Tuesday, September 15, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: TWO BY TWO (2015)

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Storyline

It's the end of the world. A flood is coming. Luckily for Dave and his son Finny, a couple of clumsy Nestrians, an Ark has been built to save all animals. But as it turns out, Nestrians aren't allowed. Sneaking on board with the involuntary help of Hazel and her daughter Leah, two Grymps, they think they're safe. Until the curious kids fall off the Ark. Now Finny and Leah struggle to survive the flood and hungry predators and attempt to reach the top of a mountain, while Dave and Hazel must put aside their differences, turn the Ark around and save their kids. It's definitely not going to be smooth sailing.

Rating: G
In Theaters: Jul 17, 2015 Limited
Runtime: 1 hr. 25 min.
Phase 4 Films - Official Site

TWO BY TWO OPENS IN MALAYSIA ON SEPTEMBER 17th. FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD FIND OUT HERE.

Meet Dave and Finny they're Nestrians. Dave's the the purple one. 

Another story about the great flood and Noah's Ark... 

First off this movie has had a staggered release (is that what people in the industry call it?), opening on the 9th of April in Italy and slowly making it's way across Europe until it opened in the U.S. on the 17th of July then traveling down to South America before heading back to Europe. In between it did visit South Korea but as for other Asian countries I can't really say. The other things is that this movie has several different titles.In Malaysia it's called Two by Two, but search online and you'll find the other titles it has, for instance IMDB has it under All Creatures Big and Small and Rotten Tomatoes has it under Ooops! Noah is Gone which happens to be the original title then of course are the regional titles. And finally this film is apparently a collaborative effort between several European countries, there are five production companies associated with it and they come from Germany, Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg. 

So a story about the great flood and Noah's Ark, safe to say then I don't really need to tell you that it's trying to teach young kids about lessons from the bible through colorful and cute characters, right? Also I can't really be spoiling all that much for you right? Well if I am then I'm going to warn you right now that there may be SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON.

You know about the flood, right? Rains for like a month day in, day out. The entire planet is covered under water. Noah builds an ark under instruction from God and then gathers two of each animal. Well, all that does happen but Noah isn't anywhere around. The focus of this flood story is the animals and more specifically an unusual creature called a Nestrian and a Grymph. The Nestrian looks like something Dr. Seuss might come up with on a bad LSD/Mushroom/Marijuana trip while sitting in a neon and UV light lit room while the Grymph looks like someone got a wolf gave it steroids then forgot to train the lower body, also gave it a tattoo and then gave it hands instead of paws. 

They're trying to run from the flood. They're also trying to figure out what they are and where they belong. 

Anyway, the Nestrians, father Dave and son Finny have been living a nomadic life looking for a place where they really belong, they're also incredibly good and building homes and interior design. So lately things have been bad and they've been living in the desert when Dave hears of a big meeting of all the animals. Finny doesn't want to go since he's tired of constantly moving but one look at the on coming storm and he changes his mind. At the meeting the see a whole bunch of animals but surprisingly all coming in twos although I thought it was supposed to be of each gender but in this movie it seems anything goes except for same sex partners of course. 

There the are addressed by a lion who is apparently the big boss of the animal, original idea, right? Well he addresses them all and says that he's been put in charge of the animals by Noah who's built the Ark and then all the animals must go through a selection process before they are let on the ark. Also that from that point on carnivores are no longer allowed to eat anyone else. So the animals gather in front of a cave where they go in one by one or two by two where they face the lion, a flamingo and a rhinoceros to plead for their case for getting on the ark, except that they've already been chosen by Noah so the whole procedure is just pointless. Sort of a power trip by the lion and his friends. Dave goes in but isn't selected to get on the Ark. Then comes the Grymph, mother Hazel and daughter Leah and they are selected to get on the Ark. Dave walks out totally disappointed but tries to hide it from Finny. 

Later that day they go head off to where all the animals are hanging out and Dave starts to build a home again and this puzzles Finny, why do they need to build a home if they're supposed to get on the Ark? He confronts his dad and Dave tells him they didn't get chosen but then he promises Finny that he'll get them aboard somehow. 

That wolf looking thing that wouldn't look out of place in a Pokemon cartoon is Leah, she's a Grymph and she's waiting for her mother. 

