Tag Archives: Tina Fey

Megamind

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

This year, DreamWorks Animation celebrates its 20th anniversary.  To mark the occasion, Callum Petch is going through their entire animated canon, one film a week for the next 30 weeks, and giving them a full-on retrospective treatment.  Prior entries can be found here, should you desire.


megamind 221] Megamind (5th November 2010)

Budget: $130 million

Gross: $321,885,765

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72%

2010 was a very successful year for feature-length animation.  Now, when one looks at the year in animated film and tries to determine how good of a year it was, they cannot just cast their eye in the direction of the Disney-DreamWorks-Pixar circle trust and judge it solely from there.  I mean, they can and it should factor in to a large percentage of that – they are the biggest animation companies in the Western world at the moment, after all – but the true indicator of just how successful a year it has been for animation comes from the efforts of other studios and how their works hold up qualitatively and financially which, for 2010, was rather well indeed.

In terms of the big three, DreamWorks put out three solid hits – How To Train Your Dragon, Shrek Forever After, Megamind (sort of, we’ll get to that) – two of which were creative and critical successes, whilst Disney properly kick-started their second renaissance with the financial smash of critical hit Tangled, and Pixar put out Toy Story 3 so I really don’t need to go into detail with that.  They carried the year very well, but there was activity outside of those.  My Dog Tulip was an indie darling that did decent box office numbers, Zack Snyder tried to make an ambitious and dark fantasy epic with Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga’Hoole that did very well overseas, Alpha & Omega is a dog turd in a bucket made out of Xenomorph piss but made enough money to justify a direct-to-DVD series that’s still inexplicably going to this day.

Oh, yeah, and Despicable Me happened.

In fact, I’m gonna go ahead right now and state this for the record: as a fan of the Despicable Me series overall, I still don’t quite get why Despicable Me was the one that broke through into the mainstream public consciousness.  Every year, of the tens of animated films that get released into the wild by studios that aren’t part of that circle trust I previously mentioned, one breaks through into mainstream acceptance and becomes the next big franchise.  It’s a recent thing, and some years end up having that big film come from DreamWorks anyway, but it is a thing nonetheless – Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs in 2009, Despicable Me in 2010, Rango and Rio in 2011, Hotel Transylvania in 2012, The Croods in 2013 (because pretty much everything else was a sequel), and The Lego Movie in 2014.

Now, in fairness, Despicable Me is a good film – although I never found it to be great and vastly prefer the better paced, better structured, wackier, funnier, more surprisingly heartfelt and just plain better Despicable Me 2 – and I much prefer it being the breakout in a rather quiet year than f*cking Alpha & Omega, but I’ve never fully gotten why.  The first film is flawed – a lot of the non-physical gags don’t land, the heart isn’t quite earned, and many of the voice performances are just awful – and forgettable, yet it became the film that everybody went back to again and again and again.  My best guess is the same as my guess for why Madagascar became a hit: the funny comic relief side characters (Penguins in Madagascar, Minions in Despicable Me) and the collective belief that a sequel will fully realise the potential that is frequently hinted at but never quite reached.

Despicable Me, for those not in the know, follows an ineffectual supervillain who wishes to become the most evilest supervillain of them all, but has a change of heart and becomes a hero of sorts after he lets women into his personal life and discovers that, deep down, he actually has real feelings and cares about other people that are not his minions or his steadfastly loyal sidekick.  Megamind, for those not in the know, follows an ineffectual supervillain who wishes to become the most evilest supervillain of them all, but has a change of heart and becomes a hero of sorts after he lets a woman into his personal life and discovers that, deep down, he actually has real feelings and cares about other people that are not his minions or his steadfastly loyal sidekick.

Can you see why Megamind was doomed from the get-go?

