Kubo plays the Two Strings featured review 

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS – His Guitar Gently Weeps

Kubo and the Two Strings is an obscenely beautiful technical masterpiece, and may be the most incredible achievement yet in stop motion animation. While there’s obviously a layer of digital assistance rounding out the magic of Laika’s lively physical figures, the blend is wonderfully seamless. But that’s not all, because Kubo also boasts the best story yet of Laika’s impressive filmography. Kubo is about legacy – how it is shaped not only by our actions and values but through our families and the stories we leave behind. These themes are bolstered…

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The Little Prince - The Little Girl, Fox, and the Aviator featured review 

THE LITTLE PRINCE – A Masterpiece Lost to the Stars

For better and for worse, The Little Prince does a lot with very little. The film takes a short, surreal children’s tale and frames it within an all new story in the “real world” meant to contextualize the story’s importance. Despite the inherent arrogance of deciding a worldwide bestseller requires contextualization, the approach is actually largely effective… until it isn’t. Perhaps 50% of the film feels like an unquestionable animated masterpiece – gorgeous, thought provoking, and touching in ways that rival the best Pixar has to offer. Another 25% of…

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Sausage Party - Shock featured review 

SAUSAGE PARTY – How Do you Like Them Apples?

[Pictured above. The face you will make during the majority of this picture.] The entire process of reviewing a work of art is subjective. Everyone places a slightly different emphasis on different aspects that are important to a piece, not to mention having different opinions about how well those pieces work. But Comedy films are a particularly tough nut to crack. A joke that simply works for one person, simply won’t for another, often regardless of how well thought out the joke is, or how it’s told. Sausage Party falls…

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New Brother in The Secret Life of Pets review 

THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS – Bringing the Looney Back to Tunes

There was a time, not so long ago, when cartoons were just expected to make us laugh. Maybe a feature would have an exciting adventure, or a lesson about togetherness – y’know… family friendly stuff. But as long as it was a hoot to watch it was fulfilling its animated destiny. Then Pixar came along and ruined it for everyone. Their films had all of those qualities, plus human themes that nearly always brought us to tears. With a light touch, Pixar made us rethink what it meant to be…

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Finding Dory in a Cup review 

FINDING DORY – “Just keep swimming…”

I wasn’t a huge fan of Finding Nemo. The film was enormously successful for Pixar and one of its biggest crowd pleasers. I thought it was cute, but that the plot structure was really meandering, and that its message was weak compared to a lot of Pixar’s best. Worst of all, I didn’t connect to the protagonist Marlin (Albert Brooks). In fact, I actively dislike him. I don’t see Marlin as having any positive character traits. He’s a neurotic, snippy worrywart. Sure, he loves his son. He’s not a monster. But honestly, Nemo’s blank slate innocence and growing up story was a far more compelling part of the story to me.

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Up - Russel's Missing Assisting the Elderly Badge top 25 

UP – “We Don’t Need No Stinking Badges”

[Full spoilers for Up follow]

[For the love of God, if you haven’t seen Up, please go watch it right now]

Pixar’s UP (2009) is one of my favorite films of all time. A masterpiece of smart storytelling decisions amount to what may be one of the most dense and tightly paced narratives in existence. Within 96 minutes the film effortlessly blends comedy, tragedy, adventure, and one of the most meaningful examinations of the human condition yet committed to celluloid. And in a format accessible to all ages! In its first 11 minutes, Up exhibits a more thoughtful, true, and heartbreaking love story than most films manage in their entire runtimes. It has to, because while Up is a film about Love, it’s equally about Loss. While these elements to the film are in the text, they’re also supported by an incredibly deep, yet seemingly effortless symbolism that perfectly represents the effect of loss on human Identity.

Up is all about badges.

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Zootopia - Nick Wilde fondles Bellwether's hair review 

ZOOTOPIA – You and Me Baby, Ain’t Nothin’ But Mammals

ZOOTOPIA is a success for Disney on many levels. Financially it just destroyed the previous box office opening weekend of Frozen. From an animation standpoint it’s setting new technical achievements. One giraffe in the film has more hairs (9 million) than the entire cast of Frozen combined, and the level of detail shows. But most of all, it succeeds in simply being a really good movie.

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Leonardo Dicaprio in The Revenant mailbag 

OSCAR-BAIT

Thank God Leo got his Oscar! I’m pretty sure if he hadn’t, his next attempt would have killed him. That poor desperate man.

Welcome back to The Powerwolf’s Monday Mailbag, where we discuss all your most pressing thoughts about the film industry. This week we discuss why groundbreaking films constantly get robbed in the Oscars, whether or not Studio Ghibli has a future, and why they don’t make cartoons like they used to.

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Only Yesterday on the bus review 

ONLY YESTERDAY – Reflecting on What Makes us Who We Are

Originally released in Japan in 1991, ONLY YESTERDAY was the fifth film from the prolific Studio Ghibli film studio. Now in theaters, it is the last from their archive to be distributed in North America, and includes a serviceable English dub featuring up-and-comer Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire).

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