Lionsgate

Worst to Best Animated Features of 2017 Part 1

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

I apologize for this being so late, but here we are! This is the Worst to Best of Animated Films from 2017! It’s easy to look at 2017, and see it as not that fantastic of a year for animation. There was very little to be excited about, and it felt like the big studios dumped all of their filler projects in one year. It definitely looks inferior, compared to 2018’s line-up of animated films. However, looking past the big budget film scene that honestly had only two good animated features, the indie/foreign scene in 2017 was actually drop-dead amazing. It might actually be the strongest year for indie/foreign films since 2013. As usual, the rules are the same for these lists. They must have been released in the states in 2017. They also must be a part of the Oscar submission list. I sadly won’t be able to get to The Big Bad Fox, because GKids is, for one reason or another, not putting that film out yet, and I simply do not have the time to wait any longer to see it. I won’t tackle any direct-to-video films unless they are the DC-animated features, or if they are a big deal. Let’s get started!

39. Guardian Brothers

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Man, talk about a pointless film. While the original Chinese version is not that great either, at least it had a point to it. The Weinstein cut took out the one theme that made the film worthwhile, and they made it a bland, boring, obnoxious, cynical, and utterly pointless animated feature. It has decent animation, but it’s nowhere near as impressive as China’s Big Fish & Begonia. Screw this movie, and screw the Weinsteins for being utter garbage people, and utter garbage animation distributors. I am so happy they are gone.

38. Spark: a Space Tail

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The only thing this film has going for it, is that it was not Guardian Brothers. It was at the very least, presented as intended. It’s still a horrible film though, with bland visuals, boring jokes, unlikable characters, and generic action. It’s also one of two films from 2017 that wasted the talent of Sir Patrick Stewart. I saw no reason why this film needed to get made, when it’s full of nothing original or creative. Maybe Open Road Films will make sure to pick up better films in the future, but for now, they need to find something more worth their time.

37. A Stork’s Journey

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While I commend German animators trying out CGI theatrical animation, it helps when you have a thought-out film. This film’s CGI is ugly, the animation looks unfinished, and the characters are either forgettable or unlikable. I hated these characters, and they were a real reason why this film did not work. I liked the owl and her backstory, but that one character alone is not worth watching this film that Lionsgate thought was a good idea to bring over.  I also wish Lionsgate would stop thinking that just because a YouTuber is in it, it means people will buy it. 

36. The Deep

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This film is insane. While it has slightly better textures and animation than A Stork’s Journey, the lead character is just as bad. He is a selfish, inconsiderate brat. The film also doesn’t know how to make its world-building  sound logical with what happens in the third or so act. The only reason it’s above A Stork’s Journey is purely because of technical aspects. It actually doesn’t look that terrible for a very limited/straight-to-video release. It also outright lies about saying the people that worked on Madagascar made this film, when I couldn’t find anything about them. Unless proven otherwise, they lied in their marketing.

35. Leap!

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While not the worst of the Weinstein-distributed animated films with the least amount changed, it doesn’t mean it’s good. I can see it being a guilty pleasure, or a favorite among young kids, but it’s an awfully forgettable experience. The characters are not that memorable, it’s predictable, the music is not catchy, the acting was a touch annoying, and there were story points that felt out of place. While the animation was better than most films, the super-realistic textures to everything made more comedic moments look creepy and unrealistic. The dancing is sort of nice, and I didn’t hate the lead character, but if Hollywood wants to advertise great European animated films, they should have pushed The Little Prince and the many French films GKids brought over, like The Girl Without Hands, more than this forgettable, if ultimately harmless film.

34. The Emoji Movie

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Yes, if I was only doing the major releases, this would be the worst of the animated films. Yes, it’s cynical, uncreative, boring, and annoying. However, how many people actually saw this film from beginning to end? Yes it’s a horrible movie that Sony shouldn’t have rushed out and put into theaters, but at the same time, no one really talks about it anymore. It’s bad, but it never had any long-lasting value, outside of being infamous on the internet. It’s still nicely animated, and I liked some lines and sequences, but yeah, this movie is not good.

33. Seoul Station

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Listen, there is nothing wrong with a prequel story. They can add more lore and world-building to the original film. However, Seoul Station fails as a prequel. It doesn’t truly say how the outbreak in Train to Busan happened, the characters they focus on are bland, the story doesn’t really do all that much to add to Train to Busan, the animation is stiff, and the dialogue is not all that great. I wish I liked this more, because I think Asian countries outside of Japan can make some truly good work. I just don’t think this is one of them. It’s real only highlight is that you get to see an animated film that is a horror flick. You don’t get to see that often in the animation scene.

32. Nerdland

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You would think a comedy starring Patton Oswalt and Paul Rudd would be amazing, but this was not. You can tell this product flip-flopped in development. The characters weren’t all that likable, the jokes didn’t really land, and its depiction of Los Angeles was boring and typical. However, I do like the art direction, and when it was funny, it was really funny. I just wish I could have been more positive about the film, but I’m not going to give it a pass, because it happens to have two of my favorite actors in it.

31. Sahara

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I was honestly curious about this one. I was surprised to see Netflix bring it onboard for the US, and was wondering why they didn’t really advertise it. Well, once you watch it, you will see why. The English dub was so obnoxious, that I had to switch it over to the original French dub. The animation was not all that great, and the story was cluttered and forgettable. I liked some of the color usage, some of the dancing, and the few quiet moments, but they weren’t enough to make this a good experience.