Now, I am not saying that Megamind and Despicable Me ripped one another off.  Of course I’m not, animation lead times are hellish and whichever one of these films came out first would have had the advantage of not being seen as a rip-off of the other.  What I am saying, is that an uninformed public may end up seeing it that way and they’re unlikely to turn up for a second go-around if they look too similar to one another.  DreamWorks had gotten away with it before with Antz and Shark Tale, but both of those looked very distinct from the films they were going up against, Antz came first and Shark Tale was a year removed from Finding Nemo.  In a darkly funny way, being late to the punch and suffering for it, this is basically karma finally coming for DreamWorks Animation.

Like it or not, Despicable Me will have been at least partially responsible for the lower-than-average gross for Megamind.  It may not have been such a problem if Despicable Me wasn’t A Thing, but it was A Thing and it ended up being a breath of fresh air in the animated medium – I’m assuming, my guess being that it was an animated comedy with real heart and few pop culture references – and so Megamind ended up suffering in comparison in the public eye.  After all, here was a DreamWorks film.  The third in a year, no less!  It had been 9 years since the first Shrek and, since most of the animation medium had decided to poorly copy that film’s way of doing things, people were tired of the DreamWorks formula by this point.

The film opened OK, first place and $46 million is nothing to sniff at, but was still somewhat below par for a DreamWorks film with 3D bells and whistles – especially since 66% of its opening weekend came from 3D showings at the height of the 3D craze.  It held well in weekend no. 2, only slipping 37% and beating off Unstoppable which was a real movie that existed and not some kind of amazingly stupid fever dream we collectively had, but any hopes of a long run on the chart were collectively dashed by four words that sent the entire box office sprinting for cover: Deathly Hallows, Part 1.  The combination of that opening in Week 3 and Disney’s Tangled opening in Week 4 signalled a very swift end to Megamind’s domestic box office fortunes; it dropped out after Week 6.

Considering that one-two punch, one would wonder why DreamWorks didn’t simply push the release date forward a bit, perhaps into October.  Problem is, DreamWorks were very much in a “damned if we do, damned if we don’t” situation with Megamind.  Too early and Despicable Me would be too fresh in the audience’s minds and that would harm Megamind’s box office even more.  Too late and they’d have to push it into January/February of 2011, the cinematic dead zone and creating the problem of having three films coming out in relatively close proximity to one another in 2011; essentially postponing the burnout problem another 12 months.  Plus, in October, a very large number of 3D screens were taken by Jackass 3D and Katzenberg’s very public uproar over the competition foisted upon How To Train Your Dragon back in March probably convinced him to keep schtum this time.

So it didn’t do particularly great in the US.  Problem is that overseas grosses weren’t particularly great, either.  DreamWorks films that don’t do great financially domestically typically, not always but typically, make up for that with very strong overseas sales – Penguins Of Madagascar has crashed and burned domestically (it won’t even cross $80 million by the time it finally closes) but is at least trying to force its way into profitability with a slow but strong overseas performance.  Megamind, for whatever reason, never managed to do that.  Therefore, the film, although not a bomb, is one of the lower grossing entries into the more recent DreamWorks canon – although that bar keeps getting lowered/raised with each passing entry, to be frank.

Despicable Me is certainly one reason, three DreamWorks films in one year is definitely another (I have talked before about the DreamWorks release plan so I won’t repeat myself), and the fact that it looked very much like The DreamWorks Movie certainly didn’t help matters.  In fact, after having viewed the film and tweeted out how I prefer it to Despicable Me 1 – like you’re surprised, if you’ve followed this series or any of my writings on this site, you saw this coming – a friend of mine replied with surprise at my position as they found it to be “the most DreamWorks-ass movie they’ve ever made.”  And I am inclined to agree with that statement, name a DreamWorks Animation trope – pop culture references, expensive sounding licensed soundtrack, characters that resemble their voice actors more than a little too much, a Dance Party Ending – and it probably shows up here at some point.

