Thoughts on Fuller House

I’ve been getting over a horrible plague that makes my lungs feel like they’re full of slime and I want nothing more than to pull them out and itch them. It’s been a slow go getting better, much slower than when I casually get a cold, but for the first time in about two weeks I can look at the computer without getting a headache.

It was during my down time that I ended up marathoning Fuller House, the sequel/follow up/ continuation of 80’s/90’s hit Full House. Now, I didn’t watch much Full House when it first aired, I was more a fan of Family Matters and Boy Meets World in the big TGIF lineup. I remember it being way too smaultzy for my liking , but during a phase of unemployment in my late teens I watched most of the reruns on TBS, you know because I was going places. However, with hoe much this show was parodied, I could have never watched a single episode and I’d know that Full House that is the story of the recently widowed Danny Tanner, his two heterosexual life partners Jesse and Joey and his three unnaturally adorable daughters DJ, Stephanie and Michelle.

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So remember how when Jurassic World came out and it was pretty much the same thing as Jurassic Park only with fake dinosaurs and less likable characters. Fuller House is kinda like that, only its not pretending to be something new. It picks up where the previous show left off…only twenty-nine years later, but that’s irrelevant, it might as well be the very next day. It’s the exact same thing, save for the Olsen Twins not being involved and after watching the whole thing, that might be one of the better things about it.

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The first episode is horrible and outside of nostalgic purposes, should not be watched. I get it, I get nostalgic too, but after the fifth or sixth original cast member has shown up and the audience has screamed itself hoarse, it gets really irritating. And then the catch phrases start happening…oh the catch phrases…oh dear god the catch phrases. From what I remember Michelle, being the youngest and most marketable of the children, had a slew of fun things she would say that would get a laugh and cheer out of the studio audience. She had so many insufferably cute things to say that I’d forgotten the rest of the cast was just as annoying, just in smaller doses.

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If you can get past the reunion special, which I think is what most people watched, you get a show that’s not great, but interesting. Interesting in a sense of current pop culture vs the late 80’s/ early 90’s pop culture. We were so over saturated by the TGIF shows and their ilk that for the past twenty years, sitcoms have been everything that Full House isn’t…or at least the ones that I’ve had the misfortune of tuning in to.

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This show actually makes my soul hurt.

Fuller House is the story of DJ Tanner-Fuller, who has moved back into her childhood home after the untimely and gruesome death of her noble, self-sacrificing, firefighter of a husband Tommy (other than a plot point he’s not all that important. The series takes place a year after his death and everyone’s moved on. He’s only mentioned to remind us that DJ can be sad or stressed out. His death never brings a sense of tension or sadness. DJ says that she misses him, but the kids don’t really seem to care and for the most part DJ doesn’t either. Other than a firefighter friend, I’m not sure that he’s mentioned by name.), with her three sons, whom just happen to fall into the same age brackets as DJ, Stephanie and Michelle. Because being a single parent doesn’t lead to a lot of humorous situations, DJ is aided by her sister Stephanie and wacky friend Kimmy. If that sounds familiar it’s because it’s the same plot as Full House, only genderbent.

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From what I’ve read Kimmy’s role in the show was originally meant for one or both of the Olsen twins, which would have given us show that wasn’t a carbon copy of the original, but probably not nearly as satisfying. One of the biggest problems with Full House was that once Michelle started talking and had the five or six things she said each episode, she quickly became over saturated and the show became all about her. I don’t think Fuller House would have worked as well as it did with Michelle being there, not only would it have lost its best character (which is surprisingly Kimmy) but it would have lost it’s two best jokes, which poke fun at the Olsens and their success. (Plus, why would the Olsens come back? They’re beyond successful and haven’t shown an interest in acting in years.) I really like the idea of the show’s most over saturated character becoming an unseen character, like Maris Crane on Fraser or Ugly Naked Guy on Friends or even Gwen on American Dad (before they wrecked that joke…and the whole show.).

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Outside of the premise the show follows DJ, Stephanie, Kimmy and their kids as they adjust to their new life, which seems to be the best thing that could have happened to any of them. They live in this strange benign world where there are no emotional consequences for any of their actions. This might be to avoid the old sitcom trope of the classic misunderstanding, lies that backfire or the heartfelt speeches of the original. At one point DJ’s kids find out that she’s started dating again, a big deal is made that she doesn’t want them to find out until the time is right, but when they catch her kissing love interest #1, they don’t care and wish her well. At one point Stephanie pretends the kids are hers to pick up a guy and nothing comes of it. It’s not even a lost plot thread either, she keeps on lying and the episode ends and in a later episode it’s revealed that they’re still seeing each other. I’m not sure if this is refreshing or not; it seems like people in the Fuller House Universe can do whatever they want without worry and become closer because of it.

