Checkered Ninja 2 sees the relationship between Alex and the Ninja develop further. They aren’t necessarily Batman and Robin
Just when fans of Anders Matthesen‘s story concerning a tiny spirit of vengence was over, a sequel, simply titled Checkered Ninja 2, was released to some markets instead of hitting film festivals worldwide. This series is apparently very popular in Denmark. and it’s a spinoff of Terkel I Knibe (Terkel in Trouble), one of this filmmaker’s earlier works.
To learn that the villain from the first film is on the loose again is troubling. The crime Philip Eberfrø committed resulted in the spirit of Taiko Nakamura possessing a doll in part one, and thus, the Checkered Ninja was born! But he can’t do it alone. By happenstance, he becomes Alex’s toy and the relationship they have isn’t all that kosher. After the stuffed doll helps the young boy grow a spine (he was bullied), they finally buddy up.
I reviewed this movie a few years back and absolutely loved it. When Variety magazine reported about its sequel, I hoped some local animation festival would screen it. Sadly, that never happened. Despite having a home video release in 2021 in Denmark, there’s still no official North American release. As soon as I saw listings for the Blu-ray release on eBay, I immediately ordered the European release and I’m glad I have a multi-region player.
Besides the usual package of added material–two new shorts, the gag reel and director’s commentary–there’s deleted scenes (seven pieces in all, and one is a variant of another), a “family album” introducing the characters and the performers providing their voices, the “Evolution of” segment showing how the film was put together, along with four activities–how to draw the Croods and how to make some foods featured.
Fans of The Croods will definitely have a better appreciation with the new film after checking out the bonus material in the home video release. Even a greater respect is earned after seeing how much time was spent on story development. Joel Crawford and the writing team certainly struggled to figure a balance between the picturesque wonder that makes up this newly expanded universe, and a sequel worthy tale
The finale is established when Eep leaves the nest for good to create a family of her own with Guy. Part two is about the obstacles they face, including testing whether this teenage romance is just that, or can it be more?
Besides the usual package of added material–two new shorts, the gag reel and director’s commentary–there’s deleted scenes (seven pieces in all, and one is a variant of another), a “family album” introducing the characters and the performers providing their voices, the “Evolution of” segment showing how the film was put together, and with four how to activities for kids to do with parents. They include how to draw the Croods and how to make a few tasty delights featured in the film.
This release is far better than the first one. I bought the Walmart variant which came with a Belt stuffed doll. No Sash is spotted yet, but hopefully a future package will offer the two sloths together. This second film has an exclusive which isn’t as exciting–a puzzle and water bottle. At least Target is offering a variant which includes an art book since no official one is being offered when compared to the first film’s colourful tome which is now out of print.
Not to be forgotten in this release is an original animated piece, To: Gerard, which not everyone will take note of. DreamWorks shows they are able to create that PIXAR level magic. This short about an elderly man using the power of magic to brighten the day of a young girl is particularly enchanting (pardoning the pun).
WARPs UP, a four-piece dance group with members from Japan and China and fans in both territories, have announced their latest song, ‘Hali Gali’, which is now on YouTube and as a limited release in China.
The music video for ‘Hali Gali’ is directed by filmmaker Kenichiro Shimizu (PELE) and Tokyo-based creative group REALROCKDESIGN, which also produces large-scale outdoor festivals and sensory entertainment show STAR ISLAND. Shimizu, working with Daito Manabe (Rhizomatiks), was the videographer and editorial director on British artist Squarepusher’s ‘Terminal Slam’ video. His works have garnered acclaim for their innovation and creativity, with ‘Terminal Slam’ receiving the Computer Animation Category Honor Award at Austria’s Ars Electronica Award 2020.
2017 is upon us, and this year seems light in comparison to last year’s stellar line-up of animated movies and direct-to-video products to must-see. DreamWorks Animation (one of my favourite studios) had three titles, but sadly with The Croods 2 dropped, the remainder does not seem as exciting. Time will tell, however, until official trailers for The Boss Baby and Captain Underpants are released.
In the international front, Tad Jones: The Hero Returns might be fun, though this title ranks more in the honourable mention front. Also coming is Howard Lovecraft and the Underworld Kingdom. No official word has been made yet, but if Arcana Studios is sticking to schedule, we can expect this release in September.
In a holdover from last year’s releases in the film festival circuit, a few reports is suggesting The Red Turtle will get a wider distribution. This winner deserves to arrive at more shores, as it’s a powerful story about a man stranded on a deserted island, and how he connects with a particular turtle. Leading the pack of movies I must see is one that is making rounds at festivals:
(Please check local listings, Q2 wide release)
Director: Ann Marie Fleming
This colourful animation caught my attention when the National Film Board of Canada reported about its West Coast première at the Vancouver International Film Festival. If only it was playing the same or next day when I was in Vancouver, I could have gone to see it. Thankfully it will be getting a wider distribution in the new year.
When considering it is about a young poet of mixed descent going to Iran to learn about her past, I feel she will discover that the world is interconnected in more ways than she realizes. The unique character designs is also another selling point, and I’ll be anxious to see where the plot goes.