Viewed – 03 December 2012. Blu-ray
There was a time when in my humble opinion, Pixar animation could do no wrong. A near perfect run that included Toy Story, Monsters Inc, The Incredibles and Wall-E. Then we had Cars and Up that despite looking the part, seemed to lack that certain something. This latest offering seems to fall into the same camp … sadly.
Merida is a spunky princess in a Scottish clan, who has become an expert with a bow and arrow, but feels that her mother the queen’s insistence on an arranged marriage isn’t the destiny she wants for herself. Now on first impressions, I was swept up by the likable characters, gorgeous animation and a refreshing setting. However this turned into a very different movie than expected. We don’t get a story where our plucky heroine sets out on an adventure and proves herself against impossible odds to save the day. This is more a story of a mother and daughter, of witchcraft gone wrong and putting things right. It didn’t grab me like this sort of thing should, lacked any memorable gags, and the plot, I’m guessing influenced by Scottish mythology, seemed a bit all over the place. And why make her an expert in archery, and do nothing with it?
Like Up it had plenty of ideas, but they didn’t seem to gel when thrown together. Yes it all looks superb (especially the hair!), Merida is an enjoyable creation (voiced well by Kelly Macdonald), and Billy Connelly provides plenty of energy voicing Merida’s father. Yet for me it just didn’t win me over enough to instantly recommend.
Verdict: 3 /5
- Be BRAVE Like Merida: A BRAVE Blu-Ray DVD Review! (whisperedinspirations.com)
- Director Mark Andrews Discusses the Making of Brave (reellifewithjane.com)
Viewed – 03 January 2011 DVD
I’ll admit it. I can be a bit of a snob when it comes to some animated movies. At one stage when considering CGI-based animated fair, if wasn’t by Pixar (Toy Story, Monsters Inc), I would turn my nose up. Despicable Me proved me wrong however, and so … very late to this one, we have a movie set at the dawn of a very cold winter.
The first thing I noticed was how uninspiring the animation style was, with the characters and scenery all having a plastic-like look to them. Not the best first impressions, but then the story, that of a Sloth, a Sabre Tooth Tiger and a Mammoth who find a human boy and choose to take him back to his tribe, gradually began to pull me in. You see, the boy was taken from his tribe by his mother fleeing a Sabre Tooth Tiger attack, and when the Mammoth and co find him, the Sabre Tooth secretly plots to lead them into a trap. The Sloth was the comedy fodder here, and the different perils the group faced during their journey were certainly entertaining. Yet the movie’s gentle tone felt a touch too ‘safe’ for me, and it wasn’t exactly laugh-out-loud funny (unless you’re three). The plot also was nothing particularly different, but I did like how things came together at the end, with some nice twists.
As part of an ongoing franchise, I liked the characters and setting enough to want to check out the sequels … so that can’t be bad.
Verdict: 3 /5
This is the time of year when many of my viewing habits are of movies I missed out on seeing the previous year. You can expect reviews of some of the summer blockbusters and lesser known releases of 2010, amongst new cinema releases. This is one reason why an end of year top ten usually comprises of movies older than that year. Something that has been of much deliberation to me lately considering that originally I had placed 21 Grams as my movie of the year, then thought better of it considering its age. Yet that means classic movies such as The Sound Of Music will never qualify. But you must have rules or else such an end of year list will have no comparison to other people’s end of year lists.
Anyway I digress. In the coming months there are many movies I am looking forward to seeing, be it at the cinema or more than likely on Blu-ray. Of the movies that have got me most excited, Zack Snyder’s ballistic looking Sucker Punch is much-anticipated. Scantily clad babes with guns & samurai swords in a fantasy action adventure? Where do I sign? Also David Fincher’s adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is one of those movie’s that just can’t fail – especially with Fincher at the helm. Wes Craven returns with the unexpected but no less appreciated Scream 4, a franchise I recall loving to bits, and hell, aren’t we in need of a clever-ass slasher movie after all the countless remakes we’ve endured? Consider my seat booked. It also has to be said, the Harrison Ford / Daniel Craig vehicle Cowboys and Aliens looks heaps of fun, and with Iron Man director John Favreau at the helm, all the ingredients are in place.
Movies I’m less looking forward to but could be worth seeing none the less are Cars 2, which knowing Pixar will be entertaining and look the biz, and this time with a secret agent storyline, may well be more interesting than the fish out of water plot previously. Having not seen the last Pirates movie, At Worlds End I wont be rushing to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides until I have got myself up to date – but the trailer does look like it will be great entertainment. Also Kung Fu Panda 2 is fairly assured entertainment even if it’ll be on the back burner compared to a few of the other big hitters. Oh and the idea of Transformers: Dark of the Moon fills me with dread after the mostly abysmal last movie, but then again the first Transformers in my opinion was superb, so it could go either way.
To conclude though, 2011 looks like being a great year for the movie industry with some great looking stuff coming our way. Colour me excited!!
- Trent Reznor to score The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (guardian.co.uk)
- Director Gives Exclusive ‘Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ Films Details (huffingtonpost.com)
- 2011 Hollywood movie preview (sfgate.com)
- Kevin Smith Goes Fanboy For Zack Snyder’s ‘Superman’ Reboot (splashpage.mtv.com)
Viewed – 25 December 2010 Blu-ray
I feel I have been waiting to see this movie for a long time. Ever since I finished watching Toy Story 2, I was thirsty for more. That movie built so much on what the first, classic movie delivered, playing on jokes that worked so well the first time round, and introducing new characters like Jessie the cow girl to my already feverish adoration of Buzz & Woody. It also looked so much better. So the anticipation began, just what could they do with a third Toy Story? Oh the possibilities…
Viewed – 20 March 2010 Blu-ray
I would generally say you can’t go wrong with the movies from Disney animation house Pixar. The guys responsible for such gems as Toy Story, Monsters Inc and The Invincibles. Yet of course sometimes they can fall a little short, such as the over-long and not terribly interesting Cars. So how does this one shape up? The story follows an elderly man who decides to realise a lifelong dream of visiting South America, and escapes being dragged off to a retirement home by turning his house into a balloon powered flying blimp.
This admittedly bizarre premise is brought down to earth by a very human story of ambition and regret, of the things we always said we would do one day, but never get around to, and also about discovering that life has more to it than one hopeless dream. The character of Carl Fredrickson is a likable old rascal that carries the film, and you definitely believe in his story, even if it feels ultimately tragic. Also along for the ride is an adventure hungry boyscout called Russell who opens Carl’s eyes to other wonders along the way, like a hapless dog with a speaking collar and an endangered exotic bird being hunted by an old adventurer who bares more than a passing resemblance to Kirk Douglas. Granted, the story gets a little weak when it moves into action / adventure territory (shocking, I know), and I was more interested in Carl realising his dream than saving some bird, and the repeated gag of the talking dog wears thin very quickly. It’s a shame then that this one lacks some of the comedy of other Pixar movies, and can’t quite hold a candle to the brilliant Wall-E for unabashed ‘awww’ moments, but what it does is tell a fun story with some brilliant moments and likable characters, all wrapped up in Pixar’s unapologetic, gorgeous visuals – that excel in HD, not that you were expecting anything less.
Verdict: 3 /5