Friday, 28 September 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Is it that time already?? Another Star Wars movie. This time a continuation of the anthology line, 'A Star Wars Story'. Terrible sounding title.

So, as the title of the movie suggests, this is all about Han Solo, a young Solo. A character I have grown up with. A character I like very much for multiple reasons such as his ice cool look and seriously sweet name...that I have now discovered was simply given to him off the cuff by a random Imperial Officer (ugh!!). The movie basically follows Solo as he flees his homeworld of Corellia  by joining the Imperial Navy. Then frees Chewie and flees the Imperial Navy by joining a small team of mercenaries. Then helps the mercs attempt to steal Coaxium (starship fuel) for a crime boss, which goes wrong. Then has to steal more Coaxium to repay the debt.

In all honesty I wasn't exactly charged up for this movie considering what I'd heard and seen of the box office performance. Unfortunately the movies opening sequence did not give me a very good first impression. Set in the shipyards of Corellia it was dark, murky, very metallic, and difficult to make out what was what. Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and his girlfriend Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke) are being forced to steal for a local gang which appeared to be made up of really corny looking cloaked henchmen (and bad alien suits), and a large centipede-like female alien which looked horrifically bad. The duo then proceeds to escape which leads to a really uneventful and unexciting speeder chase. Everything in this initial opening looked like it was made for a TV series with a high budget.

From there Solo needs to escape the planet so he literally walks up to an Imperial Naval recruitment booth and joins, just like that. Obviously that won't have been the entire process but he literally gives his name and walks in. Skip on a few years and he's been kicked out of the flight academy and is now a bog standard infantryman. Its here he meets up with Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his gang who are all posing as Imperial troops. One of Beckett's team is a really bad four armed CGI alien which confused me. Marvel can get Rocket to look amazingly real, so how come Disney and LucasFilm couldn't make this guy look as good?

It's at this point that I realised how bad of a decision it was to cast Woody Harrelson. Now I've got nothing against Harrelson. He was a firm favourite of mine back in my younger days growing up throughout the 80's and 90's with various action flicks. But Woody just doesn't fit the bill here and his southern twang just doesn't fit in. He didn't even look right, what the hell was going on with that hairstyle?? It was like a huge floppy comb-over or something. I did like how they killed off Beckett's whole team in the first action sequence though. I thought that was a good ballsy move which was most definitely a surprise to me and made things much more interesting.

It's also at this point I should mention that Qi'ra never managed to escape from Corellia with Solo, she was captured by the gang. Solo vows to go back and rescue her, which is his initial story arc. Raise money, buy , go back and save Qi'ra. But when Solo and Beckett visit Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) about the first batch of which they lost, Qi'ra is there because she's now a high ranking lieutenant in this crime syndicate. Thing is we never really learn how she got to this position. How did she get off Corellia? How did she get involved with Vos? I also think her character turns up way too soon after she splits with Solo. And the fact Solo finds she escaped Corellia herself, kinda renders his more interesting story arc defunct.

Lando Calrissian (and his fecking annoying robot). OK so this I don't get. The one thing I heard from almost everywhere was how Donald Glover was one of the only aspects of this movie that was semi-decent. Really? Is this an identity politics thing again? All I saw was Glover doing his best (and not very good) Billy Dee Williams impression. He didn't even look the part for fecks sake. I know you're not gonna find an exact double but surely there might have been lesser known actors out there who were a better fit visually.

Don't get me started on his robot (which apparently fancied him hence pansexual Lando (?). 2018 & Twitter folks!). I'm still not really sure what the angle was here. Was this mocking modern day social justice warriors or appeasing them? Was it meant to be mocking Kathleen Kennedy?? (what I read somewhere). Was it meant to be serious? Were they genuinely trying to shove in social commentary? Or was it all just for laughs? If so I certainly wasn't laughing, in fact I literally cheered when the fecking thing got blasted to pieces. I think the fact that the robot didn't actually sound like a robot but merely like some permanently angry British feminist activist, is what really got on my nerves. Why am I seeing this?? Who's bright idea was it to do this??!! Who actually thought this would be a good idea??

