For most people, Pixar can do no wrong; even Cars has its fans.  For me, I can tell where Pixar slumped – it was the time period between the release of Monsters, Inc. and Ratatouille (with the exception of The Incredibles), when Disney and Pixar were having contract issues.  Disney’s original agreement with Pixar allowed for distribution of Pixar movies with limited sequels.  Disney wanted to make a new agreement that called for more sequels.  This resulted in John Lasseter and Pixar telling Michael Eisner and Disney to go find a new cash cow.  Disney’s Board of Directors saw the future without Pixar and immediately got rid of Eisner.  With Eisner out of the way, Disney was able to acquire Pixar and put John Lasseter in charge of all animation.

This was good for everyone that loves movies, animation, and the Disney animation heritage.

Up is the story of an elderly man simply wanting to fulfill the lifelong wish of his recently passed wife to adventure to South America.  What we get is perhaps the most complex, layered story found in animation.  This is not a movie aimed at kids with a few things thrown in for adults – this is a movie for everyone.

The animation is stunning and the acting is great.  The only thing I was surprised about was the fact that there were some dark moments early on – a warning to parents before taking the young kids.  The Pixar short at the beginning was again top notch and you could see how they thought about making it longer.

I did see the movie in 3-D first and again in 2-D.  The 3-D was stunning, but I am annoyed by the sudden rise in the ticket premium from $1 to $3, even thought AMC is using the same eq1uipment it had 3 years ago.

My advice:  See this on the big screen – you will kick yourself if you don’t….

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Some sequels are inevitable; one just hopes that the sequel isn’t completely horrible.

Disclaimer #1:

I needed something to distract me from the news I had just received about the passing of my grandmother the evening that Transformers came out at midnight.

Disclaimer #2:

I enjoyed the first movie, but had issues.  It was one of the first reviews I wrote (Transformers).  I suggest reading it in conjunction with this review.

Now that the disclaimers are finished, let the review begin.

This installment is about a year after the events of the previous movie.  Sam is headed to college, the Autobots are helping the military, and Megatron is still in captivity.  Sam finds a sliver of the all-spark and all heck breaks loose.  What follows is a 2 and 1/2 hour explosion fest that would make the combined explosions of all military actions over the past 100 years seem like a wet sparkler on the 4th of July.  Just when you think Bay couldn’t stoop any lower, he actually “teabags” the viewing audience with a Decepticon (thanks, Spaldy, for the right imagery).

A lot of the issues I had with the first movie are still here, just bigger and even worse:

  • StarScream – at least his whiny voice was heard this time and the robots could talk while transformed – so this was actually an improvement…
  • Plot – story? we don’t need no stinkin’ story – WE HAVE EXPLOSIONS – KAAAAAAAAAAABOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM
  • Robots – in the cartoon you could tell who was an Autobot and who was a Decpticon – good luck here…
  • Visuals – great effects but everything is lost in the neverending fireballs of Bay’s testosterone exploding onscreen…

My advice:  dollar theater if you have to see it on the big screen – don’t waste money on it though…

The Taking of Pelham 123

Some movies have a lot of star power, but very little publicity.  This means one of two things: 1) it’s an indie flick; or more likely 2) it is a dud. That is the choice we are left with in viewing this offering from John Travolta and Denzel Washington.  Santino talked me into going seeing this one afternoon.  The theater was barely half-filled and it was opening weekend with no competition.

The movie is your basic, formulaic hostage movie.  The actors did what they could with a bad script and a predictable storyline.  I knew how it was going to end by just watching the trailer.  It is a shame that the story in the middle wasn’t strong enough to kill the predictable angle.  Even the big “twist” wasn’t all that important to the story.

My advice:  Skip it – catch it for free on TNT if you absolutely have to see it…


No matter how hard we try, there are some movies that you just never get a chance to see on the big screen.  Of course, in this age of DVD/Blu-Ray, you do not have to wait too long to catch up.  Such was my experience with Fanboys.

The movie centers around a group of friends a few years removed from high school in 1998.  They have one desire: to see an advance copy of the new Star Wars movie 6 months in advance.  What follows is your typical road-trip high-jinks mixed with some really good story/character development.  You find out that each character has a deeper motivation for seeing the movie that drives them to finish the road trip.  By the end of the movie, not only have you gotten a good comedy, but one heck of a great story.

The casting was great.  The use of Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) as the female lead nerd was brilliant, particularly in the Princess Leia bikini.  Seth Rogen in three different roles; Shatner; the list goes on.  The great thing about the “named” stars is how they committed to this like it was a big-budget feature.

The DVD has the usual features: commentaries, deleted scenes, and gag reels.  All of the extras are worth checking out.

My advice:  give this one a spin – you will enjoy the references to Star Wars and many other pop culture items…