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What If? Episodes 1-3 Review

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After the earth-shattering conclusion of Avengers: Endgame in 2019 followed by a whole year of nothing in 2020, Marvel Studios have made their triumphant return in 2021. WandaVision proved they could take on a sitcom, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier saw Marvel tackle race issues, Loki opened up so many doors and timelines for the MCU to head down going forward and Black Widow saw the OG Avenger finally receive her own film. But what seems like their most ambitious leap yet is about to launch on Disney+. ‘What If…?’ is the studio’s very first foray into animation.

The series explores alternate timelines in the MCU, begging fans to ponder the question what if? What if things had happened slightly differently? For instance, the very first episode asks, what if it was Peggy Carter not Steve Rogers that took the super soldier serum? Each episode in the series runs for about half an hour and asks a different question leading to alternate scenarios in the MCU.

The show sees the return of many fans’ favourite characters with lots of the original cast members returning to voice their superhero counterparts. Among the top billed cast returning are Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Hemsworth, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston as well as the final performance of Chadwick Boseman who will voice T’Challa in four episodes. But beyond the big names the show also sees the return of many of the smaller characters that fans never thought they’d see again. Clark Gregg returns as Agent Phil Coulson, Toby Jones is back as Dr Zola and Seth Green even reappears as classic Marvel character Howard the Duck.

The show is pulled together by The Watcher, voiced by Jeffrey Wright who narrates the series and guides us through the countless possibilities across the multiverse like Rod Sterling leading us through The Twilight Zone. What If proves that Marvel are willing to have a complete change of pace. The show is nothing ground-breaking and from the first three episodes it doesn’t appear to have much connection to the wider MCU but it’s a break from explosive big budget live-action films and TV shows with incredibly high production values.

Each episode offers up some familiarity, not just with the characters but with some of the situations too, however it injects these familiar circumstances with the unexpected. Each episode is filled with action, emotion, comedy and so much more in a way that matches the films, but the animation makes it feel incredibly unique. Although the first episode which sees Agent Carter injected with the super soldier serum and becoming Captain Carter instead of Steve Rogers as Captain America does feel a bit too derivative and too similar to Captain America: The First Avenger. There are lots of call backs that MCU superfans will recognise and enjoy with many shots being recreated only this time they’re animated, and it is nice to hear characters that we never thought we’d see or hear again like Stanley Tucci’s Dr Erskine.

Of the first three episodes, number one is the weakest. It’s a strong episode but two and three have a lot more to play with and make use of the altered scenarios much more. Episode two sees the return of a big bad we never expected to see again so soon and the third includes an insight into what fans know as ‘Fury’s Big Week’ when Nick Fury was assembling the Avengers- only not everything goes to plan this time around.

What If flips the MCU on its head and has countless possibilities for the future. A second series with nine more animated adventures is already in production. Writer A.C. Bradley has an enormous wealth of material to choose from with any moment since 2008’s Iron Man being fair game.

There’s enough familiarity in the characters, the actors voicing them and some of the situations to make it retain the MCU feel we all love but there’s also enough small changes to characters to make the show really interesting and fun to watch. We get to see characters we never expected to make us laugh cracking jokes and we get to see things that could never happen in live action as Marvel really embrace the animated format.

It is a bit disappointing to hear certain characters not being voiced by the same actors and it does feel a bit off. You can immediately tell when it’s not the original actor voicing the role and it does take away from the level of inter-connectedness the rest of the MCU has had. Hearing characters like Black Widow and Tony Stark being not being voiced by their usual actors that have played their parts so well after the past decade is quite disheartening but nonetheless there are still an impressive array of world class actors returning to their roles.

What If has beautiful animation and is a nice shift away from the usual Marvel formula. It’s much smaller, more contained stories than we’re used to from them but it’s entertaining and nothing too serious. It’s a good, fun time for those looking for something a bit different from Marvel.

The first episode of What If…? will premiere on Disney+ on Wednesday, August 11.

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Animation

The Super Mario Bros. Movie | Official Teaser | Universal Pictures

A plumber named Mario travels through an underground labyrinth with his brother, Luigi, trying to save a captured princess. Feature film adaptation of the popular video game.

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Genre:

Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Release Date:

April 7, 2023

Cast:

Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day,Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Jack Black

Plot Summary:

A plumber named Mario travels through an underground labyrinth with his brother, Luigi, trying to save a captured princess. Feature film adaptation of the popular video game.

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Animation

Netflix | Wendell & Wild | From Producer Jordan Peele

Two scheming demon brothers, Wendell and Wild, must face their arch-nemesis, the demon-dusting nun Sister Helly, and her two acolytes, the goth teens Kat and Raul. However, Raul cannot see them so Kat helps Wendell and Wild to help him.

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Genre:

Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Release Date:

October 28, 2022

Director:

Henry Selick

Cast:

Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Lyric Ross

Plot Summary:

Two scheming demon brothers, Wendell and Wild, must face their arch-nemesis, the demon-dusting nun Sister Helly, and her two acolytes, the goth teens Kat and Raul. However, Raul cannot see them so Kat helps Wendell and Wild to help him.

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Animation

LUCK Review | A Magical and Inspiring Adventure!

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From Apple Original Films and Skydance Animation comes their first animated feature which premieres on AppleTV+ this Friday, August 5th. I adored this movie and was truly charmed as the story is something the whole family can get behind and will find it fun but also moving as the film shows how we perceive good luck but also how bad luck can lead to the best things that you never expected would happen in your lifetime.

