Friday, February 16, 2018

Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017) - FFF - Through the Eyes of Cat

By Cat

Number Rolled: N/A
Movie Name/Year: Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017)
TaglineWho will be ruined, Human or Godzilla.    
Genre: Animation, Sci-Fi
Length: 88 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production CompaniesPolygon Pictures, Toho Company, Netflix
ProducersYoshihiro Furusawa, Takashi Yoshizawa
DirectorsHiroyuki Seshita, Kôbun Shizuno
WritersGen Urobuchi, Sadayuki Murain, Yusuke Kozaki
Actors:  Mamoru Miyano, Takahiro Sakurai, Kana Hanazawa, Yûki Kaji, Tomokazu Sugita, Junichi Suwabe, Daisuke Ono, Kenta Miyake

Blurb from NetflixFaced with a grave dilemma, the crew of the Aratrum decide to return to Earth. There, Haruo and his shipmates make an astounding discovery.

Cat's Point of View: 

I was rather excited to see that a new Godzilla movie was slated for Netflix when we were sifting through trailers for the November 2017 Top 20 list. I even listed it as my personal #17. The fact that it was anime was icing on the cake, really.

While this film does have an English audio track, I chose to watch with the Japanese audio and subtitles. Occasionally, some nuances can get ‘lost in translation’ when you view something in a language other than its original. Don’t get me wrong, some anime out there have excellently translated English dubs – I just didn’t want to take a chance with my first watch-through of this one. To be fair, when I did discover (after the fact) that English was available, I did replay a bit of the first scene to compare and it was fine. In fact, I hadn’t turned the English subtitles off, so it was showing the translation version. The English dub actually flowed a little better. Some of the fun of watching anime, for me at least, is finding the occasional odd translation…but I digress.

I loved the animation style for this movie. The colors were vibrant and there was such nuanced detail. This is my favorite style of anime, to be honest. Sure the cutesy sort where characters in distress have sweat-drops and ultra-cartoony expressions are fine – it’s just not my preference. That’s not saying I like them any less – I just prefer the animation of say Ghost in the Shell (1995) and Wolf's Rain (2003-2004), for example.

Moving on!

I thought the narrative for this film was interesting. Godzilla, and monsters of his ilk, have chased humanity from Earth. When faced with dire choices, do they dare try to return? The movie’s packed with drama, action, and emotion. Some might diss Godzilla’s appearance here for being slow or something along those lines – but I actually appreciated the take on the ‘king of monsters.’ This guy is massive and gargantuan things like that generally wouldn’t move ultra-fast, right? It felt spot-on, to me at least.

This really was everything I hoped it would be – from the classic Godzilla creature aesthetic to the action-packed and emotion-driven story. While there wasn’t a catchy tune laced into the movie itself, I adored the tune playing during the credits.

I’m looking forward to the next 2 installments of this trilogy. If you’re a fan of Godzilla or anime, or want to check either genre out, I’d recommend this movie in a heartbeat. 

Speech Available:  English. French, Japanese (original), Japanese (audio description), Mandarin, Spanish
Subtitles AvailableEnglish, Japanese [CC], Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Traditional Chinese

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 54%
Metascore - None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.1/10

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5

P.S. There's a scene after the credits.

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Woody Woodpecker (2017) Through the Eyes of Cat

By Cat

Number Rolled: N/A
Movie Name/Year: Woody Woodpecker (2017)
TaglineGet ready for a lesson about the bird and the bees.
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family
Length: 91 minutes
Rating: PG
Production CompaniesUniversal 1440 Entertainment, Universal Animation Studios
ProducersMike Elliott, George Engel, Chris Foss, Lisa Gooding, Greg Holstein, Alex Zamm
DirectorAlex Zamm
WritersAlex Zamm, William Robertson, Daniel Altiere, Steven Altiere, Walter Lantz, Ben Hardaway
Actors:  Eric Bauza, Timothy Omundson, Thaila Ayala, Graham Verchere, Jordana Largy, Scott McNeil, Adrian Glynn McMorran, Chelsea Miller, Sean Tyson
StuntsCurt Bonn, Lisa Chandler, Kevin Fortin, Ivett Gonda, Cameron Hilts

Blurb from IMDbThe hyperactive red-headed bird enters a turf war with a big city lawyer wanting to tear down his home in an effort to build a house to flip.

Cat's Point of View: 

I’ll admit that my first thought upon seeing this title available on Netflix was ‘what in the world?’ I can’t remember any buzz about this movie whatsoever. I would think it would be something that would stick with me, considering I’m a fan of the original series. (I never saw any of the new cartoon series that aired at the turn of the century.) Likely, there hasn’t been much fanfare here in the States since the movie was released ‘straight to video’ here. The theatrical premiere was in Brazil. Apparently the cartoon’s re-runs still play frequently on Brazilian TV networks…but I digress.

I’m a bit on the fence about this film.

Even without trying to recreate a live-action version of any of the show’s episodes (to my knowledge), the film still wasn’t all that original. It felt like most other new-teen-in-town movies with a hefty dose of developing land better left unspoiled and hillbilly numbskull tropes.

