Archive for the ‘Animation’ Category


Wall•E ticket stub

The Movie Club met for WALL•E tonight – saw it on DLP (so worth it). We have been looking forward to this movie for over a year – since we’d seen the preview last summer, I think for Pirates 3. So I was worried the anticipation would ruin it because expectations would have been high. I was glad to find out little was ruined.

The animation and modeling were the best I have seen from Pixar, yet. A lot of it looked almost photo realistic. Except for the animated humans…they looked like all Pixar humans look like, so sometimes it felt a little strange to be seeing such detail in the robots and such simplistic renderings together in the same movie. Pixar is known for their detail. And this movie is no exception. With every scene, I learned something new about how Wall•E works. And I actually craved to know more about the other robots we saw and all of their little characteristics, but there’s only so much you can do. I really enjoyed the future Earth (over 800 years from now) and the little history you find out from all the piles of junk Wall•E sorts through. For this paragraph alone, it is worth seeing.

The character interaction was more than I expected. Pixar does a great job with dialogue, but as you’ve probably guessed by any previews you may have seen, Wall•E doesn’t have much for vocabulary. And yet, somehow they were able to make me giggle, almost non-stop at times with his “dialogue” and interactions with things/people/robots.

There were a few disappointments.

One of the things I love about Pixar is how they make a whole new world in (most of) their movies. Like Monsters, Inc, Cars, Finding Nemo. And they always take it to that next step. I wanted to learn more about Wall•E’s life on Earth. I wanted to learn more about what was going on in space. But they make up for it in Wall•E’s and friends’ character development. Unfortunately, I sometimes felt like Wall•E’s character development was so advanced, that we missed jokes and quirks. And that makes me think the younger audience it’s bound attract will miss even more. Which brings me to my next disappointment.

I felt as though the plot was pushing some agendas. An environmental agenda and a “keep yourself healthy” agenda. While I don’t necessarily disagree with the agenda, I do disagree with pushing it in a children’s movie.

The last thing I was slightly disappointed by was how slow the movie felt. While I was always fascinated by Wall•E and some other characters, the plot *was* slow and simple and the lack of *real* dialogue would make it extremely hard for a younger audience to interpret or pay attention to. This movie is best for upper-elementary school aged and above.

I’ve got to leave you with a happy note. It was a great movie and not at all a disappointment, worth seeing in the theaters. I give Wall•E a 4 out of 5 stars. And for the Mac users, there’s a few surprises for you.

Oh yeah, also, I *love* Pixar animated shorts.

Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs

On Tuesday we had friends Mike, Sonja, and Mike join us for The Movie Club meeting. We saw the new Futurama movie, The Beast with a Billion Backs, Miles had bought it on his way home from work the day it was released. It continues on the story from the last movie, Bender’s Big Score, so you’ll probably want to see that first, if possible. But at the same time, it adds very little depth to this movie, having seen the first. The movie was comparable to the last one – a little too long. While it had it’s funny parts, just like the TV shows, I was ready for it to be done before it was. Perhaps it’s because it’s been drilled into my mind that Futurama is a 30 minute show (with commercials) and my little mind couldn’t get past it. Though, it *did* seem to take about 45 minutes before the real plot unraveled. I had read the IMDB plot synopsis on it before watching it and for the first half of the movie I kept thinking, “Wow, that plot synopsis was way wrong”. And just when I was ready for it to be over, the plot started.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.  Though it seemed a little long, it was still funny and still held up to typical Futurama expectations. And for an added bonus, David Cross (‘s voice) is in it, so you can’t wrong there, right?! For Futurama lovers, it’s not as good as the first movie, but it’s worth buying. For occasional Futurama watchers, rent it. Or pirate it. They don’t care.

The Incredible Hulk

The Movie Club decided to see The Hulk on Friday. (This does not replace TMC’s Tuesday meeting.) We were invited, via Twitter , by a former L&S intern and friend of Miles’s (internet friend of mine), Mike Billeter . Since The Movie Club was going to see it anyway, we decided to attend. It’s probably best we saw it with him (and another L&S coworker, Wade) because he’s way into comics. At least, he has been since I’ve known him. (That’s a joke, he has been a comic nerd for much longer.) And he explained a lot of things and kind of gave the movie a bit more depth – though it really didn’t need it. We intended to see it at the Carmike because it has DLP and we’ve decided DLP is the best thing since sliced bread. Unfortunately, they were having technical problems with the hard drive (in the projector?) so we went to the more expensive (and cleaner) Century. We ended up standing in a line while waiting for the previous showing to clear out and have the theater clean. The only other movie I’ve had to wait in a line for was Pirates of the Caribbean 2 . Nice. Turns out, DLP is a lot better than I thought. You probably wouldn’t notice unless you have something to compare it to, but if you ever go to see a movie, especially action, and you have the choice to see it in a DLP theater (and the showtimes are similar) then always always ALWAYS choose the DLP theater. That’s my blurb on that.

