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This is my last review here on the site for a while (more on that later) so I’ll make these quick so you can be on your way to the theater–or your couch.
First up: Illumination, the fine folks behind the animated brilliance of MINIONS and DESPICABLE ME, offer up another round of dog, cat, bunny and bird shenanigans in PETS 2.
Written by Brian Lynch. Directed by Chris Renaud and Jonathan del Val.
- Same great cast (Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Lake Bell, Jenny Slate, Dana Carvey, etc.) plus a few notable additions: Tiffany Haddish as Daisy the Shih Tzu (which always sounded to me like Sh– Zoo), Nick Kroll as the evil Sergei and Harrison “Han Solo/Indiana Jones” Ford himself as farm hound Rooster. Ford is frickin’ funny and perfect. Amazing animation. Lots of great sight gags (especially with Hart’s superhero Snowball character) and funny wordplay; lots of fun stuff pet owners and non-owners can relate to. Three mostly separate stories instead of one giant team-up. A stylized ’66 Impala shows up (should’ve been a ’67.) Main credits end scene.
- The scenes of wolves might be scary to little ones and there’s some animal abuse and bullying. The obligatory Mel “gross-out gag” but it’s in one of the previews, so no other surprises. Some of the lessons might be heavy-handed for some.
- No scene at the end credits other than a one word voice-over by Harrison Ford from the film. Don’t mess with the Cat Lady!
Just for the animation and gags alone. City scenes look great on the big screen.
Disney continues its push to make live-action versions of its animated classics just because they can…and they need more money to buy more properties. This time it’s ALADDIN, with Mena Massoud as the title character, Naomi Scott as princess Jasmine, Marwan Kenzari as Jafar, and Will Smith as the big blue Genie, directed by the same guy who did SNATCH (make your own dirty jokes).
Screenplay by John August and Guy Ritchie loosely based on the original screenplay by Ron Clements & John Musker and Ted Elliot & Terry Rossio. Directed by Guy (SHERLOCK HOLMES, MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. and LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS) Ritchie.
- Lots of great stunts; some cool effects. Exotic locations, sets and costumes. Some good comedy. Will Smith is one of the most entertaining and likeable actors out there, and he’s the same here. (He’s no Robin Williams but he’s not trying to be–he’s Will Smith, okay?) Some of the song lyrics are funny (when you understand them). Jasmine is a lot stronger woman and not the annoying, stereotypical damsel in distress of most cartoons; and wears a nice push-up bra for some bonus cleavage shots! Both her and Aladdin are likeable and make one handsome couple. Excellent ending, different from the cartoon.
- No Gilbert Gottfried as Iago the parrot–instead it’s just a lame “realistic” parrot voice with no snark or good lines. Major missed comedic opportunities there. The monkey is obviously CG and just looks out of place. As for the Genie’s main show, even with the awesome special effects and CG, it’s still no match for hand-drawn animation, and certain things just look better as drawings that come off as weird or disturbing as live action.
- It’s bad enough when cartoon characters break into song for no reason, but when it’s a live action movie, it just breaks the story flow and comes off weird. Try doing that the next time you’re at a police station or bank or grocery store and let me know how it goes.
If you’re expecting Robin Williams, forget it. But for some fun entertainment, a good-looking cast, funny Will Smith and exotic sets and stuff, it’s worth an on demand viewing…just fast-forward over the songs.
Third but not last is the sequel to 2014’s well-cone GODZILLA! It’s been five years since the big lizard/dinosaur/kaiju wrecked (Has it really been that long?)
Screenplay by Michael Dougherty & Zack Shields from a story by Max Borenstein and Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields. Directed by Otto Bathurst.
- First film in a gazillion years with Godzilla, Mothra, Rhodan, Ghidorah (Monster Zero) and a bunch of other giant monsters (called “titans” here) I don’t know–all fighting and trashing stuff. Great monster effects. Ken Watanabe is still the best human in the bunch–end tribute to the original producer and actor from the first Toho Godzilla franchise. Some nods to past films (Mothra twins–thankfully they don’t speak) and easter eggs for upcoming films (watch for lots of “Kong” hints). One extra credits scene. And for those Yankee fans like me who hate the Red Sox, Fenway Park gets demolished (and for those who hate the Patriots, like me, so does most of Boston.) Did I mention the giant monsters?
- Takes too long to get to the monsters. The human characters aren’t that compelling–I didn’t remember a kid dying in the last one, and it turns out none of the main white folks were even IN the last film! So they’re not very memorable, (though I did like Kyle Chandler). And Vera Famiglia’s logic is too nuts for me.
- There’s a lot of suspend-your-disbelief in terms of coincidences and no-way-could-anyone-survive-that moments.
Frankly, they could have dropped 90 percent of the human stories and just had the kaiju beating the crap out of each other for two hours, and I’d have liked it more. But this is the one to see on the big screen if you dig the big beasts (and what red-blooded American dude doesn’t?). It’s freakin’ GODZILLA!!
That’s it, kids! I’m taking time off from here for now but will continue to do the quickie reviews on the Wednesday’s Heroes Facebook page. So look for me there next week! Have a great summer and keep going to the movies, if for no other reason than to get away from the insanity of reality (fake or otherwise).
P.S.: You can still get yourself some awesome and affordable ORIGINAL ART! Get 20% off the commission of your choice from Pascale during the summer just by mentioning ME and/or these reviews.
Just ask Craig here!