While Pixar is still the gold standard for computer animated films, Dreamworks Animation has slowly but assuredly been closing the gap with offerings like Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon. And while their latest offering The Croods isn’t quite as much fun as How To Train Your Dragon, it’s still a solid, entertaining, fun animated movie that the the kids will adore and that adults won’t feel like their being forced to sit through.
In pre-historic times, the Crood family has stayed alive thanks to Grug’s (a well voice-cast Nicholas Cage) philosophy that they should fear everything and that danger lurks around every corner. The family spends much of their time hiding out in their cave, venturing out only to find food every once in a while. For the most part, the family is willing to go along with Grug, since many of the stories he relates about the outside world end up with various parties dying. That is, except for his teenage daughter Eep (voiced by Emma Stone), who believes there’s more to the world than hiding in the cave and barely getting by.
One night, Eep sneaks out of the family cave and meets Guy, a boy who has the secret of fire and warns her that the world as they know it is coming to an end. Eventually Guy is forced to take not only Eep but the entire Crood family with him on a trek to find higher ground and survive. Of course, this sets up an inevitable conflict of leadership styles between Guy and Grug, most of which are effectively played for genuine laughs.
For thirty years, Ralph has been the adversary in the classic hit video-game Fix It Felix. Lonely and in search of a friend, Ralph is told by his fellow game inhabitants and several other classic video game villains that he’ll never be more than the bad guy. Determined to me more than his programming, Ralph leaves the game in search of a gold medal that he believes will win him the friendship and respect of his fellow game inhabitants.
By going “turbo” (invading other games in the arcade), Ralph achieves his goal of getting a medal in one game, only to lose it in the brightly colored racing game, Sugar Rush to “glitch” Venellope. Ralph and Venellope hatch a plan to help her win the race and get his medal back.
With Wreck It Ralph, Disney is attempting to do for video games what Toy Story did for toys. And, for the most part, it succeeds though the film probably won’t be as well-regarded by adults as the Toy Story trilogy is.
While I tuned into Smallville on and off for most of its ten seasons, I can’t ever say I was really a huge fan. Part of it my initial TV snobbery, dismissing it as little more than a hybrid of Buffy and the X-Files (though to its credit, Smallville‘s explanation of x plus kryptonite equals wacky happening made a bit more sense than some of the later seasons of the X-Files attempts at explaining wacky events).
I watched enough to know that Green Arrow was part of the last couple of years of the show and that a vocal contingent of fans would like it if the character as portrayed on Smallville had got his own spin-off.
I wasn’t necessarily one of them and after watching the pilot, I’m glad this series is starting fresh. I’m not a huge Green Arrow fan (in fact, I’ve read none of the comics featuring him and have no clue about his mythology) but it seems like the pilot episode has taken a page from the recent Christopher Nolan films and kept the hero a bit more grounded. I’m not saying that it’s realistic that a guy would survive on a desert island for five years, all the time bulking up and training himself for a mission to clean up his city. But there’s a darker, grittier feel to Arrow than we got from Smallville–and there are a whole lot of echoes of Batman, which could be exactly what the CW is going for here. OK, so Oliver Queen only has one dead parent and a mother who is apparently not happy that he’s back, but there’s a whole lot of room for angst. He’s also got a member of the house staff who believes in him (though it’s the maid and not the butler in this case) and he’s got access to lots of money and his own version of the Batcave.
I didn’t cry when Adric died. Nor did I cry when Rose Tyler left (the first time). (I was honestly a bit relieved since I’d wearied of her character and the multitudes who declared her the best companion ever…)
Sarah Jane Smith’s departure, while bittersweet, didn’t get me all misty-eyed.
I will admit that as the Ponds made their departure from Doctor Who this week, not only did I have a lump in my throat, but I was also fighting back tears like I did in the first ten or so minutes of Up.
Damn you, Steven Moffat. You got me.
Genre fans have pinned a lot of hope of Looper, an action thriller with a clever sci-fi twist. The good news is the movie not only meets but it exceeds those expectations.
Sixty years in the future, humanity invents time travel and them immediately outlaws its use. However, criminal elements have set up a clever system where victims are captured, sent back in time thirty years and killed by hired thugs called loopers. Since the person hasn’t been born yet, it’s technically not murder and not crime to dispose of the body.
The catch comes when it’s time to close your own loop. The looper is sent back in time and killed by the younger version of himself. You then get a big payday and are out of the business, free to live your life for the next thirty or so years until it’s time to be popped back in time and die.
However, in the future it appears a new crime boss has appeared on the scene, called the Rainmaker and he’s closing all the loops.
Coming out of Hotel Transylvania, my wife turned to me and said, “You’re going to give it a good review, right?” She was then disappointed when I said, “Probably not” and she’s been after me for the last couple of days to say nice things about the movie.
She really liked it. The kids we saw it with at the preview screening really liked it.
I, on the other hand, wasn’t overly impressed by the film. It had some nice isolated moments, but overall the picture feels a bit flat when compared to the work being done by Pixar and Dreamworks Animation.