Ticket Stub The opening titles is a very vague sequence that I assume is intended to give back story and catch people up as to where we’re at in the story. For me, it was uber-confusing. Luckily, my questions from what was going on in the sequence were each answered at some point in the movie. I think it’s safe to say that overall, I would have been better off if I knew anything about the comics. In any case, it wasn’t what I would call an action movie. While there *was* "violence", it certainly wasn’t focused on that and that’s what makes these movies interesting. The plot, was really good – which I didn’t expect to be the case, and I was often pleasantly surprised by the turn of events throughout the story. Marvel Studios has their finger on something here and I know Miles and I plan to attend all future Marvel Studios productions. They’ve done a really great job of setting up for future movies and future characters.

The acting was excellent. Edward Norton (playing Bruce Banner/Hulk) was an excellent choice. He seemed so perfect, to a non-comic enthusiast, because he was this small unassuming man, who looks like he can’t hurt a fly. Even to the point right before he transforms, he’s in this very calm state and it was really great to watch him work. Such a different front-man from the former Hulk, Lou Ferrigno who made a special appearance in this movie. (I was proud of myself for recognizing him before Miles. I give thanks to King of Queens for that catch.) While looking up how to spell his name on IMDB , I found he also played the voice of the Hulk. Which reminds me, I wish the Hulks were entirely non-verbal, though Miles did convince me as to why they might conceivably have the dialogue going. I also was a fan of the segmented flashbacks Bruce experiences after transforming back to his normal self.

Liv Tyler did a great job with her character, Betty Ross. I don’t know if this is what she always looks like, but it she often looked like she was on the verge of tears and had chapped lips. I’m not complaining, I liked it, whether intended or not. It gave her sort of a innocence that most 30-something people don’t have. Also, the romance between Ross and Banner was cute, not "sexy" as portrayed in the trailers, which I found to be very refreshing. I enjoyed several scenes between the two characters.

The visual effects could have been better in my opinion. My biggest complaint is that when any of the animated objects (non-human and non-Hulk) were on screen, it looked like video game quality. The Hulks were probably as realistic looking as technology allows right now, but I *know* photo realistic animated helicopters exist in other movies and so I wish they had been better quality. Part of the movie is set in a city in Brazil, which was especially neat, not just because visually the shots of the city were amazing, but because
my sister will be going there in a month and so it made me all jealous inside. I hope she gets to run on rooftops like Edward Norton.

Even though some commercials for the movie are saying "Just as good as Iron Man ", but don’t be fooled, this movie is not "just as good" – see my star rating on both posts for proof! But it’s at a similar level. You can’t compare the two fairly, because the characters are so different, resulting in movies that are entirely different. Tony Stark chooses to become a superhero. And he’s got cool hardware because he’s rich so there’s a lot more things going on that really wouldn’t make sense to do similar things in this movie. Plus Tony Stark’s personality is just fun to observe. Bruce Banner is a different character with different struggles and his flashiness is very minimal if at all, right down to his laptop computer. But his story is just as interesting. He’s more in torment than enjoying himself because what he’s experiencing he didn’t choose.

Overall, if you saw Iron Man , you’ll want to see The Incredible Hulk . If you want to see any future Marvel Studios movies ever made, you’ll want to see both.

I give The Incredible Hulk a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Chronicles of Narnia Prince Caspian

This week The Movie Club met for Prince Caspian. Again, as someone who doesn’t know anything because I haven’t read the books, I thought it was a great movie! I really didn’t remember anything about the first movie. In fact, I only remembered there being three children: Peter, Susan, and Lucy. When this other boy (Edward) went to Narnia with the other Pevensie children, I started getting curious. I whispered several times to Miles, “Who is that other kid?” Of course, this thoroughly confused him and I didn’t get an answer until I figured it out for myself. Disregarding my idiocy, this nearly three-hour movie is worth the time. Never once did I find myself wondering “I wonder if we’re half-way yet…”

Ticket stub from Prince Caspian The characters were well-developed and even though the actors had three years to get taller, grow facial hair, etc., they genuinely seemed to only be about a year older. Neither they nor Prince Caspian, however, were what impressed me most. It was the Narnians. The animation and modeling of these characters was strong and believable. The two I was most impressed by were the centaurs and minotaurs. The centaurs walked and galloped in life-like ways. The area where the man becomes the animal really looks smooth and makes sense. The minotaurs are almost overwhelming with their strength, height, and other physical features. They look powerful and definitely lead the way in the battles.

