Mireille Soria

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Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Review

Very Good

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but entertain pretty much everyone in the audience, from kids who like fart jokes to adults who will enjoy the surprisingly sweet exploration of childhood friendship. Indeed, the central thrust of the film is resonant with meaning, which nicely grounds the outrageously colourful silliness.

The buddies at the centre are George and Harold (voiced by Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch), pranksters who keep the other students at their school doubled up in laughter. But of course this also makes them the primary nemeses of Principal Krupp (Ed Helms) and the class tattletale Melvin (Jordan Peele). In desperation, Krupp declares that he is moving George and Harold into separate classes. And in a moment of panic, the boys somehow manage to hypnotise Krupp into believing that he's Captain Underpants, the nutty superhero from the comics they draw in their treehouse. But as they're enjoying their power over the principal, a more threatening villain appears in the form of their humour-hating new science teacher, Professor P (Nick Kroll).

While the movie is a little too manic for its own good, there's plenty to enjoy here. Not only does the story work on a variety of levels, but it's animated in a range of visual styles, from the somewhat plasticky main story to more intriguing traditional animation, flip-books, pen and ink, comic strips and even sock puppets. Every scene is packed with unexpected twists and visual invention. Nothing about this movie sits still for long, bouncing through its wacky story without pausing for breath. And the knowing style of humour makes even the most vulgar humour disarmingly hilarious.

Continue reading: Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Review

Home Review


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


OK

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

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Mireille Soria Movies

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Home Movie Review

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A sharp script and especially colourful imagery make this animated romp a lot more fun...

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