Epic

Mix, match and hope for the best

Having watched this movie after being begged, cajoled and finally blackmailed, I’m sorry to say that I started out extremely biased against Epic from the start. Sadly, the movie didn’t really change my opinion much, if not worsen it.

It’s a basic father-daughter bonding story, with the usual setting change – this time being shrunk to a size of an insect, and living in a forest kingdom, while your semi-mad scientist father does nothing to find you, so engrossed is he in his search for the aforementioned forest kingdom.

Throw in two Leaf Soldiers – one orphaned apprentice and one mentor (who was conveniently, a good friend of the apprentice’s father); one queen of the forest with telekinetic plant powers, and two talking slugs.

Add to the mix, the death of the queen at the hands of a villain who wears rat skin as a cloak, the subsequent death of the villain son (who also wears a rat-skin cloak) at the hands of the mentor leaf-man, and the absorption of the queen’s powers by a lotus bud, which will then choose the next queen.

Epic quite happily steals quirks from well-known and not-so well-known franchises – Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Arthur and the Minimoys, to name a few and promptly mashes them together in the new setting. But, it turns out to be less than the sum of its parts – not altogether surprisingly.

In the end, none of this really matters though, because as long as it has a happy ending, it will please its target audience, namely little people who couldn’t care less about the intricacies of the movie, but will come in hordes, for an hour’s entertainment.

Advertisements

The Croods

Another shot, another miss.

‘From the makers of Ice Age’ the posters say, which seems to be the only thing drawing the crowds to cinemas for this movie. The Dreamworks logo on any movie practically guarantees a good watch, especially for kids, but they seem to be running on fumes after the last Ice Age.

The Croods takes the tried-and-tested father and daughter bonding story, changed the setting to the Stone Age and presented it as the Croods. Even the 3-D part is half-baked, because I took off my glasses after the first 15 minutes and watched just fine. If anything, the glasses hindered my watching simply because it made everything a lot darker.

In the same vein, the characters were completely forgettable and can be summed up in a few words, per person.

The only character with a little life in him was Guy’s pet sloth, Belt, and only because of scenes like this.

So, while Croods may become a box-office hit, please remember that this is so, only because:

  1. Of Dreamworks’ Ice Age, Shrek and Madagascar legacy
  2. It’s a movie for kids who aren’t exactly critics, and only watch a movie for the entertainment.

Ted

Crude humor ………. and not much else.

Before Ted released, I had high hopes for the movie – what could go wrong with Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, even if their supporting character was a pot-smoking, foul mouthed bear? As it appears, almost everything.

There is no plot, so to speak and none of the characters are particularly memorable. Maybe I’ve seen Wahlberg in too many action movies, to  be comfortable with him in this weird rom-com

I know there is a teddy bear, but this movie is certainly not for children and should not be watched with one, even by mistake. Jokes are crude and most, if not all fall flat. The only time the movie got interesting was nearing the end and even that died in a couple of minutes. The closing remarks are sort-of funny, and you think more of how the joke is stupid, more than the joke itself.

Personally, I think the people associated with Family Guy should stick to Family Guy and not try other stuff (except you, Mila, you’re awesome!). Go Simpsons!

 

Wreck-It Ralph

Disney-Pixar does it again!

Every time we think Disney’s peaked with an awesome movie, it promptly proves us wrong, with the next few releases. Starting with the classics like Cinderella and Snow White to now Wreck-It Ralph, there doesn’t seem to be anything stopping Disney-Pixar.

With the new release, Disney has recognized a growing audience of movie watchers who are also gaming fanatics and has tried, successfully  to exploit that. Wreck-It Ralph is set in a gaming arcade, and naturally is bursting to the seams with popular video game characters from Bowser and Sonic the Hedgehog, to Pac-Man and his ghosts.

Apart from these, there are a handful of references to gaming seen in the characters and their games. Even if you’re just a casual gamer, you will easily fit in and understand the flow of the movie, not to mention a few gaming themed jokes.

The movie revolves around Wreck-It Ralph,(who has a vague resemblance to the Ben 10 alien Armodrillo), the villain of the popular arcade game Fix-It Felix, Jr.

Unlike most other villains, Ralph is sick of being a bad guy and wants to be accepted by the people of the game, who shun him and hero worship the games’s protagonist Fix-It Felix. He tries entering the game’s 30th anniversary party, but ends up wrecking it, and leaves.

Later, at Tapper’s tavern (another game) he meets a soldier from the FPS, Hero’s Duty ( a not so subtle blend of Mass Effect and Space Marine) who tells him that the game’s winner receives a medal. Ralph decides to enter the game, causing a lot of confusion among the real world gamers as well as the game’s heroine, Sergeant Calhoun. After finally getting his medal, he encounters a Cybug (the game’s villains and a sort of virus) and ends up in an escape pod with, on a crash course to another game, Sugar Rush, a Mario Kart-like video game, with an emphasis on candy and chocolate..

