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Author Archives: jambareeqi

Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin (1997) FILM REVIEW

PoohGrand 1

Written by Jambareeqi

Posted 3rd November, 2018

In this straight to video Winnie the Pooh movie, the Hundred Acre Wood gang wake up to realise that Christopher Robin is gone, leaving a note for Pooh on a honeypot, and Owl interprets the letter as a cry for help. Owl further explains that Christopher has been taken far away to a place called “Skull”, he insists that Pooh & his friends journey to this location, and rescue Christopher, but to be aware of the dangerous Skullasaurus.

Even though this is a STV release, it’s actually the most adventurous of all the Pooh films I’ve seen (I’m yet to watch the Heffalump films), to the point where it could have been released in cinemas; if the animation didn’t look like a slightly tidied up episode of “The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”, that is. Characters are put in peril quite often, to the point where we think that they might fall to their deaths or get lost, and the constant growls of the apparent Skullasaurus keeps everyone on their toes.

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The Adventure our fluffy heroes take feels like it’s an arduous journey, with jagged foggy backgrounds that create a menacing atmosphere, and the fact that the characters have to stop for sleep at one point adds to the scale of the trip. Sure, the characters can get distracted at points, but that’s not unusual for a Pooh movie, as these characters are always drawn away to something unrelated, and the film will create consequences for their moments of lost attention.

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It is very clear that Pooh & Co. do really want to find Christopher Robin too, they’ll keep going no matter what, calling out Christopher Robin’s name when scared, and even Pooh bear himself can’t sleep at night, because he’s so worried about finding Christopher. So, even if they stop to sing or admire a pretty meadow, we always know that Christopher Robin is in their heart, and they love him very much.

The film also has a lovely message about giving yourself realistic expectations, to not underestimate or overestimate what you can do, with Christopher leaving an endearing message for Pooh that says ” You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”, and even though Pooh forgets these words, he does want to recall them to motivate his friends.

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Not to mention, Rabbit realises that he shouldn’t have been so eager to be leader, because he later admits that he can’t depend entirely on the map, and that he is a scared bunny deep down. These are really great values for kids, teaching them that it’s okay to not pressure yourself to be perfect, but you are still capable of great things if you try, and parents will love setting such good standards for their children’s self esteem.

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I’ll admit that I’ve already forgotten most of the songs, I didn’t find any of them to be particularly catchy, but I do recall that each one played into the story somehow or developed characterization, so I wouldn’t say that they are pointless. The stand out song, in my opinion, is “Wherever you are”, a sweetly sentimental piece about Pooh missing Christopher Robin, that captures the spirit of why the adventure is so important, and is sang on a hauntingly empty background that darkly parallel’s Pooh & Christopher’s favourite meeting spot.

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To Conclude, in the big scheme of things, Pooh’s Grand Adventure is rather generic when put alongside most animated adventure movies, as it has all the tropes of any random cartoon feature about characters traveling far (Heck, you could argue that it’s eerily similar to Don Bluth’s “The Land Before Time” in some ways), but it really stands out compared to the more laid back slice of life Pooh movies, because it riskily pushes the Hundred Acre Wood characters into more dangerous situations than usual. Even though it gets dark at times, it still retains the wholesomeness of a Pooh story, staying true to Disney’s cute take on A. A. Milne’s characters, and there’s some great messages about self expectation that are very healthy for kids.

4 Strawberries

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NEWS: Blue Sky Studios Release Trailer For “Spies In Disguise”

Written by Jambareeqi

Posted 2nd November, 2018

Blue Sky Studios have just released a brand new trailer for their upcoming animated feature “Spies in disguise”. It stars Will Smith as a secret agent, who ends up being transformed into a pigeon by a teenage scientist voiced by Tom Holland.

A lot of people are amazed by the twist of this trailer, which opens up with slick badass action clips, and then reveals that our secret agent star is now a pigeon. Personally, I don’t think this is THAT subversive, because the animation industry factory produces talking animal movies every year, there’s no surprise in seeing an animated character being turned into a pigeon for me.

