Shaun the Sheep

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Judd: When it comes to dry humour, no one can do it better than the Brits. When their reserved, yet silly humor is aimed at children, the results can be transcendent. Aardman Animations, creators of Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run, bring us Shaun the Sheep, The Movie, based on the British television series of the same name. Shaun (a sheep, obviously) is tired of farm life and runs off to the big city; his friends join him and the remainder of the film is about them trying to get back home. I should also mention there is no dialogue.

Swanner: I have to admit the lack of dialog was very surprising. It’s a kid’s movie and there were no voiceovers by famous personalities. I was expecting the theatre full of children to become a playground of disinterest, but the kids were engaged. Not even one preteen running up and down the aisles. I loved the earlier films from this studio but no dialog? Okay, you have the kids mesmerized but what about the adults? How could it possible entertain a grown up?

Judd: I thought the lack of dialogue was utterly charming. It put me in mind of old Tom and Jerry cartoons. They didn’t need dialogue. They had faces! Though, that’s not entirely true. Tom and Jerry did have dialogue in some of their cartoons, like in Blue Cat Blues (1956) where Tom became an alcoholic and they both committed suicide. But, I digress. The lack of dialogue forced attention on the screen, you couldn’t look away or you’d miss something. Not that you would want to look away, with such a genuinely funny script.

Swanner: It was very funny and charming. I will admit I did get a little sleepy in the middle part, but that wasn’t any fault of the movie. That was about watching a movie at such an early screening. The director/screenwriters, Richard Stark and Mark Burton, have been working with the studio for years, with Shaun offering them their first feature film endeavor. I love that this style of animation is still being done. It reminds me of all my favorite christmas shows from my childhood, of course they’re the same shows you grew up with which shows that stop motion animation is far from being dying art.

Judd: I agree. There is something inherently silly about stop motion done in clay, as contrasted with Tim Burton’s stop motion done with puppets. The goofy, rubbery texture plays well with this type of humor. I enjoyed Shaun the Sheep, The Movie and look forward to streaming the TV episodes.

Swanner: It’s nice to know that there are creative people out there keeping this lovely art alive. When speaking to a fellow critic he mentioned that this film with no dialog not only entertains young and old, it also can entertain in any language because of the lack of dialog. Shawn can go anyway an delight those young or young at heart.

Swanner: 3 stars
Judd: 3 1/2 stars

MI5: Rogue Nation

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Swanner: I’m not a huge action fan but when i heard there would be an MI5 I was really excited. Even more excited when i realized the director was Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote the screenplay here as well as Edge of Tomorrow and the won an Oscar for The Usual Suspects. I expected something special and i wasn’t disappointed. This time Ethan Hunt and team take on the Syndicate, a ghost organization not even our CIA knows about.

Judd: I was on the fence about seeing this one, but remembering how much enjoyed the last one and McQuarrie’s credentials, I decided to go. While the humor of Edge of Tomorrow wasn’t as prevalent as MI5, the movie was still non-stop fun. The cast features returning players Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, and Jeremy Renner, and new members Alec Baldwin and relative newcomer Rebecca Ferguson. However, all of them pale in comparison to the white hot gaze of villainous extra Saif Al-Warith, who’s smoldering good looks burn with the heat of 1,000 suns.

Swanner: I did get a bit worried when the movie stars with the preview where Cruise jumps on the plane that’s taking off. I was thinking to myself have we seen the best part of the movie? Happily, i can say this movie is one big white-knuckle event after another. I seriously heard people holding there breath in one scene and then gasping for air. This movie had full command of the audience. Saif Al-Warith plays the bearded thug… Brian is smitten.

Judd: Saif had full command of me! With movie tipping the scale at a few minutes over two hours, it never felt like it was dragging. Since we didn’t see it at IMAX, I can only imagine what the IMAX scene would have looked like on the giant screen, and it was obvious which ones they where. The motorcycle chase would have been absolutely brilliant, as well as the underwater scene, and the opening plane hijacking. There was plenty action to keep things moving.

Swanner: The film was never slow that I remember, and if it was, it was because they were giving us important information right before something big was to happen. I love how some franchise films are just getting better and better with every new film. It’s as though the technicians behind the franchise have a better understanding of who their audience is and what they want to see. IMAX would have been amazing, but I was still knocked out in the cineplex. I’m already waiting for the next installment.

Judd: While I won’t say I was amazed or knocked out, I will say Rogue Nation is a decent way to spend two hours in an air condition theater. There is plenty of action, the story isn’t completely implausible, and there are some genuine thrills. It’s not something I would want to see again, but it’s not something I regret seeing.

Swanner: 3 1/2 stars
Judd: 3 stars

Vacation

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Swanner: I’m not a fan of the “Vacation” films mostly for the fact that Chevy Chase starred in them. Granted, I’m not a slapstick fan, and Chevy Chase was doing all the slapstick, so these films were real nightmares for me. So, why see this sequel? I like Ed Helms (the only consistently funny part of The Hangover movies) and Christina Applegate (who make everything she’s in better), they are two underrated actors I always enjoy seeing. It also is directed and written by the team of John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (Horrible Bosses). I like what both have done together and apart. So this has to be good right?

I did notice the a certain Chevy Chase was mentioned in the credits and was hoping for no more than a flashback or photo. Yes, he does a cameo, but I’ll get to that later. The film follows Rusty Griswold, the grown up son of Clark, as he decides to give his family the vacation his father gave him, a trip to Wally World. I remember that as the pre-mentioned nightmare, but I was doing this for Ed and Christine. The film does moves well and is pretty funny, for the most part. Between Rusty’s rental car and and a morning of ATVing, the laughs do prevail.

There are plenty of cameos in the film, including Leslie Mann playing grown up Audrey and her husband Chris Hemsworth who likes to show off his… six pack? The film is rated R which helps keep the jokes dirty, gross and very funny. Although this looks like a family vacation it’s really just one for the adults. If you were a fan of Chase’s Vacation you’ll find this nostalgia because it does follow the style of the original, but if you hated the first three than you may want to wait to see it perhaps never. As I mentioned earlier, Chase has a few scenes at the end of the film that prove he’s still a no talent.

Swanner: 2 stars