Film Review: CARS 3 (USA 2017)

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cars 3Lightning McQueen sets out to prove to a new generation of racers that he’s still the best race car in the world.

Director: Brian Fee

Stars: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Nathan Fillion, Armie Hammer

Review by Gilbert Seah

CARS 3 is the debut animated feature by Brian Fee, the storyboard artist of the other two CARS films and a few other Disney features. As this is a film that Fee has something to prove, the animation is as expected top-notch, as in all the Disney/Pixar films.

The trailer of CARS 3 which shows racing car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) wiping out on a banked racetrack with a fade to black and voiceover promising that things will be different, many will be expecting a blacker sequel and one that would prove more interesting than the other two trivial CARS films. Not so. The terrible crash is just the catalyst for McQueen to want to race again to prove himself. So, there is the usual predictable stuff such as: “You have it in you.” You can prove yourself.” etc. etc. So, all hopes for a blacker CARS film are torn to bits.

The film features a next generation of race cars that includes Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). The cars in the film begin questioning if the famous Lightning McQueen will throw in the towel after he endured a terrible crash. McQueen’s sponsor, Rust-eze, is bought by Sterling (Nathan Fillion), a car who thinks McQueen cannot maintain his image by racing. Lightning asks for a chance to race in the Florida 500 and begins to train with race technician Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), who’s always had her own racing dreams. That pretty sums up a plot that not many can get excited with.

The same problem of animation of cars till exists in all the CARS franchise. Cars are inanimate objects with no limbs nor faces. So it is more difficult to animate cars – to give them expressions and make them distinguishable one from another. A tactic is of course, as used by the animators, is to make the colours bright and different or have different car types on display such as tow trucks.

It is also difficult to get excited over one cartoon car wining a race against another cartoon car. Or for one cartoon car to fall in love with another or feel anything towards a jealous car.

CARS undoubtedly has good animation. The audience can feel the thunder of the race as the audience is given a drivers-look of a race. But the film lacks the humour (goofy or otherwise) and inventiveness that help films like the recent CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS and BOSS BABY become memorable.
THE CARS films have not made the Studios that much money compared to the other animated features. But more than a fair income comes from the share of the toy franchise. So, do not expect much from CARS 3. For it is he same old stuff. Unless one is interested in the animation process, CARS 3 is nothing more than one dull drag of a race.

But wait! There is a short animated feature called LOU preceding CARS. It involves a schoolyard bully who learns that being nice conquers all. The largely silent LOU is smart, well animated, inventive and funny. It subtly teaches kids that bullying is just not cool. Rating for LOU: ****



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Film Review: DIRTY POOL, Canada, Animation

Played at the March 2017 ANIMATION Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTERDIRTY POOL, 1min, Canada, Animation
Directed by Brent Forrest

This film is a quick ode to the pool hall where we drunken animators used to spend our evenings.

Review by Kierston Drier:

Full of round, polished, pleasing visuals, this is a story about Balls! Ehhem, pool balls. Pool balls and etiquette. Coming to us from Canada and directed by Brent Forrest, DIRTY POOL is a two minute glance at what can go wrong when you try to play pool with your buddy at the bar.

The story is cute, clear and comical- our heroes go out to play some pool and it all goes frighteningly wrong. But where DIRTY POOL makes it mark is in its visuals. Shiny, bright, visually engaging and with a strong attention to detail, this is a film that will make you want to stop blinking.

If you have ever taken a childlike delight in staring at a old time gumball machine full to bursting with glistening multi colored gumballs, then you have the visual equivalent of watching this film.

Tantalizingly rich, this is a film you can simply watch and enjoy. No need to dissect any deeper philosophical meaning- just watch a great film with great picture, about some hapless dudes making enemies on the wrong side of a pool table.

Sit back and enjoy Dirty Pool, it’s a delight to see.

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Film Review: SNOOT IN THE CITY, Australia, Animation

Played at the March 2017 ANIMATION Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTERSNOOT IN THE CITY, 1min, Australia, Animation
Directed by Stephanie Davidson

On the rooftops above a cold, ironclad city, Snoot lives in a nice, warm home. When an intruder invades, his territorial instincts kick in and it’s up to him to protect his home, even if it means going face to face with a giant house-crushing robot.

Review by Kierston Drier:

This one minute comic animation from Australia, directed by Stephanie Davidson, is a simple film that delivers the whole package- a good story, a charming character, a great twist- in less than 60 seconds.

Snoot, our adorable mouse-y creature, just wants a quiet night roasting their bone at home next to their warm furnace. Snoot won’t get it though. A huge monster is on the horizon and headed right towards are quite hero. But Snoot will not have their evening ruined, and fast thinking is required.

What is great about this film, is that the story is well developed, despite the tiny time allotment. Snoot is able to use what they glean in the first few seconds of the movie to great effect later. By utilizing a faulty heating system and their own sheer grit, Snoot can defend their home and their evening from a hideous invader.

Bravo to Stephanie Davidson and her team. They clearly know that most important part of any film is the story! And to deliver one so clear and comical in a compact 60 seconds is a talented feat. Great job team, Snoot in the City is worth a watch, maybe two!