Maybe I expect too much from an animated feature. Or maybe it’s my own predisposition against Adam Sandler comedies. Because that’s what Hotel Transylvania is at its most basic level–an animated Adam Sandler movie.
Sandler has assembled his usual cast of friends from other comedies to lend their voices to some of the great Universal monsters. Sandler plays Drac, who years ago built a huge castle hidden from humans where he could raise his daughter, Mavis. Approaching her 118th birthday, Mavis is eager to head out into the world and see if humans are really as bad s her father says they are (he’s got good reason to mistrust them–they killed his wife). Using an elaborate ruse, Drac tricks Mavis into believing everything he’s told her about humans is true and she decides to live her life in seclusion and safety along with Dracula.
Watching the first episode of Revolution, I was mildly intrigued but just couldn’t help asking myself one big question–just how long can they sustain this before they’ve either a)provides resolution to all the relevant and interesting questions or b)strung out those answers to the point that I’m frustrated and tune out?
I kept getting this strange feeling that this would work better as a limited run series (in which characters could or would die or be put into more significant peril) or a mini-series.
I’ve heard the show will try to keep interest up with flashbacks to the days between the power going off and the events we’re seeing now. It sounds a bit like Lost with the flashes with one big exception. In Lost, I was interested enough in the characters after the initial episodes to want to find out more about them. So far, there aren’t a lot of characters on Revolution that I find myself wanting to find out more about what they did in the days following the loss of power and where events are now.
I couldn’t help but feel a lot of times during the pilot that this show was an heir to Jericho. That feeling was further underlined by the tease at the end, where it’s revealed some people have power still and can use it. It does answer the big question I had during the pilot–namely if the answer for bringing the power back on is on a thumb drive and there’s no computers to read it, is it really of any use?
Of the myriad of characters we met in the pilot, I’ll admit I’m most intrigued by Billy Burke as Miles. It will give the show credit that the idea that he was once connected to the guy in power on the other side of things is interesting and one I hope will be explored well.
Of course, the show’s big stumble is that I found myself less than interested in the lead of Charlie Matheson. All during the episode, I kept feeling like the NBC promo department is missing a huge opportunity to tie in to The Hunger Games mania. Because the character of Charlie really isn’t that far separated from Katniss and it seems like you marketed this show that way, you might draw in some of those rabid fans to your new series . This is likely while I’m not part of a marketing department, though.
For now, I’ll give Revolution a couple of more episodes and see how it goes. It could be good addictive fun or it could peter out and frustrated me like Jericho did.
I’m hopeful but not overly optimistic about this one.
Doctor Who and dinosaurs haven’t had the best history. Just ask anyone who’s seen the Jon Pertwee serial “Invasion of the Dinosaurs” (it hit DVD earlier this year without the extra of enhanced dino effects). Or look earlier in the Pertwee era to “Doctor Who and the Silurians” where a large dinosaur served as a watch-dog of sorts to the aliens of the week (or in this case, seven weeks).
Now as the series comes up on its fiftieth anniversary, Steven Moffat and writer Chris Chibnell seem to want to make up for previous dinosaur related faults with the fairly innocuous ”Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.” In many ways, the story was exactly what I expected–a fun, entertaining story that’s a nice way to pass an hour or so of television viewing.
Image: Canon County Arts Center Web Site
After taking in and enjoying the Canon County Arts Center production of Camelot early this year, my lovely wife and I decided to take the plunge on season tickets. Over the past several months, we’ve enjoyed a lot of great shows including a one-act version of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, the stage version of Arsenic and Old Lace and a show that was unfamiliar to us before we saw it, Duck Hunter Shoots Angel.
All were great, but the one we took in this weekend really knocked it out of the park and is my new favorite of the season–Legally Blonde: The Musical.
Based on the movie of the same name, it’s the story of Elle Woods and her pursuit of love from the campus of UCLA to Harvard Law School. After getting dumped by her long time boyfriend for not being serious enough for his law career aspirations, Elle makes up her mind to prove him wrong. She gets accepted to Harvard Law School and soon begins to shine there, thanks to a tutor, Emmett and her friend, Pamela, a local beautician.
Now, I’ve not seen the original Reese Witherspoon film on which Legally Blonde is based (some of you are gasping in horror, I know) so I went into the play with no expectations. I can’t say whether it was faithful to the source material or not, but to me it doesn’t really matter. From the opening moments all the way to the final big number, the songs were infectious (I’m still humming them two days later), the cast was superb and the production another winner from the Canon County Arts Center.
Next up is their musical on roller skates, Xanadu. I can’t wait to see what they do with it. And no, I probably won’t watch the movie of that one before going to the play either….
Filed under non-book, Other
Once again, it’s time to look back at an episode of classic Star Trek. In this case, it’s “Dagger of the Mind,” which I’ll give you is a lot better than “Miri” but it’s still not one of my favorite first season episodes.
We’ll get into details on “Dagger of the Mind” just as soon as we reminisce about the science lab Christmas party…