Lifted, Pixar short (Gary Rydstrom 2007)

This review is on the 2007 Pixar short Lifted, directed by Gary Rydstrom. Link to the short:

Pixar is known for some fantastic animated family films. However, when they are not making us cry with toys going into a furnace, they make Pixar shorts. These shorts often go unnoticed by audiences and are much underappreciated. In 2007 Gary Rydstrom, a Pixar sound-editor, created a hilarious short called Lifted. Rydstrom wanted to have a go at directing for the company he worked at and thus created a cleaver and wacky animation for Pixar Lovers.

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Lifted is based around the idea of an alien abduction. The classic UFO is in the dusty barren location of what looks like Texas, USA (correct me if I’m’ wrong. My British arrogance is at play here), where the alien attempts to take a human in his sleep. Unfortunately, this abduction is a part of a test for the little green man, perhaps to get his abduction licence. He fails miserably in his attempts, causing a few bumps in the road to say the least.

The short opens with the stereotypical Sci-fi alien horror, with the creepy sound effects and MASSIVE UFO. Our poor sleeping abductee starts to be slowly lifted into the air, only to be bashed in the head… about 100 times. It’s a miracle he is still alive and what is even more incredible is the fact that he is still asleep.  He gets chucked, squashed, slammed, bumped and thrown around his bedroom in a series of hilarious false movements. It’s a perfect case of visual comedy without the use of much dialogue. The frustrated humour Is bound to make you laugh at the alien’s misfortune.

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From the inside of the UFO we see our alien struggle to press the correct button out of a panel of around 1000. It brings me back to the all the failed driving test I had to take until I finally passed (but let’s not go into too much detail on that). You can’t help but feel sorry for him. But again people always enjoy someone else having a hard time in a test and having a bit of a meltdown.  His stressful reactions, the angry stairs of the instructor and the shots of our floating human being smashed around his bedroom, Is a recipe for a simple idea that is bound to cause a few laughs. Lifted is short but gets to the point and doesn’t leave the audience waiting for their first bit of comedy gold.

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I would happily watch this again ad suggest that others take some time away from the usual Pixar and pay some attention to the brilliant shorts, especially Lifted.

How have you not seen this? – Deathbyapril- April Ely.

 

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Black Mirror (Charlie Brooker- Netflix, 2011- 2016)

Season 3 episode 2 ‘Playsets’

The Channel 4 science fiction horror has recently moved over to Netflix, allowing for more binge watching and a larger audience.  Luckily, despite the move, they have stuck to the usual fantastic and ‘get you thinking’ story lines. You are given a terrifying insight into what the future could hold if technology is going the way it is.

My personal favourite that had me on the edge of my seat and my house mate hugging my side was episode 2 of season 3 ‘Playtest’. When an American tourist comes over to England and runs out of money, he opts to test out a new game. The game connects to your brain so only the player can see and hear the simulation. The game personifies your greatest fear in a ‘fantastic’ new horror game. You start off small and end up experiencing your very idea of hell. It really makes you understand yourself and connection to your loved ones.

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The episode start off slow and makes you wonder how this episode could possibly lead to anything good but trust me when I say this, it’s one of the best Black Mirror episodes I have seen. Much like the structure of the episode, we start off with little expectation and are then chucked straight into the deep end without little preparation towards how it will end. We are given plot twist after plot twist and are truly left shocked.

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The horror is also true, normally with Balk Mirror we are just caused to think about our inner being and how screwed we are if technology does become so advanced but this has jump scares and horrific visuals. Some horror shows do have crappy special effects in terms of creating monsters, such as the early Doctor Who, Supernatural or Grimm but this is realistic for what they aim to achieve. It is horrifically beautiful. It’s not often when you could mistake an episode of television for a high quality cinematic product.

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The show is cruel to both audience and characters and we just want the nightmare to end. What if technology does go that far??!!! I would suggest that anyone watches Black Mirror. It is high quality, full of powerful discourses and will just get you thinking.

How have you not seen this? – Deathbyapril- April Ely.