One thing that did strike me while watching this movie was that cartoon violence such as explosions, electrocution, and the like feel far more insidious when translated into a live-action framework. I’d imagine that the nearly homicidal mischief along those veins is what earned this comedy its PG rating.

I enjoyed Woody’s fourth wall breaks. Their timing was appropriate and it felt right for the character and his personality. It was interesting, however, that they threw a little bit of a twist in that people weren’t able to understand what Woody was saying. In the cartoon series, this was not the case. People knew what the kooky bird was saying. Here, that was only reserved for the audience. I am not sure about applying such realism to an obviously cartoon bird when things like gravity didn’t seem to consistently apply. That might just be me, though.

The performances were on par with my expectations for the movie. I don’t think anyone’s going to be nominated for awards here, but it was still fun. There were even a few relatively well-known actors. Timothy Omundson (Mission: Impossible III, Psych, Wild Honey) was highly recognizable. I’d seen him last in Galavant (2015-2016). While voice-acting doesn’t always gain visual recognition for a person, the work Eric Bauza (DuckTales, Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Star vs. the Forces of Evil) has done in the current cartoon industry is rather awesome.

I watched a good bit of Woody Woodpecker in the 1990’s. Sometimes I even got up early enough to watch the paper carriers delivering down my street in order to catch the show before getting ready for school. Today, I can’t believe I was able to do that – I am most definitely not a morning person. Long story short, though – this cartoon is somewhat dear to my heart. That’s what made it irresistible to pass up the chance to watch the movie for this review. 

All in all, the movie wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t exactly what I’d call ‘cute’ but it was pretty close. I’m not sure that die-hard fans of the red-headed woodpecker are going to love it, but for most purposes it was generally entertaining. 

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English [CC]

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 20%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 66%
Metascore - None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 4.7/10

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 2.5/5

P.S. There's an original Woody Woodpecker cartoon short after the end of the credits.

Movie Trailer:

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Ritual (2018) - Through the Eyes of Cat

By Cat

Number Rolled: N/A
Movie Name/Year: The Ritual (2018)
Tagline: They should have gone to Ibiza. 
Genre: Horror
Length:  94 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production CompaniesEntertainment One, Imaginarium Productions, Netflix
ProducersRon Ames, Jonathan Cavendish, Richard Holmes, Xavier Marchand, Patricia Poienaru, Phil Robertson, Andy Serkis, Chloe Sizer, Will Tennant
DirectorDavid Bruckner
WritersJoe Barton, Adam Nevill
Actors:  Rafe Spall, Rob James-Collier, Arsher Ali, Sam Troughton, Paul Reid, Maria Erwolter, Kerri McLean, Jacob James Beswick
StuntsCiprian Dumitrascu, Marius Florian, Razvan Gheorghiu, Mihai Ionita

Blurb from IMDbA group of college friends reunite for a trip to the forest, but encounter a menacing presence in the woods that's stalking them.

Cat's Point of View: 

I remember seeing the trailer for this movie when I was narrowing down the Top 20 list for October 2017 movies. It didn't quite make the cut, but that month was full of difficult decisions. The film was originally released on Friday, October 13th in the UK and only just now received a US release via Netflix. 

This suspenseful Scandinavian tale of terror is a novel adaptation, though I can't say that I've heard of it before. I'm rather intrigued, however. I am left wondering how much more detail of the events might be found within the pages. Elements of the story pull from Norse mythology - at least in inspiration. It's a culture I enjoy learning more about. 

That being said, it was not something that became a focal point of the movie. Generally, there were only subtle bits here and there until further along in the tale. It's also worth noting that the main characters are from the UK, while the setting is located somewhere between Norway and Sweden. You won't find any subtitles in this one. If the main characters don't know what's being said, you won't either.

The focus of the film was firmly planted upon the reunited college buddies off on an adventure to honor yesteryear. While getting in over their heads and the monkey-wrenches that are thrown into their plans aren't exactly groundbreaking ideas in plot or cinema; it didn't feel like the regurgitated mess that quite a few movies within the horror genre tend to be. I give it a round of applause immediately out of the gate for refraining from the found-footage angle. I am happy to report that zero shaky-cam went into the making of this feature. 

As a fan of creature features, I also appreciate how they handled those elements. The design of the critter, itself, was certainly the stuff of nightmares. It was terrifying and avoided looking cheesy in any way. I really enjoyed the build-up to the monster reveal. I would recommend watching this movie in surround sound or with headphones if at all possible so you can get the full impact of the sound-effects. Something that you can't see but can hear moving all around you was enough to give me the willies.  The production team did an excellent job building the suspense through the hide-and-seek with the supernatural elements and the skillfully applied soundtrack.

All told, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and I'd have no problem recommending it to fans of the genre, 

Speech Available: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Subtitles Available: English [CC], Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, French, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 68%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 57%
Metascore - 58/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.8/10
IMDB Score – 6.3/10

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5

Movie Trailer: