IT ALL STARTED WITH SEA GLASS. Seeing children bent over picking at the ground like hungry chickens, they were searching the beach for bits of glass that had been polished for years by the ocean. I sat on a park bench above shifting my gaze from them to the calming water slipping quietly up onto the shore. As I listened to the kids periodically shouting out they found a piece of sea glass, I wondered where the glass originated. Could it have been a broken bottle, plate or piece of ceramic that was on a boat that had sunk a century ago, who knows? I wondered what the circumstances might have been; maybe the glass had traveled halfway around the world, tumbling over and over in the currents, until it landed right here up on our shore. Each and every piece of sea glass the children collected had all been part of something else from a different time. The thought fascinated me as I imagined a variety of scenarios based on a historical past. Maybe there was a bottle with a note in it that a child from a war torn country threw into the ocean, hoping someone would find it and come save them. AS I WAS THINKING OF the past I remembered my recent trip to the history museum. Seeing artifacts that were centuries old such as mummies and dinosaur bones created pictures in my mind of what life must have been like for these animals and individuals. Honestly I cannot stand camping so how could I have possibly survived back then? With that being said I do wish there was a way I could look into the past and see for example what circumstances led up to the first person who discovered fire. Another thing, I would like to know what caused someone to make a wheel; was it a boulder rolling down a hill or maybe someone tripped and began falling head over heels that made them think about the possibilities of having a round object as a tool. I could go on and on coming up with different scenarios and circumstances. Through my schooling it was always taught to us to look back on history as a guide to where we are now. Now we just enter something into an internet search engine and read about it; I prefer hearing someone’s story about a time gone past. Granted it would only go up to several decades past, but lucky for us this animated adventure comedy delved far back in time to show us what was really going on. THREATENED HAVING THEIR LAND taken over Dug, voiced by Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, The Danish Girl) agrees to a wager. The wager was based on a game that was called soccer. With Tom Hiddleston (Thor franchise, I Saw the Light) as Lord Nooth, Maisie Williams (Mary Shelley, Game of Thrones-TV) as Goona and Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner, Secrets & Lies) as Chief Bobnar; the movie studio that created this film is known for their claymation technique. I love the look of their films and the quirky humor they put into their scripts. Compared to their previous films I have to tell you this one was not one of my favorites. The story was odd with having a soccer game taking place during prehistoric times. As for the script there were some jokes and puns that were not as clever as I have seen them do in the past. Where I could not stop watching their fun previous pictures, this one bored me a little. If I think about it maybe prehistoric men and women did not have the luxury to be funny.
2 ¼ stars
One of the main motivations for breeding an animal is to make money. From my college studies I learned how much thought and detail goes into deciding which animal should be bred. Whether a farmer or racehorse breeder they each spot specific traits they want to be carried down to the offspring of their herd. I still remember a course I had where we were taught to look at a pig and figure out their most prominent traits for breeding purposes. Some of you who follow race horsing may already know a winning horse is worth more in retirement when they go out to stud. Aren’t you glad we are not animals? But I have to tell you I am just as fascinated by family traits as I was in animal science. The gene pool to me is this vast reservoir of a family’s history; it is a game of chance when a couple has a child. What traits will the child acquire from the parents? I am always curious when a business establishment is family owned and has been handed down from generation to generation. It makes me wonder whether each new generation has acquired the same set of skill sets to make the business a continued success. Even when I witness a child doing the same thing as one of their parents, like being a tennis player or painter, it amazes me how that talent filtered down to the younger generation. Though I have to tell you I know of a family that has a business that has been handed down and the latest generation involved with it dislikes being a part of it. They wanted to be something else but their family essentially forced them to follow in the footsteps of their parent. Gratefully that was not the case in this gorgeous animated adventure film. KUBO, voiced by Art Parkinson (Dracula Untold, San Andreas), never knew his father and could not understand why his mother insisted he be home before dark. She had a very good reason. With a mixture of claymation and CGI effects, this family film was magical and enchanting. The actors such as Charlize Theron (Young Adult, A Million Ways to Die in the West) as Monkey, Matthew McConaughey (Mud, Dallas Buyers Club) as Beetle and Ralph Fiennes (A Bigger Splash, Harry Potter franchise) as Moon King were wonderful voicing their characters. I do not know if the story was actually from Japanese folklore, but the script was something special. The way it brought in the topic of ancestors was beautiful. I felt there was the right balance of humor, drama, danger and thrills to create a connection to any age group watching this film. Not sure why but there is something about the art of claymation that attracts me. Maybe it is because I know how much effort has to be made to make the characters move seamlessly; the figures are just more dimensional to me. I do not know what else I could tell you except after seeing this picture I had wished I was part of Kubo’s gene pool.