To make matters worse the entire Kessel section (the Kessel heist) was awful! This mining operation base was just a series of really obvious sets which looked so drab and dull. I realise its meant to be a mining location but it just looked fake and horrible. It didn't help that the action taking place here was also mundane and formulaic as feck. Once again we get another infiltration in disguise scenario using Chewie as a prisoner. And all the bad guys were just useless faceless cannon fodder.

The Kessel Run: I think I had a bad feeling about this (guffaw!). K I really didn't get what they did here, well I got it, I just thought it was crap and nothing like I always thought it would or should be. So the planet Kessel is basically engulfed or orbited by a huge highly dangerous electrical storm which is down to a black hole. The only way to reach Kessel is via the Kessel run which appears to be this manmade tunnel through the storm (complete with lights?). So setting aside the question mark over how Kessel doesn't get eaten by the black hole, how does this 'tunnel' remain intact?? Oh, there's also a big space monster that somehow lives in the storm. It got sucked into the black hole. How did this not happen before? So by completing the Kessel run in record time would indicate that someone flew down this tunnel bloody fast avoiding danger (even though there is little because this tunnel is the safe route).

But here's the thing. Solo flies the Falcon outside of the tunnel through the storm to lose some TIE fighters and dodge a Star Destroyer. So essentially he took a shortcut...right? He basically cheated and didn't do the Kessel run properly...right? Solo always said he completed the run in 12 parsecs, which we now know is distance not speed. So I suppose you could say he covered the distance faster than anyone else. But he didn't exactly do it himself, the rest of the crew helped. And he also utilised the power of the Coaxium onboard to boost the Falcon (almost like nitro), so again he kinda cheated...right?

My initial reaction after seeing this was simply, why did this have to be about Solo? They could of quite easily made this movie without Solo and just focused on a new band of smugglers and scoundrels. Let's be honest here Ehrenreich was always gonna be compared to Harrison Ford and no one will ever see Ehrenreich as Han Solo. So this whole idea was just plain stupid from the start. I mean Ehrenreich was OK, but he wasn't Solo to me. He didn't look like Solo, didn't sound like Solo, didn't act like Solo, even his hair was wrong! He was just a random Star Wars character like the others. And I'm willing to bet many thought the same, which leads me to think this would have worked better without Solo.

Most of the nod and winks to the previous movies were pointless as usual, but thankfully not as blatantly offensive as some Star Wars movies. Well I say that but...Darth Maul much? So not only was Qi'ra part of a criminal syndicate, she was also in cahoots with a Sith Lord too! She's been flippin' busy since Corellia. No Jabba?? In-fecking-credible! How did they stop themselves from that? Was I the only person who noticed the other Wookies looked awful? What went wrong there? And why would the Empire need to transport cargo on a train? Nice setup sure, nice little western concept. But surely they'd use a ship, there's a crap-tonne to choose from.

Did I like this? No not really. Did I hate this? No not really. It was generally fine, completely borderline, completely average. I did find it somewhat boring for the most part, it didn't really engage me at any time. The movie has bad pacing issues. The movie was visually ugly. I also think the movie was badly edited, messy, but we all know the reason for that. There were a lot of things I would have done differently. I guess I have to admit it wasn't the total trainwreck I thought it might be, is that a positive?


Monday, 24 September 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

K so this happened, the legendary Spielberg franchise churned out its fifth movie and actually turned into cheesy B-movie schlock. Did I say turned? I meant deteriorated.

So here we go again. The island of Isla Nuba is gonna be destroyed by a pending volcanic eruption and there is a debate about whether the dinosaurs should be saved or not. Naturally despite the US Senate deciding to allow the dinosaurs to perish some do-gooders take it upon themselves to try and save them anyway (must be part of the 'resistance'). But low and behold the people who claim to want to save the dinosaurs for a new sanctuary actually mean to sell them off to the highest bidders. These naughty humans have also created genetically modified dinosaurs too which will bring in even more money. And needless to say, the people who to buy these dinosaurs are all evil (and probably Russian, I dunno). Could you get more schlocky??

