A Look At Disney/Cartoon Network Christmas Episodes (2018)

INDEX:

Elena of Avalor-Snow Place like Home
Muppet Babies 2018-A Very Muppet Babies Christmas/Summer’s Super Fabulous Holiday Surprise
Puppy Dog Pals-A Santa for Bob
DuckTales 2017-Last Christmas!
The Doc McStuffins Christmas Special
Bizzardvark-Holiday Video Sketchtacular
Coop and Cami Ask the World-Would You Wrather Get a Moose Angry?
Fancy Nancy-Nancy and the Nice List
Powerpuff Girls 2016-The Gift
We Bare Bears-Christmas Movies

Hello, Spongey here.

It is time once again to look at the kid network Christmas episodes we’re dealing with these days. We’ve got a fair few, even if some shows oddly are left out. I mean, we have to talk about the latest boring Disney Sitcom but Andi Mack still has nothing.

Ah well, I’ll just try to enjoy what we do have. The only thing to say before we dive in is that Vamprina had an episode I thought would fit in here…but not quite. It revolves around a vampire holiday and traditions and stuff, but the holiday is way more like New Year’s with it being about ringing in the new “Scare”.

The holiday doesn’t need to be just Vampire Christmas exactly but it doesn’t really feel like it, not enough for me to count it as one. I never have this kind of problem with the Christmas reviews so it is quite odd. But if you wanna know, the episode was decent like the Halloween one and was a bit better in some ways. Doesn’t fit totally but it’s sill fine..

But let’s see how the ones that do count turn out.

This, is A Look Disney/Cartoon Network Christmas Episodes (2018)

(Yep, Nick did flat out nothing this year. Ugh) (Also, I’m ditching the Christmas Cliches thing cuz it was dumb)

Snow Place Like Home [Elena of Avalor]

Season 2, Episode 19

Writer: Tom Rogers

Runtime: 22 Minutes

A Snowstorm threatens to ruin Elena’s Navidad plans.

This episode was good, I honestly thought it was much better than the first Navidad episode. Continuity is involved as there a subplot with Victor and Carla but you don’t need to know the entire backstory to enjoy this. It helps but it’s not as much of a requirement as it was with other holiday episodes we’ve reviewed.

Their subplot is a tad pointless, as it  mostly exists to get Gabe away since he is trying to track them down. But it works as an excuse and it has some good moments, like when Carla can’t walk further so Victor carries her. That was a surprisingly nice moment for them.

Although the real standout moment for them is the ending to their plot. No spoilers but…can’t wait to see how they deal with it. Oh and to get another nitpick out of the way, I honestly think the instrumentation in the first song is a bit all over the place despite the generally fun tune and strong singing.

The other song is nice, but i do think the songs in the first episode were better. Everything else is great here though. Esteban is worried that the rest of their family is out there and ends up rushing the others when they are doing things to fix this or pass the time.

It’s a case of someone making a mistake but still being sympathetic when you see why they are doing this. We actually find out more about his backstory and it is rather heartbreaking. Although it does amuse me how many dead relatives this Disney Jr show now has.

Elena’s attempts to keep them busy are rather nice and gives us some fun moments along with the nice ones. There are of course plenty of really heartwarming moments in this one, such as the ending. The general idea isn’t crazy new (Sofia did it first) but it usually works like it does here, mostly due to the characters and their strong bond.

Despite a couple slightly forced moments, this is a strong episode with sweet moments, a good Esteban backstory and some surprises here and there. Even if you aren’t caught up, this episode is generally worth a look.

A Very Muppet Babies Christmas/Summer’s Super Fabulous Holiday Surprise [Muppet Babies 2018)

Season 1, Episode 17

Writers: Robyn Brown/Eric Shaw

Runtime: 11 Minutes each

Airdate: November 30, 2018

It’s Christmas in the playroom and everyone loves their secret Santa gifts except for Kermit.When a snowstorm cancels Summer’s trip home, Piggy brings her traditions to the playroom.

These episodes were decent. I actually liked the Halloween ones more but these were fine too. The first segment was just okay though. The message is a nice one but the plot relies on Kermit somehow never seeing the other side of his gift the whole time he was hauling it around. But aside from that it was fine, the other episode was better though.

The plot flowed fine and it’s got a nice “home is where the heart is” kind of moral, along with more jokes than the other episode had. Both were decently Christmas-y though, so it is fitting for those who care. These episodes also addressed my question from last time, as Kermit mentions his Mom, so now I just wonder exactly how this set up works.

What I said about the Halloween episodes apply here, but I like them a tad less. Either way, kids will enjoy it and adults will find it perfectly fine. That is all.

A Santa for Bob [Puppy Dog Pals]

Season 2, Episode 7a

Writer: Rick Suiavlle

Runtime: 11 Minutes

AirdatE: November 30, 2018

The pugs go on a mission to find Santa.

This episode was…fine. I liked a bit more than the Halloween one but a bit less than the first Christmas one. It didn’t do anything too wrong but it didn’t get much of a reaction out of me either. The plot is a fine one and the ending is nice but there’s nothing deep here in terms of story or heart.

But it all works okay and it’s cute. Also I like how Mrs Claus has to take over for Santa when he’s sick, I oddly haven’t seen that happen too much. I wish they did more with it though. So yeah, it’s perfectly acceptable but so much for kids that I don’t even feel right reviewing it.

Even stuff like Muppet Babies gives me more to work with, this is just…yeah. At least it’s cute and harmless. Go right ahead if it’s your thing. Thankfully our next preschool one will likely be better, but before that…

Last Christmas! [DuckTales 2017]

Season 2, Episode 6

Writer: Francisco Angones

Runtime: 22 Minutes

Airdate: Decwember 1, 2018

Scrooge avoids the pressures of the holidays by traveling back in time with a trio of fun-loving ghosts to crash history’s greatest Christmas parties instead. Meanwhile, time-lost Dewey teams up with young Donald Duck to find his mom on Christmas.

This episode was good. There’s actually more to it than the summary says that makes this one unique. It turns out Scrooge actually does not hate Christmas and infact makes it a tradition every year to hang out with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future at some of the best holiday parties in history.

But this year he’s taken to one from his past and then it goes off from there. There’s some twist I did not expect which made this a far more interesting story than your typical Christmas carol episode. My only complaint is Dewey’s story kind of interrupts the main one and it basically becomes the real story.

It’s good but the mixing doesn’t feel too natural, until a twist that does cleverly tie them together but it does feel slightly forced. But aside from that, this episode was pretty unique while still having solid Christmas spirit.

The Dellah stuff works better if you’re caught up with the show but on its on it’s still nice. Also, Jack McBrayer voices Christmas Past and Bill Faggerbake is Christmas Present, that was neat. While the plot mixing could be better, this is still overall a really solid and unique episode that was pretty nice.

Definitely a must watch for this batch.

The Doc McSuffins Christmas Special

Season 4, Episode 3

Writer: Chris Nee

Run time: 22 Minutes

Airdate: December 2, 2018

When Santa goes missing, Doc and her toy friends must save Christmas.

This episode was decent. Everything about it works perfectly fine, just wasn’t something I was really into. I like it more than some of these others but I do think it is a bit too typical. I’ve seen this premise so much and being the kind of show it is prevents it from doing anything too new.

But my only true complaint is that they never explain where Santa went. Seriously, he just shows up at the end and they simply say he was “a little lost”. It’s not a big deal since it’s a children’s show but this is a major plot point, you can’t just hand wave it like that.

But otherwise , it hits all the beats fine. Honestly, I wish it focused more on this one girl who apparently has been having a bad year. Her bits were interesting and I would have liked them to flesh that part out more. It gets a bit schmaltzy even for me, but generally the heart was nice.

I don’t know, I’d say I liked it but it could have been better. I don’t know, frankly got more into that Vamprina episode that I didn’t even count. (Same creator, by the way, hence why I brought it up). Still, this is at least pretty all right for kids and had it’s moments.

Like a Winnie the Pooh cameo that’s a callback to a crossover from earlier this year. Disney’s been doing some epic crossovers lately, eh? So yeah, it’s totally fine, just nothing too special plot wise.

(Side note: It’s been ages since I’ve seen any of this show but now she’s got this toy town and tech or something? Wasn’t this show about fixing toys or something? Whatever, onto some sitcoms)

Holiday Video Sketchtacular [Bizaardvark]

Season 3, Episode 8

Writers: Katy Lidsky, and Erin Pineda

Airdate: December 7, 2018

Frankie and Paige join some of their vloggin friends to create several fun holiday themed sketches.

This episode as…eh. As you can tell, it’s a sketch thing like the Sonny With a Chance Holiday episodes so it is hit it or miss…but mostly miss. It’s hard to review comedy but I think you can see why I don’t find most of this that funny.

The first sketch revolves around mocking Bernie, to the point where apparently opening a present gets him hospitalized. The joke is that it make no sense but it fits right in with all the “lol Bernie is so pathetic” jokes this show does.

Then we have Paige and Frankie as clerks who are like Jewish mothers and boy is it not funny. But to be fair, the 2nd half has a few okay ones, like the one with them as bad lawyers. Stuff like that was actually kind of funny. I also enjoyed the fake trailer they do because at the end the guy just goes “This movie’s really bad, don’t see it”

I wish more trailers had that.