 

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Ghostbusters (Paul Feig 2016)

A few years ago Hollywood decided to re-make ‘Ghost Busters’, we were worried but excited. A fantastic series of films are being brought back for the fans to geek over and for the younger generation to be introduced to something great. However, no film really beats the original and they probably couldn’t even touch the nostalgia of the first three films.  Hollywood then though ‘hey, why not make the Ghost Busters all women?’ This caused a lot of issues but to be honest I love girl power and was definitely on board.

Ghostbusters is based around a group of scientists who catch ghosts, pretty simple idea. If I was to go into more detail I would say that a bad man goes around New York and makes machines that let ghosts outs. These ghosts then terrorise the Americans. But all I want to see if the slime ghost and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

I’m going to go straight into the decision of making the main protagonists women. There is nothing wrong with the decision, the actors do a brill job and get the job done. The Ghostbusters are smart, funny and can take down all the ghosts in New York, just like the original lot could.  The story is still told and we get a kick out of the film. Us ladies also get a bit more’ go girl Power’ but that’s about it. If they wanted to make the film any better in this sense they should have avoided pointing out that they are women within the film. ‘Women am I right?’ But we can just take it as the film laughing at those sexists who hated the idea. The film then takes this one step further by taking Thor and making him their idiot receptionist but as he’s Chris Hemsworth we can look past his IQ. Plus he has a dog called ‘My cat’ so he is 100% necessary to this film.

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The Ghostbusters new receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) in Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS.

The film is light-hearted and gives us a good few laughs, manages to make the supernatural decent for little children and pays constant homage to the original. I don’t’ mean they keep in the original weapon, clothes, logo and car, which they do, they literally reference the past films. We get to see the living ghostbusters throughout the film playing different characters, such as the new research assistant or the taxi driver. The stay Puft also makes a great appearance. Lines in the film also  correspond with the original theme song.  An issue with this number of references is the idea that they might rely on these factors to be good in the eyes of the fans. I only really got excited whilst watching the film when Sigourney Weaver was in the end credit scene.

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Cabbie: I don’t go to Chinatown, I don’t drive wackos, and I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!

The story over all was good, it could have been a little more horrific and perhaps humorous, you could tell that they were aiming for humour overall but some of it was too spread out. It is defiantly no Oscar Winner but will do in terms of entertainment. The characters were what made the film instead of the plot and this is something that probably shouldn’t be the case.

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I do however have some issue with the ‘funny one of the group’ Dr. Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon) was supposed to be the secondary character that made you laugh the most but she often felt slightly forced and immature. She was funny but was the Jared leto’s Joker of the film. Everyone wants to be her but she wasn’t the best character in the film in terms of adding to the story.

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Erin Gilbert: What year is it?

Jillian Holtzmann: It’s 2040. Our president is a plant!

In my opinion the funniest character was Patty Tolen, the street smarts. Patty had the best one liners and was related to the original ghostbuster.

Patty Tolan: [as a ghost leaves on the subway] I guess he’s going to Queens – he’s going to be the third scariest thing on that train.

Patty Tolan: [turns around and sees a mannequin right behind her] Was that there before? Please don’t answer.

[the mannequin starts chasing her]

Patty Tolan: I said don’t answer!

Granted I am being harsh with this review. The film is funny and similar to the original in style but the target audience seems to have changed to a younger audience, which may have caused some of the immaturity. The women within the film are dominant characters to show that they can do a good job. The plot is well structured and entertaining for its genre.

 

Side note:

While i was looking for pictures to fit this post i found the best picture ever of the Stay Puft.

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How have you not seen this? – Deathbyapril- April Ely.

 

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American Horror Story Season 6 (FX,2016)

If you want top quality television and have the stomach for a bit of horror and gore then ‘American Horror Story’ is a much watch. Each season has a different story but will include the same actors so your favourite will always appear at one point or another.  The only problem with different stories is everyone has different favourite but everyone can agree that the first three seasons are the best. Season six is the latest instalment but for some reason has seemed to stray away from their usual traditions.