Alright so like some previous reviews I've done for these huge popcorn flicks I'm just gonna basically bullet point my thoughts because there is literally so much I could write it would go on forever.

So straight away one of the key political narratives in this movie is the argument about whether the dinosaurs should be saved because they are living animals and deserve protection. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) believes mankind should allow the dinosaurs to perish because nature has once again selected them to die off and that they were originally man-made so they shouldn't have been around in the first place. An opinion he has generally held throughout the franchise, that the whole idea was a bad one. Personally I agree with this because as said these creatures were man-made. Without our science and interference they wouldn't be alive in the first place so essentially letting them die off via natural disaster is a good way to end the 'project'.

What bewilders me is the fact that our two protagonists, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), still want to save the dinosaurs and put them in a sanctuary somewhere...because that's worked out so well up till now. They both think these giant lumbering creatures can be looked after like regular animals despite all the trouble thus far. They just don't seem to understand that dinosaurs cannot be contained and some will eat you. This is a huge flaw in the characters and it's annoying.

Isla Nuba: The volcano erupts and we officially enter the schlock zone. Grady and Dearing manage to outrun the pyroclastic cloud. During this time the soon-to-be bad guys are off catching dinosaurs to 'rescue'. We never actually see how they do this, they just arrive at the ship with lots of captured dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes. Its also at this time we get our first (overly used) T-Rex money shot as it roars after inadvertently saving the protagonists (how many times guys? How many times).

Sir Benjamin Lockwood: Who? Well alas Richard Attenborough died in 2014 and obviously director J.A. Bayona wanted another elderly character to oversee the new dino project. So now we have a John Hammond-esque character again, hurray! Turns out back in the day this duo worked together on Jurassic Park but fell out, hence we haven't ever seen him before (and not because he was just created for this movie).

Northern California Estate: Jump to Lockwood's sprawling Addams Family-esque mansion in northern California complete with a moody wood-paneled Victorian-esque interior, a creaky dumbwaiter...oh and an underground lair with cages big enough to house large dinosaurs. It's basically a fecking castle. This is where the highly illegal activity of selling dinosaurs goes down in some ridiculous evening event for...Bond villains? And yes I actually think some of these dastardly people were actually Russian.

It seems these people want to buy dinosaurs for various reasons such as hunting, but the main reason is, of course, the old weapons notion. Yep apparently these guys think that dinosaurs would make great future weapons, 'the perfect weapon'. This literally makes no sense to me, how the flip is a dinosaur the perfect weapon? Why go to all the trouble of trying to train a deadly man-eating dinosaur (possibly with attached weapons?) for the purpose of warfare when you can just use highly skilled men. You can't rely on the dinosaur not killing you. You can't rely on the dinosaur not running off on a mission. And although a dinosaur can probably kill lots of people, surely men with guns can kill more? And surely a dinosaur isn't exactly invincible either, its a living creature, it's not bulletproof.

Its here we also get introduced to the new genetically-modified dinosaur with all the bells and whistles (but still not bulletproof, although apparently tranquiliser proof). Naturally said dinosaur eventually gets out and kills everyone as we proceed to the second half of the movie, 'Resident Evil: Dino Hunt'. Yes it's around this point that the movie legitimately becomes a monster B-movie as the dinosaur chases people around the dark mansion (and on the rooftops). Cue lots of near misses as the dinosaur goes for the kill (always an object in its way).

To really double down on the whole Resident Evil theme we see that Lockwood has a young granddaughter. Spoiler alert, turns out she's a clone. It seems Lockwood got carried away with the whole replication of DNA and cloned his dead daughter, which in turn caused the split with Hammond.

