Frankenweenie – Review

I am a big fan of Tim Burton. He has one of the most recognizable visual styles of any director of the last 25 years. Of all the films he has directed the majority are adaptations from previous source material. My main problem with Tim Burton films is that a lot of them end up becoming the “Tim Burton version of blank”.  Off the top of my head Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and Corpse Bride are the only films that he has directed that are base on an original idea. Even though Frankenweenie is adapted from his 1984 short film, it is definitely what I want to see from Tim Burton. A Tim Burton idea brought to life before my eyes.

For those of you that are familiar with the original short film, you will definitely find value in this film. It is not merely a rehash of that short film that has been stretched out into a feature length film. One of the things that survived from the original short that surprised me was the fact that it was shot in black and white. I am not sure how many feature length black and white animated films that are out there, but it seemed like a pretty gutsy move to do this. I loved the black and white, but I am sure it swayed some younger viewers away from it.

Frankenweenie was a great film that harkened back to a time when Tim Burton would do original ideas and I hope that this is a trend that continues!

★ ★ ★½

Dredd – Review

It has been a while since I have reviewed a movie. So here comes the review for Dredd. Last month I saw The Expendables 2 and Total Recall and both of them reminded me of the character of Judge Dredd in one way or another, but they both reminded me that Hollywood is stuck in the past. Instead of doing an original adaptation, let’s rehash the same junk. Where as the former two movies feel like more of the same, Dredd tries to distance itself from its predecessor and does a good job of making you forget about Stallone all together.

The plot to Dredd is simple. Judge Dredd and his psychic rookie, Anderson, show up to a call at a large building full of gun-toting thugs and get locked inside. It’s essentially Die Hard, except Dredd does not sneak around through air ducts like John McClane. Instead, he stomps his way up “The Block” with guns a blazing.

I enjoyed Dredd way more than Judge Dredd. I think that it was very entertaining and I really liked Karl Urban’s performance. Because he wears the helmet the entire time, it is great to see him borrow from the Peter Weller school of acting when it comes to showing his emotions. You can see his brain working inside that gigantic helmet and he does it subtly.

I really enjoyed the performance by Olivia Thrilby as Anderson. I thought she did a great job as a Judge in training. She played it vulnerable, but not as if she never had Judge training. She was great.

Lena Headey was scary as the main villain, Ma Ma, but could have used a little more character development. They tell you that she is evil and wants to take over Mega-City 1, but you really don’t get any motivation why.

My only real issue with Dredd was that it felt a little anti-climactic. Essentially the whole movie is Dredd walking through hallways and getting into shootouts, so by the time he gets up to Ma Ma I expected more than what I got.

All in all it was a good movie. It definitely washed off the stink of the 1995 version. This version did two things  for me that were really positive. One, it made me want to watch a sequel and , Two, it made me want to pick up the comic books that the movies are based on.

★ ★ ★½

Brave – Review

Today I wrote this on Animation Fascination Podcast‘s facebook wall.

“I really wish Pixar would position itself back on top by doing something innovated and fresh. I really thought that they were going to do just that with Wall E, but after a brilliant 45min long silent film, it all came crashing down by turning into a film that catered to people with short attention spans. Wall E was like Pixar’s Fantasia but didn’t stick to it’s guns and the last half turned into a slapstick cartoon. Same goes for Up, but I can save that for another long winded post.

Brave was great! The story and action felt warranted. The third act felt natural. My only issue with Brave is that I feel like we have gotten to a point in CG animated films, where we cant top the previous film. Sure, the hair was a technological breakthrough, but as good as it looked I feel that these characters could have existed in How to Train Your Dragon or Tangled. Those are great films, but I feel like we have hit a road block when it comes to CG. La Luna was brilliant and what made it special was to challenge the audience with an artistic concept. THAT is what Pixar needs to do to get back on top. Challenge the artist and the audience. They need to make Art instead of sequels. Someone needs to shake things up. I think that Miyazaki needs to write and direct a Pixar film.”

After seeing Brave I had mentioned on Twitter that I enjoyed it more than Wall E and Up, which made someone ask how I would rank Pixar films. Here are the Pixar films in the order of my favorite to least favorite.

  1. Ratatouille
  2. The Incredibles
  3. Toy Story 2
  4. Toy Story
  5. Toy Story 3
  6. Cars
  7. Brave
  8. A Bug’s Life
  9. Monsters Inc.
  10. Finding Nemo
  11. Wall e
  12. Up
  13. (I have not seen Cars 2)

You are probably thinking that I am crazy, but if I were to pop in a Pixar movie right now, this is the order that I would choose.

