mishalak: Mishalak reading a colorful book. (Reading Now)
First off the rating of Beowulf from the evil empire (the MPAA) is wrong. They gave this film a PG-13 when it should have been rated 18+ for violence. Sensitive parents will be dismayed at how much sexual innuendo is in this film, but I really think that the primary reason children should be kept out is the violence. This film is inappropriate for teens without parents and completely inappropriate for children under the age of 12 with or without parents. Given the more idiotic than usual rating that this warning needed to come first to help get the word out to movie goers.

Do not expect family friendly fair you can go to with the kids. Additionally if you're the sort of person that hates seeing men literally torn to pieces this is not the movie for you.

Read more... )

Over all I recommend this movie to people who like action movies of an over the top variety particularly younger viewers who liked the battle sequences in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. It has, in a way, a similar feel to epic fantasy movies of the 1970s like Dragonslayer, though the lines were better.
 
mishalak: Mishalak reading a colorful book. (Reading Now)
"We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and read." -Anton Ego, food critic in Ratatouille

I like to think that I am not nearly so harsh as the wonderfully named critic Anton Ego, but his words about negative review and the safety of being a critic did strike a cord within me. It is very fun to write a negative review of something. Somehow the sharp turns of phrase just come out better when being cruel than when praising a work. In the thinking critic this is tempered by the knowledge that those being criticized are real human beings with feelings doing their jobs. So too are critics doing a job, one I suspect is minimally paid until one reaches the very apex of the profession where it will be a mere comfortable living with the certain knowledge that the great hordes of the public, and amateurs like myself, think we could do a better job than they do and will stop paying the minute they stop producing.

That said I am vastly disappointed in the quality of the criticism of Ratatouille. Where are the well turned phrases? Or the insightful commentary about the stereotypical vampire critic, Anton Ego? If you did not like a movie it is license to let loose with every sort of criticism rather than a bunch of milquetoast, and I dare say, cowardly weasel phrases about this being "the worst Pixar film in a decade". I know some will take this the wrong way and say I am advocating being needlessly or pointlessly cruel, trust that I know the difference and move on.

First off these egoists need to learn that just because something has been done before does not mean that doing it again is automatically bad. It makes it predictable to someone who has seen those previous movies but not everyone has. In addition predictable is not in of itself bad in entertainment that does not entirely dependent upon The Twist or mystery to engage its audience. It would be the height of conceit to think that just because a play has been staged very successfully before it should never be done again because it won't compare with the golden memories of that great night you had in your youth, so to it is the province of self centered myopics to think that movies should not be remade or ideas used again. Criticize on the grounds that the new twist on the old formula does not work and give reasons or compare it to something similar.

To continue teaching my grandmother to suck eggs, which really should not be necessarily but manifestly is given the weak little synopses given by the likes of Jason Ferguson of the Orlando Weekly, a commentary on not knowing who the movie is aimed at or other box office punditry is not a review. That sort of stuff should be left to marketing executives in departments of movie distributors rather than reviewer who allegedly are writing to an audience of ordinary people.

Finally with a movie a synopsis is not the same thing as a review. This can as easily be aimed at the positive reviews of Ratatouille as the negative ones. Over and over I saw the same facts that seemed to be rejuggled bits from a press packet about the movie. I know original writing is hard, but if your biggest problem is that the movie is not original then the critic had better be saying something original himself or he's no better than the hypocrite politician who partakes of vice while publicly excoriating it.

This movie is not the sort that most audience members or critics will come out saying that it was one of greatest ever made. It has a simple premise using one of the oldest what-ifs in the cartoon book, "What if rats/mice/rodents are more clever than they are in real life." Of course in real life this is ridiculous. The trick is to so engage a majority of viewers in so that they'll only think about such logical questions after the movie is over. Under difficult conditions of many children, including a crying baby in the same theater who's parents utter lack of concern for their fellow humans make me fear for civilization, the movie succeeded admirably with this viewer.