Towards the finale the Velociraptor known as Blue (transported from Isla Nuba) is released and helps Grady and co by attacking the new modified dinosaur. Cue lots of furious CGI and the second money shot in the exact same pose we've seen before with the T-Rex, only this time with the Velociraptor (Jesus Christ!). In the end both dinosaurs fall off the roof and through a window whilst fighting. Luckily the evil dinosaur is impaled on a statue, phew!

Oh and then in the end when everything has settled, Dearing has a chance to free the remaining dinosaurs into the wild (of America) otherwise they'll get gassed to death (the results of the aftermath of the dinosaurs breaking free under the mansion). Thankfully she hesitates and doesn't, realising that would be a bad move. But then Lockwood's cloned daughter calmly does it anyway because she's a stupid kid.

So all in all its a pretty surprising drop in quality really. This used to be an epic franchise, a Spielberg franchise, a step above the rest. But now its been dragged through the mud with multiple sequels that have gotten worse and worse until we are left with a cheesy monster movie that wouldn't look outta place in the King Kong universe. The effects are impressive of course but its a drab looking movie loaded with annoying callbacks to the original movie. The dinosaurs are now free in the US so one can expect a very familiar third movie soon. I'm guessing the only thing they can do now is round all the dinosaurs up and move them back to site B? (remember that? Its still out there).


Friday, 21 September 2018

The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005)

Ah the little known Oz adventure that I believe is the tenth Muppet movie before they stopped the classic story adaptations and rebooted the idea afresh in 2011 with 'The Muppets'. This was an American/Canadian collaboration that was primarily for Television.

This is of course the Muppet version of events based on L. Frank Baum's original novel. I'm sure everyone knows the story by now so I won't delve deep into that but instead take a quick look at some of the Muppet changes. Noticeable changes start with Dorothy's family now owning a diner in Kansas instead of a farm. Dorothy and her family are now African American. Dorothy initially goes to see the Wizard so he can make her...ugh! A famous singer (facepalm). Toto the dog is now...a prawn. Yes literally a common prawn in a fish tank (who later becomes Pepe). The Tinman (Gonzo) is now a robot. The Cowardly Lion is now a Cowardly Bear (Fozzie) And the flying monkeys are now a leather bound biker gang.

On the other hand, in some instances this Muppet version does stick more closely to the original source material than the classic 1939 movie. For example, the Good Witch of the North and Glinda are separate characters here. Dorothy's shoes are silver instead of ruby. The Wizard of Oz sees each of the characters (Dorothy and co) individually and in a different form. And Dorothy gains control of the flying biker gang when she defeats the Wicked Witch of the West. Of course there are many more examples for both, especially in terms of Muppet changes.

As for the movie well it's a real mixed bag for me. You really don't get a good impression with the way this picture starts. Basically, it's an MTV music video staring Ashanti (Dorothy). A brooding looking Ashanti moping around in black and white trying to look seductive (kids movie!). This intro almost destroys the entire movie because quite simply...what angle are you going for here?? I understand they are trying to make it all hip for the new generation but this is the Wizard of Oz for crying out loud. I honestly thought I was watching something else by mistake.

Naturally things start to improve once we get to Oz and start seeing some actual Muppets. Toto has now changed into Pepe which is a huge saving grace because Pepe is a top Muppet and quite frankly Ashanti can't act to save her life. The Munchkins are now played by Rizzo the rat and his rodent friends which was an inspired decision. Kermit is the Scarecrow, Fozzie is the Cowardly Bear, Gonzo is the Tinman/Tin robot, and Piggy is all the witches.

So Muppet casting wise its all the predictable big names in the main roles. But I really did like Johnny Fiama (stereotypical Italian American mafioso type) as the Wicked Witch of West's main henchman. Along with the flying biker gang minions typically played by all those random monster type Muppets. Sam Eagle was perfect as the Emerald City Guardian of the Gates. Piggy does a good job of being the evil witch with a somewhat disturbing lean towards being a leather clad dominatrix. The rest put in their usual performances that we've all come to expect.