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No consequences for anything…Except for that one time Stephanie was unlucky for this baseball guy.

I mean the original Full House had more tension, there were arguments, misunderstandings, liars were punished. Fuller House is largely tension free. At one point DJ calls Kimmy out on some bad parenting choices (rewarding her daughter for skipping school and making friends) and instead of an argument Kimmy full on admits that she’s making poor choices and changes her ways. When Kimmy confronts her daughter about skipping school and punishes her, her daughter is pretty cool with it and everyone hugs. No tension whatsoever, but it works. The show does try to add some tension via a love triangle with DJ’s new business partner and her Full House love interest Steve, but everyone’s so likable that it just ends with the two guys admiring each other and going out for beer and pizza. I’d actually really like it if in a later season if those two hook up, because why not. It’d be a fairly tension free way to introduce new love interests for DJ. Hell, they already kissed.

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The whole thing is a little surreal and it almost feels like a dream. It’s a world filled with people that we wished existed, everyone’s the nicest person you’ve ever met, kids are super sweet and never bad, but when they are no one gets hurt and everyone learns a lesson. There’s a part of me that thinks that DJ is actually in a facility somewhere, recovering from the shock and horror of her husband’s brutal death and all of Fuller House is in her head. Everyone from her past is there, she gets to reconnect with her best friend, first love and sister and everyone looks great and is super successful. Either that or there’s a curse on the family where the first born’s spouse will suffer an untimely death, meaning DJ’s eldest should hold off on the girls until he can get in touch with a medium or demon hunter…or something.

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If you liked Full House or at least watched it or can tolerate Millenial nostalgia, give a few episodes a try. It’s not as bad as you think, it’s not as bad as Full House. Hey, if Fuller House does as well as Girl Meets World, then maybe we’ll get one step closer to my dream of a Family Matters Reunion. Let’s face it, the best non-animated television family of the 90’s were the Winslows.

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Slumber Party Massacre II and why you should watch it…

An oppressively hot summer and the general uselessness of Windows 8 has kept me off of the computer, but Windows 10 is out now I and saw something that I need to talk about.

Last night I watched two movies from the late 80’s/early 90’s, an era that has always been hazily combined in my mind. Both of these movies were put on for the intention of background noise while I did other things, I find I get a lot more done when there’s something to listen to or glance at every so often. The first film was about a troubled young woman who gets into a semi-abusive relationship with a sparkly vampire who’s been stalking her. I know what you’re thinking ‘isn’t that the plot of Twilight?’ It is, but this was To Sleep With a Vampire, which is a lot like Twilight if Bella were a Stripper and Edward was…well he’s the same. Think Twilight if it was produced in the 90’s by Roger Corman.

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While To Sleep with a Vampire is fun for being the proto-version of one of the worst things ever, it was the second film that got me to brave the heat of the laptop battery and update my blog: Slumber Party Massacre II.

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I haven’t see the original Slumber Party Massacre, nor have I seen the third or the similarly themed Sorority House Massacre films. I don’t need to, without watching I can say that these films peaked with Slumber Party Massacre II. I fear that watching the others will taint the brilliance that is Slumber Party Massacre II.

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Yeah you read that right, I think that there’s a certain brilliance to Slumber Party Massacre II. Yes, it is a typical 80’s slasher filled with bad actors poorly playing archetypes, who die horribly, but it’s so strange and surreal that all of that is forgotten. Everyone stares into the camera, which in most cases is just plain wrong in a film. But it kinds of works in Slumber Party Massacre II, because I think it’s trying to emulate the music videos of the time. Because at it’s heart, Slumber Party Massacre II is an 80’s music video with a lot of gore and a little nudity. Slumber Party Massacre II gives you the same kind of enjoyment that you’d get from Birdemic, the Room or Troll 2, it goes beyond so bad it’s good. It’s so bad it’s amazing.

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Slumber Party Massacre II tells the story of Courtney, who barely survived the first Slumber Party Massacre years earlier, and her band mates planning a weekend band practice at one of the girl’s summer condo. Courtney talks her mom out of visiting her sister( another survivor of the original) at the mental institution and gets permission to go to the titular Slumber Party. It’s a pretty standard horror movie setup, bringing the principal cast together for their inevitable slaughter. Their characters are fairly thin and can easily be described by their sole personality trait, slutty, nice, ditzy and Courtney rounding out the group with crazy. Later their boyfriends show up, jerk, nice guy and cardboard.

