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Completely blown away!
I've seen this film twice in 3D and was completely blown away each time. Hands down the best movie of 2009! It totally lived up to its hype and deserves all the credits and praises it's received.
Surely it's not the most original story in movie history (then again what really is original these days?), but it's still a good story and it's very well-told and beautifully executed. The movie is also very easy to follow and easy to get absorbed into. If you like most people who have seen this movie, you'll be automatically lost yourself in the world of Pandora after 10 minutes into it without even realizing it. The CGI is the most realistic and beautiful thing I've ever seen on screen. The details are just so exquisite and breath-taking. It's hard to believe all the creatures and sceneries on Pandora was digitally created! It totally put films like Transformer 2 or 2012 to shame in the CGI department, not to mention the former had a much better story than the latter two. I was so in awe the whole time with how lush and beautiful this movie looks that I kept thinking about the movie long after it ended. And the CGI characters they created for this film were very natural and realistic-looking! They may not be 100% photo-realistic but they're close enough. The "Uncanny Valley" is nowhere to be found on the Avatars or the Na'vi. You totally believe them as real characters with real emotions and souls, and you forget that they are computer generated after a certain point in the movie. In fact, I found myself related to those CGI characters much more than the real humans. James Cameron really get it right this time! The movie's visuals (as well as the 3D) are stunning without seeming gimmicky. The story, despite being slightly predictable (which happens to most great epic films), is fast-paced and engaging throughout the movie. The theme is inspiring and thought-provoking without seeming forced and preachy. I can go on and on. There's just so many to talk about! Seeing this movie just once wouldn't be enough. I've seen it twice and I still want to see it again and I definitely will. It's weired but that's just what this movie does to you (or at least to me).
To those who haven't seen this movie: Don't judge on the advertisements, previews or internet clips, none of which did the movie justice AT ALL. This is the one film you have to see and experience for yourself. And don't let the hype affect your desire of seeing this movie either. The movie is hyped for a reason, and a good one. So what are you still waiting for? Get out of your friggin' house and go see this movie already! And you'd better see it in 3D, either in IMAX or regular theaters. To truly appreciate the beauty and the awesomeness of this movie, a 3D viewing is a must!
Umi ga kikoeru (1993)
If you get it, you'll love it!
I rarely write reviews for movies but I simply have to recommend this one and straighten a few things out. First off let me say that this is my top 3 favorite films from Ghibli Studio (the other two being Castle in the Sky, and My Neighbor Totoro). The reason I love it is because out of all the great Ghibli works, this one speaks to me the most. And the more I watch this film and the older I get, the more I appreciate it.
It's a shame that this little gem is often underrated, under-appreciated and neglected by Ghibli fans, because it's so not like anything Ghibli or Miyazaki has done so far (which, ironically, is one of the reasons why I love it so much). It doesn't follow the usual Miyazaki formula (i.e. brave and independent heroine, epic stories, unusual adventures...you get the picture). Instead, it just tells a simple (yet highly-effective) coming-of-age story about an ordinary high school teenager in a realistic and sincere way. You may not have the similar experience as the male protagonist, but you can certainly relate to him and understand what he's going through (at least I could).
Now it seems that the complaints from those who were less impressed by this film are mostly centered around the film's (seemingly) lack of a solid plot or exciting actions. To them I'd say you people just didn't get it. As some reviewers have said, this film is all about the subtleties. It's more of a character-driven film than a plot-driven one. In other words, it's more about how you feel about/relate to the characters (dialogs, emotions, relationships, etc) than what you see on screen (the plot, actions, stunning visuals, etc). The thing is you can't just watch the movie, you have to "feel" the movie and its characters as well. And it helps a great deal too if you also know a thing or two about the Japanese culture and life in small town there.
