Week 7 is here! And by that I mean, of course, that I watched the Week 7 movie finally when, in reality, it has been like 5 weeks since Week 6. Am I ashamed of this? A little bit. Should I be? Absolutely not. And here’s why:
- Not sure if you heard about it, but there is a global pandemic. The anxiety from that cataclysmic, world-ending-esque event alone is enough to paralyze me on any given day.
- I started a new job, which will always require a lot of focus and time. Oh, and did I mention there is a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. So, I am learning everything and meeting new people remotely. Again, time and focus.
And honestly, those are my only two excuses. I really thought more would come to me once I started the numbered list thing. Regardless, now is the time to move forward.
This week’s challenge was to watch a stop-motion film. I could’ve easily phoned this one in because one of my favorite films of all time is Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox and I could’ve written a 4000 word blog about that in my sleep. But, for you, I decided to go back and revisit a film I’d only seen once when I was around 7-years-old, Chicken Run. Let’s get to it!
If ever there was a juggernaut in the stop-motion animation space, it would definitely be Aardman and Director Nick Park. The aforementioned collaboration is responsible for creating perhaps the most beloved stop-motion characters of all time, Wallace and Gromit. Chicken Run is a stop-motion, claymation film from the collaborating studios of Aardman Animations and DreamWorks. The film is widely known for being a cinematic achievement in the area of stop-motion as it came out at a time when feature-length stop motion pictures were not common (spoiler alert: they still aren’t common). Additionally, it is the also the highest grossing stop-motion film of all time. According to Box Office Mojo, the film grossed north of $224 million combined in domestic and international box offices. In a way, Chicken Run really demanded to be the choice for Week 7, so I was excited to give it another look.
It would be criminal to start a review of any stop-motion film without first addressing the art. Similar to comic books, animated films have to be judged by the quality of the art as much as they are judged by the quality of the narrative. In this case, I am happy to report that the art in this movie – still to this day, I might add – is absolutely jaw-dropping. And what’s really interesting about this is that I am not really a fan of the character design (chickens with teeth? eww.). Usually, disliking something as fundamental as the character design would mean bad news for my thoughts on the movie but, in this case, the quality of animation was so high that the characters themselves were not the focal point.
Which brings me to the crux of my thoughts on this movie. The one characteristic of Chicken Run that makes it a remarkable cinematic achievement is that it wasn’t limited by its medium. It was as if they wrote and designed this movie focused solely on the narrative and all decisions made were agnostic of the animation. The reason I say that is that the filmmakers attempt many things I would not expect in a stop-motion film: legitimate slapstick comedy, storms with lightning, mid-air battle sequences, the list goes on. But they did all of those things and I’d have to imagine that is because they prioritized their story and basically said “we’ll figure it out” on the animation side of things. They clearly took zero shortcuts and it’s extraordinarily admirable.
Now for the rest of the film which, frankly, is slightly underwhelming. Despite great voice acting performances, the narrative is one-dimensional and predictable. And yes, with any kids movie there is going to be a certain level of predictability. But this movie didn’t do anything new with its character builds or inter-character relationships to add a layer of intrigue or uniqueness. For that reason, it struggled to keep my attention.
Additionally, the British-style comedy that often appears in Aardman productions is not my personal favorite. I remember being floored when another Aardman production, Shaun the Sheep, got rave reviews because I found it incredibly boring. So, I’ll just chalk that up as British humor not being my cup of tea (see what I did there?).
The story itself is nothing of significance in comparison to the artwork and execution. To love Chicken Run is to love the artform of stop-motion animation and I really do think it is as simple as that. It’s also worth noting that the sequel to Chicken Run has been picked up by Netflix and is expected to join their catalog in 2021.
Kernel Score: 7.2/10
Week 8’s challenge is to watch a film “Set During a Historic War.” And, because I loved Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods from earlier this year, I’m definitely going with a Vietnam War movie. The question is which one… I’ll leave it up to you to decide. Keep an eye on our Facebook page this week for a chance to help choose which film I’ll watch next. Thanks for reading!