When it comes to set pieces or anything remotely memorable, this movie is lacking. Sure the movie looks pleasing enough with some nice Muppet recreations of classic characters; the sets are attractive and colourful, and the songs are chirpy enough. But nothing really happens here, nothing engages you. The scene where Dorothy and co are poisoned/put to sleep by the poppies has here been turned into some somewhat sleazy nightclub sequence which felt nothing more than an excuse to shove in The Electric Mayhem and Clifford. I'm still not really sure why they changed the Tinman into a robot because it doesn't really make much difference. And the scenes in Oz with the Wizard showcase some of the most God awful CGI you will ever see. Granted this is an oldish movie and the budget may not have been great but by Jove it's horrific.

I think the only memorable scene is with Quentin Tarantino who has this bizarre meta sequence where he discusses a plot point with Kermit as it happens (much like Monty Python) But the only reason why its memorable is because it's so bloody awful. Watching Tarantino overact and restrain himself next to a Muppet is cringeworthy. Its also entirely pointless runtime filler and a way to get a big name into the movie. And speaking of cameos, pretty thin on the ground. Kelly Osbourne is all we get in a sequence that could be deemed somewhat controversial these days (because that's the world we live in now).

I must also confess to not really liking the finale. I realise that in the original source material the Wizard turns out to be a fake, but I really didn't like how they 'reimagined' that idea in this movie. Basically exposing Oz to be a Hollywood movie set and the Wizard to merely be a normal everyday actor (Jeffrey Tambor) was kinda depressing really. Its a twist for sure but it also destroys the fantasy. We know the Wizard was a fake but at least keep the world of Oz real.

I think what's disappointing here is the wasted opportunity. We know the Henson company can make cracking fantasy adaptations of classic tales ('Christmas Carol' and 'Treasure Island') and this story was ripe for Muppet treatment. But they made (in my opinion) bad choices with casting, designs, plot ideas, and obviously didn't have a proper budget. I mean seriously, what kind of story moral is having Dorothy wanting to ask the Wizard to make her rich and famous. Yeah she changes her mind in the end but it shouldn't have been about that in the first place (I would expect that kind of nauseating idea in the present).

Overall this could have been so much more, a real classic like the other Muppet movies mentioned. It has all the elements just waiting to be Muppet mined...but alas!


Sunday, 16 September 2018

The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)

The third Muppet movie and arguably the best location for a Muppet movie. Seriously is it just me or does Manhattan just feel like the exact spot where most Muppets would live, their home. Obviously the fictional street of Sesame Street is located in Manhattan which leans towards the idea that Muppets perhaps come from that borough. But despite that, Muppets just feel right on the east coast.

Anywho this time around the Muppets have graduated from college. During this time they have been putting on a popular show called Manhattan Melodies. Upon receiving positive feedback and some advice, the gang decides to try their luck at getting their show on Broadway. Predictably at first the Muppets have no luck at all and are forced to break up and find work elsewhere. During this time Kermit continues to sell their show in an attempt at getting on Broadway. He gains help from a local diner owner and his daughter, along with Rizzo the Rat and his friends. Problems arise when Kermit is hit by a car, loses his memory, and then goes missing. The Muppets are summoned back to Manhattan to help find Kermit; time now being of the essence because in the meantime their show has been picked up.

So once again (it has to be said) we have another Muppet movie with a somewhat lackluster plot. Yes I know these movies are essentially for kids. Yes I know its a Muppet movie and the emphasis is more on sight gags, pratfalls, musical numbers, and just the look of the Muppets themselves. But this story isn't really interesting, it holds no real excitement, it doesn't really engage you. I like that its grounded but dare I say a bit too grounded and pedestrian.

