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My Top 5 Animated Movies

I have seen a couple of people (my sister included) put together a list of their five all time favourite animated movies… So I decided I would too, so in no particular order;

5. The Sword in the Stone

The Sword in the Stone was one of my most watched Disney films (apparently at one stage I watched this as often as my daughter watches Frozen, or at least used to we have had a rather healthy mix of film choices lately). I have always enjoyed the tales and myths of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table and Excalibur and something always spoke to me about a chosen one being the sole person the be able to pull a sword from a stone (and yes its only in some versions of the legend that it was Excalibur which was that sword).

For a film which was produced in 1963 I think it holds up well, really a testament to the timeless animation techniques of Disney that even today a child could go from The Sword in the Stone then watch Brave and then something like Cinderella and not feel like they are watching an “old film” despite the fact they are.

2. Zootropolis (or Zootopia)

Zootropolis (or Zootopia as its known elsewhere) is a great small guy movie with a great mystery story, the type of film that parents can enjoy taking their children to see at the cinema without it being  “city full of talking animals” kiddie film which it so easily could have been. The characters were well rounded and the story compelling. I didn’t have high hopes going into see this film, yes the trailers looked entertaining but so do so many. Couple with that we were taking a not quite 3 year old to be her first trip to the cinema it didn’t seem like a good idea.

Was I ever wrong, all 3 of us sat and enjoyed the film from start to finish so much that it was an easy choice to ask for both the movie and some of the toys for her from Father Christmas last year. Probably one of the best original films I saw last year.

3. Despicable Me

Despicable me is a film which features a villain as its main hero, its a fact that through out history the heroes have been made or broken by the character of their villains (what would Batman be without the Joker, Riddler or Penguin for example) and sometimes (possibly even quite often) the villain has been shown to be more interesting than the Hero.

This is how Despicable Me starts, with a (down on his luck) villain who goes round using his freeze-ray willy-nilly to queue jump in coffee houses, has an army of (literal) minions at home along with a mad scientist friend and an underground lair which could possibly even make Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark jealous. He will even use little girls selling cookies to help his nefarious schemes.

What results is a villian to hero journey due to finding a place in his life, home and heart for 3 sisters who to be fair are each as odd as he is in their own way.

4. The Lego Movie

Who would really sit through a film about LEGO? Yeh I am pretty sure many of us, even those of us who still liked the subject matter into adulthood, would have been asking that question when we first heard of it. Once again boy were we wrong. The LEGO Movie may not be the best movie ever but its a highly entertaining film which once again tailors to both a child and adult audience with even some poking at Adult Fans of Lego (or AFOL’s) especially with this [Spoilers] real world exchange between a Father and Son over a LEGO City;

The Man Upstairs: You know the rules, this isn’t a toy!
Finn: Um… it kind of is.
The Man Upstairs: No, actually it’s a highly sophisticated inter-locking brick system.
Finn: But we bought it at the toy store.
The Man Upstairs: We did, but the way I’m using it makes it an adult thing.
Finn: The box for this one said “Ages 8 to 14”!
The Man Upstairs: That’s a suggestion. They have to put that on there.

AKA when you’re young playing with LEGO it’s a constant cycle of build, take apart, build again but slightly differently (out of either fun or because you lost parts) but as an older person, especially a parent, you build it as it says in the instructions and want to keep it that way.

5. Toy Story

The animated movie which started the current generation of animated movies, A story of 2 toys (though one thinks hes a real Space Ranger) who start off as adversaries and end up the best of friends.

I could have gone on with this list with the likes of Beauty and the Beast, Frozen, Brave, How to Train Your Dragon etc etc but this is my top 5 so it only covers those I really enjoyed as a child or the ones I enjoy with my girls now (which before anyone asks I have watched, continue to watch and do, well I have to, enjoy watching Frozen with Evie).

