Sunday Jul 08, 2007

Ratatouille

Continuing our movie-viewing momentum, my wife and I saw Ratatouille this weekend. Nice film. The animation was astounding as usual. They're really starting to get good at people. The big thing that I still see is a lack of strict correlation between movement and propulsion. People (and rats and bicycles) don't quite move at a rate that matches what their legs (wheels) are doing. Everything else was superbly rendered, though. The food looked good enough to eat.

Animation aside, Ratatouille was no Toy Story. While the characters were likable, the movie didn't make me fall in love with them. Also, the plot was a little weak, and the ending was only happy if you don't stop to think about it. Don't get me wrong, though. I enjoyed every minute of the film, and I laughed out loud at several of the scenes.

Ratatouille makes an excellent family film. It will be entertaining to movie-goers of all ages. Overall I give it an A.

Thursday Jul 05, 2007

Shrek, Die Hard, and Transformers

In the last week, my wife and I have spent an unusual amount of time in the theater. It's not that the movie selection was so compelling, but more that this week it was the social activity du jour. Here are my reviews:

Shrek the Third: I can't deny, it was funny. It was laugh-out-loud funny, through the entire movie. Maybe it's just the stage of life I'm in, but I found the movie charming and hilarious. I did feel like the film was way shy on plot, though. It felt more like a stand-up routine than a fairy tale. Nonetheless, I found it thoroughly entertaining. While my wife also found it funny, she wasn't as taken with the movie as a whole, so maybe it's more of a guy thing. I give the film an A-.

Live Free Or Die Hard: as the fourth film in an already tired series, I had pretty low expectations. My wife is a huge Die Hard fan, though, so we had to go. Gotta say, it was good. It was extremely uncharacteristic for an action flick. There was plenty of gunfire and explosions, but there was also a very satisfying amount of character development. Even the tertiary character of the daughter was pretty well developed. The thing I love most about John McClane, Bruce Willis' character, is that he's as amazed that he pulls this stuff off as we are. It was a really fun movie; I give it an A.

Transformers: Any film that includes Hasbro in the title credits immediately takes itself out of the intellectual category. It was campy and had perhaps a little too much heart, but it was nonetheless enjoyable. Unfortunately, they skipped the character development of the transformers themselves; I guess they assumed everyone had read the backs of the toy boxes. On the other hand, the live character development was a little too after-to-school-special for my tastes. I'm going to have to give this film a split rating based on age category. 16 and under: A+. 17-30-ish: B+. Old: C-.

Monday Feb 26, 2007

Bridge to Boredom

In a fit of naïvety, my wife and I went to see Bridge to Terabithia this weekend. What a total bait and switch! I was expecting something on the order of Neverending Story, but what I got was After School Special: the Revenge. This movie had more in common with A River Runs Through It than with a fantasy story. Sadly, I realized how bad the movie was going to be just from hearing the opening title music. And I wasn't wrong. The script sucked. The acting was pretty bad. What effects there were were terrible. The story might have worked as a 30-minute made-for-tv special, but it fell flat on its face on the big screen. The only part that didn't suck was getting to see Zooey Dechanel again, and she was criminally underused. I understand that it's a kids' movie, but not even that is enough to excuse this film.

Avoid this movie if at all possible. If you have children who are dying to see it, liquor up before the show or send them in alone. The only other movie I've ever seen in the theater that was as sadistically unentertaining as this one was Coffee and Cigarettes. If I weren't an eternal optimist, I would have walked out, and for me that's a huge statement. I give this film a well-deserved F.

Monday Feb 12, 2007

El Laberinto del Fauno

Otherwise known in the US as Pan's Labyrinth. Interesting movie. I went to see it this weekend with my wife. My wife is not a fan of movies about how the bad times got worse, so she wasn't terribly enamored of the film. I, on the other hand, can appreciate a good wallow in misery now and again, and I liked the film quite a lot. I also would contest that it is ambiguously tragic. If you're the glass-half-full type, you might even be able to talk yourself into believing it had a happy ending. Kinda Piano-esque.

The film is about a young girl trapped in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. As a hobby, she escapes into the woods with a faun to perform quests to prove she's really a fairy princess. Don't let the cutsie synopsis fool you. The film was very effective at keeping me on the edge of my seat. Imagine Labyrinth meets The Ring.

The acting was excellent. The effects were excellent. The characters were engaging. The creatures were wonderfully imagined. The depth of the story was also excellent. There is a nice parallel between the girl's fantasy world and the real world she's escaping. I also really appreciated the ambiguity of the story. Was it happy or was it sad? The film offers no proof either way.

I actually found the film more than a little reminiscent of Nochoi Dozor, as both films deal with a hidden world and an unclear balance between good and evil. And, of course, they're both subtitled.

I give the movie an A. It was not life-altering, but I would definitely pay to see it again.

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