July 16, 2010

Let's start on a light note

Avatar the Last Airbender

Let me start by saying I’m a big fan of the series, it surprised me in many ways (namely the fact that it was made in America among others...there are still people who refuse to believe that). The series was complex, with fantastic visual elements, complex characters, interesting plots and much more to the point....it was fun. I was eager to watch new episodes, and I genuinely cared about the characters all of them

This unfortunately is not the case for the movie. I didn’t care about the controversial casting decisions and hell I was willing to give M. Night another chance. I even tried to shed my fanboy preconceptions and try to enjoy it for what it was, a movie.
From that aspect it was....alright. The visual effects were impressive and I’ve always had a soft spot for filmed martial arts. Even the story, while different from the source canon was alright, it was a new take on the classic. Now for the but.... The acting was blocky and wooden, it felt like the actors didn’t particularly care about the movie and they were simply going from scene to scene doing their lines. The mark of a great movie to me is when you forget the actors are in fact, actors...this is not such a movie. Now even that I could chalk up to several young actors who haven’t quite gotten their acting chops yet (though the Harry Potter series should show that shouldn’t be an issue). But the worst part of it...it didn’t have the same amount of fun. The same charm and humor that was found in the original.
Putting my fanboy cap back on I must ask, did you watch the show? Oh, and a final thing. It’s Aang (A-ng) Sokka (Sock-a) and Iroh (I-roh). NOT Ung Soe-ka and Uroh.... The mispronouncing of the names killed it for me more than anything



Despicable Me

Perhaps the reason why I judged the previous film so harshly was because I saw it during the same weekend as this movie. Despicable Me fills out my primary criteria for a movie... It’s fun. It’s full of charm, wit and action, and does have a lot of heart (for those who care about that). The film features Steve Carrell as Gru, the incompetent villain, three orphan girls, a shrink ray and a hoard of asexual minions, and a general good time.

Despicable Me fulfills the wonderful role that all kids movies should, being written on two levels. This movie can be enjoyed by little kids and adult (and those who are somewhere inbetween like me)There's a ton of physical humor, as well as some subtle bits that go over the heads of little kids (The Bank of EVIL is formerly named Lehman Brother's for instance)
I honestly have nothing bad to say about this movie, the animation was different and stylistic but still good, the plot made sense, and the girlfriend and I enjoyed it the whole way through. What that I would say of this movie is that it should’ve gone further, more jokes, more physical humor, just...well more of everything. As said however, I enjoyed it overall, I definitely recommend for people to see it and deepen Mr. Carrell’s pockets.

Grade: B +


The Sorcerer's Apprentice
I'm going to be honest with you, and it makes me feel dirty. I love Nicolas Cage. There, I said it. I'll take a shower to wipe away the shame later.
The fact that he's a giant nerd who's attracted to geeky movies does a great deal for me (the fact that Vin Diesel plays D&D may be the only reason I watch any of his movies). Getting rid of that though, this movie fulfills my primary requirements for a movie of this type to be passable.
It's fun.
The effects are wonderful, the scenery is fantastic and the plot does in fact make sense (albeit if you ignore all sorts of contradicting stories and mythology...but you have to for most disney movies).
Nick Cage I'm convinced always looks a little haggard...so makeup for him turning into Balthazar was likely easy. He was also playing the same person he plays in every disney movie, the quick thinking smart, dry, witty hero....with a touch of magic this time around. This isn't to say it's a bad thing however, as he plays the role well. Jay Baruchel as always plays the awkward teen who reminds me, frankly, a bit too much of my own high school years...but he invariably gets the girl. Baruchel's scene that's reminiscent of the Fantasia scene with the same name definitely steals the whole show. Alfred Molina as always plays a wonderful villain and may be the most interesting character in the whole movie. Teresa Palmer rounds out the cast as the obligatory love interest who actually DOES do something useful in the movie!!! Granted until that times she's at best eye candy, but still.
Don't get me wrong, there's plot holes a plenty, some deliciously awkward scenes and the villain does certainly hold the ball at certain points. And as with most Disney movies, they never really tries to push limits and of course all of the good guys are alive at the end...even when they make the quote 'ultimate sacrifice'. The movie ultimately sticks close to the time honored stereotypes, but does warp and play with them occassionally
Ultimately? The Sorcerer's Apprentice is a fun ride, it's just a ride we've been on before without any twists and turns to surprise you. I recommend seeing it, if not for full price then certainly at the dollar theatres, it's a fun two hours
Grade: B-
More science-y posts later

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