REVIEW: “WOLFWALKERS” (2020) APPLE FILMS/GKIDS

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With everyone loving on this new animated film from two-time Academy Award nominated Tomm Moore and his co-director Ross Stewart, my excitement and expectations were high on getting this screener and giving it a watch. Then my internet went out and has been spotty ever since so it took me a moment and after watching I felt as though the title said it all. Not that it’s bad, it’s not bad at all and it could be all about taste as this type of animation is so very different than what we are used too, what could be called ‘very mature animation’ and it took me a moment to adjust as it’s doesn’t really feel like a children’s movie.

Story line sum up is in 1650, a hunter named Bill Goodfellowe (Sean Bean) and his daughter Robyn (Honor Kneafsey) have to move from England to this small Irish town as he has been hired to hunt/kill the wolves who are threatening the small village. Bill goes out each day to do his job while he makes Honor stay in the village so she is safe from them. However she sees herself as a wolfhunter as well and wants to help her father kill the wolves, so she sneaks out of the town and happens to come across a young girl wolfwalker named Mebh (Eva Whittaker), who can transform into a wolf when she is asleep. They start a bond as friends that gets severely tested as the Lord Protector (Simon McBurney) is trying to get rid of all wolves to protect his town, so Robyn has to convince his father that Wolfwalkers are real and must do what she can to save her friend and the wolves.

While the backgrounds are so beautifully done and so is the music, the plot lacks in spots and in places where the characters are supposed to be charming, they came off as annoying. That along with a lot of it dragging in the middle and being somewhat cliche in lots of places, left it still with a somewhat satisfying ending leaving open many possibilities in which to possibly explore in a follow up.

So, the good parts you ask? The villain Lord Protector was done well not only in character but in design in keeping him feeling mysterious, intimidating and keeping the audience engaged with scenes he was in. With Robin’s dad was being the most likeable character, little Robin’s friendship with Mebh has good heart and sweet humour and it’s themes of loyalty, trust, and family truly resonate.

All in all though, after the amazing opening pace the story lacks for a good portion of the movie, losing the magic it held at the beginning in favour of just being characters chasing after each other.

Grade: C+

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Review screening: Courtesy of 42 West

“WOLFWALKERS” NOW PLAYING IN THEATERS/DRIVE-INS WHERE AVAILBLE  ~ COMING TO APPLE TV+

 

Review: “THE MARTIAN” (2015) 20th Century Fox

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I’ve always had mixed feelings about Director Ridley Scott and his films. Some are fantastic and some..are not. Here he is back once again to exploring a familiar territory – space.

“THE MARTIAN” truly strikes cinematic gold here with what could be looked as a quasi-instruction manual on how to survive surefire death on Mars. Though this adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel (which I haven’t yet read) is the best thing Scott has given us in quite some time, he still goes where others have gone before – only this time, with a perky, life-affirming attitude.

The concept is catchy and simple: While on a mission on Mars, a major storm hits the crew of the Ares III facility causing them to abort and head for their escape rocket. As Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain), cyber-whiz Beth Johanssen (Kate Mara), flight surgeon Chris Beck (Sebastian Stan), pilot Rick Martinez (Michael Pena) and chemist Alex Vogel (Aksel Hennie) head out into the vicious winds of Mars where botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is hit by debris and disappears. The others think he’s dead and leave without him. But guess what?! He’s alive! the_martian_2
And in order to survive he must “science the shit” out of the remaining supplies in a lab that was created to last only 31 days. His wit, scientific know-how and vlogs are what sustain him until the people at NASA – including NASA director Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels), mission director Dr. Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and flight director Mitch Henderson (Sean Bean) – can figure out how to save him. Add in the back ground techies Mindy Park (Mackenzie Davis) & Rich Purnell (Donald Glover) who literally come up with the live-saving idea that make it possible to go back and get their man!! All the while they make this trip to Mars almost scenic as you can almost feel the atmosphere while watching.
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There are shifts here between humor, heart and suspense which are all handled quite well. Plus the soundtrack..ohhh the soundtrack… with it’s precise way that it works in the disco from the made-fun-of playlist of Lewis’ – with just a sampling is “Waterloo”
(ABBA) “Don’t Leave Me This Way” (Thelma Houston) and Vicki Sue Robinson’s “Turn The Beat Around” – is not only truly ingenious but yes, fabulous as well. It hits all the notes at just the right moment in Watney’s journey, giving us a look into his in-the-moment feelings in a perfectly stated way.

While this film is almost all Matt Damon, his very adequate supporting cast really gives the film a huge boost..along with the fact that it engages us intellectually, but not over the top as they make it all relatable and with a dose of humour I just loved. So it makes it hard to even list the one small unfortunate thing about THE MARTIAN as it’s good..really good.. it does stop just one step short of being electrifying. And in this case..that’s still not a bad thing.

Grade: B

Screening: Monday, September 21, 2015 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Nationwide Release: Friday, October 2, 2015