If you like superheroes, then you will love this super-packed superhero-centric episode! Our show starts with What’s Poppin’ which this week includes tons of DC Comics News Marvel News including The Batman, The Suicide Squad, Spider-Woman, Black Adam, Wonder Woman 1984, and more. Next, we follow up what’s poppin’ with our review of the quasi-superhero movie Project Power (exclusively on Netflix). Finally, this week’s show wraps up with our Schoolyard Pick of Worst Super Powers. Grab your cape, and pull your underpants over your jeans. It’s time to get super!
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Time seems to move slower during a pandemic, but Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” certainly helps reset our momentum on screen and off. Join Cam & Kirk as they navigate their first video stream episode (audio only here folks), digest some scary “The Batman” news (RPatz!), breakdown a spoiler-free review of the first Blockbuster of 2020, and walkthrough Nolan’s filmography before time runs out.
Also: Don’t miss the boys beautiful faces on our first full review video!
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On today’s episode of Popcorn for Breakfast, and with heavy hearts, we say goodbye to the late Chadwick Boseman. We talk about his impact on film and the world at large before giving our final thoughts on his tragic passing. After our tribute, we dive into the latest news from DC Fandome and beyond before wrapping up our show with our review of The New Mutants. Thanks for listening. Rest in power, King T’ Challa.
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Being in quarantine due to a pandemic can make it feel like the days run together or never end. You might even say it starts to feel like a… time loop. (See what we did there) This week, the PFB guys reviewed the Hulu Original Film Palm Springs. The guys also take time to discuss Mulan arriving on Disney+ in September, the big Captain Marvel 2 news, and John Wick 5. To wrap up the show, Kirk and Cam face off in the Schoolyard Pick of Time Loops and discuss which situations they’d like to be stuck in FOR. EV. VER. (Any Sandlot fans in the house?) You won’t want to miss this one!
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Welcome to Week 6 of the 52-Week Movie Challenge. This week’s challenge was to watch a movie with subtitles! I feel like I could’ve interpreted this week’s challenge as either a) watch any movie you want with subtitles enabled or, b) watch a movie that must be subtitled for comprehension (aka a foreign film). I’m not one to take the easy way out, and I wanted to stretch any of you who are embarking on this journey with me out of your comfort zone a bit. So, I chose a very interesting foreign film that has been on my personal watchlist for longer than I’d like to admit: Baahubali: The Beginning. Anyway, this movie challenge is old hat by now so I’ll spare you any additional rambling and get right it into it.
I think the newly-minted Oscar-juggernaut Bong Joon Ho said it best: “Once you overcome the 1-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” Like all Bong Joon Ho films, I believe this quote has a double meaning. The first, and perhaps most obvious, meaning is that there are loads of amazing foreign films that people simply will not consider all because of subtitles. Meanwhile, there is so much talk these days about quantity of content. Everyone wants as much content as possible as cheap as possible. Well, I am here to tell you that Netflix (which most everyone has access to) has many amazing foreign films, and you could probably increase your content options by a third (total shot in the dark) if you started adding subtitled movies to your evoked set.
The second and more implicit meaning in Bong Joon Ho’s quote is that subtitles open up a level of film comprehension that is otherwise buried with captions turned off. By simply flipping on the captions option, you can ensure that you a) don’t miss any crucial pieces of dialogue, background noise, etc. and, b) that you see the language exactly as it was intended by the screenwriter. Personally, when I realized how much of impact captions could make to overall film comprehension, it was so noticeable that I never looked back.
And, as if my perfectly structured and counter-point-proof case above wasn’t enough, captions improve literacy! It might shock you but studies have shown that children who watch shows and movies with captions are 2 times as likely to become literate. That is a massive lift and one that cannot be ignored. So, while I cannot force you to adopt captions into your regular viewing habits, please accept this as my formal endorsement and strong recommendation that you do exactly that. Alright, now to the film.
Directed by S.S Rajamouli, Baahubali: The Beginning (Bah-HOO-buh-LEE) is an 2015 Indian epic folk film inspired by family stories, mythology, and a few other sources of historical fiction. The story begins with an exiled queen who, with her dying breaths, saves a young boy from certain death. The film goes on to follow that boys life journey as he strives to fulfill his destiny. As you can probably guess, he is met with many perils and distractions that make his quest less straightforward than he intended.
The movie contains dialogue in the Telugu and Tamil languages but (and here’s the doozy) Netflix USA carries the Hindi dub. So, yeah. I definitely chose the expert difficulty level for this week. If you watch this movie you’ll be hearing Hindi, seeing Telugu and Tamil mouth movements, and reading English subtitles. Sometimes you have to walk before you can run.
For a movie whose subtitle is “The Beginning,” it is hard to know exactly where to begin. I guess I’ll start with what is immediately apparent in the film which is that this film is a visual accomplishment that is second to none. At a modest budget of around $25 million, this film looks like Michael Bay, Zack Snyder, and James Cameron took a vacation to India and came back with a movie. The film boasts gorgeous color arrays, unique styling, and shot after shot of slow-motion, action-packed eye candy shot at a 16:9 aspect ratio with 120 frames per second. Understandably, the film’s CGI looks unmistakably cheap at times, but the savvy camerawork and overall aesthetic of the film help those moments blend in with the rest of this surreal mythological tale. Not to mention the action sequences which are 300-esque including a final battle that rivals Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ Battle of Helms Deep in scale, duration, and epicness (if that is indeed a word). Regardless of your interest in foreign films, this film is a must-watch for any action fan.
Shifting gears to the story, Baahubali: The Beginning has plenty to enjoy! The creativity and world-building is reminiscent of some of Hollywood’s great fantasy franchises, most notably the aforementioned Lord of the Rings Trilogy. That said, it is worth keeping in mind, if the film title wasn’t a dead giveaway, that this movie is the first of a series. For the first sixty percent of the film, it really feels like the conflict is going to be tied up and resolved by the end. Then, the plot completely shifts for the final forty percent to focus on the story’s prologue (for lack of a better term). That dramatic shift is one that I probably wouldn’t recommend if I was a part of the creative process, as it sort of whiplashes the audience from focusing on one part of the story for an hour and a half to abruptly focusing on a completely different aspect for the final hour. It makes for a less fluid story-telling process that is sure to lose some viewers attention along the way. My hope is that the second film in the series makes up for this lapse in creative judgment. So, I’ll be sure to swing back with additional thoughts when I wrap up the full series.
Another friendly disclaimer, if you are not familiar with Bollywood as a genre, do some reading on the genre heading into this one. While Baahubali is not technically a Bollywood production, it does contain many of the genre hallmarks, including the multiple musical numbers. Additionally, the acting is over the top at times and the dialogue leaves something to be desired, though that could obviously be due to the language barrier
Baahubali: The Beginning has transcended its national borders for a reason. Its visual acumen and fantastical creativity are truly world-class and are reasons enough to check this film out on your next rainy day. Though the CGI is a bit bumpy and the acting is a cut below, Baahubali leaves you with plenty of motivation to jump into the second installment. A viewing I plan to schedule sooner rather than later.
Kernel Score: 7.1/10
Onto week 7 where we’ll take on a stop-motion film. And though I was tempted to pick one of my all-time favorites, Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, I decided instead to revisit a movie I haven’t seen since I was a child: Chicken Run. Now seems as good a time as any to rewatch the Aardman Animations classic as its sequel will be coming our way next year. So, check out Chicken Run (available to stream on Hulu) over the next week, then “run” back here for another addition of the 52-Week Movie Challenge Blog.
Thanks for reading!
We’ve officially been around for 1 year, thank you all for listening through it all! But here at PFB, we don’t look back, we only move forward. So, rather than celebrating our anniversary, we decided to keep on movin’! On this week’s episode, we reviewed Netflix’s The Old Guard starring the incomparable Charlize Theron and Chiwetel Ejiofor. In addition to our movie review, we have two whole weeks of movie news to catch you up on in What’s Poppin’. This week we cover, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s recent relationship revelations, the new Star Wars show “The Bad Batch,” Black Widow, Fast 9, Tom Holland’s Uncharted movie, and much more. Finally, we wrap the show by paying homage to the great signature weapons of film history with our Schoolyard Pick of Signature Movie Weapons. Thanks for listening and be sure to subscribe, download, rate, review, like, comment, share, and follow!