SING – the “Let it go” of 2016

Just like Elsa, Queen of Arendale, did 3 years ago, the new animation movie “SING” enchants us with music we will never be able to get out of our heads again. Yes, all those earworms you are desperatly trying to forget, are coming back to life and to screen! But, sarcasm aside: In case you expect any authentic, original songs – SING is the wrong Holiday movie for you. Then, you’re better off with “Frozen” (but don’t blame me if you can’t stop singing “Let it go” around Christmas).

Illumination Entertainment which might be known to you through yellow, little beings called the minions, bring us “SING”: a movie about a koala bear/theatre manager who actually cheats a lot and breaks all possible rules in order to allow him to keep his theatre, and it’s about a bunch of other diverse animals too, who all want to sing and win the big prize money of 100 000, but actually don’t win anything at all, because the koala lied to them. Now this synopsis might sound slightly crazy, but you have to keep in mind that the story plays out in another world where all kinds of animals live like humans, dress up, go out, drive cars (even mice!) or…sing!

The concept of the movie is actually not that bad. And its execution neither. Because “SING” is not just about singing itself, it’s about hearing and really listening to fantastic voices without for once being totally distracted by the singer’s faces and dancing and so on. Yes, of course, you see a gorilla singing, but the fact that you can’t connect the voice to a real face helps you in fact to enjoy the moment and listen to the voice itself. I believe that is something which gives “SING” a certain uniqueness in the realm of musical animation productions.

However, there is a downside to it: How can you focus on the voices if so many storylines disrupt the music every few seconds? While the first part of the movie presents us the multiple protagonists and their backgrounds, it’s only the second part in which the storylines all really play out – and fast. Attention, spoiler ahead in the next sentence: Especially when the show takes finally place, the constant breaks during the different numbers with Johnny’s father breaking out of prison or the bear mafia chasing Mike make it difficult to enjoy the great voices and listen to the songs.

So, all in all, I can say that “SING” is a perfectly good Holiday movie when you’re prepared to hear all the hits you know from the radio, only slightly differently interpreted, and when you don’t expect a musical, but rather a movie with songs. I grade “SING” with “good, but could be better”.

 

Review: “Supergirl” Season 2

Aaand she´s back! “Supergirl” flies high during the premiere of the 2nd season in her new home, the CW. But: she´s not alone.

“The adventures of Supergirl” – this name might fool you, because who´s getting all the attention? The new superhuman addition Superman. Though, one has to admit that a too great predomination of his character was nicely avoided. So, let´s sum it up:

Supergirl, aka Cara Danvers, has it all: a great career ahead of her, the man of her dreams and … well, actually every other possible thing in the world, as she´s Supergirl and can therefore do … anything and everything she wants to. But, somehow, she still finds a way to be unhappy, especially when she compares herself to her cousin, Superman.

Point given to the writers: Even though Superman is a character that has been portrayed countless times throughout TV and motion picture history and still has layers to uncover of his personality, the creators of “Supergirl” did well by not going into deep. As far as the viewers know, Superman is at the point of his life in which every fan wants him to be: no enemies, happy and together with the love of his life and pleased with his job. But, what I do see is his typical characteristic that he wants it all and tries to manage it all at once. Cara however doesn´t want that. Throughout the first season – as she very well states at the end of the episode – her primary goal was to handle being/becoming Supergirl. And now it´s all about being Cara, but does she really want to be that weaker and self-conscious person anymore?

I personally think that this major difference between Superman and Supergirl should have been more highlighted, but it´s only the first episode and there´s still plenty of room and time left to dig deeper into this aspect.

Let´s move on: on the CW, all the other, non-superhuman characters finally seem to have found their home. Cat Grant is better than ever with her witty, philosophical and slightly arrogant, but true statements; Winn develops into the man all the viewers want him to become in order that he can be with Cara; and James is portrayed exactly the way most of the people see him: boring and without any interest for Cara. Even she prefers to be friends with him because she finally recognized how dull he is (I really don´t want to be misunderstood here: nothing against James as an actor or person, I am simply criticizing his character on the TV-show). And of course – last but not least – Alex Danvers proves herself as one kick-ass kind of DEO agent, who is a strong and confident woman ready to face any dangers ahead of her.

So my final rating for the premiere of “Supergirl”´s 2nd season: good. I think it will do better in the upcoming episodes and the seeds which were planted in the premiere will begin to grow. It´s still worth to watch, maybe even not so much because of the whole superheroic, extraordinary action, but because of all the human and relatable stories which are being told along the way.

 

Review: The Big Bang Theory, Season 10 – even more (b)romance

…that all started with the big bang, bang!

We are already two episodes deep into the 10th season of probably one of the best comedy TV-series ever made and it is already making us wish for more.

Last Monday, “The Big Bang Theory” started its new season with the wedding ceremony of Leonard and Penny; this Monday, it continues with the developing plot of Howard, Leonard and Sheldon´s involvment in the military and the consequences of Bernadette´s pregnancy at work.

The Bromance which is one of the most important characteristics of this show is stronger than ever: Sheldon got even included into the symbolic wedding ceremony of Leonard and Penny and declared as “the third husband” during the season premiere. That the writers are able to keep this aspect of the show so long alive, makes it so much more enjoyable to watch.

But that´s not the only core element the writers keep bringing up in new ways. Summarized in a hilarious, speechless (!) scene of Sheldon, his beliefs, values and norms are being humorized in the 2nd episode of the season. Whether it´s the strict seperation of Star Wars and Star Trek history or his constant conviction of him being better than anybody else – also very comically brought out with his usage of the German word “Besserwisser” (Know-it-all) -, Dr. Dr. Sheldon Cooper doesn´t lose a single bit of annoyance and brilliance, even after nine years.