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Throughout the film Courtney experiences strange dreams where she simultaneously fantasizes about her new boyfriend, cardboard, and witnesses her friends getting slaughtered. Despite her best efforts and slumber party shenanigans, featuring the required 80’s nudity, the dreams start to weigh on her and she starts to lose her mind. This leads to some decent fake outs and some great body horror. Seriously, death by zit, it’s amazing.

Courtney’s group of stereotypes start to worry about her sanity, but being 80’s caricatures leave her alone with her cardboard camera staring boyfriend. As with all 80’s horror anyone with any sexual inclination with be punished in the most brutal way and before Courtney and cardboard can copulate, Courtney’s craziness comes to fruition and the movie becomes awesome.

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So before I go any further, I’ll ask you a question. Are characters like Jason Vorhees, Freddy Krugger, Michael Myers and Leatherface really scary? After their initial reveal, do they hold up, do they scare you? For me it’s a no, the darkness hiding behind the shadows and unseen threats will always be scarier. While iconic, the baddies of horror lose their terror factor once you see them, once you learn a little about them. Tragic back stories are fun and interesting, but they’re not scary. So I’ll ask you another question, does the antagonist of a horror film need to be scary for it to make an impact? If Slumber Party Massacre has taught me anything, it’s no, and the sillier the killer the better.

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The Driller Killer can only be described a punk rock god with the ability play a guitar with no strings, as the neck is a fully functional drill that he uses for murder most amazing. There’s a part of me that thinks he might be a bit of the inspiration for Baphomet in the Wicked and the Divine.

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He’s not even that effective of a killer, spending most of his time jamming and singing about killing rather than killing. It feels more like the characters fault for not running away during his musical numbers; though to their credit he can teleport. When he does get one of fodder teens in his sights you can tell that he really enjoys his job. In other horror films the killer sort of has this attitude of ‘you people’ and seems annoyed that they have to kill all these teenagers. The Driller Killer, he’s having the time of his life; he parties for keeps. I know you’re not supposed to cheer for the killer, but the Driller Killer is so entertaining, so much fun and so damn likable, you can’t help but cheer for him.

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It’s not like it’s a modern horror movie where the characters are so disgustingly unlikable that you have no choice but to cheer for the killer. Despite their one dimension, they’re not bad people, you don’t actively want them to die. They’re fairly nice teens who just happen to get in the way of the embodiment of the Chaotic Evil alignment from Dungeons & Dragons.

So if you have ninety minutes to kill, go watch it, you won’t be sorry. Slumber Party Massacre II will make your day or at the very least prove to be so stupid that it’ll put a smile on your face. It’s not hard to find, it’s on Youtube…in fact I’ll put it at the end of this post.

On the Oscars and the difficulties of baking and smart phones

Around a month ago, the screen on my pitiful excuse of a laptop cracked and for the most part is unusable. I can save my files, but that’s about it. Fortunately my iPhone is far more powerful and it was my goal to do all my posting through the WordPress app. There was just one problem, because I am a baker and a bit of an accident prone one at that, I have very calloused fingertips. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to use a small touch screen with callouses, but the touches don’t always register (I’m typing this with my pinkies). I’d wanted to post about all of the animated movies I’d seen this year, but got frustrated and decided to do it once I have a new computer, which will be very soon.

Since the Oscars are tonight, I thought I’d fight the frustration and post a tiny bit about each film in best animated feature AKA the only category I care about. Now I know that the Annie Awards are a better guide at what’s best in animation, but the Oscars tend to be the award show that everyone watches, so there’s that.

Big Hero Six

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I really loved this movie. It contained the heart of the comic, but without the convoluted BS of the comic. Like most Disney films its sweet and tugs at your heart strings and is filled with memorable characters. My only issue with Big Hero Six is that I would have loved to see more of the other heroes. Hiro and Baymax are awesome, but so were the rest of the team and we got so little of them.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya

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This film might very well be the last film that Studio Ghibli ever puts out and if it is, they left on a spectacular note. This film is exceedingly beautiful and is a thrill to watch. It never speaks down to its audience, never compromises and is so much better for it.

