How do I describe this film in a way that is easy to understand? I for one, really enjoyed this film. It's no Zootopia, but it sure is something. If you have played the hit mobile game that reached it's peak long before this film's release, then you will understand it well. It takes everything I loved about the games and fleshes it out successfully to fit a hour and a half film. And if you didn't play the games- then you will be lost the moment the film starts... So where do we begin?
WARNING: HERE BE SPOILERS. DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT IF YOU HAVEN'T PLAYED THE GAMES.
So, we all know that every time those darned pigs go after the bird's eggs, they get mad and nuts! But how did this all start in the first place? Well, for one, we now know why Red (played with all the sarcastic charm and charisma you'd expect from Jason Sudekis of Horrible Bosses fame) is so frustated with his life- he was bullied as a young bird for his big, bushy eyebrows. But he isn't alone. After being told by the island's bird judge (no, I'm not kidding) that he needs some anger management, he meets the speedster yellow bird Chuck (voiced by Josh Gad, who was also in Frozen and Pixels) and the explosive Bomb (voiced by Danny McBride). But once the contradicting pigs led by Leonard the King Pig (Bill Hader of Inside Out fame) arrive on Bird Island, the gloves are off. It is here I had way more fun watching the film than I possibly imagined, and the references get off the wall. Side characters like the Mighty Eagle (Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage) are then fleshed out via backstory, and we finally find out where the infamous slingshot came from- you'd never expect it! And lastly, the main theme from the games is used to great effect during the film- I couldn't help but smile the first time it popped up!
NOTE: HERE END SPOILERS. SKIP TO HERE IF YOU HAVEN'T PLAYED THE GAMES.
Well, weird cameos and somewhat uneven writing are this film's only main weak points, and the supporting cast (Maya Rudolph, Sean Penn, Blake Shelton, and Peter Dinklage) all excel at their best. Play the games if you haven't yet, and then go watch the movie (you can just see it if you have played the games). It's cute, funny when it needs to be, and the adult jokes fly fast. You'll be pleasantly surprised.
Rated PG (contains rude humor, adult jokes, and brief language).
When the concept and plot of the animated film ZOOTOPIA was first announced, I was intrigued. A city made by animals? That's the ballsiest thing Disney has ever done! And the film itself? Well, let's just say that while being well written and timely in it's message, it definitely loses steam during the third act. With strong voice acting performances from Ginnifer Goodwin (who shines as Judy Hopps, a bunny who wants to fulfill her dream of being a police officer), Jason Bateman (starring as the sarcastic, somewhat pessimistic, and clever con artist fox Nick Wilde) and supporting performances from Academy Award(R) winners JK Simmons and Octavia Spencer, Emmy Award(R) nominee Idris Elba, and Shakira, this one is full of wit, emotional moments, perfectly timed humor, and surprises. If the fan art isn't enough to convince you, go see it now! Rated PG (contains some perilous situations and adult jokes.)
STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS: **** (NO MAJOR SPOILERS, I PROMISE!) Going into a screening of the 7th installment of the long running space opera, I truly did not know what to expect. Having mostly stayed away from spoilers and seeing the film late, I knew my patience should be rewarded. And rewarded I was. From the moment the opening crawl begins, we are treated to a galaxy turned upside down by the Empire offshoot First Order. Shockers, hissy fits, and a new rebellion bent on destroying yet another Death Star make this film a worthwhile experience. Retreading aside, don't be surprised to see this as an OSCAR threat. Rated PG-13 (contains intense sci-fi violence, disturbing images, and some instances of language.)
THE MARTIAN: **** 1/2
Famous ALIEN director Ridley Scott probably pitched this film with four words: CAST AWAY in Space. But instead of hanging out with a volleyball, our main character Mark Watney (played masterfully by Matt Damon) uses Mythbusters-style science, unusual growing methods for crops, and his wit to make it through five or so years on Mars. After his mission crew (portayed by Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena, Kristen Wiig and others) mistakenly leave Watney behind on Mars after a freak sandstorm, he is forced to survive. There is humor, drama, and a excellent supporting cast to boot, and to not spoil anything more, shall I say that this is recommended viewing! Rated PG-13 (contains a graphic scene, intense images, and some language.)