Showing 1 - 7 of 7 Reviews
Posted on 4/17/11 03:16 AM
It's stunning that currently 85% of audiences love this movie and applaud it's message of personal achievement but seem to forget a couple of things that are central to the story. The first is that the main message of the book and movie is the danger of the government increasingly asserting control over all industry as it did with Taggart Transcontinental.
These audiences apparently are blind to the fact that in our country the exact opposite is happening. Corporations are in direct and almost complete control of our government and thanks to "Citizen's United", our highest Court. Where is the outcry over that?
Then you have Ayn Rands own thoughts "exploring the consequences when the "men of the mind" go on strike, refusing to allow their inventions, art, business leadership, scientific research, or new ideas to be taken from them by the government or by the rest of the world."
Yet these same audiences are all too happy to let the party they support destroy the institutions that keep "men of the mind" funded in inventions (R&D), art, and scientific research and instead drain all the money to the corporations that Ayn Rand was so worried about the government suppressing.
No worries Ms. Rand, your loyal followers have ensured that not only will government never oppress business but that we will simply supplant government with business. Welcome to the Corporate States of America and we are all its underpaid, non-union workers.
Good job you idiots.
Posted on 11/16/10 11:19 PM
The Last Airbender is visually impressive. The Air Temples are wonderfully imagined and portrayed. The set pieces, CGI and model work are similarly well done.
The costuming is impeccable and well adapted from the animated styles. The clothing of each nation has been masterfully recreated from the cartoon images while making subtle improvements in coloring and texture. The visual effects are in full view and every dollar is clearly there on the screen.
The score is perhaps the best part of this movie. Each scene is enhanced by the music and every turn of the plot is perfectly aligned by themes that are reminiscent of the TV shows soundtrack without being an exact copy.
So why the two star rating?
Well much has been made of the films smothering exposition, but I think some of it was necessary. Even the much maligned narration was kept at a minimum in my opinion.
The acting is below sub-par but with the exception of Noah Ringer and maybe Nicola Peltz, the actors in this film all have modest to very good resumes. While some of them need more experience to hone their skills I don't think any of them have been labeled "bad" actors for their work.
All the elements of a huge success were here:
1. The studio was supportive.
2. The special effects teams are top of the line and respected across the industry.
3. The modeling and CGI were also handled by the best in the business.
4. The costuming and set pieces were extremely well adapted from the TV show.
5. The soundtrack is masterful and also well adapted to the shows style and mood.
6. The actors represent a broad spectrum of talent from just starting to well-seasoned.
7. The source material is possibly the most consistently well written and produced kids cartoon made in this country.
That only leaves the writing and directing and they have one thing in common: M. Night Shyamalan.
But if I criticize his writing then how do I explain the crisp, efficient and deft writing of The Sixth Sense or Signs or even Unbreakable. How could he possible have gone wrong with such strong source material as ATLA?
Perhaps he's only able to write well if it's his own idea. Maybe he simply doesn't possess any talent for adaptation. But then how do I explain the mess of Lady in the Water or The Happening.
No, this is purely a fault in directing my friends. MNS managed to take a project that was almost idiot-proof and single-handedly brought the entire production to its knees and shot it in the head.
Every scene looks as if it were the first or second take; completely unpolished and almost like a first reading. This isn't the first time we've seen MNS do this. Look what he did to Mark Wahlberg in The Happening. This is the same actor that was in The Departed and Four Brothers and The Italian Job. Did Mark Wahlberg suddenly become a bad actor?
This is the directors fault.
Another tell-tale sign of single takes were the painful reaction lags between lines of dialogue.
When you've done several takes of a scene, those lags disappear and the scene becomes more natural, but it seems MNS either doesn't have time for that or is suffering from some sort of directing Asberger's Syndrome where he just doesn't "get" timing or natural interaction between characters.
This disaster is entirely about directing.
But the final rotting cherry on top of this mess was the changing of name pronunciations. I really don't care if the proper pronunciations were being accurately represented - and neither do the fans or the audience.
Aang is pronounced Ay-ng not Ong. Everyone gets that but you Mr. Shyamalan. Furthermore Sokka is prounounced Sock-a not Soak-a.
Your pretentious attempt to correct us ignorant foreigners is offensive especially considering that from the very beginning to the very end of this series the creators of the show had everyone world-wide pronounce them the way we all know them. You had no right to change such a fundamental part of this story - no matter what your intentions.
