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Soul | Review

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Time and time again, Pixar manages to create a masterful film with beautiful imagery and so much heart and -dare I say- soul to them. Is their latest effort Soul, directed by Pete Docter and co-directed by Kemp Powers, a worthy addition to the Pixar filmography? Absolutely!

Soul follows a school music teacher called Joe Gardner, voiced excellently by Jamie Foxx, who finally gets his shot at his dream- performing jazz music with prestigious musician Dorothea Williams (Angela Basset) when suddenly he falls down a manhole. Joe is supposed to have died then but instead, he embarks on a journey to try and return to his body along with 22 (voiced by Tina Fey), a new soul who needs training before she can head to earth, in order to experience the moment that he’s lived his entire life for.

“Music is all I think about. From the moment I wake up in the morning… to the moment I fall asleep at night. I was born to play. It’s my reason for living.”

Every time a new Pixar film comes out, the animation seems to get better and better and Soul is no exception. Even though the last Pixar film Onward only came out back in March, the quality of the animation here seems so much better. The worlds that Pixar have created just look so stunning and it’s a joy to just sit back for 100 minutes and let the incredible animation sweep you away. The film just looks so beautiful and it makes you wonder how they’ll be able to top the wonderful animation in their next film although I’m sure the geniuses at Pixar will have no problem making their next film look even better.

As well as looking beautiful, Soul has a really beautiful message at its heart. The whole film is all about life. It’s about finding your purpose in life and enjoying the limited time that we have with our life on Earth. It is quite a heavy subject matter, particularly when you remember that a large proportion of the people watching this film will probably be young children. Whilst I don’t know how young children will respond to all the ideas about finding your purpose in life, but even if you remove all the deep meaningful points this film raises, it’s still a lot of fun and people of all ages can certainly be entertained by Soul.

There are a lot of exciting characters such as Graham Norton’s sign-spinning Moonwind and there’s a lot of fun to be had with Joe and 22 when trying to reunite Joe’s soul with his body. I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises but there’s a very entertaining part involving a cat when things don’t quite go to plan when trying to get Joe back to his body.

“Is all this living really worth dying for?”

It’s very easy to praise this film and there really is a lot to praise about Soul, however looking at some of their other films like Inside Out, the Toy Story series and Up to name a few, Soul doesn’t quite reach that level. I think it’s one of those films that the more you re-watch it, the more you’ll grow to love it even more, but at the minute after just one watch, there are some things that don’t quite sit perfectly for me.

I much preferred the second half of the film and there’s a scene in a barbershop about halfway through which is where the film really changes for me. In the first half of the film there are quite a few scenes in “The Great Before” where we see new souls training to be ready to go to Earth and it’s these scenes that don’t quite hit the mark and can feel a little clunky, a little too exposition-heavy and don’t quite work for me. That being said, I did absolutely love the second half of the film once it had got past all the necessary exposition and explaining of things. There’s quite a lot of explaining of things that they need to try and do early on so that the audience can keep up with where Joe is, what’s going on and to explain how this soul world works.

It’s a shame that the film won’t be released in cinemas as it has some really incredible animation that would have looked lovely on a big screen but at least it means we’re all able to see the film much sooner than if it were delayed until next year instead.

Overall, Pixar’s Soul is a worthy addition to their filmography as it’s a charming, warm, entertaining film that certainly does have a lot of soul to it.

4/5

Soul is streaming on Disney+ from Christmas Day

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs–6c7Hn_A

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Netflix | Masters of the Universe: Revelation – Official Trailer

Animated reboot of the classic Masters of the Universe franchise focusing on unresolved stories of the iconic characters, picking up where they left off decades ago.

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Genre:

Animation, Action, Adventure

Director:

Kevin Smith

Release Date:

2021 (Netflix)

Cast:

Mark Hamill, Chris Wood, Diedrich Bader, Kevin Conroy, Liam Cunningham, Susan Eisenberg, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Lena Headey, Griffin Newman, Kevin Michael Richardson, Alicia Silverstone, Harley Quinn Smith

Plot Summary:

Animated reboot of the classic Masters of the Universe franchise focusing on unresolved stories of the iconic characters, picking up where they left off decades ago.

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Animation

Rick & Morty Season 5 | Official Trailer

Now you can start asking us about season 6. Rick and Morty return for season 5 on Sunday, June 20 at 11pm ET/PT on Adult Swim.

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Genre:

Animation

Release Date:

June 20, 2021

Plot Summary:

After having been missing for nearly 20 years, Rick Sanchez suddenly arrives at daughter Beth’s doorstep to move in with her and her family. Although Beth welcomes Rick into her home, her husband, Jerry, isn’t as happy about the family reunion. Jerry is concerned about Rick, a sociopathic scientist, using the garage as his personal laboratory. In the lab, Rick works on a number of sci-fi gadgets, some of which could be considered dangerous. But that’s not all Rick does that concerns Jerry. He also goes on adventures across the universe that often involve his grandchildren, Morty and Summer.