After the first few turns I was so sucked in that I only felt what the filmmaker intended, fearing for the life of the little gourmet, Remy. And now I must include another digression aimed at far too many other critics, gourmand is emphatically not the same thing as gourmet, buy a dictionary you illiterate word slingers, and back to the review. I saw only with the eyes of a child as I feared for his small life in a very big world full of dangerous things. It was so visually perfect that the artistry of the digital animation disappeared into the background completely. The makers of live action films should take note of this and learn that visual wizardry should not stand out, it is distracting from the story.

It is a movie in the tradition of Tom and Jerry cartoons or The Pink Panther. A lot of wacky and impossible things happen surrounded by an ordinary background. There is also a fair amount of physical comedy and pratfalls. But there is a lot of dialog between the rats or between the humans. I think this movie is most appropriate for children older than about age seven.

And Anton Ego is a wonderful and principled critic who is not merely a voice for hurt artists, but a fully formed and humble person who is aware that he is playing a role. I give this movie high praise (for me) in that I want to go see it again, preferably with a plan of eating a fine meal immediately afterwards.
 
mishalak: Mishalak with long hair and modified so as to look faded. (Faded Photo)
This is a movie that everyone's inner libertarian will enjoy. It is too bad for me that I stole my inner libertarian's gun and shot him years ago so that I could join the human race. But I'm going to have a very fun time reviewing this movie.

This movie has the perfect metaphor for a dream, a big rocket ship built in a barn. Well it is a perfect metaphor for the dream that the title character, Charles Farmer, has or the way that Hollywood writers or NBA stars think of reaching for dreams. Unlike an experimental fighter jets rockets cannot have ejection seats, just wouldn't work. Once lit the dream, er, rocket either goes up just fine or something goes wrong and anyone on board or possibly even nearby dies in the tragic accident. And that's exactly the sort of way that Charles Farmer goes for his dream through this whole movie.

It makes sense that Hollywood writers would think this was a good movie. After all they are living the dream. Each one of them is one of the few who made it into the lofty orbit of the movie system while so many of their comrades failed in their attempt to reach the heavens. So naturally they don't think about, "Well what would have happened if I didn't make it?" If Farmer was just a crazy single building a rocket out on his ranch and going bankrupt as a result of his overspending I probably would not react quite as negatively to this movie, but he has a family. And he has put everything at risk for the his dream, offered up all of their lives on the altar of the sacred dreamer, not just his own.

This movie is the epitome of the selfish, irresponsible idiot who believes in platitudes like, "It is important to reach for your dreams." A sane person who was unhappy with his life would not simultaneously try to keep the life he hates and putting it in hock for a joy ride. But he wants his joy ride in space more than anything and he doesn't even try to excuse it, as NASA does, by saying that he's doing science.

Through out the movie he says he never wanted to be a rancher, that was his father's dream. So why the hell is he doing this? Why not sell the ranch and take the money to start a new life working with Burt Rutan? For that matter this movie seems about three years too late. There already has been private space flight, a fact that the movie just ignores in favor of the tired old plot line of the big bad evil government standing in the way of private citizens. And there are a lot of other tired plot devices that are picked up and toyed with for a few minutes before being dropped without being resolved. The overprotective social worker after the children of the big dreamer she doesn't understand. The menacing government agents using whatever law they can to stop the hero. And, of course, the stupid hyperactive 'news' media.

Now for some physics criticisms and Spoilers )

In short I found this movie to be a big ol' pile of steaming clich├ęs and characters I hated. I recommend this movie to no one.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason with the text, "No, I think I'm happier mocking you than helping." (Mocks You)
You know I kept thinking that Batman Begins was just a temporary title that would eventually be replaced by something good by the time it came out. About three months ago I realized I was wrong and that was what they were sticking with. Likewise watching the movie the first third got my hopes up that they might tell an interesting tale full of subtlety and nuance that would be more than just a trailer on steroids. By the second round of overdone explosions I was getting bored and finally realized that this would not be the case. Batman Begins is just another summer blockbuster movie full of the required amounts of over the top explosions, corny dialogue, and guy doing anything to rescue the girl (even risk the lives of innocent bystanders in a way I thought most un-Batman like).

