand up and fight for what you believe is right and just.


"Watership Down" drawing

This is my drawing based on a picture I saw as part of an advertisement of “Watership Down” in TV Guide back in the 1980s .  That’s how much I loved this movie…I spent a few hours of my childhood to create this.

This movie affected me deeply.  “Grave of the Fireflies” is a Japanese animated movie that takes place during WWII.  The main characters are a teenaged boy and his little sister, who is about 4 years old.  The Japanese empire is nearing its end; American planes are bombing and strafing the country; and the two orphaned siblings fight to live every day.  Their two biggest enemies: hunger and the lack of compassion from most of the civilians they encounter.

There are no supernatural elements to this movie.   No vampires, werewolves, aliens, superhuman martial arts masters…just two little kids who only have each other during a time when the entire world was on fire.   And that is what adds to the realism of this movie.  You quickly forget that you’re watching an animated movie as you become more involved with the characters and you see the boy taking desperate measures to keep his sister safe and alive.

Setsuko, the little sister, is the most real element in “Grave of the Fireflies.”  I happen to have a 4-year-old niece living with me, and Setsuko’s actions and words are right on the money.  Watching Setsuko was like watching my niece, and that’s what made me connect to this movie more than I expected to.  To watch Setsuko go from having an abundance of energy that would usually end with fits of giggles and laughter to a quiet, sickly girl who could barely walk was upsetting.  And still she thought of her brother’s welfare, as he thought of hers as his main concern, risking his life over and over so that she can have the opportunity to heal.

Rather than choose memorable moments in this beautiful movie, I choose memorable feelings: love, loyalty, sacrifice, and loss.

The best movies go beyond entertainment, and help us to better ourselves.  I live in a house with three generations of my family.  I don’t have a wife and I don’t have kids — I never felt the need for them, preferring the simplicity of being single.   Life has a sense of humor — I know this for a fact — because as someone who doesn’t like children, I wound up living with 2 little cousins in my early adulthood; and now I live with 2 little nieces.  My interaction with them is minimal even though I know I should give more of my time to them to help ensure that they turn out to be the best adults they can be.  I’m greedy with my free time, I admit it.  But after watching this movie, my feelings changed a bit.  Their shrieks of laughter and loud playing are things I don’t find annoying anymore — instead I find them comforting as they are manifestations of energy and life that is filled with wondrous possibilities.  Their smiles from the simple joys of having a new toy or eating a sweet treat brings me back to when I was young, before cynicism and distrust crept into my life.  I guess I’ve learned to love these little rugrats.  Time to be a better uncle and spend a bit more quality time with them when I can.

Don’t get me wrong — I still don’t like children.   But I can make 2 exceptions.


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