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Shrek 2 (2004)
Why was this so popular?
I really have a difficult time trying to figure out how a film like this could make $436 million at the domestic box office. Are American tastes so fond of immature fart jokes and already-dated pop-culture references? Apparently.
This film continues Dreamworks Animation's tradition of quantity over quality, the position their CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg has held from day 1. But it's gotten worse in recent years with their CG attempts, lame-duck ripoffs of Pixar or Disney classics.
As for Shrek 2, I get the idea that the staff behind this picture actually believe that they're paying tribute to the fairy tales of yesteryear, when all they're doing is disrespecting them to hell and back. I don't know what people accept as "soul" nowadays, but this film certainly doesn't have any of it. How can I accept these characters in a tender moment when I know that one of them will probably pull a huge fart? I will give this film a point or two for the quality of some of their CG landscapes. Characters are a whole other story. You'd think that Dreamworks would remember after the first Shrek that they can't do digital humans, but nope. I've seen better animation and models in a video game. And the voices never really seem to mesh with the characters as in a Pixar film. It just doesn't work.
But people will buy the soundtrack anyways, and see the film ten times to catch all the inane pop-culture references, as if that's reason enough for this to be the third-highest grossing film of all time. Think about that. It's Titanic, Star Wars, and Shrek 2. I'm gonna be sick.
The Incredibles (2004)
PIXAR & BRAD BIRD - Incredible.
First things first - Brad Bird is a genius. The dozen people who were able to see THE IRON GIANT know that. Pixar knew that, and they knew he'd shake up the status quo. Take the company to places toys and bugs don't go. Redefine what people thought a "Pixar Film" was, while allowing their unique style to temper and shape his wild creativity.
This movie had no focus group-pandering changes, no product placements. Just everything that a cartoon and comic book admirer dreams of seeing on the silver screen. It's hours later, and I'm still giddy.
I can't remember how many times I would stare at the screen and wonder in awe, "Is this really Pixar?" Death. Sex. Suicide. Angst. Dysfunctional families. Real guns, with bullets. Torture. People being sucked into jet engines. Mentions of "God". Toned down, true, but their presence is a quite bold move. I imagine parents will be sitting their young children down for a long talk afterwards.
I can't see how Pixar can ever top this. It's an amalgamation of the entire wonderful James Bond universe and every comic ever printed from 1930-1970. It's also a wonderful allegory for the evolution from the Golden Age of comics to the Silver (Marvel) Age.
While there's no knock-down drag-out fistfights, the action is still spectacular. CG is the perfect medium for superpowers because every element of the world is on equal footing. Once you get past the fact that they're CG, you accept anything. The upcoming FANTASTIC FOUR movie is already dead in the water, because a real Mister Fantastic will never look as good as Elasti-girl.
Like SPIDER-MAN 2, this film is mostly a grounded story, a story of family relationships, a long for the good old days, a biting look at the modern office workplace. Fusing suburban life with the super heroic elements just gives it a flavour that no other superhero film can match.
So many things to mention - the wonderful, retro '60's Spy score - what Evil Lair is complete without appropriately sinister music? The breathtaking art design - this was the first film I've seen in a while that actually looked like its pre-production art. Some of it even invoked the old Fleischer serials. While the rest of the world's superheroes didn't get as much screen time as I'd have liked, their vignettes still added plenty of depth. And when you learn their fates - a truly, truly chilling moment.
The action scenes stand alongside any major blockbuster film, and the wonderful humour allows you to accept the inherent silliness and enjoy it for what it is. It has a powerful, if slightly under-used villain. And what classic superhero story doesn't have a huge, evil robot? I wish that Violet had more screen time, though, but she really shone once her powers were under control. Edna Mode is delightful. I wonder how many people get the inspiration, but she works either way.
(I use "she" loosely, since she was voiced by Brad Bird himself.) While Samuel L. Jackson's Frozone was a supporting character, he made every scene count. And what better way to end it than with John Ratzenberger's vengeful Underminer? The entire voice cast was brilliant, really. They all deserve the highest accolades.
What more can I say about Pixar? They've not only pulled off human animation, they blew it away. This makes the already soulless SHREK look like a PS2 cut scene. Speaking of Dreamworks, they can't touch Pixar now. They're like the Sony to Pixar's Nintendo - heartless drivel for the masses, churned out fast, full of look-at-me pop culture references that audiences may find funny, but won't be laughing at 5 years from now. Pixar's humour is genuinely timeless. Even Disney's own foray into CG, CHICKEN LITTLE, seems hollow in comparison, as if they're trying to fool people into thinking it's a Pixar production. Instead of making soulless CG films just because they're trendy, Pixar makes them because they genuinely believe in them. They're the most talented group of cartoonists in North America, and they could be making beautiful cel animation if they wanted. But they chose to break boundaries. Pixar is the new Disney. Thank god for that.
I could go on for hours. I'll try to reach John Lasseter next week to congratulate him and the whole team. And who isn't hoping that a sequel will arrive in the near future?
Suffice it to say that this film more than deserves to stand alongside Pixar's past classics. It is, in a word, Incredible.
Akage no An (1979)
Perfect depiction of Atlantic Canada!
Being an animation fan, I'd heard about this show before. I knew that Hayao Miyazaki had worked on it before founding Studio Ghibli - who wouldn't be curious? I never thought I'd see it, since it's only been released on DVD in Japan. But, thank the Net, I've found a way to watch the original, subtitled version. What a wonderful series! I've only see the first four episodes, but they've definitely captured my imagination.
Being from Atlantic Canada myself, I was thrilled to see my region depicted so beautifully in anime. It's all accurate, let me tell you (although I'm not sure if they have Japanese sakura trees in PEI...) I have to admit that I've never read the Anne novels, but watching an anime adaptation is the next best thing.
It's hard to believe this series was made in 1979... it's a masterful series of paintings, character animation and sweeping music.
Please, do whatever you can to find this gem of TV animation!
Unsolved Mysteries (1987)
Spellbinding, yet terrifying for me as a child
As far as I can remember, I'd always spend my weekday nights watching this show with my family, with the lights off... And man, was it ever terrifying. True stories of murderers, abductors, ghosts, aliens... all still on the prowl. This show scared the bejeezus out of me, yet I loved it. I think what made it so scary was that they made it seem that the terrors from the show could very easily find you... wow. And the fact that they always urged anyone with information to call just made it that much more desperate and frightening. It's a shame they stopped making it, and an even bigger shame that I don't get the Lifetime channel.
Bring it back, along with that spine-chilling theme song!
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001)
I've been seeing trailers for this film for almost a year now, and I'm glad that it's now been released. Why? SO I'LL NEVER HAVE TO SEE THAT EVIL TRAILER AGAIN. Seriously, I've seen the Jimmy Neutron trailer on the last 10 films that I've seen, and I only see about 1 film per month.
As for the movie itself, words cannot describe how bad this movie is.
The CG is incredibly ugly. It looks like it was animated 5 years ago. Seriously, the half-completed animated storyboards I've seen for "Toy Story" look better than this tripe. The dialogue is terrible, the characters are terrible, the whole bloody mess is terrible.