Sing Movie Review

sing

Illumination, the newcomer to the animation oligopoly of Disney and Dreamworks, has released their new animated animal movie, Sing.

Sing follows the story of a singing competition like American Idol, X Factor, The Voice and many others. At times the shows are parodied, but mostly the story is told straight.

Buster Moon, played by Mathew McConaughey, is a owner of a theater known for its poorly produced musicals. Buster is also a koala. He’s in debt and the bank is close to foreclosing on the theater which doubles as Buster’s home. Buster starts the singing competition in a last ditch effort to save the theater.

The movie tells many short stories about the different leading contestants, just like singing contest shows try to bring the contestants personal stories to life through interviews and documentary style shots of their daily lives.

I think Sing does a better job of this personal storytelling because inherently, the stories can be more personal and involved in a fictional setting than in reality where the cameras aren’t necessarily around at the moment of a character’s tragic loss/big break/whatever.

The characters are Rosita the pig, Johnny the gorilla, Mike the mouse, Ash the porcupine, and Meena the elephant. I feel your enjoyment of the movie hinges on your connection to one of them. Let’s go through them one by one and if their stories seems interesting than I think you should go see Sing.

Rosita is a homemaker with 25 little piglets. Her husband works from dawn to dusk while she cooks, cleans, and manages the household for her family. Feeling a little underappreciated at home, Rosita joins the competition to find feelings of satisfaction and acceptance that aren’t present in her domestic life. Rosita is paired with another pig, Gunter, for her performance. Gunter is a minor character inserted for comedic effect with no significant story or character development of his own.

Johnny is the young adult son of a burglar. He stands lookout for his father’s gang, warning then when the cops might interrupt one of their heists. Johnny wants to get away from the criminal life using his natural singing talent which his father has never acknowledged.

Mike is a street musician and small time criminal. Feeling that he has been unfairly denied his chance at the big life, Mike enters the contest for the fame and fortune that come with winning.

Ash is a member of a rock duo with her boyfriend, Lance. He is resistant to Ash’s desire to “sell out” or be successful as most people call it. When Ash makes it into the contest finals without Lance, that puts a strain on their fragile relationship which Ash channels into her music.

Meena is a shy girl who lives at home with her mother, grandmother, and overbearing grandfather. Meena loves to sing, but has confidence issues that prevent her from performing in front of an audience. Her family is aware of her amazing singing talent and push her to enter the competition so her dreams of being a star can be realized.

There are a few other characters that enter the contest initially but their stories are not explored and they are eliminated before the finale.

The plot is… a little predictable. I’m not saying I wasn’t satisfied, but don’t expect any surprises. The movie is targeted at children and is accordingly, simple enough for children to understand.

Each of the stories is nice and all the characters get happy endings in their own ways. The voice acting and singing were quite good as well. My wife and I have been listening to bits of the soundtrack since we saw it.

At first glance the animation style felt like Illumination attempted to capitalize on the success of Zootopia but I noticed its own individual flare once I got into it.

I’d recommend Sing to anyone who likes good musicals, to children, and to anyone who is interested in at least two of the main characters (one is not enough!). The movie appeals to a fairly broad crowd and I think the soundtrack has staying power. Definitely enjoyed it!

-GoCorral

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Nashville: The Attractions

Nashville, is a tourist city, a state capital, and a center for the music, car, and health industries. All these things lead to a great deal of fun things to do, see, and visit in the city.

Nashville has an almost exact replica of the Parthenon from Athens in the American city’s Centennial Park.

No joke here, the tour guides are awesome.
Beautiful AND COMPLETELY UNOBSTRUCTED VIEW of the Nashville Parthenon.

The Nashville Parthenon is complete, unlike the Athenian Parthenon which seems Continue reading

Zootopia Movie Review

Zootopia

For my birthday my wife and I went to see Disney’s latest animated movie, Zootopia.

The movie is set in a world where every mammal has gained human intelligence.

Predators and prey get along and everyone lives as equals in a near-future society. Humans are absent and never mentioned.

Of course even though everyone is equal, prejudices, stereotypes, and predispositions about species still lend a heavy paw in deciding an animal’s role in society.