What was wrong with it was that there were no slow moments. This was one long popcorn moment to popcorn moment without a bit of rest for introspection or background along the way. I don't mind movies that don't explain and don't excuse what is going on, but this is something different. This is one long breathless action movie from start to finish without any of those little moments before the storm that make movies like The Professional or The Incredibles great. Either people will come back and wonder why they enjoyed it so much years ago and not now or else this is a sign that movies have been permanently kicked up another notch so that no one will want to bother with a single slow moment again and future generations will look back upon action movies like Die Hard and wonder why people of my generation like such slow movies. Also very bad in this movie was the complete lack of memorable lines or just plain good dialogue. It was all recycled Hollywood Zen Wisdom or else junk that makes sense in context but not alone. I can remember almost everything that was said in that movie, but I can't remember one good line. Merciful Zeus.

There were some good bits, of course. Even though I knew it was coming, being a Batman aficionado since I was about 14, I cried when Dr. Thomas Wayne and his wife, Martha, died. That I don't consider a spoiler as to not know that Bruce Wayne becomes Batman because his parents die one would have to be as unaware of common culture as the teens that don't know that the Titanic sank. More serious fans will immediately pick up on the big plot twist that is supposed to drive the latter part of the movie. Which I suppose could make one feel good and smugly in the know about what's going to happen next, but that didn't happen for me. It was an interesting origin story for the Batman yet it just was not working.

The computer-generated bits were well integrated, the whole movie was pretty (especially Mr. Bale's frequently bare abs), and I even liked the actual twist to the guy and girl thing that they did at the end. But I did not like this movie. I didn't even like it as well as the first Batman movie from way back in 1989. And that's saying something since as I've grown up I've grown to dislike it in a vague sort of way. No actual hate here, I'm just bored by the whole enterprise.

Of interest was the DC attempt to make a brand for itself like Marvel comics using a very similar opening credits motion trademark. Also interesting was the sort of origin story that was worked in as to where a number Gotham's colorful criminals could have come from, the evil experiments of Dr. Crane. And a nice little bit at the end alluding to the Batman's arch nemesis. And a kudos for having Batman fight terrorism without explicitly making it a movie with a message about terrorism.

Don't get me wrong. For what it is this is a good movie. I just didn't have fun at it.

What: Batman Begins
Available June 15th at your local Cineplex for around $10.
Who's if for: Summer blockbuster fans who like explosions and pretty much standard Hollywood movies with just a few twists to the standard plot, well within regulations on summer fare.
Who won't like it: Fans of Batman (except possibly the Frank Miller cultists), people who want more than superficial movies (snobs like me), and those who are annoyed by trite "deep meaningful lines".
Personally: Thumbs Down
 
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
Well it was only $9 at Costco and I knew what I was getting into, so I don't feel cheated. However I do want to warn any potential buyers of the recent Last Unicorn release in the US. The quality is very low as it was apparently taken from a videotape master that had already been reformatted for standard television aspect. Or in other words it is total crap and unless you get it very inexpensively it is not worth it at all. I suspect they did this because it is "only a children's movie", though given the production values of most releases these days I would wonder what child would be happy to watch this video quality item.

I think I shall write a calm and collected letter telling off Lion's Gate. I would have really enjoyed finally being able to see the full widescreen version of this movie and would have given them much positive ink had I gotten it.

If anyone somewhat nearby wants to see it and not spend the money I'll happy loan my disc out.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
After brunch Tim, Rose, and I went to see the Triplets of Bellville. It is a really excellent movie. The sheer zaniness of everything in it was nice, something I've missed like a Warner Bros. Cartoon for adults. I didn't even mind paying $8.50 for a ticket. I read one review that called the ending mundane in comparison with the wackiness of the rest of it. I wouldn't agree. Plenty of nonsense in the big chase scene.

Afterwards we went shopping up and down Broadway for a bit. I don't know why, but I got feeling really blue towards the end. I think I made the right choice in distancing myself from DASFA. I'm sick and tired of feeling like the only drumbeater. Maybe half of that is my fault for not reaching out enough to other club members. But whatever the case the July burnout has come upon me a lot earlier.

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mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
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