I feel that Up and Wall e are incredibly overrated. They are good movies, but not great. I feel that with Up, there are a lot of rules set up at the beginning that are broken in the third act of the film. The Dog have collars that allow their barks to be translated into english. The dogs still act like dogs and the translators do not work that great, due to the out of date technology. In the last third of the movie, the animators that spent so much time animating realistic canine behavior are now asked to make the dogs pilot airplanes while wearing aviator helmets. Another thing that bothers me a lot is from the get go we learn that Carl is an old man who requires the aid of a cane to get around. By the third act we are supposed to believe that he has recaptured his youth during this adventure that he, not only does not require the cane, but is spry enough to use it as a zipline hook and as a martial arts weapon. I feel that the last third of Up abandons the story it is trying to tell and tries to become a crowd pleaser. I am not saying that Carl should just crumble under the pressure, but he should not be more agile than Jackie Chan.

Brave was a great and different story and I enjoyed it immensely. I hope that this is the beginning of a fresh new Pixar….well, after Monsters 2.

★ ★ ★ ★

LISTEN TO ME ON THE ANIMATION FASCINATION PODCAST HERE!

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Halloween 2011 – Morty

Morty Meatballs Halloween Costume


Morty Meatballs Costume Harvey Atkin

Morty Meatballs Halloween Costume

Here is my favorite scene from Meatballs, even though Morty is not in the outfit I wore.

Green Lantern Blu-Ray – Review

Green Lantern Blu Ray Review

Because Green Lantern didn’t make any money and WB didn’t want to spend any more advertising on it, you probably didn’t know that it was released last Friday on DVD and Blu-ray. Being a fan of the comic and the film, I did know about it and am very pleased with the result.

Green Lantern is not the best comic book adaptation, but I can say that the extended cut benefits greatly from the 9 minutes added to it. For those of you that have seen the film, you will not get any more Green Lantern stuff in the extended cut, but you will get some pretty important backstory that I felt gave the film more heart as well as established all the main characters better. You know how in the movie you see scenes where apparently Hector, Hal and Carol all knew each other as kids? Well in here you see that. You know how in the movie you are supposed to believe that Hal idolized his father growing up? Well in this cut you see that as well.

I have no idea why the film makers would take out these crucial character introductions, I assume they just  took out all the exposition so that they could get to Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern faster. The problem with the theatrical cut is that you get Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern faster, but you don’t care about his character and know little about him when he puts on the ring, so you lose any of the humanity from Hal. In the theatrical cut, you know he is a brash test pilot who doesn’t look before he leaps, but in this extended cut, you know why he is the way he is and he comes off as more sympathetic. Removing this from the theatrical cut was a big misstep.

Now lets talk about the extra features, most notably the Maximum Movie Mode! This is one of those picture in picture features that plays in the foreground as the film plays. What is great about this version is it is basically a camera crew following Geoff Johns (Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment & Current GL Mastermind) as he acts as your tour guide through the entire production of the Green Lantern film. He interviews art directors, costume designers, special effects supervisors, actors and more! Any diehard fan of Green Lantern knows that Geoff Johns may very well be THE biggest fan of the Green Lantern on the planet and this Maximum Movie mode shows that off perfectly. Watching the look on Goeff Johns’ face as all of the creative team talks about Green Lantern with such respect is worth watching this feature alone. Any fan would love to have access to what Geoff Johns had during the making of the film and it is a joy to go with him on this journey.

The very best part of the Maximum Movie Mode is watching Johns talking to Mark Strong as he is sitting in a makeup chair. Here you have the biggest Green Lantern fan on the planet talking to a well respected actor, who is in complete Sinestro makeup talking seriously about the Green Lantern mythos. Even though he doesn’t say it, you can tell that Geoff Johns is thinking, “Pinch me, I am dreaming”. It is really great for any GL fan.

In addition to the feature length Maximum Movie Mode, you get about an hour and a half of Green Lantern featurettes. Even though there are two Green Lantern animated films (Green Lantern:First Flight/Green Lantern:Emerald Knights) there was never really a proper documentary about Green Lantern comics. There is a great documentary on here that tackles the different eras of Green Lantern in comic books. From the Denny O’Neil & Neal Adams’ Green Lantern/Green Arrow run all the way to Geoff Johns’ Blackest Night, this is a great documentary that gives the uninitiated GL fan a basic breakdown of the history of Hal Jordan.

There are also several documentaries on the making of the film that are all wonderful. What is best about all of these featurettes is the fact that they are all in HD. In addition to the featurettes you get some cool deleted scenes from the movie as well as a ten minute preview of the Green Lantern Animated Series that comes out on 11/11/11 on Cartoon Network!

Everything about this set is great! From the extended cut to the features, I am sure that it will please all fans of the Green Lantern film and books. I hope that all the efforts that everyone made to get Green Lantern to the big screen will get the chance to make a sequel.

Extended Cut: ★ ★ ★ ★½

Special Features: ★ ★ ★ ★

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