Meanwhile, Felix and the others have a dreaded ‘Out of Order’ sign placed on their console, meaning unplugging and destitution. Felix then teams up with the Sergeant to bring Ralph back.

In Sugar Rush, Ralph meets Venellope von Schweetz, a glitchy character who dreams of racing, despite being shunned by the other racers. What follows is a an unraveling of their world with the candy exterior of Sugar Rush being removed to show a darker underbelly.

The movie runs around two hours and is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time, giving other animated releases like Madagascar and Ice Age some serious competition. This movie is not just one for the kids. Watch it if you call yourself a gamer. You won’t be disappointed.

Ice Age 4: Continental Drift

I have a feeling that if the ‘Ice Age’ franchise continues with the good work, geography teachers are going to find themselves out of a job. Blue Sky Studios have managed to turn even the most boring and routine geography lessons, like the formation of the continents into an entertaining, fun-filled, and downright enjoyable movie.

Continental Drift finds the Ice Age group approximately 15-16 years after the events of the previous film, Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Manny, Sid, Diego, and Ellie haven’t aged a day, while Peaches, Manny’s daughter has grown considerably – from a sweet little baby mammoth to a teenage mammoth, who is very much like the rest of us.

                     

The movie revolves around two groups – the threesome of Manny, Diego and Sid, with a few new additions and Ellie and Peaches, along with rest of their community; as they desperately try to reunite after the formation of the continents drives them apart.

Continental Drift takes an extremely Pirates of the Carribean-like feel, since most of the movie takes place on the sea, not to mention a motley bunch of pirates, led by the monkey Gutt, who serve as the bad guys in the plot. Gutt, who has more than a passing resemblance to Davy Jones, is one of the best animated villains I’ve seen in a long time and this movie doesn’t shy away from showing him off at all.

There are a few new additions to the crew, most notably:

  • Granny

This old sloth is dumped off onto Sid by his ungrateful family. Decidedly eccentric, this old sloth proves quite formidable, with lots of tricks up her sleeve, the least of which is her pet whale, Precious.

  • Shira

Diego finally find his love interest in a tough-talking sabretooth, named Shira. Originally part of Gutt’s crew, she eventually falls in with the threesome as the movie progresses.

The movie draws inspiration from other media as well, like Braveheart and surprisingly Homer’s Oydessy.All in all, good, clean, dumb fun, perfect for little kids and immature people alike; this movie caused me to ponder over questions like “When you drink water through your trunk, does it taste like boogers?” Whoah.

Brave

Image

I watched Disney-Pixar’s newest offering to the animated world today, and I’m sorry to say, wasn’t very impressed. ‘Brave’ is a story of a young Celtic girl, living in the highlands of ancient Scotland, having to deal with an overbearing mother and the prospect of getting married to uphold tradition.

Frustrated with her lot in life, Merida runs away and meets an old witch who gives her an enchanted tart, to ostensibly ‘change’ her mother (in more ways than one). What follows is Merida and her mother, Elinor bonding over the aftermath of the rather surprising effects of the spell.

I had few problems with ‘Brave’, one of which was the historical inaccuracies, but that’s just me nit-picking.  There are many colorful characters, especially Merida’s three younger brothers, who devise plan after plan to steal food from the kitchens, in between helping Merida and Elinor escape from the castle and getting transformed by the spell themselves, after inadvertantly eating the same (bewitched) tart themselves. Merida’s suitors and their respective clans are funny too.

All in all, ‘Brave’ is a sweet movie, good for entertainment with kids, but its nothing more than your run-of-the-mill Disney animated movie, good, but not at par with Disney’s best. Two things stood out, the voice acting which seemed spot-on, and a scene in which Merida’s father, Fergus and his warriors are locked on the top of a tower, with no way of getting down, forcing them to resort to using their kilts to make a rope to climb down on. This, unfortunately, exposes parts not generally displayed to the public, if you know what I mean.If you plan on watching the movie with your kids, go ahead, but be aware that some parts may be frightening to these little people’s minds.

Another thing which I enjoyed very much was the animated short film, ‘La Luna’ which was screened before  the actual movie, which explains the phases of the moon in its own charming manner.

TRIVIA: Brenda Chapman, who directed the film, is Pixar’s first female director.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

I watched this movie this morning, at the insistence of my parents and little sister, and I must say, Dreamworks have made a fitting end to the much loved Madagascar franchise.

The movie starts with the end to Madagascar 2, with the penguins flying to Monte Carlo for Skipper’s honeymoon, and Alex realizing that they maybe stuck in Africa forever.

The animals agree to travel to Monte Carlo, find the penguins and then embark on a journey back home, chased by a French Animal Control officer, Chantale Dubois ( a rival for the crazy old lady in the previous two films) along with a detour along Rome and London, with a travelling circus.

The picture is barely 2 hours long and extremely entertaining. Slapstick humour can be found all over the place and new characters are interesting. I loved Gia, Stefano and Vitaly. Also, King Julien finally finds his lady love, as does Alex.

All in all, good fun, and a must watch for kids and people who love animated movies (like me)