FILM REVIEW: FINDING DORY (2016)

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Dory: The best things happen by chance.

Director: Andrew Stanton (Co-Director) Angus MacLane

Writers: Andrew Stanton and Victoria Strouse

Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Ty Burrell

Synopsis: A year after Finding Nemo, Dory remembers information which could reunite her with her estranged parents. What follows is a journey through the ocean and a marine aquarium to find her parents while Nemo and Marlin try and find Dory.

Finding Nemo (2003) is still perhaps one of the best Pixar films coming in the height of Pixar’s critical acclaim and popularity. The animators had created a beautiful and unique vision of the ocean and also included captivating characters such as Nemo, Marlin and Dory. Thirteen years later and Pixar has somewhat fallen from their throne. After 2003’s Finding Nemo, Pixar continued its stellar run with The Incredibles (2004), Wall E (2008), Up (2009) and Toy Story 3 (2010). Personally I think they lost their way this decade with Cars 2 (2011), Brave (2012), and Monsters University (2013). However they acheived redemption last year with the brilliant Inside Out (2015). Finding Dory continues their upward tick in a charming and fun sequel to the classic Finding Nemo. They couldn’t top that original film however they simply continue the story and move the action to Dory’s point of view with Nemo and Marlin becoming the side characters.

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Dory is continuing to hang around Nemo and Marlin when one day she begins to remember things about her parents and how she lost them as a baby. She begins a journey to find them with the help of Marlin and Nemo. Along the way they again meet fun new characters such as the cantankerous Octopus (voiced by the renowned Ed O’Neil), Destiny (Kaitlin Olson) a wide eyed whale shark and Bailey the beluga whale (Ty Burrell). All of these characters provide fun and commentary as Dory continues through different set pieces to find her parents. Differing from the original film most of the story takes place in an aquarium rather than the open ocean which opens ideas about marine life in captivity and our favourite characters dealing with tourists and aquarium exhibits. However most of the film deals with being different and being accepted which is a strong theme for a children’s film in 2016.

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This film is so much fun with a lot of heart as well as you would expect from a Pixar film. It is not one of their best but it is very enjoyable and better than the sequels they have released this decade.

Rating: 4 Stars

FILM REVIEW: THE JUNGLE BOOK (2016)

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Baloo: [singing] Forget about your worries and your strife…
Mowgli: What’s that?
Baloo: That’s a song about the good life.

Director: Jon Favreau

Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken

Synopsis: The man-cub Mowgli flees the jungle after a threat from the tiger Shere Khan. Guided by Bagheera the panther and the bear Baloo, Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery, though he also meets creatures who don’t have his best interests at heart.

Perhaps Jon Favreau’s most disappointing film in years after the game changing Iron Man films and 2014’s charming Chef. The film is visually stunning however there doesn’t appear to be any linking narrative aka beginning, middle, end or character development. It is simply random scenes connected together by the one-note Mowgli and various animals in the jungle. However I don’t completely blame Jon Favreau as he is merely reenacting the animated Disney original from 1967 with less songs.

The plot of The Jungle Book revolves around a young boy named Mowgli (Neel Sethi) who has been raised by wolves and the wise panther Bagheera (voiced regally by Ben Kingsley) in the Indian jungle. With threats from the chilling tiger Shere Khan (voiced menacingly by Idris Elba) Mowgli must leave the wolves and find his own people. Along the way he meets a sneaky snake (voiced seductively by Scarlett Johansson) and a laid back bear named Baloo (voiced with charm by the always great Bill Murray). He also ends up in a temple run by the gigantic ape King Louie (voiced by Christopher Walken playing The Godfather). These series of events barely connect with each other and the film eventually finds a climax where the hero prevails but little else really matters. In fact the whole film felt like a series of events that don’t really matter. Mowgli is constantly saved from any threats and the actor does such a poor job in gaining any respect from the viewer as he clumsily reads through his lines and stares blankly at cgi creatures. I understand it must have been difficult for him to stare at tennis balls or sticks and create a realistic performance but with Favreau’s past with child actors including Emjay Anthony from Chef or Ty Simpkins from Iron Man 3 I was expecting more.

Where Favreau doesn’t let the audience down is with the breath-taking special effects. All of the animals are uniquely structured with meticulous design to put you in a real world of walking talking animals with genuine personalities. It was amazing to watch however if only the story and protagonist were more impactful.

Rating: 2 Stars