Mireille Soria

Mireille Soria

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Excellent

A sharp script and especially colourful imagery make this animated romp a lot more fun than expected, entertaining grown-ups just as much as the kids. It may be the usual frantic action comedy, but there's an edge to the humour and a continual stream of knowing gags and witty references that keep us laughing. As a result, the busy plot is surprisingly involving, and the action scenes are genuinely thrilling.

It opens in outer space with the Boov, a race of blobby creatures that are only good at one thing: running away from their sworn enemy the Gorg. Their leader Captain Smek (Steve Martin) has selected Earth as their next hiding place, so they swoop in and corral mankind into Happy Humantowns in the Australian Outback while the Boov occupy the cities, hilariously trying to make sense of everything they find there. But a Boov named Oh (Jim Parsons) sticks out from the hive-like community. Friendlier and more curious than he should be, he inadvertently alerts the Gorg to their location. So he goes on the run, meeting up with the human teen girl Tip (Rihanna), who has managed to hide out with her chubby cat Pig and now wants to find her mother (Jennifer Lopez). Pursued by Smek and top cop Kyle (Matt Jones), Oh and Tip must dart around the globe to solve both of their predicaments.

Based on Adam Rex's novel The True Meaning of Smekday, the story is packed with lively twists and turns, and the filmmakers bring it to life with energy, humour and some real emotion. The animators pull out all the stops as they play with outrageous colours and eye-catching action, while the Boov's ability to selectively control gravity adds plenty of scope for additional mayhem. For example, Oh and Tip travel the globe in a car that Oh soups up Back to the Future-style so they can fly to Boov central command in Paris and then on to Australia. These kinds of knowing film references flit across the screen all the way through their adventure.

Continue reading: Home Review

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted Review


Weak

Instead of developing the characters or situations for comedy gold, the filmmakers instead just crank up the chaos. So while some scenes are both funny and visually impressive, this second sequel is simply too inane to make us hope there will be a part 4. Very young kids may be distracted by the hectic pacing and hyperactive characters, but everyone else will quickly be bored by the nonstop mayhem, simply because there's nothing interesting going on.

Anxious lion Alex (Stiller), chatty zebra Marty (Rock), nerdy giraffe Melman (Schwimmer) and silly hippo Gloria (Smith) are living a Lion King-style existence in Africa, although their only hope for escape has just flown away. Namely, the brainy penguins and their monkey assistants. So our heroes follow them to Monaco, where they all end up on the run from the notorious animal control agent Dubois (McDormand). They run straight into a failing circus, which they set out to bring back to its glory days so they can catch the eye of an American promoter and go home to New York. To do this means working with the current circus acts: sultry cheetah Gia (Chastain), dorky sea lion Stefano (Short) and tetchy tiger Vitaly (Cranston).

The circus premise lets the filmmakers have a lot of visual fun with the characters, most notably in a riotously colourful Cirque du Soleil-on-acid performance in London. But the plot makes no sense at all (if they can get to Monaco, surely they could get to New York, right?), and there are so many new characters that the central quartet feels almost sidelined. Especially since they've also wedged in an under-developed romance for the lemur king (Baron Cohen). Yes, it's all over the place, and being busy is not the same thing as being clever or funny.

Continue reading: Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted Review

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Review


Grim
To a film critic, the mainstream is like a ravenous shark with a defective hypothalamus. As long as Hollywood seeds the entertainment waters with chum, the masses will feed and feed until their dead, lifeless eyes roll back in their head. Examples of this baffling binge and purge are released every year -- inexplicable, unexplainable crowd-pleasers like Wild Hogs, Norbit, and Night at the Museum. Now comes Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, the even louder, more obnoxious sequel to Dreamworks' loud, obnoxious CG original. This is a film about more: More already dated pop culture references, more digitally-rendered eye candy, more abject pandering to a seemingly easy-to-satisfy demographic.

After being stranded on the tiny, titular African island, our four heroes -- egomaniacal lion Alex (Ben Stiller), hypochondriac giraffe Melmen (David Schwimmer), smart alecky zebra Marty (Chris Rock), and lovelorn hippo Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) -- are finally headed home. On a junk airplane refurbished by those pesky penguins, self-proclaimed King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen), along with his right-hand advisor Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer) will take the quartet back to New York. Of course, things don't go as planned, and everyone ends up in the middle of a wildlife preserve in Africa. There, Alex meets up with his dad (Bernie Mac), mom (Sherrie Shepherd), and conniving Uncle Makunga (Alec Baldwin). When the fun-loving feline fails at the tribe's right of passage, however, it's clear these big city critters need to get back to Manhattan, and fast.

Continue reading: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Review

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron Review


Grim
Man, are we mean to horses. At least, that's what I got out of DreamWorks' Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, an old west campfire tale told from the perspective of a wild horse that paints an unflattering portrait of American pioneers, using traditional animated techniques.

The horse in question we come to know as Spirit, leader of the cimarron herd and a victim of his own curiosity. An unnecessary trip down to a cowboy campground earns Spirit a pair of lassos around his neck for his troubles, and the rough riders turn the reluctant buck over to the Army for labor.

Continue reading: Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron Review

Ever After Review


Good
Cute and fairly witty for a kid's movie, this updating/retelling/correction/exaggeration of the Cinderella story is actually not too bad.

Madagascar Review


OK
It's a testament to how great animated filmmaking has become that Madagascar is just a pretty good movie. If it had been released in 1995, audiences would have been stunned at the animation, the storyline, and the fun celebrity voices. Now, it's been-there-done-that and, "Oh, when is Shrek 3 coming out?" and consistent, legitimate Oscar talk for Pixar.

Of course, there are worst ways to spend your Memorial Day weekend than to share in the adventures of four wild animals at the Central Park Zoo. The zoo's star, Alex (voiced by Ben Stiller), is a headlining lion who loves being the limelight. His best friend, Marty (Chris Rock), a zebra, yearns to go beyond the zoo's walls and return to the wild. At the duo's side is boisterous, level-headed hippo, Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) and hypochondriac giraffe Melman (David Schwimmer).

Continue reading: Madagascar Review

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas Review


Weak
DreamWorks' animated division continues its mediocre streak of family-centered adventures with the visually stimulating but substandard Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas.

Based ever-so-loosely on Sinbad's literary escapades, the film shows our courageous thief (voiced by Brad Pitt) in pursuit of the mystical Book of Peace. When mischievous goddess Eris (voiced by Michelle Pfeiffer) steals the book from Proteus (voiced by Joseph Fiennes), she frames Sinbad for her crime. Now the self-centered rogue and his stowaway love interest, Marina (voiced by Catherine Zeta-Jones), must reclaim the book from the Realm of Chaos to prove Sinbad's innocence and spare Proteus' life at the hands of an executioner.

Continue reading: Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas Review

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron Review


Grim
Man, are we mean to horses. At least, that's what I got out of DreamWorks' Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron, an old west campfire tale told from the perspective of a wild horse that paints an unflattering portrait of American pioneers, using traditional animated techniques.

The horse in question we come to know as Spirit, leader of the Cimmaron herd and a victim of his own curiosity. An unnecessary trip down to a cowboy campground earns Spirit a pair of lassos around his neck for his troubles, and the rough riders turn the reluctant buck over to the Army for labor.

Continue reading: Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron Review

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