‘My Roanoke nightmare’ is based on a tribe that hangs around outside a house that a young couple had just bought. They torment them, break into their house and make pig noises from the garden but they never seem to really hurt any of the house members but it is only the second episode. It sounds very similar to the first season ‘Murder House’ so to ensure that audiences are kept interested FX shook up their style and turned it into a literal horror story. The story is turned into renactments of ‘real life’ encounter of Shelby and Matt Miller and other family and friends that come to stay at the house. We cut between the ‘real’ Millers and the actors. American horror story is finally a story.

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Since the new change many people have been torn between the old and the new. It’s hard to tell if the new style is any good and after 2 episodes it’s still difficult. We are missing some of the beloved conventions of the show such as the creepy opening title sequence and Evan Peters is yet to make an appearance. They have hidden a lot from the audience and it’s difficult to know where the story is headed but we can tell they survive because if they died no one would be there to tell the story.

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The excitement before the season seemed to exceed the excitement after the first episode. The marketing campaign was fantastic with FX hiding the theme of the show until the day of realise. We were giving very short teaser trailers that didn’t seem to add up. Each suggested a different story line. Some of the shorts still don’t make any sense. Anticipation was high but we were let down. I hope that the story develops into something fantastic with twists and turns and of course Evan Peters.

How have you not seen this? – Deathbyapril- April Ely.

 

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Scooby-Doo The Movie (Raja Gosnell 2002)

As a kid Scooby Doo was my favourite movie. At the age of 6 I went to the cinema with my parents and younger brother to watch this fantastic movie. I was able to see real life adaptions of my favourite cartoon characters and got to see Buffy play Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar). The childhood love for this film has stretched into my adulthood and I still think it’s one of the best kids films ever made. After stumbling upon my DVD copy hidden away I decided to relive the magic.

After the mystery Gang split up and go their separate ways for a few years, they are all invited to Mystery Island to solve well… the mystery. College kids are being turned into respectable adults (the horror) so of course there is something evil at large. However, as they still don’t get along they split up and search for clues but as this is the Mystery incorporated the feud doesn’t last too long.

The film opens with the case of the Lunar Ghost, where Daphne has been captured by the man in the mask. We are given the unrealistic conventions of the original cartoons, with shaggy (Matthew Lillard) being completely clueless, the pair miraculously surviving death traps and the characters floating in air a few seconds longer than humanly possible. You are thrown into the nostalgia straight away. Once the Lunar Ghost has been captured the fans and Pamela Anderson somehow show up to see the unmasking of Old Man Smithers. We get to hear the great “I would have gotten away with it to, if it weren’t for you rotten kids and your dumb dog…I’ll get you for this”. Yay childhood met. What we don’t usually get to see in the old cartoons though is them arguing at the end of the mission and then quitting the gang and destroying your dreams at the age of 6.

The film then cuts to the very stereotypical few years later because films find the passing of time so hard to portray. We are then given a joke that you defiantly didn’t get as a kid, a delight of re-watching any kid’s film, Shaggy in the van with smoke coming out of the top and the pair laughing like idiots. Yes we 20 year olds have accepted that Shaggy is a stoner but having the film indirectly tell us is a whole different story. When Shaggy ends up falling for a girl named Mary Jane played by Isla Fisher (who is allergic to dogs and loves Scooby snacks) you can’t help but defiantly agree that he smokes weed in his spare time. Another great ruin childhood moment is when shaggy says “you don’t need to know what Voulez-vous coucher avec moi means to love that song”. That’s enough Warner Brothers; this is a kid’s film!

Mystery Island tried to scare the gang but after years of hunting basically serial killers for a living, it’s pretty difficult. Velma (Linda Cardellini) is able to determine all the tricks of the island but when it turns out there is real monsters years of ‘it’s just a man in a mask’ becomes a lie. Even though this film is very good they still manage to taint the original. Daphne is a ninja and Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is shown to be a complete moron. The worst part is the fact that Scrappy Doo is crazy and evil, like why?!

* Scooby walk in dressed as an old lady*

Daphne: “No one is stupid enough to believe that”

Fred: “who’s the ugly broad”.

