Archive for June, 2011

Cars 2
26 June, 2011

Cars 2 is a very different movie from the original Cars, and not in a good way.

Larry the Cable Guy gets top billing but the film seems to be more about Michael Caine‘s character than anything else. Owen Wilson again voices Lightning McQueen but every time he spoke it reminded me of his well-publicized personal troubles. Cars 2 embodies Pixar at its worst. While not nearly as anvilicious as WALL·E, it pushes the anti-oil agenda too hard, going so far as giving the line, “Once Big Oil, always Big Oil”, to the character least likely to say it. (The filmmakers appear unaware of the irony of such in a movie about gas- and diesel-burning vehicles.) Making the film fun to animate may have distracted from making the film fun to watch.

I recommend skipping Cars 2.

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Kung Fu Panda 2
26 June, 2011

I expected that I would dislike Kung Fu Panda but ended up liking it very much. Thus, I expected that I would like Kung Fu Panda 2 and I did, if maybe not quite as much as the first.

Jack Black reprises his role as Po, the eponymous Dragon Warrior. The Furious Five have a smaller role than in the previous film, with the story of Po’s parentage dominating. The animation is stunning. The comedy sequences, physical sequences, and physical comedy sequences spice things up but it is the story of Po, his father, and his adoption that provide the meat of the film. Of course, we stayed through the end credits to applaud Jason P. Weber.

I recommend Kung Fu Panda 2 for anyone who likes Kung Fu Panda.

Thor
26 June, 2011

Thor brings one of my favorite Marvel superheroes to the modern cinema. It reminded me of Iron Man in all the right kind of ways.

Despite being long for a superhero film, Thor maintains a nice pace. Chris Hemsworth, sporting the Marvel-standard-but-inaccurate blond hair and a disturbing amount of muscle mass, wields his dazzling smile as deftly as Mjölnir. Tom Middleton delivers a remarkable performance as the nominal villain. Among Thor’s sidekicks, Jaimie Alexander catches your eye and refuses to let go. Natalie Portman, who seems to be in every film this year, has a smaller role than the trailers imply. The production design and special effects teams make Earth and Asgard visually distinct. Thor includes the in-jokes and Stan Lee cameo that fans love.

I recommend Thor for anyone who likes the comic book character or Iron Man.

Games with Friends
25 June, 2011

As a Father’s Day gift, my family got me the deluxe edition of Illuminati. I fondly remember playing Illuminati with my cousins. (Could it really have been thirty years ago?!?) Unfortunately, I have not had the time to play yet due to the repercussions of events outside my control. Yet I still really want to play. Whereupon some might suggest that I schlep myself down to the local game store and start a game.

Therein lies the rub. I do not enjoy playing games with those who are not my family and friends. I can enjoy playing sports, which are kinds of games, with strangers, but not games. Role-playing games, board games, card games. You know: games. I assume that part of it is my general mistrust of anyone not in my Circle of Trust. Maybe it is because I know that as a player of games I am revealing myself in my gameplay and I feel uncomfortable revealing myself to strangers. Whatever the reason, I am just uncomfortable gaming with strangers.

X-Men: First Class
15 June, 2011

X-Men: First Class is the latest in the films about Marvel’s franchise, the X-Men. It works well as one in the series.

The first half of the film feels slow but the second half picks up suitably. The writing, direction, and Michael Fassbender‘s performance work together to show Magneto as more a tragic hero than moustache-twirling villain. But certainly the lasting impression has to be dozens of comely lasses parading about in bra and panties. I’m not sure what it had to do with the plot, but I didn’t close my eyes.

Those who appreciate women in lingerie as well as those who liked the previous X-Men films will probably like X-Men: First Class.