Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Kung Fu Panda

2008 flick by directors Mark Osborne and John Stevenson (who haven't done much else, outside of a few Spongebob episodes). Po is a good hearted, clumsy, accident prone, overweight panda living w/ his dad upstairs from the noodle shop they run together. Po is a HUGE fan of the furious five, a group of great kung fu artists who live in a temple on a mountain top above Po's village. They live in a very different place than Po, both physically and metaphysically. His life is very normal and he idolizes their life of excitement. His restlessness reaches it's peak when the master of the temple announces that he plans to chose the dragon warrior (aka, the best kung fu SOB there is). In reality the master is choosing this dragon warrior b/c a disgruntled ex-student(Tai Long) who thought he should be the dragon warrior is returning to bring vengeance and destruction to the temple and village and to steal the dragon scroll. In other words, they need a suitable opponent and fast. Well the master chooses Po when Po literally falls into the competition. Problem is, Po is as far from a kung fu master as it gets. Kung Fu Panda is a funny, uplifting story about an unlikely hero. It's not all that inventive and you know how it's going to turn out. But it seems to me the goal of a kid's flick is not to be inventive and surprising per se, but to be enjoyable and this one certainly is. The two leads are voiced by Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman. They are just wonderful and really seem to have comedic chemistry. Jack Black is hilarious as a supposed dragon warrior who looks more like the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons than he does Bruce Lee. And Dustin Hoffman's great as the yoda-esque elder sensei. The crude humor's at a minimum and the violence is pretty few and far between for a movie w/ the words Kung Fu in the title. If you have kids, they'll surely enjoy it and I'm guessing if you like good but easy comedy you'll enjoy every second too. It's not a classic, but it's definitely worth a watch.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Mist

2007 pairing of writer/director Frank Darabont and novelist Stephen King that tells the story of a small Maine town that's suddenly besieged by bloodthirsty monsters, who descend on the town via a strange mist following a storm. This is the third pairing of this creative duo and the results are at best disappointing. The movie seems thrown together, with none of the visuals gripping or characters engaging. It almost seemed like they just tossed the flick together last minute and you can see this most clearly in the visuals and the reliance on tired horror story devices. Aw, there's a cute kid caught up in it. There are horny teenagers who sneak off to make out and, surprise, it doesn't end well. Some of the people want to go out and face down the monsters. Some want to deny they exist at all. Others think it's the wrath of god and, don't be shocked now, the hero is the person/group that wants to think things out and take the 'rational' approach. It all feels very cliche and it didn't surprise me at all to learn that the visuals were done entirely by the A and B units from the TV show The Shield while they were on a brief break from the showfor a few days. That's how it felt, like a pre-formed group of professionals were poured into another mold for a few moments. For example (and it's a big one), everything that was computer generated looked computer generated. The CG, the angles, the layering, it all looked like something made for the Sci-Fi channel, in other words, rather than a Darabont and Kingfilm. And that was a big let down for me. The last two outings of these two were The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption. These movies are fantastic and their great precisely b/c they don't feel like they just plopped out of a cookie-cutter mold. They were great b/c they came across as heartfelt pieces of old school American cinema. Those movies, especially Shawshank, seem like classics, while this movie seems more at home in television re-release. One feels cinematic, while the other seems like TNT. I wanted to like this movie, but I just flat didn't. It never felt scary, never engaging and not worth your time.
Saturday Afternoon