Movies

A Forgettable Sequel to Finding Nemo

Spoiler-Free Movie Review:

Finding Dory

Rating: 6.5 out of 10 stars

Intro

I watched this movie with my younger sisters recently, and found it to be a cute and fun movie. Although it was not phenomenal, I found it to be enjoyable and well-designed.

Background

Finding Dory was released in 2016. The movie won the Saturn Award for Best Animated Film. It stars Ellen Degeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, and Ty Burrell.

Finding Dory can be watched on Disney+.

Summary

The blue tang Dory, who struggles with short-term memory loss, seeks out her parents after several memories of them surface. Finding Dory occurs one year after the events of Finding Nemo.

Pros

  • Loveable, familiar characters
  • Introduces new characters that are just as fun
  • Beautiful animation
  • Creative use of animal features and abilities
  • Acknowledges problems with pollution and how animals have to adapt
  • Semi-educational for kids
  • Fitting yet simple music
  • References to first movie, Finding Nemo
  • References to other films

Cons

  • Watching the fish try to travel from water source to water source to try to reach their goal is exhausting
  • Similar concept to the first movie
  • Just not as good as the original
  • Sea lions acting all friendly toward fish for no apparent reason, even though they are predators

Review

Characters

The cuteness factor of the movie is augmented by the addition of scenes from Dory’s childhood. Learning Dory’s backstory and how she lost her family was a lot of fun. Her faulty memory explains why she never thought about her family during the events of Finding Nemo. Even as a child, Dory introduces herself by saying, “Hi. I’m Dory. I suffer from short-term remembory loss.” Her relationship with her parents is cute and wholesome.

Dory’s parents are sweet and do their best to look after her wellbeing. This is not enough to prevent young Dory from getting lost as a child, though. Over time, Dory forgets her memories of times with her parents, even though she does recall certain things such as the fact that they told her to “just keep swimming.” Near the beginning of the movie, these memories start coming back.

Hank is a sarcastic, pessimistic octopus with seven tentacles. All he wants is to live in captivity for the rest of his life, as this is what he is accustomed to. However, the policy of the Marine Life Institute where he lives is “Rescue, Rehabilitate, and Release.” At least at first, Hank is only interested in helping Dory for his own benefit.

Dory makes some new loveable friends, who are at the Marine Life Institute, one who is there for a head injury and the other for shortsightedness. They have unique personalities that make them a great addition to the team.

Animation

The animation in Finding Dory is vibrant and beautiful, filled with soft blues and bright colors. Whether underwater or on land, the style is attractive.

Educational

There are aspects of the movie that teach children facts about life. The issue of pollution is explored somewhat in the movie. Dory in the picture above has gotten caught in plastic rings, obviously due to human irresponsibility and carelessness. The movie also demonstrates how wildlife are forced to adapt to pollution and humans as they become part of their habitat. Little facts such as that the octopus has three hearts and that belugas use echolocation are sprinkled throughout.

Music

The music fits the theme of the movie, even if it is relatively simple. It isn’t music I would add to my Spotify playlist, but for the movie itself, it added to and supported the mood.

References

“A113” appears in the movie, as it does in most Pixar films. This time it shows up on a license plate.

The Pizza Planet truck appears twice in the movie, once underwater in a dilapidated state and once on the road.

Some of the visitors to the Marine Institute come from other Pixar Films such as Toy Story 3 and Inside Out.

There are also so many references to Finding Nemo, such as the Tank Gang appearing in the end credits.

Concept

The concept is very similar to the original movie, except that Dory and her parents are lost instead of Nemo. The movie simply isn’t as good as the original–it isn’t as creative, fun, or enjoyable, and relies on the first movie for familiarity with characters and ideas.

I like that in the end credits we get to see Hank hiding in different places, like a look-and-find.

Some predators in the movie don’t act like actual predators and are helpful. This is kind of similar to the first movie, but Finding Nemo did better at portraying animals still acting like actual predators.

It was clever to have a touch tank from the point of view of the animals rather than the kids.

Conclusion

This is a solid family movie, great for kids even if it may not be as good as Finding Nemo.

Rating System

If you interested in how I rate movies, check out my rating system.

Links

Movies

A Movie About A Girl Struck by a Star

Spoiler-Free Movie Review:

Starstruck

Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

Intro

Last semester, my friends and I decided to watch each other’s childhood movies. This was a movie two of my friends had watched, but it was new to me. Even though the movie failed to win my admiration, I still enjoyed the experience of watching it with them.