The next day the animals line-up at the Ark to board and they're either let in or kicked out at the door by a gorilla who checks their paws or whatever they have for a white mark which means that they've signed their check-in documents at the end of the interview and are allowed on. This is where we meet the movie's bad guys, a couple of Griffins. They jump the line and get kicked out for putting up a fuss and insulting the gorilla. Meanwhile, Dave has disguised himself and Finny to look like Grymphs and quietly follow behind Hazel and Leah until they get to the gorilla where he steps up and claims they're a family. He and Finny look nothing like a Grymph by the way but who cares, right? Also they don't look all that funny. Hazel puts up a fuss and tells the Gorilla they're not married and so forth and so on but the Gorilla just puts it off to a couple fighting and tells them to go right in. Inside they stand in front of the Flamingo who was one of the interviewers earlier and she gets a little annoyed and Hazel putting up such a fuss but also chalks it up to a married couple's tiff. I guess Flamingos really are bird brains. So off they go to their cabins.

In their cabins the fight hots up between Hazel and Dave and threats and deals are thrown about, Leah meanwhile gets the urge to explore and leaves the cabin with Finny in tow. Leah wants to see the flood come in. So off the two go up towards the Ark's deck, sneaking pass the Gorillas on the way there. Up there they wander around looking for a good spot to check out the flood as it comes in but unfortunately for them the Gorilla spots them and a chase ensues but just as the Gorilla manages to corner them he stops and stands rigid with a shocked look on his face before he turns right around and runs screaming. As the kids laugh at the Gorilla thinking that he ran because Leah showed off her Grymph fangs they turn around and discover why he ran. The flood is coming. Then they realize that they're no longer on the Ark but are instead standing on the scaffolding by the side of the Ark. For whatever reason instead of jumping back on the Ark like they did when they ran from the Gorilla and jumped on the scaffolding they run down the scaffolding. I guess the lesson here is kids are stupid? Anyway, the flood comes and washes away the scaffolding and also the Ark and the kids are left behind. 

This chimp is sort of the Ark's butler. Don't know why it needs a butler. I guess butlers are just funny.

Meanwhile the parents finally stop fighting long enough to realize the kids are gone and instead of running around and asking everyone if they've seen them sit around arguing with a daft chimpanzee who thinks he's a proper English butler. When they finally do run around and ask everyone they get caught by the gorillas instead for creating a commotion and since Dave's costume fell off, for sneaking onto the Ark. 

The kids float around for a bit until they spot the last bit of land left around and make their way there. Oh yeah, Finny apparently can't swim so they get there on a piece of the scaffolding. When they get to the island they begin to make their way to higher ground fighting along the way. Finny wants to make nice and be a team, Leah doesn't want any of that since it isn't the Grymph way. Soon it starts to rain and it's time to make camp. Leah decide she'd rather camp alone despite Finny telling her he's real good and making camp. Of course Leah's little makeshift shelter falls apart in the rain and when she goes to check out Finny she sees a lovely little home. She sucks it up and knocks the door and once inside and realizing that it's a lot better off that what she had begrudgingly makes a deal with Finny to stay the night but the next morning she's off on her own again.

Next morning comes along and they find their temporary home almost under water. As they look around trying to find a way out of their conundrum they spot shapes flying towards. Thinking that it might be someone here  to rescue them they yell out but soon realize that it's the Griffins looking for a meal. Their escape lands them back on dry land and on top of a gray rock which sneezes. Turns out it isn't a rock. It's a big creature of some sort and on top of it is a parasite. The big gray thing calls himself Obesey and the parasite Stayput. Original, right? Not at all stereotyping or insulting, right? Anyway, Finny invites them to join the team which Leah denies they are and off they go. Meanwhile the Griffins set up a trap for them by making a bridge out of rocks that is barely stable and waiting for the foursome to walk over it and fall to their death where they wait with their appetites. 

Also didn't know that the ark had brigs which to you layman out there is the ship's equivalent to a prison. 

Of course the four don't actually fall to their deaths but instead the hat that Finny makes for Obesey miraculously turns into wings and the four fly through the gorge and end up closer to their goal at the end of their flight. The Griffins meanwhile are crushed by rocks. Also there's a bit when the rocks are falling and the fall like Tetris. As the four continue their journey Leah decides she no longer wants to be part of the team and decides to go on alone but her solo journey doesn't last very long when she steps on a rock a little too hard and it breaks causing her to almost fall to her death if it wasn't for a well placed root. She doesn't hang around long though as the other three decide to follow her on Finny's insistance. They rescue her and the team are back together again with Leah having a better attitude about the situation.

As they travel further up their route takes them into a cave of crystals and they decide to stop there for the night. The next morning they're rudely awakened by a loud rumbling noise. The cave they're in begins to fill with water. The run for it through the cave and through tunnels until they get to one that leads out but as they do the water catches up to them and pushes Obesey through the tunnel. They almost get blown out of the tunnel but Obesey is too big and instead he plugs up the tunnel. But it doesn't last long, the water pressure begins to push against Obesey. With nowhere to go Obesey tells the kids to tickle his nose and when he sneezes the kids get blown clear but somehow end up right below and in the Griffins nest. But just as soon as the kids are out one situation and another, Obesey gets blown out of the tunnel and falls into the flood waters below but on his way down he somehow manages to come crashing into the Griffins nest. 

This is Stayput, he's a parasite. He's also rude to his host and not all that funny.

The kids of course manage to escape and make their way upward trying to escape the flood waters which is now rising faster than ever. They get right up to the snowy tops but the waters are right on their toes. While they cling to the snowy ledge for the lives it suddenly breaks off and now they find themselves on an iceberg. Meanwhile Dave and Hazel have managed to get into the bridge, knocked out the Lion, fooled a Gorilla reporting about them to the Lion by using the Lion as a puppet and are on their way back to look for them and are close by but since they no longer spot the island they begin to fear the worst. The Finny realizing that they might not be so easy to spot tells Leah to scare him. You see the think about Nestrians is that when they're scared they emit a thick blue smoke that smells really bad from their nose. Leah bites him instead. Finny's plan works when Dave spots the blue cloud. 

The rescue doesn't go off so well when the Griffins show up again and Finny is knocked unconscious and begins to sink down into the abyss. Dave despite his fears and inability to swim jumps down to rescue him and discovers something, Nestrians can talk underwater. Finny soon comes to and almost dies when his father hugs him too hard and soon not only is Finny talking underwater but he soon discovers that Nestrians have an uncanny ability to swim really well. But things aren't safe yet, the Griffins come round for another attack but this time Finny has a plan he becomes a decoy and makes them follow him down and back to the crystal cave where he traps them. Oh yeah, also before the Griffins came back for a second try they were thwarted by Obesey who surprising turns out to not be a big grey living rock but is instead a whale who somehow forgot he was a whale. 

So the Griffins are gone, trapped by a child and drowned in a cave underwater. The Nestrians family are together again and have also found where they belong which is in the water which is also why they weren't on the list to board the Ark which we find out when the Lion makes that remark at the end. And the Grymphs get over all their macho and standoffish attitude and become friendly with everyone.

The end. 

And this is Obesey. Stayput lives on his head and calls him names and insults him. What else can you ask from a parasite?

So was this a good movie?

Honestly? Not really. It wasn't a bad movie but it was nowhere near good. It's passable at best and barely decent when compared to the other animated movies that have been hitting the cinemas lately. Everything about this movie is sub par, from the story to the dialogue to the character designs and the animation. The humor is all predictable and clearly inspired and taken from everything that came before and even the characters and design for them seem to have come from past animations. Madagascar comes to mind. 

The story isn't at all original save for the twist of having it told from the animals perspectives and not just animals but animals that were purposely left out of the Ark. There are attempts to be unique to bring a little irreverent humor into it namely with scenes where they use game 8-bit game design and then first person RPG for a few scenes but it isn't all that funny. 

This is the Ark which I guess Noah built but you don't see him anywhere in the movie and he only gets mentioned about one time I think.

The voice work isn't all that bad but it's not amazing at all either. The kids doing the voices do have moments where they shine but it's too few and far between. 

Then there's the animation which looks incredibly dated when compared to other recent animations. It would have looked pretty good if it came out about ten years ago. Although having said that it still looks years better than our own Malaysian attempts. 

This movie isn't for the adults. It's squarely targeted at the kids and when I'm talking about kids I'm talking about those below the tween age. Those that are at the tween age may or may not enjoy this. This movie seems to me more suited for the direct to DVD release or aired on Saturday or Sunday morning so that the kids can give parents a little alone time. 

It goes from day to night pretty fast in this movie and the flood waters rise pretty randomly. Convenient to the story. 

If you have kids by all means take them, the story's pretty harmless and it isn't all too heavy on the bible lessons, just the usual stuff all kids movies try to impart to their audience. I'm going to give Two by Two a 1.8 out of 5. There are far better things to take your kids to watch then this but if they've seen them all and are tired of watching them for the 30th time then why not try this. 

Have a look at the trailer and maybe watch it with you kids to see if they like it.

video


TWO BY TWO IS DISTRIBUTED IN MALAYSIA BY TGV PICTURES SO BE SURE TO CHECK OUT TGV.COM.MY FOR TICKETS IF YOU WANT TO GO WATCH IT.


1 comment:

  1. Did anyone else notice the pot leaf sticker on daves "suitcase" he was toting in begining? Not that I really care but if its souly for small children was it really necessary?

    ReplyDelete