I will say though I imagine as soon as I see it (unfortunately haven’t as of yet!) The LEGO Batman Movie will be bumping one off of this list

Movie Review (Retro) : Stargate SG-1 The Ark of Truth

In 2006 after 10 seasons on TV Stargate SG-1 came to an end with the 214th episode “Unending” (ironic but the title made sense within the story itself as a theme as well as for the final shot, more on that later)

For me the Stargate franchise is up there amongst not only my favourite Sci-fi shows joining company including Farscape (which shares actors Ben Browder & Claudia Black) and only surpassed (arguably) by the various Star Trek series.

The Ark of Truth, a Direct to DVD feature movie, picks up where season 10 left off with SG-1 looking for a way to defeat the forces of the Ori.

BUDGET - $7 million
WRITTEN BY - Robert C. Cooper
DIRECTED BY - Robert C. Cooper
STARRING - Ben Browder (Cameron Mitchell), Amanda Tapping (Samantha Carter), Christopher Judge (Teal'c), Michael Shanks (Daniel Jackson), Beau Bridges (Hank Landry), Claudia Black (Vala Mal Doran), Currie Graham (James Marrick), Morena Baccarin (Adria), Tim Guinee (Tomin)

The Ori, an advanced race of humans from another Galaxy, were once part of a culture shared by another group who became known as the Alterans (the people who along with the Stargates built the Lost City of Atlantis) but had a difference of opinion on whether Science or Religion was the way of the future. After some time the Ori along with their followers tried to destroy the Alterans who decided to leave for another Galaxy (the Milky Way) and a fresh start.

Millions of years ago both of these groups learned how to “Ascend” to a higher plane of existence. The Alterans who became known as the Ancients believed in not interfering with the mortal plane while the Ori demanded that the unascended people of their Galaxy worship them like gods (after all as an Ascended Being they do poses some rather godlike abilities). This worship was compulsory and the sole punishment for non believers is to be put to death and spend “eternity in fiery torment” (oh the method of execution being by fire) which we later learn helps to fuel their power base giving them an advantage over the Ascended Ancients who continued to be their enemy.

The mission was simple, take the Earth ship Odyssey to the Ori Galaxy via a space based Supergate, find the Ark and use it to dissolve the Ori’s fanatical power base of followers.

Without overly spoiling the film the mission is a success even with an added complication from the Replicators (a metal spider like foe who consume a ships materials to build more of themselves who were previously defeated in Season 8) thanks to the IOA (the International Oversight Committee who part fund the Stargate Program) which were meant to be used as a way to destroy the Ori fleet but once loose take over the Odyssey .

SG-1 The Ark of Truth Replicator

All in all its a rather satisfying end to the previous 2 seasons involving the Ori and feels like a good feature length or 2 part episode. While this is sometimes considered a bad thing for big screen films such as Star Trek Insurrection (generally considered not to be a fan favourite) some of the best episodes of scifi have been 2 parters like the season 3 finale/season 4 opening episode of Star Trek The Next Generation “The Best of Both Worlds”.

The ending felt rather familiar, being the team ready to undertake a new mission on the unexplored planet of “P3K-546”.

I say familiar because this is the way the finale episode ended though this time they don’t have an over reaching enemy to fight.

SG-1 Ark of Truth New Mission

The last line of the film was by Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell to start their next adventure “Walter, hit it!”

Images courtesy of MGM and Gateworld.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 First Teaser

In the last half an hour (ish) the first teaser trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hit the Internet… Showtime A-holes!

My honest opinion? I loved this trailer as it hit all the right notes (as to be fair most trailers put out by Marvel do) with a great mix of action, comedy, character moments and of course the song choice.

I’m not sure which is my favourite moment (Warning Spoilers)…

Drax laughing in Starlord’s face… The entire of the Internet will have been with him there, or the conversation revolving round Rocket explaining to Baby Groot not to push the “giant death button” leading up to Rocket and Starlord arguing over the fact noone has any tape to put over it while Groot runs off with the bomb!

Movie Review : Marvels Guardians of the Galaxy

So I missed out on watching Guardians of the Galaxy at the cinema as unfortunately I just didn’t get a chance to see it during its theatrical run so I took full advantage of a family member asking what I wanted for Christmas!