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Film Review: WALL, Taiwan, Animation

Played at the March 2017 ANIMATION Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTERWALL, 5min, Taiwan, Animation
Directed by Chia-Yin Chou

Their are evolutionary stories happened on ordinary street. The sight from the bottom can only see a huge foot wearing somethings nice , stepping on the poor for fun , giving leftover for handouts occasionally.

Review by Kierston Drier:

Quick, symbolic and filled with stunning visual metaphor, Wall is a piece about social power and economy, although at first glance it gives the cheery tone of a Pixar short. Rats and mice litter the inner city streets-scurrying about as best as a bottom feeder can and praying to the Big cheese above them for the crumbs that filter down.

And against the colorful crowd of feet walking past and a sweeping orchestra of music, one Rat attempts to climb the steep steps to a better future. But is whatever lives above him willing to open its’ doors?

Wall is a funny little film. It’s metaphors are not immediately obvious. Unless you are critically looking at it, this film appears to be a simply physical-schtick comic piece, full of patchwork scurrying mice, a slick fast thinking Rat and a ominous and unknowable villain towering above them.

But if you give it thought, it becomes a deeply layered piece about our society, economy and our difficulty in climbing the corporate ladder, when even its bottom rungs are high above you.

Watch Wall if you want a short, subtle comic piece that is a metaphor to the human rat race. Watch Wall if you want a relaxing visually pleasing comedy. Or watch it simply because it’s good.

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Film Review: MY LIFE I DON’T WANT, Myanmar, Animation

Played at the March 2017 ANIMATION Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTERMY LIFE I DON’T WANT, 12min, Myanmar, Animation
Directed by Nyan Kyal Say

A short animated film about the life of a Myanmar girl inspired by a true story.

Review by Kierston Drier:

With bright simple visuals and powerful symbology, this dramatic and powerful Myanmar animation coming to us from director Nyan Kyal Say is the story of one sunny optimistic young girl put through the hardest sides of life simply because she is born female.

Victim of a systemic gender bias family and society, our heroine is a unrelenting easy to love, even when she walks alone down a road that will lead her to endless heartache.

What makes this piece so admirable is it’s ability to draw on hope- our character is broken again and again by life’s cruel circumstances. She is shuffled from family to family, from one abusive situation to the next, from one misfortune to another- all while appearing to never give up. Until, of course, all seems dark…

But what happens to our heroine is just one story in a sea of heartache. For the issues of gender injustice in our world are plentiful, and the fight for equality rages on.What choice does our heroine have?

Where does she go when all is lost? To know, you must watch the beautiful, simple, powerful and bright film that is My Life I Don’t Want.

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Film Review: HANGING, USA, Animation

Played at the March 2017 ANIMATION Film Festival

Directed by Nick LeDonne

An abstracted animated documentary based off of Nick LeDonne’s personal struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts after a near attempted hanging in November 2014. His feelings of depression are personified through a dark luring fog and a loving mother desperately trying to keep her son alive.

Review by Kierston Drier:

Hanging a USA animation directed by Nick LeDonne, is a deeply emotional, deeply powerful piece that takes a raw and honest look at the seriousness of the depression in the mind of a misunderstood boy longing for comfort.

Told through a voiceless abstract lense, our character battles the onslaught of words and labels- symbologies for the troubling thoughts that plague his mind- and must choose between the relief of death or the trauma of continuing to live. The personification of a mind of suffering may be a difficult viewing experience for some- but for many it will be an eye opening and important film.

There are very few films that so clearly capture the sense of entrapment and suffocation of mental illness. The visual style personifies the depth of despair- something that is perhaps difficult to understand if never experienced first hand.

While Hanging has a darkness to it, it also has unspeakable bravery- a clear and heart wrenching look at the battle one men wages between his inner demons and the sanity of his mind and soul. A difficult film to distill, because it is such a powerful film to witness.


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Film Review: KAROUMA, United Arab Emirates, Animation

  MOVIE POSTERKAROUMA, 12min, United Arab Emirates, Animation
Directed by Boubaker Boukhari

Karouma is a Unique gift striving to break through and to leave his parent’s nest to live pursue his dreams and live his life in its full potential.

Review by Kierston Drier:

This UAE animation is the story of a strong bright child born without arms. Despite the limitations of their lives, our hero Karouma refuse to lose his sunny disposition and bright optimism.

Perhaps most surprising in this film is that the dialogue is nonsense words- the inflection of speak is certainly there, but what is actually being said is unknown. This creates a beautiful sense of anomie within films’ universe and the child’s world.

Through the eyes of childhood, Karouma is sheltered from the gazes and whispers of the world around him. What matters is not the dialogue, but the actions.

Although fairly sheltered, Karouma is able to break free and see the world, only to discover it a difficult place to be when you are different. But Karouma’s uncrushable spirit allows him to rise above his differences- literally.

Whether symbolic and based on true events, Karouma is a tale of triumph over adversity. Karouma reminds us we are as free and boundless as our imaginations.