A friend of mine has been making fun of me because of my new refrigerator. After many years the old fridge died and I had to buy a new one which was the easy part. The hard part has been arranging the food with the different configuration of shelves and drawers inside the new refrigerator. I am a creature of habit and find comfort in keeping a steady routine. So now when I open the refrigerator door I have to search for items because I was so used to knowing where everything was inside the previous fridge. This throws me for a loop and has been fodder for my friend’s teasing. Just for a reference point when you open her refrigerator plan on participating in a scavenger hunt. I know there are many people who constantly must have change in their lives; it can be anywhere from moving every couple of years to making sure they never have the same meal twice during the week. I on the other hand can and have eaten the same lunch at work for years; I know exactly what I need at the grocery store each week to maintain these lunches. Now there is another aspect to all of this and it is those individuals who imagine the grass is greener on the other side, to use a cliche here. All I have to say to that is be careful because you never know how things will turn out in reality compared to your dreams. If you do not believe me just watch what happens when Shaun the Sheep decides to take a break. WRITTEN and directed by Mark Burton (Chicken Run, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit) and Richard Starzak (Wallace & Gromit, Rex the Run-TV), this film festival nominated adventure comedy was a visual triumph. Using the stop-motion claymation style alone would have been fun enough; however, the witty and clever story had generational appeal. The way the writers included classic movie scenes with physical humor was utterly brilliant or let me say, baa-rilliant. There was very little dialog used throughout this film and I did not mind one bit because of the seamless movements of all the characters. It must have taken years to create this visual feast of a film. The thing I especially liked about the story was at its core there was a real heart to it. Some of the other movie studios that produce animated films could learn a lesson or two from this picture. For those of you (like myself) who prefer keeping a routine, I hope you can make an exception and go see this film. To those of you who need change then this film is a real change to what has been out recently at the movie theaters. There were 2 very brief scenes at the end of the credits.
3 1/2 stars
With some hesitation, I went to the early showing of this animated movie. As I suspected, the theater was packed with parents and their children. Don’t get me wrong, I knew this movie time would attract more children then a late night showing. The talking, eating, fighting and crying of various kids did not wipe the smile off of my face, though. Granted the father seated behind me who left with his crying child within the first 30 minutes, was enough reason to smile as far as I was concerned. However, this humorous movie had enough jokes, sight gags and fun claymation to keep me entertained. I thought the comedy had a bit more sophistication to it, geared towards the adults in the audience. Possibly the wonderful visuals would be enough to entertain the younger ones. The Pirate Captain, voiced by Hugh Grant (Music and Lyrics, Love Actually), was determined to finally win the Pirate of the Year award. Setting sail to plunder unsuspecting sailing vessels, the Pirate Captain knew the competition was stiff with Cutlass Liz, voiced by Salma Hayek (Frida, Once Upon a Time in Mexico) as one of the competitors. Both actors did an admirable job in their roles. For me, the stand out performance was from Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake, Harry Potter franchise) voicing Queen Victoria. The story, I felt, dragged out too long; but, I enjoyed just sitting and watching the beautiful art of claymation.
2 3/4 stars