Otherwise, this was not very good. You can tell they were tight on time this season so they just came up with random stuff like this. There’s some funny stuff here but most of it didn’t work for me. The target audience might enjoy it, but most of the people reading this will likely find it even less funny than I did.

So yeah, the Halloween and Christmas episodes got weaker each time. I’m glad there likely won’t be a Season 4 at this rate.

Would You Wrather Get a Moose Angry? [Coop and Cami Ask the World]

Season 1, Episode 8

Writer: Maiaya Williams

Airdate: December 7, 2018

The children come together to fulfill their Mom’s wish to have a classic Wrather Christmas but of course hi-jinks ensue.

This episode was fine. It’s what I expected: Some dumb jokes but with a fine plot that is topped off with a nice ending. Most of the show so far has been like this, as my Twitter followers may know. You may also know my intense dislike for Fred, the main comic relief who is in no way funny.

He’s sadly no better here, but at least Mom shares my dislike of him. Otherwise, the dumb stuff isn’t too bad, although the subplot that Fred is involved in doesn’t really go anywhere. The main is fine though as they try to do nice things for Mom, and even Cami tries to get along with her sitcom arch nemesis.

Things wrap up well enough and as a whole it’s a perfectly acceptable episode. It’s nothing special in terms of plot and humor. But unlike some others, it is fine enough for kids to enjoy and those who choose to watch it generally won’t hate it.

It’s totally…fine. Jesus, I need another notably good one, these middling ones are killing me. Still, this wasn’t too bad at least.

Nancy and the Nice List [Fancy Nancy]

Season 1, Episode 18

Writer: Andy Geurdat

Runtime: 22 Minutes

Airdate: December 14, 2018

Nancy tries to make it on Santa’s Nice list.

This episode was decent. You may recall I wasn’t a fan of Nancy’s behavior in the Halloween episodes but they actually improve her a lot her. She’s rude to Jojo at the start but when she visits Mall Santa, she realizes this and this becomes her motivation to get on the nice list.

She goes a bit crazy with her attempts but she has a good reason for it and she isn’t too annoying here. It all leads to a really nice ending that has her doing something really generous and it works quite well.

My only real issue is that it feels a bit longer than it is, but the way the ending plays out makes up for it. While I wonder if they can make a conflict without Nancy being a slight jerk first, this still handled it better than the Halloween episodes did.

Add in some nice moments, and you have a pleasant surprise. Not totally worth going out of your way to see, but for kids it works and even for me I give it credit for doing things mostly right.

Didn’t expect Nancy to top Doc but there you go.

The Gift [Powerpuff Girls 2016]

Season 3, Episode 22

Writers: Haley Mancini and Jake Goldman

Runtime: 11 Minutes

Airdate: December 16, 2018

The girls must replace the Professor’s Christmas present on Christmas Eve.

This episode was decent. Okay, I know for a fact this is more hit or miss outside of the holiday episodes (thank you, Shadow Streak) but somehow these keep being good. To be fair, this does one problem that really annoyed me.

Blossom keeps going on about how Santa’s existence makes no sense. Yes, Blossom. Part of a trio of super powered little girls whose nemesis is a primate. You see the problem here. It hardly even matters until the end, so why is this even here?

Otherwise, this one was actually rather nice as they try to get something for the Professor.  It’s nothing too great but it stays fun with a very nice ending. I like that we see a bunch of villains, and they do something with them at the end I found pretty funny.

I love how Morebucks is buying mugs just to break them.

The ending does use a certain cliche Christmas episodes love using but it’s nice enough that I can somewhat forgive that. So yeah, it as annoying element but otherwise it is a perfectly nice and enjoyable episode, even with a cliche ending.

It’s a decently fine episode. And finally..

Christmas Movies [We Bare Bears]

Season 4, Episode 25

Writers: Christina Chang and Hanna Cho

Runtime: 11 minutes

Airdate: December 17, 2018

“I love movies”

On Christmas Eve, the Baby Bears are working at Last Weekend Video and stay the night when the owner locks up. A thief named Harry  breaks in posing as Santa to rob the place, but the Baby Bears see through his disguise and try to apprehend him.

This episode was good. It was a fun little plot with a rather nice ending. I think them working at the rental store makes it stand out as we get some amusing parodies of Christmas movies.

And one of them even factors into the plot in a nice way. This show showing appreciation  for film isn’t too surprising given Shush Ninjas though. I also like how they figure out that the Santa is the guy from earlier fairly quickly, they don’t hold the idiot ball for too long.

I was going to point out that he’s voiced by Cricket from It’s Always Sunny but soon after finding that out I also found out he was Fanboy from Fanboy and Chum Chum and I think that is far more interesting to point out.

So yeah, a fun episode that has a nice ending and a good ending gag. Not amazing but it’s pretty even, slightly unique and funny. Not much more to say, it’s worth watching and is a good one to end on.

 

So those were this years Christmas episodes. They weren’t great. It’s not like we had many truly weak ones (besides Bizzardvark), we just didn’t get that many. A fair amount of them were just whatever.

But we had a couple gems, the best being Elena, DuckTales and We Bare Bears. Although Nancy was also a decent surprise, along with the 2nd Muppet Babies segment. I just wish some of these stood out a bit more, or that we had more.

Especially from Nick, what the hell? And no, that SpongeBob  moon special doesn’t count.  But hey, we at least had a couple stand outs and that’s all I can ask for. Hopefully next year we will have more.

Until then, tune in in a bit for the Warner Bros Christmas Episodes.

See ya.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in A Look At, Animation, Christmas Reviews, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

General Review: Mary Poppins Returns

Hello, Spongey here.

It’s time for our last general review of 2018. It’s been a pretty good yea for movies so hopefully this will end it right for me. I had a poll on Twitter to see what I check out, the other options being Aquaman, Bumblebee and Mortal Engines.

I’m not too surprised this one won by a landslide, although I was looking forward to the others as well. Yes, even that obligatory big budget bomb that gets a cult following in a few years. But anyway, onto this one.

Here we have Disney’s 54 years later sequel to 1964’s Mary Poppins, which gives it the biggest sequel gap ever by the way. I did watch the first movie at least once as a kid, but I wouldn’t quite say I grew up with it as much as some of their other movies.

I naturally I had to re-watch it and yeah, I like it. It’s pretty charming (mostly thanks to Julie Andrews) but it can be a bit aim/plot less at times, which is why I’m not crazy about it being 2 hours.

But hopefully this sequel can recapture the magic and maybe even improve on it for me, even if this one is also 2 hours. Our writer previously wrote Life of Pi and Finding Neverland, and our director did Chicago and Disney’s Into the Woods which I’d say makes him qualified for this.

So will this sequel be worth it? Let’s see.

This, is Mary Poppins Returns

Michael and Jane are now grown up, with Michael, his three children and their housekeeper, Ellen, living on Cherry Tree Lane. After Michael suffers a personal loss, the enigmatic nanny Mary Poppins re-enters the lives of the Banks family, and, along with the optimistic street lamplighter Jack, uses her unique magical skills to help the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives.

If you recall, the first movie I saw in theaters this year was Paddington 2 which I said had me with a smile on my face most of them. Well, this serves as a nice book end to the year as the same can be said with this movie.

It’s not as good as that one, but I still quite enjoyed it, But right off the bat I will say that this movie does retain the problems of the first one. It’s still 2 hours despite being a tad aimless and on top of that, it does a fair bit of rehashing.

It’s still about a nanny brightening up the lives of rowdy children and their grumpy dad. They do adjust and add certain things but the broad strokes are more or less the same. Some people will be more bugged by that than others.

But other than that, this is a real charmer. While it still runs too long (even the post climax stuff is drawn out) and aimless at times, they do sometimes do a slightly better job at justifying with certain stretches are happening.

And a lot like the first movie, it’s all done in such a charming way than I generally didn’t mind some parts going for a bit, even if it still is too long. The animated sequence goes on forever again but the stuff they do to pad it out what more enjoyable here. Yes, it did improve slightly in some ways but they are generally on the same level.

They did an excellent job at recapturing the magic of the first movie. The overall mood is as charming as over, especially thanks to the music and visuals. They of course use more to today’s technically but the overall way it’s shot manages to do that without sacrificing the overall mood. (Hell, they even had an Overture)

I really like how while the green screen work is more advanced, it still has a bit of that imperfection the original had. This extends to the 2D Animation which is fantastic. It looks pretty much exactly like it did in the first, just a bit smoother but still with the same look rather than overhauling it all.

The animation was done by Duncan Studios and they did a splendid job. It would such a shame if Disney were to say, not credit them for some odd reason. Sure would be weird…..

Going back to the music, the songs are also really good. I actually don’t think was a single one I would call weak, each was strong in their own way from the softer ones to the many upbeat numbers.

Songs like “Can You Imagine That?”, “The Royal Doulton Musical Hall” and of course “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” are very catchy, fun and for lack of a better word, magical. I’d put them about on par with the first movie’s soundtrack, even if none quite match the song with the name I won’t even try to spell.

And also like the first, Mary Poppins herself makes things better. No one can top Julie Andrews but Emily Blunt still a great job, capturing that stern but lovable nature the character should have. I agree with Peter Quill, Mary Poppins is very cool.

