Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, or: To Your Ship Be True

The only type of film I’m feeling up for right now is one that’s the equivalent of homemade comfort food. I think stop-motion animation is the closest we can get to a film reaching through the screen, gently patting us on the back, and telling us everything is going to to be okay. Did this week’s film live up to our admittedly rather high expectations of being comforted with endless bowls of mac and cheese?

The Film:

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

The Premise:

The lives of Shaun the Sheep and company are disrupted when an alien crash lands near their farm.

The Ramble:

It’s a dark and stormy night in the countryside, meaning the timing is perfect for the sudden appearance of…aliens? A UFO lands in the forest, and the only witnesses are a rather hysterical man and his dog. In other words, did it really land at all?

For the residents of Mossy Bottom Farm, the UFO may as well be lightyears away, as their routine continues as usual. Shaun and his sheep friends, bored with their lives of essentially standing around chewing grass, cause all manner of mayhem as sheepdog Bitzer tries to keep them in line.

An animated dog and sheep glare at each other across a sign that indicates no frisbee throwing is allowed.

After finally taking things too far and ordering pizzas for the sheep, Shaun ends up puzzled when the pizza boxes arrive empty. He follows a trail of crusts to the barn and encounters an alien who evidently really enjoys pizza. The alien, Lu-La, has a gift for imitation and a knack for getting into trouble matched only by Shaun’s. Though Shaun tries to keep Lu-La’s existence a secret, the task is next to impossible when the alien takes the tractor out for a joyride.

While skeptical of the local UFO sighting, the Farmer sees the crop circle pattern mysteriously left behind and is inspired. Deciding to cash in on the alien hysteria, the Farmer plans a space-themed park…which he naturally puts Bitzer and the sheep in charge of constructing.

An animated man with thinning hair and thick glasses sits at a breakfast table, reading a newspaper with a headline about a UFO sighting.

Meanwhile, Shaun has disappeared with Lu-La in an attempt to reunite her with the UFO she crash-landed. Apparently Lu-La’s fondness for driving dangerously got her into trouble in the first place, as she hopes to return to her parents after borrowing their UFO for an impulsive ride around the galaxy. Mayhem ensues when they are sidetracked by adventures in a grocery store and a mysterious agency investigates the possibility of alien life on Earth.

An animated sheep looks in alarm at a pink and purple creature resembling a dog. The creature sits in a bin of frozen food in a grocery store, holding a frozen pizza.

Just as Shaun and Lu-La locate the UFO, Bitzer arrives on the scene, followed shortly by the agency, the Ministry of Alien Detection (MAD). Determined to prove the existence of extraterrestrial life, MAD won’t let Lu-La escape as easily as she might like.

After a serious UFO crash, will Lu-La be able to return to her parents and home planet?

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

I’m not going to lie, I absolutely adored the first Shaun the Sheep film and was hoping for a repeat of the wild, inventive humor here. In the first film, Shaun’s antics lead the Farmer to develop a severe case of amnesia and gain fame as an iconic hair stylist to the stars. Even with aliens thrown into the mix in the sequel, the plot doesn’t maintain the same level of absurdity and fun. Most importantly, I wasn’t rooting for the characters to pull off their unlikely schemes in the way I did in round one.

Also, there was only a very brief bit where the sheep pretended to be people. In the first film, the extended scene where the sheep acted like humans dining in a restaurant legitimately cracked me up.

The plot feels very disjointed, in large part because the characters don’t share a goal for most of the film. Part of the charm of Shaun is that he constantly screws things up, yet the sheep (and eventually Bitzer) always have his back, working together to make things right. The other problem is Lu-La as the sower of chaos here, who I’m just not as invested in as Shaun. What would be a silly antic from Shaun is just irritating from Lu-La, even when we learn that her childish behavior comes from being an actual child.

I will give credit here for the animation. Like all things from Aardman, the accomplishment of telling a complete story with almost no dialogue is impressive. The expressions on the sheep’s faces, and long-suffering Bitzer, are particularly endearing.

And let’s not forget the alien theme park, though less than thrilling to visitors, was constructed by an all-sheep construction crew with a dog as foreman. That concept in and of itself could be a major hipster tourist attraction.

Does my blog wife believe the truth is out there or was this all as staged as the moon landing (jk in case Buzz Aldrin is reading this)? Find out in her review here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Iron Sky: The Coming Race, or: Conspiracy Quest

Much to my dismay, whenever someone is bringing Nazis into the mix on the Blog Collab, it’s usually me. Though I have no desire to give neo-Nazis any time or attention whatsoever, I still find WWII and its prevalence in pop culture fascinating. No other event in modern history has shaped so many of our ideas about what evil looks like or shaken so thoroughly our belief in progress…or produced such bizarre and lasting conspiracy theories. If this film accomplishes one thing, it’s embracing every possible conspiracy theory it can in under 90 minutes. Let’s take the red pill then, shall we?

The Film:

Iron Sky: The Coming Race

The Premise:

After a nuclear war between humanity and moon Nazis, the survivors have found temporary refuge on the dark side of the moon. To find a new home, a small group of humans must return to Earth to reclaim the Holy Grail from the Nazis/lizard people (I kid you not).

The Ramble:

Following the events of Iron Sky (which I admittedly forget), the planet has been left a nuclear wasteland in the wake of war between Earth and moon Nazis. However, there is some hope for the lizard people/neo-Nazis who have brought about the end of humanity. Among these are Sarah Palin (president of the USA in this version of reality, and not too far off the mark), Margaret Thatcher, Christian and Muslim religious extremists, and their leader, Hitler (obviously). All of these horrible people have slithered to the center of the Earth, where their secret underground society thrives.

in an image reminiscent of The Last Supper, figures sit side-by-side at a long table, with Hitler at the center

Any human survivors of the war have fled to the dark side of the moon, home to the former colony of moon Nazis. These include Obi, a tough but kind engineer, and her mother, effectively the leader of the struggling colony. Even after nuclear disaster, a hierarchy exists, and the members of a religious cult that worships Steve Jobs are the self-proclaimed righteous among the rest of humanity.

With dwindling supplies, crumbling infrastructure, and no way to leave the moon, it’s unclear how long the survivors of nuclear war can last. Hope comes in the unlikely form of a UFO piloted by Russians, including Sasha, who proves to be resourceful yet constantly worried about his fragile masculinity.

a man and woman in bulky bone armor face each other in a sand-colored prehistoric city

Because Obi’s mother is unwell, she is desperate for a cure. Desperate enough that, when she uncovers the secretly alive Moon Führer, Obi is willing to hear him out re: an evil plan he’s concocted. For reasons that are in no way sinister (eye roll), the Moon Führer, aka Hitler’s lizard man brother, seeks the Holy Grail. Coincidentally, its contents have the power to heal Obi’s mother. The only complication? The grail is located at the center of the secret civilization at the center of the Earth.

Along for the ride are Sasha, Obi’s unbelievably jacked bestie Malcolm, and a few members of the Steve Jobs cult, who believe their fearless leader is still miraculously alive on Earth. Things are off to a rocky start when the group crashes, encountering the dangerous world at the center of the planet, inhabited by lizard people and dinosaurs alike.

a man in a black turtleneck and beard looks human except for the lizard eyes and scales on his forehead

When most of the group is captured by Nazis, it’s up to Obi and Sasha to track down the grail. Meanwhile, the Steve Jobs cult discovers their leader is himself a lizard person in on the Nazis’ evil plan. Attempting to switch sides, the members of the cult get a firsthand reminder that you should never trust a promise from Hitler, whether he’s a lizard person or not.

a man in Nazi uniform faces Hitler, who is riding a T-Rex

Perhaps unsurprisingly, our heroes manage to escape with the grail, though not before a dramatic triceratops chariot chase. However, shortly after returning to the moon, Obi and the gang realize they have been followed…by none other than Hitler riding a T-Rex. In the showdown between lizard people, moon Nazis, and humanity, who will prevail?

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

Credit where credit’s due: this film is visually much more impressive than your average Nazi conspiracy theory action comedy. The lizard people look disgusting, honestly, and as realistic as it’s possible for them to look. Even though the plot doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, I do appreciate that the writers did at least try to weave conspiracy theories together into a somewhat coherent narrative. And my sci-fi loving heart can’t help but enjoy the commitment to telling a story about space travel.

However, like most B-movie sequels, all of the novelty and quirkiness of the first film is lost here. I did find some of the political humor rather gratifying, including when the Steve Jobs cult leader (played by Tom Green?!!!??!) mistakenly called Hitler by the name Donald Trump, as well as when he offered Hitler a quid pro quo. And there’s something quite satisfying about seeing Margaret Thatcher pushed from a triceratops chariot at high speed. But a lot of the political humor doesn’t feel especially clever, and where it was surprisingly apt in the first film, it feels tired here.

My other complaint with this film is the surprise “twist” at the end that reveals Malcolm to be gay. And, for the record, not because I oppose LGBTQ representation in film, but because I object to the use of a character’s sexuality as a joke or plot twist. I quite liked the character of Malcolm and the revelation that he had never been interested in Obi romantically (there’s a bit of an implied love triangle that gets so old so fast), but I felt this was played for laughs in a way I wouldn’t expect in a film from 2019. For fuck’s sake, do better.

Would my blog wife share a swig from the Holy Grail with this one or chase after it on a roaring T-Rex? Find out in her review here!

Film Reviews

Super Bowl Sunday: A Time for Lesbian Alien Romance

While the rest of ‘Murica watches the Super Bowl, what am I doing? Reviewing movies about lesbians from outer space. Duh.

