Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

Inception
29 April, 2012

Thanks to a friend who loaned me his copy on DVD, I finally saw Inception. I have previously written about how much I liked Batman Begins and how much I disliked The Dark Knight so I started the film with some reservations. Much to my surprise, I ended up really liking Inception.

However, one thing quite bothered me: the Sopranos-style evasion of an ending. Perhaps when I was at university I found such “is it or isn’t it?” positions appealing. I vaguely recall late nights spent discussing such things with passion. But it seems like a cheap trick. Since stories have endings, to some refusing to have an ending seems cleverly deconstructive. Rather, it implies the storyteller has run out of ideas, which is a shame since Nolan obviously has plenty of interesting ideas.

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Hugo
31 December, 2011

Hugo, based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret, is a fantastic film in both senses of the word.

Directed by Martin Scorcese, Hugo follows the titular character as he struggles to recover from the loss of his father. Asa Butterfield delivers an award-worthy performance as Hugo. In an odd yet successful casting, Borat plays the station inspector, adding a perfectly light dusting of humor. The costumes and set design deserve special note for their subtle touch. The clockworks of all sizes through the film impressed.

I recommend Hugo to those who enjoy imaginative, visually impressive films.

The Muppets
11 December, 2011

The Muppets is exactly what you would expect from a Muppet movie.

Jason Segel, who cowrote the script, serves mostly as the straight man for his Muppet brother and the others in the film. Amy Adams brings her scene-stealing appeal in an understated way. Because the stars of the film are obviously the Muppets. With a knowing wink to the audience, the plot borrows from previous Muppets features. But the charm of the film lies in the charm of the Muppets themselves.

If you love the Muppets, you’ll enjoy The Muppets. I, a bloke who discovered he is more of a Muppets fan than he thought, highly recommend it.

Runtime Error
17 July, 2011

My artist’s edition of Runtime Error, complete with a custom sketch, arrived. Huzzah!

I do not remember who originally introduced me to Not Invented Here so I do not know to whom to give thanks. (My best guess is that it was Dave Kellett of Sheldon.) But I have been reading Not Invented Here for some time now. It is one of the first comics I check every day. The artists’ hands-on experience in the software industry shines through every panel.

I heartily recommend Not Invented Here to anyone who likes comics and works or knows someone who works in software.

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.

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.

TRON: Legacy
26 December, 2010

TRON: Legacy does an admirable job of continuing the spirit of the original TRON. While it resonates with the nostalgia I felt for the original, this film may not work as well for those without it.

Jeff Bridges reprises his role in both his current age as well as digitally rejuvenated to 1982. The digital rejuvenation was seamless in the beginning of the film but I felt it fell down in the ending. Garrett Hedlund played the lead but I found his performance lacking in a Hayden Christensen kind of way. (I read the rumor that Chris Pine was considered for the role and think he would have been a much better choice.) Olivia Wilde gave an excellent performance as the love interest and Beau Garrett supplied a striking, sterile beauty. The visuals were, of course, stunning but their true accomplishment was in maintaining the essence of the original. Daft Punk provided a great score reminiscent of Remote Control Productions. The plot seemed more like a stunning-visuals-delivery-vehicle than in the original film, but the sense of fun kept that from being too big of a problem.

We inadvertently saw the movie in 3D. While the 3D technology has certainly improved (e.g., I didn’t get a headache) I didn’t find that it added much to the film.

I recommend this film to those who enjoyed the first film and those who enjoy stunning visuals and an epic score.

Tangled
5 December, 2010

Tangled quite possibly may have saved Disney Animation in its return to the magic of previous decades.

Tangled provides a delightful mix of comedy and drama. While I would not have thought of Zachary Levi for a musical, his voice acting and singing keep up with that of Mandy Moore and Donna Murphy, all of whose performances work very well. The animation is astounding, capturing the look of a painting and hand-drawn cels. As one would expect, the film has several catchy tunes. Even without knowing the story of Rapunzel, the plot would contain no surprises. Yet the delivery is fresh enough to avoid predictability.

If you love the classic Disney animated films, I highly recommend this film.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
17 July, 2010

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice provides a special-effects-laden break from the inclement summer weather. With only a callback to Fantasia as a connection to the eponymous character, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a big, loud, summer popcorn flick.

The plot felt a little loose to me but did its primary job of providing a framework for the special effects. Alfred Molina stole the show with his performance as the antagonist. Nicholas Cage surprised me in his role of the mentor, fitting it very well. Teresa Palmer had a believable prettiness that did not detract from the story. Jay Baruchel brought his trademark whingeing, which I don’t enjoy so much, to the role of the budding hero. The score from Trevor Rabin matched the film very well.

I recommend The Sorcerer’s Apprentice for those looking for a summer diversion for the kids.