Hello, Spongey here.
Looks like we get to talk about Blue Sky again. I …kind reviewed Rio a few months ago, and I think I teased today’s movie there. Now we get to talk about it.
For awhile, Blue Sky has been the …Underdog studio, so to speak. People mistake their films for films by other Studios, and they are 2nd fiddle to Dreamworks and Pixar. Hell ,even Sony has more respect, with the hit that was Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
That’s not too bad, cuz their films aren’t exactly the best ever, but I did hope they would get that fame someday. And last year, I thought that day would come when I heard about this movie. The trailer (besides one element I’ll get to) made it look amazing.
It seemed like a complex, epic, adventure akin to How to Train Your Dragon. Infact, I thought it would be to Blue Sky what Dragons was to Dreamworks. It came out…and it wasn’t. The reviews were average, either disliking it, or finding it…Okay. It made money but it mostly came and went.
I saw it in theaters and you know what, I liked it. However, it’s still not as amazing as it could have been. So today, I’ll re-visit and see it’s better than I remember. Or I can least explain why it’s a decent movie.
A few things before we start, though. This film is based on a book called The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs , by none other than William Joyce. Yep, same guy who had his hand in Meet the Robinsons, Robots, and Rollie Pollie Ollie. His style is evident in each of those movies, and he’s awesome.
I may have mentioned this before, he actually prefers the adaptations of his work to be different than the books. So don’t go bitching about the differences here. Though I wish they kept the title. The new title is…pompous, to say the least.
But hey, it may live up to that title. Also, as a side note, Stefan Ellison, aka Mr Coat, loves this movie. I mention that because he’s the biggest Epic fan on Earth, and thus, I felt I should give him a shout out. But seriously, he did a video on Blue Sky, and one on this. Check them both out, here’s a link to the Epic one:
Anyway, let’s jump into this thing.
This, is Epic
The movie opens with narration.
“Somebody told me once that if you stand still in the Forrest long enough, you’ll see signs of a hidden struggle. Raging between forests of life and decay. That the survival of the forest itself depends on the out coming. The good guys need all the help they can get. If you don’t believe it, take a close look. If you still don’t…”
Then screw you.
We see a guy running in the Forrest, looking for something. After a bit of time with him we get to the cool part. We are introduced to the Leaf men, these really tiny dudes no one can see for reasons we’ll get into later.
We see one fighting off a green monster dude who is riding a bird. The first I can say about this movie is that the animation is kind of AMAZING. It’s hard to describe here but it looks awesome. Besides the strong character animation, we have fantastic, realistic backgrounds and everything looks very real, which helps the fight scenes, such as this one.
This whole opening scene is the best part of the movie, showing off fantastic animation in every frame. I’m not saying the rest of the film is bad, I’m just saying it doesn’t top this scene. The reason being is that is the spectacle of seeing all this for the first time. Even the climax doesn’t top it, but the other action scenes are still great.
We also quickly find out what this leaf dude is like. He’s with other guys, and he’s doing things different from the others. Yep, he’s a rebellious teen, but more on that later. To be fair, it ain’t done too badly compared to other movies, but for now, let’s move on.
That scene ends with the kid and his Dad (Their names are Nod and Ronin, by the way) making like their race and…getting out of there. We move on to meet our Human heroine, Mary Katherine aka MK, voiced by Amanda Seyfried. This is a good time to mention that she was named after William Joyce’s daughter, died in 2010.
That is sweet.
(What, you expected me to D’aww again?)
She’s a teenage girl and she is visiting her father who lives in this big ol weird house near the Forrest we were just in. By the way her Mom is dead because of course she is. Now, I’ll say right now that Dad, voiced by Jason Sudekis, has been a busy with something (which we’ll get to in a secon) and thus hasn’t been there for him. Yeah, it’s that cliché but to be fair, MK isn’t a brat about it, and while some may disagree, Dad isn’t that much of a dick.