Truth to be told I never really enjoyed all those Miyazaki extravaganzas such as Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away or Howl's Moving Castle, which of course isn't to say that they are not great. Don't get me wrong, I can see why they are great masterpieces and why people would love them, but personally I just couldn't connect with any of those movies nor can I relate to the characters. I always felt I was merely watching the movie, instead of "experiencing" it. But with "The Ocean Waves/Umi Ga Kikoeru", I felt like I was the main character and his story was my story. For some reason this movie just speaks to me like no other Ghibli movies can. It might be an animated TV movie, but to me it felt more real than most of the live-action TV dramas out there, because everything shown in that movie seems so realistic and familiar and therefore gives you a similar warm and nostalgic feeling that you also get while watching movies like My Neighbor Totoro. I've heard it said that it's the small things in life that make living wonderful (or something like that), and I think this best describes how I feel about "Umi ga Kikoeru".
If you're into big epic/fantasy movies like Spirited Away or Howl's Moving Castle, chances are you probably won't like this one. At the end it really all comes down to whether you get this film or not. If you get it, you'll love it!
Twitches Too (2007)
Better than the 1st
Twitches too is definitely better than the first. It has better story, better character development and better hair and style! The story of twitches too is more intriguing that it leads you to further explore the magical kingdom of Coventry and the interrelations of the characters. And a lot more of suspense and mystery have been added to the development of the story too. It keeps you wondering what happens next. And of course it has that magical elements that make you go wow from time to time. Tia and Tamera mowry are as fabulous and amazing as they were in the first, and with better hair and style. Their performance is genuine in their respective roles. Their birth mother Miranda on the other hand seems less convincing to me this time. I don't know if it's the way she speaks or the way she looks in the movie. I was just not buying her. The twins' magical guardians Karsh and Ileana are still funny, although Ilena was replaced by a different actress, the performance was consistent and the chemistry with Karsh was still there. Most of the supporting actors in the movie played their parts well, except for a few I don't know why they are in the movie in the first place, like Camryn's ex-boyfriend and her gossipy friend. I think they're there as nothing more than fillers. And Cameryn's new crush, Demitri the Coventry servant in disguise didn't do much for the plot line either. In my opinion they could have either removed the part of Demitri or developed more. The visual effects seemed to have improved from its first. For sure they're still not up to par with the current Hollywood sci-fi movies you see in the theater, but then again this is only a Disney original TV movie, what more can you expect? For a low-budget movie like this, I think they've achieved the best they can. Overall this movie is better in terms of its story, characters, visuals, etc. It's a fun and imaginative movie that kids, teenager, and the whole family can all enjoy
Shrek the Third (2007)
i was a huge fan of shrek 1 & 2, for they were both funny, heartwarming and visually stunning 3D animation masterpieces. Compared to the prior two, however, Shrek the third turned out slightly disappointing, and in every possible aspect. The story overall was not as intriguing or as funny as the previous two. It's not a bad story, but it fell flat comparing to the first two. And although it doesn't hurt the movie itself, the storyline is very predictable. There's not many surprises or even twists here. And the jokes seemed rather forced and clichéd and therefore not as funny as they intended to be. It seems that the people who made Shrek had finally run out of jokes and was trying too hard being funny. The visuals and the details are as stunning as usual, but you won't see much new technical enhancement or special effects that would make you go wow, which i believe is probably due to the fact that they have already achieved near perfection in the 3D animation of Shrek 2, so it's hard to make any technical breakthrough in this one. Almost all of the stunning effects you see in this movie has been used in the previous two, so not much to expect of the visual effects here. In general, as much as it may have tried, Shrek the third failed to live up to shrek 1 & 2. And it seems that there's something missing here but i can't quite put my finger on it. Shrek the third may not be as successful and enjoyable as Shrek 1 or 2, it's still a feel-good movie for everyone.
Thank you Disney, for making mulan so great!
