Friday, November 30, 2012

ParaNorman - You Probably Won't Watch This Movie, But You Really Should

There is so much that I can say about ParaNorman. It was a movie that came and went from the theaters and didn't get the proper attention it really needed. There is a terrible plague of bullying lately in our school systems and in the cyber social networking sites that most if not all of us frequent. ParaNorman addresses bullying, but in a way that doesn't beat you over the head with it. It is first and foremost a well written, well voiced and awesomely produced movie.

The film centers on Norman, a young boy who can see dead people. One can argue that this is how Haley Joel Osment's character in Sixth Sense would've ended up like. The living dead rise from their graves and it's up to Norman and his friends to send them back. He is joined by his older sister Courtney, his fat friend Neil, Neil's jock brother Mitch, and the school bully Alvin. All of these characters are a sort of teen movie or horror movie trope, but ParaNorman has fun in presenting these cliched characters and turning them around on the audience. Case in point, one of these characters is openly gay and you will not see it coming. Trust me.

Interesting fact: The voice cast includes Anna Kendrick voicing Norman's sister and Norman himself is voice by Kodi Smit-McPhee. Both actors have been in vampire films in the past. Kendrick in Twilight and McPhee in Let Me In. No stranger to horror tropes there.

Again, there is a lot I can say about this movie. I can talk about mob mentality, audience expectations, the many many clever horror references that are littered throughout the film; but this article will just have to end here with my opinion on the film. What I admire most about ParaNorman is that it's a well crafted movie. It looks amazing and it is amazing. The fact that it addresses serious issues in a fun way is just icing on the cake. You will love this movie.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rise of the Guardians - A Fun Ride

When it comes to Dreamworks Animated Films, I don't really care much for them unless the name Shrek is attached to the title. In the case of Rise of the Guardians, "wow this movie is good."

Based off of William Joyce's book series The Guardians of Childhood, Rise takes what we know of these mythical icons and builds on them to create these heroic archetypes. In this world, Santa, The Easter Bunny, Sandman and Tooth Fairy are the Guardians of Childhood. The story centers on the addition of a new Guardian into their team, Jack Frost. Together, these Guardians battle The Boogeyman, Pitch (Jude Law) who has a vendetta against our heroes.

Rise of the Guardians tells it's story in a steady pace. We as an audience are allowed to really absorb ourselves into this fantasy world. Most importantly, we are allowed to really get a feel for these characters. The film's slow crawl and restraint is refreshing compared to the usual pop culture referenced jokes that have been littered in family films in the past. Not to say the film isn't a fun ride, because it truly is a fun ride.

And now.... our Childhood Guardians:

The Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher)
A very different look for the character. Usually envisioned as a very Glinda type, this Tooth Fairy looks and feels like she was plucked out of Pan's Labyrinth. (Pan's Guillermo del Toro Executive Produced Rise.)

A cute mute character that proves also to be the team's most valued member. 

Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman)
A much more heroic take on the character. He now has boomerangs and a fighter's attitude. He is still very much into painting eggs and hiding them for children to find. :-) 

Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin)
Santa is now tatted up and has a Russian accent, but he's still jolly St. Nick. 

Jack Frost (Chris Pine)
Oh dreamy Jack Frost. Being the new guy, throughout the film, we are learning about The Guardians and their world as he is.

Here's hoping for some sequels :-)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Things I got Black Friday 2012

This last Black Friday I got some pretty movies for ridiculously cheap. I also didn't have to face a horde of evil green people to get at them. I shopped on-line.

First up, the buys:

"Speed Racer"

I have never completed this, but I love the first few moments I saw. The film really recreates the look and feel of the show. It likens to the live action version of the anime classic Cutie Honey.

"Becoming Jane"

Anne Hathaway excells in her portrayal of original chick lit writer Jane Austen. Her personal story and struggle rivals that of her own books.