Background

Starstruck is a rom-com and Disney Channel Original Movie released in 2010. It stars Sterling Knight, Danielle Campbell, Brandon Mychal Smith, Maggie Castle, and Chelsea Staub.

Starstruck is available on Disney+.

Summary

Michigan teen Jessica Olson visits her widowed grandmother in Hollywood, California. Her celebrity-obsessed sister Sarah convinces her to go to a nightclub where Sarah hopes to meet teen idol Christopher Wilde. When Christopher attempts to make a quick escape from the crowds after his performance, he accidentally hits Jessica with a door, and voila! The real story begins.

Pros

  • Catchy songs
  • Acting by Sterling Knight and Brandon Mychal Smith is decent
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Some character growth
  • Sweet, understanding grandma who really understands the protagonist
  • Wholesome, loving relationship between grandmother and boyfriend
  • Strong message
  • A fitting title

Cons

  • The female lead is hard to like
  • The movie star male lead is spoiled and occasionally a thoughtless jerk
  • Acting by most of the characters is not very good
  • Predictable
  • One picture taken from an impossible angle (they are looking down at the camera but it is taking a picture of them from above
  • Paparazzi used as a plot device, but only appear when they are needed to move the plot forward
  • How do their clothes manage to be so clean after the amount of mud and dirty creek water they slosh through

Review

Characters

First, I would like to say that I do sympathize with Jessica Olson’s lack of interest in celebrities. Personally, I rarely pay any attention to the lives of celebrities: their marriages, pregnancies, divorces, scandals and all that stuff have no bearing on my life and cannot hold my interest.

Jessica is only interested in those she can have an in-depth, personal relationship with and I admire that. That’s just about the only thing I admire about her because she is otherwise a bratty, annoying teenager who evidences only some growth as a person (shown in the comments she makes to paparazzi).

Her personality is so flat that the Starstruck Fandom has only Christopher Wilde in her list of “likes” and once again only includes Christopher Wilde in her list of “dislikes.”

Christopher Wilde is spoiled, naïve, and behaves like a jerk in a memorable incident during the movie. To be fair, his life has been in many ways unhealthy. His parents are his employees and plan out his life based on what options are most lucrative. Paparazzi invade his private life and ruin his ability to have fun like a normal teenager. His friendships are limited in the beginning of the movie to employees, and while that friendship seems sincere, it is not a good sign to only have friends you have to pay.

Sarah Olson, Jessica’s older sister, is mostly bland and annoying, obsessed with Christopher Wilde. She shows a little bit of unexpected kindness toward the end but is otherwise shallow.

Albert Joshua “Stubby” Stubbins is Christopher Wilde’s best friend who also happens to be his driver. Honestly, I wish we saw more of him because he is a fun character with convictions.

The grandmother of Jessica and Sarah has a touchingly close relationship with Jessica, and her grandmother is able to understand her even when the other members of her family don’t. Her grandmother has a sweet relationship with her boyfriend, and it was nice to see the cute elderly couple just living life together contentedly in the midst of all the drama in the movie.

Music

The first song isn’t amazing, but after that the rest are pretty catchy. My favorite is Something About the Sunshine. It’s catchy and just fits the mood of the movie so well. I found one music video that has the lyrics but no spoilers. I know it’s not the best, but most of them have spoilers, unfortunately.

Acting

The acting is…passable. Nothing amazing, nothing too cringy. A scene with crying is unconvincing, and Sarah’s obsessive fangirliness seems fake and a little too over-the-top.

Plot

Predictable. A couple things were unexpected, but we all know how this movie ends. I’m not going to say it, even though it barely constitutes a spoiler, but the whole thing is cheesy and obvious and you should probably know that going in. It doesn’t make it a bad movie, but it makes it an average one.

Scenery

The scenery is beautiful, whether its the beach, the cityscape, or the path less traveled they go on to avoid the paparazzi.

Mistakes

The main mistake I really noticed was that one of the photographs in the movie is shown from an impossible angle based on the way they were holding the camera.

They also got really muddy at one point, and after swimming in a creek, they were perfectly, immaculately clean. I wish stains came out that easily, but no.

Message

This movie could serve as a warning to those who idolize child celebrities to not take it to a creepy and inhumane level by prying into their private lives. It points out the problem with magazines and shows that capitalize on scandal and ruin celebrities lives. It also offers a peek into the life of a child celebrity and the unique problems and struggles they face. This is a kind of an interesting route for Disney to take considering how many teen stars they use, and surprisingly insightful.