But, crucially, Megamind also perfectly encapsulates just how far DreamWorks Animation had come since their commonly accepted dark age.  See, Megamind has a fair bit going on in it.  The DreamWorks of old would have taken its superhero parody premise, filled in the blank spaces with the bare minimum of character work and pop culture references, and then called it a day.  Megamind instead fills its blanks with the bare minimum of pop culture references – the bigger ones being relevant to the genre the film is occasionally parodying and therefore making sense – a very good amount of character work, a surprising amount of heart, and a vicious and relevant deconstruction of the Dogged Yet Determined Nice Guy trope.  It’s not original, Christ no, but it is highly entertaining and, as I have said before, films don’t have to be original to be great.

Now, I am going to be frank, a part of me did sigh dejectedly when Roxie ended up not being the one who gets forcibly injected with the hero serum – after all, DreamWorks have a (previously discussed) female problem and, if this was pulled off well (because it could also have gone so horribly wrong), giving Roxie powers and making her Megamind’s self-created nemesis would have provided so many potentially brilliant plotlines.  However, the serum going to Hal allows Megamind to touch on its best theme: loudly telling young boys that they are entitled to jack sh*t when it comes to women.

What do the movies typically teach us?  The hero gets the girl.  The good guy gets the girl.  The dogged nice guy is rewarded for his patience and persistence by getting the girl.  If your soulmate is currently with the wrong guy, a lunky meathead who is cool and awesome whilst you’re a sad lonely nerd, she will eventually realise that it should have been you all along and will come around if you just don’t stop trying to convince her.  This is why “friendzoning” is a thing.  We are very much a culture of entitlement, men are entitled to their dream girl and the guy that gets in the way of that is a horrible jock asshole and any girl who rejects you just doesn’t realise how special you are, despite just how f*cking abhorrent that entire philosophy is, and it’s why tragic events like the Isla Vita massacre end up happening.

So Megamind gets across just how non-OK that is by making Hal the villain.  Without powers, his constant hitting on Roxie even long after she has made it quite clear that she is not interested is an annoyance and creepy, but not especially threatening since he can’t do anything about it.  With powers, his entitlement overtakes his being and he now has the means with which to actually lash out at the world when everything he has been promised isn’t dropped into his lap.  Roxie is in love with Bernard – or, at least, who she thinks is Bernard, we’ll get back to that in a minute – and Hal suddenly sprouting powers and pecs does not cause her libido to suddenly gain feelings for him.  She wasn’t interested in him before because he was rather creepy and overly forward and unable to let the crush go, and she’s not interested in him now since all the powers have done is give him the strength to act on those creepy and overly forward impulses.  Her rejection is what spurs him to turn evil, but it’s clear that he would have gone this way at some point regardless of how things turned out with Roxie.

To put it another way: a big message of a big expensive animated kids’ movie aimed at young boys is “No means no.  Always.  No exceptions.  You aren’t entitled to sh*t.”  Ain’t that something rather amazing?

This all being said, Megamind does very much risk undercutting this message in three ways.  1] There are quite a few times, pre-powers, where Hal’s creepy hitting on Roxie is played more for laughs than “this is not OK”-ness.  I’m not 100% certain about this, because I’m not sure how much I’m projecting my own beliefs onto this movie and how much is the film mashing that “not OK” button (all of its prior attempts at getting jokes from that fall flat for me, you see, so I’m not certain how much of the film is properly playing it for laughs), but it’s there nonetheless.  2] The finale still ends with Megamind himself having won Roxie after proving himself to be a nice guy hero deep down, although that problem is somewhat nipped by a large chunk of the movie being devoted to showing the two of them mutually falling in love with each other.  Mind, that also brings us to…

…3] much of that romance occurs with Megamind tricking Roxie into believing that he is somebody else, with him taking the form of Bernard.  No matter how real and genuinely touching the rest of their relationship is built on, there’s still the issue of the fact that Megamind built much of his relationship with Roxie on a lie.  A lie that he is rewarded for, even after the jig is revealed and Roxie reacts understandably betrayed and angry, by getting the girl after rescuing her from Hal/Titan.  Now, this whole plotline and development isn’t exactly something made up specifically for Megamind, the film is a parody of comic books and superheroes and this kind of thing crops up there too (I’m assuming) so it carries problematic undertones anywhere (see also: any plotline that involves love potions of any kind), but those uncomfortable undertones still sit there regardless.

