Archive | July, 2011

Review of: The Smurfs in 3D.

30 Jul

The Smurfs in 3D.

 View as screen from The Smurfs in 3D:

The Smurfs are the creation of Belgian artistPierre“Peyo” Culliford. He bought the little blue people to life in 1958 as comic book characters. They live together in a village under the guidance of Poppa Smurf. Their names reflect their different personalities: Clumsy, Brainy, Gutsy, and Grouchy, among others. Then there is Smurfette who was originally created by their arch enemy, the evil wizard Gargamel, to undermine the Smurfs. However, Poppa Smurf using his own magic, converted her into one of them.

 In the 1980s, NBC developed a Saturday morning cartoon featuring the Smurfs. Now, in 2011, Sony –Columbiafilms brings them to the big screen in 3D.  In this episode, the Smurfs travel, with Gargamel in pursuit, through a magical watery porthole and arrive inManhattan. The Smurfs wind up in the household of a young couple, Patrick and Grace Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays). The busy Patrick has just been promoted to corporate Vice President and has little patience for his diminutive houseguests.

 In this film, it’s as if the writers and producers were satisfied merely with the idea of having the Smurfs in 3D in New York City. Because that is just about all there is. Great animation in 3D is simply not enough. The storyline is weak, disjointed and overall this product is weak. The Shrek series with its state-of-the-art animation and fascinating plots set the standard for this type of animated feature and The Smurfs in 3D fails miserably in comparison. Neil Patrick Harris seems bored in the lead role and is overshadowed by the energetic performance of his costar Jayma Mays.

 The Smurf voices are by Jonathan Winters, Katy Perry, Anton Yelchin, Fred Armisen, Alan Cumming and George Lopez. Hank Azaria is Gargamel.  I always wonder why studios spend big bucks hiring stars to do the voices in animated features. Do the kids watching these movies even know or care who’s speaking for the characters.  And in the mythical village where all the Smurfs live, how does Grouchy (George Lopez) develop a Mexican accent and Gutsy (Alan Cummings) a Scottish one?

 The Smurfs in 3D gets a split rating. If seeing them in 3D is enough for you then it’s a SEE IT.  If not, wait and rent it.

 It’s 86 minutes in length and is PG-13. It’s actually pretty violent.



Review of: Cowboys & Aliens

30 Jul

 View a scene from Cowboys & Aliens:

 It’s been a while since there has been a film with such an impressive line up: 

  • Jon Favreau who hit pay dirt directing the Iron Man series.
  • Daniel Craig, the most recent James Bond.
  • Harrison Ford who garnered international fame in the Indiana Jones and Star War series.
  • Mega-heavyweight producers, Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard.

But as the NBA’s Miami Heat just found out, sometimes having a lot of big names just ain’t enough. Cowboys & Aliens based upon a novel by the same name, combines the old west toughs with invaders from outer space. But this film misses its target and never really takes off.

 Lonegan (Craig) plays a mysterious drifter who losses his memory but encounters others who know him well. One of those is Ella (Olivia Wilde) who has a past with Lonegan that he can’t remember. Then the local sheriff recognizes Lonegan from a wanted poster and jails him.  Ford is Dolarhyde, a wealthy, time worn rancher. His son is a local bully who can count upon his powerful father to rescue him from paying for his misdeeds. The son gets locked up when he accidentally shoots a deputy. As he has done before, Dolarhyde rides into town to save his misbehaving son.   While Dolarhyde and his men try to free his son, a group of space aliens arrive from the heavens to attack and make off with innocent town’s folk.

 This leads to an awkward alliance between Lonegan, Ella, Dolarhyde and eventually a Native American tribe to do battle with the aliens.

This combination of genres Westerns and sci-fi outer space invaders is not an appealing combination. This isn’t champagne and orange juice; this is more like milk and vinegar. Further each component part, the Western and aliens segments, have to be compelling on their on. Then come together to create a powerful film. But each individual storyline fails and together they create an even bigger failure. It’s like two boring people don’t create an interesting couple.

 Hollywood has become the master of special effects, but this movie’s effects are decidedly mediocre. 

 The Cowboys & Aliens producers prided themselves on drawing from history. The Native Americans featured in the film are Chiricahua, decedents of Geronimo’s tribe. The producers should be commended for this authenticity.  However, one error this film makes as do most Hollywood Westerns is the lack of black cowboys. In an exhaustively researched article, the U.S. News & World Report determined about 20% of cowboys were black. One historian went even further stating that the very term itself, cowboys, was coined to described black slaves who drove cattle from location to location for their wealthy owners.

On our cast diversity rating Cowboys & Aliens gets a B- for the Native American involvement.

 On its overall rating,Cowboys & Aliens hits rock bottom and is Dead on Arrival.

 At 118 minutes, it’s just shy of two hours in length and rated PG-13 for violence.

Review of: Crazy Stupid Love.

30 Jul

View a scene from Crazy Stupid Love:

 In Crazy Stupid Love, Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) doesn’t know what hits him. He and his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore), the love of his life, are having a pleasant date night dinner when she blurts out that she wants a divorce.  He’s stunned speechless.  For good measure, she throws in the fact she’s cheated with a coworker. Being the dutiful guy that he is,Cal moves out, rents an apartment and tries to adjust to life as a soon to be divorced man. At a bar where he drowns his sorrows,Cal meets the world class, ladies’ man Jacob (Ryan Gosling) who sets out to transformCal into an older version of himself.

 Credibility is important in filmmaking. The screenwriter has to make the viewer understand why depicted situations would really happen. And writer Dan Fogelman doesn’t get it done. We’re supposed to believe that the young, wealthy, very busy, womanizer Jacob, would approach the middle agedCalsitting at a bar talking himself. Rather than avoid this apparently unstable person, Jacob takesCalunder his wing. Spend hours coaching him on his dressing, conversation and picking up women.  A person like Jacob would be too self-centered to care about a bumbling drunk.

 Throughout this film, Fogelman just wants to get to the punch line and it doesn’t matter that the underlying premise doesn’t make sense.

Crazy Stupid Love, at almost two hours, is too long. We don’t need to seeCal shopping at a Home Depot type facility.

The acting is adequate but Crazy Stupid Love is crazy and sometimes stupid and you won’t love it. It’s Dead on Arrival.  If you want to see a great romantic comedy, see Friends with Benefits, it a far superior movie.

On our cast diversity rating, Crazy, Stupid, Love gets a “C”.  Set inCalifornia,  this movie is relatively non diverse, with only Asian American, Lisa Lapira in a minor supporting role.

 Crazy Stupid Love is 107 minutes PG-13 and for coarse humor, sexual content and language.

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30 Jul

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