He leaves so she can settle in, and she looks at a picture of her Mom.
“Okay, I’m trying. That was the deal.”
…Well, that’s interesting.
We head back to the forest so we can get back to the interesting part. We head into the Leaf men (er, Leaf people, cuz there are women)’s world which of course is very beautiful looking. Ronin, voiced by Colin Ferral talks to Queen Tara, voiced by Beyonce. Yeah, this movie doesn’t do the whole…Dreamworks for the most part, but this casting is a tad pointless.
To be fair, she does a good job as her character is rather playful and thus, not boring. That gives her an actual character to work with and she does fine with it. She needs to choose an Heir and she hasn’t picked one yet
While she’s talking to Ronin she’s shown to be a spunky, or however you would describe it which adds to the …not boring part. Also, I’m pretty sure she’s hitting on Roin. I almost want to see if there’s fanfic of that.
She must choose an Heir today, by the way. With that, we meet our villains, the Boggans. They live on rot so they live in a very rotted area of the forest, which looks awesome, by the way.
We meet their leader, Mandrake, voiced by Christoph Waltz. The Boggans think the Leaf Men drove htem area and they are infested the place with hideous green forest, while our heroes think otherwise. That’s a nice touch that at least tries to give the villains a motivation besides being evil cuz evil evil evil.
“Today, We’ll show them you just can’t stop the rot”
Yes, Waltz does a great job as a villain once again, why do you ask?
“If the Queen dies without an Heir, the leaf men can’t regrow anything.”
Yep, their gonna kill the Queen. This movie has a dark edge to it sometimes, and that’s cool. But maybe it needed more of an edge…I’ll get into that later.
Back with the heroes, Nod gets back to Ronin, and neither of them are happy. Nod is tired of being treated like a kid and oh yeah he’s not his Dad but he is taking care of him cuz his real Dad is dead. Man, Dead parents everywhere!
This bit is a tad cliché but they tone down the painful parts, at least. Besides, Ronin is kind of awesome. His plight is actually interesting and he’s also a badass. He’s awesome. Nod leaves and this ceremony thing starts. But we gotta get back to the normal Humans so let’s see what MK is up to.
See, Dad thinks there is a society of tiny people living in the woods, and he has dedicated his life to finding them and proving they exist. He has cameras all over the place, too.
“It ruined your career, not to mentioned your marriage”
Way to make him feel better, MK. So yeah, this has taken over his life and we;ll get more into that as the film goes on. He explains a few things, like why we can’t see these tiny guys. They move too fast, like insects. His theory is that they are living faster, like in a different dimension.
“To them, we’re just big and dumb and slow”
Now, this idea is cool. Actually, the whole world of the movie is very well done. The writers and animators put a lot of detail to help make this a fully fleshed out world, with interesting ideas. The highlights of the film are the parts that go into the world, either through the way the Leaf men work or just the exposition dumps.
However, this film has flaws that kind of make it weaker than it should have been. But I’ll discuss that as we go along. For now, MK wants to talk about personal stuff. She wants him to stop all this, and their conversation is cut off by something Dad’s machines are picking up on. He has to head out as the tiny guys are suspected to be on the move.
Yeah, it’s kind of Dick-ish of him to leave just as she starts talking, but it is part of his development, to see her point of view. But since his crazy theories turn out to be real, you can construe this in any way you want.
Some of the cliches, like this, bugged me on my first viewing, but after watching Mr Coat’s video, I started to see some parts in a different light. I still think this could have been written better, but they try to make this part as good as possible without falling into the trappings of other films.
Anyway, Dad leaves to do stuff, and MK is sad.
“Sure Dad, I’ll be here, in reality”
We back to the Forest world, as Tara is walking around. And here we meet the 2 characters you either like or hate, Mub and Grub, voiced by Chris o Dowd, and Aziz As..as…asnari…asn…the Indian dude from Parks and Rec. They are these 2 slug dudes who are out comedic sidekicks.