30. The Star

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Boy, did this not need to be in theaters. If this was on Netflix from the start, that would have been fine. It’s probably the most positive of the Christian-based family films, and even with a $20 mil budget, its animation is not super terrible. However, it was still not all that funny, the story was boring, the side characters were too many and not at all entertaining, and I just felt badly for the cast that had to be in this movie. Again, it’s harmless, but there was no real reason this had to be in theaters.

29. Rock Dog

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 This movie’s development history, Lewis Black, and Eddie Izzard are the only good/interesting aspects to this film. The lead is bland, the film needed a bit more cash to polish out the animation, and it was a mess story-wise. It felt like it didn’t know what it wanted to be, so it copied a bunch of other elements from other and way better films. It has its moments, and I like the song at the end, but sadly, when this is one of Lionsgate’s better animated offerings, you know something is up with this film.

 

Stay tuned for Part two in the future!

119: Early Man

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

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There is something always exciting when Aardman makes a new film. While not financially successful here in the states for some sadly understandable/annoying reasons, I always get excited, since it brings something fresh and interesting to the table, even if the films have elements that we have seen before. I make sure to always see their films, because I want to support the studio. That’s no different here, with their newest film, Early Man. Directed by Nick Park, Early Man was his first theatrical directing gig since his Oscar-winning Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. It was released on February 16th, but is not doing well at all in the box office. It is getting positive reviews, but its financial take is discouraging. Granted, when you go against something like the important Black Panther and the decently reviewed Peter Rabbit, you are going to get into some trouble, especially if you are Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment, and you don’t market your movie! I can get into that bit of stupid, but I’ll save that for a different article. For now, let’s review Early Man!

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Eddie Redmayne plays our hero Dug, a caveman living with his tribe in a crater that, generations ago, was formed by a meteorite. He’s getting complacent about how his tribe only hunts rabbits. One day, after a successful rabbit hunt, their tribe gets invaded by a more evolved group of humans. This evolved group of individuals is led by a man named Lord Nooth, voiced by Tom Hiddleston. Dug accidentally gets himself “taken” to the new civilization, meets a woman named Goona, voiced by Maisie Williams, and finds out that his entire valley is being mined out for its metal. After interrupting a soccer game (and yes, I am going to call it soccer), Dug challenges Nooth to a soccer game. Unfortunately, Dug and his tribe don’t know how to play soccer. Dug then enlists the help of Goona, and they train to win their valley back!

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Let’s talk about the positives.  Since this is Aardman, the animation is fantastic. Each character has a unique design, and they each move beautifully. The sets are also vibrant, lush, and huge. These might even beat out The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Pirates: Band of Misfits. As with most British comedy, it’s well-written, clever, and there are lots of foreground and background jokes. I found myself laughing at multiple points in the movie, along with others in my audience. I think a lot of the jokes flew over the kids in my group’s heads, but they still laughed quite a lot. Much of the humor works because the characters are fun to be around. While some are simple, which is a problem to a degree, I never found myself getting annoyed by them. They were fairly likable. Dug is a kind optimist, the tribe leader played by Timothy Spall is delightfully daft, Nooth is a blast as a villain who seems to enjoy being a villain, Goona is the strong female archetype, and Dug’s tribe all have their own amusing moments. I know the film’s humor is mostly pun-related, but if you can execute them properly, then I don’t mind it. I can understand if it’s not your type of humor, but I loved it. They even stay away from the more modern-style of humor you would see in films from Illumination and Blue Sky Studios. It’s great that they did that, since it makes the film more enjoyable to watch as time goes by. The performances were also really good. Eddie Redmayne captures the hopeful and maybe ignorant optimistic side of Dug, Tom Hiddleston gives Nooth a wonderfully cheesy and not-at-all accurate French accent that leads to many of the film’s best jokes, Maisie Williams does a good job at being a tough individual, and the rest of the cast, including Richard Ayoade, Selina Griffiths, Johnny Vegas, Mark Williams, Gina Yashere, Simon Greenall, Richard Webber, Rob Brydon, Kayvan Novak, Miriam Margoyles, all have humorous performances.    

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As much as I love Aardman and the fact we got a stop-motion film this year, I am going to criticize this film a bit. The film is, for the most part, hugely entertaining, clever, funny, and well-written. However, it does start to lose steam, when you get to the actual soccer part of the plot. It goes through a few sports clichés and puns that don’t work unless you know the sport, and it goes into sports film territory with the underdogs versus the champions. You can pick up on what’s going to happen very easily during this part. While I love a lot of the tribe members, many of them don’t get much development. About half of them get stuck with a single character trait. That also goes for the champion team that they compete against.  I also felt like the story could have been a bit more complex. I love that Aardman keeps things simple, but sometimes, that hurts them, since some of their stories become predictable. I know I can blame some of this film’s underperformance to Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment, since this should have been a big deal for their animation output, but they treated like it was just another direct-to-video animated film. However, Aardman is also partly to blame for a couple of this film’s problems. I just wonder how much better this film would have been received if they had chosen a more…world-loved sport, since the US doesn’t really care about soccer, or simply stuck with the caveman and Bronze Age civilization meet-up. I didn’t mind it being about soccer, since I caught a lot of the soccer jokes, but I know that won’t be for everyone.

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While I think I prefer Shaun the Sheep The Movie and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, I did love Early Man. Personally, it’s the first good animated film of the year, and even if you didn’t fully care about it, you know deep down, it’s going to be better than Sherlock Gnomes. Early Man is a film that gets better the more I think about it. I definitely recommend checking it out. It’s an original film that’s not based on any pre-existing properties, and if you really want more original films to succeed, then you need to actually go see them. Well, it’s time to get to the 120th review, and I have a lot to say about that movie when we get to it. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the review, and I will see you all next time!

Rating: Go See It!

