Name of the Film: Cars (2006, John Lasseter and Joe Ranft)
Okay, so we all know Pixar make great movies. Fabulous movies. When someone says '3D Animation' people instantly think of their creations - Toy Story, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo. Well ... add one to the top of that list.
The story is simple enough; racecar living life in the fast lane pulls over momentarily, and realises what he's been missing. Sounds cliched, and it is - but it's given the Pixar special treatment, and that's what makes it so special. It's more or less bristling with brilliance.
Probably the first thing you'll notice after Luxo Jr. has vanished is the astoninishing visuals. Literally every scene is packed with detail. From the opening action sequence, to the lush, picturesque landscapes of Route 66 to the interior of Lightning McQueen's trailer, so much detail has been thrown into the mix that it's hard to take all in. And it's all animated in such a way that it's believable, whilst at the same time being completely surreal. Simply put, this is Pixar's finest visual achievement, and putting all it's predecessors to shame, and then some.
Wait ... I can read your mind ... 'Yeah, it may look good, but is it funny?' The answer is yes. Very yes. The comedy is little short of genius, once again pulling off the perfect mix of silly, childish humour - which you'll still probably laugh out loud at, whether you're 8 or 80 - with knowing nods to the adult audience - 'I'm going to the Piston Cup!' 'You did WHAT?!?'. The movie is also capped off by a fantastic set of 'during credits' reels that pay tribute to 25 years of Pixar; and also a brilliantly amusing poke at John Ratzenberger. Make sure that you do stay until these have finished, you won't regret it.
Talking of John Ratzenberger; the voice cast are all fantastic. Even without them, the movie would have been funny, but they push it over into outright hilarious. From Larry the Cable Guy's Mater - a rusted old hillbilly tow-truck - to George Carlin's Filmore - a hippy VW van who sells 'organic fuel' - every single actor puts their hearts into their roles, and it pays off; it amplifies the comedy, and it's part of the reason why the visuals are so believable.
There are, however, a few problems. Owen Wilson perhaps isn't quite up to scratch with the rest of the cast, and his Lightning McQueen doesn't feel nearly as cool or original as, say, Toy Story's Woody, or even Shrek. Also, being a kids movie, it's expected to deliver a message, and the main message of Cars - being that life is about the journey, not the destination - is perhaps slightly too subtle for the younger or stupider amongst us. Still, no movie is perfect, and Cars' pros certainly outweight its cons.
On the whole, I honestly can't see why anyone would miss Cars. If you enjoyed Pixar's previous work, you will love this. And even if you didn't, there's something for every movie goer in this film - staggering visuals, a touching story, and even some things for boy/girl-racers to pick up on. This is Pixar firing on all cylinders.
Rating out of 10: 8
Last edited by Jayk; 22-01-2007 at 14:29.
Name of the Film: Lady in the Water (2005, M. Night Shyamalan)
This latest offering from M. Night Shyamalan is a tale concerning a regular joe named Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti), who discovers a young woman (Bryce Dallas Howard) in the pool of the building of which he is caretaker. It turns out that she's more than she seems, and Cleveland is unwittingly forced to protect her from a sinister creature that roams the night.
Sounds fantastical, and it is. It is very much the bed-time story that the trailer promises, and the narrative reflects that; making it seem like Shyamalan is pretty much making it up as he goes along. You can almost feel him sitting at your mind's bedside with the lights dimmed. It's a nice way of story-telling and it does just about work. You can keep up with the story, and for once there're no tricks up his sleeve - discounting the natural twist and turns of the plot; this is perhaps the most straightforward story he's ever told.
And this raises a problem. Shyamalan's style seems utterly out of place in such a linear, kid-friendly story. It's almost like it's straining to be more adult and ends up being totally confused about who it's aiming at. There are some genuine scares, and some truly tense moments, but they all feel misplaced, like Shyamalan stuck them in because people expected him to. The lack of twist also feels forced, like he's trying to avoid it at all costs, and this just brings the film down. It's a story that needs to have the right director to truly get the most out of it, and unfortunately whilst he does a great job with the premise and script, Shyamalan just isn't right for the director's chair.
Not that Lady in the Water isn't without it's good aspects. Giamatti is spot on as the damaged Heep, and Howard is truly memorable in her titular role. The supporting cast are all great too, with Shyamalan himself providing a great turn as a author with writer's block. They're all likeably and forgettable in equal amounts, and it all contributes to giving the film a genuine true to life feel. And the story itself is very well conceived; being simple enough for kids to follow, and interesting enough to not make the adults switch off, despite the misplaced style.
Basically, this is a pretty good film, but by no means cinematic gold. If you're looking for your latest 'come on, confuse me' fix, you'll walk out disappointed. But if you're looking for a mildly entertaining, well acted modern fantasy that can fill an afternoon, this is just your bag. Not M. Night's finest, but still good enough to keep his reputation of 'master story-teller' barely intact.
Rating out of 10: 6
Last edited by Jayk; 18-08-2006 at 18:37.
Name of the Film: Mission Impossible III
What you liked about the film: The long awaited movie starring Tom Cruise continues from where it left off.
Spoiler: Sorry i can't remember much of it.
Action packed as usual, I can't really remember much because I saw it a long time ago, but there are these little devices that they can inject into your brain,and are actually bombs,and when they go out you die. anyways happy ending as usual...but it was a bit tiring after a while the movie.
What you disliked about the film: It starred Tom Cruise...i'm no longer a fan.
Rating out of 10: 7.5/10
Last edited by La Trampa; 19-08-2006 at 21:25.