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Animation

Earwig and the Witch | Review

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Studio Ghibli can probably be considered as the world’s greatest animation studio. It never kowtowed to basic expressions of animation and continued to push the boundaries of hand-drawings to sweep away audiences in the studio’s ever-imaginative worlds (see Spirited Away). Even their simplest productions, such as Isao Takahata’s My Neighbors the Yamadas, had an aura of magnifying wonder to them. Their latest film, Earwig and the Witch, is the studio’s first fully 3D animated feature…and should be their last. Directed by Gorō Miyazaki, son of the great Hayao Miyazaki, the film follows the story of a young girl named Earwig (Kokoro Hirasawa) who gets adopted by a witch named Bella Yaga (Shinobu Terijama), so she can become her “apprentice” by helping her with spells. Bella Yaga’s abusive tenure forces Earwig to learn spells on her own with Thomas (Gaku Hamada), the talking cat, so she can finally be the one who controls the household. While the plot isn’t necessarily bad, Earwig and the Witch‘s cyclical structure makes for a pretty dull viewing experience, not particularly improved with its cheap-looking 3D animation.

Studio Ghibli's first CG movie, 'Earwig and the Witch,' is an insult |  Engadget

As I’ve mentioned in my previous paragraph, Studio Ghibli has essentially perfected the art of 2D, hand-drawn animation by crafting fully realized fictional worlds, which exalted the purely freeing imagination of many of their film’s child protagonists. In Spirited Away, we’re essentially seeing the entire world through Chihiro’s eyes–our eyes widen at seeing its incredibly detailed food and larger-than-life characters. That’s just but one isolated example of the many memorable images Studio Ghibli pictures has embedded in our minds over the years. So for (G.) Miyazaki to use fully synthesized/3D animation for his picture feels like a pure insult at what his father, Toshio Suzuki, Yasuyoshi Tokuma, and the late Isao Takahata have brought to the table for the past 35 years.

Sure, there’s a somewhat valid argument to say that the studio needs to “modernize” itself or at least experiment with a cheaper, more popular form of animation–but when that same studio has been revolutionizing the way audiences perceive animated drawings for 35 years, is it essential? It also doesn’t help that the 3D animation presented in Earwig and the Witch looks cheaply constructed and devoid of any movement, charm, and personality. The animation is placated on the screen without any proper direction or visual creativity. The sequences that could make the *best* use of 3D animation, particularly when Earwig enters The Mandrake (Etsushi Tokoyama)’s lair, are mediocre-at-best-, and the mostly boring, repetitive sequences of Earwig being constantly berated by Bella Yaga have no soul. Imagine that: a Studio Ghibli without any soul. How is that possible? Simple. Use 3D animation because it’s the only type that’s lost its value as more and more audiences become accustomed to the prospect of more realistic-looking characters (and worlds) inside computer-generated imageries.

Earwig and the Witch review: Ghibli's first 3D movie is better than it  looks - Polygon

It also doesn’t help that the film’s plot is extremely unengaging. We observe Earwig being constantly berated by Bella Yaga for most of the runtime, without any character progression from both protagonists. At some point, you may wonder in what direction the film is going–and you’ll quickly realize that the entire film only serves as a pretext for a sequel. Everything you’re watching is tediously written exposition, which acts as chapter 1 out of 152 of a story that’ll likely never get completed. It wouldn’t have been a problem if we didn’t spend so much time with the character doing the same chores, without an ounce of development or…direction, where the audience would see a clear path to a satisfying ending, but that never happens. At least the voice cast seems to bring a quasi-form of life to the picture–with Kokoro Hirasawa delivering a charming performance as the titular character, bringing lots of energy and heart to an inexpensively crafted character. The same can be said for her sidekick, Thomas, who shares the entire movie’s funniest lines, most notably in a hilarious scene where he has to confront his worst fear: worms. The comedic timing is spot-on and is the only time where the animation somewhat works within the context of the physical humor presented on-screen.

By Studio Ghibli’s standards, Earwig and the Witch is a terrible film, stripping away the one thing that made the studio stand out above every type of corporate made animation by major motion picture studios, while also turning the soulful imagination of hand-drawn paintings with lifeless, vapid and unresponsive 3D video-game cutscenes. To have a Ghibli film in 3D is showing to the audience small signs that the studio might become creatively bankrupt if they continue in that direction. Thankfully, Hayao Miyazaki has a new movie coming soon; crafted the way it should be done. Let’s just hope Goro won’t continue down the path of lifeless 3D and direct his next film the same way his father is doing it.

 

Earwig and the Witch is now available to rent or buy on video-on-demand and on Blu-Ray and DVD.

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