Hit-or-Miss Movie Predictions: My Little Pony: The Movie

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

While 2017 may be an underwhelming year for animated films, I would hardly call it forgettable or lacking in curious oddities. One of those cases that I have been the most curious about is the upcoming My Little Pony the Movie. It’s hard not to know about the megaton hit that is My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. And if you are curious, yes, I have seen some seasons of the show and found it admirable. It’s not my cup of tea, but I totally respect and understand why this show is such a hit, and why so many people like it. I was a tad concerned when they announced a movie was in production. I mean, I am not surprised, but at the same time, there was a span of films from the early to mid-2000s that were based on animated TV shows, and while some made bank, they weren’t always of the highest quality. Of course, some of the films had some development troubles, and we ended up with inferior products, but still. When they recently released the poster and the first main trailer for the film, I had a lot to think and talk about with the overall trailer, and my first impressions from it. This won’t be long since I don’t have much to say, and who knows if I’ll honestly go see it day one, unless I’m with my niece or something.

The Animation

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I’ll start us off with some technical stuff and talk about the animation. At first, I thought the film looked great. It might be flash animation, but it’s not like the show looked terrible. It still had pretty good expressions and movements. This looks like it had a lot of money put into it, with very smooth movements and more robust colors. It’s honestly nice to see some 2D animation for a majority of the running time. Due to how every film these days has CGI animation with maybe some 2D thrown into the mix, it’s refreshing to see 2D animation come back into theaters that’s not an indie or foreign film. However, I started seeing people talk about how the animation was off-putting. I decided to rewatch the trailer a couple of times, and that is when I started to spot some problems. First off, it looks like it’s going to be 2D on either certain CGI backgrounds/sets, or only certain elements are CGI. It definitely looks a tad distracting when you watch it and spot the CGI. It might be done in the same art style as the show, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be noticeable. There were some scenes where it was completely obvious that it was CGI, like the windmill sequence. Even then, at the very least, I admire that it stays true to how the show looks, and does look theatrical quality, something I’m surprised Lionsgate knows the definition of in terms of animation.

The Cast/Story

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This is where my biggest gripe with the film comes into play. It’s more or less the marketing of the film, but this film has a real fetish with not giving the actual leads of the film top billing. If you look at the poster and the trailer, they get none of the billing. All the big names you see on there are either side characters or the villains. Granted, I don’t hate the casting choices. I mean, you can’t go wrong with some of these choices. Emily Blunt, Michael Peña, Uzo Aduba, Zoe Saldana, Sia, Taye Diggs, and Kristin Chenoweth have proven that they can be entertaining actors, and some even downright amazing actors. However, the problem comes with them being the only ones who get top billing in the trailer and the poster. You don’t see any of the voice actresses in the trailer or on the overly glowly and bright poster. Actually, you do see them, but they are stuck in the small print at the bottom of the poster where no one, unless you want to know who did what major role in the film, is going to care or read that part.
I just find that so backhandish, since Tara Strong, Ashleigh Ball, Andrea Libman, Tabitha St. Germain, and Cathy Weseluck are the characters you will be following the most in the entire film. I get that you need to get as many people to see this, whether they are fans of the show or not, but we are at a period in time where voice actors need to get better respect and treatment, due to how hard they work to bring hugely memorable characters to life. It makes the whole situation worse when Ratchet & Clank, the biggest bomb of animation in 2016, was willing and happy to show off James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, and Jim Ward along with the other actors on the poster. Granted, they did the same thing with the trailer for that film, with showing off the celebrities first and foremost, but still. Plus, it’s not like celebrities these days are big reasons to watch a movie, especially an animated movie. If the movie is terrible, then the actors aren’t going to fully save the experience.

It’s problematic, since it comes off that Lionsgate is desperate for people to come see this movie, and to be frank, the movie looks fine. It looks like a fun magical action adventure film set in a universe that has been popular since 2010 with characters people love.  I think the story seems adequate, with an evil force wanting to take over the kingdom. It seems like the actors and voice actors are having fun with their roles, and while I do think they don’t need that many celebrities for the film, they are at least trying since, I didn’t pick up on Michael Peña at first.

Any Lingering Concerns/Last Minute Comments?

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I rolled my eyes a little when I saw that Sia was going to be in the movie. Not that I think she is terrible or anything like that, but with how most animated films are made these days, I won’t be surprised if you don’t see her for about 90% of the film, and only appears at the beginning and the ending where it’s going to have that popular film trope, dance party ending. I’m also wondering if it’s too late to be making this movie. Like, they needed to make this movie a few years back to cash in on the fan base when it was at its biggest.

Prediction: Adequate

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I can see the success of this film going either way. It could be an unexpected hit, it could be a flaming dumpster fire waiting to happen, or it can be just a fun romp that’s not great, but not terrible. I never want a film to bomb, even if I’m not looking forward to it. I want to be surprised and when I do see this film, I want to be entertained. Nothing is worse than a film that wastes your time. I hope the film by MLP:FiM director and screenwriter Jayson Thiessen and Meghan McCarthy turns out to be a blast for anyone who does go see it. I just wish they gave the voice actresses some of the top billing. We will have to see in October and when more trailers come up to see if this will be good or bad.

The Other Side of Animation 92: A Stork's Journey Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

One of my main rules is that I don’t tackle straight-to-video animated films, unless it has a reason for me to check it out, whether it be a streaming exclusive, or getting a limited theatrical released. I don’t do it with every straight-to-video schlock, because if I did, I would probably not want to review another animated film for life. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have to watch films like Spark or today’s review of yet another Lionsgate alumni, A Stork’s Journey. This German-animated film is directed by Toby Genkel and Reza Memari. It was a Google Play exclusive, but got a theatrical release at the end of June 2017. Listen, I know I have been critical towards Lionsgate and their animation distribution, since they tend to bring over some truly awful films, but I’m always willing to give them a chance. Let’s dive in and see if they should have made an “art house” film instead of this “wide appeal” film.