The battles. Oh, the battles! They were COOL. Set aside the fact that they don’t show anything gory (cutting to a new angle right before someone slices a soldier’s neck, no “gross” sound effects), these battles are really neat to watch. They’ve got a few tricks up their sleeves and that makes these scenes even more exciting.  I give this a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

If you’ve seen the first one and even only sort of enjoyed it, this is recommended for you. “For Aslan!”

Iron Man – Speed Racer

Miles and I started The Movie Club. There are only two members and we intend to keep it that way. Every week, we will see a new movie. If there are none in the theater we’re even slightly interested in, we’ll rent. Miles was voted in as President, but the VP can overrule any decisions – as well as overthrow the President. Any “review” I do of the movies shouldn’t be much of a spoiler. Certainly not of important things. But if you want to see the movies first and make up your mind, you may want to skip my reviews until then.

Iron Man ticket stub Last week, we saw Iron Man. I will be the first to admit that I was skeptical. The trailer looked decent, but I knew nothing of the Iron Man / Tony Stark character, nor cared about him. I only went because my husband wanted to. It was amazing. Robert Downing, Jr. (and his humor) really made Tony Stark likable and made you want to root for him. I think if he had been more conceded or arrogant, I wouldn’t like him as a superhero – but maybe that’s the kind of guy Stark was in the comics. I’m not sure. The seamless integration of photo realistic effects was really quite impressive. The computer in his helmet (and home) was believable as an intelligent type of technology, as well as the robotic “characters” in Stark’s shop. The story was not only believable, they made it applicable to current culture and events – even though the story was conceived a few decades ago. The interaction between Pepper and Tony was entertaining and well executed. Gwenyth Paltrow did a great job walking the line between being enchanted by Stark’s charm and putting him in his place. So not only were the effects amazing and believable, so was the story. And the music. It fit in so perfectly, you wouldn’t even know, until you heard it, that the Iron Man theme didn’t actually play until the credits. And then there’s a little extra for those who are respectful enough to read the credits. All in all, it’s in my top two superhero movies released to date. Maybe number one, but that decision is too close to call.

Speed Racer ticket stub Tonight we saw Speed Racer on DLP. I was also skeptical of this movie. Mostly because I was afraid I’d have seizures from all the fast-moving colors. Let me just say that I knew in the first thirty seconds that I was disappointed. The extreme contrast between the brightly colored animation and the low-lit practical shots was just as disturbing as looking at a poorly super-imposed image. The shadows on the actors’ faces didn’t make sense and really looked flat when composited in with the effects. The parts where the style looked decent were when no practical shots were used – mostly when there was a wide-angle shot or very fast motion blurs. If the whole movie had been done with the effects, I maybe would have liked it. Maybe it would have even been forward-thinking. Either the technology isn’t up to speed enough to pull off this style, they didn’t put enough time and thought into executing it, or this style will never make it in the movie world. The only scene I enjoyed in this movie was when Speed Racer was sitting in the locker room at the beginning of the movie. There, and only there, did I feel that the “look” worked. And I don’t think there were any effects on those shots. One positive result of the movie is that Matthew Fox was in it as Racer X and seeing him sent my mind off to distant and beautiful lands of LOST theories and wonderment of the upcoming finale episodes. *ahhh*

All of this being said, I don’t know much about Speed Racer the character or show, and so maybe this style makes sense for keeping in line with it. But I know enough about anime to know that it probably doesn’t keep in line with it. And if it does, I still didn’t like the style. I did, however, enjoy reading Miles’s twitters about the movie. See them here. Also, the DLP might have been good but it’s hard to tell with a movie you can’t enjoy.

I hear Tony Stark will be making an appearance in The Hulk this summer, with Edward Norton, and you can bet your bottoms The Movie Club will be in attendance. A sequel to Iron Man has been announced for a release date of April 30, 2010.

I give Iron Man a 5 out of 5 stars and Speed Racer a 2.5 out of 5 stars.