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A new type of princess.
Pixar has done nothing for me since Up. I’ve never understood why people like the Toy Story movies as much as they do and the less said about Cars 2 the better. Now in what is a landmark moment that should have come a decade ago, Pixar decided to make a movie about women. Not only is Merida (Kelly MacDonald) the first female protagonist in a Pixar movie, this is the first time a Pixar film has focused on an exclusively female relationship: that of mother and daughter. Though destined to be a Disney Princess (another first for Pixar, getting a character into that vaunted club), Merida is a new breed. Gone is the tacit assurance that finding love and getting married is the apex of womanly existence. You have to hand it to Pixar: when they join a club, they aim to change it. Maybe this is because Brenda Chapman, getting credit both as a writer and director on the project, is a woman. She was the first woman to direct a major animated feature for a Hollywood studio (The Prince of Egypt). So there’s a lot of new ground being broken by Brave behind the scenes.
In terms of quality, well, Brave is every bit as good as the typical Pixar movie. It’s got the same beating heart beneath the action and comedy, the same simple but completely human themes running through its somewhat fantastic story. Above all, it’s really about relationships between people and strong emotions expressed through clear, confident storytelling. This is another one of those cases where they make it look easy over there. It’s got a little The Little Mermaid mixed into its DNA and I don’t just say that because half the characters are gingers. There’s the same narrative of the rebellious young woman only this time, it’s her mother and not her father she’s rebelling against. Add in some colorful secondary characters, a magic spell, and some danger and you’ve got a solid formula that, while not groundbreaking, allows everything about Brave that is groundbreaking to breathe. Read the rest of this entry »
The line of dialogue with which I title this review is ironic, as I often try to be when using this gimmick. The reason why it’s ironic will be obvious to most people who see this movie. For those who haven’t (or, y’know, don’t get irony) the reason is that there’s nothing new about John Carter. The problems this raises are manifold. First there’s that the movie is based on a series of books written like 100 years ago by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the guy who created Tarzan. Those books influenced generations of science fiction writers and that influence has appeared on screen before. This makes John Carter familiar in a way that is perfectly manageable, and may even be a boon as it allows some room for a fresh spin that will appeal to modern audiences. But this was apparently not a priority for the Pixar alums, spear-headed by Andrew Stanton (his entire Pixar resume can be summed up as movies that are good stories told well, the opposite of what John Carter is), who made this movie. Unfortunately, there’s also the influence of the “me too” McEpics that are churned out year after year. John Carter has all the same problems that plague similar movies like Clash of the Titans, Prince of Persia, or last year’s abysmal Conan the Barbarian remake and thus the familiarity takes on another, even more damning dimension.
What the above amounts to is that John Carter is an exceptionally boring movie. You’ve seen all this before and the only difference now is that we’re supposed to believe this is Mars and that the Na’Vi are now green and have four arms. I have to respect that mileage will vary in regards to the tolerance people are going to have for this shit. I know most people will suck this same pablum up over and over and never demand anything fresh or exciting from their McEpics. Even when you can get them to acknowledge that this shit is derived from a misfire of the imagination, and will in turn negatively impact the imaginations of the audience, they just suck that shit down some more. It’s maddening. Still, this is an Evan McCoy review and I’m going to get into more specific reasons why John Carter is the first truly awful movie I’ve seen in 2012. Read the rest of this entry »
All right so all of the reviews for this movie kind of make it out to be le suck. It wasn’t so bad, though. It was fairly entertaining with a neat take on magic as a kind of special science accessible by people with different brains. Basically, if you have “the gift”, you can affect molecular physics and create magical effects. Various tricks have catchy names that would make good band titles, like “Persian Quickrug” or “Hungarian Mirror Trap”. It’s pretty fucking “poof, magic!” in the end, in spite of the lip service to science (probably a holdover from an earlier version of the script which took five people to write apparently).
I have to admit that one of the main reasons I’m bothering to blog about this, aside from that hilarious picture, is the line I’m using as a title for the post. I mean, Jay Baruchel lets out that zinger while hurling plasma bolts like he’s Vegeta or something. He does this ridiculous crossing of his arms over his body then arcing them to his sides filled with energy. It’s supposes to look badass I’m sure, but it just looks like he’s LARPing!
Anyway the movie. Monica Belucci is barely in it, Alfred Molina is kind of funny, Nicolas Cage is being fairly straight in a role that could use his trademark eccentricity, and the female lead is super duper bland. Jay Baruchel is self-deprecating and weaselly as usual and it works all right, but not as good as How to Train Your Dragon or She’s Out of My League. This guy is going to be seriously over-exposed and he just doesn’t have the staying power of Seth Rogen or Will Farrel. Or Jonah Hill or Michael Cera for that matter.
In spite of the dismissal of most critics, Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a harmless and fun family-friendly flick. It’s predictable but has some decent, quotable quips. It also has a pretty great scene where Jay makes music with a tesla coil. Something that silly is bound to be great, too bad he uses it to recreate the same song that plays three times in the movie. I won’t even tell you what song it is because fuck that song.