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The story is about a small sparrow named Richard, voiced by Drake Bell. After the movie decided to go Tarzan on his parents within the first three minutes, he was raised by storks. He feels upset that his father doesn’t love him, and isn’t allowed to travel with his adopted family to Africa. Richard then decides to say “screw it” to how birds actually work, and not realizing that sparrows don’t travel, tries to fly to Africa. Along the way he meets an owl named Olga, voiced by Jane Lynch, and a parakeet named Kiki, voiced by Marc Thompson. They travel, and go on a high flying adventure to find Richard’s parents.

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This movie was another chore to watch. While I get that not every studio around the world can throw around money or talent like Pixar and Disney, you would think by now, they could get the tech, tools, and talent used by, at the very least, 2011 Pixar. A Stork’s Journey doesn’t look good on a visual level. Everything looks like it was ripped right out of a full-motion cut scene from the original PlayStation days. It has flat textures, and everything from the grassy fields to the desert lands of Africa look so dull, way too shiny, and lifeless. While it doesn’t look as bad as Spark, Stork’s Journey is still way below theatrical-quality animation. Normally, I could look past wonky animation if the story or characters were any good. Sadly, that is not the case here. Richard is a really grating individual who is a pill of a character to watch. It doesn’t help that he’s kind of bone-headed, and constantly puts himself in danger. Jane Lynch’s character’s gimmick is that she has an imaginary friend, and while there are some scenes that almost hit a decent emotional note, it grows tiring really fast. Kiki, on the other hand, is just unlikable for the first half of the film, and became a character I lost interest in mere minutes after he appeared on screen. His story arc is so rushed, that it pretty much ends within, say, 14 minutes after he is introduced into the story.

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Actually, a lot of areas of the film feel rushed. Richard’s parents are killed within five minutes of the film, Kiki has no character besides being foppish after his “arc” wraps up, and they throw in a real last-minute villain into the mix. So the main characters can’t hold the story, what about the side characters? Yeah, good luck with that. The mother is bland, and the father is just the worst type of person. He will constantly put the rest of the stork flock in danger because of his stubborn pride, and the old “I’m a guy so I don’t need help” trope. Like, they get to Africa, find out the watering hole they usually go to is dried up. He gets an offer to find another watering hole, but he, for no reason, declines the offer. It’s 2017, and parents can be portrayed in unique and various ways. They don’t need to be the most hateful characters anymore. It’s a boring film to sit through, since you know how these buddy road trip films go, and since I don’t care for anyone in the film, I can’t think of a reason to watch it.

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The film also has this weird element of having yet another YouTuber as one of the actors getting top billing when they don’t even show up in the movie a whole lot. The “actor” this time is famous YouTuber ijustine as one of the couple of internet-addicted pigeons that you see throughout the film. I mean, I’m sure she is a nice person and all, but did she truly need to be one of the three actors mentioned at the top of the DVD case? It’s not like they really needed her for the role, when any actress could do what she did. This might just be me pushing a bias issue of YouTubers attempting to be more than what they are, but I never found why hiring them was such a big deal. I understand to get with the times and know that YouTubers are some of the bigger “celebrities” out there, but at the same time, incidences like the hugely mediocre EA E3 conference and the recent Vidcon stories makes them look horrible, no matter if they are personally involved or not.

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So, this must be truly worse than Spark right? Well, not really. Spark is still the worst animated film of the year, because it feels cynical and no real passion went into making the movie. While I don’t think A Stork’s Journey is great, I can, at the end of the day, tell that they were at least trying to tell a good story and have a story of being true to yourself no matter what, and so on. It doesn’t work at all and the film is obnoxious to sit through, but there was an attempt to make a film. I also think Jane Lynch, while her character is aggravating at points, has probably the only semi-emotional moment where she talks about her backstory and how she met her imaginary friend. It’s also done in a nice 2D animated sequence that doesn’t look bad. It makes you wonder why the rest of the film wasn’t done in 2D. I also respect the idea behind the pigeons being addicted to the internet as they sit along the wires. It could have led to an interesting bit of social commentary.stork09Even then, while it’s not as bad as Spark: A Space Tail, A Stork’s Journey is still terrible, and I have no idea why Google Play and Lionsgate wanted anything to do with this movie. You wonder with how much money they make being Google, and Lionsgate’s live-action stuff, they can’t afford to invest into some foreign films that people would actually want to watch. This is just another mediocre animated film that will be forgotten by the passage of time, with actors like Jane Lynch wasting their talents in it instead of firing their agent to find better projects. This movie annoyed me more than I thought it would, and I don’t want all of the animated films I’m reviewing counting down to the 100th review to be bad. How about next time, we try to do nothing but animated films that are amazing? Next time, we will look at Porco Rosso. Thanks for reading! I hope you all enjoyed the article, and I will see you next time.

Rating: Blacklist/The Worst

The Other Side of Animation 59: The Wild Life Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Hey everyone, Lionsgate a.k.a #AntiGKids is back again with another nauseating and, to no surprise, horrible movie! Yeah, I know this might be picking on the studio, but they tried to con people out of money for Norm of the North and this movie, The Wild Life. The Wild Life is a French/Belgium collaboration that was originally called Robinson Crusoe. Ironically, this film has very little to do with the actual character, and focuses on the animals instead. It’s directed by Vincent Kesteloot and Ben Stassen, which explains a lot if you know about Ben Stassen’s filmography. It was produced by Illuminata Pictures, nWave Pictures, and UFilm. The only film that I can think of that is remotely well known in terms of what these companies and directors worked on was the incredibly mediocre Fly Me To The Moon 3D. Even though it’s not a huge bomb of a film from the other side of the world, it’s one of the biggest flops in terms of first weekend CGI film releases in the states. So, is it as bad as I, and many others, have made it out to be? Well, we shall see.