Yet, I honestly don’t find them a film-killer, like they should be, and I put that all down to the film’s incredibly strong character work.  The relationship between Megamind and Roxie feels very real, very honest, very spontaneous.  Although the film makes it somewhat clear from the outset that the two are going to end up together – this is a film, after all, apparently only Hayao Miyazaki understands that the lead man and the lead woman don’t need to get together by the rolling of the end credits – this isn’t apparent to the characters.  Megamind doesn’t kidnap Roxie at the outset because he has secret deep-down feelings for her, the film repeatedly makes it very clear that he’s only doing that because that’s what villains are supposed to do and he views her as somewhat of an annoyance – crucially, the film itself doesn’t, which is why she’s a very entertaining and interesting character despite being shunted into the two roles that women are apparently supposed to play in blockbuster action films.

The first time Megamind properly hangs out with Roxie, as in not keeping himself from being discovered by her, it’s not even in a romantic context.  Or, at least, an openly romantic one.  It starts very much as a position of his enjoying her company and wishing to spend more time with her, and his not realising that the true extent of his affections for her being love until later.  Vice versa for Roxie, it’s very much two friends slowly realising that they have a deeper bond than just being friends and it’s that naturalness and realness that’s able to transcend the somewhat… iffy details surrounding it.  For me, at least.  No, it doesn’t much help the film’s case that a good chunk of this is dealt with in one Electric Light Orchestra backed montage, but the relationship between the two is very much the centre and backbone of the movie and the execution of everything surrounding that is why it all still works.

See, Megamind’s arc feels natural.  It feels sincere.  He may seem like he’s deciding to become a hero because of the love of a woman, but the reality is that that’s only one part of it.  For one, he never really wanted to become a villain in the first place, society bullied him into it because school kids are the f*cking worst.  For two, there’s a good 10 to 15 minute stretch where the film loudly announces the fact that Megamind only got the fun out of the chase and actually finds the non-chase parts of villainy rather boring.  And for three, his first instinct when he sees Titan running off the rails is to try and shut down his creation before it gets further out of control, proving that he’s always had good inside of him somewhere.  The love of Roxie is a catalyst for that realisation of his change, but it’s not the sole reason and that’s why his arc feels genuine.  There’s more to it, it’s built up over time, and where he ends up personally when the film closes makes sense based on what the film has shown us about him earlier.  By contrast, Despicable Me’s shift in Gru’s character feels forced and ham-handed, arriving suddenly because the plot demands it and only really coming from the three girls – the only real foreshadowing coming from Gru not treating his Minions like garbage.

That’s why Megamind’s heart hits for me whilst Despicable Me’s does not, and why I prefer the former to the latter.  Megamind has issues – the ratio of good jokes to “ugh” jokes is slightly less one-sided than I’d like it to be, animation quality is alright but not outstanding, art style and character designs are honestly really generic, there are no real “Wow!” stand-out moments – but its heart is in the right place and its heart works gangbusters.  A joke machine is fine, but that means that a prolonged stretch of time where the jokes aren’t firing on all cylinders exposes the weaknesses in the rest of your film.  Megamind, however, has stuff going on under the surface – mostly stuff that has been done before, with the exception of that whole entitlement angle, but it’s all very well executed in any case – and its emotional centre always feels genuine which means it tugs my heartstrings more than Despicable Me 1 did.

