Greg is MAD AS HELL at 3-D Movies and he’s not gonna take it anymore!
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I was one of those people who was really excited to find out that the use of 3 D in movies was not only coming back, but that it had been updated into something called ‘RealD’. So imagine my disappointment when, for the most part, all the technology was being used for was to created ‘textured layers’ in movies. I was so disappointed in fact, that I stop wasting my money on the ‘RealD’ versions of new releases and just went to see the 2 D versions. That is, unless I got a free pass to see the ‘RealD’ version. Which is exactly what happened for me with ‘Final Destination 5’. So I sat down, put on my ‘RealD’ glasses and hoped for the best.
What I got was beyond my expectations of ‘hope for the best’. From the moment the opening credits of ‘Final Destination 5’ began, I was in 3 D viewing heaven!. None of that namby-pamby ‘just for textured background’ stuff for this movie. ‘Final Destination 5’ had 3 D and they knew how to use it! Objects literally seemed to fly right out of the screen and into your face. It made you jump in your seat and flinch back. Judging from the sounds of appreciation from the audience around me, I realized that I wasn’t the only one who had been disappointed by the way ‘RealD’ was being used in other movies. It was clear to me that many audience goers who pay the money to see ‘RealD’ want actually 3 D effects. In ‘Final Destination 5’, the audience gets those actual 3 D effects.
My giddiness over the excellent use of 3 D effects aside, I also found ‘Final Destination 5’ to be a highly entertaining horror movie; the best sequel of them all to the original ‘Final Destination’.
Read more of my review after the jump.
The Toy Story films were among the earliest full-length features to be produced in CGI. While they were amazing to look at – seeming more like 3-D than traditional hand drawn and painted animation, they would have been a curiosity if not for two things: they featured engaging characters in simple but brilliant stories.
Now Toy Story and toy Story 2 are being re-released in 3-D for two weeks. Given that the films were originally produced through three-dimensional imaging in the PIXAR computers, it should come as no surprise that they were easily adapted to Disney’s Digital 3-D process. The result is good enough that I think I can safely say that, in this instance, at least, Roger Ebert is wrong. 3-D is not a fad.
They’re lean, mean and fuzzy – except for the aerial reconnaissance guy – who’s a real fly! Three guinea pigs, a mole and the housefly compose the crack team of spies in the Disney/Bruckheimer collaboration, G-Force. Darwin [voiced by Sam Rockwell] is the putative leader; Blaster [Tracy Morgan] is the muscle/driver; Juarez [Penelope Cruz] is the martial artist and self-described “brains of the outfit]; Speckles [Nicholas Cage] is the tech expert, and Mooch [Dee Bradley Baker] is the eyes in the sky. There’s also an unexpected brother, Hurley [Jon Favreau] and a wannabe tough guy hamster, Bucky [Steve Buscemi] to add to the fun.
Created by Ben [Zach Galafianakis], with aid from his assistant Marcie [Kelli Garner], the team goes on unauthorized mission to keep the project from being shut down. They infiltrate the home of the head of the Saberlink Corporation [Bill Nighy] and download the plans to what they believe to a diabolical plan for world domination – code named Clusterstorm. When the file appears to be marketing for a new, glitzy coffeemaker, the project is shut down – but before the team can be caught and exterminated, they are whisked off to a pet shop. Now all they have to do is escape the pet shop, find Ben, and figure out why their stolen file isn’t what it should be. Then they can save the world.
When it was announced that Henry Selick was developing Nail Gaiman’s wonderful novel Coraline for film, it was probably not something that registered with most moviegoers. If they recognized the name at all, it was most likely from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – even Burton claims that all he contributed was the basic plot, lead character and a few hasty sketches. Selick did all the heavy lifting.
Coraline is a completely different story. Selick developed the film, both writing the screenplay and directing the film. Here, Selick’s genius becomes clear. He adds a character – the odd little boy named Wybie [voiced by Robert Bailey Jr.] – to add to the stakes, and provide a contrasting character for Coraline [Dakota Fanning]. He also makes a few other tweaks that give the film even more depth than that usually given by stop motion animation. Then he adds really excellent 3-D – not as a gimmick, though there are places where an action does pop toward the audience – but as a means of making Coraline’s unique world just that little bit more unsettling.
