The girlfriend came to visit for a few weeks, so—as we are wont to do—we frequented the movies. This post contains my thoughts in brief on the movies we saw together, most of which are old news by now, but I felt they should not pass without comment.
Tangled may have the distinction of being the first Disney non-Pixar computer animated film that was any good. I quite enjoyed it; more than The Princess and the Frog, I think, though the music was largely forgettable and it lacked the gravitas or dramatic oomph of that 2D film. Tangled just felt more fun, although I’m sure Zachary Levi‘s voice work conjuring my warm feelings toward Chuck may have contributed to this.
I saw it in 3D, and it was thankfully inoffensive in that regard. Of course, the 3D also didn’t add anything, and I would have rather done without, but unfortunately it wasn’t showing in 2D anywhere at that time.
The animation looked fine; the characters were amusing or cute as needed, and the scenery sufficiently lovely. As is often the case with Disney movies, the non-speaking animal sidekicks stole the show, in the form of Pascal the chameleon and Maximus the horse. The story had some fun adventures and clever set pieces and was, well, fun.
It has just occurred to me that, at this point, most 3D computer animated features are all looking pretty much the same. I didn’t notice much difference in terms of the quality of animation between this, Megamind, and Despicable Me, for example. I hope this means that we’re at the point where writers, directors, and producers realize that they have to distinguish themselves with the quality of the movies (story, characters, voice acting, etc.) rather than just the visuals. If so, then Pixar might finally face some meaningful competition.
Anyway: Tangled. Enjoyable and fun, but not too deep.
I had been hoping that the Green Hornet movie would be awesome because I generally like Seth Rogen, and more importantly I like movies that are awesome and that are also superhero movies. There was even some reason to hope that it might be, seeing as director Michael Gondry had produced weird, interesting, and excellent films such as Be Kind Rewind and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Alas, my hopes were not quite met.
First of all, the movie had a truly atrocious 3D-conversion. Yet another overwhelming piece of evidence that 3D films suck in general, and converted ones suck without exception. The people who keep making these travesties happen should totally just be melvined.
Secondly, the movie felt like it was two very distinct scripts jammed together in the middle. So early in the film we see some amusing buddy comedy that is typical Rogen fare, and then in the latter half we have an intense, violent, plot-driven action flick. Cameron Diaz’s role also seems entirely superfluous—I get what they were trying to do with her character, but she was heavily under-utilized and didn’t become interesting until the very end.
Thirdly, the action sequences lacked any kind of consistent style. The first fight scene featuring Kato was highly stylized. It was not necessarily a good style, but it was distinctive. Some elements of that returned in the final action scene, but were absent from the rest of them. And for me, a movie having its own sense of style is what can elevate it from so-so or ridiculous to transcendent and sublime. Green Hornet did not reach such an apotheosis.
That said, it was a passably-entertaining action comedy. I have expounded upon its flaws—which are many—but in the hierarchy of all movies, it was okay. I was entertained, I laughed, I enjoyed the action sequences, and there were some genuinely clever bits. I did not feel it was a wast of my money (other than the 3D), but your mileage may vary.
This film is, admittedly, a little far off my usual fare. But my mother had wanted to see it, so the girlfriend and I went with her. Also, at the time, there wasn’t really anything else out.
Fortunately, Barney’s Version turned out to be a fine film. As with many films starring Paul Giamatti, it was laced with humour but turned a bit dark and depressing toward the end. (In this case, I believe it was true of the original book as well. Though it had been many years since she had read it, my mother found the movie to be a pretty good adaptation of the book.)
The story follows the ups and downs in the life of Barney Panofsky. I can’t really say much more about the plot without giving away spoilers. What should be obvious, though, is that Barney (played by Giamatti) is front-and-centre throughout the film, and he does an amazing job. As Barney ages in the movie, Giamatti adjusts his posture, his way of walking, of speaking. Very impressive and convincing. The movie also had an excellent supporting cast, though Dustin Hoffman as Barney’s father was the real standout.
So Barney’s Version was an excellent film, albeit a somewhat dark and depressing one at times. If that’s what you like in a film, this one won’t do you wrong.