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The story revolves around this Parrot named Mak/Tuesday, voiced by David Howard Thornton. He tells the story about life on an island with his friends that include a tapir, a goat, a chameleon, a pangolin, an echidna, and what I think is a kingfisher. Believe me when I say that the types of animals are much more interesting than their actual names. One day, they see that a human named Robinson Crusoe, voiced by Yuri Lowenthal, has been stranded on the island. Now the animals have to find out if this human is trustworthy, while avoiding the evil cats that sadly came along on the ship Crusoe was aboard.

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Man, this movie is horrible, but why? It looks just as cynical as most mediocre animated films, and it doesn’t look as bad as Norm of the North. So, what’s the problem? Well, I can describe this movie with one word, boring. This film is a chore to sit through, and that’s because of the characters. They are a bore. Each character has one trait, and they milk that more than NBC Universal milks that Illumination advertising budget. The goat is old, and that’s it. The tapir is fat, and that’s it. The pangolin and echidna are pointless characters, and you guessed it, that’s it. No one is worth remembering in this film. Oh, and they are all rather stupid. Like, Norm of the North levels of stupid. Listen, people, stupid characters don’t make a good movie. You can have one well written stupid character, but the entire cast can’t be as dumb as the person who thought Nine Lives was a good idea. In the end, I did not care what happened to anyone, and I was just ready to get off my seat and curse the people who brought this into theaters. It doesn’t help either that the film essentially had about three climaxes, overstayed its welcome, and characters acting inconsistently. Seriously, the kingfisher character wants the human off the island, but then in one scene of the movie, she attempts to ruin Crusoe’s S.O.S signal to keep him on the island. Like, do you want him gone or not?!

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The biggest sin this film has going against it is that it is completely pointless. There was no reason for this film to exist. It’s not smart, clever, funny, interesting, and it is soulless. Heck, it doesn’t even really focus on Crusoe, and granted, some things from the original book they probably couldn’t do, but it’s also another film that had no freaking reason to be in theaters. I seriously question moviegoers, when the great Kubo and the Two Strings has to continually suffer in the box office. I saw no advertising for The Wild Life besides a poster for it a few months back. That’s it. Why does Lionsgate keep thinking that they can bring over any animated film, and people will love it? You know what? We don’t!

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The animation definitely looks better than Norm of the North, but only in terms of textures. It had more money and talented people working on this film than Norm of the North, but the animation is still very robotic. No one moves naturally. Well, maybe the chameleon moves the most naturally due to them already moving like robots, but I digress. The voicework is also annoying. On one hand, they got mostly voice talent for this film. It really doesn’t have big names to back it up (which makes it a mystery why it got to be in theaters in the first place, but still). It’s somewhat nice to see a film not rely on big names to sell its movie. On the other hand, the actors aren’t that great, and you can tell the English dub team wanted bigger names than what they could afford.

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So, out of this incredibly boring and annoying trainwreck, what does this film do well? Well, it only does one thing really well. What is it? It only has one or two really bad stereotypical kids film jokes. Yeah, the rest of the humor is horrible, not funny, and the two butt jokes are lousy excuses for humor, but to their credit, I do have to say that this film stays far away from the modern children animated film joke tropes. I was shocked by this because this was distributed by Lionsgate, which as you all know, released Norm of the North, which they should still be ashamed for making.  Anyway, The Wild Life has bland and boring humor, but it’s not super-condescending and cynical like Norm of the North or Bling. I was actually surprised, since it’s so easy for studios to get the note from higher-ups to put in these “wastes of space” jokes that make kids who have no sense of humor laugh, and adults who were unfortunate enough to take them to see it roll their eyes. I will also give credit that the animation looks decent. It’s still bad, but it’s not immensely mediocre. More Ratchet & Clank, than Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return.

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Man, I really hated this film. I don’t hate it as much as Norm of the North and Underdogs, but it’s a vapid pointless film that had no reason to be in theaters. The film will be out in a physical format in November, but don’t pick it up. Instead of getting the dvd for this film on November 22nd, go purchase Kubo and the Two Strings on the same day. You will thank me. Now then, this is my 4th worst movie of the year. What is my 3rd worst animated film? Well, stay tuned.

Rating: The Worst/Blacklist

Is Lionsgate the Worst Animation Distributor?

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

Back in August 2015, Lionsgate, the distributors of the popular Hunger Games films and the production company behind Orange is the New Black on Netflix, released an animated film called Shawn the Sheep Movie. This was a stop-motion animated film by Aardman, the masters behind stop-motion animation. The film was a critical success, with anyone who saw the movie loving it from head to toe. Unfortunately, it didn’t do financially well, which is a huge shame since it’s a freaking good movie and deserves the pleasure of watching it. So, you would think the next step for Lionsgate would be to look for some of the best animated films to help get them into theaters. What were their next products, in terms of animation? They put out Norm of the North, the worst movie/animated movie of 2016, pushed out The adventures of Panda Warrior, a horrifyingly-terrible-looking CGI animated film from China that is a rip-off film of Kung Fu Panda, and released into theaters The Wild Life, yet another mediocre-looking CGI animated film that may look better than Norm of the North, but will be just as bad. They are also going to distribute a couple of more Alpha and Omega films straight to the DVD bargain bin pit of fire where they belong. Did I miss something here? Why is Lionsgate pushing out these, quite frankly, horrible wastes of money? Say what you want about the quality of the animated films from Sony Pictures Animation, at least they aren’t the worst things of all time. You don’t even need a focus group to know that these projects are dead-on-arrival. It’s gotten so bad that I decided to label them the Anti-GKIDS. Why? Let’s find out.

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So, let’s start with the good company, GKIDS. This New York-based film distribution company has been getting their name out there for distributing the highest quality foreign-animated films that have all gotten Oscar nominations like The Secret of Kells, Ernest & Celestine, When Marnie Was There, Song of the Sea, A Cat in Paris, Chico and Rita, Boy & The World, and The Tale of Princess Kaguya. What do all of these films have in common? Well, GKIDS makes sure to pick out the best of the best, and won’t just choose to bring something over just because they can. They have a reputation to uphold, and they will only pick films that will reach their high quality standards. Sure, we still get some great films not from GKIDS, like the upcoming Long Way North from Shout! Factory, and The Boy and the Beast from Funimation, but my point is that GKIDS and some other companies do try to keep a level of quality in what they bring over.

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Lionsgate, on the other hand, is one of the many problems as to why animation in film form is not taken seriously. Who in their right mind thought Norm of the North was a film that people wanted to see in theaters? Who at Lionsgate thought it would match up to the films by other studios? It’s a straight-to-DVD schlock title that somehow got to be in more theaters and got more attention than some of the best films of this year. Heck, Sausage Party had a smaller budget than Norm of the North, and was a solid movie. Lionsgate even thought this film would be popular enough to spawn two more 45-minute long sequels. Like, really? A film where no effort was put into making it coherent and good-looking to be popular enough to be a franchise? Yeah, people complain about the Ice Age movies coming out still, and while I will get to those around Christmas time, they at least have great animation and a few decent characters worth investing into. Lionsgate has this mindset that just because it’s animation, people will like it, without thinking why we loved these animated films in the first place. Did we love Zootopia because it was a bunch of animated animals in clothes? No! People fell in love with it because of its witty writing, engaging story, and likable characters. We didn’t fall in love with Kubo and the Two Strings because it was stop-motion. We fell head over heels for it because it was an animated film that treated the audience like they had brain cells, with an engaging story, incredibly entertaining characters, a mature tone, and very impressive stop-motion action sequences. No one fell in love with Norm of the North, because it was a condescending, horribly animated, cynical, ugly, insulting, pompous pile of garbage that was made by people who had no freaking idea what they were doing. It doesn’t help that a few months later, Lionsgate announced that they were releasing a straight-to-DVD film called Adventures of Panda Warrior, with Rob Schneider also attached as the lead character.  Boy, if they released this in theaters, they would have been torched alive, and anyone attached to it would have been blacklisted for bringing this film over in the first place. Why would they think we would want to see a Kung Fu Panda rip-off that has the graphics of an original PlayStation game, and acting that had no effort put into it? I mean, by sweet pink lemonade, Adventures of Panda Warrior looks like an unfinished college project that somehow got into stores. Just because the public sometimes makes questionable choices in what films to support, doesn’t mean that they are incredibly stupid, Lionsgate! People are smarter than what your focus groups make them out to be.

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Sure, their newest animated film that they are distributing with Summit Entertainment, The Wild Life, doesn’t look as terrible, but it still looks horrid compared to Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studios, and Illumination, and its dialogue and characters look and sound grating. You can even look up the voice cast, and it’s mostly voice actors, which is nice since it’s a film not relying on huge stars, but it doesn’t look good for them either to be attached to this trainwreck. As much as I know that it’s not going to be good, and early reviews are not kind to it, I’ll give it a fair shake (review coming soon).

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So, what should Lionsgate do to improve upon their incredibly horrible animation track record? Well, they can actually put quality into what films they greenlight or bring over. Be like GKIDS or Shout! Factory where they pick and choose what they bring over. Do not greenlight focus-grouped or higher-up requested films, because I assure you that they will not be good and you will look like soulless blithering wastes of air. They can also cancel all Alpha & Omega straight-to-bargain bin sequels, because no one likes them, and while you can like them, you can’t tell me or anyone that they are good movies. I dare you to tell me how they are good movies.

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As far as I know, Lionsgate is indeed the worst animation distributor in Hollywood. No effort, no quality control, they think the movie-going audience is stupid, and they keep making or distributing films, with the rare exception, that no one asked for. Blue Sky might be too scared to tell Fox that they don’t and shouldn’t make another Ice Age sequel, but at least they have made some interesting movies, and a truly good movie with The Peanuts Movie. Sony Pictures Animation might be shooting itself in the foot constantly, but at least there is a certain charm and creativity to the films they make and release.  I will be sure to say that Lionsgate did a good job if they do distribute something as good as the Shaun the Sheep Movie, but that will be quite the wait. Maybe they will learn their lesson, but I highly doubt it at the rate they are going.

