The World According to Renee

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Review: Oz, The Great and Powerful

Welcome back to Oz. A stranger is swept into a tornado, lands in a weird little land of bad acting and poor plot and has to do away with a wicked witch (but not kill her because that would spoil Dorothy’s future fun).

This film has none of the charm of The Wizard of Oz and very limited resemblance too. There’s still a magical poppy field and the Emerald City (which looked quite crap, by the way) and people from Kansas in Oz, but that’s about it. Disappointment #1.

The film begins in black and white, obviously part homage to the original film and also to Kansas being dead boring. I missed the sepia tones of the original film, but really, there’s very little that could have saved this mess. The opening story is very weak. We have a conman (surely no surprise to anyone who has seen the original film) and a womaniser who brings his “charm” to the witches of Oz. If you do bother to see this film, BYO charm. This is an Oscar-nominated actor doing his darndest to move things along in the same way castor oil attempts to dislodge constipation, but with much less success. Disappointment #2.

Truthfully, there’s so many disappointing elements to this film that I’d be here all night listing them. There is a very weak plot of a prophecy, something about who is really the wicked witch and an army of Oz people who aren’t allowed to hurt anyone. Aww. Suffice to say, this is really only a film worth watching if you are chained to a dungeon wall with matchsticks forcing your eyelids open.

1 out of 5 popcorns for the visual effects.

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March 8, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Review: Wreck-It Ralph

This review contains spoilers. Read on at your own risk.

Poor Ralph. He’s a big guy whose job is to wreck buildings so Fix-It Felix can rebuild it and win all the praise (along with a medal). Ralph feels that after 30 years, he’d like to be a good guy so he heads off to another game in order to win his own medal and gain sought-after praise from his own game-mates.

Firstly, let me say that this film is really well done. The gaming world of the characters is flawless. There are so many references to real-life games and products (I’m not sure if this is marketing or just for fun) that the film seems like it really is taking place when the arcade closes. The shaky movements of some characters are a bit startling but that’s just how they move within the game. Why Ralph & co move smoothly and others don’t, I don’t know. I also read that Ralph was supposed to be animated in 8 bit but that would take away his loveability. Fair enough call, plus it would be very difficult to watch 8 bit characters on screen for any length of time. Fix-It Felix’s house is decorated in 8 bit though, which is a nice touch.

Secondly, I absolutely LOVE that one character, King Candy, is visually and audibly based on Ed Wynn. Ed Wynn represents classic Disney and makes a very welcome “return”. I was surprised to learn King Candy is voiced by Alan Tudyk, whom I know best from Firefly. What I didn’t love is that he served as the evil character. I understand the plot point, but Ed’s characters were always funny, lovable and inherently good. Crazy and madcap, but good.

The story was also very good. After the first half hour or so, I was wondering where else it could go… and it went in a different direction. This is a Good Thing because films shouldn’t be predictable (unless based on a true story, in which case, the ending is usually fairly obvious from the start). I loved the references to Super Mario Kart, because that’s the only video game I was ever really good at. The writers are clearly gamers and it shows with the level of detail in the gaming scenes.

The film is directed by Rich Moore, whom I know from his work on The Simpsons. A supervising director on this film was Jim Reardon, also known for his work on The Simpsons. Pleasantly surprised by this addition to their body of work.

Overall, this is a really good film. Some of the technical things about coding were a bit confusing; I wonder how much of that sort of thing kids really know about these days? Wreck-It Ralph has become a new favourite.

9 out of 10 popcorns.

 

March 2, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

50/50 – A Review

Oh look, Seth Rogan plays a stoner.

Unfortunately, that’s not the only predictable thing about this tale of a 27 year old guy who is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who has been in about half the movies of the past year, plays Adam, a 27 year old guy with a sore back, cheating girlfriend, dementia-ridden father and somewhat neurotic mother. His best friend Kyle is a stoner, able to gt his hands on medical marijuana, obviously just the ticket for a chemo patient. The title comes from an internet search after Adam’s diagnosis, revealing his chances of surviving the cancer are 50/50.

Cue the Kleenex.

There’s really nothing original or spectacular about this movie. There’s some exploring of feelings and mortality, plus some stoner moments and a mental breakdown in a car. It tries too hard to be a serious Awards contender, making the characters seem overly melodramatic when they could really be funny, lovable people. In the end, I was just left wondering why these 20-something people were dressed like 70 year old golf fanatics. (My uni training tells me it’s probably a cultural comment on the sudden responsibility of young people dealing with what is seen to be an old person’s disease, but seriously, who was their costume designer?)

I didn’t love it, but it was a good enough film if you don’t think about it too hard (if you’re a physical therapist or psychologist, you will cry tears of frustration). Joseph Gordon-Levitt is quite good though, showing off dramatic skills he’s steadily been honing over the last few years. Given another couple of years, he’ll get even better and hopefully have much better dialogue.

 

6/10 popcorns.

January 5, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment