Missing Link (2019): Good Animation Is Not Endangered

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“Missing Link” is directed by Chris Butler (ParaNorman, Kubo and the Two Strings) and stars Hugh Jackman (X-Men, The Greatest Showman), Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avatar), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks, Love Actually), Stephen Fry (V For Vendetta, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug), David Walliams (Britain’s Got Talent, Pudsey: The Movie), Timothy Olyphant (Santa Clarita Diet, Live Free or Die Hard), Matt Lucas (Doctor Who, Alice in Wonderland), Amrita Acharia (Game of Thrones, The Good Karma Hospital), and Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover, Due Date) in a film about an explorer who comes across a rare creature who we as an audience come to know as Mr. Link. It is eventually revealed that this creature has others of his kind and he calls upon the explorer who found him to help bring him to said others.

“Missing Link” comes from the brilliant folks at Laika, known for films like “Coraline,” “ParaNorman,” “The Boxtrolls,” and “Kubo and the Two Strings.” Granted, of the four films I just mentioned, I personally have witnessed two of them. But it does not change the fact that my experiences of watching those films were exhilarating and worth just about every second of my time. “Coraline” is just a blast! It’s a creative, slightly disturbing, and compelling animation from 2009 that I honestly question myself as to why I haven’t gone back to watch it just a few more times. And I’ll even say that “Kubo and the Two Strings” is even better! That film for now stands as a 10/10 in my book, and it’s up there with films like “Arrival” and “Captain America: Civil War” as one of my favorite films from 2016. As an aspiring screenwriter, it spoke to me. And wow! What Laika can do with stop motion animation is purely groundbreaking! As for “Missing Link,” it is not as good as those two films, but it’s still good enough to say it is worth a watch.

This film shines mostly for its upbeat and quick pace, and the film’s dialogue seems to fit the pace and vibe with ease. I really like the chemistry between all of the characters and there is a lot of humor in the film that didn’t feel immature. I look at particular animated films every now and then and see where they are going in terms of humor, they are CLEARLY trying to just get the attention of young children. Granted, that’s the typical stereotype when it comes to animated movies. Dancing! Fart jokes! Just write the script for the kids whose brains haven’t fully developed yet! Who cares if it’s s*it? Does Laika do that! Hell no! Instead, they are keeping all ages in mind while also trying to be smart, which is something I enjoy seeing from animated films or other movies that could probably cater towards families.

Although speaking of these films, “Missing Link” reminded me of a DreamWorks animated film that came out in 2009, specifically “Monsters vs. Aliens.” Granted, the storyline, not to mention animation style, is completely different, the ideas behind both films don’t really connect with each other. But I have a question.

Chris Butler, is “Monsters vs. Aliens” your favorite movie?

I mean, seriously! This film is called “Missing Link,” which is a decent title for a number of conceptual projects, but that’s not the point. If you have seen “Monsters vs. Aliens,” you may be aware that one of the monsters is a long-living fishman by the name of THE MISSING LINK! In fact, in the image above, he can be seen on the left! Now some of you may be thinking, “This is only a coincidence, how could this apply to what this jackass is saying?” Well, Mr. Link in this film also goes by the name “Susan.” If you are not familiar with “Monsters vs. Aliens,” Susan is the name of the main character of the film, who also goes by Ginormica, played by Reese Witherspoon. Is this film a secret tribute to a 2009 DreamWorks movie that played a part in my childhood? I ask because if that’s the case, holy s*it!

I also really like one thing the movie did towards the end, because it almost felt like a little trip into reality. It kind of reminded me of certain human issues that trace back to years before this film came out, and issues we continue to have today. It’s one reason why I really liked the character of Mr. Link so much, since I had the ability to sympathize with him. But it wasn’t like his character was a downer throughout the film. Much like some other characters, he was charismatic and had fitting dialogue to make me give him two thumbs up. In fact, compared to other animations I’ve seen, and this may be a bit of a stretch, the characters and vibe add up to be completely quirky. Granted, it makes sense as this is not entirely done on computers, unlike most modern day animated films and instead done through stop motion work. But the film felt like it could only come from one particular place. I will say, in terms of quirky animations, it’s got nothing on Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs,” but this is still worth pointing out.

I will say though, adding onto something I mentioned earlier, the one major disappointment I have regarding “Missing Link” is that other than the appreciation for its likable characters, quirky vibe, and compelling screenplay, it didn’t have the oomph factor that I would want out of a lot of movies. I may sound like a spoiled brat, but it felt like something was left out. There was a part of the movie during one of the first scenes that I thought was incredibly symbolic, but I won’t go into because it’s in none of the movie’s trailers. Simply put, despite my positive thoughts on the film, there was nothing to make me want to play the Blu-ray again right after watching it. Comparing the film to “Coraline” and “Kubo and the Two Strings,” I feel like those two films left a bigger impact on me. “Coraline” was probably an easy oomph for me because I was 9 and I wasn’t really familiar with too many films with this sort of style. But when I saw “Kubo and the Two Strings,” it felt like it was everything an animated adventure film should have been. Good balance between humor and seriousness, fantastic cast of characters, and a neat concept. Maybe I’m biased there too because that film sort of pays tribute to storytellers, which is a way I sort of see myself.

Although, if you do want to be wowed in some way by this film, I will say, stick around for the credits, because it actually shows part of the process that goes into filming a stop motion scene. It’s really a sight for the eyes.

In the end, I really do recommend “Missing Link,” but it is also the weakest of the Laika films I have witnessed thus far. It’s kind of like Christopher Nolan. My least favorite film of his is “Insomnia,” but it doesn’t mean I am going to avoid recommending it, because there are qualities that make it watchable. Plus, I like it better than some of the other animated films we have gotten so far this year, specifically “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part” and the abomination against humanity known as “The Secret Life of Pets 2.” Laika is continuing to deliver original and exciting content, and while this film did not make much through its box office totals, I really hope it picks up on home video, especially in the family demographic. I’m going to give “Missing Link” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I have couple more movies to review, I’m not sure I will be getting both out by the end of the week. To be honest, I’m not even sure if I’ll even be getting the first one out until next week because this weekend…

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I’m going to Terrificon! Terrificon is a three day event held at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT! It’s a convention that caters to fans of comics, sci-fi, fantasy, animation, and gaming! If you are at Terrificon this weekend, know who I am, or even if you don’t know who I am, feel free to shout my name from the rooftops! I will be walking around the convention center and various areas of the casino (although I am not gambling), so feel free to give me a hello at any time! If you want to keep yourself updated with everything I do here, I have a Facebook page that gives automated posts every time I upload something new on here, and speaking of things that are on here, give this post a like! Give this blog a follow either with your email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Missing Link?” What did you think about it? And this question is for everybody, but if someone named Susan replies to this, I will give it a like. What are y’all’s thoughts on DreamWorks’ “Monsters vs. Aliens?” Personally, it’s not their best animation but it’s better than some of the “Shrek” sequels and it’s nice to see Stephen Colbert playing the President of the United States, especially since every other day he makes fun of the President of the United States. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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A Wrinkle In Time (2018): 2018’s Most Ambitious Flop?

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Before we get into my thoughts about “A Wrinkle In Time,” I just want to say that this movie is distributed and produced by Disney. This company, as you may know, relies a lot on making entertainment catered towards a family-friendly demographic. Pretty soon, a couple will probably be going to see more of these movies. After all, they are having a kid. This couple by the way goes by the names of Paul and Genevieve. Their journey to conception, while extended, may have been worth the time in the long run. This is all explained… in “What the IVF?!”

“What the IVF?” is a new series on YouTube currently cranking out short videos starring the recently mentioned couple. This goes over the two’s miseries and joys of having a baby, that is, before actually having a baby. The two encounter struggles in sex, exams, decisions, money, math, and how many needles was that again? Oh, right, too many! You can find the latest episodes from “WTIVF?” on their YouTube channel, such as the one above! This latest episode starts off from where the last one ends, and it explains the couple’s PGD results. Not only that, but it also goes into a mystical way to break a curse the couple assumes is upon them. Be sure to subscribe to the “What the IVF?” YouTube and ring the bell! Also, be sure to check out these two on other forms of social media, along with the show’s very own website! All of the links are below, and be sure to tell them that Jack Drees sent ya over!

WTIVF? WEBSITE: http://www.whattheivf.com/

WTIVF? YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCILXSidkzWgwrQ5Oa1py78w/featured?disable_polymer=1

WTIVF? TWITTER: https://twitter.com/WTivF

WTIVF? INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/wtivf/

WTIVF? FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/What-The-IVF-288868031634125/

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“A Wrinkle In Time” is directed by Ava DuVernay (Selma, Middle of Nowhere) and stars Storm Reid (12 Years A Slave, Sleight), Oprah Winfrey (The Oprah Winfrey Show, Lee Daniels’ The Butler), Reese Witherspoon (Big Little Lies, Wild), Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project, The Office), with Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover, The LEGO Batman Movie), and Chris Pine (Star Trek, Wonder Woman). This movie is based on a book of the same name written by Madeleine L’Engle and revolves around a girl by the name of Meg Murry. She and her brother are one day sent into space by three odd life forms on a journey to find their father (Chris Pine) through a CGI infested adventure.

When it comes to most of the movies I’m reviewing in 2018 that are listed as official movies to have come out in that particular year, there is a good chance that I’ve seen that specific movie in theaters. As far as “A Wrinkle In Time” goes, that’s not the case. In fact, since I’ve seen this as late as I have, that will probably make this review a lot more interesting. Upon some research, this movie has some interesting history. This is the second attempt Disney is making of creating their own version of “A Wrinkle In Time.” The first attempt didn’t work out so well, and apparently neither did this one. According to Wikipedia, this movie is labeled as a “box office bomb” while at the same time, being the first film directed by an African-American woman to earn a total of over $100 million domestically. Unfortunately for the movie, it couldn’t even make its $250 million budget back because it ended up earning $132 million worldwide. And you know what? This movie should have been better than it was. Because everybody’s raving about female empowerment nowadays, which is something some praise “A Wrinkle In Time” for, but to me, it’s all surrounded in one gigantic CGI mess of a movie.

Now with that being said, I will give some credit and say that the CGI in this movie for the most part is not half bad. There are times where I really feel like I’m looking at a super obvious green screen, but for the most part, I can’t complain. It’s colorful, and it works. A little over-saturated at times, but nevertheless, it works. In fact, in some ways, this might be the CGI that some would come to expect for a movie whose target audience is in the family and children demographic. Did I mention the word colorful?

As much as this movie may look good on a screen, in fact, this is one of the only real compliments I can give to “A Wrinkle In Time,” the real problems come with some of the writing, sometimes the directing, and the acting.

As I watched this film, I gave credit to some of the neat shots that line up all of what’s fresh and necessary in the frame. If this film were silent, I may have enjoyed it more, but if you consider maybe some of the music or characters talking, that enjoyment would have ultimately been taken away. There is one shot and scene that lines up together that could have totally worked, but it’s ultimately ruined by some f*cking pop song. I suddenly go from watching this movie that’s supposed to have an interesting story, and now I’ve suddenly transitioned into a music video. What the f*ck?!

I mean, seriously! This is an adventure movie! I don’t even think I can come up with one single place that even requires a pop song that would add more value to the film as a whole! Can you seriously imagine what would happen if “Harry Potter” were playing some song like Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” during a Quidditch match? People would riot! I may be cheating here with this comment, only because this regards a franchise whose books I haven’t read, not to mention whose movies I haven’t watched, but I felt like I was watching “Fifty Shades of Grey” because I hear those movies are full of random pop songs everywhere!

Let’s talk about the writing in this film. While this screenplay definitely progresses from the beginning point to the final point, it’s just a bit predictable. Sure, it’s a movie for kids and families, so maybe that’s a somewhat forgivable statement. Although having seen the trailers, I could almost predict where this movie was going to go from start to finish. While I wasn’t entirely right, I certainly had the proper ideas. And I feel like part of why this movie may have been on the more predictable or formulaic side is because it just has that Disney sort of flair to it. It’s a Disney movie! It has to be kid friendly! It has to have that chart used for all of the recent films made by Disney! In fact one of the writers for this movie goes by the name of Jennifer Lee, whose writing credits on IMDb are all for Disney products, including one of my least favorite animations of the decade, “Frozen.” Granted, she wrote “Zootopia” and “Wreck it Ralph,” I gotta give her credit where it’s due. But it just felt like this product from her just comes off as a studio film. As I saw this name attached to this project, it made the film feel a tad less inspired. Then again I wasn’t there, so I may be jumping to conclusions too quickly. Ava DuVernay, the director behind this film, is a competent director. She did a great job on “Selma.” Although I think she could have done better here. Although one of the faults of the movie is that Duvernay has to work on a script that just didn’t really seem that interesting. I was kinda bored at times, I’ll be honest. Maybe it was because I watched this movie on a plane, but still.

Speaking of writing problems, as I watched this film on the plane, I turned on closed captioning in order to fully grasp what was being said. I wouldn’t have done the same at home because there I would probably get more peace and quiet, you have a lot of noise on the plane that could potentially ruin the experience. This allowed me to see something… interesting to say the least.

The movie’s lead character, Meg Murry, has a mother who possesses a Doctorate. When I watched this movie I put on closed captioning to enhance the experience and suddenly I hear Reese Witherspoon’s character refer to Meg’s mother as Dr. Murry, which according to Wikipedia, is the correct way to refer to that particular character. But in the closed captioning, I actually rewound the footage to make sure I wasn’t seeing things, it apparently refers to the character as Mrs. Murry.

OK? Is this is Disney’s fault? A screenwriter’s fault? Someone who was a major part of post-production’s fault? Maybe it’s JetBlue’s fault? I don’t really know. But I’m just glad to say that this isn’t Spirit Airlines’s fault. I’m kinda curious to buy the DVD or wait for this to become free on Amazon Prime or something to know if this is a JetBlue thing or a movie thing. And if it’s a movie thing, that’s not even my biggest problem with it, I gotta say the pop music takes the cake for that.

Let’s talk about the characters in “A Wrinkle In Time,” starting with our main hero, Storm Reid’s Meg Murry. I honestly can’t really say that Meg was that interesting of a character. Sure, she’s kinda smart and all, but there are some times where I just felt like I checked out for a minute because she didn’t seem to pop or she’d make a choice that I’d think would feel out of place for a main hero. Honestly, at this point, I’m starting to forget a lot about this movie. Part of it has to do with having to make two other movie reviews recently and putting one special post I’ve been making on hiatus. Did I not mention it was just uninteresting to watch? I didn’t hate Meg Murry in this movie, but nothing stood out about her except maybe her intelligence. I mean, I guess for this movie and character, that’s better than saying her body, but she wasn’t really that interesting.

When it comes to Meg’s kinda sorta brother (he’s adopted), nothing really stood out about him either. I SORT OF bought the chemistry between Meg and Charles Wallace (middle), which if you watch the movie, that’s the way he’s referred to. His character probably had the same dimension as Meg, however he’s just a bit more quirky. There’s not even much of anything I’m really enthusiastic about when it comes to him. Although there’s one time where he says “Shut up, Meg,” which made me think of “Family Guy.”

Moving onto our weirdos in the movie, we have Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey). These names don’t even justify the weirdness of some of these characters, which I can tell is something that the movie was going for. After all, just look at them! They all look like what would happen when aliens try to dress themselves up as female versions of… uh… I dunno, let’s go with… Elvis Presley… Michael Jackson… and… I’m not even sure at this point, let’s just go with Forest Whitaker. Out of these three characters/mentors, the one I found most interesting was probably Oprah’s character of Mrs. Which. I say that because these are all supposed to be some sort of mentor figure, and Mrs. Which was probably the most mentor-like out of all of them. She tries to empower the heroes in a way that you may expect, and it works. Mrs. Who speaks only in quotes, which kind of got on my nerves after a while. But then again, it’s probably because I didn’t like Mindy Kaling in that one Xfinity commercial she did so maybe I’m overreacting. I’ll be honest though, and I say this personally, if I were to have a mentor who only spoke in quotes from other people, that would be diminishing overall, because that mentor would only be speaking another person’s words. Sure, we have tons of great people in our society that may have been built off of the shoulders of giants, but the important thing about becoming a better person is being yourself. You know, unless you’re an asshole. And honestly, when it comes to Reese Witherspoon’s character of Mrs. Whatsit, I think this was a waste of her talent, not to mention my time. Witherspoon won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Primetime Emmy, and has taken on a wide range of roles in both film and television. Taking all of that into consideration, it just made me go crazy. I wonder if Witherspoon was even trying, maybe it’s a result of bad directing that probably went more towards trying to get the best shots as opposed to the best performances. After all, it’s a Disney movie set for a late Winter release, who f*cking cares about “A Wrinkle In Time?”

The best character in the movie to me however has to be Meg’s father, Dr. Alexander Murry, played by Chris Pine. I haven’t seen all of Chris Pine’s work, but this to me definitely showcases his talent. In fact, in a movie that’s full of uninteresting characters and somewhat tolerable (maybe) performances, Chris Pine is a bright spot here. In fact, that’s why his character is my favorite, because out of everyone in this movie, maybe except Charles Wallace, he shows the most emotion. I doubt “A Wrinkle In Time” is gonna get any kind of recognition at the Academy Awards, but Chris Pine definitely gave the best performance in this movie, and made me care slightly more about what was going on.

I haven’t even gotten into the worst character of the movie though. Out of everyone, I gotta say that the thing that made this movie the biggest waste of my time is the character of Calvin, played by Levi Miller. I found him to be rather cliche, much like a lot of the other characters, and nothing was a shining star when it came to Calvin. But the worst thing to me about Calvin is the chemistry (or lack thereof) between him and Meg. I’m not gonna go into too much detail, but this is one of those connections that just feels forced and has no reason to exist other than spice things up, which ultimately doesn’t end up happening on my end because I never asked for this.

In the end, I wasted my time watching “A Wrinkle In Time.” I will say that the experience could have definitely been worse… I could have had to pay for it. I will say again, I watched the movie on a plane, and this was one of the free movies I was able to choose from. But if I were to watch this movie again, that would be amazing. I never read the book to “A Wrinkle In Time.” Maybe the book is better than the movie, but nevertheless, I just found myself uninterested, bored, and going through something that seemed somewhat familiar. I’m gonna give “A Wrinkle In Time” a 5/10. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’ll have my review up for “Ant Man and the Wasp,” be sure to stay tuned for that, and if you want to know how you might be able to save some money at the movies, you’re in luck! Be sure to click the link down below to find out more about AMC’s new A-List program exclusively for Stubs members! Also, be sure to follow me here on Scene Before through WordPress or through your email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “A Wrinkle In Time?” What did you think about it? Did you read the book? Tell me what you thought about that! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

AMC Introduces A-List Program For Stubs Members: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2018/06/25/amc-introduces-a-list-program-for-stubs-members-is-this-a-good-deal/