Anastasia (1997)

Time to revisit childhood favorites! I’m not going to lie. It might be a little deliberate to have chosen Anastasia since Netflix is doing “A” titles. Consider it a double feature in a way, especially since Anastasia is currently on Netflix (in Canada). Its also a good choice because I need to watch good movies also and not always average movies. It keeps the moral high and motivation even higher. So I’m going to try from now on. When the week is a little more quiet, I’ll work in another movie, hopefully with the same letter title as the Netflix that week. Summer is around the corner so I usually rest up in June to prepare for all the movie reviews in Fantasia Festival in mid-July.

Enough rambling! Let’s revisit Anastasia! ūüôā

Anastasia (1997)
Anastasia

Director: Don Bluth & Gary Goldman

Voice cast:  Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Christopher Lloyd, Kelsey Grammar, Hank Azaria, Bernadette Peters, Angela Lansbury

The last surviving child of the Russian Royal Family joins two con men to reunite with her grandmother, the Dowager Empress, while the undead Rasputin seeks her death.-IMDB

Don Bluth does have quite the magic. When I watched all these animated films when I was a kid or just younger, I never knew much about who directed and voice casts and all that stuff. ¬†Now that I’ve been in the movie blogger world, I know better. Certain names just seem to be the key behind a lot of movies. I never feel like Anastasia is appreciated or talked about as much as it should be. Fact is, Anastasia is really pretty and what shocked me even more is that its not from the powerhouses now. This is a Fox Animation Studios film. If you even look at the voice cast, there is quite a bit of amazing talent here. It even turns out that I’m doing a back to back John Cusack movie, unexpectedly. Much of Anastasia has to go to the beautiful animation and the fantastic music. I may have not seen this movie in forever, probably more than ten years, but I always hum Once Upon a December in sporadic moments. Of course, the whole soundtrack is quite memorable.

I probably should have reviewed Anastasia ages ago because I’ve always wanted to look at ALL of Meg Ryan’s movies and that project and even thought of it has faded away but I do still love Meg Ryan and her movies quite a bit. She voices Anastasia and she is so great in bringing to life our main character here. Anastasia is feisty and tough if not slightly naive also but she yearns to find her family but who knew that things would work out unexpectedly. She not only finds her family but also meets an unexpected guy who is flawed but also has his own secret.

Voicing Dimitri, the guy that Anastasia meets, is John Cusack. I’m going to be honest that I never acknowledged that he voiced this character. ¬†While I have a lot of appreciation for his acting, I still have a lot to learn about the movies he has been in. But, I do like his voice as Dimitri. It carries a cunning but still very sweet character. ¬†However, I do love Kelsey Grammar as Vlad quite a bit also. Vlad is such a charming and funny character, especially his obsession with Pooka. The cutest element of the entire film is Pooka. I guess dogs whether in real life or animated still are just uber adorable regardless.

Anastasia

¬†In any animated film, there’s always some villain and here we have Rasputin, voiced by Christopher Lloyd. While he is evil, he holds a comical value that is suitable for kids to watch. I’m not sure how young it would be suitable for but Rasputin is generically evil but still manages to make me laugh. Plus, he is literally falling apart and with the interaction he has with Bartok, his somewhat faithful bat, voiced by Hank Azaria, it becomes not scary but simply entertaining. Rasputin’s mishaps is what I looked forward to the whole time. ¬†While, Bartok was really just a background character that made witty reactions as the comic relief. Hank Azaria does have a great talent in voices and here he demonstrates it yet again.

Anastasia

Overall, Anastasia may almost be 20 years old but it still holds the charm with enchanting music and charming characters voiced by a wonderful cast. Meg Ryan and John Cusack does a fine job as the leads but Christopher Lloyd makes a comical villain and Hank Azaria does a great silly sidekick. It helps that they added in an uber cute dog Pooka to follow them on their journey. A must-watch animated film! I still love it every bit as much as when I first saw it! ūüôā

Before we leave, its important to add in a song (or two) from the movie!

Have you seen Anastasia?

Hop (2011)

Easter is just around the corner and I felt like I should post an Easter movie. ¬†How many are there out there? I already saw Rise of the Guardians (review HERE). ¬†Netflix had this movie sitting around and I remember seeing the first 10 minutes of it a few weeks ago at my boyfriend’s parents. ¬†Honestly, I have zero hopes for this one and I really think it’ll turn out bad but that is what makes it perfect for a brain-dead day ūüėČ

I always try to push away any early expectations or lack of before I see anything so lets check it out!

hop posterDirector: Tim Hill

Cast: James Marsden, Russell Brand, Kaley Cuoco, Hank Azaria, Hugh Laurie, Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins

Ever since he was a little bunny, EB (Russell Brand) has known that he will be the next in line to be the Easter Bunny to take over his father (Hugh Laurie). As he grows up and the time that he will take over the Egg of Destiny, he knows that he isn’t right for the job but rather he wants to be a drummer. ¬†Not caring for the consequences of the impending Easter day in 2 weeks, he runs away to Hollywood to search for his fame. ¬†There he meets Fred O’Hare (James Marsden) who accidentally hits EB with his car and takes him in. ¬†Fred has no direction in his life and while helping his sister (Kaley Cuoco) house sit for her boss, he tries to get his life in order while helping EB reluctantly as they both unknowingly is searching for approval from their father in their own way. At the same time, back at the Easter Bunny headquarters, Carlos, a chick and the current Easter Bunny’s number 2 wants to take over the Easter Bunny duties.