Again I don't want to nitpick a Muppet movie too much...but these things just jumped out at me. For starters when the gang has no initial luck and Kermit throws a hissy fit, they all decide to just leave. This felt a bit odd to me, OK they need money, but no need to depart for entirely new locations across the USA! Also, was it me or did anyone else find Rowlf getting a job in a dog pound kinda weird? In this universe Muppets live alongside humans, so why would a human hire a Muppet dog to guard other Muppet dogs? Surely that's bound to lead to trouble. Also Gonzo gets a job at a circus or funfair and Piggy stays behind to secretly watch over Kermit (in case he gets his amphibia leg over). Both of which were way too predictable.

Having Piggy stay behind to covertly watch Kermit also gives us yet more romantic mush I'm afraid. It seems that every Muppet movie has to have multiple sequences of tiresome romance between the two. I mean sure that is the whole schtick between these characters and it can be funny at times but Jesus! Fortunately this does lead to a really good chase sequence where Piggy rollerskates after a mugger in Central Park (he pinches her purse). The sequence is well done utilising a stunt person within a Miss Piggy bodysuit with a fixed expression. Something that has been done before and works pretty well, from a distance.

This movie is also notable for the first onscreen appearance of Muppets in baby form, Muppet Babies. Yes there is a dream sequence within this movie where most of the Muppets are seen in a nursery frolicking around. The Muppets, the nursery, and the pastel colour scheme we see were all carried across into the cartoon (of the same name). It's literally a live action version of Muppet Babies and it looks terrific. Whilst the small baby Muppets are adorable, the small animatronic baby Muppets were both adorable and visually excellent. Its sequences like this that prove how much more effective live action effects are.

I think the problem with this third movie is the lack of real standout moments. There really isn't too much here that jumps out at you, other than the baby Muppets and the Central Park rollerskate sequence. Seeing Rizzo and friends cook in the diner kitchen was cute. Some nice remote controlled/wire puppet action with some clever visual trickery thrown in. Kermit being hit by a car and seeing him twitch on the tarmac was a legitimately disturbing sequence back in the day...aaand it still is today. And lastly I did like the frog advertisers Gill, Bill, and Jill. These guys felt very much like typical Sesame Street characters to me with their rhyming names, identical looks, and speech pattern.

Then of course you had the big finale where Kermit and Piggy finally get married. Something that you'd think would be an epic sequence living long in the memories of all who grew up with the picture, alas no. Although the sequence is pretty epic in scope with a good hundred plus Muppets on set, including Sesame Street characters and Uncle Travelling Matt from Fraggle Rock, it pails in comparison the first movies finale sequence. That's the problem really, it just kinda felt like they were trying to recapture that classic silver screen moment from the original movie which was bigger, more impressive, and is iconic.

Following on from the classic original and wacky hijinks of the second was a hard act to follow. Heck, even the cameo roster wasn't very impressive for this one with many bigger stars pulling out. On the whole I wouldn't say this is a bad Muppet movie, it's just not a very memorable one. It has its moments which are fun and visually pleasing (what Muppet movie isn't visually pleasing??) but they are few and far between leaving the whole affair a tad muted.


Friday, 7 September 2018

The Great Muppet Caper (1981)

This second major Muppet production was a British - American collaboration and marked Jim Henson's directorial debut. Alas twas the only major Muppet movie to be directed by Jim Henson.

So this movie was a caper, a crime caper, and it was set in England. The premise? Well there's a big jewel heist (in New York I think) and local reporters Kermit and Fozzie miss it. Because of this the duo get axed from their reporter jobs. Luckily they manage to talk their editor into allowing them to fly to England in order to investigate the crime and interview the victim, Lady Holiday (Diana Rigg). Upon reaching England the duo (plus Gonzo) team up with other Muppets and begin to unravel the crime despite only being reporters and not the police.

Like the first Muppet movie I grew up with this one. This was a regular VHS weekend viewing type situation for many years (along with 'Superman 3'). So I will cut straight to the chase here and say that I prefer this second movie over the first. Yep, the rather odd intro of Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo landing in downtown Manhatten (?) in their hot air balloon for no real apparent reason. Where just moments before Gonzo was essentially contemplating suicide because it looked like fun. And upon hitting the ground a song and dance routine breaks out...just because. Is indeed all very off the wall, but its visually brilliant and a clear sign of what's to come.