Every time I found myself almost enjoying the movie a little, those names come up and were like a slap across the face.
It was embarrassing and infuriating.
There's only one director in Hollywood that we let get away with stupid character names and that's George Lucas - but at least he knows how to direct.
Posted on 3/29/10 12:49 AM
After all the mediocre animated films that have come out in the past couple of years (with the exception of such treats as Up and Wall-E) there's a refreshing purity to How To Train Your Dragon.
Not only does Dragon bypass stupid fart jokes and pratfalls in favor of a more genuine kind of humor, but it has enough confidence in itself to not be topical. You won't find any forced and tired pop-culture references here.
How To Train Your Dragon is set in the mythical world of big, beefy Vikings and wild dragons of every type. Based on the book by Cressida Cowell, this movie tells the story of Hiccup, a Viking teenager who doesn't fit in with his people's tradition of heroic dragon slayers. Hiccup's uncanny ability to invent devices and tools becomes his only hope of fitting in, but his world is rocked when one of his inventions wounds a legendary dragon. Believing he's made his first kill, Hiccup sets off to find the body only to discover that the wounded dragon is still alive. What he does then challenges both him and his fellow Vikings to see the world from a different point of view. Together, Hiccup and Toothless (the wounded dragon) begin a relationship that will change both of their worlds forever.
Some have commented that Toothless is reminiscent of Disney's Stitch character and while Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders are the creators of Lilo & Stitch - I really don't think this was their intention.
If you look at a side by side comparison I sort of see what they mean. But the elements that make them similar are also universal constants when it comes to making a creature cute and appealing, i.e. large, dark eyes and a big roundish head. Other than some shape similarities and maybe his teeth, Toothless is a unique creation -- and a lovable one.
There are times when Dragon reminded me of Lilo & Stitch but I was also reminded of E.T. and Kung Fu Panda and Black Beauty - and more than once - Avatar.
What's important to remember is that I thought of these things after I saw the movie - because while I watched, I thought of nothing else.
How To Train Your Dragon has real moments of heart and emotion with a surprising level of depth.
There's a scene when Hiccup gets close to Toothless for the first time and you can see him fighting every instinct he has to run away in fear but instead he puts out his hand - not knowing what will happen.
You feel how conflicted he is but then there's this profound realization that Toothless is just as conflicted but in a more black and white, child-like way.
It's an incredibly effective and emotional scene.
If I had to change anything about Dragon it would be more addition than subtraction.
I would have liked to have a deeper understanding of the dragon's inter-relationships, and I would have liked a clearer understanding of the history between Vikings and Dragons. I also felt that the final act was a little rushed and would not have minded it being a bit longer.
Even though I cringed at some of the awkward moments between Hiccup and his father, I thought they could have pushed the conflict a little harder for greater impact. But I also recognize that could have been too much for the younger ones in the audience.
I won't say Dragon is a "perfect" movie but it belongs among the ranks of Up and Wall-E and easily outshines both in terms of adventure and heart. The flying scenes alone are as euphoric and mesmerizing as Avatar and the emotional sophistication will surprise and delight you.
About halfway through How To Train Your Dragon I discovered that I trusted this movie to not screw up. It's sad but all too often I've sat in a film that seemed to be doing everything right, only to have it come crashing down in the final act.
I'm sure many of you are familiar with that nagging sensation that the wonderful film you're watching is about to blow it at any minute and crush all your hopes for it.
All too often - we're right.
I know I'll see Dragon again but while I'd like to see it in 2D to concentrate more on the story, I'm loathe to deprive myself of the joyful flying scenes in all their 3D magic.
More than anything else I found myself lost in the moment and remembering what it felt like to be a kid.
It's stories like this that made me fall in love with movies as a kid, and I haven't been able to say that in a while.
Posted on 12/20/09 01:40 AM
I feel bad for professional reviewers when movies like this come out. No, I'm not being sarcastic.
The original Alvin and the Chipmunks chugged it's way to a final rating of 27% yet every kid I know loved it and a disturbing number of adults bought the soundtrack.
It made buckets of cash and that's my point. This one will no doubt do the same thing but it's not the job of a professional reviewer to consider the success of a movie as much as it is to review it's merits as a film. So they kind of have to be honest when rating a movie such as this.
Sadly, I'll be there on opening day because I have a kid that really wants to see it. More sadly I'll most likely find myself tapping to the musical numbers even as I'm fashioning a weapon out of my straw and mini-M&M's tube so I can kill myself.