Okay, I give up. ¬†I don’t know how to make this sound interesting. I’m just going to leave the synopsis like that. ¬†You get the idea, right?

hop easter factory

Suffice to say that I didn’t really like it all that much but I didn’t particularly hate it either. ¬†It was just pretty blah, for lack of a better word. ¬†Now, I do have some pros I’d like to talk about before the cons. They are worth a mention and maybe what will push you to watch this. ¬†At the same time, I think maybe kids might get some enjoyment out of it more than say, me. I like pretty childish animation but as musical as this got, it didn’t really work for me. Oh right, I’m getting carried away.

One of the biggest pros is the beauty of the animation. ¬†C’mon! Look at that Easter factory: the vibrant colors, the details and even the animated characters were done in a rather cute way. Look at our ninja royal guards, the Pink Berets. ¬†They actually carry a bit of the Alvin and the Chipmunks qualities, in a way. Here’s for the director who made Alvin and the Chipmunks a few years back, right? Tim Hill gets to do this plus the little one is so cute and clumsy, qualities I love in animals ūüėČ

hop pink berets

Another pro is James Marsden. I never quite understand why he takes on these animation crossed with real life movies. ¬†I like it a lot usually, especially Enchanted (which I probably should review soon) and in this one, I actually liked Fred O’Hare. ¬†James Marsden pulls the funniest facial expressions and he puts some fun into this.

Hop 2011

I guess this makes me go to the bad part. ¬†What really hurts this animated flick is the story. ¬†It could because once you start the beginning narration, you already know what will happen in the end so the sense of danger never amounts to anything. ¬†And Carlos, our supposed villain, isn’t really that threatening. ¬†He’s actually kind of funny in a weird way but then Hank Azaria does his voice and that man is a voice genius. ¬†And then we have Russell Brand. ¬†I’m not a fan of him. Period. I don’t like him as an actor, or even as the voice of EB. As a voice, he was tolerable but nothing that made me feel like I liked EB very much either.

Hop 2011

Overall, if you are watching this with kids, they might enjoy it because its not scary and it has some nice happy beats and furry animated bunnies and chicks, plus lots of candy. ¬†However, the story does lack a bit of inspiration. Even its nice animation and James Marsden’s involvement couldn’t give it more life. ¬†I really don’t hate it. ¬†I’m just indifferent and I know that I probably wouldn’t watch it again.

Have you seen Hop? Do you have any movies you watch for Easter? What are your thoughts on James Marsden?

 

Happy Feet Two (2011)

I’m back from vacation meaning I had another 16 hours spent on the plane watching movies. ¬†This time I got around to another 5 movies. ¬†There were a few failures where I just passed out watching two other ones in the middle and caught an incomplete movie so I won’t talk about those. ¬†The first movie that I saw going back was a family animation called Happy Feet Two. ¬†I don’t know how well Happy Feet was to the public but I enjoyed it for the upbeat music and dancing. ¬†I loved it. Despite that, I still had this feeling that Happy Feet Two would be absolute crap as I had no idea how they’d do a follow up on it. ¬†I was pleasantly surprised though, as I enjoyed it quite a bit. ¬†A great movie to start off my long flight back home.

Happy Feet Two focuses on Mumble (Elijah Wood) and Gloria’s(Pink) son, Erik (Ava Acres) who doesn’t seem to know his place and his talents to find himself in Emperor Penguin world. ¬†When¬†he sees Ramon (Robin Williams) running off to find his world again, Erik and his two friends trail behind him and end up meeting Lovelace (Robin Williams) and the Mighty Sven (Hank Azaria). ¬†The mighty Sven grows on Erik because he sees the possibility to achieve the impossible if you have the will. ¬†Sven is actually a puffin that tricks everyone to believe that he is a penguin that can fly. ¬†At the same time, we meet krills that want to escape the food chain and be different with Will the Krill (Brad Pitt) and Bill the Krill (Matt Damon). ¬†They form somewhat of a side story. ¬†Something in the environment suddenly changes and the Emperor Penguin world shifts lower and all the penguins are now stuck with no food. ¬†The only ones outside are Erik and his two friends and Mumble who went out in search for him. ¬†With the help of the penguins from Ramon’s world, they face this emergency and try to find a way out that they need everyone to help them out.

Its a pretty simple story. ¬†Whats really nice and I think works well for Happy Feet in general is the musical elements. ¬†We get upbeat music to match up with penguins dancing and singing through happy and sad times. ¬†I’m not saying that we can all live through life and just forget our problems with dancing and singing but I have to say that its help me through a lot of tough times. ¬†I think that has a factor on how much I did enjoy the movie. ¬†It was just fun. ¬†I don’t think its as good as the first one, but it does a pretty good job. ¬†I think also another contributing factor to why I enjoyed it was the voices. ¬†Everyone is top of the line. ¬†Robin Williams did voices for two parts and it had hints of the voice when he did the Genie in Aladdin and I really liked it. As usual, Hank Azaria does a great job also as Sven. ¬†Matt Damon and Brad Pitt join in as well for Bill and Will the Krills and they were quite fun to watch and listen to. ¬†The only thing was that it seemed that they were trying to ride the popularity of Ice Age and the squirrel side story. ¬†Its still entertaining for the Krills to have the stage but at times, it seemed a bit like it was trying hard to make sure it kept the movie in a uplifting mood even when it was meant to be slightly more serious. I wonder if it was really a necessary addition sometimes.

Overall, I did enjoy this movie. ¬†It was a very pleasant surprise. ¬†Did it give me any laughs? Not really. ¬†What it did give me was a fun and musical time with a few heartwarming moments. ¬†That was great for the beginning of the flight and it got me ready for the next one. ¬†If you enjoyed the first one, I’d expect that you’d find some fun with this one.

Did you see this movie? Enjoyed it? Maybe you enjoyed it more than the first one?