The Other Side of Animation 40: Norm of the North: THE WORST MOVIE OF 2016


(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

I had a multitude of ideas on how to open up this review of today’s film. I could have gone on a monologue about how you should never go to theaters in January unless it’s an Oscar-nominated film or a really good indie film, how Hollywood keeps greenlighting animated films that are obviously not up to DreamWorks, Pixar, Disney, Warner Bros, and even Sony Animation standards, because they think the movie-going audience is stupid, how Lionsgate keep shooting themselves in the foot, because they keep distributing badly animated films, how this makes Hollywood look worse, and you get my point. Norm of the North is a prime example of what is wrong with Hollywood. Directed by Trevor Hall as his first time directing a movie (You have my condolences), and created by Assemblage Entertainment, Splash Entertainment, and was distributed by the same studio that put out the Alpha & Omega series, Lionsgate. Do you know what Splash Entertainment has made? They are making more straight-to-video Alpha & Omega sequels.  And you know what Assemblage has made? They made some of the straight-to-dvd Swan Princess films. I know you should always give a movie a chance, but when the writing is on the wall, and the marketers know they have no way to conceal it, then there is no way to argue that this film is in anyway good. I feel badly for the actors involved in this, and even worse for the poor individuals who decided to make sure Norm of the North got its funding budget paid off. I mean, really people? I know sometimes you just need to get out of the house and go see a movie, but why didn’t you just go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens or something better during January until Kung Fu Panda 3 came out? So, if I haven’t made it clear enough, how bad is Norm of the North? Well, let’s find out.

Norm of the North stars a polar bear named Norm, voiced by Rob Schneider. He has the ability to somehow speak to humans. Norm sticks out from everyone, because he doesn’t kill seals, which does bring in the question of how has he survived this long without killing a seal. Anyway, a generic greedy rich individual named Mr. Greene, voiced by Ken Jeong, wants to make the arctic a livable human environment because, yeah, people really want to live in a frozen wasteland that’s incredibly dark at different times of the year, and have polar bears and freezing temperatures at every time of the day. It is up to Norm to get to New York City and try to stop Mr. Greene’s plans!

Oh boy, oh boy, where do I start with this film? First off, it has the quality and animation of a straight-to-bargain-bin DVD film. Heck, it was supposed to be a straight-to-DVD film in the first place, but some person who I hope is fired and ashamed of their decision now, thought they would get the ultimate amount of profit by putting it into theaters. Because, you know, if Lionsgate thought they would make money off this flaming pile of putrid waste, they would have released it during a month that wasn’t January. Heck, if people were patient enough, they could have seen Kung Fu Panda 3. I know it meant waiting another two weeks from Norm’s January 15th release to Kung Fu’s January 29th release, but screw it, it would have made sure that you didn’t waste your money on a film that looks horrible. Seriously, I can’t put it into words at how horrible this film looks. Its textures are low quality, the animation is jerky, the character designs are sloppy, some creatures look horrifying, and it doesn’t look movie theater-quality. Say what you will about some of the mediocre animated films that come out each year, like this year’s Ratchet & Clank, Angry Birds, or any of the bad DreamWorks films, at least they look movie quality. You remember last year’s Hotel Transylvania 2 and Minions? They might not be the best movies, but they look movie theater quality. Heck, Minions had some really good CGI, and that movie was a cynical cash-grab! The human designs in Norm of the North look like they were designed by first month animation students. They look just as good as those horrifying humans you see in The Hero of Color City. And yes, now that I have mentioned that film, I need to now review it. Nothing about Norm of the North is theater quality enough. Even the editing is just painful, with that cheap cross dissolve that ends each scene of the movie. There is no reason this film had to be in theaters. Seriously, Hollywood, if you can’t make a film look as good as something from Illumination or Pixar, then don’t put it in theaters, or else you look like money-grubbing fools.

So, what about the characters and story? Well, the characters are all forgettable and stupid. Like, seriously stupid. One girl just wants to run up and hug a polar bear cub, which would pretty much get her killed in real life, since you know, running up to a bear is a smart thing to do. Heck, the logic of the characters is so questionable, that it constantly punches holes into the story that is already pretty full of holes. For example, why does this obviously bad guy, Mr. Greene want to make condos in the arctic? Has he ever lived there? It’s a frozen wasteland, and making a living there is already brutal! Did he not see 30 Days of Night? It gets pretty dark there for a good chunk of the year. Oh, and it’s also in a place where there are bears! Yeah, because when I wake up with frostbite, the first thing I want to see is a bear outside my door. Also, how does Norm get to speak to humans? What made him want to start having human tendencies? Why does he want to be king of the arctic? Why is there even a plot about being the king of the arctic? Why does he not want to eat a seal, when in reality, he would have starved to death? How does no one even remotely know of a giant polar bear walking around New York? I mean, I know New York is its own zoo, full of large loud individuals, but come on! And did no one see the obviously bad guy moment happen in the 3rd act? Why is there a pointless love interest that gets, like, three lines in the entire movie? Did anyone try with this movie?

And really, that’s the biggest problem with this trainwreck, no one tried. No one put the effort into making a comprehensible story, or to make the characters worth investing into. I mean, there are so many plot points that are thrown in there because other films do them, without knowing how to execute them. I know this stuff gets brought up a lot when a film has similar/familiar elements that we have seen done hundreds of times, but we don’t care if they have been done hundreds of times, because they were executed well. None of the plot elements are done well here, and are just more glaring than ever. They just made this movie because the studios that made it needed a job, and Lionsgate, for one reason or another, wanted more animated films, because, you know, you want to follow up your critically acclaimed, Shaun the Sheep Movie with the worst animated film of 2016. Want to know how aggravating and hard this film was to watch? I paused at most six times to watch other shows and work on other articles. Yeah, watching Norm of the North was painfully tedious work. A movie shouldn’t be tough to sit through.

