Coco Dazzles


Pixar have a habit of constantly releasing critically acclaimed hits, and their latest venture, could prove to be their greatest triumph yet. It’s taken Coco a few months to arrive on these shores, but the wait has been worth it.

The Day of the Dead, is our main focus here, the Mexican holiday in which people come together to celebrate the lives of the members of their family who have passed away. Miguel, our young protagonist, yearns to be a musician, but due to a complicated family history, the art of music, in any form, has been prohibited in the family. But in his attempts to emulate his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz,, the greatest musician of his time, Miguel finds himself trapped in the Land of the Dead, seeking his hero for a way out.

UNLIKELY DUET — In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” aspiring musician Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) teams up with charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal) on a life-changing journey through the Land of the Dead. Directed by Lee Unkrich, co-directed by Adrian Molina and produced by Darla K. Anderson, Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Considering the theme of film is pretty morbid, the movie itself is surprisingly vivid! It is probably one of the most resplendent settings in any Pixar movie, with the festival ambiance providing a fantastic backdrop to the story. The visuals are stunning, and has some of the best animation the studio have produced.

Pixar movies are always an emotional ride, and Coco delivers. The recurring themes of death, grief and family are mentioned throughout the film. So it’s not too much of a surprise that there is a certain level of poignancy to the plot. But the final third of Coco is so well done, it should move most people to some degree! Without spoiling, it packs a punch!

FAMILY REUNION — In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) finds himself magically transported to the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead where he meets his late family members, who are determined to help him find his way home. Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”), Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The cast are thoroughly enjoyable. Hector, a charming, witty trickster who accompanies Miguel on his journey is a wonderful character, he’s just not there for comic relief though, his story arc plays out to perfection. Ernesto, our pompous superstar, is just about the right level of irritation & arrogance! Considering there are two sets of families, one alive, one passed away, there is an abundance of names and faces, not all of whom are important to the plot. But it plays a vital role in pushing through its message about family.

With it being a Disney production, the musical score will always be a crucial factor. With Coco, the soundtrack delivers a wonderful blend of music, will the effervescent flamenco/latino party rhymes, to the sombre melodies. ‘Remember Me’, the recurring track that plays throughout, not only carries a great level of poignancy, it also plays a vital role within the film.


Regarding negatives, there really isn’t much to say against it, but if you were to knit pick, the opening 1/3 is rather slow to kick on. It’s really not too clear where the movie is going with things, but the remainder of Coco is so good, you’ll let that go. Also, there really isn’t a villain in the film, it doesn’t really hurt the enjoyment, but if you like a movie with a clear antagonist, this may bug you a bit.

That being said, these are very minor flaws in what is already one of the candidate for film of the year! A sure winner for the Oscar for best animation!

The Red Turtle, Silence is Golden

The Red Turtle comes with the pressure of having the name Studio Ghibli attached to its production, even if it’s only as a co-producer (Wild Bunch, being the other half). Director, Michaël Dudok de Wit, had the daunting task of working on a film that would validate the faith put on him to lead this motion picture.

Luckily I had the opportunity to watch a screening of The Red Turtle at the glamorous May Fair Hotel in London, a comfortable setting for a very charming movie.


The most striking aspect of The Red Turtle is that the entire film has virtually no dialogue, barring some shouting or crying. The story is beautifully told simply via the animation and the musical score. So if that doesn’t sound appealing, than this film is not for you! The animation is also very European, so do not expect the usual Studio Ghibli presentation, even though their name is tagged on. This doesn’t mean that the animation is any less stunning. Considering the lack of any speech, it is critical that the visual aspect of the movie is on point, something that excels here. The island produces some gorgeous visuals, such as the bamboo groves frequently visited here! De Wit does a fantastic job in storytelling, in such a minimalistic method.


So the story revolves around a nameless man, who is left stranded on a island following a shipwreck. After discovering that he is the solitary human on this tropical island, he survives on fresh fruit and water from the lake. But the constant loneliness drives our man to plan an escape, using the endless supply of bamboo at his disposal. His efforts are in vain, as his escapes are always wrecked by a wild red turtle. Without disclosing the entire plot, the movie follows the interaction between the man, and the turtle, and their interactions.

What we have a is wonderfully simplistic movie, which manages to go into some surprising meaningful  topics, the fact it is all done in visuals makes the movie even more enjoyable. The Oscar nomination it received for Best Animation was most certainly deserved. The movie even manages to fit in some humour, using the crabs living on the island, which form a bond with the man, to great comic use!


Some may not enjoy the movie though, as the story line does drift off into a more fairy-tale like territory, after a more realistic opening third act. Also, the films locations do get repeated, a lot! It’s clear to see their production value was not huge, as we frequently go back to the bamboo grove, lake and beach a lot. This does not diminish the story, though it may fatigue some viewers in that regards.