Our heroine, Judy Hops, is a young rabbit who dreams of being a police officer.

Judy achieves this dream despite bullying by the neighborhood fox and the unsupportive nature of her parents who follow the traditional rabbit lifestyle of carrot farming.

Judy graduates top of her class and goes off to the city of Zootopia to protect citizens from criminals.

The first job Judy gets is writing parking tickets. She quickly discovers that she and other species are often judged based on prejudicial ideas of what they are capable of.

Judy teams up with a small time criminal fox named Nicholas Wilde to solve a missing person case. Plot ensues and I won’t spoil it.

The movie’s content is excellent. Timely commentary on racism told through animals. Plenty of jokes and references to other movies (Alan Tudyk reprises his role as Duke of Weaselton from Frozen, only now he is an actual weasel named Duke Weaselton). Good buddy cop material suitable for children as well.

The movie’s music is also very good. Shakira plays an animal pop star version of Adele named Gazelle that provides a decent amount of the film’s great soundtrack.

It’s honestly harder for me to think who would dislike this movie than who would like it. Zootopia appeals to a wide range of audiences with elements of comedy, action, mystery, and family movies all mixed in.

If I had to pick someone who wouldn’t like Zootopia it would be someone adamantly against cutesie characters.

If that doesn’t sound like you then I think you should see this movie. It’s got something for everyone proving that Disney’s new direction is really working out for them.

-GoCorral

Yuettencal

Yuettencal.png

Yuettencal has a population of close to 150,000 and is the capital of Aractrash. Satronwook, Tetalya, and Lordodo are all vassals of Yuettencal. Yuettencal fits perfectly within the jungle. All but the most fortified buildings are made of wood, dirt, or underground entirely. Fire prevention would usually be a problem, but the moist conditions of the rainforest and numerous spellcasters with create water at the ready prevent the spread of any blaze. Starting a fire without magic or tindertwigs is a bigger problem than preventing them.

Yuettencal’s production is mostly tropical fruits, tropical wine from tropical fruits, tropical art, tropical animals, and spell components you can only find in the jungle. Jungle trees produce poor quality wood and the surrounding soil is also poor. Yuettencal’s economy would fall apart were it not for the gold mines to the north that belong to the royal family.

The gold mines are controlled by the king and are not allowed to be traded or even worked on by contractors or other interested parties. The king doesn’t want any of the gold being stolen or given out as a finder’s fee. The gold is mined entirely with slaves and sorcerer guards. The sorcerers have found numerous uses for a detect gold spell. They use it on slaves to ensure no thefts occur, On a rich vein to see the best way to dig, and to find out if a vein is done. The sorcerers have plenty of spells for their most important duty, preventing riots and revolts. The conditions for the slaves are brutal, but after five years they are freed and allowed to work for one year in the mines earning 3% of what they find.  Once a slave no longer works in the mines a geas/quest is cast upon them to prevent discussion about activities in the mines. Most slaves do not make it through those five or six years dying from exhaustion, a broken limb, or poisonous gas. Very few clerics are posted to help the slaves.

Yuettencal has the largest slave market east of Xoria. Any type of slave can be purchased here, but mostly the ugly races such as Orcs, Goblins, and Gnolls. Very few Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings are up for sale. Their kind does not usually commit crimes or go to war. Imprisonment is a much worse punishment for a race that is close to immortality as well. Suicide is a common cause of death for the enslaved elder races. The slave market is located in the west of the city in a plaza known as the Merchant’s Domain.

The selling of sentient flesh at the slave market fostered a thriving market for animals as well. Alongside mundane animals many exotic pets or mounts can be purchased in D Park, north of the Merchant’s Domain. Venders sell griffons, hippogriffs, and pegasi for riding; moon rats and pseudodragons for familiars; and trainers and caretakers for teaching how to ride and take care of all the beasts. Rarer animals for sale include dragons, nightmares, and pretty much any mystical animal, but only with a special permit. Dragons are usually only sold as eggs. Live ones are considered too dangerous to be kept inside the city and must be sold outside the walls.