(There, I referenced it. Happy?)

The rest of the characters are mostly a bit too similar to the characters in the original, but they still prove likable enough. Jack is basically just Bert again for example but people him and the kids are still at least enjoyable.

The whole thing with Micheal’s wife being dead does add a bit, despite the general rehashing and it leads to some nice moments. Speaking of, there is a lot of heat here. Given the broad strokes of the plot, this could have been just a soulless cash in.

But you can tell put tons of heart into this, between the sweet moments and the charm that a lot of it has. I do wish there was more to the story to make it more different than the first, or at least make some characters stand out more.

They could also could have fixed that length problem. But much like Incredibles 2 (or Force Awakens even if I like both of those movies more tbh), the rehashing can mostly be forgiven with how well they recaptured that magic the first one had

. If you put your cynical hat on, you can peg this is just a rehash and how certain aspects don’t match the first but in general I think Mary Poppins Returns is just as solid as the original. It carries the same flaws and arguably sticks to the close to the story of the first movie, but it ends up being so enjoyable that I personally didn’t mind.

Plus they do a couple new things that work. Like a certain cameo that is very neat. The directing, music and acting (especially Blunt) all work together to create 2 hours of joy that I was really into. Yes, my brain was telling me it’s rehash-y but in the least in the resulted in something fun rather than cynical.

It’s not often a movie can bring me as much as this one but they did it. It sadly can’t get a higher rating due to the flaws it had, it has so much going for it that I do enjoy it a bit more than the rating may suggest, even with how long it can be.

If you liked the first in any way, you will likely enjoy this. You may not like it as much but you will enjoy the magic this has to offer, hopefully. If you don’t care for the first movie, this sadly won’t away you as it is more of the same.,

But for the rest, it’s the same in all the best ways. Too similar but also just similar enough.

Rating: Good

I might be the only person to be this on the same level as the first one, but whatever. And also, you can argue they had to make it 2 hours since the first one was but come on, I think sequels should fix flaws if they exist.

But yeah, Disney should be doing more stuff like this and Christoper Robin, where they do things with their classic proprieties without just remaking them. Granted, this is almost a remake but at least it’s a good one.

Overall, it was a fun way to end my general reviews for 2018. I don’t plan to do a general review in January 2019 to save room, but I may see Glass if I feel like it. But either way, join my in 2019 as next time on the general reviews, we’ll play with LEGO again.

See ya.

Posted in General Reviews | 1 Comment

General Review: Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse

Hello, Spongey here.

It’s time to  close out another year for animated features. I’ll give my thoughts on the year as a whole at the end so instead we’ll get to the review.

Spider-Man has gone through a few different versions in the movies in a oddly short period of time, from the campy Sam Rami movies, to the more grounded Marc Webb movies, to his current iteration in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Not to mention the various cartoons and such. This web slinger is pretty flexible due to what he goes through and he’s given us some great content, even going back to a meme-tastic 60’s cartoon.

And now the folks at Sony Pictures Animation are bringing him to animation. It may seem a bit pointless given Sony is already letting the MCU play with him but everything about this movie made it seem like they know what they were doing.

Especially the choice in lead and the creative team. Plus the crazy style they were showing off. We’ve got 3 directors and of them two have done nothing but one did Rise of the Guardians which is fitting as it was kind of a Superhero movie.

One of those directors is also a writer, and he wrote 22 Jump Street and Grudge Match. The former at least makes sense as the other writer is Phil Lord, whose buddy Chris Miller is a producer and clearly had a big hand in this given what I’ve heard about it.

All of this made it one of my most anticipated films of the year. But was it as good as I hoped? Let’s hope so.

This, is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse

Miles Morales must juggle his high school life with his status as a superhero, as he is introduced to the “Spider-Verse” where there can be more than just one Spider-Man .

This movie was great. Yeah, I’m joining the hype. Holy crap did I love this movie even more than I expected. But first, some petty nitpicks. And don’t worry, they are just nitpicks, like any movie will have.

There’s one reveal that is well done but could have been explained more, you’ll get what I mean when you see it. Some of the Spider-people could have done a bit more, as enjoyable as they still are. And there’s other various dumb things you can poke at but those are the ones that stuck to me.

Otherwise, this is gave me a lot of joy. The first thing to praise is Miles. It is his story and his character is very well handled. He’s releatable but not in the try hard way. This is best shown with his relationship with his cop dad.

He’s going to a prep school because his dad doesn’t like how “Street” he tends to be, but despite their disagreements, they clearly love each other. He is the first person Miles wants to come to at a certain point and as you saw in the trailer, Dad does love him even as Miles likes being with his black sheep uncle.

Being bitten by a radioactive spider gives Miles even more to deal with, especially as the one person who could help him ends up getting taken out of the picture. We really explore how he deals with becoming Spider-Man and finding his way own way to deal things.

What makes you different is what makes you Spider-Man, after all. That’s the theme of the movie, as really shown all the other Spider people. The other Peter he makes is really down on his luck and fair bit older and their interactions are really enjoyable.

Their personalities clash but they don’t hate each other to the point where it is not fun to watch. They learn from each other in nice ways and again have fun banter. Speaking of characters, they do some clever things with the others as some get introduced a bit earlier than you expect in a good way.

It helps people like Gwen stand out more. Everyone has something that makes them stand out, even if they are minor. Spider-Noir is Nic Cage which is enough to make him fun, and Spider-Ham is funny with his how cartoon-y he is. And Peni …is the least amazing but her style is still fun.

King Pin really stands out his design that helps make him threatening but they do also give him a backstory that works with how it’s executed. There’s a couple other baddies thrown that thankfully don’t overcrowd things.

KingPin also ends up helping the movie get some real stakes. It does things most animated film don’t do, but most Spider-Man films do, and it really makes it feel like anything can happen. And yep, it actually earns the PG rating.

This film has a lot going on, with the various characters along with the comedy, style and action but it surprisingly doesn’t get overcrowd like some Spider-Man films can be. They spend enough time on each things, like establishing Miles, showing him bonding with Peter B and so on.

It is a tad long but it needed to be so everything could have room to breathe. Going into the climax, it felt like it had been io for 1 hour 50 mins already but in the best possible way. Some of the elements enter seemingly late but still really stand out and/or are fleshed out.

It’s one of the many ways it is more like a Spider-Man movie than your typical mainstream animated film. When it get into the groove of things, I was just really into it. I highly enjoyed so much of everything going on, especially the interactions and action.

Which leads us to the style. I will admit the jerk-y movements took a bit to get used to as it was a bit jarring at first. That plus the backgrounds made it seem like a 3D movie when you take off the glasses.

But once it settles down, it didn’t bother me at all. And as you already know, the animation is just astounding. The backgrounds, lighting and kinetic action makes this a living comic book in all the best ways.

There’s so many details like how they use comic style narration and all the background Easter eggs. The movements really lend themselves to some super enjoyable action scenes that are on par with Rami’s films at times.

Daniel Pemberton’s fist pumping score helps with this too, that guy can even make the most dull movies (cough King Arthur Legend of the sword)) exciting as hell.

These truly does capture what makes Spider-Man such an endearing character. This shows that anyone can be Spider-Man and can have unique aspects while still being Spider-Man. (Or Woman as the case may be with some).

This movies hits some emotional high points. Yes, I did cry, more than once which really surprised me. One example is a certain cameo that was…dang.. Anyway, this is the kind movie that could honestly change the game.

It’s not an animated movie that happens to be a Comic Book/Superhero movie, it just is a
Superhero movie that also really takes advantage of the medium with the different styles going on.

This is what mainstream animation needs more of, movies that do their own thing even if they still feature their own tropes and cliches. Animation is not a genre but some think it is because so many do the same things.

Despite being a studio movie, it is not that. Mostly due to not having a forced comic relief, as even Spider-Han fits and is actually funny. It’s not Mary and Max levels of different, I just with how it embraces a genre and doesn’t quite fit in with the tropes some other animated films do.

I hope this does well so we can get more movies like this. But even taking all that side, Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse is just plain FUN. It takes advtange of the Spider-Man character to tell a story that shows that anyone can wear the mask.

Doing with all this a groundbreaking style, varied and lovable characters and great action and humor doesn’t hurt either. I was just full on enjoying this and really cared about what was going on, on top of all the surface level fun it has.

Thank you much Sony, for allowing these artists to do all this crazy stuff and using this style even though there was no guarantee it would turn out this well. I’ve enjoyed your movies in the past, but this really shows you are willingly to try new things.

This is an easy recommendation, ESPECIALLY for Spider-Man fans as this really gets him right. And also Superhero movie fans that want something a bit different that they will hopefully enjoy.

I may be hyping it up a bit much but in the least go into this movie expecting a fun time, and you may get a bit more. There are things I can nitpick: a cliche here, a slightly underused aspect there but it’s doing so damn much right that I can forgive those things.

When you’re having this much fun with a movie, you’ll forgive anything. So yeah, SPA now has so much power after this one. Please use it responsibly.

Rating: Great

Whew, that…something. This warrants some re-watches to be sure. It is easily my new fave SPA movie at least, that will likely stay true even as thoughts change. This movie affected me in a way I was not expecting, especially for a Non Disney animated film.

