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When this South African animated adventure embraces its unique setting and characters, it's visually stunning and a lot of fun. But it also tries to force everything into a trite Hollywood formula, unnecessarily adding clunky songs, goofy comedy sidekicks and big action set-pieces. Still, there's enough fresh storytelling and lively humour to keep us engaged, and some spectacular animation too.
It's set in the Great Karoo desert, where a herd of zebras has fenced off its own watering hole. But as a drought sets in, bullied half-striped zebra Khumba (voiced by Jake T. Austin) becomes worried about the animals outside. When he hears about a mythical pond that can restore his stripes and supply water to everyone, he leaves his best pal Tombi (AnnaSophia Robb) to take an epic trek across the desert. Along the way he picks up a variety of goofy travelling companions, including a hyena (Steve Buscemi), buffalo (Loretta Devine) and ostrich (Richard E. Grant). But he's also hunted by the vicious half-blind leopard Phango (Liam Neeson), who blames Khumba for his own hot-tempered misfortunes.
The animators far surpass the simplistic script with imagery that takes the breath away, from expansive landscapes to cleverly designed characters. And as the wacky sidekicks continually try to push the film over into slapstick silliness, the startlingly violent Phango reminds us of the darker side of nature as well as some deeper African cultural issues. This mix sometimes feels jarring, but that works in the film's favour. As do some inspired comical gags involving, for instance, a nutty sheep (Catherine Tate), a gang of hilariously agreeable meerkats and a herd of dumb-jock springboks.
Continue reading: Khumba Review
Khumba is a young zebra who was born missing half of his stripes. Following his birth, there came a deadly drought threatening the survival of the herd and killing his mother. To his superstitious peers and his father, Khumba's unusual appearance is an extremely bad omen and he is eventually driven to run away from the herd to find water and acceptance elsewhere, leaving his only friend in Great Karoo, Tombi. On his travels, he meets a motherly wildebeest named Mama V and her wacky friend Bradley the Ostrich who are willing to travel with him and protect him from the ills of the wild, namely Phango the Leopard whose presence is a threat to every other creature in Great Karoo. He also meets Mantis, who reveals a map that could lead them to a waterhole - or will it instead lead Khumba to find his stripes?
'Khumba' is a heart-warming animated flick about that timeless message of accepting people's differences. It has been directed by Anthony Silverston in first direction, who co-wrote the screenplay alongside previous writing partner Raffaella Delle Donne ('Zambezia'). It was nominated for a Cristal award for best feature at the 2013 Annecy International Animated Film Festival and has already been released in the US.
An especially strong script gives actors plenty to chew on in this comedy-drama, in which writer-directors Faxon and Rash (The Descendants) take an observant look at the awkward connections we make with each other. Using sparky humour and emotion, the filmmakers and cast create vivid characters we can't help but identify with, even when they do all the wrong things.
At the centre, Duncan (James) is a 14-year-old who dreads spending the summer at a beach house owned by Trent (Carrel), the cruelly critical new boyfriend of his mother Pam (Collette). When they arrive, they meet gossipy neighbour Betty (Janney), who has a whole season of neighbourhood parties planned. And her daughter Susanna (Robb) looks just about as miserable as Duncan does. As he tries to escape, Duncan finds a local water park run by colourful misfit Owen (Rockwell), who takes Duncan under his wing and offers him a summer job. And being on his own gives him the badly needed self-confidence to talk to his mother honestly, take on Trent and maybe even ask Susanna out on a date.
Even though this is essentially a standard coming-of-age movie, the script never falls into the usual cliches. For example, when Duncan's first kiss comes along, it plays out in an unexpected, realistic way. This is a generous, honest comedy packed with terrific characters and resonant situations. Supported by the all-star cast, James delivers an impressive performance as a sullen teen struggling to face the world around him , growing up while remaining awkward and likeable. Meanwhile, Stockwell keeps us laughing with a lively party-boy turn that's underscored with sympathy. Collette beautifully layers the repressive, conflicted Pam. Carell goes nicely against type as the cruelly passive-aggressive Trent. And Janney steals the show with the most hilarious lines.
Continue reading: The Way, Way Back Review
The Carrie Diaries, the Sex and the City prequel, has been widely panned, so it’s understandable that the show’s producers have decided to focus on what really matters: the clothes.
The Carrie Diaries’ costume designer Eric Daman and executive producer Amy B Harris have both been waxing lyrical about the joys of dressing the cast, including AnnaSophia Robb, who plays the young Carrie.
Speaking at the Television Critics’ Association panel to promote the show, Harris said that they had tried to stay away from the 1980s style clichés, and had let clothes from the ‘60s and ‘70s linger in Carrie’s mother’s wardrobe, to feed into Sarah Jessica Parker’s character’s love for vintage clothes. Harris told People magazine “Our whole idea for this was I didn't want it to feel like the joke version of the '80s with people in those thin glasses or parachute pants where even in the '80s we were all kind of thinking, 'Is this a mistake? It think it might be.”
Continue reading: The Carrie Diaries: The Show Might Be A Joke, But The Clothes Are Not
The Carrie Diaries, the CW's television adaptation of Candace Bushnell's novel and a prequel to the Sex And The City television series, premiered on Monday evening (January 16, 2013). Actress AnnaSophia Robb has the enviable job of playing a young Carrie Bradshaw - iconically played by Sarah Jessica Parker in the long running HBO series.
Continue reading: The Carrie Diaries: How AnnaSophia Robb Became The New Carrie Bradshaw
Thirteen year old Bethany Hamilton loves to surf; she comes from a family of surfers, so there is nothing more she likes doing then catching some waves, in Hawaii, where she lives. When not surfing, she likes hanging out with her friends and flirting with guys, like any other teen her age.
Continue: Soul Surfer Trailer
You'll need more than faith to accept the film's ridiculous premise, cooked up by sibling screenwriters Carey and Chad Hayes. These two can't distinguish between horrifying and horrible. They last collaborated on the dreadful House of Wax remake starring Paris Hilton. Enough said.
Continue reading: The Reaping Review
A great many problems with Bridge to Terabithia could have been solved by casting, and unfortunately director Gabor Csupo gets that wrong from the start. The protagonist, Jesse Aarons, a lonely fifth grader in a small town, is played with sullen inattention by Josh Hutcherson. His better half is Leslie Burke, the new girl in town, performed by AnnaSophia Robb with a bright and shallow perkiness that suggests a callow Keira Knightley 10 years ago. With not much going in the way of interpersonal chemistry between the two leads, it's difficult for the film's rather (on the surface) uneventful and deeply interior story to gain much traction.
Continue reading: Bridge To Terabithia Review
And so Burton takes a third stab at the remake game with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, an update/remake (call it what you want) of the beloved 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Roald Dahl's classic children's novel. But the stakes here are far greater than they were with Apes. That was a campy sci-fi movie that no one really cared about. In fact, the original Apes had long since killed itself under the weight of four increasingly awful sequels. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory frequently tops "Favorite Movie Ever" lists, and news of the remake has met with nothing but scorn from fans (including 1971 star Gene Wilder, who later retracted his scathing remarks).
Continue reading: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005) Review
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