The aspect which pleases me the most however, is the new focus set on Bernadette. Even though she has been very important in the previous seasons, due to her pregnancy, she gets a whole new profile. Interestingly, it´s not really the fact that she is pregnant and will therefore become a mother which is being thematized, but much more what it means for career women to start a family without being discriminated because of it. The 2nd episode shows very clearly what fears women have to confront themselves with, while men get to pursue their career without a single worry. I sure hope this critical notch will be continued in the following episodes, as it makes not only the characters, but the TV-show itself stand much stronger.

My rating for the 10th season, little ducklings: fun and smart as ever.

 

Review: Once Upon A Time – Season Six Premiere

Five years after we first meet the long-haired, blonde hero of the fairy tale-drama series “Once Upon A Time”, we discover that even she has to pay a price for being who she is: the Savior.

The sixth season of “Once Upon A Time” starts out in the more or less “usual” way: the viewer encounters new characters from another fairy tale, this time “Aladdin”. However, instead of continuing this storyline, it starts to build a parallel with “today´s” plot in Storybrooke. Simultaneously, the twist from last season´s finale with Hyde´s arrival in the small town of Maine takes its flow, while – again at the same time – Regina´s loss is thematized. Not to forget that we also have to focus on what happens with our BBFE (Big Bad For Ever), Rumpelstiltskin.

As you may already recognize, “Once Upon A Time” begins its sixth year in TV with multiple plotlines at once. Of course, this opens up many possibilites to continue the series without becoming boring. However, the first impression is rather a confusing one.

But let´s try to sort it out:

-Obviously, Emma and Aladdin share the characteristic that they are/were both “the Savior”. For the first time however, we discover that being a hero in this show has its price, which seems not only logical, but somehow a little philosophical, as it tries to counteract the common thought of fairy tale heroes alway getting their happy endings. It shows us the reality of what it means to help others at all costs: losing each time a part of oneself. Especially the look into Emma´s future is pretty frightening for the viewer, as it appears that we might loose our favorite hero for ever. But let´s not be too afraid and think that Jennifer Morisson is leaving the show – it might just be one of those tricks to keep viewers hooked on a show. Plus, it´s a good puzzle for the viewers to try to solve: Who´s going to be the hooded villain Emma is going to fight?

-Hyde´s arrival in Storybrooke and his “need” to stay there appear pretty mysterious and not very clear at the beginning. As he gets fastly caught and imprisoned, it´s even less transparent how he is still confident that he will get what he wants. Though, let´s not forget that most of the time in this show, villains are not that eager to publish their evil plan like an article on the Internet…and sometimes, to get caught is even part of the plan. So there goes our Mytsery N°2.

-Character growth along a TV-series that is already running for several years is not only necessary, but vital for a show to keep going. Regina is the best example for that: In the last season, she showed great strength to give up and eliminate her “evil” self after the ultimate and irreversible loss of the love of her life. Most evidently, the writers didn´t take everything away from Regina´s character, like her sassiness for instance. Instead, they added a side to her: being open about her feelings. Her conversation with her previously greatest enemy, Snow White, proves that even without the “evil” side in her, she can be a whole person and choose another life than the one filled with hatred and remorse – which doesn´t however please her rather wicked sister, Zelena. The long awaited return of the Evil Queen – one of the viewers´ favorite BBFE – finally plays out in the final and best scene of each episode. But what is the EQ´s goal? Perhaps, is she the hooded enemy in Emma´s vision? As the EQ´s previous goal was to destroy Snow White and Charming´s happily ever-after – which is expressed in Emma´s existence – it makes sense that she will yet again pursue this path and finally win. Mystery N°3 plays right into our hands.

-What doesn´t change though and is one of the most confusing elements presented in the season six premiere is Rumpelstiltskin.and Belle´s storyline. His visit in her “dreamland” and the reveal of Morpheus being/becoming their son is a touch too abstract for the show…why is Morpheus against his father? And how can he simultaneously exist as a foetus in Emma´s belly and as a young adult in their dreams? And why did Hyde know how to free Belle with the help of Morpheus? Do I need to really write it down? Mystery N°4  is here!

So, we have four mysteries to solve in the upcoming episodes, which on the one hand, makes it even more exciting to see how it all plays out, but on the other hand, makes it also quite difficult to keep up and concentrate on each storyline at once.

My tip for you little ducklings: If you like the show and you are curious about how the mysteries get solved, keep watching. Though, in case this is all too much for you and you are overwhelmed – I do not believe that it will become any easier with time, as it is only the beginning of the new season. My rating for the season premiere is therefore: “interesting, but confusing”.

Legend of Tarzan: A good Saturday night movie tip for you!

You don´t want to go out this weekend and you are looking for a new and good movie to watch? Then, I might suggest you go see “Legend of Tarzan”.

We may know him from our childhood as a hero, the man from the Jungle. We may know his story, how he grew up with gorillas, met the beautiful Jane and returned to civilization – his species. But what we don´t know is: that he is a legend.

And that requires to look into what happened after the commonly known tale.

Let´s move away from Disney: Tarzan is now an English aristocratic Lord and he likes it – at least he seems to at the beginning. In case you are going to watch the new blockbuster, you´ll understand very quickly why he´ll return to where he grew up in the Congo (I won´t spoil it for you). Following this decision, you will see action, romance and adventure and feel love, fear and danger.This movie moves you in all directions, shows you extremes and transforms your image of Tarzan as a slightly dumb comic figure into a strong, very intelligent man who builds the bridge between two worlds – the Wild and the Civilized.

Of course, no movie is perfect, including “Legend of Tarzan”. But it´s one of those films which are nice to watch and have everything everyone wants to see. Hence, my tip for you little ducklings: Have fun watching “Legend of Tarzan”!