Posted on 12/20/09 01:04 AM
Like many people I went into this movie with low expectations due to the uneven pace and loose plotting of Da Vinci Code.
My first pleasant surprise was that Tom Hanks' hair seems to have settled down for this one. The second surprise was how much tighter and well written this one was.
I know that many thought it didn't have enough action but I really never noticed.
I've always liked it when a story unfolds for those on the screen at the same pace as it does for the audience. Too many of the newer movies telegraph every single plot point or twist to the point that you get bored waiting for what you know is about to happen.
I think many viewers have become impatient because of this conditioning and don't have any tolerance for dialogue moving the story forward rather than more action scenes.
This is fine for movies like Taken because that's what the story is about but Angels & Demons is a mystery/thriller.
I actually like it when they're sitting in a library talking about the possibilities and discovering what comes next.
I had read this book a long time ago and had forgotten many of the major plot points including the wonderful surprise at the end.
As I've mentioned in my profile, I have no interest in laying out a movies plot when I review it - only in giving my impressions of whether or not I thought it was good and why.
I really enjoyed this movie. The only reason it's not higher than 90% is due to the shaky science. The acting, script, pace and plotting get high marks.
Posted on 12/18/09 10:44 PM
Decided at the last minute to see the midnight showing on Thursday so I went online and booked my ticket at the local IMAX here in San Antonio.
Imagine my surprise when I got to the theater only to find that the 3D showing I booked was standard screen in "RealD" format and NOT IMAX 3D!
I couldn't wait so I saw it anyway. At first I was middle section on left side but for some reason the 3D effect was distorted making the far away objects look closer than the objects that were supposed to be close. This really screwed things up at first. Not the only one that noticed btw.
Ended up moving a little closer up, but to the right of the screen and for some reason that cleared things up. Anyway it was just okay compared to other "RealD" movies I've seen (UP, Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons, etc.)
The movie itself was wonderfully enjoyable. All the criticism of bad acting or cliche dialogue is overblown. There were very few scenes or lines that sounded either old or contrived.
If this were my only viewing I would give it three to three and a half stars out of four.
Ok, here's the kicker people - the next day we scored tickets to the actual IMAX 3D viewing... The difference is absolutely compelling!
Under NO circumstances should your first viewing be anything other than IMAX 3D!!! There is a huge difference.
The levels of depth are incredible for a live-action movie. At one point I had to go pee and actually stumbled due to being disoriented! Another guy was there too and we both saw what the other was experiencing and laughed because it was so damn cool!
My rating is now 3.5 to 4 stars out of four. The only reason I hold back from a solid 4 is that the storyline is not really original in any way other than the circumstances.
Don't misunderstand me though - this is solid storytelling and the drama is very compelling - I just kept getting the feeling that Cameron was holding back and that if he really wanted to he could have had me sobbing like a baby.
He didn't though, hence my reluctance to give it a solid 4. I'm very interested to see if there will be a directors cut on Blu-ray. Cameron is very well known for releasing directors cuts that significantly enhance his movies. I suspect that will be the case here too.
Finally, for those that are comparing this to Dances With Wolves meets Ferngully or whatever - please understand that Mr. Cameron has put this together with a subtle hand. There are nods here and there to other movies and themes - most notably native Americans - but make no mistake this is a different story.
While those stories had overtones of spirituality and mysticism, Avatar is a unique take on the theme in that it acknowledges science as being a part of the mystery. This is not just supernatural and it's not just science - it's a recognition that the two co-exist and like it or not, those are the terms that we must adjust to.
Posted on 12/16/09 11:49 PM
Every time I watch a Tim Burton movie I get the feeling we live in very close, but very different universes. They always feel "off" to me. I understand quirky and I like quirky, but his movies just feel weird to me.
The other thing that makes me apprehensive about this is the sheer theatrics of the look. That's not by itself a bad thing I'm just saying that even though this is a movie, it seems more like a stage production.
I'm probably way off because his movies generally do better than I would expect so I'm pretty sure these feelings I have are mine alone.
Having said all that I have to say that N.B.C. was sheer genius. I don't think anyone in a hundred years would have thought to tell a story about Halloween meeting Christmas. By itself that would be impressive but he also pulls it off with great storytelling and a surprisingly happy ending.
Good luck TB, hope this is a success for you.