Archive for the ‘ Animated ’ Category

The Instant Critic travels to Dirt

Greetings, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, the poorly done Limitless caught our attention.

This week, we head into the world of computer animation to take a look at a Johnny Depp-led feature!

RANGO (PG, 107 minutes – features the voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fischer, Ned Beatty and Bill Nighy)

After years at sea with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, director Gore Verbinski successfully ventured into the world of computer animation with the brilliantly madcap Rango.

The story is as ingenious as they come. After being stranded in the desert, Rango the lizard (Depp) comes across the town of Dirt, a miniature Dodge City filled to the brim with stock Western characters. After the town’s water supply goes missing, Rango falsely dons the persona of a gung-ho sheriff and leads the townsfolk on a quest to find the culprit.

The vibrant animation pops out of the screen, as do the zany cast of critters. The screenplay thrives on originality, offering a wondrous alternative the typical theatrical fare.

Depp’s voice work on the character shines, though. He and Verbinski are always such an effective duo.

The film qualifies as a rarity – a zany, sharp excursion into sheer creativity. This film deserves your immediate attention.

If you are feeling like the silver screen would be more satisfying than the one on your computer this weekend, I wholeheartedly recommend The Hunger Games. I’m sure I don’t have to do too much persuading on that front.

The film Undefeated, a documentary filmed in Tennessee, focuses on a Memphis high school football team looking to win its first playoff game. The film compels and moves in a way that stands unique. If you are through with the Districts for now, I hope you give this powerful documentary a try. The film is currently showing at the Green Hills 16.

What say you? Do you prefer watching a movie in the theater compared to your computer? Let us know in the comment section.

Next week, we will wrap things up with the final post of the semester.

Until then, may your popcorn be fresh and your movie wonderful.

The Instant Critic

The Instant Critic steps into the Grid: Reviews of Tron: Legacy and The Pixar Story

Welcome back, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, I offered my two cents on two movies featuring horses.

By popular demand, this week’s post will take a look at a stellar adventure and an intriguing documentary!

TRON: LEGACY (PG, 125 minutes – featuring Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde)

A sequel to the 1982 gem, Tron: Legacy excels as being a visual treat as well as a moving narrative.

The story takes place inside the Grid, a fictionalized computer world where Kevin Flynn (Bridges) has been trapped since the early 80s. His son, Sam (Hedlund), stumbles upon a portal that takes him into the Grid, igniting a series of events that will reunite father and son just in time for a battle of epic proportions.

Those looking for rip-roaring action have found their match. The film’s strongest moments come from the eye-popping visual effects. A certain light-cycle battle in an arena of thousands will leave you breathless.

The score, orchestrated by the techno duo Daft Punk, brings an added fury to the film.

Bridges channels his inner mellowness for Kevin Flynn, and Hedlund provides a strong, anchoring performance as Sam.

Tron: Legacy makes for a wonderful sequel, but the film also works extremely well as a standalone feature.

Now, let’s go from the Grid to Emeryville.

THE PIXAR STORY (G, 88 minutes – featuring interviews with John Lasseter, Steve Jobs, Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and George Lucas)

There is not a film studio that comes close to rivaling Pixar.

Any film that bears the Pixar logo enchants our imaginations in ways that most studio fare cannot.  Over the years, audiences have been spoiled by the astronomical levels of quality a Pixar title brings to the table. Toy Story, The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Monsters Inc. are just a few of the classics the studio has produced.

Care to see how this humble studio came to be?

A good documentary always tells a story that can rival the fictitious creation of a Hollywood screenwriter. A great documentary almost seems fictitious itself. I am happy to say that The Pixar Story falls into the latter category. This fascinating documentary gives viewers an engaging look into the storied past of the famous studio.

I do not want to spoil the surprises the documentary has to offer, but did you know the late Steve Jobs had an impact on the studio’s beginnings?

The Pixar Story is a success because the viewer will truly feel as if they have been granted an exclusive backstage pass into the world of Pixar.

What’s your take? Do you agree with my praise for Tron: Legacy?

How about The Pixar Story? Let me know in the comments section.

Next week, I’ll be taking a look at a pair of Oscar-nominated documentaries.

Until then, may your popcorn be fresh and your movies wonderful.

The Instant Critic

Hold the phone: The two must-watch movies currently on Netflix Instant.

If you have a Netflix subscription, I’m about to give you some of the best advice you’re likely to hear all day long.

Here are the two movies currently streaming on Netflix Instant that are, in my opinion, required viewing.

  • The Iron Giant (PG, 86 minutes – featuring the voices of Eli Marienthal, Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., Christopher McDonald and Vin Diesel)

For his first animated feature, Brad Bird (best known for his directorial work on The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and last December’s blockbuster sequel Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol)  helmed this whimsical-yet-poignant tale about a boy and his gigantic robot. I’ve always had a soft spot for the “boy and his dog” genre, but to me, The Iron Giant does it better than most. Before I get overly sentimental, not many films have impacted me the way The Iron Giant has. By providing a Cold War era small town backdrop, the film brilliantly infuses the time’s paranoia of the unknown with its tried-and-true plot-line in a way that naturally strikes your emotions. The Iron Giant captures childhood innocence and wonder to a degree of rare beauty.

  •  Toy Story 3* (G, 102 minutes – featuring the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen)

Another animated title? Say it ain’t so! Well, if you have any vague idea about the Toy Story series, you’ll know what I mean. I’ve talked extensively about this gem on various platforms over the past year and a half or so, so forgive me for keeping this brief. Toy Story 3 is a near-perfect film. It’s a film that has received critical acclaim in a way that not many titles have. It’s the perfect ending (?) to one of the best franchises of all time.

*The film was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 2011. 

There are plenty of other fine films available on Instant that I’ll cover in later weeks, but for now, here are the two I can’t recommend enough.

So, what do you think? Have you seen either of these films?  Do you wish to agree or disagree? Leave a reply, and let’s get a discussion going.

Also, do you have a film that you would like to see reviewed that’s currently on Netflix Instant? Leave a comment and let me know. I’ll feature it with next week’s post.

Until then, may your popcorn be fresh and your movies wonderful.

The Instant Critic