But yeah, it’s good fun. Come back next week as we’ll close out 2018 with the return of a magical nanny.

The review is basically over, but stick around to read my thoughts on this year overall and what I expect for the future and whatnot. But for everyone else…

See ya.

(Oh, and stay for the post credits scene, trust me)

2018 ANIMATED FILM RANKING/THOUGHTS:

This year was …odd. It was a good year but not a great one, in general. Compared to last year, the films were very consistent. Not too many fell below decent and most were pretty solid and fun.

And even the weakest ones weren’t awful or as bad as the worst ones in the past. It is just that not many were really strong, and until Spider-Verse even my fave wasn’t quite great and notable flaws, as well done as it is.

Until Spidey, even my 2017 fave was better than my 2018 fave. So thanks Sony for saving 2018 as it were. But despite that, I am glad things improved from last year and were pretty consistent, and that is without the Anime/Indie films I’ll need to catch up on.

So yeah, solid but not a great year into that web slinger saved the day.

RANKING:

(Only linking the reviews that I did elsewhere, the ones on the blog can be found via that search bar and going through the General Reviews tag)

MEH:

Duck Duck Goose: Movie Netflix dumped #1. I can see why due to it’s weak plot and unlikable lead. Pretty good animation though. ( https://www.deviantart.com/spongey444/journal/First-Impressions-Duck-Duck-Goose-755546316 )

Sherlock Gnomes: An okay Sherlock movie plus a bad Gnomeo and Juliet story equals an odd mess

Gnome Alone: Netflix gives us the best Vanguard movie…which isn’t saying much ( https://letterboxd.com/spongey444/film/gnome-alone-2017/ )

DECENT:

The Grinch: A decently nice expansion of the book despite the usual padding, not mention the 2nd worst character named Fred I met this year.

Teen Titans Go To The Movie: This is oddly the one here I’ve re-watched and I enjoy it more than the next two due its surprisingly good humor and heart, but the flaws like some pointless scenes do drag it down.ed

GOOD:

Smallfoot: Generic, but still cute. Also, Let it Lie is still best song.

Sgt Stubby An American Hero: A bit kiddie but otherwise depicts the war respectfully a cute dog at the center. (Also, shame on Amazon and the like for screwing this movie over so much)

Hotel Transylvania 3: Improves on the 2nd thanks to the usual great cartoon-y animation and some heart, even if I find the first one a tad funnier. (Maxis > Erica)

Early Man: Just charming Aardman fun.

Next Gen: A bit clunky when it comes to tone but it takes advantage of being on Netflix and is rather sweet and enjoyable. ( https://letterboxd.com/spongey444/film/next-gen/ )

Isle of Dogs: Not as amazing as the Cinephilles may say (to me at least), but still very well directed, solid and unique even with a few undeveloped aspects here and there.

Ralph Breaks the Internet: Not as great as the first but still uses the internet well and keeps the main relationship very intact

VERY GOOD:

Incredibles 2:: Borrows too much of the plot structure and has a weak villain but Brad Bird’s passion and excellent direction/writing pulls it though.

GREAT:

Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse: You are Here.

So have fun with that.

EXPECTATIONS FOR 2019:

The LEGO Movie 2: SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY

How to Train Your Dragon 2: See above

Wonder Park: Trailer was weak but the premise is solid and I’m just glad to finally a see new fully animated movie from Nickelodeon.

Shaun the Sheep 2: It’s an alien invasion movie now? Sure, could be fun.

Missing Link: Lakia? Sold!

Uglydolls: Trolls 2 came here faster than I expected.

The Secret Life of Pets 2: Not sure what they can do with it but at least Louis CK is gone. (Not sure what they’ll do about Kevin Hart though…)

Toy Story 4: Seems pointless but certain aspects have me sold.

The Angry Birds Movie 2: Really not sure what they can with it but has Dove Cameron and Rachel Bloom so 10/10 already.

Playmobil the Movie: Another discount LEGO movie but we’ll see.

Spies in Disguise: Odd premise but I trust Blue Sky.

Abominable: I just wanna see how it compares to Smallfoot

The Adams Family: Could be neat.

Frozen 2: I’m hoping it’s great but we’ll see.

Should be a fun sequel filled year, in the very least. Okay, now we are done.

See ya.

Posted in Animation, Comic Book/Superhero Reviews, General Reviews | 1 Comment

Ranking the animated films of 2013

Hello, Spongey here.

Oh boy, we’ve reached an interesting point in our animated films quest. We’re talking about 2013, which is seen as one of the weaker years for animated films. And just based on memory I sort of agree, but we’ll see how I feel about it after going through them.

We’ve seen some weak years like 2003, 2005 and 2006 so we’ll see how it stacks up to those weak-sauce years. In the least there are a few interesting movies here and there. Anyway, in terms of awards the nominees were Frozen, Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celestine, and…The Wind Rises. Which I won’t over here because it came out in 2014 in the US. Good going, guys.

Anyway, an okay roster at least, Also, Frozen won. For some reason the Globes only nominated 3, which were Frozen, Croods and Despicable Me 2. Still an okay group but needed a few more in there. Frozen won of course. The Annies nominated Frozen, Croods, Despicable Me 2, Monsters U, Ernest & Celestine,Wind Rises (ugh), and A Letter to Momo which was a bit too minor to include here.

Frozen won. I’m seeing a pattern here. Anyway, is this year as weak as people say? Let’s dive in to find out.

This, is Ranking the Animated Films of 2013

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Alpha and Omega 2: Haven’t bothered wt any of these but I’m sure they suck

Fantastic 4orce: https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2017/01/22/fantastic-4orce/

Garden of Words: Another movie from the Your Name guy that sounds good

Leo the Lion: https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2016/02/24/leo-the-lio

The House of Magic: Another classic from the makes of The Wild Life

The Legend of Sarila: I hear it’s quite Frozen Land-i mean boring.

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: https://www.deviantart.com/spongey444/art/Pros-and-Cons-Equestria-Girls-636913593 (My old general review is too old and crappy for you) (And yeah the one day release wasn’t enough for me)

Saving Santa: https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/saving-santa/

Tazran 3D: I wanna see this at some point because it sure looks…interesting

Now onto the movies.

BAD:

Escape From Planet Earth/Walking With Dinosaurs:

https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/escape-from-planet-earth/

https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/walking-with-dinosaurs/

https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/2015-review-retrospective-important-blog-annoucment/

Yep, we’re starting with a tie. I’ve said I don’t know which id worse and I stand by that. Both are pretty bad with a few okay parts and I can’t really say either is that much better. The things that make one better could also make it worse, especially with the latter’s nature.

But both are bad and I’ve said a lot about them over the years. One is a typical crappy animated movie meant to pander to kids while one does so while also ruining someone’s vision. And the fact that they didn’t even really release the original version when they did that non-talking version doesn’t help.

(#ReleaseTheCookandNightingaleCut)

But either way, but are quite poor and weren’t fun to watch at all. Wether it’s the annoying aliens or annoying dinos, they still tie for the worst animated film of 2013 to me. The rest can only get better from here.

MEH:

Planes:

https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/planes/

I swear we’ll get to ones I haven’t reviewed soon. But yeah, this movie is still a pointless cash grab that is very meh. The cars trilogy isn’t amazing but it’s better than this. Planes is just poorly written and weak. Not the worst movie ever, but still not very good.

Meh.

Free Birds:

https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/free-birds/

Got nothing to add, still a waste of an amazingly dumb idea. Not too bad though, just a big ball of….eh. Moving on.

AVERAGE:

Turbo:

This movie is weird. Not because of the concept of a racing snail but because of how I feel about it. I almost do kind of enjoy it but it lacks that certain spark needed to bring it up higher.

The animation is especially great with some fun races, and there’s some funny moments along with solid voice work from Ryan Reynolds, who was oddly in both Dreamworks films this year. And oddly enough, I do believe some of the heart as Turbo is likable and there are some effective moments.

But my main problem is that it takes itself a bit too seriously. it plays out like a typical movie like this, that just happens to star a snail. With this idea, it should have gone full Bee Movie but it never really ties. I give them credit for trying to make something out of this idea, but I think they have just went all out with it.

As a result, it can fairly dull despite some inspired moments. Also, the other snails like Samuel Jackson get pretty much nothing to do, which is a waste of their talent. Oh and Ken Jeong is pretty annoying and useless. (White Shadow is amazing though)

Then we have a pointless villain who pointlessly gives us the “idol turns to be evil” cliché. It is better than the premise might suggest, and it has some things going for it, but it’s mostly just a middle of the road film with some fine moments.

It’s fine to put on in the background but if you want something more engaging, I’d take all the Cars films over those as far as racing films go. And if you want snail racing, SpongeBob has you covered.

But hey, it started the Dreamworks Netflix shows, that has to be worth something.

(Also, THAT SNAIL IS FAST!)

GOOD:

Despicable Me 2:

I’ve talked about the other ones before but now it’s time to actually talk about this 2nd movie. I briefly went over it when I reviewed 3 but it had been a while since I last saw it so here we are. It’s a typical weaker sequel, but I do enjoy it fine.

