Sunday, July 2, 2023

Life In Plastic: A Barbie Marathon Part 5

History repeats itself, doesn't it? Second week in I was locked in my house because the air outside was killing my lungs, and five weeks in I'm right back there. Things sure do seem bad, right? I hear there's widespread riots in France, but what with twitter down and me coughing my lungs out I don't have a good grasp of the world around me. However, like Nero before me, I am devoting myself to pointless frivolity while all I knew begins to collapse. Let's get back into it.

Film 29: Barbie in Princess Power (2015)

Oh shit! This is the first Barbie movie I had ever seen! I even wrote about it in what would become a short-lived staple of this stupid blog. I was honestly pretty curious if my opinion would change after watching over two dozen Barbie movies before this rewatch. My feelings are complicated. On the one hand, to make a Barbie superhero movie is way out of left field considering the plots they've used so far, which were all fantasy stories that involved mermaids and fairies. I didn't really realize how far out of the ordinary this was when I first saw it, but now I can see they were going places. Not necessarily great places. The character designs are all kinda bad. Background design has gotten way worse than the heights of Secret Door, like the trees and buildings and whatnot all look pretty lazily rendered. The villain is more annoying than anything, especially since this is a rare example of a Villainous Bibble, with his stupid frog that I hate. The actress that voiced Raquelle in previous movies, Britt Irvin, voices Barbie's mean cousin, who eventually becomes another superhero. I am duty bound to inform you that I love Dark Sparkle. I had a really hard time figuring out where I fall on this one, the novelty of a Dragon Ball fight in a Barbie movie was somewhat dampened by the appearance of like 5 superpowered pets.


Film 30: Barbie in Rock 'N Royals (2015)

I was worried I had another Princess and the Popstar on my hands here, but luckily it's not nearly that bad. This is a world where princesses and successful musical artists each have their own summer camp, and by wild coincidence these two summer camps are on either side of the same lake. Why would musicians (some of whom already have successful careers) need a summer camp? Why would princesses? But anyway one princess and one rockstar accidentally go to the other's camp and then the camp owners make a bet about who will win a sing-off and the loser cedes their land to the other camp. So the campgoers find out and work together yadda yadda. I feel a bit insulted here, they got Chiara Zanni to play the musical artist, but they couldn't get her back for Mariposa?? HOW DARE YOU. There's songs in this but it's not really a musical. It could have been worse.


Film 31: Barbie & Her Sisters in The Great Puppy Adventure (2015)

Barbie movies are a series of baits and switches. They lure you in with two good movies about Barbie and her sisters and then just as you think you know what level of quality you should expect you get this bullshit. This doesn't seem like it's from the same continuity as the previous two Barbie & Her Sisters movies. All the character designs have changed, presumably to match up with some Barbie Vlogs that I am not going to watch you can't make me. Everyone looks... younger. Which raises the Parent Question again. Why is Barbie bringing her sisters to see their grandma without their parents? How old is Barbie, exactly? She's old enough to drive, but now it's not clear if she's making a living by herself or what. At any rate they're all going back to their hometown of Willows, Wisconsin, where Grandma Roberts gives them a bunch of puppies, thus ruining this movie forever. Does anyone else remember that time in the 00's where a rash of talking puppies movies came out? Direct-to-DVD stuff like Air Buddies were everywhere, you couldn't escape them. Well someone at Barbie Entertainment looked upon that era with wistfulness and a decade later put that in their goddamn Barbie movie. Sure the sisters are trying to find some treasure, but then we have to follow around some cutesy dogs and their cutesy voices misinterpreting stuff and being annoying. Oh, the town has fallen on hard times? Too bad, look at these dogs fall down. There's a secret cavern under the town full of gold and jewels? Fuck that, this stupid dog needs to learn to believe in itself. Easily the worst talking animal movie yet.


Film 32: Barbie: Spy Squad (2016)

Did someone on the Barbie staff just come out of a 10 year long coma? Why else would they make a Totally Spies ripoff almost 10 years after it ended? This is supposed to be another "Real Life" movie, though with the new designs debuted in Puppy Adventure, and now Barbie has a new friend named Renee. But yeah, it's Totally Spies. The three girls become "spies" for some nebulous agency, use girl-themed gadgets and try to stop some jewel thief. The thief is obnoxious, though not as bad as the tech guy who looks like Scott the Woz and has a crush on Teresa and won't fucking shut up about it. We've changed VA's for Barbie again, now instead of Kelly Sheridan we have Erica Lindbeck. She's a good actress, but I think the direction in this movie hampers her talents where other work of hers showcased them more. A weird thing is that this movie teaches the Visualization therapeutic technique to deal with stressful situations. Like, an actual thing therapists teach. I don't think any other Barbie movies have done something like this. I guess it gets points for that, but loses points on everything else.


Film 33: Barbie: Star Light Adventure (2016)

Barbie Sci-Fi! Because of that it's another one I wrote about before. This is the first time I saw a Barbie movie and went "Oh huh I guess Barbie movies can be good." It's a pretty solid film, the production design is really good here, especially the night skies with stars, nebulae, and planets all around. I guess they would have to be, since this movie is about the stars going out. The Space King thinks he's gonna fix it so he hires a bunch of Radical Teens to help him get to the center of the galaxy, but then he can't and Barbie fixes everything by dancing or something. This almost has a Barbie X-Men team, where all the team members are aliens with different abilities, like gravity manipulation or super speed. Barbie even has telekinesis. I could probably write a long pretentious article about how this movie explores the failure of authoritarian rule to cope with disaster while spontaneous humanity holds the solutions, but that's for another time.


Film 34: Barbie & Her Sisters in A Puppy Chase (2016)

Have you ever been on a really bad vacation as a kid? One where everything seemed to fuck up and you couldn't do any of the stuff you wanted? You might have been angry at your parents and blamed them for the poor time. But as you get older, you think back on it and realize your parents were dealing with a bunch of shit themselves, and the anger evolves into something more complex. The sympathy and sadness you feel now makes the memories harder to deal with. You feel bad about how you acted when your parents were doing their best. Okay stop thinking about that now and look at some dumb goddamn puppies. In the second Puppy movie the sisters go to what I assume is Hawaii, though they only ever call it "The Island" for some reason. Shit goes haywire and they lose the puppies but Chelsea has to get to her dance contest! Barbie is surprisingly incompetent in this movie, like all the things she does lead to more misfortune. There's almost a poignant moment where she reveals she hadn't known what to do any more than her sisters, but she kept up an optimistic facade so they wouldn't give up. But then we have talking puppies and a couple talking horses and the talking poodle and you get my drift. This one has another therapeutic technique to deal with anxiety, where you seriously consider what would happen in the best and worse case scenario of a given situation and how you would deal with each. I just get taken out of anything meaningful when we have Paw Patrol-ass dialogue and surfing puppies. It seems like it's going for a Little Miss Sunshine type of ending, where Chelsea's dance performance, joined by her sisters, the puppies, the horses etc., loses the competition, but she learns that trying your best is the real reward. But no! She breaks the rules with all that other bullshit but still pulls out a win! That's not a lesson! That's just pandering!


Film 35: Barbie: Video Game Hero (2017)

The last Barbie movie I'd already seen before starting this whole project, I think actually forgot most of this one. And, watching it again, it was for good reason. This one is a mess. I'm supposed to believe Barbie (the actual Barbie, not a role she is playing) is some kinda Alpha Gamer and programmer, with the easily distinguishable line between those two roles made blurry in this film. The scene starts with Barbie playing a game with her friends, but then she starts coding the game while they're playing it? And she made that game? Later she gets sucked into a tablet and a cloud tells her she has to win the game to kill some evil emojis. Let's get one thing straight: This game doesn't make a single bit of sense. Level 1 is a race. That's fine, sure. Level 2 is Bejeweled. Huh? The artstyle even changes. Level 3 is Minecraft. Who made this game?? When I beat a race, I would like to do more races, not be shoved into some Roblox looking shit! All the characters are annoying. The only real life game mentioned in this movie is Just Dance, along with the most annoying song I've ever heard, some chihuahua song with barking that I found honestly difficult to get through. Once again our protagonist wins by cheating, though if they're honestly competing in Just Dance I don't think the competition was very rigorous to begin with. This movie ends with a music video for that terrible song and I will hate this movie until I die. (If you have watched the Emoji movie you may notice how they ripped off this one. Fun fact.)


Things are looking pretty dire, folks. A noticeable downgrade from last week, only one movie even cracked five on my incredibly biased rating scale. No matter, Week Five is done! We're in the home stretch! Soon I will be able to watch something that isn't Barbie! I will know all! I WILL BE THE MASTER OF BARBIE NONE SHALL CHALLENGE ME ON MY HOT PINK THRONE! BEAR WITNESS!

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