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE – July 31, 2014 (Theatrical UK), November 24, 2014 (DVD UK)
RUNNING TIME – 122 minutes
BUDGET – $232.3 million
BOX OFFICE – $773.3 million
WRITTEN BY – James Gunn, Nicole Perlman
DIRECTED BY – James Gunn
STARRING – Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro

The Guardians of the Galaxy (GotG) wasn’t a comic book I was too familiar with (my main Marvel read was Spiderman) but this was a refreshing take on a comic book movie and a sci-fi film in one.

The story focuses around the bringing together of 5 characters (who together make the Avengers look like a coherent, polished team) who despite their differences must band together to save the Galaxy.

First we have Peter Quill who prefers to go by the name Star-Lord, played by Chris Pratt (who was hilarious in Parks and Recreation) as the human (later revealed to be half-alien, spoilers) leader of the Guardians who was abducted from1988 Missouri moments after his mothers death from Cancer as a child in  and raised by a group of alien thieves and smugglers called the Ravagers.

Next we have Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana she is an orphan from an alien world which was destroyed by Thanos who was then taken to become his “favourite daughter” and trained to be one of his personal assassins. She betrays both Thanos and Ronan to seek redemption for her past.

WWE star Dave Bautista plays Drax the Destroyer, a warrior who seeks to avenge his Wife and Daughters death at the hands of Ronan (on behalf of Thanos). He comes from a race of aliens who take everything literally.

Rocket Raccoon is a genetically engineered “raccoon-like” bounty hunter and mercenary played by Sean Gunn (brother of Director James Gunn) on set and voiced by Bradley Cooper. Rocket is a master tactician (as well as a master jokster) and prefers large weapons in comparison to his size.

Groot, a tree-like humanoid, is played by Vin Diesel and is Rocket’s personal muscle and house plant (according to the Nova Core in the trailer). Groot can grow body parts to become more threatening or offer protection and the only thing he seems to know to say is “I am Groot” which Rocket seems to understand to mean different things.

The story begins with Quill dancing his way across a very alien planet to the tune of “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone played on an 80’s cassette player (the cassette being the “Awesome Mix” which provides the soundtrack for much of the film) and stealing an artifact from the dead planets vault.

Guardians of the Galaxy Star-lord Orb

This artifact , an Orb, becomes the McGuffin which drives the rest of the film as the main protagonist Ronan is also after it on behalf of Thanos (the big smiling guy who was behind Loki’s invasion attempt of Earth in The Avengers) and brings the four of the team together as Ronan sends Gamora after Quill as well as a pair of Bounty Hunters (Rocket and Groot) who are after the reward the Ravagers who Quill double crossed by taking the Orb for himself. This confrontation results in a 3 way fight which leaves both Quill and Gamora unconscious and Groot with no arms before the Nova Core (come to arrest them).

After ending up in a maximum security prison these 4 make an uneasy alliance with Drax who initially wanted to kill Gamora for her association to both Ronan and Thanos before being talked out of it by Quill.

The 5 make their escape and try and sell the Orb before learning exactly how dangerous it could be, loosing it to Ronan and making a deal with the Ravagers along with the Nova Core to come together and save the population of the planet Xandar from being wiped out by Ronan now harnessing the power of the Orb.

Guardians of the Galaxy is a very different type of Marvel movie and is the first which breaks out of the more well known heroes of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Hulk. Its combines action, comedy and a great soundtrack of songs from the 70’s and 80’s that many of us most likely heard on our own parents mix tapes.

With their 10th film entry Marvel are showing that their Cinematic Universe is continuing to grow and go from strength to strength after the success of Phase 1 culminating in the first Avengers film and this years Captain America (The Winter Soldier) which turned much of what we knew of the Earth part of the MCU on its head.

Guardians of the Galaxy Drax and Dancing Groot

Before seeing this film my favourite entries from Marvel would have been Winter Soldier,  Avengers and then the first Iron Man, now though I think Guardians could now have taken my top spot (or at least a joint first along side Cap’s second solo movie).

As we head towards the end of Phase 2 with next years Avengers 2 I can only look forward to the already announced sequel (looking forward to seeing what Vol 2 of the soundtrack has in store) as well as for further films outside of sequels for the original Avengers with Ant-Man following just after A2 next July.

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