The main problem is just that the story is lacking compared to the first. Sure, it had no amazing story but the general idea gave it a solid heart and was somewhat interesting to see play out. The general story here is fine, but a lot of it feels a bit aimless and is just less compelling.

The whole thing with the villain is fairly predictable and is nothing too interesting, just decently amusing. The villain himself is okay but fairly weak. Seriously, even Minions had a better villain. Also, the kids have less to do and that boyfriend guy was pointless.

But despite that, this is still enjoyable. Gru is just such a likable character it brings all these ups a fair bit. Lucy is a solid and very enjoyable addition, the humor mostly works, and the animation was really improved since the first. Seriously, some of that has already aged while this looks nice in terms of movements and lightning.

I think my favorite joke is the part where one of the girls tells Gru she knows what makes him a boy, and he gets nervous. Nice.

It at least stays enjoyable for most of it, aside from a couple of slightly annoying minion moments. It just is less interesting this time around and also a tad less funny. The writing in general is quite far amazing to be sure, but it’s all still decently enjoyable.

Overall, it is a bit of a downgrade but it’s still a fun sequel for what it is.

(Side note, Al Pacino originally voiced the villain but he quit due to creative difference. And yet Jack & Jill was perfectly fine, weird)

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2:

Oh look another sequel I like, but it is still not as good as the first one. This and DM 2 are a tad close but this was a sequel to a better movie and that charm carries over so…yeah.

There really isn’t much to say, to be honest. They do a fine job continuing from where we left off, with a nice enough story with Flint and Chester V. It’s just less interesting and more cliché than the first one. Also, the thing with him not doing things with his dad is a bit of rehash.

You can tell Phil Lord and Chris Miller didn’t do this one (they were busy playing with legos or something) as it lacks a lot of the spark they brought to the first movie.

It’s just simply a bit less funny. But taken on its own, it still works. The idea of the foodimals is a great one they use quite well, with some delightful puns. A lot of the humor proves that puns can be amazing. And of course the animation is really greet, with tons of creativity in the designs and world. Even the humans are made to look better!

Oh and despite Chester V being another idol turning out to be evil (the 3rd one this year!), he is quite enjoyable with his wacky movements. Although I swear Will Forte is doing a Kevin McDonald impression at times.

So yeah, it is a fun time with some nice stuff, it’s just simply pretty fun rather than really funny like the first movie was. Still, it does deserve more credit for the stuff it does pull off well. It is worth a look for fans of the first, even if it doesn’t hold a candle to it.

Oh wait, Mr T isn’t in this one. Nevermind, 0/10.

The Croods:

https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/movie-review-the-croods/

Ew, I thought I was done with covering ones I did cringing old general style reviews of. This is a case where I sort of agree with my general sentiments, but I do like it a tad less.

Oh, I still enjoy it, I just think it’s merely Good rather than quite good, ya know? It’s not quite full of flaws, so much as it just has an aura of not being anything special. a lot of is just them running around and the story isn’t as interesting as it could be.

And while the excuse Grug has for being over protective is a good one, it still very much is that trope and it really hits you over the head with it. It just sort of lacks that oomph needed to be anything above the fine side of good.

That said, it is mostly enjoyable. I like the family dynamic, most of the cast does well (Nic Cage did better than I recalled even if he’s not great), and there are some nicely handled moments when Grug makes up with Guy. Oh and the animation is pretty great, especially the landscapes they stumble into.

So while it doesn’t raise above fine, it is an enjoyable watch for me. I’m interested in watching the Netflix series to see how it compares, as well as the sequel now that it’s finally gonna happen. But for now, The Croods is perfectly enjoyable, even if it’s nothing too great.

(Side note, this actually started life as an Aardman project. They of course later did their own Caveman film which was honestly a lot better)

Epic:

https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/epic/

I promise we’ll get o ne I’ve never spoke about before. Anyway, I stand by what I said: It is flawed but it’s still pretty good due to the world building and animation. It’s not amazing like I feel it could have been, but I do feel it at least a bit stronger than people give it is credit for.

But I’ve gone into all that. Not quite epic, but still a solid Blue Sky effort.

(Side note, that link to Mr. Coat’s video is now dead because it was on Blip and it’s not on YouTube at the moment, darn)

Monsters University:

Finally, a Pixar movie we haven’t talked about. And of course I don’t have much to say about as a lot of people said what I could have said. Yes, the idea is an odd one and it mostly resorts to college movie cliches but makes up for it with the 3rd act alone.

I think TheRealJims’ video alone covers it all pretty well but I guess I’ll take a crack at it. The main issue is the general generic-ness of it, rather than a presence any huge flaws. It just gets a bit dull in places, but even then it’s at last not super boring.

The biggest flaw is how they handle Randal, as they just shove him in there for like 5 minutes for a really lame pointless backstory. (And that’s still enough for him to get 3rd billing, huh). But aside from that, everything else is okay enjoyment wise.

Seeing Mike and Sully be rivals isn’t the most fun to watch but it isn’t too annoying and they cool it down before it gets too bad. While it does use all those college movie cliches, it does them in a somewhat enjoyable enough way that it doesn’t bore me too much, mostly because I haven’t seen too many. (And hey, it’s still better than Life of the Party)

But seriously, with how certain people act, you’d swear college movies like this are super common these days and it’s so tiring to see another one, which isn’t exactly the case. You can dislike that element but some are weirdly harsh on it.

But yeah, the comedy mostly works as I enjoy Oozma Kappa, especially Charlie Day and of course the animation is great, especially with all the creative designs. Makes me wish we weren’t confined to just this one place but ah well. And yeah, that 3rd act pulls it through.

The message is such a mature one for a family film, especially since so many films from this year alone feature dreamers getting exactly what they want so it is nice to see one that is more realistic. Sometimes you do indeed fail at what you want to do, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find another calling.

That whole scene with them talking things out is great, especially with how it’s framed. That part is “shot” really beautifully.

So yeah, it does get generic at times, but there’s enough enjoyment and heart for it to be a pretty solid viewing. The 3rd act makes it but I do enjoy the rest a decent amount for what it is. Honestly, Epic is a bit more impressive in places but I find this one more even so that’s how it ranked higher for me.

Monsters U may not totally ace everything but it still passes nonetheless.

VERY GOOD:

Ernest & Celestine:

Leave it to Indie animation from France to give us an extra really good movie before we get to my obvious top pick. I’ve known about this one for a while now so I’m glad I finally got to check it out.

It’s easy to call a movie like this super charming but it really is. It centers around a mouse who ends up bonding with a bear but eventually they get in trouble with the law and have to hide out in his cabin. Yep, it has a slight Bonnie and Clyde thing going which gives it an edge over most “Charming” movies like this.

But the charm is what makes it so good. For one, the sketch-y art style is nice as is the really nice character animation. It’s really fluid and adds even more to the overall charm. Anyway, the relationship between the two is very well done with their enjoyable interactions.

Ernest is more fleshed out than Celestine but she is still likable and interesting, and she is set up well. I’ll admit the opening setting up what Celestine is taught about bears is a bit on the nose but there’s nothing too much like that after that. And yeah, Ernest does actually try to eat her at first but only because he is just that hungry.

The dub is surprisingly good too, with Forrest Whitaker and Mackenzie Foy giving strong performances.

The 2nd half is where it gets really good as it is where they go into hiding and we see their fears of being caught/torn apart. Add in the climax and you’ve got an effective and nice movie. It’s one of those irresistibly sweet movies I just really liked watching, which is good given I was a bit grumpy before hand.

It’s another indie gem I’d suggest checking out.

And my predictable ass thinks the best animated film of 2013 is…

Frozen:

https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2017/11/21/ranking-the-disney-animated-canon-2010s/

Yep, we get to end with a link to another post. I was hoping maybe Ernest could top it, but instead Elsa wins again. I stand by what I said though. It has flaws but the strong themes, songs and characters make up for them

I get it if people get distracted by the flaws, like I do with stuff like Moana or the like. It’s fine to have problems or prefer other movies, just don’t be too nitpick-y or just hate it because it’s popular. As long as you keep that in mind, anyone can hate whatever they want.

But yeah, I said it all there. I think the movie is pretty great even the flaws it has. I do wish Disney didn’t go as crazy as they did but ah well. I hope next year’s sequel turns out well.

For now, Frozen is quite the interesting Disney film and it is still is my favorite animated film of 2013.

And those were the animated films of 2013. …Yeah, that was the weakest year since 2006. I’d say it’s slightly better than 2005 and 2006 because at least it had two above Good movies but it was still weak. A lot of these movies were simply…fine and we had a few too many weak ones.

Not to mention two pretty bad ones. And even my favorite has that hype backlash. I still enjoy the ones I called Good but they were mostly nothing too great. After this decade gave us a few strong years, it’s a downgrade. Again, a bit better than 2005 and 2006, but easily the weakest year of this decade.

People complained about 2017 but it at least a handful of notably good ones compared to this year. But as usual I will look on the bright side that even this year gave us Ernest & Celestine and Frozen, which do make up for some of the lesser ones.

But 2013 was still weak for me. Thankfully our last two years are better from what I remember so we’ll be back to quality next month. I wish the animated film ranking posts for this year would end on a better note but ah well, at least I got Ernest & Celestine out of it.

Join me in 2019 as we start the home stretch, with dragons, time traveling dogs, and more Cartoon Saloon.

See ya.

Posted in Animation, Lists, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Frozen Christmas

I don’t have anything clever to say. Just….what the hell?!

Hello, Spongey here.

It’s finally December, meaning we can finally experience the holiday season. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year and by god do we need wonderful times these days.

This also means I once again am promoting Red Ribbon Reviewers!

https://redribbonreviewers.wordpress.com/2018/11/18/red-ribbon-reviewers-2018-promospecial-update/

I keep saying you know the drill when it comes to this cause so I’ll just say I’m doing my small part in providing HIV/AIDS Aware-ness through silly blog posts. I’m always happy to help out real causes in any way I can.

But sadly my first post to help out is going to be the opposite of jolly. I almost wanted to have a different post start us off but I really wanted to just get this off my chest so we can get into some media that makes me happier.

This review will be…interesting but I’ll explain how in a bit. First, let me introduce you to Evan Tremal. He’s done a few cheap live action movies but he mostly directs direct to video animated films that are as cheap and cruddy as you can get.

While I can’t judge most of them, the likes of Bee Team and Zoo Wars sport some of the ugliest animation I’ve ever seen and mostly rip off popular movies, as you may expect. Just this year he did a pretty shameless Smallfoot cash in, with a sad lack of Zendaya being Meechee.

This was the one that introduced me to him though, and I found about it through the same Twitter Group Chat that made him find out about Maximum Ride. I swear I like these guys despite what they end up putting me through.

Mostly because I choose to watch this stuff myself. Evan will show up again on here but it may be awhile because this one is…oh boy. I have no idea how this movie came about, it just sort of appeared and it somehow got on Hulu.

I do know this review is going to be very different from usual. Scene by Scene reviews and general ones tend to be separate, although I have kicked around the idea of having a review win this Scene by Scene series be in a more general style that would still go through the movie but not be a total recap exactly.

And today is the day I try that out. I don’t plan to do this very often but in this case it was unavoidable. Trust me, when you see what this movie ACTUALLY is, you’ll understand why it is full on impossible to do this in my usual style.

And it’s the kind movie I just need to share, to prove going through it was worth it. Perhaps this could have been a special general review but as I said, I wanted to test a new style so into my main series it goes.

So what is this movie and why does it require a more general approach than usual? And why is the No Anime Penguin on the poster that rips off Arthur Christmas? Let’s find out.

This, is A Frozen Christmas

The movie starts with a crappy CGI Santa coming in, as he introduces the movie to us…through narration, even though he is right there to talk directly to us. The narrator sounds enough like a Santa that I don’t think these two entities are separate.

(And the credits list different actors for “Narrator” and Santa but whatever)

“It’s time, for A Frozen Christmas”

No.

Then it cuts to some penguins crashing into a Santa that looks totally different from the one we saw literally just a few seconds ago.

(The models change more later so I included some of those too)

Only a minute in and they show they truly didn’t care. I’m not shocked the models are clearly taken from elsewhere but could you at least keep the same one for two scenes in a row?

Then it shows a clip of him pushing a bag of gifts up a hill, with no connection between those two clips. I have no proof of this but I honestly think so far we’re just setting random animations they either made as filler with no intention to connect them or found off some website.

This movie is a collection of stories but before we get into the…presentation of them, we gotta touch on the bridging segments more. For one, Santa’s model keeps changing as I said just to make my theory even more possibly correct.

And his mouth never moves in any of these, even the one where he’s clearly talking more directly to us rather than narrating like he was in the opening. If you try to connect some of these story wise, it becomes even more clear these are just random animations.

Like how we see him going down a chimney in one, but in another later on he’s getting a message from a girl (because kids just send him random emails saying they can’t wait for their gift?) which makes him go out in a way that makes it seem like a casual thing and not a “Oh crap, I forgot a gift” thing.

Well, the narration gives me that vibe, as the animation shows him going with only one reindeer, implying maybe the others are tired from earlier or something. Oh and of course one animation of him is clearly re-used at a later point, no surprise there.

At one point before they go into the next story, Santa introduces us to these random Gingerbread people who do a little dance. Yes, a random dance that goes on for a few minutes that is clearly just some animation looped which does not look impressive at all.

Normally I’d call that terrible blatant filler but frankly it was a welcome break. Which brings us to what this movie really is.

You would think the stories this is a collection of would be of ones they came up with themselves, or would at least be badly animated versions of classic stories. Nope.

Instead the stories are classics narrated by kids with the visuals…basically being a screen saver. No joke. Just little Christmas images going by. Nothing extra aside from just the kid reading the story.

Put on any random screen saver and listen to an audio-book and boom, you’ve recreated the Frozen Christmas experience. Wait no, at least then you know you are getting yourself into a screen saver which you know very well isn’t meant to paid attention to.

And that audio-book would hopefully be a good one at least. These are clearly kids but they still sound incredibly stiff and don’t pull me into these stories at all. That’s bad given most of these are clearly public domain ones not many have heard of like “Little Girl’s Christmas” and “The Fir Tree”.

(Side note: The kids are not listed by name in the credits despite making up most of the movies audio. Even if this Nathaniel Rose they list as Narrator as one of the kids, there’s at least girl who is not listed with him)

Remember that movie Cartoon Hero covered that was just an Alice in Wonderland Audio Play with crappy MS Paint Drawings? Or that Braver thing IHE looked at which fools you into watching some random other thing disguised as a funny looking rip off movie?

This is basically that. Yes, the cover and such do tell you this will feature stories but you’d think theywould try to create their own unique take on them. Not just point-blank tell us the stories in a stilted way with screen saver visuals.

I can’t tell if the visuals were made for this movie or not, but given the crappy Santa models clearly were taken I assume these crappy screen savers were borrowed as well.

I’d give them credit for having original audio (something that Alice thing lacked) but for all we know that was from elsewhere too. Santa’s narration likely is for this movie though since they clash that much with the visuals.

His ramblings were certainly enough for the credits to have the balls to say this was “Written” by Evan Tramel. Speaking of him, he’s pulled this kind of trick before as he has a movie called The Funny Lives of Pets (Haw haw) that is apparently just a bunch of YouTube animal videos introduced by horrifying CGI creations.

Christ, at least this one at least tries to tell stories, that one is just full on scummy. But back to this scummy movie, holy crap am I pissed off at this.

If some of these contents were put on YouTube for free as a sort of Yule Log thing, this would barely be acceptable. But instead they fooled you into thinking you’re getting a real movie when all you got is…this. I frankly have more respect for the Johnny Johnny Yes Papa videos than I do for this movie. At least those don’t lie about what they are, and are hilarious meme fodder.

The crappy animations aren’t even funny, they’re just kind of lame. The stories are also not told too well so it isn’t even a good way to get kids into them. Oh and they end on The Little Match Girl which is an example of one that already has a perfectly good adaptation.

Although it is amusing to see a slightly more dramatic story along with all these fluffy ones. But wait, there’s more! At the end of that story, there’s a beat and the kid goes “Merry Christmas!”

Then we get 10 plus minutes of just music set to these screen savers. No stories being told, just music and a few songs. …I was willing to cut them some slack for the original audio but then they flat out…gave up trying to tell stories and became a bunch of….images set to what may as well be nothing.

They could have easily just stopped the movie when that story ends, there’s no reason for any of this other stuff to be in the same space! And it would tap out at slightly under an hour, which is a better runtime than the 1 hour 13 minutes this now has.

I thought it would just end after all this, dropping the framing device full stop. But no, Santa returns to close us out which makes all that even more pointless!

“I hope you had a great time listening to these time honored Christmas classics”

I hope you die slowly and painfully, you model changing asshole.

This is all just…wow. The only way I actually sat through all of this is because I allowed myself to do crap on my phone which I normally avoid but if I didn’t do that, I would have just shut it off once I realized what this thing was.

Much like Alice and Braver, this flat out tricks you into getting something totally different just to cash in on something else. The use of Frozen in the title was very intentional. And they couldn’t even bother to give a real movie, just a collection of stories you can find elsewhere being red badly along with crappy animations they likely didn’t even create themselves.

Again, on their own some of these might be okay to show some kids in the background but this advertises itself as something meant to be a real product and my god does it fail as that.

Some DVD’s are just made to be filler things rather than real stories but even those have more to them than this. Why show anyone this when they are perfectly fine Yule Log type things in tons of other places?

It’s not even well made enough, with the changing models and the stiff narration. This is technically better than Alice and Braver, but they basically put it more effort to be lazier. How is that even possible?!

Oh and before we move on I have to mention there this movie…had a sequel a year later, with ANOTHER one that will be out by the time this review goes up. But while Hulu and..certain sites have this movie, the sequel is nowhere to be found unless you purchase it on DVD or Google and the like.

That is the way you should get any product of course, but the fact that it has yet to find itself anywhere else is…sad. Even the internet rejects the sequel, that’s how bad it must be.

A person in that Twitter group chat decided to buy it to host a stream of it and I sadly wasn’t there to fully witness it all. So I asked that pal, matthew2k01, to tell us what it was like, because I’m really curious to see if it goes lower.

According to him, it is “mostly dancing with disturbing creations” with “a few stories and a 1 minute credit sequence”. So…it has more original content yet is also even less of a movie.