The Film:

Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same

Where to Watch:

Netflix

The Premise:

Lesbian space aliens whose uncontrolled emotions have destroyed the ozone layer of their planet arrive on Earth to overcome their feelings.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

Our film opens with a therapy session in which Earthling Jane describes a note that reads “What are you doing later?” dropping out of the sky. The therapist suggests these fantasies prevent her from acting on her desires; she is unable to put herself out there and talk to other women.

Cut to an alien news broadcast covering the destruction of ozone in the planet’s atmosphere: when feelings of love become too intense, they leave the body and destroy the ozone layer. The aliens Zylar, Barr, and Zoinx, whose feelings threaten the ozone, must be sent to Earth to prevent further damage. By spending time with Earthlings and having their hearts broken, they will be numb and unable to love anymore.

Meanwhile, these MIB types are on a stakeout, presumably on the lookout for any lesbian alien activity (this film is not a porno, I promise).

As soon as she arrives on Earth, Zylar places a personal ad reading (you guessed it) “codependent lesbian space alien seeks same,” which gets her quite a few more dates than you might imagine. However, they are not particularly successful dates as Zylar is (understandably) a bit strange.

Zoinx, on the other hand, wanders into the stationery store where Jane works, hoping to purchase a radio transmitter. Jane finds Zoinx delightfully quirky, and the two go on a date together. (My cat sat on my lap at this point, which suggests he was rooting for Jane and Zoinx as a couple.) After going to a movie, they head back to Jane’s place. Zoinx asks “Is it permissible for me to touch you?” and touches Jane’s nose. (HOT LESBIAN ACTION.)

an alien woman and a human woman touch each other's noses
Apologies to all internet creeps who were actually looking for hot lesbian action. This is about as hardcore as this movie and blog get.

As we discover, Zylar and Barr were in a relationship, but they’re trying to move on. They don’t actually want to be heartbroken, so they just try to be sad. For example, the indifference of a revolving dessert tray is sad in the way that “the cheesecake comes towards us and then revolves away.” Pretty devastating.

Barr wants to be in a committed relationship, but Zylar has started vlogging about her various relationships. In her vlog, she tells one of her lovers “I said I would meet your family, but I didn’t think we’d be going out this long.” Barr discovers Zylar’s online presence after she brings her cheesecake, which is a pretty fucking romantic gesture if you ask me.

Meanwhile, the MIB keep tabs on Jane and Zoinx. The two ladies are on a date at Coney Island. As the MIB watch they discuss what exactly constitutes a lesbian date, Boston cream donuts, as well as the Little Mermaid-themed wedding of the older officer. Apparently children weren’t allowed at the wedding: “We made sure everyone had a great time by not forcing them to spend time with children.” Pure genius.

After Jane and Zoinx leave Coney Island, there’s an incredibly awkward shower scene; Zoinx doesn’t take off her collar.

an alien woman wearing a collar that covers her ears leans next to a laughing human woman in a shower
Not sure which is more awkward: Zoinx’s facial expression or her refusal to take off the collar.

Later Jane tells Zoinx she has a gift for her: a mug with “Zoinx” written on it (which initially said “Zoe,” but Jane she painted over the rest of the letters). They go to a movie together, but Zoinx is very distant. At this point, Zoinx confesses she’s a space alien; she wanted to tell Jane earlier, but she thought it would be too difficult to believe. Funnily enough, Jane has no trouble believing Zoinx is an alien.

Suddenly, the aliens are called back to their planet since it’s been discovered that it’s not emotion destroying the ozone layer, but the sun reflecting on their bald heads.   Zylar seems to be up to her usual antics and goes on a dating show. On this show, two men have to guess which answer to a series of questions belongs to each participant. This is actually all part of Zylar’s plan to communicate with Zoinx that they’ll be returning to their planet.

two women sit next to an alien woman on a dating game show with their reactions to kissing a man displayed onscreen: "He tasted like chili con carne," "Pancho Villa has returned," and "It was pleasurable, but I wish he was a woman"
Bonus points if you can guess which one was Zylar’s answer!

The MIB attempt to intercept the aliens before their journey home. The younger guy who is kind of a jackass suddenly starts shimmering. When they spot the aliens, he deliberately fails to follow them; the other guy gets out of the car to pursue them on foot, but they escape. Ultimately, the jerk MIB guy just sort of disappears at the end. (WHAT.)

All of the aliens leave Earth in their extremely low-budget UFO, and Jane decides to leave with them in order to be with Zoinx.

a UFO that seems to be made mostly of foil sits near the Brooklyn bridge
Not sure if UFO or burrito…

The Critique:

This movie was a pleasant surprise. It’s obviously very low-budget, but it takes advantage of that to create some really funny awkward pauses and strange dialogue.

It embraces the strangeness without falling into the po-mo hipster bullshit category.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 4/5 Pink Panther Heads

For once, I have nothing else to add. I approve of this film.