And before anyone says that I and so many others are being way too hard on this movie, there are stories of kids walking around and bored with the movie inside the movie theater. Yes, when kids for this supposedly ‘made for kids’ film are bored out of their wits, then that is a big problem. Just because a film is made for kids doesn’t mean you can’t hold a standard to it. I am so freaking sick and tired of this excuse, because there are so many great animated films coming out every year that destroy that notion. For example, let’s take a look at the films that came out here in the states that break the notion that kids films can’t have standards. You have Inside Out, When Marnie Was There, Zootopia, Big Hero 6, The Box Trolls, How to Train your Dragon 2, The Wind Rises, Wolf Children, Ernest & Celestine, Song of the Sea, Shaun the Sheep Movie, The Prophet, Boy and the World, and April and the Extraordinary World. These all have high standards in terms of stories, animation, characters, and they all make sure not to treat the audience like they’re stupid. You know, like how Norm of the North is. Every film, no matter who it’s made for, needs to be held to a high standard. You can’t just brush it off and be like “oh it’s a kid’s film, it can get a pass”. That’s just lazy and condescending, which results in lethargic animated films that only cater to the lowest common denominator like Norm of the North and The Wild Side.

Now then, with all this vile hatred for this movie, is there really one good element of the film? Well, as odd as it might sound, Rob Schneider and some of the other cast members are not the worst things about the movie. Sure, they aren’t great, but I can at least say they are trying with the mediocre material. Granted, I haven’t seen a film where Schneider was great all around, but still, I respect an actor that can at least try to make it work when the situation doesn’t really give you room to, you know, be good.

This is easily one of the most cynical, disgusting, spiteful, aggravating, and downright worst animated films that I have ever seen. Heck, I’ll one up that, it’s one of the worst animated films of all time, and I don’t say that lightly! You might think I’m saying that for comedic effect, but I’m not. Just come talk to me in real life, and I will show you how much I hate this movie. It might not be the number one worst movie of all time, but it’s easily in my top three. Even Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return and Cool World are not in the top five worst animated films I have ever seen. At least with those two films you can laugh at how horribly put-together, unintentionally creepy, and lazy Legends of Oz is, and how grating, but visually interesting Cool World is. Norm of the North has none of those factors. This is just a pure example, along with many other films, of why the Hollywood system is busted. What’s even sadder is that Lionsgate, the distributor, has not learned their lesson, since they have two more trainwrecks coming out next month and later this year with The Wild Side, and The Adventures of Panda Warrior! I think that whoever made this film get into more theaters than amazing films like April and the Extraordinary World, Boy and the Beast, and The Green Room needs to be fired, and then ridiculed for doing so! Avoid this animated film at all costs. Just don’t even think about purchasing it for a bad movie night. This movie just enrages me so much, that I need to go back to reviewing stuff I love. Here then, Norm of the North is out, and next time Castle of Cagliostro will be in. Thanks for reading. I pray to you that you do not watch this horrible movie, even as a bad movie night film, and see you all next time!

Rating: The Worst/Blacklist

The Other Side of Animation: Shaun the Sheep Movie Review


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While I do consider myself a movie lover, I tend to enjoy movies that are easier to follow. Not to say that I can’t get into films with complex themes and stories, since one of my favorite movies of 2015 was Anomalisa, but sometimes, it seems like filmmakers or studios want to make a film look and feel complex and deep, but end up being more confusing, hard to follow, and not very good. It’s alright to have a movie that is good simple fun. It’s why I really loved today’s film, Shaun the Sheep Movie. This was a stop-motion film made by Aardman, and was released on August 5th here in the states, and was directed by Richard Starzak and Mark Burton. It was a solid hit with it making over $96 mil of its $25 mil budget. So, how good was this movie to me? Is it truly one of the best animated films of 2015? Maybe you should be like the sheep, and mosey on through the review, and find out.

The movie is about a sheep named Shaun and his flock of sheep friends that live on a farm that is owned by, well, a farmer. After going through the same routine after a number of days, Shaun decides to find a way to get a day off, which results in some shenanigans, resulting with the farmer ending up in the big city. It is up to Shaun and his friends to go into the big city and to save their farmer!

So, what does this stop-motion animated film do so well that it was considered one of the best animated films of 2015 and one of famous game designer Hideo Kojima’s favorite movies? One element it does well is that it has no real dialogue. Yeah, it’s a The Triplets of Belleville kind of situation, where the film relies more on its visual format to actually tell the story and get emotions out of the characters. It’s actually nice to see animated films do this, since it means that the writers and story creators don’t have to lean on lazy writing and pop culture lingo. Now, with that said, there are actors, but the most you will get out of them are grunts and other noises. Still, the choice of having no real words spoken won’t mean anything if the animation isn’t top-notch, and well, it’s Aardman, so it is top-notch animation. The characters move fluently, and the facial expressions are just hilarious to see unfold. Since this is Aardman, the physical humor is sidesplitting. It’s easily some of the best physical comedy you will ever see.

If I had to complain about something, it’s the story. The story is well told, but it is simple, and the villain, while funny, is not very interesting. It’s just a nitpick, but I can see some people for one reason or another not wanting to see this sort of silent film.

Overall, Shaun the Sheep Movie is a simple, charming, kind-hearted, entertaining, and beautifully-executed movie. It rightfully deserves that Oscar nomination and all of the high praise it received. It also makes you wish that Lionsgate, the distributors of the film, could use Shaun the Sheep as a milestone in what good animated films are, and help out other creative studios instead of well, Norm of the freaking North! Seriously, your first good animated family film in forever, and they think a good follow-up is a film where Rob Schneider is a polar bear? However, I’m telling you, if you pick up Shaun the Sheep Movie, for the love of everything that is amazing, skip the previews. It’s nothing but garbage. Well, we got that out of the way. I am feeling up to looking at an anthology film once more, but not just any anthology film, an anthology film based off of Halo. Thanks for reading, and see you all next time!

Rating: Go See It!