Sounds about right. Thank you Matthew for informing me.

(ADDENDUM: I was looking around those…sites, to show at least some of this thing to a friend…only to find it already has the 3rd movie which just came out! Yet the 2nd is still nowhere to be seen without purchase. Huh.)

Final Thoughts:

I don’t need a section for our closing thoughts in this style but besides keeping with tradition, it keeps me slightly more organized as I close us out.

I don’t like getting legit angry at movies these days as generally the people behind them try their hardest so I shouldn’t insult them too hard. I can lay the smack-down without getting personal about it or anything, just see my previous review.

But this is another level. Just like those things I keep comparing this too, this is a rip off that doesn’t even give you something resembling a real movie in return. It’s just stiffly told stories along with badly done and sometimes likely borrowed animations.

The fact that it presents itself as some cute Christmas thing makes it even worse. Some of the cheapest Christmas specials like Rappsitte or The Christmas Tree offer more, at least with the intention.

This would barely be passable as little YouTube videos, much less as an actual thing you can buy. I can’t get inside the filmmakers head, but this reeks of someone wanting to cash in on Christmas without putting any effort into it, hence the many minutes of nothing packed in at the end.

The rest is like that too but that stuff even more. The “movies” I compare this too anger me a bit more but this is the same level of disgusting me. I now have more respect for the likes of Going Overboard, Blubberella, Fred the Movie…and even A Serbian film.

Those at least had either some positives or an attempt at having artistic merit. This has none of that. I could very well be a bit over dramatic here but this is how it all comes across to me.

At BEST it’s boring, and at worse it’s tedious and terribly made, on top of the insult of not being a movie. Something this devoid of true effort or originality isn’t a film to me.

And also it’s boring to sit through with no ironic enjoyment at all to make up for any of this. Congratulations A Frozen Christmas, you are now not only the worst Christmas special, but you are also now my least favorite “movie” I have ever reviewed.

I didn’t think A Serbian Film could be topped but you did it. Woo deep doo.

Rating: ….Gee, take a wild guess.

The only positive (besides the nature of it kind of making it less painful than some others, the problems are production/artistic in nature here) is that I was able to just write this in a day or so and I did not need to watch through the entire thing again.

This may seem like an odd thing to be harsh on but whatever, I don’t regret feeling the way I do. Sorry I got slightly repetitive but hey, it fits the movie at least.

I need some cheer in these scene by scene reviews after….that. Screw it, our Christmas review is Nightmare Before Christmas.

See ya.

(I’d like feedback on how this experiment turned out, I might consider doing it again. Not too much as I like to keep the scene by scene and general stuff separate but I’m up for new things. Hope you enjoyed this one at least)

Posted in Animation, Christmas Reviews, Scene by Scene Reviews | 2 Comments

Goosebumps Most Wanted-The Haunter

Hello, Spongey here.

We’re in the home stretch of this oddly long Most Wanted series, as we only have one more after this. At this point I just want to get into it, so I’ll just say we have yet another unnecessarily long special edition.

It’s also a Halloween book, even though I’m 100% ready for Christmas at this point. Whatever, let’s just see how this one turned out.

This, is The Haunter

We start with a prologue that is so short it may as well not even be labeled like that. Our lead Sammy is at a school assembly as we are told a few things, like how he has a big crush on a girl at school.

I’m not sure why Goosebumps is involving crushes now but it’s fine as along as it goes somewhere which is usually not the case. But going back to things Goosebumps does always have, we got another bully, this time named Rubin.

This one actually does have a reason to hate Sammy as he tripped him up by accident one time. I didn’t say it was a good reason. The mayor gets on stage and then Sammy gets on and starts acting randomly acting like a rooster.

“It’s kind of a long story”

*3 WEEKS EARLIER*

Oh come on, we’re doing this now? It’s an amusing teaser I guess but it doesn’t really add that much and even isn’t creepy enough to be one of those spooky teasers.

Whatever, we join him a couple of weeks before Halloween as he tells us he’s a huge scardey cat. I know you’re bound to repeat yourself when you’ve been writing Goosebumps for this long, but you’ve done Halloween books without just doing Carly Beth again, so it’s a tad annoying when you keep going back to it.

But hey, it can still work. He has a friend he calls Buzzy who is less scared and sometimes mocks him for it. To the point where I must question why they are friends.

His teacher Miss Flake loves Halloween so she’s making them group projects on spooky things. Sammy and Buzzy got “Are Haunted Houses Real?” which bugs him as there is of course a legendary haunted house close by he is scared of.

Their group also has Rubin, whose full name is Rubin Rubino. That’s so uncreative it’s hilarious. Summer the girl he has a crush on is in the group too so now he has no choice but to do this scary stuff.

Good to know even some Goosebumps books can be boiled down to just being about a girl. Oh and him saying he needs to do this now is our chapter break moment, because there’s nothing is more suspenseful than pre teen romance.

The group meets at Rubin’s house to discuss the project. It does not take long for Rubin to be a jerk as he makes Sammy sit in a chair his cat peed on. Lovely.

Oh and before that he told him the pee was acid. Even the others call him out on that but they just move on. Their plan to is to stake out the house to prove it is haunted and Sammy is the only one to think about what happens if ghosts really are there.

He’s very good at sealing my job, but he doens’t speak up about it. After some small talk, the meeting ends and they all go home. There’s also a slightly nice moment that shows she’s aware of how Rubin is.

After a dream we are least told is a dream up front, Sammy tells his parents about all this in the hopes they would put a stop to it. But they’re actually happy as they see this as Sammy wanting to get over his fears.

I get why they may this as good but it’s still a bit dangerous and they are waaay too happy about it, even if they see it as a good thing.

We then thankfully just skip straight to Halloween Night. We’re in Part 2 now, because this series keeps thinking that adds to the book in some way. Sammy and Buzz head to the house and try to film stuff when they think they see something in the window.

But a mysterious something knocks the camera out of Sammy’s hand and yeah we’ve got a ghost. Of course Buzz somehow thinks it was Rubin even though it makes no sense.

Thankfully he is proven wrong as Rubin shows up in a row that suggests he was not here already. The others show up and I will some of their back and forth is kind of amusing. We don’t see a whole group of people in these books so it’s a nice change of pace.

It doesn’t take long for more spooky things to happen as they feel someone pushing them back when they try to open the door. They just try the window which the ghost does not prevent despite hopefully clearly hearing them say they will do so.

They explore the house and there’s actually a nice moment where Sammy gets of everyone fighting and wants them all to actually work together. It’s especially cool that Sammy is the one to get them to be less jerk-y.

We get some decent suspense too as we wonder when the ghost will show up and certain small things are made into a big deal, but in the good way. But sadly some knocks turn out to a group member who is quite late, but the rest was I stand by.

They get back to waiting after awhile they think of leaving but of course now is when they hear some whispering. They get it on a tape recording and confirm that it is real.

“We’ve captured the ghost!”

No, you just recorded it’s noises, big difference.

But when they listen to it again for reasons, there’s no whisper. Stuff starts going crazy but Sammy can’t leave due to some cold force holding him there. It’s a creepy little moment that doesn’t last long as Sammy is freed and finally runs away with the others.

I like this bit where they just stand there in silence when Sammy tells him what just happened, even Rubin is quiet. Damn. So they sadly leave without any evidence and go home.

“Part 3” begins in class and after Rubin is more of a jerk, a voice randomly tells Sammy to get on his desk and do jumping jacks along with other silly requests.

“Pretend you’re playing Jingle Bells on the flute”

Even Stine knows I’m ready for Christmas!

He of course gets pulled out of class and is asked to visit the nurse since his forehead is cold on top of all this. He goes there but the voice still wants him to be a jerk.

It does not take long for me to get slightly sick of it even though this is an interesting situation. Eventually she has to take a phone call so he uses this chance to sneak out.

He bumps into Summer who quite enjoyed his antics in class, instead of finding him to annoying and disprotive. Well guys, guess we found out the secret to getting girls.

At home Sammy tells his parents about all this and they don’t believe him but do think he was spooked by the haunted house. They should have shown more concern to begin with but ah well.

The next day, a field trip is canned so they have an assembly instead. Yep, we’re back to the opening and now we know why he acted up. It wasn’t too bad for a catchy opening but still a bit pointless.

He does silly dances until he is stopped and despite being pulled aside, he is let off easy since the disruption wasn’t vicious or anything. I wish all principals were this forgiving of acting like a jack ass.

He leaves and Summer again seems to like him a lot more. I was gonna ask why this voice is a bad thing but then Sammy does something to piss off Rubin, so never mind.

This ends up being the last straw for the principal, while we don’t know if Rubin will be finished for that act of violence there. Seriously, at least Sammy’s act can be seem as almost an accident.

He is sent home but on the way, the voice tells him to save a kitten in a tree. Oh cool, Sammy’s a superhero now. But of course there’s none up there and the voice just made him climb the tree to get him in danger.

Thankfully, the world’s fastest fire fighters are here to save him. Seriously, the branch was about to break so there was a ticking clock to make this more noticeable.

After he’s saved, the voice finally speaks up more directly:

“You HAVE to die, Sammy”

Oh, if that’s all..