It's funny really. Where as the first movie had a really underwhelming plot, as far as I'm concerned, it was relatively grounded for the Muppets and needed some more wackiness. I put this down to the creative team behind the movie wanting to be a little safe for their first outing. Whereas this movie had a much more exciting plot which didn't really need too much crazy antics but it got a whole tonne of wackiness. Clearly the team had much more confidence this time around.

I think the real highlight of this movie is the Happiness Hotel located on Cheapside Street in west London. This is where many Muppets now reside as it appears to be mainly for Muppets that have no money. The hotel is typical old fashioned British manor house that is falling apart at the seams, complete with a rickety old double-decker tour bus. Most of the scene here are easily the best from the songs to the bedroom heist planning sequences. I love how the creative team utilised the building for Muppet hijinks; it's a typical Muppet-esque set scenario.

There are plenty of other highlights to mention such as the fun yet extremely stupid robbery sequence at the end. Here the crooks (led by the rather uninspired choice of Charles Grodin) are sprung upon by all the Muppets as they try to steal the fabulous baseball diamond from a gallery. Again it's a typical Muppet-esque sequence that naturally makes no sense at all and has Muppets popping up all over the place despite being in random other places merely seconds before (or not even a part of the movie up to that point). The closeup shots and editing of each Muppet doing something utterly insane is glorious as they play a game of catch to keep the diamond away from the robbers. It's only when you get a revealing wide shot that everything looks stupid (dunno why they did that as it wrecks the illusion).

Of course this is a Muppet movie so we have a whole string of cameos again, but this time we actually see a few of the creative team getting cameos. Jim Henson is in a blink and you'll miss it moment. Jerry Nelson and his daughter have a walkon moment, along with Frank Oz and Richard Hunt. Star wise Peter Falk has an amusing and decent sized cameo. Peter Ustinov pops up quickly. But by far the best must be John Cleese along with Joan Sanderson who team up together once again (Fawlty Towers) to play familiar characters.

I think one of the biggest negative points I have to raise here was that gosh darn romance between Miss Piggy and Kermit. They really lay this element on thick this time with the frog and pig getting loads of romance time which quite frankly becomes irritating. I've got nothing against frog and pig lovin' but holy felted balls it's in your face. Piggy never stops lusting after Kermit whilst the green one holds back for as long as he can before submitting to her advances. We then get some quite long scenes of slush such as the (now infamous) aquatic sequence with a swimming Piggy which is very well done but kinda stops the movie in its tracks for me. Its all done for giggles of course but my God its vomit-inducing, which is the entire point but...yeesh!

Of course the movie is visually dated in terms of both ideas and styles of the time, which adds to the overall old English charm factor. Take that swanky club sequence, the clubs interior, what the feck was that?? It looked like the set of a sci-fi movie. The costumes and makeup are all gloriously top-heavy with early an 80's passion, whilst the sets do generally look like sets...but Muppet sets, which is cool. Not sure about the sequences where the Muppets are thrown out of planes when over the UK and US. Firstly they have to travel in the baggage hold which seems really cruel. And then when the plane is over the destination country a steward comes down and literally hurls them out of a hatch! That always kinda disturbed me as a kid and it still kinda does now.

I think overall this Muppet movie is better than the original for the simple fact that the plot is far more engaging...despite still being a bit thin. There is definitely more punch with this movie, a more energetic vibe, more exciting with a small element of risk involved (but not really, obviously). The original movie had more sentimentality I think,  this movie is more zany and madcap. It's not the best example of a Muppet movie but I think its probably the best of the early offerings with more colourful and funny sequences. Not forgetting that this movie introduced the new Muppet Rizzo the Rat and his rodent family.

'if we wanna get Miss Piggy out of jail we've gotta catch those thieves red-handed'

'what colour are their hands now?'