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Why can’t this movie be about a secret agent’s mission? Or why can’t he be turned invisible? What’s stopping Blue Sky from mutating Will Smith into an alien vampire wizard? It’s like the animation industry can’t think outside the box of talking animals, when animation has the potential to create ANYTHING, are studios that afraid of doing something different? Look, I have nothing against talking animal stories, I really don’t, I just don’t like them dominating a medium with no imagination limits. If this was a live action movie, then sure, the twist would be shocking, but that’s not the case.

I also don’t know how the film will carry it’s premise of a secret agent disguised as a pigeon, what can be done with this concept? Yeah, Pigeons are common enough to help the secret agent stay inconspicuous, but what if his mission requires going indoors? Pigeons don’t tend to hang inside buildings; except churches maybe. While the trailer features a joke about Pigeon-vision, I can’t imagine what other jokes can be played out, especially when “Valiant” (2005) has already crossed off all the obvious pigeon gags.

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However, let’s look at what MIGHT be cool about this film, there’s got to be some things that could work. It might be awesome to see a pigeon using unique gadgets while on his mission, like enhanced cyber wings or a potion that turns his poop acidic. It’s also great to hear Will Smith’s charming voice as an animated character (Smith’s last voice role was in “Shark Tale” over 14 years ago), perhaps that will be the strength of the film, because what we do hear of him so far is very funny.

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I just don’t feel that excited about the movie’s premise, as the trailer doesn’t go beyond the joke of “Derpy Derp Secret Agent Will Smith is a Pigeon now”, but maybe a longer trailer will be released soon? Until then, I’m not as charmed as everyone else is, and the next trailer will need to prove that there’s more here than one simple joke. What do you all think of the trailer? Let me know in the comment section below!

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NEWS: Cartoon Network Themed Hotel Coming Next Year

Written by Jambareeqi

Posted 1st November, 2018

Yes, you read the headline right, Cartoon Network are planning to open up a resort hotel inspired by their shows next year, as part of a deal with Palace Entertainment, and it’ll be located Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The hotel will feature a whopping 165 bookable rooms, an interactive lobby, outdoor and indoor pools, water play zone, outdoor amphitheater, lawn games, fire pits, game rooms and play areas.

This all sounds pretty awesome, imagine staying at a hotel that celebrates Cartoon Network’s most popular content of today! It’ll appeal to not only children, but adults who haven’t let go on their kid in their heart. The interactive lobby part is pretty unique for a hotel too, I was curious what this actually meant, and CN President Christina Miller has explained “With just the right mix of technology, design and animation, we’re aiming to bring our characters to life in a way that we haven’t seen done before”, which is vague but exciting.

I also like the sound of an outdoor amphitheater, that could be an awesome part of the hotel, especially if they screen movies owned by Cartoon Network for guests, or maybe marathons of shows. Even if parents aren’t fans of Cartoon Network, they can enjoy swimming in pool, or maybe visit the wine bar in the evening, and there’s even games to play too.

However, it’s a shame that only their modern popular shows will be the basis for design ideas, with no indication that 90’s TV series will be make appearances. I get that this is to appeal to the zeitgeist, with such series as “The Powerpuff Girls” reboot, “Adventure Time”, and “We Bare Bears” making CN tonnes of revenue. It’s just, sometimes I feel like Cartoon Network don’t really embrace their legacy that often, cartoons like “Cow and Chicken” and “Dexter’s Laboratory” are shows that put the company on the map, why be ashamed of that?