Luckily they make up for this with immature fart and burp jokes by Shaggy and Scooby having a gas off in front Daphne. If this type of humour isn’t your cup of tea don’t worry because the film is filled with both visual and verbal comedy that is still hilarious now.

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As the monsters turn out to be real and aren’t animated like usual, this could be frightening for a 6 year old. To remove the fear they added lots of silly jokes between the monsters and the gang. They also made the monsters fairly stupid, again making this more of a comedy than the usual genre of the cartoons. The only time the monsters are coherent is when they possess people, bringing back the man in the mask idea so they don’t completely ruin the classics. In Shaggy’s attempt to get his friends back to normal he releases their souls. Unfortunately, they go into the wrong bodies. Daphne is in Fred’s and Fred is In Daphne’s, this again calls for some inappropriate humour whilst simultaneously being the best part of the film.

*Fred in Daphne’s body* “Hey, I can look at myself naked” *looks down bra*

The kids’ part is also removed by the clothing of the characters, I’m not one to judge but I never imagine Velma in a crop top and mini skirt. This film was certainly made with both the children and the parents in mind.

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The film ends with the conventional saving of the day and the unmasking of the villain. But unlike the usual the villain is a dog … dogs aren’t evil this film is wrong! Fred and Daphne kiss and everything is ok again because kids’ films aren’t allowed to have an unhappy ending. Overall, the film is silly and hilarious for both kids and adults. However, if you have seen this film as both, you may be surprised at to what you will see. I really advice re-watching your childhood favourites because trust me there is a lot you didn’t notice.

How have you not seen this? – Deathbyapril- April Ely.

 

Follow me on twitter @apriely31 and Instagram deathbyapril for more updates.

Rick and Morty (Adult Swim 2014)

Rick and Morty is defiantly not a kid’s show, it may be a cartoon but since it is broadcast on Adult Swim then you can expect very adult content. With more swear words, violence and sexual references it’s not fit for Cartoon Network.

Rick and Morty currently is based on a scientist Rick and his grandson Morty (both voiced by Justin Roiland) who travel through different dimensions on adventures. However, with great power comes great irresponsibility , the two tend to get a bit too involved and get quite a few people involved on the way but as this is for adults they can go all out with some of the situations they get in to.  The pair also lives with Rick’s daughter and Mortys mum Beth (Sarah Chalke) and her idiot husband Jerry (Chris Parnell) a character who gets way too much crap from everyone else. He nearly dies because he’s bad at golf, gets version of himself stuck at a ‘Jerry’ day camp and nearly gets his penis removed to replace the heart of an alien. He is basically just a Jerry (like my Parks and Rec reference). The final character is Mortys sister Summer (Spencer Grammer), she is the typical big sister and occasionally gets dragged into the drama of her brother and grandad.

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The show very much focuses on random humour mixing Family Guy with Adventure Time. It seems like all the creators were on drugs. However, it does call for characters such as Mr. poopy Butthole and Mr. Vagina. My favourite character is defiantly Rick, a genius scientist who swears, is constantly drunk and therefore burping and more importantly doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself.

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It’s basically the most OTT show ever, with stupid plot lines, characters and a lot of pop culture references. We get a Purge episode and an Inception Episode, where we go into the head of Freddy Kroger, who for some reason says ‘BITCH’ a lot. It has all the makeup of a kids cartoon but without any of the childhood. The show has caused a massive fan following and of course lots of merchandise and memes. With 20 minutes an episode the show is easy to watch and you will be sure to get through the two seasons in only a few days. Luckily, season 3 is on its way… next year. BUT you will need to have a particular taste in show because there has defiantly been mixed reviews. I love the show but at first I did need some convincing so just give it a few episodes before you decide its fate.

How have you not seen this? – Deathbyapril- April Ely.

 

Follow me on twitter @apriely31 and Instagram deathbyapril for more updates.