Title

Ah, I get it. It’s Starstruck because clumsy star Christopher Wilde strikes Jessica Olson in the face…with a door…repeatedly.

Or maybe it’s because the TV show Christopher Wilde was performing on was called “Starstruck.”

Or it could be because the word “starstruck” comes up in the lyrics of the first song he sings, and is in fact the name of that song.

For whatever reason it was chosen, I feel that it was a fitting choice.

Conclusion

If you are a fan of Disney, you may like this. If you are a fan of Disney Channel Original movies, you almost certainly will like it. Otherwise, it’s probably a waste of your time.

I want to point out that my rating of 5 out of 10 stars does not mean that it was a bad movie. It just means it was an average movie–that there was nothing that made it terrible or great.

The best audience for this movie would be preteens and teens.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate movies, check out my rating system.

Links

Anime, Shows

A Rom-Com About the Trials of a Manga Writer

Spoiler-Free Anime Review:

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun Season 1 and Bonus Footage

Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Intro

I was first introduced to this show when I accidentally came downstairs in the middle of an episode my sisters were watching. I was intrigued by what I saw. When they later asked if I wanted to give it a try, I was all for it. I enjoyed the anime so much that I ended up re-watching it with a college friend too.

Background

Also known as Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-Kun, this anime series is based on a manga series written and illustrated by Izumi Tsubaki.

Season 1 was released in 2014. There is no complete Season 2, but there is bonus content that amounts to about the length of one episode.

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki Kun is available to watch on Netflix and CrunchyRoll.

Summary

A high school student named Chiyo Sakura confesses her love to her schoolmate Umetaro Nozaki, but he mistakes her for one of his fans and she ends up with his autograph. Chiyo finds out Nozaki writes girls’ romance manga and becomes one of his assistants.

Pros

  • Well-developed thematic intro
  • Great music
  • Creative characters
  • Range of characters’ expressions entertaining
  • Changing backgrounds to convey mood
  • Beautiful animation with great attention to detail
  • Humorous dialogue
  • Pokes fun at rom-coms in general and shoujo manga in particular
  • Hilariously awkward relationships
  • Fitting ending

Cons

  • Uncomfortably violent relationship between two characters
  • Repetitive themes that can get a little annoying

Review

Intro

The intro is one of my favorites. Like in the picture shown above, it shows the characters transposed against comic-style panels. This is perfect because it is an anime about writing manga, to some extent.

The part where all the characters are beating up on the Tanuki doll is funny too considering how their dislike of Tanuki comes up in the story.

Music

I love all the music of Monthly Girls’ Nozaki Kun. It’s quirky, just like the show. Music adds to the humor throughout the show. My favorite song definitely is the one in the intro though.

Characters

Umetaro Nozaki is a teenager who is oblivious to love in his everyday life but is able to write characters who are in love with precision and skill. He thinks Chiyo just wants to help him with his manga, and even though that’s true to an extent, he is incapable of recognizing Chiyo’s love for him.

Chiyo Sakura has a major crush on Nozaki, and I mean major. She is sweet, helpful, and persistent. The flirt Mikoshiba doesn’t bother being flirtatious with her, probably because they become good friends and she sees right through him.

Mikoshiba Mikoto is basically the handsome flirt of the show, but he is quirky too. After saying something flirtatious, he becomes extremely embarrassed. He frequently tries to get his friends to help him out of unfortunate situations his flirting gets him into, and is surprisingly socially inept.

Yu Kashima is nicknamed “The Prince” because of her princely behavior around guys. She is more popular than Mikoshiba even. I think that her crush on Hori is unfortunate because of the brutal way he treats her though.

There are plenty of other colorful characters, but you’ll have to watch the show to get to know them!

Mood

Backgrounds show how characters are feeling and exaggerate that emotion.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Chiyo-expression-2-1024x423.png

Character expressions are an added element, and they have a wide range of them.

Animation

The animation is beautiful and well-executed. No complaints here.

The level of detail is astonishing. The fact that they went to the trouble of making a bin of pens look like an actual artist used them is phenomenal. The different types of pens with the sizes and everything is so amazing. It looks kind of like the box of pens I use with my Copic markers.

Humor

Dialogue is one way that humor comes across in Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun. Here are two lines, both from Nozaki himself, that show what you can expect from the show.

Critics have called me the spokesman for girls everywhere.”

You couldn’t have a character more oblivious to the feelings of girls around him, and yet critics laud his ability to understand girls.