Of course, I’m personally at a disadvantage, being a UK resident, but if I ever plan to visit Pennsylvania after next year, then the Cartoon Network hotel would certainly be a resort for me to consider staying in. The Hotel will be located very close to Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park too, so a trip to Lancaster could be a blast for those who want a fun Pennsylvania experience. Would you like to book a room at this new hotel? Let me know in the comment section below! Also, consider liking this article, and maybe subscribe to Jambareeqi.com

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NEWS: NETFLIX Announce Their Own Animation Studio

 

Written by Jambareeqi

Posted 1st November, 2018

Amazingly, animation is a hot ticket for streaming services right now, with shows like “Rick & Morty” and “Bojack Horseman” topping the charts, so it’s no surprise that Netflix want in on the lucrative revenue possibilities for the cartoon hype, but it’s costly for them to order shows from animation studios, and that’s why they are now planning to build their own animation studio. The Studio will be employing the likes of Alex Hirsch (Gravity Falls) and  Shion Takeuchi (Disenchantment) to create brand new projects.

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Gravity Falls Creator Alex Hirsch is on board for the new studio

Certain concerns come mind with this news, like how this could mean less commission opportunities for smaller animation studios, because Netflix would most likely prefer to save money by producing their own content, and that could spell bad news for studios with ambitious ideas to pitch. Not to mention, this also begs questions about what quality to expect from the NETFLIX animation studio, like, what techniques will be used? Will budgets be skimped? Will all these titles have their own unique art style? It’s hard to be certain this early on.

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NETFLIX Show “Big Mouth”

Putting my pessimism aside though, it’s good to see how animation has become such a popular medium for streaming now, so maybe NETFLIX will be careful about quality control? Knowing that cartoon fans won’t settle for just anything, and will drop a show if it doesn’t keep them invested after a few episodes. I also like the idea of NETFLIX making their own animated movies, that could be very interesting, especially seeing as NETFLIX have a reputation for green-lighting adult cartoons, and this could mean a major return for more mature animated features.

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NETFLIX Show “Disenchantment”

Who knows which other creators could be brought on board too? With Alex Hirsch and Shion Takeuchi signing on, it seems that NETFLIX want to give employment to some of the best, imagine who else they’ll bring in! Heck, we could see Trey Parker & Matt Stone tapping into the NETFLIX market, Pendleton Ward maybe shaking hands with the streaming giant one day, and perhaps the likes of Rebecca Sugar might step in with a progressive colourful new project. The possibilities are endless, even if this means that NETFLIX may commission less outside house studios, because this could mean exciting doors to be opened for talented creators.

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NETFLIX Show “Voltron: Legendary Defender”

I’m on the fence about how this animation studio will pan out, it could go both ways, but this is a company that green-lit “Bojack Horseman” and gave “Steven Universe” an online home, so I’m a little giddy at the same time. What do you all think about this news? Let me know in comment section, plus don’t forget to click like, and maybe subscribe to Jambareeqi.com.

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“American Dad” – Best Little Horror House in Langley Falls (EPISODE REVIEW)

American Dad Run

Written by Jambareeqi

Posted 31st October, 2018

In this episode of American Dad, it’s Halloween in Langley Falls, a time when Stan can boast about having the best haunted house, but it’s different this year, because his neighbor Buckle is hosting one hell of a spooky home. Buckle’s house is so scary, that Francine pees herself, is convinced that Stan can never compete with their neighbor, and wants to spend the Halloween night at Buckle’s. Disappointed that his wife won’t support him, Stan turns to Roger, who tells Stan to make his haunted house more real, and this inspires Stan to put actual serial killers on display in his home. Meanwhile, Steve is taking Akiko out trick or treating, promising her brother Toshi to have her back by sundown, but Steve has plans to woo her instead.

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This is a really fun Halloween special episode, a black comedy nightmare for fans of the sci-fi sitcom series, with a great mix of big laughs and creepy horror. One thing I love about it, is that we never get to see Buckle’s haunted house indoors, the experience is told by a shaken Francine, leaving the visuals to our imagination, and this actually makes me wish we COULD see it. We do get to see the outside of Buckle’s home though, which makes the interior even more enticing, because the entrance is so imaginatively wild, and it’s cool to learn that Buckle used to be a Disney imagineer.

