‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Review: Sega speedster’s live-action introduction, sans human teeth, has its moments

This review was originally published on KENS5.com, and can be viewed here. 

 

The dream of the ‘90s is alive in “Sonic the Hedgehog,” which – and it will surprise exactly no one to hear this – is at its hyper-kinetic best when it’s channeling the turbo-charged, cartoonish energy of the world’s fastest furball to sugary visual ends, as disposable as they may be. Highways, buildings, digitized jungles, one-liners—Sonic, here voiced by “Parks and Recreation’s” Ben Schwartz, and “Sonic” sets land-speed records on them all. It’s when he’s motionless and the movie anguishes through a tedious story of adopted families and existentialism that its joys tend to screech to a halt as well.

The feature debut of director Jeff Fowler, “Sonic” is arriving a few months later than intended, a delayed release that allowed the visual effects maestros to give the titular speedster a makeover after the first reaction’s to his initial appearance back in 2019 would have you believe people had dunked themselves in holy water. The movie’s writers – Patrick Casey and Josh Miller – perhaps should have also used that time to come up with an engaging story in line with its title character’s carefree sensibilities, and not the hackneyed outsider-in-need-of-a-friend template that feels like a back-to-basics homage to “E.T.” There’s at least a hint of the former in the early minutes, when the movie opts for a self-awareness of glorious storytelling delirium, like a DreamWorks project unfolding at 1.5x speed. Continue reading →

‘Frozen II’ Review: Disney Animation’s latest lets the high standards go in subpar sequel

This review was first published on KENS5.com, and can be viewed here. 

 

“Do you wanna build a snowman? Should we make it out of caaaash?”

It’s strange to think it’s been six years – or four “Star Wars” movies, seven Pixar flicks and about 675 Marvel entries ago – since “Frozen” stormed into theaters and childhood obsessions with the force of an avalanche (sorry), culminating Disney Animation’s recent efforts to update its party of princesses with a legitimately nuanced story of sisterhood while setting new box office standards.

That it took this long to get a sequel from a company continuously mining its IP for assured financial success would lead most to believe the studio was waiting for the right story to justify bringing Elsa, Anna and Co. back to the big screen. Despite Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee returning to direct – and Lee once again penning the screenplay – “Frozen II” will reliably keep the kids entertained for 100 minutes, but the movie’s immensely scaled-up ambitions melt away under a lackluster narrative. Meanwhile, its unwillingness to recognize, let alone match, the 2013 film’s emotional complexity goes a long way towards making this the most disappointing Disney Animation output in well over a decade. Continue reading →

Review: Pixar’s ‘Coco’ is visually gorgeous, surprisingly grounded and vaguely formulaic

After over two decades and nearly 20 films, it’s refreshing for Pixar to provide its most grounded premise yet.

Following sustained success by way of talking bugs, talking toys, talking cars, talking fish, talking emotions, talking rats and “talking” robots, something about a Dia de Los Muertos-centric story featuring human characters (and, yes, talking humanoid skeletons) feels much more relatable, like Pixar declaring a coup upon itself.

But then again, that was the point of “Coco” – to showcase a world with more connections to reality than any other Pixar offering before it, and to flesh out that world with the humanity the animation giant has the reputation of conjuring. Continue reading →