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Film Review: BABY AND GRANNY, Animation

Played at the March 2017 ANIMATION Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTERBABY AND GRANNY, 2min. USA, Animation/Comedy
Directed by Zheng Kang

A 2D animated action-comedy about a baby and granny who share a common bond (Baby’s Mother is Granny’s Daughter) but who fight like crazy when left alone. The visuals are highly-influenced by the work of 60’s Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein

Review by Kierston Drier:

Short, punchy and full of action Baby Vs Granny will turn classic familial love of a grandmother and a grandchild on it’s head. This two minute UAE animation directed by Boubaker Boukhari boasted bright colors, lighting fast reflexes and two family members ready to square off when no one else can see them.

This piece totally delivers where color and character are concerned. Stylishly animated mostly in black and white with special attention paid to coloring the main characters, it is a lightening fast and never skips a beat.

It speeds through it’s short time with whirl-wind intensity, feeling like it is only a few seconds long, rather than a few minutes.

A comedy which needs little to know dialogue and is outstandingly visual, BABY AND GRANDMA is an awesome film to watch!


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Film Review: BIRTH WEAVING LIFE (Japan) Animation/Documentary

Played at the December 2016 Best of Family/Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival.

  MOVIE POSTERBIRTH WEAVING LIFE, 6min., Japan, Animation/Documentary
Directed by Arisa Wakami

This is a documentary animation on the very beginning and the mystery of life, told from the point of view of a mother.

REVIEW by Kierston Drier: 

Welcome to the incredibly personal stories of three women as they recount the birth of their children. Each tale exquisitely told from a unique voice and animated differently, Birth-Weaving Life will make you laugh and hit you right in the “feels” with it’s honest emotional portrayal of new parenthood being a time of panic, pain and fear, but also utter joy.  


Each story is set against simple artistry that nevertheless creates effective storytelling, masking the intimacy of childbirth with the colorful visual metaphor. Waves and Rollercoasters are used to describe something that is hard to imagine if one has not been there.


These film is a collaboration piece, making it a rich tapestry of human experience. Most beautifully, perhaps, is the tender honest and authenticity that can be felt through the subtitles and transcends the different language it is spoken in. This film recounts an essential human experience that speaks across any social barrier.  


Birth- Weaving Life is a beautiful and poignant look at child rearing from inside the mind of the mother- the fear, the worry, the pain and the incredible, unmatchable happiness that accompanies the creation of life.




Directed by Mike Thurmeier

Starring: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo |

Review by Gilbert Seah

Saving the world is a common theme in action hero and animated movies these days. The same is applied in the latest and 5th instalment of the ICE AGE franchise, appropriately called ICE AGE – COLLISION COURSE as the planet is about to be destroyed by asteroids, according to the reading of the pillar by Buck (Simon Pegg).

The film has its signature ice age segment of Scrat (Chris Wedge) chasing his runaway acorn which somehow always gets away. It’s a mostly silent segment and has grown in popularity just as Beep Beep and the Coyote are now famous in the Looney Tunes world. Popular as they are, these antics grow tiresome. I am not a fan of either Beep Beep or Scrat’s acorn antics. In ICE AGE COLLISION, the antics lead to an almost destruction of the planet by an steroid, unless the hero can save the world.

The story goes on like this. While trying to bury his acorn, Scrat accidentally activates an abandoned alien ship that takes him into deep space, where he unwillingly sends several asteroids en route of collision with Earth. Not very original a premise of an alien ship hidden in the Arctic or Antarctic! Meanwhile on the planet Earth, Manny (Ray Romano) is worried about the upcoming marriage between Peaches (Keke Palmer) and her fiancé, Julian (Adam Devine), while Sid (Joh Leguizamo) is dumped by his girlfriend, Francine (Melissa Rauch), just as he is about to propose to her. During Manny and Ellie’s (Queen Latifah) wedding anniversary party, some of the asteroids strike the place and the herd barely escape with their lives. Meanwhile at the underground cavern, after stealing a dinosaur egg from a trio of Dromaeosaurs, Buck discovers an ancient stone pillar, which he takes to the surface, where he meets Manny and the others.

The story is nothing really original nor does it contain a lot of comedic potential. What follows is a rather lame series of mildly funny at best, incidents that lead to a climax that is also not particularly exciting.

Actors from the other ICE AGES movies, Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Keke Palmer, Jennifer Lopez, Simon Pegg and Chris Wedge all reprise their roles while new additions Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Adam DeVine, Nick Offerman, Max Greenfield, Stephanie Beatriz, Melissa Rauch, Carlos Ponce, Michael Strahan, Jessie J and Neil deGrasse attempt to breathe new life into the franchise.

The film is again directed by Canadian Mike Thurmeier of Blue Sky Studios, who did a few of the other ICE AGES films.

The ICE AGE series were never that funny or inventive compared to other animated series like SHREK, TOY STORY or MONSTERS INC. But they somehow found themselves into the hearts of many, which has resulted in a total of 5 films. I am hoping this will be the last as the series. Scrat chasing his and his acorn has become terribly tedious.

Costing a frugal $50 million to make compared to other more expensive animated features, there should be enough ICE AGE followers for Fox Studios to make their money back. Hopefully, Blue Sky Studios will come up with more original animation as their next project.

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
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