The story of Coraline is one of misunderstandings: Coraline’s parents [John Hodgman, Teri Hatcher] seem disconnected from her, disinterested – though they are really trying to make a deadline on a freelance job, producing a catalogue for a client; when Coraline finds her other parents, she really thinks they are genuinely interested in her – though she is merely a diversion for them [especially her Other Mother]; Coraline doesn’t understand Wybie, either, thinking him a pest when he’s really a very lonely boy who has no idea about how to make friends.
Her adventures in both worlds involve other minor players who contribute to the mood: Miss pink [Dawn French] and Miss Forcible [Jennifer Saunders] who appear to have been very naughty in their professional careers, and Mr. Bobinski [Ian McShane], who is an aging Russian acrobat who is trying to train mice as circus performers. These characters give the film world a little extra bite and reality.
Then there’s the cat [Keith David], who is the same in both worlds but can talk in the Other World. Gaiman does a smart-ass cat to perfection and Selick captures him just as well in the film [and doesn’t a good fantasy require a smart-ass cat?].
After taking in the boring for 113 minutes/exciting for 5 minutes so-called thriller, The International, it’s my firm recommendation that Coraline is the best film available for the smart movie buff this weekend, acing out the engaging Confessions of a Shopaholic by a nose.
Final Grade: A
When I scored a pass to see My Bloody Valentine 3-D, I wasn’t sure it was a good thing – but since I went into theater with absolutely no expectation, I was pleasantly surprised. I never saw the original, but this new version – written by Todd Farmer [from a story by Stephen Miller and the original screenplay by John Beaird] and directed by Patrick Lussier – contains all the elements of a classic horror movie: gore, mutilations, laughs, a genuine mystery and some gratuitous nudity.
More than twenty years ago, a miner named Harry Warden survived a mine collapse by killing the other miners trapped with him in order to make what little oxygen remained last until he could be rescued. Even so, he came out of the mine in a coma. A year later, he came out of the coma and when on a killing spree – first at the hospital, then back at the mine where a bunch of teenagers were partying in the closed tunnel. Only four of the teens survived: Tom Hanniger [Jensen Ackles], whose father owned the mine and who left town right afterward; Sarah [Jaime King], Tom’s girlfriend who winds up married to Axel Palmer [Kerr Smith], who is now sheriff, and Irene [Betsy Rue], who now has a thing for truck drivers [and provides the aforementioned gratuitous nudity]. Warden is reported dead – killed by then Sheriff Burke [Tom Atkins].
Now, ten years later, Tom has finally returned to town to sell his share in the mine’s ownership and everyone is unhappy about that because if the mine closes, the town dies. And the killings begin again. Since unreported details are accurate, the townsfolk begin to suspect that Warden is back. As the killing mount, we’re given scenes that implicate former miners, Tom and even Sheriff Palmer.
Director Lussier keeps things moving along at a fast enough clip that any plotholes are skimmed over before we can recognize them as such. The 3-D effects are frequently dazzling right from the second the Lionsgate logo appears [when the audience oohs and ahhs over the studio logo/introduction, you know the effects are special] and are used in ways both subtle and sledgehammer obvious [it’s the mix that makes the more obvious effects work.
The entire cast is better than average, which gives the film just enough humanity to make the horror work, and the resolution is shrewdly realized. Both Ackles and Smith are given more to do than they usually display [or in Smith’s case, got to do] on their hit TV series and they tackle their roles with enthusiasm.
My Bloody Valentine 3-D is one of the better horror movies of the last several years because it knows what it is and isn’t afraid to be just that. In that regard, it shares a lot with some of the great horror films of the seventies and eighties. It may not be the groundbreaker that Halloween and Friday the 13th were, but it’s better than most of the raft of imitators that followed them. In short, it’s good, bloody, sexy fun.
Final Grade: B-