Category Archives: alvin and the chipmunks

Avatar

Avatar ~ Movie fans have waited a long time for a new film from writer/director James Cameron, and I’m sure many haven’t been disappointed with his newest reputedly $280 million offering Avatar.

This is a good movie, a really good movie, but I think the hype may have killed it for me. I had friends rave when they initially saw the trailer. I read much about the money spent and the effects process involved. I was impressed, yes, but I’m unsure if the product really lives up to the hype. Based on box office (phenomenal, but surely not as phenomenal as the producers might have expected, or wanted), I have to wonder if I’m alone.

The plot has Cameron taking a pseudo-political stance, and its preachy bits are one of the places where he loses me. The human race in 2154 is strip-mining the planet Pandora where the indigenous population is psychically linked to every living thing on their world. A paraplegic takes on the role of one of the genetically created inhabitants to live among them and learn more about them – and eventually leads them against the human oppressors. I’m not giving much away, as predictability is one thing Avatar excels in. That’s not bad though, there’s a lot that makes up for it.

Other nitpicks would be that the deus ex machina at the end is a literal deus ex machina, which is a bit of a letdown. I like to see characters triumph against impossible odds on their own – after all, that’s what makes them heroes. And the prayer scenes almost made me break out in laughter as I was reminded of old kaiju eiga – the way they were chanting I kept waiting for Mothra to show up.

It’s not all bad though, by no means at all really. Visually, Avatar is stunning. The special effects of having actors shine through their CGI forms is mind-boggling. Truly alien constructs display and react as the real actors would and look like their puppet masters flawlessly while maintaining their fantasy forms. The backgrounds like the floating islands are staggering. I wouldn’t recommend not seeing this film in IMAX or 3D – it must be seen in full effect.

This is an outstanding film, a definite must-see for the eye candy alone, but the battle sequences go on much too long and my eyes really started rolling when the it got preachy. It’s no Terminator or Aliens or even Titanic. I’m glad I saw it, but in hindsight, I wish I’d seen Sherlock Holmes Christmas night instead, or maybe even The Squeakquel.

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Squeakquel

Sweeney and the Chipmunks

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street ~ Now I loved the stage play, and the music and Angela Lansbury from that version so I had high expectations for this. And while I didn’t like it, it wasn’t for the reasons that all the other critics seemed to have. Even though I loved Ms. Lansbury, I really had no problem with Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett or her singing, or Johnny Depp’s for that matter. I thought they were just fine. The atmosphere, and the coloring (solidly Tim Burton) were just about on target and the opening is one of the best mood setters for a film I have seen in a long time. My problem is that Sondheim’s score, which is dark and vibrant, different and brilliant – all appears to be one long droning song in this thing, and one that almost never ends. I don’t know what Burton did to Sondheim’s work but it’s butchered in my opinion. The other main obstacle I see here is that Burton seemed content to make a Tim Burton version of the play, rather than what he was supposed to do – make a film version of the play. Props for atmosphere, but that’s about it.

Dark Harbor ~ This is another loser from the insomnia club on Fearnet. A couple picks up a stranger as they vacation at a deserted island cabin. Predictable and sad, and probably the only time I’ve seen a bad performance from Alan Rickman. One of the most boring films I’ve seen recently.

Alvin and the Chipmunks ~ This could have been such a disaster but it turned out to be quite entertaining. The flick puts an updated spin on the old story of songwriter meets rodents. Featuring elements to entice both adults and children, whether you know the characters or not, I loved this. Yeah, it’s a bit predictable, but in a fun way, as opposed to the movie above. Any movie with the same bad guy (comedian David Cross) as Pootie Tang gets a thumbs up from me, and Jason Lee is fun as David Seville – although he has officially lost his street cred as a skater with this flick. Sometimes you can never go home again. My highest recommendation – I may buy this when it comes out on DVD.

Next ~ Another Philip K. Dick adaptation, this one has Nicholas Cage doing his best Nicholas Cage imitation as a stage magician who can see two minutes into the future. Well done scifi with lots of twists. Worth seeing.

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