The voice reveals he is the Marple House ghost that invaded Sammy back there. So, this book is about a kid named Sammy who visits a famous haunted house and something from that house ends up making his school live a living hell.

…If you’re going to re-hash My Best Friend is Invisible this much, maybe not flat out give the lead the exact same name? Seriously, I almost would have called it a coincidence if not for that.

But to be fair, it actually is a ghost this time, and this is basically that one done right. I mean, the only jerk characters are the ones that should be jerks and nothing is too contrived at least.

Anyway, the ghost is lonely and wanted a friend and I guess making him dead is the best way for them to be together forever. I kind of wish they pushed the sympathetic angle more but that went out the window when he made Sammy do fool-ish things.

And also the wanting to murder him thing I guess. By the way, I sure wish we didn’t have to wait over 100 pages to get to the interesting part.

He goes home and while his parents are there to be mad, they have to go to a thing and refuse to listen to him. I get the “we gotta go to a thing” part but they’re still rather rude here.

The next day, the voice (really wish he had a name) tells him to go on the roof of the school and do a dance. If you really want him dead, why not just make Sammy kill himself through more practical means? Okay that would be dark but it is more practical for your evil plans. But I guess it doesn’t matter as Sammy does it and is about to fall.

But don’t worry, he lands on the principal, who is fine.

“For the 2nd time. Strike 3 for the 2nd time”

I don’t think that’s how that works.

“I saw Summer Magee flash me a thumbs up”

If she only seems to like you when you’re making a fool yourself and getting expelled…maybe she’s not the one.

Sammy runs away and goes back to Marple House to hopefully put the voice back where he came from, or so help- me. The voice pulls him through a door that takes him to “The place between life and death”.

It’s a weird hallway where he finally meets the voice in ghost form and his name is Benjamin. We heard his legend earlier so maybe I should have put 2 and 2 together.

Sammy is now a ghost, and I’ll assume he is not fully dead but Ben is just showing him what a ghost’s life is like through magic or something. They go to school and make Rubin act like a fool, which is pretty neat.

They have fun for a day but once school is over, it hits Sammy that he can’t talk to any of his loved ones ever again. It’s too rushed to be a big moment but I appreciate it.

Ben claims there’s no way to make him alive again and while he lying, he has found a way to make Sammy a ghost forever so why didn’t he do that instead of the failed murder attempts?

Sammy thinks he can just go through that door again…and it works. I’m be mad at the anti climax but I have to wonder why Ben didn’t think he might try that.

Not only he is alive, he is free that damn voice so he can go home and be happy. But of course we need a twist, so the next day at school the class welcomes a new classmate…named Bejamin Marple.

Yep, Ben is Back (2018). He explains that he held onto Sammy when he went through the door, which brought him back to life. Sure, why not. Sadly he still feels evil so he wants Sammy to do crazy stuff on the roof again.

Sammy suddenly feels himself following him. Yeah, turns out them going through the tunnel made them connected forever. Again, why not.

With that, the book ends with them on the roof about to dance again as Summer watches with anticipation. So the moral of the story is: She ain’t worth it.

Not too bad of a shocker ending I guess, my only complaint extends to the book itself. So, moving on.

Final Thoughts:

I’m not sure how to feel about this one. On one hand, it can give us some chilling moments and has some decent ideas and basically fixes my problems with my least favorite Goosebumps book.

When things happen, it can be decent. The problem is it takes way too long for said things to happen. I know I keep saying these special editions are too long but this had no reason to be 175 pages and yet still take forever to get started.

I wish the Ben stuff was done way earlier, to further explore it. I’m not expecting anything too deep, but just more than what we got. We could push the sympathetic angle more like 12 Screams or Christmas kind of did.

We could even push Summer more by having Sammy realize she only seems to like him when he’s making a fool of himself and thus she’s not worth it. Hey, if How I Learned to Fly can be a romance book, why not this one?

The biggest fix is to make it shorter and focus more on Ben. As a result, the story would work better just by having more time to explore that. But as it is, it’s…fine.

Despite the pacing and other issues, it works perfectly fine on its own. There’s some spooky stuff in the house, and a decent twist ending. Yes, it is more torture but it’s less cruel than in some others at least.

This book is a big bowl of fine, with the problems not being too bad on their own. I don’t even mind it being a re-hash since it was at least better and showed how it could have worked.

It could have been more, but as it is …fine. Didn’t need to have a Halloween scene though.

Rating: Decent. I really wasn’t sure but since what we have here is okay enough…sure, why not. I got more out of it than the average ones in the end, barely.

I’m so glad the next Most Wanted book is the last one, these are starting to take a toll on we with their wasted potential. We end that next month with an…interesting one.

See ya.

(Wait a minute, the ghost wasn’t even called The Haunter!)

Posted in R.L Stine Reviews, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

DCOM-Vember: Johnny Kapahla Back on Board

Hello, Spongey here, and welcome to the finale of DCOM-vember!

For the final entry I needed something a tad bit special, but not too special so that I could save it for a Scene by Scene review at some point. So we’ll do a sequel to a an older DCOM I reviewed that no one really remembers. In 199 we had Johnny Tsunami, which I reviewed in 2015 for my 200th review.

https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2015/02/11/dcom-month-2-200th-review-special/

It was okay. Fairly cliche and not too memorable but still watchable with some nice moments. It is seen as a classic DCOM but I wouldn’t call it one of their landmark movies. But people liked it enough so it got a sequel…9 years later.

That’s right, a sequel well into the modern DCOM era, and at a point where no one really cared about it. And it got a title that made it so I had no idea it was a sequel until later. Yes, the subtitle clues you in but for some reason the last name is changed. It makes more sense given that is the main characters full name, but come on don’t confuse people just jumping in.

While some of the cast returned, the director is different. This director did the Nick Movie Boy who Cried werewolf, but two of the first films writers did come back. Joining them are two people who worked on things like Return to Halloweentown and 16 Wishes.

I’d say we’re on good hands. So does this one manage to improve on a middling film? Let’s dive in.

This, is Johnny Kapahla: Back on Board

Johnny Kaphala returns to Hawaii for his Grandpa’s wedding, only to have to deal with an annoying cousin and some jerk Dirt Bikers.

This movie was very…eh. I was hoping for an improved sequel but this was honestly a step down. It didn’t really add that much and frankly didn’t need to exist. Granted, I’m just not sure at yo could have done for a sequel but this was more of the same but with less of the better parts of the first.

It’s one of those simple low key DCOM’s which usually only work when the story is interesting enough to carry it but this didn’t quite cut it. There is some charm with some of the interactions and a couple nice moments, but nothing too deep or impressive for the most part.

Like the first movie we have some cliches like being forced to bond with an annoying kid and some jerks who bug the lead for no reason. It’s not one of those movies that can make cliches work amazingly well since it ends up just being generic.

It doesn’t help that the kid Chris (played by Jake T Austin)is fairly annoying at times and even when they start to bond, he goes back to being annoying. Like when he hurts himself trying to impressive the dirt board guys but still gets mad at Johnny when he wants Chris to stop hanging with them.

Their bond ends up being a tad forced, despite a few nice moments here and there. Also there’s a love interest (whose actress would go on to star in iZombie, oddly enough) who is awful as you think she would be. I should also mention that Zenon is ditched due to the new setting and they just sort of forget people like her.

And as a final side note, you’re out of luck if you wanna watch this for the dirt boarding scenes as those are surprisingly bad. There’s too many quick zones they put these dumb filters on them like it’s a bad YouTube video which makes them hard to enjoy.

This review is sounding rather negative but outside of certain moments it was mostly just middling. It had some charm but most of it was just there. I’m sort of biased against this kind of DCOOM begin with but I ws able to respect the first movie at times despite that and this could have been closed to that.

And while it is still just middling, it didn’t really improve on anything. The story of the first was more engaging and the flaws were less egregious in my eyes. It’s far from a disgrace but it fails to rise above its cliches and has some annoying aspects like Chris and the badly edited dirt boarding scenes.

There’s some charm with the interactions and nothing is too bad but it’s nothing too special. If you flat out like the first movie, you may enjoy this more but it’s a step down so you won’t get too much out of it, ujust a bit more than me.

It’s okay I guess but the wait wasn’t too worth it, sadly.

Rating: Average

And so ends DCOM-vember! I wish it ended on a note stronger but ah well. Overall, these movies generally…eh. We had some decent ones only to full on Good ones and they weren’t the best. But I guess that’s because I’ve already done most of the stand out ones, so I’m left with the table scraps.

But at least a few were interesting, even if it wasn’t always in the best ways. This wasn’t the best DCOM reviewing year former, given Harriet gave us the new worst one. Still, at least I got a bunch more out of the way. I’ve now reviewed 71 out of 109. Damn.

Keep in mind I count my little recap of HSM 1 in the HSM 2 review as a review for it and I’m not covering Tangled Before Ever After for reasons I went over.

Oh and my DA journal on Freaky Friday 2018 was enough as there’s barely anything to add, so that’s 73 technically.

Spoilers, Zombies is next for review and coming in 2019. Hopefully the DCOMs I cover after that are good ones.

Either way, this was fun and I hope to possibly do this again someday.

See ya.

 

Posted in Disney Channel Movie Reviews, General Reviews | Leave a comment