You either find them very funny or very annoying. I’m in the middle. Sometimes they are annoy, and sometimes they are funny. I wish that they were toned down so I can enjoy the film better but they do play a part in the plot, which is more than I can say for other Comedic Sidekicks out there.
I see why some people hate them but eh, I’ve seen far far worse. They work for the Queen and the skinny one gives her this pod. See, she chooses the Heir via this pod, I think. She’s picked her Heir I guess, so of course the bad guys storm in.
This leads to an amazing action/chase scene. Seriously, it’s pretty epic. ..And now the title makes sense. Anyway, Ronin tries to get Tara away from the bad guys, but while they are in the sky, something happens and she falls down. She falls right next to MK, who ran into the forest to catch up to the dog I forgot to mention.
The pod flies into MK’s hands, and boom she’s shrunk down. Before she has time to react, Tara tells MK to take the pod to Nimgaloo. Then Tara dies.
…Well, I didn’t see that coming. Wow, this movie actually has balls after all. Yeah, it’s a tad cliché but it works. It’s a nice dramatic moment, especially when Ronin comes in and sees this happen to his Queen. It’s a very well done scene.
So yeah, the Leaf Men have a problem on their hands. The villains have kind of killed their Queen and they must protect their only hope. MK realizes she has shrunk but she has bigger things to worry about out, like…the fat slug fitting on her.
The slugs say they are the pod caretakers, and I wonder why this epic Queen would put an important pod in the hands of….these guys.
See, he gets it.
So a little girl, a warrior, and two slugs fly away on a bird, and the priest and the Rabbi are nowhere to be seen. We cut to Nod who is caught up in the wild world of Bird racing. He wins and he gets beat up by the henchmen of a frog voiced by Pitbull. Now that is a pointless casting choice. Doesn’t help that he was on some Promotional Images despite only being in like 2 scenes.
I guess there was some deal where Nod had to loose, but he ended up winning which pissed off the…frog mafia? I don’t know. Thankfully, he is saved by Ronin. He tells Nod that Tara is dead, and he’s as unhappy as everyone else. So now Nod wants back in. Hey, he’s too much of a dick after all!
Ronin lets him ride with him since he will be of more help than a teenage girl and Comic Relief slugs. Back in the Human world, Dad gets back home and sees a note from MK, saying she is leaving.
..I forgot to mention that part. Oops. Good thing we cut back to MK in the Leaf world, then.
Some Boggans appear and we have a chase scene. They escape them and MK and Nod end up in a tree…cave…thing. You know, I just noticed that we haven’t had a scene I was expecting. Where someone gives MK an exposition dump to tell her, and us, how the world works. Instead she’s thrust into this adventure and learns naturally, and thus, we do too.
…Props for that, I guess.
After a fight with an Evil Mouse, Mub tells Nod that MK is his. Again, ew. After some stuff that’s skippable, our heroes head to the home of the scroll keeper. The first thing we see of him is…him singing. Yeah, a musical number because …he’s voiced by Steven Tyler. …Eh, the song is awesome so I don’t care.
It ends when he finds out that Tara is dead, and he bumps into our heroes. As it turns out, Nim doesn’t know what to do with the pod. So they head into the scroll room, as they contain the full history of this place. Every event is recorded there, even the slug doing dumb stuff upon hearing that.
They find out that the pod must bloom tonight in the light of the full moon. So that’s good but MK still needs a way home. Nim gives her a scroll, and tells her to blow on it. She does and Tara’s …ghost, I think, pops up to tell her to- insert Obi Wan joke here. Uh, I mean, a recorded of her from the moment she died reveals she gave the pod to her cuz she can’t take care of anymore, due to ….a vacation, of course.
MK must stay with the pod when it blooms because she’s important, I guess. In the meantime, they take a break as Nod and MK exchange some banter. He takes her outside to ride a deer, because we need to create some shippers somehow!