Also, that moment just before the title card where the studio version of George Thorogood & The Destroyers’ “Bad To The Bone” seamlessly transitions into a glorious orchestral version of said tune is brilliant and makes up for every mediocre-to-bad usage of that song for at least the last decade.  What can I say?  I’m a simple man of simple pleasures.


Megamind was a somewhat successful film critically and financially, although not the runaway that How To Train Your Dragon (critically) and Shrek Forever After (financially) had been.  Of 2010’s DreamWorks Animation releases, it’s likely that the company regard it as the black sheep of the group, although the film does have its fans.  Their next film, the first of two for 2011, would cement the standing of their third big film franchise, wow the critics, kill the foreign box office, and baffle everybody when, much like with How To Train Your Dragon and its first instalment, it was passed over for the Best Animated Feature Oscar.  Next week, it’s Kung Fu Panda 2.

A new edition of DreamWorks! A Retrospective will be posted here every Monday at 1PM BST!

Callum Petch can taste the bright lights but he won’t get them for free.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

Failed Critics Podcast: Captain America, Major Spoilers, and General Shambles

Robert Redford in Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Robert Redford and Chris Evans in Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Welcome to this weeks Failed Critics Podcast, and in this episode we’re reviewing two of the most anticipated films of the early blockbuster season. Marvel Phase Two continues apace with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, while another sequel in the shape of Muppets Most Wanted also comes under the spotlight.

James is away this week, but we’re joined by our friend Carole Petts as the team not only review Captain America 2, but also delve into what it means for the MCU in Spoiler Alert. Owen also gives us a sneak preview of another highly anticipated sequel after he was lucky enough to gaze upon the brutal spectacle of The Raid 2.

We’re hopefully back to normal next week, with James back in the saddle and reviews of Noah and The Double.

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Muppets Most Wanted

Kermit in Muppets Most Wanted
Kermit in Muppets Most Wanted

It’s a definite step down from their big comeback, but Muppets Most Wanted is still a lot of super happy fun.

by Callum Petch

Muppets Most Wanted opens with a musical number where Kermit and Fozzie sheepishly admit that “everybody knows the sequel’s never quite as good”.  It could be taken as a pre-emptive apology on the behalf of everyone involved; an admission that everyone knows that they will not recapture the lightning that 2011’s The Muppets so effortlessly bottled and a warning to tone down your expectations.  Admittedly, I found this self-deprecatory plea rather humorous seeing as it was paired with a song that I thought was better than any of the ones The Muppets cooked up (yeah I said it, I have a soft spot for knees-up sing-a-long show tunes, and I will gladly fight you over this), but they’re not wrong to give you the heads up as, no, Most Wanted is nowhere near as good as The Muppets.

Then again, it’s not exactly trying to be.  See, 2011’s The Muppets was, for all intents and purposes, a fan film.  A fan film written, directed, starring and scored by fans as a love letter to the Muppets themselves.  It was a labour of love and it wore that and its heart on its sleeves, it was sentimental and nostalgic and was counting on you feeling the same way so that, when Rainbow Connection finally appeared, you too would be bawling your eyes out.  Most Wanted does not have such ambitions.  Most Wanted doesn’t want to make you get all nostalgically teary-eyed, it just wants you to laugh.  It wants you to laugh and laugh and laugh so loudly that the sheer volume of your laughter causes distressed family members to look at you suspiciously.  Because of this, it was never going to be as good as The Muppets, in much the same way that The Great Muppet Caper was never going to be as good as The Muppet Movie.  And that’s fine, because laugh I did.  A hell of a lot.  To the point where I left the cinema with a jolly little skip instead of just going “Yeah, that was not quite as good as the last one.”  I liked it on its own merits, for what it was because it is damn good at what it does.