In another instance, when Nozaki is questioned about what he and his friends do, he tries to hide the fact they are working on girls’ manga by saying:

We like to meet at my apartment for unspecified activities.”

All the people you can ship in this anime have the most awkward relationships possible. I mean, look at this:

I don’t even have to explain who these characters are–you can tell that they are shippable in the most awkward way possible.

Nozaki holding the umbrella for Chiyo is the worst. I mean, poor girl. But reverse their roles and it’s not much better:

This is also a way that the anime pokes fun at romances. Walking home together under one umbrella is such a cheesy, cliché thing. By making it not work at all, they maximize the humor in a satirical way.

The also makes fun of how in shoujo manga alcohol has to be replaced by juice and cigarettes have to be replaced with lollipops.

Ending

The ending may not be satisfying to many, but I would say it fits the theme of the show well.

Problematic Relationship

I don’t like the relationship between Kashima and Hori because he beats her up and it is meant to be comedic but it’s really just…uncomfortable.

Repetitiveness

Chiyo’s continued hopes that Nozaki understands her love for her are continually squashed by Nozaki’s oblivious. Does it get old? Well, kind of…but there is so much more to the show and it’s really humorous anyway.

Bonus Footage

The Bonus Footage is not as good as the episodes of Season 1, but they were still worth watching. There are hilarious parts to them as well.

Conclusion

If you like lighthearted rom-coms, I would recommend this anime.

It is rated PG and I think that’s a fair rating. There is nothing in this anime I would be worried about children seeing.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

Links

Anime, Shows

Fun-Sized RWBY

Image result for rwby chibi

Spoiler-Free Anime Review:

RWBY Chibi Season 1

Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

Intro

After watching six volumes of RWBY, my sisters and I discovered the series RWBY Chibi. The comedic aspects of this show were refreshing after the darker scenes of the later volumes of RWBY, but Season 1 of RWBY Chibi, while humorous, was not altogether satisfying.

Background

RWBY Chibi Season 1 was released in 2016 and is a RWBY spin-off show. It contains serious spoilers for Volumes 1-3 of RWBY.

It can be watched in its entirety on Amazon Prime, or as individual episodes on Youtube or the Rooster Teeth Website.

Summary

RWBY Chibi consists of comedy segments featuring characters from RWBY. The show is not considered canon.

Pros

  • Clever use of character traits and personalities for humor
  • Poking fun at character relationships
  • The studio’s self-deprecating sense of humor
  • Clever breaking of the fourth wall
  • Junior Detectives segment
  • Frequent references to western culture make it a unique anime

Cons

  • Extremely limited audience that it is unlikely to satisfy
  • Segment of Faunus racial profiling played for laughs
  • Distractingly strong exaggeration of Pyrrha’s accent

Review

Humor

The show used traits of the characters in exaggerated ways to increase the humor. For instance, it cleverly utilized Neptune’s fear of water, Pyrrha’s polarity, and Blake’s semblance to create hilarious scenarios.

The comedy also poked fun at Jaune’s obsession with Weiss, Weiss’s attempts to team up with Pyrrha, Pyrrha’s efforts to spend time with Jaune, and Nora and Ren’s awkward relationship.

My favorite part was when the studio created humor at their own expense by making fun of the poor animation of Volume 1 of RWBY, in particular the dark silhouettes that took the place of actual background characters.

Breaking the fourth wall was another tactic used, but not overused like it often is in other shows and movies. Nora used it to great effect to emphasize the fact that RWBY Chibi was a comedy and would not permit themes like death.

The Junior Detectives segment was amusing, and followed the antics of Sun and Neptune. I definitely got the feeling that Neptune was much more of a star in RWBY Chibi than he was in RWBY.

References

Frequent references to Western culture made this a unique anime. For example, there were references to Little Red Riding Hood and Jaune be nimble (instead of Jack be nimble).

Audience

This show would make no sense and would not be amusing to anyone who hasn’t watched RWBY.

Even if you watched RWBY, the show is clever but not as funny as one might hope.

Racial Profiling

Blake is part cat. We get it. But making racial profiling part of a joke, especially when the situation of the Faunus was so terrible in RWBY, is not funny.

Over-exaggeration

Over-exaggeration was only really a problem when it came to Pyrrha’s accent. It was exaggerated so that it didn’t really sound like her.

Conclusion

If you watched RWBY, this may be worth your time, but otherwise, don’t bother. It’s good for a few laughs, but don’t expect anything phenomenal.

The content is appropriate for audiences of all ages.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

Links