An overprotective father, Grug prefers to keep his clan holed up inside a cave until they need food while Eep wants to explore the world outside, to her father’s dismay. After sneaking out one night, she encounters fire-maker/idea man Guy (Ryan Reynolds) and his pet Belt.
The tone for the entire film is mostly depressed, angry, pessimistic, and confused, which is best evidenced by Fred himself, a repo man who steals Christmas presents for his own apartment. He is a total jerk, and more of a depressed burnout than the fun-loving slacker that the trailer makes it seem.
In Rise of the Guardians, we discover that not only are Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny real, they also comprise an ancient league chosen to protect mankind’s children. The Guardians, as they are called, are made up of some of the most beloved characters from our childhood who, as we grow older, become less and less real.
This is not your typical Disney princess rendition of romance. In fact, it has no essential connection to losing one’s heart to a prince. Adventure is Merida’s first love, and above all she longs for the freedom to determine her own fate. Her high spirits make her the apple of her father’s eye, but also bring her into constant clashes with her mother, whose sole aim is to cultivate some courtly bearing in the fiery young lass.
Meanwhile, the West Indies are buzzing with the imminent Pirate Of The Year Awards. The most fearsome captains are caught up in furious last-minute plundering for a shot at the coveted prize. The Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) is one such contender, but his lovable antics and luxuriant beard are beginning to pale against his modest record of villainy. To distinguish himself from his flamboyant rivals, he must lead his loyal crew of knuckleheads into an adventure like none other. Who could imagine that a chance encounter with Charles Darwin, sailing homeward on the Beagle, would provide the opportunity?
In the mist-shrouded Ivory Coast jungle, all appears green and beautiful. The leafy trees shelter and sustain countless forms of life. We join a group of chimpanzees, in a serene moment, as they welcome a newly born male named Oscar into their midst. Oscar is going to learn a lot about the world in a hurry, and our job is to laugh, sigh, and gasp at his every discovery.
The smooth contours of the prevailing animation style sap so much from the jagged, surreal landscapes of Seuss’s imagination that it would barely be recognizable if not for the distinctive scruff of the Truffula trees. In addition, the script’s occasional throwaway quotes from the original rhyming narrative do nothing to cover the script’s complete lack of wit and heart. Either write the script at least ninety percent in Seuss verse — for crying out loud, it’s already written for you! — or just forget it.
Studio Ghibli, the company responsible for such well-loved animated pictures as Ponyo, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away, has done it again. It’s just sort of a different “it.” Ghibli’s The Secret World of Arrietty is based on Mary Norton’s 1952 children’s book The Borrowers. The combination of a British children’s story and Japanese setting make the movie a very odd combination of cultural artifacts and wrinkles in time.
A visually outstanding film (worth the price of 3D), Hugo is a love letter to imagination and invention, the thrill of books and movies, of discovering things for yourself and the freedom to do so. Cogs of various sizes occupy many scenes, and seeing Hugo hammer a shell into shape or figuring out how one piece of the automaton fits into another shows off the pleasure of actual creation.
It would not be the first time Disney has reinvented the Hundred Acre Wood for a new generation, but could they resist the temptation this time around to get snarky and crass? Sure, it would have been high blasphemy of the first order, but what if the wrong hands had gotten hold of this project and chosen to – if I may – “Shrek it up?” If there is one thing that does not belong in Winnie The Pooh, it is a “pooh” joke.
If there’s one thing Pixar always does right, it’s the animation itself. Cars 2 is no WALL-E or Up, but Rome, To(w)kyo, and London are beautifully rendered. In the animators’ capable hands, the cars themselves are as shiny as you’d want, the massive cogs within Big Ben are lovely to behold, and the roiling sea looks so real you might do a double-take. But the breathtaking land- and seascapes aren’t enough to hold the insubstantial story together.
Perhaps the best way to take Hop is as an illustration of why Easter movies never eclipsed Christmas or Halloween pictures in variety, style, or enduring popularity. Leaving questions of religious observance aside, there is simply not enough mythology to be woven around a rabbit delivering candy to children once a year. This movie certainly tries, but its many small successes are too isolated and infrequent to hold any kind of story together.
Every scale on Rango’s chartreuse face, every strand of fur on the tiny desert pigs, each downy feather on a turkey’s visage, is lovingly rendered. Perhaps most remarkable is the detail in the creatures’ eyes. Verbinski consulted with Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins, and as a result the animation is brilliant—were it not for the, you know, talking animals, you’d think the desert landscapes were real. And thank the Hollywood heavens Verbinski didn’t see the need to make Rango in 3D—it’s pretty perfect as is.
Gnomeo and Juliet seems like a terrible idea. Due to smart writing and great character actors, the end result is more fun than expected. It may not hit quite the niche audience it was after—the subject matter is actually directed toward adults more than kids—but it deserves a round of applause for masterfully whipping cleverness out of its Elizabethan-era hat.
Narnia is a world in which children’s voices are heard, in which the young acquire agency and power, where they are tempted by wickedness and able to make decisions for themselves. In other words, it’s unlike anything children experience in their real lives. The allure is clear.