The set-up for the jokes, then.  Shortly after the conclusion of The Muppets, the Muppets are tapped by a big-shot tour manager named Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais at his smarmy best) to go on a world tour of their show so that they can capitalise on their return to fame whilst they still have it.  What the Muppets don’t know, though, is that Dominic is in league with an escaped master criminal named Constantine who is a dead ringer for Kermit, save for the mole on the former’s face, and that the pair are planning on using the tour as a cover to steal various elements that would help them steal the crown jewels.  With Kermit being shanghaied off to a Russian Gulag under the strict watch of secret Kermit super-fan Nadia (Tina Fey), Constantine takes his place as the leader of the Muppets and his laissez-faire attitude to his cover allows the rest of the gang a degree of creative control that it be better they didn’t have.  And not helping matters are the Interpol (Ty Burrell) and CIA (Sam the Eagle) agents on their tail after the heists start causing too much noise.

It’s a farce, basically.  A good old-fashioned farce where the stakes are relatively low, the mood is nice and light and breezy and features a plot where everything could have been solved in five seconds if any of the characters involved had their brains switched on that day.  Like I previously mentioned, there’s little emotional depth going on here, the sole exception being Miss Piggy’s continued attempts to finally get Kermit to put a ring on her finger, which makes things much more easily disposable.  Do not expect to be moved and, honestly, don’t fully expect to still be thinking about it about a week or so removed from seeing it.  Again, this is not the film’s intention.

And that would be a legitimate problem if it weren’t for the fact that Muppets Most Wanted is absolutely hilarious.  It can’t quite sustain its manic pacing for its near-two-hour runtime (I honestly feel like it could have trimmed a good 10 minutes and ended up with a wall-to-wall hysterical 95 minutes), but it comes damn near close.  Nearly everything that Constantine says in his awful-Russian Kermit impersonation (that at times seems to inadvertently slip into Transylvanian but only adds to the effect) is comic gold, especially his butchering of classic Kermit phrases.  Nadia’s simultaneously hard-assed and affable prison warden (she doesn’t even really try to stop Kermit’s escape attempts because she knows every single prison escape trick in the book, because she’s seen every prison break film ever made, yes, even the ones in space) is a near-perfect usage of Tina Fey.  The constantly bickering nature of agents Jean-Pierre and Sam the Eagle is priceless and equally as priceless are the running jabs at France’s… lackadaisical attitude to work breaks by having Jean-Pierre literally take a break every single time that something big happens in the case.  And as for the film’s best gag?  I won’t spoil it but, as a lifelong Muppet diehard, it was exactly the kind of reverential self-deprecatory gag that is capable of making me burst out into extreme laughter.

More importantly, though, it’s consistent.  This is not the kind of film that blows all of its best gags in the opening 30-odd minutes or revealed all of them in the trailers.  The giant laughs are infrequent but well-spaced out and linked with consistently chucklesome or chortle-worthy material (and I apologise for using the phrase “chortle-worthy” but it’s the best I could come up with for “laughing loudly material that’s not as laughing loudly-worthy as the film’s best jokes”) so I spent the majority of the film with a giant smile on my face.  It also helps that the human cast trio are almost equally happy to be here.  Nobody’s at Jason Segel-levels of “Oh, man, I COULD NOT BE MORE STOKED TO BE HERE!” because that is almost impossible, but everybody is game for whatever the script throws at them.  Ricky Gervais seems positively thrilled at getting asked to have his boss tap dance on his head during a song entirely designed to disparage his character’s role in the story; it’s his best performance in years.  And while most may think that Ty Burrell is the standout human actor, and they can be forgiven for thinking that (he is excellent as a cartoonish Swiss stereotype), those people will immediately realise just how wrong they are when Tina Fey pulls out a newspaper clipping of Kermit The Frog and starts snogging the lights out of it.  She’s pretty funny in this.