Buckle House

The serial killers themselves make for menacing villains, they maybe kept behind glass for most of the episode, but seeing them respond to a stripped down Francine shows that they are disturbingly dangerous, and a part of us is curious what havoc they’ll cause once out. After Francine confesses that the serial killers don’t scare her, because they are caged up, Roger resorts to freeing them, turning the Smith house into a death trap for guests, this is when their personalities start to come out more, and they suddenly pose as legit threats. There’s an entertaining horror to seeing innocent people scramble around the house, as serial killers prowl around the hallways, especially when some people don’t realise how screwed up these monsters really are, but that’s kind of blackly comical too.

AD Killers

The subplot involving Steve and Akiko is awkwardly cute, with Steve being embarrassingly nerdy, as he tries to play it cool in a Go-Bot costume, but Akiko doesn’t seem to mind his geeky nature. There’s something kind of romantic about them both running from a sword wielding Toshi, into a quiet peaceful secret place, where they swim together into a pretty cave, it’s a nice contrast to all the brutality outside the date. Eventually, Toshi does catch up to the two, but Steve stands up to him, Toshi realises that he’s been too overprotective, and he ends up becoming the episode’s hero by slaying all the serial killers. Although, Akiko hilariously turns down Steve, admitting that her real crush is on a 9 year old boy who can dance good.

Akiko Steve

To conclude, this is certainly one of the darker episodes of “American Dad”, which is perfect for the Halloween spirit, but it also has some decent messages about treating loved ones, from supporting them rather than doubting them when things get tough, to not overprotecting them once they are old enough to look after themselves. If you’re a fan of adult animated comedies, want a spooky special episode of one, then add this to your Halloween watch list.

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“The Simpsons” – Treehouse of Horror IV (EPISODE REVIEW)

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Written by Jambareeqi

Posted 29th October, 2018

This fourth annual Halloween special episode of “The Simpsons”, tells three spooky but silly stories, and I’m going to review each one. The great thing about this episode, is that it was made back when Treehouse of Horror tales had fun wraparounds, which did make stories shorter, but it also made for fun inbetweens, and this one has a great wraparound! As each story is introduced by Bart in an art gallery, each painting serving as a title card for a scary segment, it’s both very creative and faithful to the spirit of Treehouse of Horror.

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THE DEVIL AND HOMER SIMPSON

In this first tale, Homer sells his soul to the devil in trade for a doughnut, but Marge refuses to let Homer go to hell, and demands for a trial. I love the funny twist that Ned Flanders is really the devil, it adds this creepy theory that Ned’s extreme religious faith is a rouse, while he goes undercover as Satan in the world of humans, even Ned himself says “It’s always the one you least expect”, and we have seen Ned’s dark side before in episodes like “Hurricane Neddy”. Not to mention, hearing the devil spout Flanders’ trademark whimsical diddlies is a delight, making him a very amusing take on Lucifer.

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The episode’s depiction of hell is always a treat, finding the right tone to suit the show’s universe, a place that’s menacingly nightmarish but also a tad goofy, with torture concepts like forcing Homer to eat all the doughnuts in the world, which backfires on Hell’s minion immediately. Then we have the trial, which includes a gallery of historic rogues as the jury and Lionel Hutz serving as Homer’s incompetent lawyer. With the Simpsons living room as the courtroom, the villains comically struggle to find chairs to sit on, demeaning these intimidating figures to hilarious levels, and Hutz finds escape in the home’s bathroom window.

Devil Trial

The segment concludes with a very sweet resolution, in which Marge reveals that there’s evidence that Homer originally pledged his soul to Marge forever, which not only saves his ass, but also shows that there is some compassionate love behind Homer’s greed, and it’s rare that a Treehouse of Horror story gets sentimental like that (even if Homer is left with a doughnut head). This is a very funny devil’s deal story, with lots of standout gags and a lovely twist ending.

TERROR AT 5 12 FEET

This second segment is inspired by the Twilight Zone story “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”, it’s about Bart seeing a Gremlin on the school bus, but no one believes him. It’s Skinner’s frustrations with Bart’s claims that carry the episode, as he keeps denying the Gremlin’s presence, putting his concern over Bart’s unruliness over the potential threat of a monster, even after seeing the carnage at the end of the bus ride, and it’s hilarious how stubborn he is being.

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We do sympathise with Bart, as we can see that a Gremlin is clearly there, but it keeps vanishing when others gather to see it, and it’s darkly comical to watch Bart lose his mind trying to convince the others. Even his best friend Milhouse abandons him, making him even more alone, and we end up sharing his panic. Bart has had a record of causing trouble, so this history of delinquency has injured his reputation for telling truths, a bit like when he had that The Boy who cried wolf plot in “Marge gets a job”.

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The Gremlin itself has a Gollum-esque design, making him both cute and intimidating, which helps to give him a memorable personality. He even ends up being rescued by Ned Flanders, but that doesn’t calm him down, because Flanders ends up becoming a victim, letting us know that buses aren’t the only things he will destroy. This is a classic Treehouse of Horror story, with a lovably creepy villain and great use of the Skinner/Bart dynamic.

BART SIMPSON’S DRACULA

This final segment is a parody of Francais Ford Coppola’s film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with Mr. Burns in the role of the vampire. Now, I’ve not actually watched Coppola’s Dracula, so I’m the best person to ask if this story is a great parody, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. There’s lots of comedy to come from Lisa’s frustrations over convincing her ignorant family that Burns is a vampire, as they naively brush off her accusations, and act like Burns’ undead quirks are normal traits. It’s also funny to see Homer being given the task of slaying his boss, conflicted between heroic duty and his need to keep a job.

Dracula Burns

The episode also has lots of atmosphere, with everything being framed like an actual vampire movie, from the creepiness of Burns’ castle to the way Burns moves, which helps to sell all the jokes, because the tension is mimicking the grandeur of a serious Dracula adaptation.  It’s what makes the work of Monty Python and Mel Brooks so great, they replicate the things that they are parodying down to a tee, to effectively subvert the very product that they want to satirise.

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I always got excited when this story came on TV, because it had all the appeal of a vampire film, tapping into my childhood fascination with the lore of vampires, it stood out from most stories, because it went all out with the love for traditional horror. I also found a spooky charm to seeing kids floating outside Lisa’s window, tempting her to become one of the undead, it resonated with my fantasy about becoming a vampire, at an age when I thought that they were so cool.

Vampire Window

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NEWS: Pilot Released For New Gerry Anderson Puppet Show “Firestorm”

Firestorm 3

Written by Jambareeqi

Posted 28th October, 2018

Gerry Anderson fans rejoice! One of Gerry’s ideas for a TV show has been adapted into a 9 minute minisode pilot, with help through a Kickstarter campaign, and it’s available for free on YouTube now. The series is called “Firestorm”, it’s set in the year 2200, when Earth has finally found global peace, but terrorism is about to make a comeback, and it’s up to the 9th division of the Storm Force organisation to save the world.

I’ve watched this pilot, it’s rather short, with emphasis put on action, but you still get the idea of what Anderson Entertainment is going for, a blend of faithful homage and modern filmmaking effects. It’s much livelier than Gerry’s old shows, most likely so that it can tap into today’s audience, who like their television to be fast paced and fresh. However, maybe future episodes, if we ever get any, will include quieter dialogue driven scenes, ones that hark back to the dryness of Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet.

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The puppetry is created through a technique called “Ultramarionation”, which relies on rod controlled marionettes, with the rods being removed in post, and it’s amazing what we can do with Marionettes today. Of course, CGI is used, but only to smooth out effects shots, the puppets are still the stars, and the spirit of miniature filmmaking is clearly important.

The puppets themselves are stunning, each one refined with sculpted detail, it’s hard not to look closer at these marionettes, because they’re all a work of art. The artistry isn’t limited to the craftsmanship though, these puppets have rather intellectual animation for marionettes! They are noticeable upgrades from the old Anderson puppets, because the rods give the filmmakers more freedom when blocking shots, and modern animatronics make for slightly more flexible facial expression.