Song of the Sea

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I don’t have words for how beautiful this film it is. It’s predecessor Secret of Kells is completely blown out of the water by Song of the Sea, which is no small feat. Everything about this film is near perfect, from its sweeping scope to its storybook visuals, Song of the Sea is just plain amazing. I hope against hopes it will wins, but also nominated is…

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How To Train Your Dragon 2

I’m about 85% sure that How To Train Your Dragon 2 will win top prize. It won the Golden Globe, it took home the Annie, so it’s likely it’ll win. I loved this movie, but I do think it’s the weakest of the five nominated. Part of this because the film could have used a better villain. But for the second part of a trilogy its pretty damn good.

The Boxtrolls

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I’ve already talked about Boxtrolls, it’s awesome and an awesome labour of love that makes me smile with the mention of cheese.

Boxtrolls AKA Another reason why stop motion is amazing

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So my sorry excuse for a computer is unusable at the moment, which makes posting quite difficult. So I’m going to try a little experiment and try to do a full entry by my Info Pod also known as my cell phone.

When I was younger stop motion animation kind of freaked me out, but in that fascinating good way that makes up childhood wonder. Despite most of the animation being quite cartoonish and in hindsight, a little creepy, it was hard not to watch. I think it was the slight jerkiness of the characters movements that intrigued me the most, because while it seemed unnatural it was ultimately organic to the world created by the animation.

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Despite the intense labour involved in creating a stop motion production, there was a ton of it when I was growing up. Then Toy Story happened and it was amazing and we learned that computers could be used to create something similar to stop motion only without the labour. Stop motion productions started to wane and sort of became a novelty. Sure, they pop up once and a while but they’ve never been quite as prevalent as they were before the turn of the millennium.

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This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since most of the stop motion productions that have come out since the onset computer animation (as in 3D rendered pictures as most modern animated films have some element of computer effects in them) have been spectacular. Stop motion is an intense labour of love that can be seen in every background, model and movement. Even though most stop motion films these days are nominated for an Oscar (because let’s face it the academy likes to give a nod to each school of animation, typically three CG, one traditional and whatever stop motion film came out.) the quality is usually so high that it doesn’t feel like pandering. So let’s look at this years stop motion entry the Boxtrolls.

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The Boxtrolls is the story of a group of box wearing subterranean builders who roam streets at night looking for discarded treasures. When they come into the possession of a baby the Boxtrolls world is forever turned upside down. Accused of stealing and murdering the child, the Boxtrolls are hunted by the ambitious Archibald Snatcher who plans to use their extinction as a means of gaining political power. Years later the Boxtrolls are still being hunted and the child has grown into Eggs, a boy who thinks he’s a Boxtroll.

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With their numbers dwindling the Boxtrolls try to go on with life as usual, which proves to be very hard for Eggs. However, it’s not until Fish, Eggs father figure, is captured that Eggs ventures into the human world to reclaim his friends. Can Eggs save the Boxtrolls from the wicked Mr. Snatcher, all while learning who he is and his place in the world?

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The Boxtrolls is a spectacularly beautiful film that’s not only stunning to look at, but a delight to watch. This follows the Laika tradition that was started by Coraline and Paranorman. Everything in Boxtrolls is a treat to look at. The sets are immersive, the characters are emotive and even the movement feels natural. When you watch the Boxtrolls you fall into a fully formed world. It’s not just the visuals that are outstanding, but the writing as well. Boxtrolls is clever and witty, pulls at your heartstrings without pandering. It never talks down or underestimates its audience, making it the perfect family movie.

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Voice acting is something that I often compliment, because in most of the big name animated films they will have a stellar cast. Even if the movie is awful, chances are the voice work will be solid. Boxtrolls is no different with amazing performances given by Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Elle Fanning Nick Frost and Tracy Morgan. Yeah, you read that right. I’m not going to lie, I find Tracy Morgan irritating, especially in animated films. Boxtrolls is the first time I’ve actually seen Tracy Morgan play someone other than Tracy Morgan, which is kind of reason enough to give Boxtrolls a watch.

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So if you’re looking for a film that will entertain you and captivate your imagination, give the Boxtrolls a shot. It’ll make you laugh, smile and even cringe a little…you may never look at cheese the same way again.

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The Lego Movie AKA My Favourite Commercial

So, the Oscars are going to be announced tomorrow(or today depending on when I hit post), which is a big thing, I guess, for the movies. Okay it’s a very big thing and a lot of people watch and get invested in them. When I was in my early teens and had aspirations of being an actress, I used to watch them religiously. I never followed these aspirations, which is good because I’m a bad actor and had very poor judgement at eighteen, there’s probably a sad alternate universe where I ended up in the adult film industry. Regardless of alternate universes, the Oscars are coming up and people make predictions about these things.