“Luck” centres around the story of Sam Greenfield, the unluckiest person in the world. When she discovers the never-before-seen Land of Luck, Sam must unite with the magical creatures there to turn her luck around. Eva Noblezada provides the voice for Sam. When she ages out of foster care, Sam discovers the Land of Luck and embarks on a quest that could change her luck forever. And despite her bad luck and clumsiness and everything that goes wrong, Sam never lets anything get in her way.

Apple TV+.

Simon Pegg voices Bob, a mischievous black cat from the Land of Luck. He’s all about number one, he’s a self-preservationist, so it’s all about him which makes him sound very selfish. However underneath he’s just trying to survive and once Sam, invariably enters his world she starts to penetrate that facade he has. The Captain, voiced by Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winner Whoopi Goldberg, stands guard as the head of security. She sees Bob for what she thinks he is and that’s a black cat, she thinks they’re unlucky. Jane Fonda voices Babe the Dragon, the exuberant CEO of Good Luck and undisputed luckiest ancient being in all the land.

Throughout our world, we’ve become very superstitious and have long ascribed luck to little trinkets. In different cultures, we’ve had lucky pennies, four-leaf covers, horseshoes, dreamcatchers, Maneki Neko, ladybugs, etc. All of these are meant to bring luck and ward off bad luck so getting to see a whole world based on these two factors was incredible, especially in a stylistic world like the Land of Luck. A world that creates the moments in your life where everything goes right or wrong. This amazing colourful world is where all kinds of magical creatures work together to create Luck, the good and bad. Throughout Sam’s journey, she meets Leprechauns such as Gerry voiced by Colin O’Donoghue, bunnies in hazmat suits and a flamboyant unicorn names Jeff voiced by Flula Borg. They all work tirelessly every day to bring you those sweet fortunate moments.

Apple TV+.

But Luck isn’t complete without the bad luck which is made on the other side of this world. A team of goats, roots, and goblins work to make your day a little more frustrating. We’ve all had these moments of stepping in gum, losing your keys, and in my case spilling a hot cup of tea over a MacBook Pro. The world-building showcases a fine balance between good luck and bad luck, however, the tiniest amount of bad luck can shut down the Land of luck’s entire operation, which is totally thrown off by Sam’s arrival. Things are certainly about to get interesting.  Skydance Animation has truly created a world I’d love to visit. Production designer Fred Warter has given the Land of Luck its personality and colour pallet. The use of green for good luck and purple for bad luck is genius and those two colours truly complement each other as the use of colours in this film help amplify each sequence.

Apple TV+.

As the title suggests, Luck sees Sam trying her best to save this newly discovered world after she brings her unfortunate bad luck into this sacred space. Throughout the film, we discover why she’s in search of a lucky penny and ultimately Luck is an original story that’ll touch people’s hearts with its strong messages that give us hope. Luck isn’t so much about the trinkets and charms and what it means to be unlucky which I can say features some funny gags, it’s rather about love and finding your forever family.

Luck also taps into the reality of the foster care system and the emotionally tolling process that is adoption.

The film is truly an amazing story, one that works for Skydance Animation’s first feature but also Apple Tv’s first original feature film. Everything from character design to the environment is outstanding. The Land of Luck is so universal and relatable, Luck is totally random. You can’t control it, you can’t create it. The world mirrors our own but it has good luck at the top and bad luck at the bottom. They’re both opposite sides of the coin. The film was also made over Zoom and many of the actors did the voicework in their homes.

Ultimately this movie made me feel inspired, to never give up on myself, never give up on my dreams and just keep going as life can be hard sometimes but luckily it will turn around.

Apple TV+.

Are you ready to step into the Land of Luck? Thanks to Toikido for sending out the awesome merchandise for us to review!. My family absolutely adored the film and the toys. Our favourite character is Bob the cat voiced by Simon Pegg so we were excited to receive the deluxe interactive talking plush. Tia aged eight says “It’s so soft and cuddly”. Bob is delightfully curious and mischievous and is so self-obsessed that he comes with over twenty-five phrases. Press Bob’s left hind paw to hear Pegg’s vocals and phrases which include “Top of the morning to ya”, and “You flushed my penny down the toilet”.

Links to purchase these magical products are below!

You can also bring the world of Luck to life with the deluxe figures of Bob the black cat, Jeff the Unicorn, Lucky Pig, and Sam. It’s awesome to have my favourite characters as fun action figures as you’ll be able to play out scenes from the beautifully animated film.

The magical and adventurous animated film is helmed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Peggy Holmes (“The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning”), from an original screenplay written by Kiel Murray (“Raya and the Last Dragon,” “Cars 3,” “Cars”), Jon Aibel and Glenn Berger (“Kung Fu Panda 2,” “Trolls”). John Lasseter, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and David Eisenmann are producing for Skydance Animation.

“Luck” joins an expanding lineup of the Apple Original Films and Skydance Animation partnership, alongside upcoming titles such as the highly anticipated feature “Spellbound,” and the animated series “The Search for WondLa,” with several more feature films and television series to be announced. “Luck” follows the recent Apple/Skydance NAACP nomination for Outstanding Animated Short-Form and Annie Awards nomination for Best Music for “Blush,” written and directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Joe Mateo (“Prep & Landing,” “Big Hero 6”), and composed by Hollywood Music in Media Award winner Joy Ngiaw (“Red,” “Fish Head”), now streaming on Apple TV+.

Luck” will be available in select cinemas and available on Apple TV+ this Friday, August 5th. 

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