Friday, 11 April 2014

Review: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Well, its been a busy two weeks, and one relaxing week of holiday, but I'm finally back and blogging. To make up for the missed weeks I'm going to review three films this weekend, starting with the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013)

An animated CGI film for children based on the book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and a sequel to the film of the same name, Cloudy is a roller coaster of colour, energy and puns that barely stands still for a second. 

It opens with a brief recap of the previous films events, explaining how wannabe inventor Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) created a machine that turned water into food, which started making food weather, and then got out of control and had to be stopped. This brings us up to the present, a few minutes after Flint has succeed in saving his home island from the food weather. On top of the world Flint and his friends - Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), Brent (Andy Samberg), Manny (Benjamin Bratt), Earl (Terry Crews), his Dad (James Caan) and pet monkey Steve (Neil Patrick Harris) - agree to set up a lab together now that everything is over. However, Flint's hero Chester V (Will Forte), a food bar inventor cleverly introduced during the recap, turns up and offers to clean up all the food leftovers on the island and hire Flint. With his white beard and sleek company Live Corp, that keeps releasing updated food bars, Chester V seems to echo the late Steve Jobs and the Apple corporation - though I don't if that's intentional.

Several months later however, it seems Chester's people are running into problems on the island -  giant, cheeseburger spider problems. Chester tells Flint he must return to the island, track down the machine and shut it down - before cheeseburger monsters learn to swim and attack the Statue of Liberty. A task Flint willing accepts. Of course all is not as it seems. Chester actually thinks Flint is a dispensable chump, and has a more sinister agenda for finding the machine.

I really enjoyed this film. It's a wonderfully colourful, and the world of the food island looks amazing, especially the candy rock mountain full of glowing crystals. Meanwhile the food creatures are really creative - shrimpanzees, potato hippopotami, peanut butter and jelly fish! Some of the creatures are also really, really cute - the marshmallows and a strawberry called Berry in particular look adorable. 

I think the design of the characters is great too - particularly Flint with his mad hair, and limbs that flail around wildly - watch him type, his fingers don't actually press the keys. Chester is also a fantastic creation, almost the opposite of Flint in his gentle, smooth movements.  

Most of all though, this film has incredible energy. The characters and the story can move very quickly, and there's always something happening on screen - its like the film is having a sugar rush. 

Now, personally I can't decide whether this is good or bad. On the one hand this energy makes it stand out. Other animated films like Tangled or Flushed Away have nowhere this much speed to them. On the other hand, I felt like it needed to slow down a tad, as it seemed to barely stop to breathe, and that some scenes perhaps should've been a bit slower or quieter - like the end scene on the fishing boat. 

Then again I am an adult, and honestly I think this film is more for kids. That's not a bad thing, in fact I think its nice to see a kid's film that doesn't seem to be trying to hard to appeal to adults. However, Cloudy perhaps does not have the same level of subtlety and maturity that say Monster's University (2013) or Toy Story 3 (2010) had to them. It's core message in the end is pretty straight forward, and its protagonist, is  also very childlike, making him more relatable to youngsters.

This does not mean adults cannot enjoy it enough. As I have said, it's incredible to look at, has a cast of genuine, likable characters and a playfulness to it you can't help but appreciate. And it has Neil Patrick Harris voicing a monkey - who doesn't want to see that? Whilst Gravity Falls fans will be thrilled to hear Kristen Schaal, the voice of Mabel, playing genius ape Barb. 

In summary
A creative, fast-paced film with a lot of heart. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 succeeds not just as a sequel but as fun film for both kids and adults. A recommended purchase for children this half-term. 

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