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When watching the pilot, some viewers will most likely be reminded of “Team America”, considering that both are modern Marionette productions about terrorist fighters, but “Firestorm” is obviously going for a more serious route, with humour being very subdued in the pilot. Although, I can imagine some viewers struggling to take “Firestorm” seriously, because it is so reminiscent of Trey Parker & Matt Stone’s 2004 political satire, and will be disappointed if they are going in to see puppets fornicate.

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“Team America” (2004) Dir. Trey Parker

“Firestorm” has been adapted before, not as a puppet show, but as a 26 episode series that combined cel animation with CGI. However, Gerry Anderson was pretty much ignored by the Japanese studio, resulting in a series that disappointed his loyal fans, but it was also panned by the anime community too. This new adaptation seems to be going for a more faithful route, not just because it employs updated versions of Gerry Anderson’s acclaimed marionettes, but Gerry’s son Jamie is also involved, and who better to keep his father’s legacy alive? Click here to watch the full “Firestorm” pilot!

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Leroy & Stitch (2006) FILM REVIEW

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Written by Jambareeqi

Posted 27th October, 2018

This TV movie serves as both a finale for “Lilo & Stitch: The Series” and the last installment of the Lilo & Stitch franchise. Lilo, Stitch, Jumba, and Pleakley are rewarded for giving all the experiments a home, but Lilo’s space friends are granted prizes that’ll require them to leave Hawaii, and she reluctantly let’s them go. Meanwhile, Gantu has helped Dr. Hämsterviel escape from prison, so that they can locate Jumba, and ask the evil doctor to make him an experiment of his own called Leroy.

Now, remember that everyone is granted a special reward? Well, Stitch gets to be captain of a big red battleship, and while I know that Stitch loves ships, I don’t buy that he would leave Lilo to pilot one as a captain. This franchise is built on the strong friendship between Lilo & Stitch, they are inseparable, there’s no way a fancy big spaceship would drag Stitch away from his best friend.

The whole reason everyone goes off to enjoy their prizes, is so that the film can teach the characters to treasure their Ohana, because they later realise how lonely they are without the others. Sure, Jumba and Pleakley could do with a test of loyalty, but Stitch already experienced this lesson in the first film, that’s what his arc was mainly about, he doesn’t need to go through the same beats again. It’s very redundant, because it goes against Stitch’s character, and retreads overfamiliar ground.

Putting that aside, Leroy & Stitch is still a fun climax to the series, a real treat for fans that ties things up pretty nicely, and gives audiences a good time. Leroy himself may just be an evil Stitch, but it’s exciting to see where things could have gone if 626 stayed bad, with encouragement from a toxic villain, and worse, what if there was an army of him?! The film addresses something that many audiences have wondered since the first film, so it’s cool that it’s giving potential answers.

This is also the most eventful “Lilo & Stitch” film, centering more on Hämsterviel’s galactic domination than slice of life adventures in Hawaii, which is fitting for a film designed to finish the story, because it helps the franchise end with a bang. Characters discover new sides to themselves, experiments are put in huge danger, Stitch faces his equal foe in the form of Leroy, Dr. Hämsterviel finally has the advantage over our heroes, and much more. It all builds towards an explosive showdown between the Leroy clones and all the experiments, giving kids a chance to spot their favourite monsters in the carnage, and each experiment has an opportunity to show off their unique talents for the purpose of high stakes action.

Although, a lot is still left to be desired, as the 72 minute running time makes for a short experience, so there’s little time for Lilo & Stitch themselves to be together, because they are split apart for most of the film, dealing with Dr. Hämsterviel in their own ways, and this is bound to disappoint some fans who came to see them bonding. If their friendship isn’t why you love this series, then this won’t bother you, but for me, it’s one of the movie’s let downs.

The animation is the exact same quality as the TV Show’s, very cheap looking and limited; but that’s not too surprising for a TV movie. I just wish that the last sequel to one of my favourite Disney features, was given more impressive and dignified production values. Out of all the sequels, this is the one that deserved animation on the same level as the first film, because of it’s grandiose scale and the fact that it signals the end.

