REVIEW: The Adventures of Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish (screenplay), Hergé (comic)
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig and Nick Frost

Steven Spielberg is back in rollicking good form after his three-year break following the unfortunate fourth Indiana Jones escapade with the jaw-dropping animated epic The Adventures of Tintin.  It comes as somewhat of a surprise that Spielberg aims a directorial rebound with motion-capture animation, and yet while you look at the gorgeously rendered surfaces and the extraordinarily lifelike human characters, it appears he has achieved his goal.

Like Martin Scorsese did with Hugo, Spielberg utilizes the latest 3D technology to adapt a family-friendly story of a young boy solving mysteries while at the same time paying homage to the art he loves so much.  Tintin is less a tribute to filmmakers past than it is to this directors’ past adventures, though, which is egotistical but nontheless pays off.

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REVIEW: Hugo

Hugo
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: John Logan (screenplay), Brian Selznick (book)
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley and Sacha Baron Cohen

Hugo would be a good place to start in a film history class.  Not only does it glide through the early history of silent movies, but it also utilizes the latest digital filmmaking technology in doing so.  Martin Scorsese has created a film worthy of the 3D technology that is infecting every big Hollywood blockbuster, and he has done it by using not as a showy gimmick, but as a storytelling tool.

Here, that third dimension immerses us in the movie’s world, drawing us into an opening sequence that transforms from turning clock gears to an overview of Paris, into a train station and finally back into the walls full of clock gears as the young boy Hugo (Asa Butterfield) zooms through these tunnels with make-shift abandon.  In one of the most finely filmed sequences of the year, Scorsese keeps track of him with a clever tracking shot that simply pans as he turns corners.  If this had been converted to 3D instead of filmed that way, you’d already have whiplash.

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REVIEW: Sanctum

Sanctum
Directed by: Alister Grierson
Written by: Josh Garvin & Andrew Wight
Starring: Richard Roxburgh, Ioan Gruffudd, Rhys Wakefield, and Alice Parkinson

It’s hard to remember the last time I wished death on a character as badly as I wished it upon Carl (Ioan Gruffudd).  Carl is an unconscionable douchebag; a character so poorly written and acted that to watch him in Sanctum is to experience more agony than any of the characters.

For the most part, that’s how it works in this movie, which is to say nothing really does work.  Like last year’s Unstoppable, this is a monster movie with no actual monster.  Instead, the lame-duck characters swim their way through an unexplored cave network that slowly but surely claims most of them in a series of unfortunate and completely stupid events.  It’s the latest in 3D “event” filmmaking.

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REVIEW: Tron Legacy

Tron Legacy
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Written by: Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, and Michael Sheen

To satisfy every little boy’s and possibly girl’s dream of “wouldn’t it be cool if…” comes the film Tron Legacy. At one point or another, or maybe this applies more to Generations X and Y, the curiosity of what it would be like to be sucked inside a computer, video game or live in a digital battleground has crossed millions of minds, including the film’s star Jeff Bridges who admits taking on the role for these reasons. But Tron Legacy, for as zippy, fun and visually creative as it may be, seems to be a tad more analog than anything else.

Nearly three decades after the first Tron film caused financial fiasco for Disney, Tron Legacy returns as a little less of a gamble with a chance to pick up on the 3D dazzling sci-fi business set up by Avatar the same time last year. Continue reading

BEST PICTURE NOMINEE: Up

Up
Directed by: Pete Docter
Written by: Pete Docter and Bob Petersen
Voiced by: Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer and Jordan Nagai

Pixar is now 9 for 10 (Cars being the DreamWorks-esque oddball). After previous bests Ratatouille and Wall-E, Up completes the trifecta for Pixar’s seemingly effortless creative machine.

Up’s plot takes off when young Carl Frederickson meets Ellie, a fire-cracker and adventurous girl that shares his interests. The two eventually fall in love and spend a lifetime together dreaming of going to South America and following their youthful spirits. But when life gets in the way, their dreams and plans are grounded. Seventy years later, after Ellie has died, Carl is forced to move to a retirement home and give up the home and life he built with his wife. Before they can take him away, he and his home fly away on the grand adventure the two always dreamed of. Continue reading

BEST PICTURE NOMINEE: Avatar

Avatar
Directed by: James Cameron
Written by: James Cameron
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver

Once upon a time, famed sci-fi director James Cameron made a little film known as Titanic. Made with a record $200 million, the picture earned a record $1.8 billion at the worldwide box office, won a record 11 Oscars (Ben-Hur and Return of the King are the only other two films to do this) and ignited the Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet to become the most sought after talent today.

That was over a decade ago. Now Cameron is back with another next big budget saga, to once again defend his self-claimed title as “King of the World.” Mission accomplished. The film has already broken most of Titanic’s records, earning a staggering $2.4 billion worldwide. And with critical praise, nine Oscar nominations, and his 3D technology reshaping the industry, it looks like Cameron may need an avatar of his own just to share his great success.

But records, innovations and box office aside, how does good is Avatar? Continue reading