Yuettencal is ruled by King Staynard. He recently took the crown upon his father’s assassination. Prior to becoming the royal family, Staynard’s ancestors discovered the gold mines and slowly grew to a position of power. They were crowned as royalty by the priesthood of Zeus when the first King Gollard married a nymph. King Staynard is inexperienced and afraid of the power that comes with his position. He relies heavily on his advisers and the counsel of his family’s silver dragon mount, Kinderax. The people of Aractrash believe that Staynard’s father, Ballard, was assassinated on the order of the Xorians. Staynard plans to join the Second Alliance and enter the War, but he fears he may regret this decision.

A particular type of spider lives in Yuettencal called Redwire Spiders. Their webs are red and cannot be cut by a sword without a few seconds of vigorous sawing. The spiders are domesticated and trained to spin their webs in long lines of thread. This red cloth is very comfortable and has the strength of studded leather armor. The spider is the crest of the king, is on the Aractrashan flag, and is worn on the armor of the Aractrashan soldiery. The Redwire cloth is highly valued by civilians in the city and by foreigners, but the king keeps a monopoly on it and does not sell it to anyone. A black market does exist, surviving off of Redwire cloth taken from bribed or mugged soldiers. The punishment for losing or selling Redwire cloth is severe, 50 lashes and expulsion from Yuettencal.

-GoCorral

The Animals of Florida

We arrived at our hotel in Florida after midnight, when all the nocturnal animals are out.

Apparently armadillos live in Florida, so we got to see a wild one in the parking lot as we walked from the car to the hotel.

Darkness + No Flash = Potato Quality Photo. Didn't use flash so the little guy wouldn't get scared.
Darkness + No Flash = Potato Quality Photo. Didn’t use flash so the little guy wouldn’t get scared.

The armadillo wasn’t the only little critter we encountered on our Florida trip.

Squirrels and ducks were everywhere around the parks, begging for food and often receiving it.

The squirrel was frightening people by running at them to make them drop their food. Smartest little dude ever.
The squirrel was frightening people by running at them to make them drop their food. Smartest little dude ever.
“I came to kick some ass and eat some bread! And I’m all out of kicks…”

There were a few heron-like birds (later learned they’re called ibis) begging everywhere as well. Begging seems to be the best way for an animal to feed itself in Disney World.

I'm all out of good captions.
I’m all out of good captions.

There were songbirds flying around as well. One in particular would land on our hotel balcony after we were done eating breakfast out there and eat up all our crumbs.

There was another songbird that attacked the window of a restaurant we ate at. According to the waitress, the bird attacks its reflection during mating season to show off for its mate.

Unfortunately, the little songbirds were too fast to take pictures.

I did manage to snap some photos of some quick little lizards that liked to sun themselves on the sidewalks around town.

The lizards camouflaged themselves against the sidewalk and skittered away when we got close to stepping on them.

“I am the cutest lizard of them all.”

There were also fish in the many lakes that dot the Disney World Resort, but too many people were crowded around the fish to get a good shot.

So not only is Disney World full of tourists, its also full of animals for the tourists to take pictures of!

-GoCorral

An Interlude to TAing

I enjoyed TAing a lot last semester, but due to a scheduling hiccup I won’t be able to this semester.

Hopefully I can pick it up again over the summer or next semester. I love teaching people and getting paid to do something you love is always appealing.

Since there won’t be any posts this semester about me TAing I have prepared this glorious selection of photos from the Vertebrate Museum at Sac State.

The Vertebrate Museum has hundreds of taxidermied animals and skeletons in it. The animals are from zoos or people who donated their own collections.

Last semester my class got to go on a “field trip” to the museum to examine different evolutionary traits. I say field trip in quotation marks as the museum was literally across the hall from the normal classroom.

So without further delay, here are some photos!

Chimpanzee Skeleton
A baby chimp skeleton.

 

Snake Skeletons
Snake skeletons. There’s supposed to be tiny toes near the back end of the tail.
Moose Head
Moose Head!
Undergraduates
The students comparing the different birds.
At least I think this one was a goat?
I think this one was a goat? Maybe a pig.
They're in love!
They’re in love!
All the deer!
All the deer!

-GoCorral