Cinderella (Walt Disney 1950)

 

The 12th Disney Classic is your stereotypical Disney princess movie. The girl has a crappy life, probably because of something her parents or step parents did. They could have pissed off a witch or …died. But don’t worry the prince is here to save her and marry her so she can live ‘Happily ever After’. Even though the couple only just met, they are head over heels in love. With this film I mean it literally.

We all know the plot of Cinderella. She is forced to clean her house under orders of her evil step mother. The king then decides to have a ball to find suiters for her son to marry. Unfortunately, Cinderella is not allowed to go. However, when her Fairy God Mother shows up, she is made beautiful but only until the stroke of midnight. At the ball she finds the prince and they fall in love (gross). When she runs away because her time is running out, she loses a glass slipper. With this slipper the prince goes around the kingdom to see whose feet it would fit. As the shoe only fits Cinderella, he marries her. Of course there are a few issues with this. If the shoe fit her perfectly why did it fall off? Also there are a lot of people with the same shoe size. AND shouldn’t her recognise her anyway? She only had her hair tied up, a bit more make up on and a fancy dress; he obviously didn’t love her that much. But as this is a Disney film, it’s a bit silly to get into the logic of the film.

The film opens with the classic princess way, they even do this in Shrek (Vicky Jenson, 2001). It’s a story book setting up the narrative of the film because being creative must have been difficult back in the 50’s. It does though speed up the whole character introduction. We then get to see the beautiful soon to be princess as an adult. She wakes up happy, gorgeous and talking to animals. This is biggest lie of the film. To make things even more ridiculous she happily sings. I look like death when I wake up, want to kill the birds outside for chirping and if I sing it’s normally in a dull morning voice.  I have been told by people I live with that I look like a troll before my morning cup of tea.

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Now I’m going to excuse the talking animals because it’s Disney so you expect nothing less. The made a film about talking toys so I don’t think they strive for realism. Plus some of the animals are super cute. The best animal is defiantly the cat Lucifer. Perfectly describes cats.  Cinderella helps these animals and has so much empathy for everything. Why are all the princesses like a perfect representation of women? It does give little girls an idea of how to behave but I’m not sure if that is entirely a good thing. I might just be in shock about how differently she acts compared to me. For example, if I was forced to cook and clean for my bitchy step mum and sisters and she treated me like that, I’m 100% sure that I would have put draining fluid in their morning tea by now.  I mean Cinderella even pulls a Snow White by ‘Whistling while she works’ because all good women enjoy house work. I think the final straw would be my step sisters destroying my dress so I couldn’t go out.

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Luckily, Cinderella has a Fairy God Mother, who for some reason has only just decided to help her, despite the poor girls past few years. Again I would forgive this because of how catchy her song is.  All bad things in a film can be forgiven with a great musical number!

Have a good time, dance, and be gay.

A quote that would defiantly mean something different now but would still be just as fun!

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Despite Cinderella being forced to cook and clean the prince is also being forced to Marry. He looks so done with everyone until he meets Cinderella. They fall in love instantly, like all films like this. I guess they are getting better at realism now with Kristoff and Anna in Frozen (Chris Buck &Jennifer Lee 2013) but it did take a while. We even get another good song to celebrate. To fit with the conventions of a romance, there are conflicts and in this case it’s the spell that for some reason only lasts till midnight. I know that my night out last till about 4am but for children 12 is pretty late.

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People attempt to try on the glass slipper but luckily for us they don’t stick to the original with people cutting off toes and parts of their heels. I can’t stress how disturbing many of the Disney films would be if they stuck to the original fairy tales. They would all probably have a 15 age rating. Disney has been lying to us since the start. The shoe fits her and she gets married the next day because that’s how love works kids.

There we go, I guess the moral of the story is to wait and suffer through life until a magical old lady and a handsome man comes to save you. The film is typical for a film of this era and has the usual style for Disney. I think the only reason it’s considered a great film is because of its age and brand. It’s very average and puts across some questionable messages. The music is good for the era but the soundtracks of Disney have defiantly got better.

How have you not seen this? – Deathbyapril- April Ely.

 

Follow me on twitter @apriely31 and Instagram deathbyapril for more updates.