If you’re a fan of prior Ghibli movies, and the themes they follow, than the The Red Turtle is another stellar addition to their portfolio. If you simply enjoy animation, and storytelling, The Red Turtle also delivers on that front. Although it’s on a very limited release, if you do happen to stumble across it somewhere, do take the time out to see it!

A Silent Voice Is A Silent Hit

Following the resounding success of Your Name, British viewers have been treated with again with another cinematic release of a Japanese animation. The film has got a limited run and a select few cinemas, so may be under the radar to some folk.  A Silent Voice is the story of a boy, who as a kid, bullied a fellow student, who now looks to make amends for his actions.


Based on the manga of the same name, the plot focuses on Shoya Ishida, a young boy in elementary school, who along with his friends doesn’t take too kindly to the new transfer student, Shoko Nishimiya. Shoko happens to be deaf, which makes her a target of practical jokes and bullying from Shoya and several others. It all gets too much for Shoko, and her parents take her out the school, leaving Shoya to feel the brunt of his schoolmates as they ostracize him from their group and the entire school.


Fast forward a couple of years and Shoya is on the on edge with suicidal tendencies, and it’s not until a chance meeting with Shoko, that he realises that they are both alone due to their circumstances, and he needs to atone for his part in what happened in the past.

On the face of things, this is another high school teen love story, but there are several other aspects that the movie manages to deal with, such as depression, bullying, disabilities, social anxiety and suicide.  The film deals with these very well, especially with the addition of crosses across the faces of everyone Shoya does not feel comfortable talking it. As he gets more confident, and more mature, the crosses gradually drop off, a fine way to display such an issue.


It’s the relationship between our two that keeps the movie together, as both our protagonist struggle to explain their feelings for one another, and the lengths that Shoya goes to, in order to apologise for what he had done, felt right. Though Shoko has to live with a disability, her progress to accepting her hearing aids rather than hiding them is something that is captured well, as is her struggle to get across her true feelings which are hampered by her speech impediment and their obvious difficulties in communicating.


The supporting cast are a mixed bag, Nagatsuka, the first real friend Shoya makes in a long time is great comic relief, and is someone the audience can really warm towards. Whereas the others, don’t really have much to add. Yuzuru, Shoko’s overprotective little sister is good fun, and has her own personal trials, but the rest, of the clan, are pretty one dimensional. A run time of 2 hours is massively bloated, and the pacing is rather slow at times. Which does make the film feel like it is dragging along to a conclusion most can pretty much assume.

As always, with these high budget animations, the film is simply wonderful to watch, any scene involving trees, water and cherry blossoms are done so well, and credit must be given to the animation team for putting out such wonderful work.

For some people, the film may feel it’s going on for a while. But the various aspects of life that the movie deals with combined with a compelling relationship. Makes A Silent Voice an impressive feat. The film may be difficult to find at a local cinema, but if you can, it’s most certainly worth a viewing!

“Kubo and the Two Strings” Review

It’s very rare nowadays to see a top notch animation that is not made by Disney Pixar or Dreamworks. But Laika, whose previous works include the intriguingly dark Coraline, has released their latest stop motion animation, which could give films like Zootropolis a run for its money come Oscar season!

‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ is Director Travis Knight’s directorial debut, and he does not disappoint. KATTS follows the journey of a young boy named Kubo who sets off on a mystical adventure in order to defeat the evil Moon King who is pursuing him. In his journey he is joined by the aptly named Monkey (the no-nonsense, toughmaxresdefault talker) & Beetle (the comic relief!) in his quest to retrieve the 3 pieces of the magic armour, the key in defeating the main antagonist.

It’s the animation that steals the show, the use of stop motion animation gives the film a unique charm that you simply cannot recreate using standalone CGI.The scenes featuring the origami models are the most impressive, considering the detail that is put into it. The cast behind the characters is stellar.  Featuring huge names such as Charlize Theron, Matthewkubo-and-the-two-strings-beetle1 MaConaughey, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes & George Takei. All of whom bring the characters to life. Art Parkinson from Game of Thrones fame does a fine job with the title character.

The film itself does get rather dark at times, especially in the scenes featuring the evil sisters. Who stalk the hero throughout the film, and it has some rather violent fight scenes, so its not all bright colours and one-liners!

The film isn’t perfect though, the ending seems rushed and slightly out of place. The resolution with the villain doesn’t feel satisfying, and the original backstory is left rather vague at times. This doesn’t take much away from the film though. Kubo has to be one of the most visually stunning films of the year, and hopefully it will get some recognition for all the hard work put into creating this!

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