"Prometheus - 4 Disc"

Originally titled Aliens: The Engineers. The Alien Prequel/Stand Alone movie blu ray set claims to have 7 hours worth of bonus features. I am most looking forward to the 40 minutes worth of deleted footage.  This movie is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I put it up there with Fritz Lang's Metropolis. It's sitting comfortably right next to my Alien Anthology Blu Rays.

"Alien Anthology" 

I've always had a love for this film series. Maybe it's the design and look of the films combined with the awesome writing? Maybe it's the time and care that at least the first two had in it's production? I don't know. Either way, I got all 4 films, complete with special edition cuts and hella' bonus features.


The movie that freaked Disney Studios out because it was that good. The movie that opened up Fox Animation Studios. While producer Don Bluth's masterpiece will always be The Secret of NIHM, this film, like NIHM, will truly stand the test of time.

"Moulin Rouge"

And ahhhh what a classic in it's own right already. The story of love, fer realz. Set in early 1900's Paris and told through the music of our time.... kinda.

...And now the Warner Archives purchases. Warner Archives sells exclusive movies through their webpage that they produce on disc on demand. These classics were being sold for 10 DVDs for real cheap.

"The Phantom Tollbooth"

A long forgotten classical animated musical. I see this as male lead Wonderland story. 

"Heidi's Song"

A musical version of Heidi. This was the first instance of this story I experienced when I was really really young, and then I never heard of it again. Gladly, Warner Archives has it. :-)

"Flinstones: I Yabba Dabba Do"

Pebbles and Bam Bam finally get married. This animated telefilm is so grounded and real, and not to mention funny. Starring a pre-Will and Grace Megan Mullaly (Karen Walker) as the voice of Pebbles Flintsone.

"Flintstone: Hollyrock-A-Bye Baby"

Pebbles and Bam Bam finally get a pair of twin babies. If your husband is named Bam Bam, it's innevitable really.

"Rockin' with Judy Jetson"

The Jetsons appear in this pop musical that features around my personal favorite Jetson, Judy. The future apparently is so 80's and a must for those that hated Tiffani voicing Judy in the theatrical Jetsons movie.

Now, onto shopping for my loved ones ;-)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Wreck it Ralph - Nostalgic, Timeless and Current

Imagine the movie Tron if that computer based world that those characters resided in actually reflected what's been trending in video games. That's Wreck it Ralph. A world where video game characters travel from arcade machine to arcade machine and meet and greet at a grand central gaming station - a power strip.

The story revolves around Ralph. Ralph is a villain in a video game called Wreck it Ralph. The look and feel of the game seems to recall the original Donkey Kong arcade machine in which Donkey Kong would hurl barrels at Mario (before he became Super Mario). In Wreck it Ralph, the game within the movie, Ralph damages buildings as the Mario type hero, here called Fix it Felix, fixes the damage done to said building. Ralph however is tired of being the villain and decides to venture out of his console into Hero's Duty to prove he is a hero. Circumstances land him in the ultra cute world of Sugar Rush, a racing game that recalls the cute look of anime and the awesome world of Mario Kart. Katy Perry would feel at home in this candy decorated world.

 Directed by Richard Moore from The Simpsons and FuturamaWreck it Ralph does the uneasy task of creating a film that is nostalgic, timeless and current.

Part of the beauty of Wreck it Ralph has got to be it's various cameos of characters from established video game franchises. Repeat viewings of the film are almost necessary. The video game characters represented reference everything from Sonic the Hedgehog, to Pac Man. From Call of Duty (Hero's Duty here) to Racing Car Games old and new. From Resident Evil to Street Fighter. I especially loved the shot of Cammy and Chun-Li walking across the screen, supposedly hanging out at grand central gaming station.

The movie is enchanting and incredibly eye catching. The soundtrack reeks of 80's nostalgia and the story represented is very multi-layered. This one is defintely going to stand the test of time, as all Disney films should strive to do.