A brief note on the celebrity cameos.  Yes, there are a lot of them.  However, this is not a problem and everybody who is trying to insist otherwise is wrong for these reasons.  1] Celebrity cameos have always been inherent to the world and premise of The Muppets.  They’ve been there since nearly Day 1 and anybody who has a problem with them now is either not familiar with The Muppets or their nostalgia goggles happened to forget everything about the cameos.  2] They’re not just “Look at this A-lister we got for these five seconds!”  There will be just as many that go over your head as there will be that you recognise.  For every Lady Gaga, there’s a Tom Hollander, for every Christoph Waltz, there’s a Hornswoggle from the WWE.  3] There are no more cameos here than there were in The Muppets.  4] They never take the focus away from the Muppets themselves.  When Tom Hiddleston pops in for five seconds, that’s all he does.  He’s not stealing vital plot and screen time from the Muppets themselves.  In fact, this is probably one of the more Muppet-focussed Muppet movies, the attention is on them at nearly all times and I don’t think that there’s a scene in here that doesn’t feature a Muppet in some way, shape or form; news that will likely please Muppet purists.

And as for Walter, who basically led the last Muppet movie despite it supposedly being about the other Muppets themselves?  Well, and most likely for the better, he slides comfortably into the supporting Muppet cast as the closest thing the film gets to a straight man.  He fits the role well and he’s a nice part of the overall ensemble.  Speaking of that ensemble, it’s also mostly well handled.  Gonzo fans will likely be disappointed that, again, he’s pushed to the side-lines and only really gets a couple of really funny moments, but the Muppets are a large cast of characters and I think it’s to the film’s credit (or, at least, I’m pretty sure it is, it may also just be my fan nostalgia talking) that most of the cast get a defining line or action.  Most of the cast get the chance to do or say something extremely funny which is probably the best we can all hope for as, let’s face it, everybody has different Muppet preferences and no two people are going to be 100% satisfied with how the balance turns out in a Muppet film.

If there is one thing I can properly knock the film for, besides its slightly-too-long running time, though, it’s the occasional usage of CGI.  Now, I know that the merest mention of CGI will likely immediately send most Muppet diehards running for the Internet message boards to complain, but there is good news about this.  The most prominent usages of CGI come in Constantine’s prison break sequence and his first musical number, both of which are dealt with in the opening 30 minutes.  Afterwards, if there are a tonne of CGI-enhanced shots, I didn’t notice them.  The bad news, however, is that the CGI in those two sequences (and especially Constantine’s prison break) is awful.  It sticks out dreadfully, moves shoddily and cheaply and looks like it was done in about 15 minutes before a lunch break.  I wonder if that was the intention, quite frankly, because everything else in the film looks spectacular (these are master puppeteers at the helm, after all) and it only leaves such a sour taste because it’s one of the very first things you see after the opening musical number and you know what they say about first impressions.

Still, two instances of dreadful CGI in the opening 30 minutes are not enough to distract from what Muppets Most Wanted is good at and that is making the viewer laugh something fierce.  It lacks the openly sentimental heartfelt-ness of The Muppets but it’s still top-quality entertainment.  And, in all honesty, if you can easily apply the phrase “it’s The Great Muppet Caper to the original’s The Muppet Movie” in regards to a film sequel, then it’s not exactly a comment that’s supposed to be taken as a knock against the film in question.  More film sequels should strive to that kind of level as a minimum baseline.  Muppets Most Wanted is huge fun, has great songs and I left with a big old smile on my face, what more of a recommendation do you need to go and see it?

Callum Petch had no choice but to get down, down, down, down.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

Failed Critics Podcast: World War Z

world-war-z-headerWelcome to this week’s Failed Critics Podcast, featuring some lifeless, shuffling, mindless abominations…TALKING ABOUT ZOMBIES! Pretty sure we’ve used that joke before as well. Sorry.

As well as reviewing World War Z (starring Brad Pitt), we also discuss new releases in the shape of This Is The End and Now You See Me, and pay tribute to James Gandolfini and Ray Matheson who sadly passed away in the last seven days.

Join us next week for a Triple Bill of the Worst Movie Jobs (in ‘honour’ of The Internship), and maybe even a new release or two.

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