To conclude, I’ll certainly say that this film is the best of the Lilo & Stitch sequels, as it amps up so much, and delivers more than enough as a TV show finale. It just needed better animation, more faithful writing for Stitch’s character, perhaps a longer runtime, and then maybe it would have been even greater.

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Stitch! The Movie (2003) FILM REVIEW

Stitch The Movie

Written by Jambareeqi

Posted 5th October, 2018

In this straight to video spin off to Disney’s “Lilo & Stitch”, we discover that Jumba has been secretly hiding the other 625 experiments, in the form of little tiny pods, and they can come to life once in contact with water. Jumba’s former colleague Dr. Hämsterviel, kidnaps Jumba with help from ex-galactic federation captain Gantu, and tells Lilo & Stitch that they’ll need to send all the other experiments, or they won’t see Jumba alive. There’s one big problem though, Lilo & Stitch already dehydrated a pod for an electricity experiment (that Lilo names Sparky), to help them recharge their spaceship, can they find it in time for the ransom delivery?

Despite it’s title, this isn’t actually a movie per se, but rather an hour long pilot for the “Lilo & Stitch” TV series, so those expecting a cinematic Stitch-centric film maybe disappointed, because the focus is on setting up the television show. As a TV pilot, it does it’s job fine, introducing the elements that’ll dictate the formula for every episode, letting fans know what to expect in the long run.

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The film might have very high stakes, but it goes for a fluffy light tone, treating the kidnapping as more of a comedic farce than a genuine dilemma. Sure, the first film was pretty wholesome and laid back, but it would know when to take tension seriously. Of course, the comedy provides some decent zingers, but the jokey nature of the storytelling also downplays the severity of Jumba’s kidnapping, and that makes the Sci-Fi Adventure aspect less exciting.

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However, once our heroes meet Hämsterviel for the ransom exchange, the film gives the action & drama more weight, pressuring Lilo to choose between saving Jumba or protecting the experiments, and the Galactic Federation even step in to amp things up. This finale is the movie’s strongest act, as this is when the tension rises, with our heroes being put in a tight spot, and the villains are given the upper hand, but I do wish that the film had the same gravitas in the first 40 mins.

The animation is nowhere near as good as the first film’s, but that’s to be expected from a straight to video production, and it’s at least easier than eyes compared to the cheap looking TV Show. Don’t expect to see exotic visuals as pretty as the original film’s either, because the film doesn’t have much interest in capturing Hawaii’s atmosphere, preferring to get on with the story in hand, which is sad, because Hawaii is what makes this franchise so unique. The comedy is sorely let down by the standard level of animation too, seeing as characters are being limited in expressiveness, so many comedic sequences aren’t as funny as they could be, because the character animation lacks pzazz.

Hamsterviel

To Conclude, “Stitch: The Movie” bumbles along at the start, treating it’s high stakes with little dignity, but once we draw to the final act, the excitement kicks in, and we can finally get invested in the drama. It’s also nice to see the film carry on the original’s message about family, by having Stitch discover the revelation that he has relatives, and our heroes get to defend their right to live (Oh and it’s super cute seeing Stitch meet his cousin Sparky). Hämsterviel makes for a great comedic antagonist too, with his colourful insults and bad temper; he would go on to make for an entertaining running foil in the TV series.

As a film, it’s an okay effort for a Disney straight to video release (I’d watch it over Hunchback 2 or Belle’s Magical World any day), but it’s main strength lies in how it sets up the TV show, as that’s it’s main purpose after all. If you want to see where the “Lilo & Stitch” franchise goes after the first film, it does help to see this entry; it’s not crucial viewing, but it fills in the gap before the TV show and final film.

3 Strawberries

 

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“Free Birds” (2013) FILM REVIEW

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Written by Jambareeqi

Posted 19th August, 2018

Reggie is a loner in his flock of simple minded Turkeys, due to his awareness of what happens to his kind at Thanksgiving, but when the truth is revealed, Reggie is sacrificed to the humans. However, Reggie isn’t slaughtered, he instead becomes the pardoned by the president, and the American leader’s daughter adopts the turkey.

