When I first saw Avatar in the theaters, I experienced it the way it was supposed to be seen, in full-blown IMAX 3D. Seen that way, it was a visual and aural experience unlike any I’d had before or since in the movie theater. James Cameron had eschewed the usual 3-D gimmickry of objects seeming to fly over the audience’s heads, and used the tools at his disposal to create an all-encompassing fantasy environment that seemed real enough to touch.
Some people even reported feelings of depression after the movie because they preferred the alternate reality of the movie to their own. While I think such people were already in need of serious therapy and possible medication, I can understand how this movie, more than any other, would be the one to inspire that kind of “separation anxiety.”
As a visual spectacle, this film has thrown down an intimidating gauntlet that will be hard to top for the sheer exhilaration factor. Even “King of the World” Cameron himself might be feeling a little performance anxiety as he prepares Avatar 2, because even he might be hard-pressed to top his own creation.
Like its protagonist, Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) this movie can’t decide if it should mercilessly mock the idea of an Army unit researching psychic phenomena as an alternative to war or cheer for the collection of oddballs who threw their lives into the endeavor. Director Grant Heslov tries to have it both ways and comes close to pulling it off.
In the end, Guy Ritchies’ take on the Holmes mythos is a handsomely executed, entertaining action movie with a Victorian setting, but every time “Holmes” stepped on screen, I kept expecting him to strap on an iron suit and start fighting terrorists.
Almost since the days of Star Trek: The Next Generation in the mid-eighties, the powers that be at Paramount had been threatening to do a new Star Trek television series or film that would follow the hallowed characters of the original series through their early days at Starfleet Academy, sort of a Star Trek version of Muppet Babies. However, the idea of casting younger actors in the iconic roles of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy always seemed to carry the faint whiff of sacrilege, like a female pope or eating a cheeseburger with mayonnaise.
Invictus deals with two subjects alien to many Americans: African politics and rugby. After seeing it, I felt I understood just a bit more… about African politics. Rugby remains a complete mystery to me. It still seems like a bunch of drunk farm boys trying to steal someone’s chickens. I firmly believe it was invented in a courtroom to explain to a judge why the defendants had been chasing each other through the mud in their underwear.
What has always amazed me about the combined output of Pixar Animation is not just the consistent quality of the storytelling, but how different each film is from all the others. The Incredibles was as little like Cars as it was different from WALL-E. Disney’s traditional animation since The Little Mermaid, while often highly accomplished, has a certain sameness to it. With the exception of The Lion King, every film in that canon seems to have a heroine that resembles Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
Up continues Pixar’s proud tradition of breaking its own mold with a charming film that takes a touching story of an old man’s promise to his late wife and effortlessly combines it with a giddy child’s fantasy. Continue reading →