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Now there are only two categories that I care about and those are best feature and short animations. Sadly, I haven’t seen enough short animated films from 2014 to make an educated guess, luckily after the Oscar announcements finding those short animated shorts becomes much easier. So hear are my predictions for the nominations for best animated feature length film. Big Hero Six, Boxtrolls, Song of the Sea or Princess Kaguya, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and the Lego Movie. (I’d like to see Song of the Sea and Princess Kaguya get nominated, but since Dream Works and Disney both have fantastic entries, the Lego Movie made a ton of money and there is usually a nod to stop motion, there might only be one spot for traditional animation) And since the Oscar rarely goes to the best film, I predict the Lego Movie will win.

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Speaking of the Lego Movie, let’s talk about the Lego Movie. There have been several Lego Movies and video games, most of them are based on various franchises such as Star Wars, Batman and the Marvel Universe. I haven’t seen these movies or played these games, but I’ve heard they’re fun and a good watch if you can get past the production values. My experience with Lego was built entirely of my imagination. It involved epic battles between My Little Pony and the Jurassic Park dinosaurs.

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I didn’t expect much from the Lego Movie, because at its centre, it’s a feature length commercial. I’ve been burned by feature length commercials before; just look at Battleship and most of the Transformer movies or Foodfight!…but we’ll get to Foodfight! soon enough. I walked into the Lego Movie with low expectations, because how can a movie encompass all of the craziness and fun that is Lego. As a toy, Lego can be imagination incarnate. Most movies based on products suck the imagination out of you and leave a mundane husk; they will take hours of your life and laugh about it. I went in kind of expecting to be crushed and was proven completely wrong.

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The Lego Movie is about a young minifig named Emmet Brickowoski, who does his best to fit in and follow all of the rules. He wakes up, goes to work and follows all of the rules. Rules are a big part of Emmet’s life. There is nothing special about him, he is so unremarkable that his co-workers don’t even know who he is. After a chance encounter with Wyldstyle, Emmet is stuck to a mysterious and magical item. He learns from the wise minifig Vitruvius that he is the special and the key to stopping the Evil Lord Business freezing the the entire Lego world with krackle. Can Emmet unlock his potential and help the other master builders stop Lord Business or will Emmet forever be unspecial and unremarkable?

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The Lego Movie blew me away in several ways, first and foremost with its animation. The Lego Movie looks amazing, it has the tactile feel of stop motion yet creates such grand and epic effects that could have only been done on computer. Each and every brick is lovingly filled with personality, scuffed and worn as if it came from my own childhood toy box. Character movements are authentic to the way you’d play with your minifigs, these are toys and the movie never lets you forget it. Both standard sets and original creations are rendered in an homage to both those original sets and the pieces we all created as children.

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Apart from the animation the voice acting is awesome, it’s so good that you’ll forgive some of the more cliche parts of the plot. In fact the combination of animation and voice acting is so much fun that I was able to ignore that the Lego Movie’s plot revolves around my least favourite troupe. The troupe where a boring man meets an amazing woman and she teaches him everything she know and he gets all of the glory, usually makes me grind my teeth, but the Lego Movie does this well. In fact this is the best that this trope has ever been done. What the Lego Movie does right is that it captures the childhood wonder of the Lego stories we would all create. We can forgive the clicheness of the plot, because our own story-lines might have been a bit cliche themselves.

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The Lego movie may not be the best animated film of the year, but it was the most fun. The Lego Movie is a movie that’s hard to stay mad while watching. Yes it has all of the cliches, but it has so much fun with them that you forget that they’re there, you forget that you’re watching 101 minute commercial. So, if you are one of the few people that hasn’t seen the Lego Movie go watch it, you likely won’t be disappointed.

Brief Thoughts on Interstellar or why it never hurts to operate on comic book logic

A series of cluster headaches has kept me off the computer, but the cycle seems to be over, so let’s get back to that posting goal.

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I recently went to see the latest Christopher Nolan film, the space epic Interstellar. This was the blindest that I’ve ever gone into a movie. All I knew was that it was a movie that took place in space and that it starred Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. I didn’t even know that it was directed by Christopher Nolan until I saw it in the credits.