Through this, we find out how much Nod misses his real Dad, and it gives the characters room to breathe. Back in Nim’s tree…place, Mandrake shows up to take the pod. Naturally, Ronin is pissed when Nod and MK get back.
“Do you ever think about anyone besides yourself?”
He’s got a point, to be honest. MK takes the blame, though, since the Queen gave it to her. She even offers to help get it back. They plan to get the pod back from the bad guys, but before we get more into that, we cut to Mandrake as he has the pod…and the slimy baggage that comes with it. …That means he has the slugs too.
His plan is to make the pod bloom in darkness, so thus the forest’s last hope to be green shall vanish and he can take over. Eh, I’ve heard worse plans, so I give it a thumb ups. Back with our heroes, they sneak into MK’s house to get some Boggan armor so they can sneak into their place to get the pod.
While they look, Dad pops up and we find out that these tiny guys call us “Stompers” and they have been stopping him from finding their land. MK takes offense to their mocking, and she reveals he is her Dad. Oh yeah, Nod didn’t know that MK was a shrunk stomper until now. This doesn’t cause issues but it’s interesting, I guess.
Also, Dad’s theory about the small people seeing big people as slow was correct. Speaking of Dad, he’s sad because MK supposedly left, and he realizes what he has done. It confuses me how certain people (not naming names) see him as an awful person when he is clearly much better than most “Workaholc” Dads in films like this. He’s learning his lesson, at least. And hey in this case, he actually does have an issue, and it’s not the kid being a brat.
Then again, it wouldn’t be the first animated Dad to be overhated. …Yeah, I gotta review Chicken Little someday.
MK sees this but she starts getting chased by the dog. They run away but Dad sees them and uses a thingy to catch MK in a jar. He sees it’s MK and he faints, dropping the jar. It breaks, setting her free. Well, that was fast.
Don’t worry, that wasn’t pointless, as we’ll see later. Plus, it was cool to these small people in a huge house. They get the Boggan armor and they head into enemy Territory. Ronin creates a distraction while MK and Nod find the Pod…and the slugs too but mostly the pod. Huh, the slugs don’t do much despite being important. Good.
Ronin bumps into Mandrake and they have a fight while our heroes try to escape. This whole scene where they escape while hell is breaking is loose is pretty amazing. The movies weaker tendyc clam down while we are treated to great action, nice animation, and even good music. This is really is a movie I appreciate more on a 2nd viewing.
They escape but sadly, Ronin ends up staying behind. He ain’t dead but they must think he is. They get the pod back home and it looks like the moon will shine on it soon. …So now what? …Well, Mandrake and his goons pop up to block out the moon. That’s what.
The leaf men fly up there to fight the bad guys. MK wants a way to help and she decides to get her Dad. She takes a bird we cut to Dad thinking about how crazy he is. He starts to turn off his cameras (I think I mentioned that he has them set up all over the Forrest) just as MK flies into them to get him to see her. Wah wah.
But there is a bright spot. Before they left, MK put a pin on his map, to show him where the actual tiny world is. He sees and he says “MK!”. A pin means MK was there…okay then. So he heads into the forest and sees MK. He has a thingy that helps him see/hear tiny people, by the way.
“You were right. About everything. I’m sorry”
Since he was right….does that mean the film is justifying Dad neglecting his family, or what? I see some sign that he learned something but from the way MK says sorry, I’m not sure.
Anyway, Mandrake almost has the pod, but Ronin pops up to kick some ass. Even after fighting a lot of goons to get here, he’s still up for a fight against a big Bad. This movie should have been about him!
MK uses a sound on Dad’s ipod (PRODUCT PLACEMENT!1!!) to scare away the bats the Boggan are using to block the moon. Mandrake almost has Ronin but Nod shows up to be a badass. I swear, everything having to do with the actual word is consistently badass.