Pres Daz

Life is sweet at the presidential mansion, Reggie is pretty much spoilt rotten, but his comforts are interupted by an eccentric musclebound turkey called Jake, who insists that he joins a time travel quest to save the first turkeys from the pilgrims, and Reggie involuntarily tags along with Jake’s mission.

Once in the past, Jake and Reggie meet their ancestors, a flock of native turkeys that are trying to survive from the pilgrim hunters, and our heroes must do their part to keep everyone alive. While staying in this time period, Jake and Reggie become attached to the flock, while Reggie develops romantic feelings for the chief’s daughter Jenny.

The idea of turkeys going back in time to stop thanksgiving is a unique premise, but sadly, this film squanders a terrific concept, and becomes yet another generic talking animal comedy. Tell an endearing timeless story? Nah! Much easier to keep trying excessively hard to be funny using obnoxious comic relief animals.

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Right away, there’s an obvious plot hole staring at the audience, why don’t Reggie & Jake use the time machine to transport the flock to the future? Sure, the time machine is small, and needs to recharge itself sometimes, but they could have taken several trips to rescue them, and then there wouldn’t have been any turkeys for the pilgrims to kill.

Yes, if they did this, then the film would have been over after 30 minutes, but ignoring a plot hole to push a story forward, is an example of forced storytelling in a nutshell, and the alternative should have been to make the time machine broken instead. The time machine is an option, a really obvious one, yet our heroes ignore it, so that the film can have a “settling with the natives” story, and a more difficult solution to the turkey genocide is chosen instead; how else can we make this movie 90 minutes long? *Sigh*

The movie wants to conclude with a nice thanksgiving message that depends on all parties being present, which is all fine and dandy, but what are we left with until said resolution? Jake and the chief’s son arrogantly competing with each other in a series of immature unfunny conflicts, while Jenny the token female love interest and Reggie the cliche social outcast develop a charmless romance.

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Jake and the chief’s son are just as annoying as each other, there’s nothing amusing about their alpha male clashes, no matter how long the film drags out their idiotic rivalry, and I was never having fun when they childishly fought. While the obligated romance subplot is painfully old hat, once again it’s another bumbling awkward hero who struggles to say anything charming, being matched up with the generic “Chief’s daughter who wants more, but also desires to be loyal to her people” character.

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Fortunately, the movie does gather momentum towards the finale, when Jake and Reggie break into the Pilgrim’s weaponry, blow it up, and end up leading the hunters to the flock’s home. This sequence is where action, excitement, high stakes, and tension are FINALLY introduced! Lives are lost, characters must prove their loyalty, and it’s all executed with nuanced maturity. Shame that the movie doesn’t get any fun until this point, it’s not a mind blowing step up or anything, but it’s certainly better than what we’ve put up with in the first hour, and proves that the film IS capable of trying.

To be honest, the best aspect of the film, is the time machine itself, who goes by the name of S.T.E.V.E., and is voiced by the always enjoyable George Takei. While most movie time machines are simply vehicles for traveling dimensions, this one has a charmingly cheeky personality, throwing shade on our dumb protagonists, and expressing relatably human eccentricities. Sadly, he’s sidelined for most of the film, left to collect dust, while we focus on the annoying turkeys, and it’s like we’re being punished.

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In conclusion, “Free Birds” is the very definition of lost potential, a movie with a great concept that’s wasted in favour of comfortable cliches and desperate humour. It’s comedy is often insufferable, never raising my laugh above a 1 on the volume scale, and gags with promise are ruined by cocky overkill.

Will it keep quiet for an hour and a half? Sure, but they deserve better than uninspired babysitter fodder like this, and the rest of the family shouldn’t have to suffer while being forced to join. The film does increase it’s excitement levels towards the end, and S.T.E.V.E. is one lovable time machine, but we shouldn’t have to WAIT for a movie to get good.

2 and a half Strawberries

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