Mulan is a well-known ancient folktale in Chinese history. It tells the story of mulan, who disguises herself as a man and goes to the war to protect the country in place of her aged father, and finally returns as a national hero/heroine. Although the story of mulan was evidently modified from its original, Disney did a fantastic job at retelling the story, and delivered it through the beautiful hand-drawn animation that has been lost to us for many years. As a Chinese myself, I know the mulan story like millions of Chinese people do. Some people (espcially Chinese people) may not like the Disney version of mulan simply because Disney didn't stay true to the original, but i feel somewhat differently about this. Not only did i have no problem with Disney's decision to make modifications to mulan's story, I actually kinda appreciate that they did. Cuz Disney's retelling of mulan turned out to be rather amazing, and even better than the original in my opinion. I mean, the original story is great, but it lacks fun and humor, which you can find in Disney's mulan. In the Disney version, Mulan is an outgoing, smart, and independent young woman who has difficulty fitting in the more traditional and reserved ancient Chinese society, where a woman's value is judged by marrying into a good family and being a good wife. So naturally this creates conflict and inner struggle for mulan, and thus brings out the musical number "reflection" that expresses mulan frustrations and desires. This song is so beautifully written and the lyrics have such meaningful morals and depth that it touches me every time i hear it, and I'm a guy! This song can certainly relate to a great many of young people, not only girls but also boys, cuz its central theme is all the same, that is to be your true self regardless the environment that you in. And now back to the movie, there's a lot to love about Disney's mulan: the story, the fun characters, the songs and music, the beautiful animation, etc. The story is smoothly-paced and very believable. You have no problem understanding why things happen the way they do and why mulan has taken certain actions. And I think Disney created the characters very successfully because they made them look like real Chinese people instead of the classic Disney characters that we used to see. And they made the backgrounds in the animation look like beautiful Chinese landscape paintings, which really amazed me! And the opening of the movie is probably one of the most brilliant among the Disney animation features. I was completely blown away when i first saw it in the theater. Although Disney didn't completely stay true to the original mulan, it stayed true to the spirit of the original story and the spirit of china in most part! And as Mulan being a Chinese story, i think Disney did its best to make it look like and feel like Chinese, and i really appreciate their effort. So thank you Disney, for making mulan so great!
Atlantis: Milo's Return (2003)
A waste of time and money!
This movie was horrible, and it doesn't even deserve to be called a movie. The way I look at it, it's more like three mediocre day-time Disney cartoon episodes strung loosely together to make a single video that pretends to be the sequel to the first Atlantis movie, which was way more well-made and enjoyable. And where do i even begin with the problems of this DVD? The story? The characters? The pictures/animation? To me they're all bad and unwatchable. Firstly, the story in this direct-to-video DVD is ridiculous and pointless. The only good thing about it is that it is consistent--that is, consistently bad, from the beginning to the end. After the film's over i still don't know why Milo has returned and how the incidents occur in the three small stories are related to each other or to Atlantis itself. And all I could remember about this movie was how bad it makes me feel after seeing it. The characters feel wooden and lack personality, and the drawings look a lot different than that in the first. You can tell they're obviously not from the hands of the same animators from the first one. As the DVD played on, i found myself caring less and less about what might happen to the characters and just hoping the film would end soon. Besides the story and the characters mentioned above, the picture quality is poor in this one too, probably one of the worst in those direct-to-video products that Disney has ever released. As a fan of the the original Atlantis: the lost empire, I couldn't be more disappointed in Milo's return, which is a total waste of time and money. Thank goodness I rented it first instead of buying it. Even so, I still wish I'd never seen this crap or even known its existence.
The title of the movie speaks for itself!
I'm totally in love with this movie!! The combination of animated scenes and the real world works like magic in this one!! It has a great cast (Amy Adams being the best among them), a good storyline, stunning visuals(including the animation in the beginning), catchy songs and beautiful music that fit the style of the film. You can say Enchanted has it all! The story might be slightly predicable for it ends the way most fairy tales or modern romantic comedies do, this however didn't bother me even a little bit cuz the movie was so fun and entertaining that it made you forget those tiny little problems. It's been a long time since Disney has come out with anything so refreshing and brilliant! And not only did this film live up to my expectation, it exceeded it! I was totally amazed and impressed!! One of the best movies in 2007!