Interstellar starts off in a post apocalyptic setting mirroring the dust bowl situation of the dirty thirties. Crops are dying off from a mysterious blight and the world has fallen into a sad state where humanity’s main focus is growing enough food to survive. After receiving a gravity based message in binary, former NASA pilot Cooper (whom we never get a first name for), finds the remnants of NASA. He’s told that a wormhole has been found near Saturn and that NASA, through a series of probes and suicide missions, has found three planets that may be able to support human life. Cooper is offered the chance to pilot the mission to the new planets in hopes of a human exodus to a new world. Cooper leave his family in hopes of providing them a better future.

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Interstellar is a neat movie that is probably more fun, the less you know about science. It deals with some high concepts that seem as much science as science fiction. According to what I’ve read Interstellar is quite soundly based in theoretical physics and the film’scientific consultants, Kip Thorne, would only work on the film under the condition that the film didn’t violate science too badly. From what I’ve been able to research is that the blight that’s pushing humanity from the earth is one of the few things that’s scientifically unsound.

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I grew up reading comics and it takes a lot to suspend my belief. I’ve rarely had a moment where I’ve seen something impossible and come to the conclusion that things don’t work that way. I could easily watch Interstellar without logic getting in the way, but I do know several people who either didn’t buy the science or were confused by it.

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Whether or not you buy the science, the story is solid and it’s one of the better scifi films out there. You can look at it as a nice homage to 2001: A Space a Odyssey. It’s a stunningly beautiful film that creates atmosphere as much as it wows. While the space visuals are amazing, the scenes on earth with the dust storms create a sense of claustrophobia and tension that feels tangible.

The actors do a stand up job of creating likable and believable characters. Hell, even the robot is more likable than a lot of movie characters that made their movie debuts this year. you feel for the characters and want them to succeed, even when they’re making silly arguments and throwing themselves into danger. Another thing that was really impressive was the soundtrack. Hans Zimmer creates a powerful and moving score that even if you aren’t enjoying yourself, will pull you in.

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My one major complaint is the ending. There is a point in the film where it should end, but it goes on for another ten minutes and those ten minutes kind of make the rest of the film’s journey feel hollow.

Now there was one thing that I didn’t buy in the movie, which unfortunately pulled me out of it. So in a movie that involves wormhole travel, hyper sleep and comedic robots that all seemed plausible, what pulled me out of it? Well, that’s where we get into spoiler territory. So if you haven’t seen Interstellar, don’t read on, ’cause there be spoilers.

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Postman Pat: The Movie AKA A Biting Critique of Pop Culture…several years too late

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Postman Pat, it’s a British stop-motion animation series aimed at very young children. Most episodes concerned Pat and his cat Jess as they delivered the mail and helped out a villager or two. The show had a really catchy theme that was just about as auditorily infectious as the Duck Tales theme. From what I remember the show either aired on CBC or YTV here in Canada and I enjoyed watching it as a kid. It was cute, quaint and was one of those rare shows that existed in a sweet, benign universe. It dealt with the adorable and sweet side of real life. The show started in 1981 and through a variety of property transfers, is still going.

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So what better way to honour a time tested and loved series than by making a feature film. You know, like Garfield or the Chipmunks or Smurfs or any other gross, unneeded violation of childhood icons. Now, Postman Pat isn’t nearly as bad as those other cinematic abortions, but it’s not great and I’m almost inclined to say that it’s the worst animated film of 2014, but then I remembered Legends of Oz.

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Postman Pat: The Movie is needlessly complicated while being incredibly dull. It starts out as any typical episode of Postman Pat with Pat and Jess delivering the mail. Pat’s excited because he’s going to get his bonus and is planing on using the money to take his wife to Italy. Upon bringing his mail to the sorting facility Pat learns from the obviously evil Carbunckle that the post office is going to become a hell of a lot more efficient and that no one is getting their bonuses.

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Distraught, Pat returns home to find his wife extremely excited about the trip and Pat doesn’t have the heart to tell her that they can’t go. That’s all right, because after watching a timely parody of singing competitions with Simon Cowbell, Pat learns that not only is one of the prizes a trip to Italy but that the show is coming to his town and he can audition. As Greendale’s acts are all made of silliness and Pat easily wins his way into round two. Pat’s boss and the evil Carbunkle see the performance and Carbunkle decides to use Pat’s new found fame to his advantage.

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Focused on winning the competition, Pat allows Carbunkle to replace him with a robot for his postal service. Carbunkle plans on taking over the world with Patbots and I had to type that sentence. Pat’s fame starts to isolate him from his friends and family and he struggles with fame and what he’s willing to do for his wife, even if it pushes her away.

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So Postman Pat: the Movie is about evil robots, the pointlessness of singing shows and autotune…I think. It tries to be a satire, but it’s too cutesy to work. The robot plot sort of comes out nowhere and is far too silly to work. There’s a subplot about two brothers who are against Pat in the talent show that tries to tie things together, but ultimately feels like it was tacked on. Plus the singing is so over the top that the robot plot is more plausible than that voice coming out of Pat.

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There are a few great quips in the movie that’ll make you laugh out loud, but they are not worth sitting through the whole film. If you’re interested in Postman Pat, check out the original series.

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Planes: Fire and Rescue AKA Another Dane Cook Plane Movie

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Before I talk about Planes: Fire and Rescue I want to talk about a little thing called a character arc. Now I know that I’ve talked about this before, but I think that it’s one of the most important parts in creating a great story. An arc is the characters journey, the lessons they learn and how they grow. I’d argue that in order for a character to claim the title of protagonist they have to show some sort of growth. For example, you can make the argument that in Disney’s the Little Mermaid King Triton is the protagonist over Ariel, since he’s the one who grows and changes where Ariel is essentially the same character she was at the beginning of the film.

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Now there are a lot of good stories where characters don’t change, but in a lot of those cases the point is that they can’t change and the story can serve as a sort of cautionary tale. A great example of this is the film Young Adult, where the main character is so trapped in her own delusions that when given the opportunity to change she does everything in her power to not to.

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So why the mini lecture on character development? Well the biggest problem with Planes: Fire and Rescue, is that there’s not really a character arc. Now, I haven’t seen the original Planes, so there might have been a ton of character development that I missed out on and maybe Fire and Rescue didn’t need any character development.

The basic premise of Planes: Fire and Rescue is that, Dusty Crophopper, after becoming a world famous racer has damaged his gear box and will not longer be able to race. If he pushes himself into the red he will crash and, though the film never uses the word, die. After trying to prove that he can over come his new found weakness, Dusty nearly destroys Propwash Junction. In order to make things better and get the town up and running he offers for become the town’s backup fire fighter.

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He’s sent off to Piston Peak Natural Park to get certified as a firefighter. This proves to be a lot harder than Dusty originally imagined and his new limitations could prevent him from getting certified and saving Propwatch Junction in time for the Corn Festival. Can Dusty over come his broken gear box and save not only Propwatch Junction, but Piston Peak as well.

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Planes: Fire and Rescue was better than I thought it would be. For a sequel to a spin off the animation isn’t half bad, though it exploits the hell out of the 3D gimmick. Not having seen the first Planes didn’t hinder my viewing of Fire and Rescue. The characters and unique enough and the plot is simple enough to watch without confusion and the end result is surprisingly palatable. Unlike the Nut Job or Legends of Oz, I didn’t have to pause it several times just to get through it. It’s a movie you can watch with younger kids without being bored out of your mind. There are two jokes that made me laugh out loud, the first being a pretty good CHiPs parody and the mention of Boat Reynolds.

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As per Pixar standards, the voice acting is great. The biggest surprise for me was Dane Cook’s performance as Dusty. I don’t mind Dane Cook as a stand up comic, some of his stuff is really funny, I just find him aggressively annoying as an actor. However, like David Spade before him, he proves to be a pretty awesome voice actor creating a sympathetic character who probably deserves a better movie.

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Now all of that being said, let’s talk about what I started this review with (and get into some spoilers): character arcs. Dusty doesn’t really go through one. Sure, he learns a new skill, but he doesn’t change, he doesn’t grow. Dusty is a nice plane and he stays a nice plane. He’s loyal, determined and brave and none of that changes. There’s a moment when he does have to push his limits and go into the red to save lives and he does crash, but that’s not really something he learns to do, it’s already ingrained in his character. He doesn’t really lose faith and instead of learning to work with his disability, it’s written away. There’s another panicky moment when Dusty has to confess to Blade Ranger that his gear box is broken and he gets a bit of a pep talk that helps him over come his fears. But it’s hard to count a pep talk as a character arc.

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There’s a lot of talk of second chances and that it’s not the end of the world if you switch careers late in the game. We find out that all of the fire vehicles found firefighting as a second career and are better for it. The movie gives the impression that once Dusty becomes certified, he’ll find a new lease on life as a Fire Fighter despite his limitations. Then he crashes and he’s put back together and his un-fixable gear box is fixed and he can still race and be a firefighter too and it all feels really hollow. And that’s the problem, Dusty gets everything and loses nothing and while a lesson is learned a lesson isn’t really learned.