The moon is unblocked and the pod starts to bloom. Also, Mandrake is defeated by being thrown into this….weird…thing on a tree. Eh, the climax with him was good enough. From the pod, Tara’s ghost pops up to choose an Heir: This kid leaf dude that wanted to be Qyeen (despite being male) who I never talked about cuz he was only In like 1 scene. Yaaay.
During all this, Nod and Ronin make up, showing they both have learned a lesson. The new Queen/King uses his new powers to get MK back to her normal size. MK says her goodbyes and she kisses Nod. There was no romance, so I assume this is a friendship kiss.
So after her big adventure, MK finally leaves and reunites with her Father. It’s kind of sweet, I guess. We cut to later, as they 2 work together more often, bonding over the whole leaf people thing. So the way for them to patch things up was for MK to embrace his unhealthy obsession?
…It’s getting hard to defend this guy. She gets a call from Nod, which is just him contacting her via one of those camers. …And Mub shows up to hit on her again. I know I said ew twice but…EW!
They start arguing and Mub tries to ..eat Nod.
What she said.
She goes to…fix whatever the hell that is, and Dad goes with her, now that they are true team, doing all this stuff. Eh, at least Dad learned to bond with family more…i guess. We’re almost done.
And by almost, I mean we are done. They run off, we pan out, epic music plays, and we get our title card. Roll credits. Eh, decent ending. They could have wrapped things up better, but it’s fine as it is.
Also, Pitbull is credited before Jason Sudekis, despite having two scenes. I skipped the 2nd one, that’s how unimportant he is.
While I’m not quite as crazy for the film as Mr Coat, I did like this one. It was much better on a 2nd viewing. However, it is flawed and it could have been even better.
I’ll just knock out the flaws first. The characters can be a tad generic at times. Despite some nice moments, some just fill in the quota. The comedic sidekick, the lead girl, the workahloic Dad, the bad guy, etc etc.
I’m not saying they suck, most of them are likable. I would like some depth, though. Also,the story can be a bit weak. It’s not bad, but more complexity would be cool. As a whole, the thing should have took more chances. The queen dies, but that’s it.
I wanted to be as grand, or complex as a Pixar film, or even How to Train your Dragon. But it isn’t. It’s still …well epic but it maybe needed to take some chances. But as it is, it’s a good movie that I had fun watching.
The characters themselves work fine. MK is likable even if she is a tad generic, and she’s one of the best animated Humans I’ve seen in awhile. The Dad is…well the most flawed characer, but he isn’t in it much so I don’t mind him.
Nod and Ronin have a decent, if a bit cliché story arc, that works out fine. While Nod is okay , I really love Ronin. His side is interesting and he’s just a badass. I like him. The Queen is there to die but she’s cool, and I like the villain. He isn’t complex but he was badass and he was cool.
The slugs were..okay. They were funny at times, and they were annoying at times. Despite being important, they aren’t in it enough to bug me. They could have been cut out but eh, I’ve seen worse sidekicks. The characters, overall, could have been better, but I’ve seen worse.
The animation is good. I think I’ve said this before, but this has Blue Sky’s best animation, bar none. Everything looks amazing, and it makes the awesome fight scenes even better. I said before that the world is the highlight of the film and it truly is.
I like the world building, and the writing is at it’s best when it’s dealing with that, rather than some of the more cliché parts. However, the film is still fun either way. Despite some flaws, I had fun watching this one. The animation and action makes this one so much fun and I actually enjoyed doing this review, even if I didn’t have that many good jokes.
While Blue Sky has done better films in my eyes, this is among their best. It could have been more daring, but as it is, it’s pretty good. My grade may be too high, but I stand by it.
If you missed out on this one, check it out, it’s not as bad as you heard it was.
Next time…I won’t say, cuz it’s special. I’ll just say that it’s another good movie, that I reviewed for a special reason.