Planes: Fire and Rescue is better than you probably think it is, but it’s not great. If you want to see an awesome movie with planes check out Porco Rosso or the Wind Rises, which are both beautiful, fun and poignant.

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The Nut Job AKA Heistception

Last year it was my resolution to watch each film that came out in 2014 after missing out on Ernest and Celestine (the film that should have won Best Animated Feature…don’t get me wrong I love Frozen, but Ernest and Celestine is amazing). Well it’s 2015 and I’ve seen most of them, some are amazing (The Tale of Princess Kaguya), some were awful (Legends of Oz: Dorthy’s Return) and some were really surprising (Mr. Peabody and Sherman). Since animation is one of my all time favourite things, I wanted to give my thoughts and opinions on the animated films that came out this year.

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Now all of that being said, I haven’t yet had a chance to see what might be the best animated film of the year: Song of the Sea. Right now it’s in limited release and I have my doubts that it’ll be in theaters near me anytime soon. However, judging by it’s predecessor The Secret of Kells, I know it’ll be amazing. I’m so confident of that fact that I’ve already pre-ordered it on bluray, hoping that I’ll get to see it in theaters before that.

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So in no particular order, here’s my thoughts on the animated films of 2014.

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The Nut Job is a Canadian/South-Korean/American joint production that opened in January of 2014 about park creatures who decide to heist a nut shop. Despite some very negative reviews, it made enough money to warrant a sequel.

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The Nut Job is the story of Surly, an outcast squirrel who creates elaborate contraptions to steal nuts from unassuming humans. His only friend is a mute rat named Buddy, who is the only character in the movie with a lick of sense. Surly is quite adept at his nut thievery, but is often thwarted by the woodland creatures of the park he lives in. Namely potential love interest Andie and the delusional Grayson who are sent on scavenging missions by the shifty and shiny loving Raccoon.

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After a failed heist attempt of a nut cart, which through a series of unlikely events, destroy’s the park’s entire food stock, Surly is banished from the park. During his time in the city he discovers a nut shop and decides to plan the squirrel heist of a lifetime. However, the nut shop is in fact a cover for an actual bank heist and Surly has to work around a group of human thieves to get his score.

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After Andie discovers Surly’s find and an encounter with a rather unfortunate pug, Surly is forced to work with the park dwellers to get the nuts. Unbeknownst to Surly, Raccoon is planning on double crossing Surly and stealing his share of the nuts.

The Nut Job is one of those movies that just sort of happened, it was on my radar, but I had no desire to see it. After watching it, I can see why. The Nut Job is really unremarkable, it is the essence of meh. For a movie that has a heist within a heist, it’s a really flat heist movie. It’s predictable, it’s pretty boring and it’s kind of hard to  get through; it feels a lot longer that it actually is. There are a lot of needless fart jokes, as in farts happen and it’s supposed to be funny. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fart joke, but there has to be a set up, there has to be a joke in there somewhere. The Nut Job kind of banks on the fact that little, little kids find fart noises funny.

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As meh as the movie is, the animation is nice for what it’s budget was, very cute and stylized. Other than Katherine Heigl turning in the same performance that she does in everything she’s ever been in, the voice acting is top notch. Most of the actors give performances better than the movie deserves. Both Will Arnett and Brendan Fraser go above and beyond what their roles required.

Now as meh as the movie is, it has some of the strangest and dating credits I’ve ever seen. Remember that Gangman Style song that was really popular a while back? Well the credits feature and animated Psy singing and dancing with cast of the movie. It’s really jarring and dates the movie, I think that it might have dated the movie before it was released.

All in all, you won’t be missing a whole lot by skipping the Nut Job. Do yourself a favour, if you feel the need to watch a criminally inclined rodant, check out Ernest and Celestine. You won’t regret it.

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Thoughts on X-men: Days of Futures Past

There are three basic theories of time travel. The first is that you can go back in time and change things, the second is that you can go back in time, but any changes you make are null in your universe and will create an alternate universe; the third option is that time is a loop and that when you go back in time it was predestined that you were supposed to go back in time and you change nothing. Confusing, right. X-men: Days of Futures Past largely follows the first theory, but it does make a few nods to the other two. When I fist started writing this two weeks ago, before getting very distracted, I had serious issues with the time travel rules in the film, but after a re-watch of Looper, I’m willing to forgive it.

As per these things go the following is my own dumb opinion and there are spoilers ahoy.

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